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10 Hotels Serving An Unforgettable Thanksgiving

There’s nowhere quite like home for the holidays, but all the stress that comes with preparing the perfect festive meal for your crew can leave you feeling more frazzled than thankful. This November, let the pros at these luxurious lodgings do the cooking, so you can focus on spending time with those closest to you.

From ice skating and turkey trots to multicourse meals and bountiful buffets, these Forbes Travel Guide-approved hotels are serving up all the fixings to make your Thanksgiving one to remember.

Pendry San Diego

Feast for a cause during the second annual ChefsGiving charity dinner at this sleek San Diego hotel. On November 14, 12 local toques (including Lionfish executive chef Jojo Ruiz and Top Chef Mexico alum Claudette Zepeda) will team up to prepare a family-style dinner of gourmet holiday fare (braised turkey legs, twice-baked Japanese sweet potatoes, roasted sunchoke and burrata gratin) that you can feel good about — $30 from each ticket will be donated to the San Diego Food Bank.

If you can’t snag a seat to the charitable gathering, you can still enjoy seasonal treats on November 28 with Provisional’s three-course Thanksgiving menu.

Today In: Lifestyle

Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills

Savor Turkey Day with a side of sunshine when you spend the holiday at this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Beverly Hills hideaway. On November 28, dig into a French-accented feast of roasted turkey roulade and caramelized pear and pecan stuffing at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended bistro Avec Nous.

After polishing off a pumpkin tart, visit the Lobby Lounge & Bar for seasonal sips (cider for kids, cognac cocktails for grownups) and, maybe, a star sighting or two. And with the SoCal hotel’s Family Festivity offer, you’ll sleep soundly knowing that you not only saved 50 percent off a second room for the tots, but scored pint-sized robes and gratis breakfast in the morning, too.

Park Hyatt Chicago

While this posh Michigan Avenue property may make for an ideal home base for some Black Friday shopping, its culinary display the night before at NoMI Kitchen should not be overlooked. Book a spot for the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant’s popular Turkey Day buffet to indulge in an array of chef’s stations featuring everything from sushi and antipasti to classics like truffle- and sage-brined turkey with cranberry-cornbread stuffing.

And don’t miss a trip to the decadent dessert bar. Treats like cranberry-jam- and gingerbread-cream-stuffed choux puffs and pumpkin pie with whipped white chocolate Chantilly ganache will provide a sweet ending to the day.

Viejas Resort & Casino

Get into the spirit of the season with a visit to Southern California’s largest outdoor ice skating rink at this Four-Star resort just outside San Diego. Lace up your skates and glide across the rink beneath twinkling lights that will put you in a festive mood.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, refuel with The Buffet at Viejas’ Thanksgiving Day menu . The carving station will serve up autumnal specialties like smoked turkey breast with port wine demi-glace, and bourbon honey ham with currant sauce alongside all the trimmings.

If you’re craving a more romantic holiday, be sure to check in at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Willows Hotel & Spa at Viejas, an all-suite, adults-only oasis just steps from the action.

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Rather than just one day of celebration, make a weekend of it when you spend Thanksgiving at this Five-Star Southern charmer just outside of Charleston. Kick off the holiday with a turkey trot on the beach, followed by a turkey hunt, family sand sculpting competition and fall festival complete with live music and pumpkin bowling.

When it comes time for dinner, you’ll find an array of scrumptious-sounding feasts, from football and a festive atmosphere at The Players’ Pub to a fall-inspired, multi-course menu in The Ocean Room.

On November 29, the Christmas season gets into full swing with the property’s annual tree lighting ceremony, a holiday bazaar workshop where you can make your own gifts and a hot-cocoa-accompanied showing of The Polar Express.

The Garden City Hotel

Add a little romance to your Thanksgiving festivities when you book the Fall Celebrations package at this grand Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Long Island favorite.

Soak in the stunning fall foliage (and give thanks for some time alone together) from the comfort of your plush room while enjoying epicurean extras like apple confections, locally crafted hard cider and a $50 credit you can apply toward seasonal fare at Red Salt Room by David Burke.

If you still have room after all those goodies, pull up a seat for the property’s Thanksgiving Grand Brunch Buffet. Also curated by chef Burke, the elaborate spread features everything from turkey and sides to breakfast staples (an omelet station, vanilla French toast) and Mediterranean mezze (hummus, grilled haloumi cheese).

Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection

Skiers hit the Thanksgiving jackpot this year as Aspen Mountain opens for the season on November 28. Be one of the first to cruise the slopes and work up an appetite for a holiday feast at this historic Four-Star hotel.

From 2 to 8 p.m., restaurant Prospect will present a bountiful buffet of fall favorites (butternut squash bisque, citrus-herb-roasted turkey with cranberry sauce) and succulent seafood (an oyster- and shrimp-packed raw bar) to help you round out your alpine holiday.

Archer Hotel Austin

For a Thanksgiving feast with Southwestern flair, head to this trendy Forbes Travel Guide Recommended boutique hotel, where Second Bar + Kitchen (the second outpost from the popular local restaurant) will cook up a mouthwatering spread. Nibble on chipotle-corn muffins with honey-lime butter while piling your plate with maple-mustard-glazed Niman Ranch ham and roasted sweet potatoes with bourbon apples.

Get a head-start on your holiday shopping (and work off those tasty indulgences) by browsing the array of high-end stores in the nearby Domain Northside retail district. Be sure to snap a selfie or two with the neighborhood’s unique decorations — Cowboy Santa and the 10-foot-tall Willie Nelson nutcracker offer a quirky taste of Austin.

Belmond Charleston Place

Always a go-to for special occasions in the Holy City, this regal Four-Star retreat’s Charleston Grill is pulling out all the stops in late November with a three-course meal fit for a debutante.

Snag a table in the elegant Four-Star restaurant’s wood-paneled dining room to savor festive French-inspired plates like foie gras with rosemary, braised rabbit with potato dumplings and crab cakes. Of course, traditional herb-roasted turkey with all the fixings is also available for Thanksgiving purists.

End your evening on a sweet note with a pumpkin pie pot de crème, served with a comforting apple turnover and cinnamon whipped cream.

The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park

For an unforgettable holiday, check into this recently refreshed Five-Star classic where unbeatable views of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade come standard.

Book the Specialty Suites promotion to not only receive ultra-plush accommodations facing the parade route, but also a slew of celebratory extras like in-suite brunch, a one-hour session with a personal photographer and a $250 credit at Four-Star La Prairie at The Ritz-Carlton Spa.

Cap off your indulgent stay with a three-course Thanksgiving dinner at the posh property’s newly opened Contour restaurant. Fall-tinged dishes like New Bedford scallops with apple cider glaze and sweet potato gnocchi with hazelnut cream sauce add a modern twist to the menu. —Sarah Chanin

Forbes Travel Guide, formerly Mobil, created America’s original hospitality Star Rating system in 1958. Since then, its team of incognito inspectors have checked into thousands of hotels, dined at just as many restaurants, and experienced scores of spa treatments to bring you information on the very best places to stay, eat and relax around the world. Throughout ForbesTravelGuide.com, you’ll find Star-Rated and recommended hotels, restaurants and spas, as well as information on destinations and activities, created by Forbes Travel Guide’s team of professional editors, correspondents, expert and inspectors.

Source: 10 Hotels Serving An Unforgettable Thanksgiving

 

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The World’s 44 Best Hotel Bars

Giuseppe Carillo rolls the Five-Star hotel’s heaving gin trolley over to your group. Then the bouffant-haired mixologist specialist with a boyish smile wordlessly studies each person and makes a snap recommendation to suit their palate. His predictions hit the spot—a yuzu-forward Ki No Bi gin from Kyoto selection for a citrus fan and Iron Balls from Thailand for someone seeking a taste of the exotic.

Once he receives approval, Carillo gets to work, expertly measuring out proportions, cutting up fresh fruit, swirling cinnamon sticks and coaxing the fragrant oil from an orange rind. As he concocts the G&Ts, he regales the crowd with stories about the gins and life in glitzy Macau.

The tableside trolley, the warm and knowledgeable service, the chanteuse belting out standards in the background and the personalized cocktails all add up to a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s why The Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge landed on Forbes Travel Guide’s 2019 list of the World’s Best Hotel Bars.

The best-of list comes from comprehensive data gathered by the company’s inspectors, who stay at nearly 1,100 hotels anonymously and evaluate them based on up to 900 standards for the guide’s annual Star Ratings, which were unveiled in February.

Being named one of Forbes Travel Guide’s Best Hotel Bars isn’t just a matter of serving top-notch drinks or having a certain atmosphere; the venues had to demonstrate an exceptional beverage program, presentation and service. Winners made the data-driven list by scoring top marks on bar standards related to elements of luxury. For example, inspectors checked to see if the beverages had a distinctive presentation, the snacks were high quality, the napkins were linen or cotton, and the overall bar experience was impressive.

The bars also had to achieve near-perfect scores on food and beverage quality standards, which measure things such as whether the cocktails are well-balanced and served at the right temperature.

Get acquainted with the top hotel drinking destinations below.

American Bar, The Savoy, London

Britain’s oldest-surviving cocktail bar wrote the primer on classic drinks (1930’s The Savoy Cocktail Book). Visit the icon to try something vintage (White Lady with gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, egg white) or new (Electric Lover, a “Purple Rain”-inspired tipple with glitter).

Oriental Lounge, Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo

Gaze out across Tokyo to Mount Fuji from the floor-to-ceiling windows of this sophisticated 38th-floor lounge. To drink in the view longer, order a Manhattan, Scotch egg with truffle mayonnaise and katsu sando (pork cutlet sandwich).

Il Bar, Bulgari Resort Bali

Watch the sky erupt into violet over the ocean during sunset at this alfresco bar. For a proper sundowner, try the Bulgari Cocktail (concocted with Beefeater gin, Campari and orange, lime and pineapple juices).

Bistrot B Lounge • Bar, Rosewood Beijing

During the day, impeccably dressed executives head into the neutral-hued bar in Beijing’s business district for caffeine, but at night they go there to loosen their ties, graze on spicy almonds and roasted macadamia nuts, and order rounds of Old Fashioneds.

The Club Bar, The Peninsula Beverly Hills

Hollywood power players fill the tan leather chairs in the California-birch-lined bar. Work the room while sipping a Blossoming Indigo (made with Empress gin, cucumber, lemon juice, rhubarb and tonic) and snacking on manchego, kettle-cooked potato chips and marinated Kalamata, Manzanilla and Liguria olives.

Rowes Wharf Bar, Boston Harbor Hotel

The handsome bar boasts Boston’s largest scotch collection, but it also takes pride in crafting cocktails like the Irish Rose (a mix of Tyrconnell Irish Whiskey, Boston Bittahs, angostura bitters, simple syrup, smoked rose buds). Either way, you can’t lose.

Park Lounge, Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Carlsbad, California

Get a glimpse of the sun sinking into the Pacific while nursing a nutty Liquid Sky (with Don Julio Blanco, housemade almond Tajín simple syrup, lime juice and orange bitters) and munching on tequila-lime-marinated almonds.

Z Bar, The Peninsula Chicago

On sizzling nights, cool off at this chic rooftop terrace with The Z (a combination of mint, cucumber, Italian bergamot rosolio and Koval gin). And when chilly weather arrives, warm up by the fire with daikon frites (daikon fingers with Chinese sausage, garlic chives, radish and white soy).

33°North, Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, California

Southern California’s ever present sun begs for a tropical tipple like the Beached Quail (with Smith & Cross rum, Wild Turkey 101, orange curaçao, pineapple, cinnamon syrup and lime juice). Bring it to the patio and toast to the gorgeous sunset.

Bahri Bar, Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, Dubai

Live bands and DJs pump soul and jazz into this bar that overlooks the waterways and the Arabian Gulf. Soak up the scene while partaking in a mezze platter and a Behind the Times (Glenfiddich Project with date-honey syrup and aromatic bitters).

Le Bar des Bergues, Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva

Mere feet from Lake Geneva, Le Bar des Bergues lets you imbibe while admiring the blasting Jet d’Eau and soaring Mont Blanc. You’re guaranteed drinks as good as the view: It’s helmed by Sophie Larrouture, who became Switzerland’s best bartender when she won the World Class competition in 2016.

The Bar, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

At The Bar, illuminated waterfalls trickle and a weekend jazz band livens the crowd, but your attention will be on cocktails featuring local ingredients, like the popular Genuine Care (a fusion of gin, sake and sencha green tea produced in Kyoto, plus yuzu jam and zest, grapefruit, chamomile-pineapple syrup and liquorice bitters), and indulgent dishes like Japanese caviar and kuroge wagyu burgers.

Alpina Lounge & Bar, The Alpina Gstaad, Gstaad, Switzerland

To take in the Swiss Alps, visit this rustic-modern watering hole, order a fruity Hattori Hanzo (a blend of sake, apple juice, peach liqueur and rose syrup) and peer through the floor-to-ceiling windows framing the mountains. Or venture out to the terrace for a closer look.

M Bar, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

Zip up to the 25th floor for a rooftop hot spot overlooking glittering cityscapes and Victoria Harbour. The sultry, dimly lit space shakes up lavish libations (like the Bespoke Champagne Cocktail with Rémy Martin Louis XIII, Krug Grande Cuvée and gold flakes) and serves fare from Five-Star chef Pierre Gagnaire.

Ritz Bar, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

Visit this crimson-hued bar for a low-key vibe and bold drinks with local ties, like the vodka-based 18 3838, whose ultraviolet shade pays homage to the city’s jacaranda trees, and Gorreana Ice Tea 1883, a tribute to Europe’s oldest tea plantation in the Azores.

The Executive Lounge, Hotel 41, London

The elegant bar showers hotel guests with complimentary food, like tea-smoked duck and plum jam, croque monsieur and a freezer of Jude’s Ice Cream in flavors like gin and tonic. Cap off your snacking with an espresso martini.

Connaught Bar, The Connaught, London

The silver and gray bar channels Gatsby glamour. Go for a nostalgic number (such as the Champagne cocktail Fleurissimo, which honors former guest Princess Grace of Monaco) or an original option (like Illumination, which has Bacardi 8 rum, Michoacan mezcal, Sangue Morlacco, chocolate malt Chablis, Galliano L’Aperitivo, cardamom bitters and fig molasses).

Martini Bar, The Villas at AYANA Resort, BALI

There’s more to this open-air Bali spot than martinis. Sidle up to the glass-topped bar for the Grilled Chicken Colada—rum-infused pineapple, coconut puree, vanilla syrup, pineapple juice and housemade chicken stock arrive in a whimsical drumstick-shaped vessel.

Artesian, The Langham, London

As bars keep pushing flashy presentations and complex cocktails that make for good Instagram fodder, this beloved haunt is bucking the trend and paring back. Minimalist tipples like Michter’s bourbon and pear let the quality ingredients shine.

The Bar, The Peninsula Manila

Bedecked in checkered flooring and wood walls, the bar gleans inspiration from an old Cuban-cigar factory (it’s the hotel’s smoking area). Sample pica-pica (finger food) like pork sisig croquetas (balls of creamy béchamel and crispy pork) and Sriracha butter duck wings, and sip on the Batangas Old Fashioned, which swaps in Maker’s Mark infused with Kapeng Barako (a Filipino coffee variety).

The Bar, Royal Mansour Marrakech

When you’re in an opulent hotel owned by the king of Morocco, you know that the bar will be a stunner. The space doesn’t disappoint, with floor-to-ceiling mirrors coated in rose-gold leaf bearing white-gold foliage designs that create infinite reflections. Imbibe like royalty with a flute of Royal Mansour (Champagne Billecart-Salmon infused with fresh raspberries and Sahara honey).

MO Bar + Lounge, Mandarin Oriental, Miami

Reach for The Made and the Born (with gin, bourbon syrup, Florida citrus, bitters and nutmeg) and the ceviche roll at this posh lounge. Then sway to live Cuban jazz or Spanish guitar, or simply enjoy panoramas of the water and the skyline from the wall of windows.

GŎNG, Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London

Europe’s highest hotel bar delivers breathtaking London views. But peel your eyes from the 52nd-floor vistas to take in the Hong Kong Saudade—a fruity spin on the caipirinha made with Abelha cachaca, HKB Baijiu, peach liqueur, white peach purée, agave syrup, peach bitters and lime juice.

The St. Regis Bar & Wine Vault, The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Miami

This modern gem gleams with black marble floors and antique mirrored walls. Wine is the drink of choice in these sleek surroundings. The impressive vault carries 2,500 bottles from 450 vineyards and 14 different countries.

Caffè Parigi, Palazzo Parigi Hotel & Grand Spa Milano

Escape from the bustle of Milan at this dreamy Paris-inspired bar, which has a hand-painted ceiling, inlaid parquet, abundant art and a private garden. A refuge within the green space, the Winter Garden is where to linger over Aperol spritzes during aperitivo (Milan’s riff on the happy hour).

Le Bar, Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris

You’ll want to stay a while in the tufted chairs fronting the fireplace at the inviting Le Bar. Sip the delectable Lips Like Sugar (with saffron-infused Patron Silver, Aperol, grapefruit juice, green lemon, beer syrup and aquafaba) while you warm up.

Le Bar du Bristol, Le Bristol Paris

During the day, the stylish bar offers seasonally changing cocktails and gourmet bites like king crab spring rolls and black truffle pizzetta from respected chef Eric Frechon. But at night (Thursday to Saturday), it transforms into B.A.D. (Bristol After Dark), with DJs and debauchery.

Ritz Bar, Ritz Paris

The hotel’s first bar debuted in 1921 to cater to guests like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. It delightfully remains in that era, with Art Deco décor and sterling service. For a taste of the modern, order the Kaffir (an amalgam of mezcal, kaffir syrup, maraschino, Bénédictine and angostura).

Les Ambassadeurs, Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel, Paris

Under a painted blue-sky ceiling, the luxurious bar is swathed in marble and gold. Catch the daily live music; nosh on black truffle and Comté finger sandwiches, and foie gras and orange wine jelly with ginger bread; and sip bubbly—Les Ambassadeurs serves more than 100 different kinds.

Thirsty Camel, The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona

Pop into the cheekily named bar for a Cloud Nine (Belvedere vodka, St-Germain, lime juice, mint, cucumber, simple syrup and egg white), regional fare like empanadas and churros, and live music. Don’t miss the striking Sonoran sunset from the terrace.

Carlton Bar & Lobby with Terrace, Carlton Hotel St. Moritz

It’s hard to pick which is cozier: sitting near the flames of two 1913 fireplaces in the wood-paneled lobby or under a blanket in the sun-soaked terrace overlooking the frozen lake and snowy mountains. You’ll feel even more snug with an Apple Pie in the Sky (made with Etter Vieille Pomme Royale, cinnamon liqueur, apple juice, chestnut honey and Louis Roederer Champagne).

The Oak Room, The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club, Sea Island, Georgia

Look out on the golf course at this members- and hotel-guests-only bar that turns out Southern staples (such as chicken and dumplings and shrimp and grits) to go with your single-malt scotch. It’s enough to make you want to check into the Five-Star hotel.

The Bar, Aman Venice

Venice was a muse for one-time resident Lord Byron, and the writer inspired this tony bar facing a Grand Canal-side secret garden. While the bar stocks the city’s largest gin collection, try the Vigorous (bourbon, vanilla, chamomile, chocolate bitters, muscovado sugar and orange smoke) to pair with the cicchetti (Venetian tapas), including crispy gnocchi and baccalà (salt cod).

Bar Cristal, Encore Macau

The Macau bar sparkles with a mirror-backed bar, etched-glass accents and an ornate 19th-century chandelier from France. The intimate, sumptuous surroundings call for popping open a bottle of Louis Roederer.

The Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge, The Ritz-Carlton, Macau

Perched on the 51st floor of the hotel, this glamorous, low-lit bar draws lots of locals with its warm, wood-filled space; lofty views of the sprawling Galaxy Macau complex; and luscious drinks like Padua Punch (Aperol, pisco, Riesling, lime juice, simple syrup, orange juice, bitters and egg white).

Garden Room, Weekapaug Inn, Westerly, Rhode Island

Sit in one of the antique Stickley chairs and savor a taste of New England at this bar with some comforting clam chowder or a fresh lobster roll, along with a Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned (Sapling maple bourbon from Vermont, water, bitters).

Skyview Bar & Restaurant, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai

Peek at the floating fronds of Palm Jumeirah from the 27th floor of the sail-shaped Dubai hotel while savoring decadent drinks like the Burj Royale (with marries Louis Roederer Brut and Stolichnaya vanilla vodka with Chambord, raspberries and blackberries).

Atrium Bar, Four Seasons Hotel Firenze

Tucked inside a 15th-century Florence palazzo, the light-filled lounge emanates Old World grandeur. Sink into the plush sofa, order from the Negroni trolley and nosh on bar bites like tempura Parmigiano or ricotta mousse with smoked duck.

Great Room, The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Montana

Only guests of the Five-Star ranch can slip into this rustic bar for some country music and refreshments. The Bandito (made with coriander-infused añejo tequila) arrives on a cowhide coaster, alongside snacks like roasted green beans topped with toasted breadcrumbs and marinated maitake mushrooms.

The Bar at The Dorchester, London

A fixture at the popular lounge for more than 30 years, bar manager Giuliano Morandin says that patrons clamor for the Martinez (Dorchester Old Tom, Punt e Mes, Maraschino Luxardo, Boker’s bitters)—the forerunner to the martini. Order it with one of Morandin’s favorite dishes, the seafood linguine.

Mandarin Bar & Bistrot, Mandarin Oriental, Milan

In Italy’s fashion capital, Mandarin Bar looks the part with black-and-white kaleidoscopic mosaic marble walls. But its courtyard goes for the natural look with greenery and soft lighting. No matter your style, seek out a Treasure Map (Veuve Clicquot Rich; pineapple, yuzu, mint and green chili pepper; and Williams pear liqueur).

Post Bar, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore

The underlit honey-onyx tables make the space look new, but the white coffered ceiling and red postal boxes are remnants of the 1928 building’s former life as the General Post Office. Try the Mile Zero Cocktail (with vodka, Irish cream liqueur and Milo powder).

Inara, Four Seasons Resort Marrakech

Bougainvillea and olive and palm trees blanket this 40-acre Moorish retreat. For the most picturesque perspective, head to Inara’s terrace to admire the fountain rimmed with towering trees. Expect drinks with ingredients like mint, ginger and dates.

Koubba Bar, Jumeirah Al Qasr, Dubai

Sip a gin and tonic (there’s a menu dedicated to them) from an alfresco sofa next to the treetops of surrounding palms. As the sun wanes, arabesque lanterns light up so that you can work your way through the various G&Ts into the wee hours.

 

Source: The World’s 44 Best Hotel Bars

He Started as a Doorman at a Marriott. Now He Runs a $3 Billion Hotel Empire

When Alan Fuerstman, 62, picked up a part time job as a doorman at the Marriott in his hometown, he saw it as a way to make a few bucks before going on to college. Instead, it opened up an entirely new path: invigorating the sometimes staid and stuffy world of luxury resorts. Today, the management company he founded in 2002, Montage International, has a portfolio of hotels, resorts, and private residences worth almost $3 billion; last year company revenues exceeded $400 million. –As told to Sheila Marikar

 

My first job was as a part time doorman at a Marriott in Saddle Brook, New Jersey. I was a high school senior–I was hired to work Saturday and Sunday nifghts. A couple of weeks in, the weeknight guy resigned, and I was asked if I could pick up additional hours. I was playing competitive tennis then, but between that and school, I was still able to work four to five nights a week, plus weekends. I’d call a cab for guests and load luggage into cars, clean snow off windshields in the winter.

 

When I graduated, I was promoted to bellman. I took it really seriously, and I met a lot of fascinating people. Like a man by the name of Bob Small. He and his wife checked in one Saturday night, and he started peppering me with questions: “What’s it like in this area? What’s it like to work in this hotel?” A few weeks later, a co-worker says “Look alive. Here comes the new general manager.” It was Bob. He ended up becoming the CEO of Fairmont Hotels, and a mentor to me.

 

I went to Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and majored in political science. I spent a semester in Washington, D.C., interning for a young, dynamic senator named Joe Biden. I thought I would go to law school. But the summer after I graduated, I took some time off, went out to California–and Bob said, “come visit me in the desert.” He was opening the Rancho Las Palmas resort in Rancho Mirage, California.

 

I had introduced Bob to my uncle, who’s a lawyer, and Bob said: “Come on. Do you really want to be a lawyer?” He offered me a full time job, and I took it.

I got a firsthand look at everything that goes into the opening of a hotel: what it takes to get your staff motivated, how to keep food and beverage running smoothly on a holiday weekend when the restaurants are packed. I went into Marriott’s management training program, was assigned to be the front desk manager of the Newport Beach Marriott, and then went on to manage that hotel’s housekeeping department. I was 22.

 

Later I was recruited to become the general manager of a resort and country club in Arizona, after which I got involved in resort development. In 1994, we acquired the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale for $240 million. I went there as the managing director, and by 1998 it was worth close to $500 million–it was running more smoothly, the level of service was higher, and the guests were happier.

 

That was maybe the first time I thought, “Hey, maybe I could do my own thing. Maybe I can create a company of extraordinary value.

 

I went to a beach resort in the South–I won’t say which–and they required men to wear sports coats in the lobby in the evening. It struck me as odd. Old-fashioned, and way too formal–I didn’t want to put on a sports coat. I thought the next generation of luxury consumers would be looking for a more gracious and humble approach to service. Fewer rules, but still incredibly focused on craftsmanship, quality, and attention to detail. And that luxury could be best served by a smaller company. Some of the leading luxury operators had 50, 60 hotels in their portfolio, and were getting a bit large.

 

I raised the capital and launched my own company in 2002. A developer showed me a place in Laguna Beach, on the Southern California coast, that seemed like the ideal location for our first hotel, but I didn’t have a brand yet. The name I had come up with was Platinum Hotel Group, which was a placeholder. I went to my advertising agency; they gave me hundreds of names but nothing felt just right. I went to a publicity company, and said, “Whoever comes up with the right name gets $10,000.” But, again, nothing hit me quite right.

 

Laguna Beach started as an artist colony, so I thought I’d look at artistic words. By this point, we were going through the financial transaction; I was getting desperate. I went to an online art reference guide, started with the A’s, B’s, C’s … I got to the M’s and saw montage, described as an “artful collection or compilation.”

 

I said, “Wow, that’s exactly what I’m looking to do.” It sounded good off the tongue–and it wasn’t being used in the industry. I called up the lawyers and trademarked the name.

I’ve always felt that great hotels are centerpieces of communities, so I wanted the community of Laguna Beach to embrace what we were doing. Before opening, we invited all the residents for a champagne toast. Community pride in your hotel then spreads further and further, and ultimately gets to a point where you have a national or international reputation.

 

Luxury in the older sense was scripted: “Here’s what you say, and how you say it.” For us, it really hasn’t changed in terms of trying to make sure that every guest has a truly special experience, but that starts with stripping away formalities. When well-trained staff members can display their own personalities, they create deeper relationships with guests. It’s those relationships that drive the repeat nature of our business–which is critical to the long-term success of a hotel.

 

We now have eight hotels and resorts, with nine more slated to open by 2021. In 2017, we started Pendry, which specializes in what we call “new luxury.” Pendry hotels have more hip food and beverage spaces. They’re more design-forward. They’re cooler.

That’s probably because my son Michael is in charge of that brand.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Bob Smalls surname and misstated the number of Montage International hotels and resorts; there are eight and nine more are expected by 2021. Additionally, the photo caption mistakenly used the wrong name for the company. 

 

By: Sheila Marikar

Source: He Started as a Doorman at a Marriott. Now He Runs a $3 Billion Hotel Empire

How A Hotel Earned Five Stars For Five Years

Managing director Robert Schofield

Managing director Robert Schofield

The Langham, Chicago

It’s difficult to earn a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award — only 20 percent of all hotels rated attain the honor — but it’s even harder to maintain it. The Langham, Chicago hit a hot streak, winning the top accolade for five years in a row. The 52-story riverfront hotel also holds the distinction of having the only Five-Star spa in the city.

We talked to hotel managing director Robert Schofield to find out what it takes to achieve excellence year after year, the most underrated amenity at the property and what you should do on your next Chicago visit.

Take A Dip In The Pool

Take A Dip In The Pool

The Langham, Chicago

What’s The Langham, Chicago’s secret to continual Five-Star success?

The Langham brand itself was not very well-known in the United States when we decided to build the Chicago company, and therefore we were faced with some real big challenges in terms of our competition because we have some really great hotels here in Chicago — the Peninsula, the Waldorf and the Ritz.

We said, “Okay, how are we going to introduce a sort of limited name, not a lot of recognition, a Five-Star property against the big brands?” The only way we could do that was to establish the best hotel.

We set about seeing what standards we would need to do that. [We blended] in the Forbes [Travel Guide] standards into Langham brand standards and then basically created a vision for all our colleagues that we employ.

Most importantly, with any product at all, it’s the consistency of that product. So to make sure that we were consistent in what is a human service type of business is in many ways much more challenging than creating a motorcar or suit or any other product that you put to the public. They can test it before they go out, and therefore the guest gets something that has already been checked as being perfect.

Human beings aren’t quite the same in terms of being perfect, and we have to instill a culture into the hotel whereby each colleague actually feels ownership of our product. And through ownership of our product, they have to engage with our guests, they effectively have to take that ownership to deal with any guest inquiry at any point in time. And through tens and twenties of thirties of contact points in that whole of the guest experience, not one of those can be adverse. Because as we all know, the one that you remember is the one that doesn’t go well.

Infinity Suite

Infinity Suite

The Langham, Chicago

We don’t employ guest relations managers in the hotel, which is odd. I know many, many Five-Star hotels do. The philosophy behind that was really every single colleague has to take responsibility to be the guest relations manager. So effectively everybody has to take action on the spot to meet the needs of the guest. The key thing there is each and every one of our colleagues is personally empowered to do that. We expect it from every one of our colleagues. And we orientate them to that right at the beginning. We try to employ colleagues that are willing to take ownership, that are naturally hospitable, keen to please the guest, and this will create a total environment whereby everybody is a guest relations manager.

If we have guests who leave without great memories, we have failed. We have a beautiful stage, a beautiful hotel. But a stage is a stage, and at the end of the day, it’s the performance on that stage that creates the memories for our guests.

To make something consistent, you have to have processes in place. Once those processes are in place, you have to continually review what your colleagues are doing. The same way that if you were a producer of a stage production, you would be watching what everybody was doing on that stage all of the time to make sure everything was perfect and was in accordance in what your goals and objectives were.

We have the same attitude with our departmental managers. They effectively have their stages via the Pavilion restaurant, Travelle restaurant or spa. It doesn’t matter which location in the hotel — the manager in charge of that, it’s their show. They have to watch the body language, they have to watch the reactions of our colleagues towards guests and basically make sure they are in full compliance with the training we’ve given them.

But most of all, it’s hiring the right people who actually want to do this and want to be part of building the reputation of the hotel, maintaining the reputation of the hotel.

Pavilion

Pavilion

The Langham, Chicago

What are the biggest challenges of running a Five-Star hotel?

The biggest challenge is to be better every day. You can never rest on your laurels, you have to effectively all day, every day, look at every aspect of the operation and see how it can be better, whether the maintenance department, the kitchen, the restaurant, the spa — the whole team has to continually be looking to see how they can get better.

Challenges come and go. The market conditions in a hotel change. Sometimes you’ll have a bigger demand in the marketplace, sometimes a lesser demand. Maybe new hotels are built and that becomes challenge, because now the guest has more opportunities. We have to build guest loyalty through their interactions with us so they will continually come back and spend time with us.

The challenges going forward: it’s a tight labor market in Chicago and nationally. We have to make sure we hire the right people. We only hire 2 percent of the applicants that actually apply to us. We have to make sure we retain the colleagues we have, and we do that through a big concentration on our colleagues in terms of what their individual needs are for the next five years. We look at the succession planning processes that we incorporate into the hotel. We train people, we recognize and respect each and every our colleagues for the part they play. At the end of the day, it’s a one team, one dream situation. Our goal now is to become a legendary Langham.

In your five years of having the Five-Star award, how has the luxury traveler changed?

I think much more casual elegance as opposed to formal elegance. Things don’t change drastically over a five-year period. But things tend to evolve. The world is a much more casual environment. We maintain a graciousness. We definitely don’t want to be formal and stuffy — and we never were when we opened the hotel.

Travelle
The Langham, Chicago

What’s an underrated feature at the hotel?

I think the club lounge on the 13th floor. Many hotels in the past had butlers that went to guest rooms and knocked on doors to ask if guests effectively wanted any services.

We incorporated our butlers into our club lounge, which is a very unique, relaxing area with food available for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. And that has been so popular. The panoramic view covers Lake Michigan and the whole of the riverwalk and the river itself.

The goal of the butlers in the club lounge is to have a private check-in facility and very much a personalized level of service whereby the guest meets the butlers all day long, rather than just meeting them when they have tea in a normal situation. Now the butlers get the guests the minute they arrive, they check them in, they escort them to the room, they provide other services for them if they want a bath run or want their luggage unpacked.

How has Chicago changed in the six years you’ve been at the Langham?

We’ve seen a very lovely evolvement on the Chicago Riverwalk whereby the walking and entertainment area has been expanded for a great distance all the way up to Lake Street. That is literally what we look out onto — the Chicago Riverwalk and the Chicago River. So that’s been much more of a leisure destination now, which has brought a lot of business down into this part of town where we are located.

What are some of your favorite places in Chicago?

The riverwalk. You have all the restaurants, you have the kayaking — it’s lovely. The architectural tour is obviously right outside our windows, and that is such a popular thing for anybody coming to Chicago.

If you want to go a little further north, you can go to Lincoln Park. I personally love that area for walking dogs. It has a zoo, it has the lakefront down there, it has a lot of people sunbathing during the summer months and bicycling up and down there all year round. It’s a really memorable section of Chicago, for sure.

Forbes Travel Guide, formerly Mobil, created America’s original hospitality Star Rating system in 1958.

Source: How A Hotel Earned Five Stars For Five Years

Marriott Hackers Stole Data On 500 Million Guests Passports And Credit Card Info Included – Thomas Brewster

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One of the year’s biggest hacks has just been revealed. Hotel chain giant Marriott admitted 500 million guests had been hit by an attack that dates back at least four years. The company said Friday the information was taken from the Starwood guest reservation database. It amounts to a goldmine of data for any would-be identity thief, or a government surveillance operative. For 327 million, the information included “some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest (“SPG”) account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date and communication preferences…….

 

 

 

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These are the Top 10 hotels in Singapore among travellers according to TripAdvisor

(Source: sg.style.yahoo.com) Travel site TripAdvisor unveiled the top 10 hotels among travellers in Singapore on Tuesday (23 Jan). The results were based on reviews and opinions collected by the website on 2017. Related stories: 7 T+L Editor-designed Dream Trips You Can Book Right NowIn photos: Travel + Leisure names Canada ‘destination of the year 2017’Singapore […]

via These are the Top 10 hotels in Singapore among travellers according to TripAdvisor — Kopitiam Bot

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