After purchasing London’s most famous department store, Harrods, for £1.5 billion from Mohamed Al Fayed in May 2010, Qatar Holding has now announced its plans to expand the brand into a chain of luxury hotels. Preference will be given to developing hotels on sites that Qatar Holding already owns, which include Chelsea Barracks in London and Costa Smeralda on the Italian island of Sardinia. However, the group also plans to grow Harrods into a global brand. It has signed a memorandum of understanding with property developer Jerantas Sdn Bhd to build a Harrods Hotel in Kuala Lumpur – both companies will jointly invest RM2 billion (US$632 million) in the project – and other possible destinations include Paris, New York and China.
The owner of the Hoxton Hotel in London, Enismore Capital, has plans to expand with two more hotels in the city and one in New York. The private equity group is looking for sites in regeneration areas in London in order to develop hotels of around 200 rooms each, based on the concept of the original Hoxton in Shoreditch. Enismore bought the hotel in May for around £65 million, which ended months of speculation linking Morgans Hotel Group to a bid for the property.
As hotels try to offer guests technology they’ll be able to both understand and use, the high-tech Opus boutique hotel in Vancouver has come up with a novel approach — replacing the arguably obsolete wireless hotel phone with an iPhone. The hotel is in the process of making the switch to iPhones, figuring that guests will know how to use them and appreciate having a Canadian phone to eliminate international roaming fees on their personal phones. Guests have the freedom to take their room’s iPhone with them as they venture into the city for meetings, dinner, shopping or sightseeing. The phones can help them stay connected to the Internet and both make and receive phone calls. The phone will also keep them connected to the hotel, since each iPhone is programmed with one-touch contacts for each of the hotel’s departments, whether the concierge, housekeeping or room service. Local calls are complimentary. Once a guest checks out, the iPhone’s automatically wiped clean by an application to ensure privacy and security.
Z NYC, a Long Island City boutique hotel with a rooftop bar and a limo service to and from Manhattan, is now offering a less luxurious amenity: complimentary bikes. The Z — which opened in July 2011 and is one of more than dozen hotels that have recently been built in Long Island City — is starting its bike initiative just a few weeks before the city plans to launch its own bike share program in Long Island City.“There is so much in Long Island City and a lot of people aren’t aware of it,” said Lisa Gneo, director of sales for the Z Hotel. “So maybe the best way for our customers to really get familiar with it, is to be on a bike.”
Miami’s Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts has partnered with Lebanon-based developer Zardman to launch its first resort and spa in Lebanon, due to open in 2014. The luxury resort will be located on the Damour coastline and will feature 25 villas, a boutique hotel and the signature Nikki Beach Club. The hotel has been designed by Soma architects with interior design by Gatserelia design.
Lowe Enterprises Investors said it bought the Hotel Derek, a 314-room style & design hotel in Houston’s Galleria area, for an undisclosed price. The company plans to invest at least $4.5 million in the property to refresh the guest rooms and common areas, as well as enhance meeting space with features such as updated technology, the Los Angeles-based real estate investment and management firm said in its statement.
Istithmar World, a subsidiary of Dubai World, Dubai, announced on Monday that it plans to convert the Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner into a 300-room hotel. The state-owned company bought the ship from Carnival Corp. subsidiary Cunard in 2007 for US$100 million and said the conversion will take 16 months. The ship was originally planned to be converted into a hotel and stationed at the base of Palm Jumeirah, but these plans were delayed by the financial crisis. Now Istishmar World plans to dock the floating hotel permanently in Port Rashid, and in addition to a hotel part of the ship will be converted into a maritime museum highlighting Dubai’s nautical history. Istithmar World is not releasing details of how much is being invested in the project or the source of the funding.
Work is underway on an extended-stay hotel in the heart of Beverly Hills where guests must agree to pay a minimum of $12,000 to settle in. The property now known as AKA Beverly Hills at 155 N. Crescent Drive is undergoing $10 million worth of renovations to prepare for an Oct. 1 opening. It’s intended to serve travelers who will be in town for more than a few days but not long enough justify leasing an apartment. “Three or four months is the sweet spot,” said Larry Korman, co-president of developer Korman Communities. Prices will start at $400 a night with a minimum one-month stay.