by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | May 01, 2013

Armani Hotels &

Italian fashion and lifestyle designer Georgio Armani is determined to put his stamp on the hotel world with Armani Hotels & Resorts, whose philosophy is "combining style, elegance and grace in major cities." For example, the 95-room minimalist-style Armani Hotel Milan, which opened in 2011 above the Armani department store in the Italian city's fashion quarter, offers a dedicated business center and meeting space for 50. Its architecturally stunning sister hotel, the 160-room Armani Dubai, features five restaurants and several meeting spaces; the property will even personalize edible delights such as handmade chocolates and biscotti with a corporate logo.

Bulgari Hotels &

The 58-room Bulgari Milan in Italy was the first of this uber-luxury group, a joint venture between celebrated jeweler and luxury retailer Bulgari and Marriott International, which aims for exclusivity by deliberately limiting its room counts. The Milan property was followed by the 59-room Bulgari Bali and the 85-room Bulgari London, which opened in May 2012. Next up is the Bulgari Shanghai in China, scheduled to debut in 2015.

Nobu Hotel in the Centurian Tower of Caesars Palace in Las VegasBrand-spanking new and making a bold statement right out of the box is the 181-room Nobu Hotel, the first of this food-focused brand, which opened in February 2013 in the Centurion Tower of Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip. Its 327-seat restaurant of the same name, which features a sushi bar, teppanyaki tables, a lounge and private dining, also gives hotel guests priority reservations. The property's David Rockwell-designed guest rooms feature decidedly Asian elements, such as Japanese lanterns, origami-inspired fixtures, and mini-bars stocked with Japanese beer and a selection of sake. Three more hotels, each with a Nobu restaurant, are in the pipeline: in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which is set to open later this year, followed by Bahrain and London.

Other Brands, Other Plans

Park Hyatt

Since its launch in 1980, the low-key luxury contender Park Hyatt, whose tag line is "luxury and sophistication," has steadily grown its portfolio to 28 hotels. Now, with an additional 14 properties in the development pipeline, this brand is poised to grow exponentially by 2015.

The typical Park Hyatt has less than 400 rooms, is located in a major gateway city and is focused on the small group market. Key openings in 2012 included the reopening of the 155-room Park Hyatt Sydney, Australia, following a yearlong, top-down $60 million renovation. This year, the chain will open properties in Austria, Cambodia and South Korea.

The most important domestic opening, however, will be the 210-room Manhattan Park Hyatt, which will become the U.S. flagship of the Chicago-based chain upon opening later this year. The property will feature a grand ballroom, several meeting rooms, a full-service spa and 5,000 square feet of retail space.

In 2015, the brand will make its debut in the Middle East with the scheduled opening of the 275-room Park Hyatt Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

Rosewood Hotels &

These are heady times for the once privately held Dallas-based company, which only began adding the Rosewood corporate name to its individual properties in 2007. Now, less than two years after being purchased by Hong Kong-based New World Hospitality, the 30-year-old company is on a fast-track expansion plan that will see three new international properties open this year, including the new-build 279-room Beijing Rosewood, its first in China, and the 262-room Rosewood London, following a $130 million transformation of a 1914 Edwardian Belle Epoque building in the city's center, on High Holburn.

Portfolio growth aside, don't expect to see any change in Rosewood's long-standing design and operating philosophy, under which the properties are treated as more of an idiosyncratic collection than a "chain." 

"Rosewood's commitment to providing authentic and distinctive guest experiences is a perfect fit with our own culture and vision," said Sonia Cheng, chair of New World Hospitality, in announcing that company's $229.5 million purchase of the brand. "We will treasure and protect its legacy, people and reputation."

Shangri-La Hotels &

While it has yet to open a property in the U.S., this Hong Kong-based luxury Asian group has begun planting flags in Canada, Europe and India. In 2012, it opened the 202-room Shangri-La, Toronto, its second hotel in Canada, featuring eight meeting rooms, and the 410-room Shangri-La, Mumbai, its second in India.

In 2013, the brand will add another six hotels in major gateway cities, including its first in the U.K., the 202-room Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard in London, as well as properties in Shanghai, China, and Llasa, Tibet.

With its legendary "hospitality from the heart" branding philosophy (a discreet approach to service that endeavors to let guests feel especially relaxed and comfortable), Shangri-La's footprint has grown from its first hotel, the Shangri-La, Singapore, to more than 78 properties globally, with several more projects slated to debut by 2015.