Hotel Openings Give Travel Slump a Jolt

From Dubai to Hollywood, chains are co-opting the high style of boutiques and set to beat the odds.
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The arrival of fall means many of the world's top hotel chains unveiling properties, many in all-new locations. Unlike last year's openings, many planned well before the recent travel slump, these hoteliers had the foresight of knowing the kind of hospitality market they'd be entering and were able to plan and coordinate openings accordingly. With a few gimmicks and more than a few common themes, this season's top new hotels bring a bit of glitz and glamour back to travel for some sensational fall getaways.

SHANGRI-LA GOES TO EUROPE

With new hotel locations in Vancouver and Hong Kong,

Shangri-La Hotel and Resorts

is on a building spree, even expanding its already impressive presence in Asia with early 2012 openings in Singapore and Shanghai. But late November ushers in a rare hotel opening: the chain's first ever in Europe, the Shangri-La Hotel Paris. Striding the edge of the 16th Arrondissement with views of the Eiffel Tower and Trocadero, an 1896 Haussmann-style building has been meticulously restored by architect Richard Martinet.

For the hotel's 109 guest rooms, French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon (known for the Four Seasons Florence and Le Grand Hôtel du Cap Ferrat) works wonders with his signature "empire style" -- another first for the Shangri-La. The chain is partial to luxuriously sparse, Zen-inspired high-rise business hotels, but this first of five upcoming European openings (Vienna, Moscow and London are next) proves to have a whole different type of visual luxury. The hotel will be home to two formal eateries, one French and the other Cantonese, and a day spa and solarium-style swimming pool.

KEMPINSKI DEBUTS ON THE PALM

It's not a good time to be opening a hotel on Dubai's manmade palm-shaped island, but in October comes the debut of the

Kempinski Hotel and Residences Palm Jumeirah

from the namesake German luxury hotel conglomerate. It's only one of the nearly 10 planned hotels on the island chain, but Kempinski stands out anyway among the

Fairmount Hotels & Resorts

,

Rixos Hotels

,

Movenpick Hotels & Resorts

and

Sofitel

projects, on which opening dates have been pushed back up to two years. Work at some projects, such as the

Trump International Tower

(TRMP)

, have stopped completely.

The Kempinski Hotel and Residences Palm Jumeirah debuts this fall on Dubai's notorious palm-shaped, manmade island.

Regardless, this is quite a Kempinski. The dramatic interior lobby atrium, with double marble staircase and towering rotunda detailed in gold leaf and white-pillared balconies, is equal parts Cinderella and wedding cake fantasy. The beachfront hotel has residential-style suites with full kitchens and private pools, as well as a selection of private freestanding five-bedroom villas. They look like miniature palaces along the property's perimeter, complete with rooftop pools and Jacuzzis overlooking a white-sand beach and Dubai skyline.

SBE HOTEL REDUX IN HOLLYWOOD

Los Angeles has seen its fair share of bumps during the recession, and it's particularly affected development in its Hollywood district. Plans for a Palihouse Hollywood -- a second act to a West Hollywood boutique hotel by the same name popular with reclusive actors on location -- were disrupted by a bankruptcy sale.

CIM Group

acquired the property and cut a management deal for

SBE Hotels

, owners of SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, to oversee the property and finish its stylish interior.

The Redbury

is at Hollywood and Vine, a super-chic boutique concept in the shadow of the ominous W Hollywood towers -- the antithesis of the hotel's approachably ruddy street frontage. On the inside are flower-power throws with gold paisley wallpaper and Martin Baas-designed chairs with red velvet curtains, which feels very

Kelly Wearstler

-gone-Manson -- Charles, not Marilyn. Credit the saturated look to celeb photographer Mathew Rolston. Located directly opposite SBE's Katsuya Hollywood sushi restaurant, The Redbury has a built-in clientele for its new Cleo restaurant, which specializes in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern small dishes known as Mezze and a vegetarian menu from an in-house stone oven.

MARRIOTT GETS ITS COOL ON

In its first foray,

Edition Hotels

by

Marriott

(MAR) - Get Report

finds a fitting home in the former-Ilikai's Yacht Harbor Tower. Marriot owns the hotel brands Ritz Carlton, J.W. Marriott and Renaissance, but Edition is its shot at matching the "cool" quotient of

Starwood's

(HOT)

W Hotels and

Hyatt's

(H) - Get Report

recent debut, Andaz. Despite the built-in youthful sex appeal provided by nearby Waikiki Beach and being saturated with upscale stalwarts such as Halekulani and the Starwood-managed Royal Hawaiian, Honolulu is generally lacking in quality luxury boutique hotels. W Hotels departing Honolulu in 2007 left a hipness gap, but it's well filled by Edition.

Waikiki Edition is not beachfront, but it is on a private Sunset Beach lagoon ideal for surfing lessons from model-slash-surf instructors who also host a daily Bikini Boot Camp. The cool factor continues with an outpost of Morimoto Waikiki restaurant by iron chef Masaharu Morimoto and new Crazybox nightclub accessed via velvet rope entrance at the front of the hotel. Following the Waikiki Edition, look for Istanbul Edition to open in early 2011 with outpost of Cipriani Restaurant in what could be a game-changing formula for Marriott Hotels.

Edition shouldn't be confused with boutique chains such as Aloft or Element; instead this luxury boutique concept is personally branded by Ian Schrager, creator of New York's Royalton and Delano as well as his more recent Gramercy Park Hotel.

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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 InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.