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By MARY GOSTELOW | December 6 2012
Cannes, France – Reported by Mary Gostelow for Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine
With December sun shining in through windows that practically encompass the roof above you, are you really WORKING here at ILTM Cannes? Hosted buyers and media who finally find their way up to the third floor aerie above the main part of the Palais exhibition area are in for a great surprise. Up there, it is airy and light. There are Leading, Relais and Small Luxury, and Relais’s Champagne and gourmet bar (thank you, Taittinger and other sponsors, for the bubbles and canapés). With this extra space, Leading’s Claudia Kozma Kaplan has this year been able to host 105 Leading properties. On this superb stage, Relais’s Jaume Tapiès looks forward to a new partnership with Abercrombie & Kent: 40 percent of Relais “junkies” buy itineraries, several hotel stays in sequence, and A&K can now offer all necessary facilitation. Question, what will Tapiès be up to, come January 1, 2014? Watch the Gostelow Report space – live.
For those walking the two floors below, continually running into people means lots of surprises. Grace Hotels’ Philippe Reynard (nicknamed the shark) was talking with his commercial director Frédéric Renard (the fox) about their next opening, in Panama, which they say will be the Dubai of the Americas • InterContinental – whose historic Carlton is 100 next year – has two fantastic openings. The 254-room InterContinental London Westminster (GM Andrew Coney), a conversion of the 19th-century Queen Anne’s Chambers, is closest luxury hotel to the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and St James’s Park. In what was a 19th-century hostel for pilgrims to the nearby Basilica, the 194-room InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu (GM Madelijn Vervoord) offers stunning views over the Old Harbour and Notre Dame de la Garde • Marseille is, by the way, one of Europe’s two Culture Capitals 2013 – the other is Kosice – and the opening, January 12, 2013, includes a cacophony of any bells around, on land or at sea, and a flypast by the national aerobatic team, the Patrouille de France.
What will 2013 bring to Rosewood, whose universally admired COO Bob Boulogne resigned this Tuesday? • And will Amanresorts finally be sold, as is rumored to be happening any day? The owner of the two Amans in the USA – Amangani in Jackson Hole WY and Amangiri, in the Utah desert – Christoph Henkel of Canyon Equity, came to his first ILTM. He was brought up with a love of fine hotels, and he also personally owns the old dude-ranch Dunton Hot Springs in outback-Colorado • The personalities behind luxury products excite not only the Hola! crowd. Double-billionaire David Bonderman, best known for founding TPG, personally owns Guanahani in St Barth’s – its Riviera-feel is enhanced by longtime French GM, art historian Marc Theze. Guanahani reopened in November after a Creole redo by designer Luis Pons, the former Amazon farmer who once created an inflatable medieval-style villa for Art Basel (Guanahani’s 69 bungalow-villas include two-bedroom garden or pool suites, ideal for families) • Dietrich Mateschitz, Austrian co-owner of Red Bull, is the owner of Laucala in Fiji – is it true Kurt Wachtveitl is his brand ambassador? Laucala’s new Australian marketing partner, by the way is Exclusive Travel Group.
Ah, how time moves. It is, for instance, only five years ago that Tauranga-based Rob Young was a one-man Exclusive Travel Group (want New Zealand? He was – he is – your man). Now, with the support of former airline guru Stephen White, he can cover the world. As a member of The Luxury Network of Australia and New Zealand, Exclusive’s latest partner offers trips to Iceland, or wherever. Also, for foodies, Young and White are planning an Ultimate Dinner Party tour of New Zealand, starting March 1, 2013. Sixteen people lucky enough to sign up quickly will fly around New Zealand’s two islands in a classic DC3 with culinary host, celebrity chef and television personality Al Brown: Stay in New Zealand’s famed lodges, go foraging for tonight’s dinner and be introduced to the country’s amazing fresh organic produce • Want a modern jet? Lufthansa, powered by NetJets, offers seven-passenger Cessna Citation Excel/XLS up to 14-person Gulfstream G550s, with range enough to fly you away from Moscow’s winter to Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands excitement. Want bijou cruising? SeaDream Yacht Club’s Amazon schedules include some friends-sail-free dates.
Five years ago, too, no one had heard of The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts. Now Starwood’s 80-strong global brand-for-independents is a powerful force (brand manager Paul James is newly elevated SVP Luxury Brands, including W Hotels). On Tuesday Luxury Collection announced a $200 million to renovation-restoration spend. In Spain, Hotel Maria Cristina in San Sebastian and Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville are already botoxed, with Gritti Palace Venice (Rubelli fabrics) and Prince de Galles Paris (designer Rochon, like the neighboring Four Seasons George V) reopening by mid-2013, and then the Bristol Vienna starts. In Athens, Luxury Collection will have two neighboring beauties, the already-Starwood Grande Bretagne (despite John Andrews’s Forum warning, this IS the time to support the Greek capital) and, shortly, the King George Palace, with a stunning infinity-pool rooftop suite. At W Hotels, the first Intel-partnership bespoke Roman Coppola movie premiered, London W Leicester Square, this Monday.
Of course LUX* is another new name, making it debut only a year ago. Now LUX* is, says its perennially determined CEO, Paul Jones, becoming yet more customer-centric. LUX* Me is a personalized experience, offering what he says is a unique combination of Spa, Fitness, Nutrition, Yoga, Meditation and Wellbeing activities (make it easier for yourself and buy a Vitalité program, with masses of sessions that you cram into three days, or stretch out, to seven). He will have other news, soon – but how long is a piece of string, when is “soon”? • Another question, how long does it take to ship a piano to Los Cabos? Peter Bowling never travels anywhere without a piano, but somehow he has survived his five months as GM of One & Only Palmilla without any keys to tinkle (it is on the way, he promises) • Interestingly, here in France, Grand Hotel Bordeaux is adding an 8,500-square-foot, five-bedroom Steinway Suite, complete with piano – it will open the latter half of 2013 • Ralph Radtke, GM of Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul – the imposing palace with the steaming-heat outdoor pool, right by the Bosphorus’s edge – adds an Istanbul In Style Package, with all the usuals plus an Istanbul Cool day, the contemporary city that so few know.
It is vital to remember that Turkey is not only Istanbul. This year the Dogus Group opened its 200-room D-Hotel Maris (GM Alexander Regelmann), in the Datca Peninsula, which can be reached by helicopter from Bodrum or Marmaris and, once there, you can charter an Azimut 55 or Sunseeker Portofino 48 • Walking around the show brings home how small the world is. Uulux China Luxury Travel Expert is, for instance, sandwiched between India’s Leela Palaces – Hotels – Resorts and VIP Heathrow • Just along the aisle, Nick Perry, founder of UltraTravel, was catching up with Mike Batt, his partner in the highly successful US edition of UltraTravel. Batt is Founding Chairman of Travel Leaders Group, which last month purchased Priscilla Alexander’s luxury buying system, ProTravel. He says he will merge ProTravel with Tzell – he now has over 30,000 buyers across the USA, he says (remember when, after leaving British Airways, he migrated to Minneapolis to run the Carlson Leisure Group, then bought that, then bought one company after another?). ILTM is full of great success stories, and there will be more to come • Anthony Lee, GM of The May Fair Hotel, London, is, he says, taking it on a journey – up, and yet further up. Once known primarily for temporarily housing Miss P. Hilton and the like, it is now becoming a favorite of intelligent ladies. His new cigar bar hosts a regular 25-strong club, for female CEOs, invitation-only. Of course, says Lee, it is going like wildfire.
Enter personal preferences in the just-launched Conrad Concierge app – and, on arrival, choose your own toiletries, Aromatherapy Associates, Shanghai Tang or Tara Smith • Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s Michael Hobson (one of the few other pre-dawn Croisette runners) is similarly extolling his group’s create-your-own-profile facility, on MOHG’s new website, which was nearly five years in the making, with the help of Isobar and also Carbone Smolan. Cleverly, click on through to the home page of Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and you get four rotating images, indicating city, retail, spa and a Caucasian man talking with a bespectacled Oriental woman. Look at the main mandarinoriental.com and the four rotations are three women and a very feminine bathtub with lots of white orchids…. Hobson is also so proud of his group’s design partners, say Sybille de Margerie who has done the stunning bedrooms at Mandarin Oriental Paris. And restaurants, both home-grown (Richard Ekkebus, in Hong Kong and, to come, Shanghai) and celebrity chefs (London’s Heston Blumenthal and Daniel Boulud). In London, by the way, stay this month and get a VIP family pass, to Father Christmas at nearby Harrods • Oh the power of shopping. At the sensational Oberoi Gurgaon – the one with the world’s largest living wall up the side of the world’s largest decorative pool – the new two-floor glass-sided Gucci store has attracted so many fashionistas that other shops, including Burberry and Jimmy Choo, have doubled sales.
Next year will see the launch of Hotel Insider – CEO Philippe Kjellgren promises that he will only be working with hotels he knows personally (“when we say it is good we know it is good”) • What else is coming up in 2013? In April, Regent Bali opens in Sanur (GM Murray Aitken). Minimum size of the 92 rooms is a staggering 900 square feet, divided roughly into bathroom, bedroom-salon, and indoor-outdoor private space. Aitken points out, incidentally, that Sanur has about the least traffic on the island. Regent President Ralf Ohletz von Plettenberg, self-styled Luxury Explorer, says new-look Regents follow founder Bob Burns’s Bed, Breakfast and Bathroom recipe, adding Bespoke • Leading’s newest member, J.K. Roma, will be run by movie star lookalike GM Samuel Porreca, who wowed the island set, including Jennifer Aniston and her now-fiancé Justin Theroux, when he – Porreca – opened J.K. Capri • At another Leading hotel, The Balmoral Edinburgh, you can, says GM Franck Arnold – a Scotsman by choice rather than by birth – talk to his tartan butler, who can research your exact plaid, and guide you to the professionals who can make up your kilts or trews (can he also arrange bagpipes lessons?).
Finally, Dorchester Collection COO François Delahaye had time for a few words before rushing off to fly to Amsterdam, where he has not got a hotel, to Singapore, where he would love one, for a board meeting. This is a lucky collection, he says. Look at its hotels! In Beverly Hills there are two iconic hotels, the more-showy Beverly Hills, coming to the end of its centenary celebrations, and the Bel-Air. Stay at one, sign in either (Delahaye was chatting to Tom Cruise in the Polo Lounge last week and, sadly, neither knew who the other was). 2013 is birthday time, in the form of the centennial of Plaza-Athenée, Paris, home of finest couture, Alain Ducasse cuisine and a winter-long ice-skating rink, while its sibling the Meurice continues its association with contemporary art. The newest Collection hotel – and its only management contract – Le Richemond in Geneva, is about to undergo a complete interior rehab. Every one of the Collection, says Delahaye (who apparently is not a follower of Mr F. Hollande) reflects its locale, although centralized technology is making company-wide guest personalization increasingly targeted.
Next ILTM is ILTM Japan, Kyoto March 11 to 13, 2013. Next year also sees ILTM Africa, Cape Town April 8 to 9, 2013; ILTM Asia, Shanghai June 3 to 6, 2013; ILTM Spa, in conjunction with Tatler Spa Awards, London September 30 to October 2, 2013; ILTM Americas, Mayakoba September 30 to October 3, 2013 – and, once again here, the original ILTM-Cannes, December 2 to 5, 2013; www.iltm.net.