Stevie Nicks headlines opening of Park Theater at Monte Carlo in Las Vegas

December 18, 2016

Stevie Nicks performs at the grand opening of Park Theater at Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on December 17, 2016.
Stevie Nicks performs at the grand opening of Park Theater at Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on December 17, 2016. (Photo by Al Powers for Park Theater)

On December 17, 2016, Stevie Nicks was the first headlining performer at the grand opening of the Park Theater at Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The sold-out show at the 5,200-seat venue also featured a performance from the Pretenders.

According to a Monte Carlo press release, Nicks  was presented with an honorary key to the theater. She also autographed a backstage wall, to start a tradition for all Park Theater performers to come.  At the concert, Nicks performed songs from her career with Fleetwood Mac, as well as some of her solo hits, including “Edge of Seventeen” and “Wild Heart.” She and Pretenders lead singer Chrisse Hynde also sang the  duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,”  a song originally recorded by Nicks and Tom  Petty. Nicks concluded the concert with Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” which she dedicated to MGM Resorts International executives Bill Hornbuckle and Richard Sturm for inviting Nicks to be a “part of history” as the first headliner to perform at Park Theater.

In 2017, other artists who will headline shows at the theater include Cher, Ricky Martin and Bruno Mars.

The premiere of Park Theater is the first in a series of plans to reinvent the Monte Carlo, which is owned by MGM Resorts International. According to a press release, the Monte Carlo’s transformation, which will take place over the next two years, “will include two distinct hotel experiences: a Las Vegas version of Sydell Group’s famed NoMad Hotel and the launch of a luxury hotel named Park MGM.”

Each will have redesigned guest rooms and new food/beverage offerings, including the Italian food marketplace Eataly.

The Park Theater is one of two big U.S. venue openings for MGM Resorts International this month. MGM National Harbor, a $1.4 billion resort and casino, opened in Oxon Hill, Maryland, on December 8, 2016.

Longboat Key Club in Florida expands beachfront

December 16, 2016

Longboat Key Club
(Photo courtesy of Longboat Key Club)

Longboat Key Club in Longboat Key, Florida (near Sarasota), has added 49,990 tons of white sand to expand its beachfront area near the Gulf of Mexico. The $1.8 million project includes the addition of new chaise lounges, private cabanas and sheltering umbrellas.  Located at 220 Sands Point Road, the resort’s other amenities include 45 holes of championship golf, the Tennis Gardens, the Spa, a fitness center, the 291-slip Longboat Key Club Moorings and eight distinctive restaurants and lounges.

Viking announces new ocean cruise itineraries for 2017 to 2019

December 16, 2016

Viking Ocean Cruises
(Photo courtesy of Viking Ocean Cruises)

Viking Ocean Cruises has announced 13 new itineraries that will roll out in 2017, 2018 and 2019. By 2019, Viking expects to be the largest small ship ocean cruise line, with six 930-passenger ocean ships and will offer guests new opportunities for exploration in Alaska, Australia, Asia and the Caribbean.

Here are the details according to a press release from Viking:

New 2017 – 2019 Itineraries

Viking’s new ocean itineraries will bring guests to a growing number of iconic destinations around the world, providing behind-the-scenes insights and opportunities in each port of call. With new sailings embarking in Miami, Mumbai, Bangkok, Beijing, Bali, Sydney, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Vancouver, guests can choose base itineraries ranging from eight to 23 days, with additional combination cruise options. Highlights of the new itineraries include:

  • Turquoise Seas of the Western Caribbean(Miami to Miami; sailing on Viking Sky; November 2017February 2018) Discover the diverse treasures of the western Caribbean during this eight-day itinerary, from ancient ruins to colonial architecture. Guests will explore the mysterious temples of Altun Ha in Belize, the heart of the Mayan Center; walk in the steps of Hemingway’s Key West haunts; and marvel at Cozumel’s blue waters at Punta Sur. Sailing roundtrip from Miami, guests will visit three countries and five ports. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $2,999 per person.
  • Panama & Central America – (Miami to Miami; sailing on Viking Sky; November – December 2017 and January 2018) – From Central American countries including Costa Rica, Columbia, Honduras, Belize and more, guests will immerse themselves into the colorful cities and rich cultures, visiting eight countries and nine ports on this 15-day itinerary. While making the roundtrip from Miami, guests will experience one of the world’s great engineering feats, the Panama Canal, discover Costa Rica’s famous rainforest and explore Old Town Cartagena’s colonial architecture, a UNSECO World Heritage Site. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,499 per person.
  • Atlantic Crossing – (Miami to Barcelona; sailing on Viking Sky; March 3, 2018) – During this classic trans-Atlantic journey, guests enjoy dining, taking in the ship’s amenities and relaxing while cruising the Atlantic Ocean. The 14-day sailing will also call on ports in both Europe and the New World, including Florida’s sun-kissed city of glorious beaches and art deco buildings. In Europe, destinations include the “Garden Island” of Madeira and the artistic, vibrant city of Barcelona. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $2,399 per person.
  • Passage to India – (Athens to Mumbai; sailing on Viking Spirit; August 18, 2018) – On this 21-day itinerary, guests will trace the routes of the earliest merchants from Greece to India, with ports of call in six countries including Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Oman. Along the journey, guests will accompany local guides to ancient treasures, visit the astonishing red sandstone city of Petra and see the Great Pyramids and Sphinx in Cairo. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,999 per person.
  • Across the Bay of Bengal – (Mumbai to Bangkok; sailing on Viking Spirit; September 8, 2018) – Guests will experience five unique countries on one spectacular 16-day journey, including overnight ports of call in Mumbai, Colombo and Bangkok to fully explore these exciting cities. From meeting the caretakers of the National Gandhi Museum to mingling with shoppers at a traditional Bangkok market, guests will immerse themselves into the experience of each city and discover its rich culture first-hand. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $4,499 per person.
  • Capitals of the Far East – (Hong Kong to Beijing or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit, October 7 and October 21, 2018) – Voyage to the iconic cities across three countries including China, Taiwan and South Korea. Along this 15-day journey, guests will experience the region’s culture and heritage while exploring sites including the Forbidden City and Great Wall of China, and the Huaxi Street Night Market in Taiwan. Guests will also enjoy a day of sailing along the Yellow Sea, relaxing with complimentary tea service on board in the Wintergarden or yoga on the Sports Deck. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,799 per person.
  • Southeast Asia & Hong Kong – (Bangkok to Hong Kong or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; September 23, 2018, November 4, 2018 and April 7, 2019) – Discover the gems of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong during this 15-day cruise visiting four countries and seven ports. Spend two days in Bangkok touring the vibrant city and its landmarks, including the Grand Palace featuring the Emerald Buddha, and sampling Thai cuisine. Guests continue the journey with ports of call in Cambodia and Vietnam and then enjoy two nights visiting the many museums and stores in this shopper’s paradise of Hong Kong. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,799 per person.
  • Komodo & the Australian Coast – (Sydney to Bali or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; November 30, 2018 and March 10, 2019) – During this 17-day sailing, guests will experience 11 ports of call including Indonesia’s popular island of Bali and Australia’s cosmopolitan city, Sydney, and the stunning Whitsunday Island near the Great Barrier Reef. Viking will also bring guests face to face with the region’s residents, including the Komodo dragon, at the Komodo National Park. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,199 per person.
  • Bangkok, Bali & Beyond – (Bangkok to Bali or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; November 18, 2018 and March 26, 2019) – Spanning 13-days, guests will experience the capitals of Asian art and culture in the seven ports of call throughout Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Witness Southeast Asia’s long-held traditions and bustling capital cities. Marvel at Kuala Lumpur’s soaring Petronas Towers, and absorb the cultural diversity of Singapore with a resident by your side; and experience the historic riches of Jakarta. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $3,999 per person.
  • Australia & New Zealand – (Sydney to Auckland and the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; December 2018February 2019) – Witness a rich blend of native and European cultures amid the sophisticated coastal cities of Australia and New Zealand. From the metropolitan cities of Melbourne and Sydney to the natural beauty of coastal New Zealand, guests will explore nine ports of call during this 15-day journey to the “Land Down Under.” Sip on the famous wines of the region; explore UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Australia’s Blue Mountains; capture panoramic views from Mt. Victoria in New Zealand; and greet the indigenous wildlife, such as kangaroos and wallabies. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,799 per person.
  • Far Eastern Horizons – (Hong Kong to Tokyo; sailing on Viking Spirit; April 21, 2019) – Explore the imperial treasures of one of the most captivating corners of Asia during this 15-day sailing. Mingle with merchants in Hong Kong’s vibrant Stanley Market; learn the nuances of Taiwan from a local resident; and witness the bustling Japanese culture. This itinerary calls upon four countries and nine ports, with overnights in Hong Kong, Hiroshima, Shimizu and Tokyo to fully explore these cities. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,799 per person.
  • North Pacific Passage – (Tokyo to Vancouver; sailing on Viking Spirit; May 5, 2019) – Guests will experience the cultural riches and majestic beauty of Japan, Russia, Alaska and Canada on this 23-day sailing. Unravel the mysteries of Japan with local guides, and learn about life in a remote Russian city before crossing the Bering Sea, tracing the legendary path of the first human migration to the Americas. In Alaska, sail into glacier-strewn, mountain-ringed bays onto iconic frontier towns, such as Kodiak, Sitka and more. Guests will also enjoy scenic cruising through the famed Inside Passage. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $6,799.
  • Alaska & the Inside Passage(Vancouver to Seward or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; May – August 2019) – During this 11-day itinerary, guests will sail into the wilds of the “Great Frontier,” immersing themselves in a world of Tlingit heritage, exploring charming seaside towns and pristine glacier-lined bays, and cruising the narrow channels of the famed Inside Passage. Sailing from Vancouver, Canada, guests will experience eight iconic ports of call including Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau and Skagway. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $3,999 per person.

Features and Amenities

Classified by Cruise Critic as “small ships,” Viking’s ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 cabins and accommodate 930 passengers. In 2017, the company will welcome Viking Sky and Viking Sun to join Viking Star and Viking Sea in its fleet. Viking’s fifth ship, Viking Spirit, will be delivered in 2018, and its sixth, yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019.  

Light-filled with modern Scandinavian decor, Viking’s ships were designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships. Throughout each ship, details are incorporated to pay homage to Nordic heritage and to help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings. A glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer more options for al fresco dining than any other vessels in their class; huge windows and skylights blur the lines between inside and out; and a wrap-around promenade deck nods to a bygone era of classic ocean liners.

Onboard Viking’s ships, clean lines, woven textiles and light wood evoke the Viking spirit of discovery and connection to the natural world. A carefully curated collection of Scandinavian artwork adorns the walls of restaurants and public spaces. In the two-deck Explorers’ Lounge at the bow of the ships, the decor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods – imagery of star constellations and astronomical maps are complemented by antique globes, astrolabes and sofas with cozy pelts. In the LivNordic Spa, the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia is in mind – from the Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and a real snow room, to materials inspired by Scandinavian nature: Swedish limestone and black slate; juniper and teak wood details; recycled and etched opaque glass; and cast iron. In the Wintergarden, guests can indulge in afternoon tea service under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood – an homage to Norse mythology and Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life. And in the Viking Living Room, a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway’s Finse Mountain Plateau.

While onboard, guests enjoy informative talks from local experts and carefully selected lecturers in The Theater. Dining options onboard Viking’s ships elevate food as a cultural experience – the World Café features global cuisine with live cooking and open kitchens; Mamsen’s features Norwegian deli-style fare, according to the recipes of Hagen’s mother, Ragnhild, otherwise known as “Mamsen;” The Chef’s Table celebrate cuisines from around the world with multi-course tasting menus and wine pairings; and Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant embraces authentic Tuscan and Roman cuisine. With the Kitchen Table experience, guests have an immersive opportunity to shop, cook and eat with the Executive Chef.

“Viking Inclusive Value” provides a small ship experience at a big ship value onboard Viking Ocean Cruises —with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; premium dining reservations; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service—an included value of more than $200 per person, per day for an average cruise.

Hilton Garden Inn debuts in Hong Kong

December 16, 2016

Hilton Garden Inn Hong Kong Mongkok
(Photo courtesy of Hilton Garden Inn Hong Kong Mongkok)

Hilton Garden Inn Hong Kong Mongkok has opened at No. 2 Soy Street, Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China. Managed by Hilton and owned by Hong Kong China Development Holding, hotel is is the first Hilton Garden Inn in Hong Kong and the first Hilton hotel to open in the SAR since Conrad Hong Kong opened in 1990.

The hotel has 258 guest rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, garden views, work stations with ergonomic chairs, laptop-sized safes, as well as 40-inch flat-screen HD televisions. hypoallergenic pillows and coffee- and tea-making facilities.  Hotel amenities include a rooftop swimming pool, a 24-hour fitness center, a self-service laundry room, a business center, and free Wi-Fi.

Hilton Garden Inn Hong Kong Mongkok is less than a mile from Mongkok MTR station, 13 miles from Hong Kong Disneyland and 19 miles from Hong Kong International Airport. . The hotel is surrounded by shopping malls, street bazaars and nightspots.

The hotel’s event and meeting spaces include a 1,312-square-foot ballroom without pillars that can accommodate up to 300 people.

Dining options at the hotel include:

  • Eagle’s Garden restaurant, which offers panoramic city views, and serves an international breakfast buffet and cooked-to-order breakfasts, as well as authentic Cantonese cuisine for lunch and dinner.
  • The Garden Bar, which serves drinks and light meals after a long day of work, or shopping.
  • The Pavilion Pantry, a 24-hour shop that has snacks and an assortment of drinks.

JW Marriott Hotels opens its first location in Singapore

December 16, 2016

(Rendering by Rendy Aryanto/Visual Verve Studios)

JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts has opened JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach, the brand’s first hotel in Singapore.  Located near the Marina Bay entertainment and business districts, the hotel (which has 634 guest rooms) was designed by Philippe Starck and has architecture from Foster and Partners. JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach officially debuted on December 15, 2016.

Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a 23-foot-tall video wall installation by South Korean artist Lee Lee Nam that brings art to life through movement and technology with the use of the LED monitors as a canvas to create an artistic symphony.

In addition, JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach has nine dining concepts:  Akira Back, by celebrity chef Akira Back, which offers modern Japanese cuisine with Korean accents and culinary influences from around the world; Beach Road Kitchen, an all-day-dining restaurant, serving global cuisine and to-go items; Court Martial Bar and Media Bar, offering cocktails in refined lounge and gastropub settings; and Tonic, serving gin-based cocktails in an intimate environment. The remaining four outlets will open in the second quarter of 2017.

There are also 17 meeting rooms/venues totaling more than 5,6300 square feet, including the 1,706-square-foot Grand Ballroom that has a dramatic 11,520-light Forest of Lights design by Starck; two sky gardens; two outdoor pools; a 10-room Spa by JW (opening second quarter 2017); and Flow18 fitness center.

Waldhaus Flims in Switzerland unveils renovations

December 16, 2016

Waldhaus Flims
(Photo courtesy of Waldhaus Flims)

Waldhaus Flims Alpine Grand Hotel & Spa (formerly known as the Waldhaus Flims Mountain Resort & Spa) in Flims, Switzerland, has completed major renovations. The revamps include the lobby and guest rooms of the Grand Hotel and Villa Silvana; a modernized fitness facility; renovated  meeting and events space, such as the Belle Époque Pavilion; retooled restaurant concepts; and improved technology across the resort. Waldhaus Flims Alpine Grand Hotel & Spa , which was acquired by Z Capital Group in 2015, will also renovate the Chalet Belmont in spring 2017.

Sheraton Grand Hangzhou Binjiang Hotel launches in China

December 16, 2016

Sheraton Huangdao Hotel
(Photo courtesy of Sheraton Huangdao Hotel)

Sheraton Grand Hangzhou Binjiang Hotel has opened at 1769 Jiang Hong Road, Binjiang District in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China.  The hotel has 350 guest rooms and suites, each with 43-inch LCD televisions and high-speed internet access.  The hotel has a Sheraton® Fitness center, a heated indoor swimming pool and spa. Club Room guests have access to the Sheraton Club Lounge, which offers complimentary breakfast and happy hour drinks with canapés.

Other dining options at the hotel include:

  • The Lobby Lounge, which has an ocean theme and Paired,  the Sheraton brand’s reinvigorated food and beverage program of matching small plates, premium wines and craft beers .
  • Feast, the signature all-day dining restaurant with international buffets
  • Yue, a Chinese restaurant serving both traditional and contemporary cuisines.

The hotel has 8,202 square feet of meeting and event space, including 3,937-square-foot, pillar-less Grand Ballroom, which can also be divided into three separate function rooms, complemented by a 1,936-square-foot pre-function area.

Hilton Sanqingshan Resort launches in Shangrao, China

December 15, 2016

Hilton Sanqingshan Resort
(Photo courtesy of Hilton Sanqingshan Resort)

Hilton Sanqingshan Resort has opened at Mount Sanqing National Park in Shangrao, China. Hilton Sanqingshan Resort is the first internationally branded resort in Shangrao and Hilton’s debut in Jiangxi Province. Owned by Sanqingshan Travel Group and managed by Hilton, the resort has 372 guest rooms, each with 42- to 55-inch LCD televisions and free Wi-Fi. There are an indoor heated pool, a 24-hour fitness center, as well as designated rooms for table tennis, snooker and chess, a Kid’s corner, karaoke. The resort also has a 5D cinema, as well as a full-service spa with nine treatment rooms, a foot massage center, and seven VIP massage rooms.  There  is meeting and event space totaling 5,249 square feet, including a 2,461-square-foot ballroom without pillars;  seven multi-function rooms; and the Sky Terrace, which can accommodate up to 120 people for receptions.

In addition to 24-hour room service, the resort has four dining areas:

  • All Seasons, an all-day dining restaurant that serves Western and Asian a la carte favorites.
  • Sanqing Pavilion, a traditional Chinese restaurant with seven private dining rooms.
  • Rill House, which offers Asian and local flavor dishes, with views of the river, and classic Ming and Qing-style decor.
  • The Lobby Lounge, a place to get drinks.

To celebrate the hotel’s opening, Hilton HHonors members will earn 1,000 Bonus Points per night on the best available rate through stays completed between December 15, 2016, and June 14, 2017, along with instant benefits, when they book directly through preferred Hilton channels.

Ocean Riviera Paradise opens in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

December 15, 2016

Ocean Riviera Paradise
(Rendering courtesy of Ocean Riviera Paradise)

Ocean Riviera Paradise is now open for business in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  Launched on December 15, 2016, the hotel is the Ocean by H10 Hotels‘ third location in Mexico and eighth location worldwide.  The hotel has 974 junior suites and meeting and event space that can accommodate as many as 250 people. In addition, there are 10 restaurants,  12 bars, Mike’s Coffee and an ice cream parlor.

The hotel has four distinct areas:

  • The Daisy area, for families, especially those with children ages 4 to 12 years old.
  • The Privilege area, for those seeking exclusive, VIP amenities.
  • The Eden area, for guests who want to have a close access to the beach of the Mexican Caribbean.
  • El Beso, for adults only.

Here are some photos of Ocean Riviera Paradise:

(All photos courtesy of Ocean Riviera Paradise)

Home2 Suites by Hilton Destin debuts in Florida

December 15, 2016

Home2 Suites by Hilton Destin
(Photo courtesy of Home2 Suites by Hilton Destin)

Home2 Suites by Hilton Destin has opened at 14060 Emerald Coast Parkway in Destin, Florida. The extended-stay, pet-friendly hotel has 112 suites,  complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, Spin2 Cycle, a combined laundry and fitness area, Home2 MKT for grab-and-go items, an infinity saltwater pool and a barbeque grill area. The hotel is owned by CM Destin and managed by McNeil Hotel Company.  Home2 Suites by Hilton Destin is two miles from Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, three miles from Destin Commons, seven miles from Silver Sands Premium Outlets and 16 miles from Elgin Air Force Base.