When you think of luxury hotel chains, the names Ritz Carlton and Intercontinental may be the first things that pop into your mind.
Most likely you envision cookie-cutter luxury with desk-in-front-of-bed layout and beige marble bathroom duplicated from Honolulu to Houston. To change your mind, we've come up with a handful of up-and-coming hotel chains debuting new properties across the U.S. in time for winter. Even if you've never heard of them before, these hotel chains are making a mark with all-new concepts, levels of luxury and locations that have their competition shaking and giving travelers a reason to venture out in the midst of a global recession for a weekend getaway or weeklong vacation.
Epic Hotel, Miami
By: San Francisco-based Kimpton Boutique Hotels
Trademark: Groovy luxury in glassy waterfront location on Biscayne Bay
It's not your usual boutique property by San Francisco's Kimpton Hotels, a collection of groovy hotels located in buzzing locations in Aspen, Chicago and throughout California. A glassy skyscraper rises out of Biscayne Bay along the banks of the Miami River, offering an urban getaway at home among its Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental neighbors. It's not your usual Kimpton located within rehabilitated historic buildings that look as though they've had an intervention with Pottery Barn a la HGTV. Instead,
is a flagship luxury hotel with all the services you've come to expect but with a hip clientele and laid-back manner that won't call your room at 2 a.m. complaining you're too loud.
Visitors arrive to a two-story lobby accented in natural stone-and-wood paneling with a reception desk that feels more day spa than chain hotel. The lobby opens to a panoramic pool deck with a palm-lined pool arranged in cushioned loungers and furnished cabanas. Adjacent to the pool is Epic Restaurant and Lounge, a lively global eatery of sustainable, organic cuisine and nearby bar where care-free spirits party till 2 a.m. Larger than your usual Kimpton, a staggering 411 guest room offer a sedate style of rich chocolate furnishings and beds outfitted in beige and white linens opposite an exposed bathroom. Walls of glass frame awe-inspiring views of the city from even entry-level rooms, with furnished glass patios fit for a Superman landing.
Montage Beverly Hills
By: Montage Hotel and Resorts
Trademark: Largest 90210 hotel construction in over a decade
Montage Laguna Beach has been one of the hottest and priciest hotels in Southern California since opening in 2003. Commanding a staggering $700-room rate on holiday weekends, with a three-night-minimum of course, the hotel is now a chain with the opening of
and plans for a new outpost in Cabo San Lucas. The new 90210 property is located within a brand-new construction wedged between Canon and Beverly Drive in downtown Beverly Hills. The Spanish Revival hotel departs from the Montage's craftsman love affair. It's an eight-story hotel that includes a full-service restaurant, rooftop pool and 20 private residences.
Checking into the Montage Beverly Hills, one would think the hotel was always there. A roofline of terracotta tiles and landscaped garden seem to fit into the glamour-packed neighborhood, which includes Spago and Rodeo Drive just a block away. Rooms spell out Hollywood history with arched hallways and heavy wooden doors leading to spaces decorated in rich mahogany furnishings and comfy oversize chairs and chaises amongst glossy crown molding. Montage signature bathrooms feature dual sink within inlaid suede marble, dual-head rain showers and bathtub for two with recessed LCD screen for waterfront movies.
Cooper Square Hotel
By: MK Hotels NYC
Trademark: Iconic zigzag façade in trendy Bowery
It sure did cause a fuss, that zigzag tower of glass dubbed by longtime residents as "Dubai of the Bowery." Carlos Zapata, whose previous works include the Miami Airport Concourse and Chicago's Soldier Field, designed the 21-story glass-and-steel tower known as
. Its facade is all about high design, with a super-modern exterior and a lobby of wood-paneled walls stretching over two stories. Common areas are laid in natural stone floors with a sedate lounge arranged in chocolate leather loungers and circular chairs by B&B Italia. In contrast to the Zen-like outdoor garden, there's a mezzanine-level restaurant soon to debut as the NYC flagship of L.A.'s Table 8.
From the man who birthed the interiors of the Bulgari Resort Bali, Italian designer Antonio Citterio creates a grown-up getaway in the center of the Bowery. Contradicting the urban-chic decor and ruffled elegance of modern hotspots like GPH and Bowery Hotel, Citterio devotes himself to haute '80s glamour utilizing pieces from his signature collection for B&B Italia. The result is a refined, yet muted, guest room of circular lounge furnishings free of arms, high-backs or comfy cushions. Beds are outfitted with 400-count Italian Anichini-brand linens in spacious guest rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the surrounding cityscape.
Riviera Palm Springs
By: Noble House Hotels
Trademark: Historic mega-resorts restored for bling
Once the chicest resort in Palm Springs,
is once more home to the city's top tennis club and glitzy new winter social scene. The hotel is fresh off a $70 million renovation with all-new manicured courtyard and signature curved valet portico. The design recreates Palm Springs' glamorous connection with '50s Hollywood: rococo mirrors, tufted-leather furnishings and in-laid woodwork that stretches from shiny floors to gentlemanly walls and groovy ceilings. Sprawling over 24 acres, the hotel is home to one of the city's largest tennis clubs and a new restaurant, Circa 59. Lounge lizards can hit one of three bars including the sexy new poolside Bikini Bar.
A staggeringly large resort is divided into multiple two-story hotel blocks located around drive-in parking lots, tennis courts and two resort pools. Entry-level guest rooms are arranged within outlying buildings, some louder with street noise than others. Walls are lined in exotic zebrawood treatments around oversize king beds with tufted-white headboard and well-accessorized seating areas. Upgraded suites offer more generous living areas with views of the desert or the swimming pool and its assortment of lounging eye candy. Bathrooms are lined in marble floors with deep-basin tubs and separate stall showers made for sharing.
Encore Las Vegas
By: Wynn Resorts
Trademark: Second Hotel Tower with more cush and gaming glitz
Mimicking the design of Wynn's first hotel, the all-new
brings a second tower of luxury to Wynn Las Vegas. The hotel features an all-new line-up of signature restaurants by chefs like Theo Schoenegger of L.A.'s Patina Los Angeles and Marc Poidevin of Le Cirque. Night revelers discover seven bars, a yet-to-be-named nightclub and Encore Theater home to Danny Gans starting February. Common areas reflect Wynn's continued inspiration from Renaissance painters, with butterfly-print carpeting and dramatic mosaic tiling. A covered atrium contains a new European-theme pool area with private cabanas and beach club.
While rooms at Encore will be the largest on the strip, it's the detail to attention and refined quality that sets the hotel apart. Entry-level rooms ranging upwards of 700 square feet feature views of the resort pool area and downtown Las Vegas. Design features include separate living and sleeping areas with upholstered walls framed by dark wood paneling and cushy overstuffed furnishings conducive to long, lazy mornings. Marble bathrooms are installed with high-pressure rain showers and deep soaking tub with 19-inch plasma screen to keep you up to date with CNN or CNBC.
Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.