10 hotel openings that luxury event planners are most excited by
2018 was a bumper year for luxury hotel openings and 2019 does not disappoint either, with some significant new arrivals expected to open their doors throughout the year. But which new openings are luxury event planners most excited to check out? Our first-ever luxury hotel hotlist (listed in no particular order below) outlines the ten hottest openings across 2019, as name-checked by the luxury event planners we surveyed for our forthcoming inSPIRE: ANNUAL edit…
Belmond Cadogan London
Belmond made headlines at the end of 2018 when the luxury travel brand announced it had agreed to be acquired by Louis Vuitton (LVMH). The deal is expected to close in the first half of this year, but in the meantime it’s business as usual with the much-anticipated opening of Belmond Cadogan London in March.
“From an incentive point of view, Belmond is a great brand – their properties and trains are all beautiful and we can put them to clients with absolute confidence about the quality and service they provide. In light of this, the Cadogan is an interesting addition to their collection and I’m intrigued as to what added luxury elements their acquisition by LVMH will bring to the brand,” says Elliott Grant, director of incentives at Top Banana.
The historic Cadogan Hotel – once home to British-American socialite Lillie Langtry and the location for the arrest of playwright Oscar Wilde in 1895 – has been closed since 2014 to undergo a £28m investment project. This includes the complete refurbishment of all public areas and the reconfiguration of 64 rooms to 54 in order to accommodate “demand from luxury travellers for larger junior suites and suites”, plus a new gourmet dining experience headed up by British talent Adam Handling as executive chef.
Ibiza has seen a boom in luxury hotel openings in recent years, with investors drawn by rising RevPAR and the changing reputation of the island mostly known for its partying. W Hotels is the latest high-end brand preparing to make its debut with the launch of W Ibiza this summer. Owned by Inversions Hoteleres Ebza S.L., the 162-room property will be located in the buzzing beachside neighbourhood of Santa Eulalia del Río, close to Ibiza’s beaches, nightclubs and rural inland attractions.
With its bohemian spirit, Ibiza is a good match for the quirky W brand, which has had a presence on the island since 2010 with a variety of W music events and partnerships. Three distinct concepts designed for dining, drinking and relaxing will be complemented by a lively rooftop sunset bar and WET Deck (the brand’s signature take on the poolside scene), direct beach access, ‘Chiringuito’ beach bar and Away Spa.
Back on the Spanish mainland, Barcelona remains one of, if not THE most popular European destination for events and incentives. This year will see actor Robert De Niro’s Nobu hotel brand making its debut in the city.
The high-end chain was created by De Niro in partnership with celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, and Hollywood producer Meir Teper, and since the launch of its first boutique hotel inside Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas in 2013, it has opened outposts in destinations from Miami to Marbella and London to Los Cabos.
Nobu Hotel Barcelona is due to open in March and will offer 250 sleek rooms and suites, a spa, meeting and event spaces, and a Nobu Restaurant offering panoramic views of its iconic locale from the 23rd floor.
Rosewood Hong Kong
The uber-luxe Rosewood brand has several key properties due to open this year, but its Hong Kong debut is gaining the most attention among luxury event planners. Due to open on the Victoria Harbourfront in March, the Rosewood Hong Kong is set across 43 floors of a soaring tower and features 413 super-slick guest rooms, plus a fitness centre which includes a swimming pool and the first city offering of Asaya, Rosewood’s innovative holistic wellness concept.
Gastronomes will be excited to discover the eight different dining options set within this urban retreat, while The Manor Club executive lounge will provide an array of exclusive privileges for its guests. For meetings and events, The Pavilion offers a range of high-end residential-style meeting and event spaces.
Chantal Challenger, strategic meetings manager at BCD Meetings & Events in Asia has already carried out a site inspection: “It is simply stunning and offers breath taking views of Victoria Harbour. The rooms are so unique to anything I have seen and there are meeting spaces for days! Truly impressive.”
The Maldives are firmly back in vogue with an unprecedented flurry of luxury openings over the past 18 months. Originally scheduled to open last spring, the much-anticipated Baglioni Resort Maldives is now expected to open in March 2019 on the island of Maagu in the Dhaalu Atoll, a 40-minute hop by seaplane from the capital, Malé.
This property is all about pure barefoot luxury at its best. The resort will provide 99 villas with a selection of jungle, beach or over-water options, including an 870sqm presidential water villa with three bedrooms and private pool with Jacuzzi. Guests will have a choice of three restaurants including Italian, international and Japanese options, with a range of activities on offer for corporate groups ranging from yoga and relaxing in the spa to kayaking, windsurfing and snorkelling.
Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens
Worldspan managing director Sophie Morris is among the buyers who namechecked the Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens, which is due to open in March and represents the upscale brand’s debut in Greece. The iconic Astir Palace has been a long-favoured getaway by Athenians and international glitterati, and a €100m investment sees it reborn for a new generation of luxury travellers.
Located in Vouliagmeni, around 30 minutes from the Acropolis and historical city centre of Athens, the hotel is nestled among towering pines and fringed by three private beaches. Features include 303 accommodations in rooms, suites, villas and bungalows; seven restaurants and bars; a spa plus extensive wellness facilities including hydrotherapy pool and fitness rooms; and multiple pools. The hotel also has its own helipad and pier for those who wish to arrive by sea or take tour of the surrounding islands.
“We have operated events both in the city and on the Athens Riviera, and new refurbishments and investment in the Vouliagmeni area are welcome. We have previously worked at the Astir Palace, and I am certain that the combination of the Four Seasons’ redesign and service philosophy will ensure the property is a very compelling offer,” says Morris.
Mandarin Oriental Lake Como
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group will add the stunning destination of Lake Como to its growing portfolio this year after taking over management of the CastaDiva Resort & Spa. The property will be rebranded as Mandarin Oriental, Lake Como in spring 2019 following a refurbishment of facilities.
David Heron, co-head of incentive specialist Black Tomato Agency, is among the buyers looking forward to the property’s opening. “We’re seeing a resurgence in interest for European headline destinations such as Lake Como. If it’s up to Mandarin Oriental’s usual high standard, I’m sure it will attract a lot of events and incentive business,” he says.
Located on the shores of Lake Como, and surrounded by lush botanic parkland, the resort features 76 spacious rooms and suites housed in nine villas, dating from the 19th Century.
It also offers four restaurants and bars, including a lakeside terrace for al fresco dining, a large spa with an indoor swimming pool and an outdoor floating pool on the lake, plus a range of social and meeting facilities in the resort’s grounds.
One&Only Portonovi, Montenegro
Montenegro is a diminutive destination that packs a punch in the incentives stakes and was recently named one of the hottest destinations to visit in 2019. It’s also the destination that high-end hotel portfolio One&Only has chosen to launch its first resort in Europe.
With approximately 150 luxurious guest rooms and villas, a marina, tennis academy, health spa, and dining and retail options, the project is located at the entrance to Tivat Bay, overlooking 1.2 km of pristine Adriatic coastline and less than an hour from Dubrovnik International Airport.
True to the brand’s heritage, One&Only Montenegro plans to offer a variety of world-class cuisines showcasing regional specialties in restaurants overseen by internationally-acclaimed chefs. The resort will also house an indulgent One&Only Health Spa, as well as meeting and event space.
Iceland remains a popular destination for exciting and memorable incentive trips. Sophie Darbon, project manager – incentives at Penguins, describes it as “a perfect natural playground of exciting possibilities surrounded by incredible landscapes, where countless adventures beckon and a host of natural wonders await.”
The destination will be firmly in the spotlight this year as it prepares to welcome its first five-star international hotel brand, with Ian Schrager’s luxury-lifestyle brand EDITION expected to open in Reykjavik. The 250-room hotel will be located on the harbour waterfront in the heart of downtown Reykjavik, immediately adjacent to Harpa, the city’s award-winning concert and conference hall.
Think of a luxury hotel in Singapore and Raffles will no doubt spring to mind. This iconic property will reopen this summer after an extensive renovation designed to “ensure that we retain what is so special about Raffles – the ambience, the service, the charm and the heritage of the hotel. It is also intended to provide the facilities, spaces and experiences that the well-travelled expect.”
These include a raft of new dining concepts from celebrity chefs including Alain Ducasse. The acclaimed culinary master will launch BBR by Alain Ducasse, taking his Bar & Billiard Room across to the Lion City delivering Mediterranean sharing plates and grills in a lively atmosphere. Anne-Sophie Pic, a third-generation Michelin chef, will also make her Asia debut with La Dame de Pic, serving a delicate menu featuring dashi, broth and consommés.
Many of the property’s old favourites are returning in homage to Raffles’ 130-year history and heritage, albeit with a revamped and refreshed look and these include the popular Tiffin Room, the Writers Bar, plus of course the famed Long Bar, home of the Singapore Sling for over a hundred years.