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The glamour of NYC's Gilded Age inspired Colonel John Jacob Astor IV to create a place where the affluent could dine, dance and socialize in a luxurious setting outside of their own residences. This place turned out to be the St. Regis New York, which opened in 1904. It ushered in a sense of refinement in every detail including English-style butler service, elegant afternoon tea, and exclusive events. That same butler service has become the signature of the St. Regis for over a century, offering discreet, thoughtful, and individualized attention to each valued guest.
In an effort "to provide a home away from home for its customers," Air France created the brand in 1972, starting with the 1,000-room Le Méridien Etoile in Paris. Today, over 100 Le Méridien hotels have sprung up in major cities in 50 countries. Enriching the guest experience is LM100, a cultural collaboration with leading chefs, musicians, artists, designers and architects. From Michael Lin's UNLOCK ART keycards to Andrea Illy's "Creative Hour" coffee tastings, these curated offerings aim to leave a lasting impression on discerning travelers worldwide.
The first Ritz-Carlton hotel opened in Boston in 1927, charging $15 per room. The company has since expanded to 27 countries with over 80 five-star properties. From the start, maintaining guest privacy has been at the forefront of the Ritz-Carlton brand, a tradition that continues to attract elite travelers to this day. The organization also made a commitment to being "positive, supportive members of their communities and sensitive to the environment," executed through their Community Footprints social and environmental responsibility program established in 1983.
Set high in the mountains of Tibet, the transcendental community of Shangri-la from James Hilton's novel Lost Horizon, became the inspiration for a hotel chain that would offer the same serenity of the fabled land. In 1971, the first Shangri-la property opened in Singapore and has expanded to nearly 80 more, also encompassing other brands including Kerry Hotels, Trader Hotels, Aberdeen Marina Club and Xili Golf and Country Club.
Vibrant, fresh and modern, each property offers guests a sensory experience, from entering the lobby, to settling into the guestrooms, to sipping craft cocktails at the on-site bar. Known for its innovative spirit and contemporary luxury, W Hotels quickly expanded to colorful cities across the globe after the initial launch in NYC in 1998. Signature amenities, dubbed "W Privileges," include W Pillow Menu, WHATEVER/WHENEVER Service, Luggage Forward, P.A.W. (Pets Are Welcome), SWEAT Fitness Centers, and Acura Experience.
Combining passions for high-end hospitality and gourmet cuisine, the Relais & Châteaux brand focuses on giving guests a genuine understanding of art de vivre, or the art of living. It all began when two former music hall performers bought an estate in Rhône Valley, France in 1941, and 10 years later found themselves on a mission to find like-minded individuals to continue sharing their affinity for excellent service and fine foods. What started as only eight properties between Paris and the French Riviera has expanded to over 520 around the globe.
With a mission statement "Turning moments into memories for our guests," Fairmont has set up landmark hotels all over the world, reflecting the culture and history of each destination through architecture, décor and art. The first property opened in San Francisco's Nob Hill in 1907, quickly becoming the spot for glamorous parties and political functions in the city. Perpetuating the brand into a name synonymous with "place of occasion," Fairmont properties have since hosted a bevy of politicians, celebrities, royals and artists for over a century.
When Conrad N. Hilton wrote "The greatest of them all" on a picture of The Waldorf Astoria New York in 1932, his dream to own the hotel and expand the brand was just being realized. In 1949 he in fact acquired the property and today the name graces the façade of nearly 30 destination hotels in all corners of the world. A landmark of luxury, the brand offers experiences that are exclusively Waldorf, including personal concierge, desert tours with a nature photographer, hikes with a geology expert, and real castaway adventures on a deserted island.
The story of the Banyan Tree brand started with 600 acres of land in Phuket, Thailand. The founders discovered the soil and water had been victims of pollution from a former tin mine, and in an effort to clean it up, planted over 7,000 trees and turned the area into the first environmentally- friendly Banyan Tree resort. This ecologically sensitive brand has since expanded to all corners of the globe, bringing with it the same natural luxury and cultural awareness that the responsible traveler has come to appreciate.
During its heyday, Pan American World Airways launched the first InterContinental hotel in Brazil in 1946, playing host to legendary names like Princess Grace of Monaco and Louis Armstrong. Each expressing its own style, InterContinental hotels span the globe, from destinations like exotic Nairobi to urban Los Angeles to tropical Bora Bora
With just 17 hotels, and counting, in seven countries, the Rosewood collection offers a specialized, residential-style hotel experience for travelers who appreciate elegance and personalized service. Inspired by their guiding principle, A Sense of Place®, each property offers an authentic way to take in a destination, whether it's a major city or a secluded hideaway, while being surrounded by sophisticated style that reflects the culture and history of the locale.
Bringing French elegance to major cities like New York, Shanghai and London, Sofitel showcases its French heritage through design and cuisine, while incorporating local culture as well. Through fabrics, flowers, music, art and amenities, the Sofitel brand aims to capture each of the five senses. With a heightened focus on art de vivre, guests can be seen attending such events as literary and photography exhibits within the property's own walls. C'est magnifique!
From inception of the brand in 1960, Four Seasons has placed an emphasis on giving the guest a memorable experience with the highest level of personalized service. Father and son team, Max and Issy Sharp put their architecture and contracting backgrounds to work building the first three Four Seasons over the course of 10 years. Today, 36 countries around the globe are home to Four Seasons properties, each paying homage to the local culture and traditions of its location.
Founder and CEO Claus Sendlinger predicted that "design-driven hotels will become a lifestyle choice for future travelers," building a successful hotel concept around that very idea. Member properties are acquired based on originality, whether it be location, architecture, corporate ethics, holistic approach, or local integration, but ultimately, the people behind the concepts that make each hotel a unique and memorable home away from home for its guests.