Luxury Hotels

Differentiation in a luxury hotel

Room service menu ...

Room service menu …

How does one luxury hotel stand out from another? The gal is continually amazed at unique qualities in any property that really does make it to the top. Take Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco and its room service menu, shown to the left. This is a glorious A4-sized production: open the full-colour cover one side and you get menu items, turn it through 180-degrees and you open up to a full-colour essay, with illustrations, of the art of Nicole Markoff, with details of such works as her 20 by 48-inch diptych on brushed aluminium, Watershed. You find out that the San Francisco-based artist dabbled for a time in her own fashion brand, Nicacelly, but that is now in archive mode, for which read she has given up on fashion.

.. and the result

.. and the result

The 277-room hotel switched to these art menus about a year ago, and the artist changes with the seasons. Apparently having such menus does not increase either the number of orders, or the size and value of them, but the concept certainly fascinated me, and encouraged me to order dinner. It was a really happy experience, as you can see from the right: delivery was in 20 minutes, I liked the stylish checked cloth, and the really ample amount of spinach. I looked again at the menu. It includes breakfast packages, to go, and dishes for little kids (Happy Camper, with silver-dollar pancakes) and for teens (say a small beef tenderloin with mash or rice, and broccolino or carrots). The all-ages, all-night menu suggests a Kobe beef burger which shows that there is someone around at 2 a.m. who knows how to cook.

Doug Housley

Doug Housley

Doug Housley the GM here for the last seven years, is constantly upgrading. The hotel had sensational art from its very start, in October 2001, but enhancements include not only the room service menus but also his own welcome cards, as shown above (does he colour them himself?). The hotel’s integral wellness facility has been upgraded – it is now an Equinox, much more professional than before. Three years ago the hotel revamped its main dining, leading off the lobby on the fifth floor of the building, which opens directly off Market. The re-done bar and restaurant, designed by AvroKO, are called MKT, accordingly.

A healthy Housley breakfast

A healthy Housley breakfast

As Doug Housley says, it is tons better for a luxury hotel to have a really great bar than a really great restaurant. Come late afternoon, especially weekdays, MKT Bar is such a post-work hang-out for regulars in the financial district around that it spills over into the lobby proper, and there is a buzz of noise. A really great bar, even if it offers food like this one, also channels business to the restaurant, especially if one is easily reached from the other. But even at breakfast, when the bar is empty, MKT, the restaurant, is regular start-the-day hangout for scions of banks and private equity. Many around us chose healthy berries and steel-cut oats, as did Doug Housley. No, do not ask me what I ate. NOW SEE A VIDEO OF MY ROOM, BELOW

 

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Luxury Hotels

Michael Jordan and a luxury Chicago hotel

Big 23 - Michael Jordan

Big 23 – Michael Jordan

The gal has travelled the world since she was last at InterContinental Chicago exactly a year ago, but in the interim the wall above this luxury historic hotel’s front desk – as above – remains unique. Facing you as you enter is a room-wide real-time vision of life in the bustling city outside. In case you have to wait, the vision gives you something on which to concentrate. And of course in a 792-room hotel often busy with convention and other groups you do sometimes have to wait. Las Vegas casino-hotels have gardens or other visions behind front desk, but, really, others should copy what happens here in Chicago and put in LED screens like this.

Arugula salad

Arugula salad

Other hotels should also cotton on to the fact that an association with a legend of the calibre of Michael Jordan is win-win. The restaurant is run by the hotel under licence from Cornerstone Restaurant Group, run by a former Hyatt f&b guy, David Zadikoff. Best table is 23, in the corner. 23 is Michael Jordan’s number and if he should come in while you are dining, the meal is on him. There is a selfie board, prominently marked 23, and tonight several groups are posing in front of it (one photo is of a cute young man, about ten, neat hair, blazer, tie and chinos, standing with his proud mother).

Delmonico's, New York

Delmonico’s, New York

Michael Jordan’s Steak House is clever, all-round. It is a conversion of the original hallway, brightly coloured, dating back to when this was built, as Medinah Athletic Club, a Shriners project. That hallway space has been divided into two storeys. Lunch is served downstairs only, where there is also a sports bar with screens (this means that upstairs is available for private parties). Dinner is served both downstairs and up, where table 23 is. Tonight I start with arugula salad, go on to a Delmonico ribeye, named for the Delmonico family’s restaurant in Lower Manhattan. Originally a Delmonico came with mashed potato topped with grated cheese and buttered breadcrumbs but here, with style, they bring you three different mashes, with Cheddar, goat cheese, and lobster.

Looking up at 3550's ceiling

Looking up at 3550’s ceiling

We drink 2014 Bench Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, made by winemaker Dan Fitzgerald for Bench owner Jason Enos. And then I go back up to my lovely pinnacle room 3550, the 1,600 sq ft duplex, with the upstairs bedroom reached, Romeo and Juliet style, via 17 curved white marble steps. Up there, I can look down on my balcony. I wonder what books to take up for bedtime reading: one pile of hardbacks includes Where Are We Going? Selections from the François Pinault Collection, and Elegance in the Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s. Now see the video, below, for a panorama of this luxury hotel’s memorable suite.

 

 

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Luxury Hotels

The luxury of Peninsula’s Chicago hotel

Maria Razumich-Zec

Maria Razumich-Zec

Maria Razumich-Zec is a pretty smart person. Not only is she GM of one the best luxury hotels in The Americas, The Peninsula Chicago, but she also oversees sister hotels on the West Coast, Quail Lodge, and on the East Coast, The Peninsula New York. Add to this the responsibilities of a charming husband, and a Duchess (a devoted pug) and time to enjoy life. The gal is more than impressed, especially since Maria Zec seems to have all the time in the world to talk, sitting having a cocktail on the lovely terrace off the hotel’s fifth floor lobby.

Sunrise over Lake Michigan

Sunrise over Lake Michigan

One of the many memories about this hotel is the combination of its oriental feel, its personal thoughtfulness, and its association with the destination. Bedrooms’ new designs are soft, cream and pale blue. Suites have massive wall panels, silk embroidered with delicate chrysanthemums, the flower of Chicago (see top image) – the designer of the panels is David Qian and apparently each took 320 hours to stitch. I was in 1417, a space I absolutely adored as the living room and bedroom are separated by a patchwork of wood-edged glass panels, some clear glass, some etched with the same chrysanthemum shapes. Look at the photo at the top of this piece, with fruits specially chosen for me – personal thoughtfulness is thinking about a recipient.

Fascinating skyline

Looking at the fascinating skyline

And now the destination. I wanted to have a dose of Chicago, so I was out there on North Beach as the sun came up. There were groups also watching, as if it were Stonehenge or Angkor Wat rather than looking out at Lake Michigan. By the time I was heading south, the light was beginning to come up and the magic had already gone, but never mind. Even the Chicago skyline was pretty magical. I passed Victoria’s Secret and Tiffany, both at ground level, and took the first elevator, up to the glorious lobby, with its arrival promenade that reminds me a bit of The Dorchester’s, in London. Everything gleams and glistens. I breakfasted in the lobby restaurant, and oh the yoghurt, best in the whole of the USA, with big curds of cream bound into it (it is from Kalona).

Looking up at the lobby lounge ceiling

Looking up at the lobby lounge ceiling

It sounds as if all I was doing while here was cocktailing or eating, and so it continued. I met a friend for lunch at Pierrot Gourmet, the hotel-run ground floor bakery bar which spills out to the pavement in summer. We both had mixed beets salad with goat cheese, both thought it a dish that is just right for a hot summer’s day. They cleverly offer wine flights here, flights of Sparklings, or New World, or Light Old World, or Bold Old World. I had a final look around my room.

 

TO GET A GLIMPSE OF THIS LUXURY HOTEL’S NEW DESIGNS SEE THE VIDEO BELOW.

 

 

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