Elegant Lines

These smaller high-end hotel chains offer uncommon comforts

They might not be household names, but this discreet group of luxury hotel chains is well known to discriminating travelers. Whether they specialize in providing groups with urban oases or far-flung retreats, all are noted for their fine furnishings, superb dining, exquisite settings, elegant event space, unflappable service and attention to detail. 
    Following is an introduction to a half-dozen lesser-known, five-star-plus chains.

Amanresorts’ Amanjena.

Moroccan splendor:
Amanresorts’ Amanjena
reflects the exoticism
of Marrakesh.

The destinations alone take one’s breath away: Bhutan, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, to name a few. But this 17-year-old chain, which specializes in intimate resorts (the largest has 54 rooms), designs its exotically placed properties to exude the ambience of gracious private homes. Headed by Adrian Zecha, the Singapore-based firm owns and operates 20 resorts at present. All but two properties in the portfolio contain the word aman, Sanskrit for peace, in their names an apt moniker for a chain that exudes serenity as much as luxury.

Bhutan: Amankora, Gangtey; Amankora, Paro; Amankora, Punakha; and Amakora, Thimphu
Cambodia: Amansara, Siem Reap
France: Le Mélézin, Courchevel
French Polynesia (Tahiti): Hotel Bora Bora
India: Amanbagh and Aman-i-Khás, both in Rajasthan
Indonesia: Amankila, Amandari and Amanusa, all on Bali; Amanjiqo, Java; and Amanwana, Moyo Island
Morocco: Amanjena, Marrakesh
Philippines: Amanpulo, Pamalican Island
Sri Lanka: Amangalla, Galle; Amanwella, Tangalle
Thailand: Amanpuri, Phuket
United States: Amangara, Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Meetings: According to a spokesperson for the chain, the main meeting properties are Amanusa, Amandari, Amankila and Amanpuri; each features complimentary high-speed broadband Internet connections in all guest rooms and wireless connections in public areas, as will the entire Amanresort portfolio in the near future.
    All Amanresorts accommodate incentive groups, and most properties allow group buyouts; contact the sales office for more information.

Future plans: Next month, Amanyara will open in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. The chain also will expand its presence in Bhutan, with plans to open a total of six lodges in the country’s western valleys; in August, Amankora, Punakha, opened, followed by Amankora, Gangtey, which was scheduled to open last month, and Amankora, Thimphu, which will be ready for guests this month. Next year, another two Bhutan properties, Amankora, Bumthang, and Amankora, Trongsa, are set for completion.
    Also, at press time, the chain announced a second U.S. property, Amangiri, will open in 2007 near Lake Powell, Utah, and Amanresorts has put a bid on a property in Montenegro.

U.S. contact: Group and event sales office, Singapore, (011) 65-6883-2555; www.amanresorts.com

The Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur, India

Fit for a raja:
The design of the
Oberoi Udaivilas
in Udaipur, India,
is based on a
former local palace.

Oberoi Hotels & Resorts
This upscale chain was founded by M.S. Oberoi in 1934; today, the Delhi, India-based company is under the leadership of his son, P.R.S. Oberoi, who serves as CEO. Among the jewels in the crown are the Oberoi Vanyavilas (India), a luxurious tented-camp resort near Ranthambore National Park and Tiger Reserve, and Wildflower Hall, the Himalayan residence of Lord Kitchener, commander in chief of the British Army in the late-19th-century colonial era.

Australia: The Windsor, Melbourne
Egypt: Mena House Oberoi, Cairo; The Oberoi, Sahl Hasheesh
India: The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra;  The Oberoi Bangalore; The Oberoi Cecil, Shimla; The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata (Calcutta); The Oberoi Mumbai; The Oberoi New Delhi; Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur; The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur; The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambore; and Wildflower Hall, Himalayas (near Shimla).
Indonesia: The Oberoi Bali and The Oberoi Lombok
Mauritius: The Oberoi Mauritius, Pointe aux Piments
Saudi Arabia: Madina Oberoi, Madina

Meetings: All Oberoi properties accommodate meetings and incentives. For specific information and an electronic request for proposal, check out the website (see below). Properties range in size from 25 to 330 rooms; group buyouts are available.

Future plans: The Oberoi Group is looking to expand into Cambodia, Dubai and Thailand, according to a spokesperson for the chain. The company has signed a management contract for a new property now under construction in Gurgaon, India.

U.S. contact: North American sales office, New York City, (212) 223-8800; www.oberoihotels.com

La Résidence Phou Vao in Luang PrabangLaotian jewel:
La Résidence Phou Vao
in Luang Prabang

Orient-Express Hotels
The company’s name evokes the glamour and intrigue of one of its holdings, the storied Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train. But don’t look for the Orient-Express name in this collection of elegant hotels and resorts; the company eschews branding on purpose, preferring to “believe that discriminating travelers will choose a famous individual property in preference to a chain brand,” per the company’s mission statement.

Australia: The Observatory Hotel, Sydney, and Lilianfels Blue Mountains, Katoomba
Botswana: Eagle Island Camp, Khwai River Lodge and Savute Elephant Camp, all of them in the vicinity of the Okavango Delta
Brazil: Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro
Cambodia: La Résidence d’Angkor, Siem Reap
France: Hôtel de la Cité, Carcassonne
French Polynesia: Bora Bora Lagoon Resort
Indonesia: Jimbaran Puri Bali and Ubud Hanging Gardens, both on the island of Bali
Italy: Hotel Caruso, Ravello; Hotel Cipriani, Venice; Hotel Splendido, Portofino; and Villa San Michele, Florence
Laos: La Résidence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang
Mexico: Maroma Resort and Spa, Solidaridad
Myanmar: The Governor’s Residence, Rangoon
Peru: Hotel Monasterio, Cusco; Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, Machu Picchu; and Miraflores Park Hotel, Lima
Portugal: Lapa Palace, Lisbon; Reid’s Palace, Funchal
Russia: Grand Hotel, St Petersburg
St. Martin: La Samanna
South Africa: The Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town, and The Westcliff, Johannesburg
Spain: Hotel Ritz Madrid; La Residencia, Mallorca
Thailand: Napasai, Koh Samui
United Kingdom: Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton
United States: Charleston Place, Charleston, S.C.; El Encanto Hotel and Garden Villas, Santa Barbara, Calif.; Keswick Hall, Keswick, Va.; The Inn at Perry Cabin, St. Michaels, Md.; and Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans

Meetings: All of the chain’s properties can accommodate meetings and incentives. Properties range in size from 31 to 440 rooms; group buyouts are available at many of the hotels. For more specifics, check out the meeting and incentive sections on the Orient-Express website.

Future plans: None announced at press time

U.S. contact: Group sales office, New York City, (212) 764-8230, www.orient-express.com

Peninsula Hotels
The Peninsula Hong Kong, the flagship of this chain owned by the Shanghai Hotel Co. Ltd., opened in 1928 and has been an icon of luxury of service  with its fleet of Rolls-Royce limousines and helicopter shuttle service ever since. The opulent chain has expanded over the years with the addition of properties in Asia and the United States.

China: Peninsula Hong Kong and Peninsula Palace Beijing
Philippines: Peninsula Manila
Thailand: Peninsula Bangkok
United States: Peninsula Beverly Hills, Calif.; Peninsula Chicago; and Peninsula New York (City)

Meetings: All properties host meetings and incentives. Hotels range in size from 196 to 530 guest rooms. The chain’s website has a meetings section and an electronic RFP.

Future plans:  The Peninsula Tokyo will open in 2007.

U.S. contact: Regional sales office, New York City, (212) 903-3151; www.peninsula.com

Rocco Forte Hotels
This London-based chain was founded by Sir Rocco Forte in 1999. The hotelier had formerly served as president of Forte Plc, a hotel firm founded by his late father, Lord Charles Forte, in 1934; the company was sold and subsequently dissolved in a hostile takeover bid in 1996. With his present venture, Forte has met his goal of creating a small collection comprised entirely of acquisitions of luxury properties in major European capital cities.
    Each hotel has been renovated to the exacting specifications of Forte’s sister, Olga Polizzi, who serves as the hotel company’s director of building and design.

Belgium: Hotel Amigo, Brussels
France: Cháteau de Bagnols, Beaujolais
Italy: Hotel Savoy, Florence, and Hotel de Russie, Rome
Switzerland: Le Richemond, Geneva
United Kingdom: Brown’s Hotel, London, and The Lowry Hotel, Manchester
Russia: Hotel Astoria, St Petersburg
Wales: The St David’s Hotel & Spa, Cardiff
Scotland: The Balmoral, Edinburgh

Meetings: All properties are able to accommodate meetings and incentives; properties range in size from 13 to 223 guest rooms.

Future plans: Three German properties will join the chain: Villa Kennedy, Frankfurt, and Hotel de Rome, Berlin, in 2006 and a new property in Munich in 2007, the Hotel Ludwig. Also in 2007, the Verdura Golf & Spa Resort in Sicily, currently under renovation, will join the portfolio.

U.S. contact: U.S. sales office, New York City, (212) 515-5776; www.roccofortehotels.com

The Carlyle

Uptown elegance:
The Carlyle,
A Rosewood Hotel,
is the chain’s
Manhattan outpost.

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas was Rosewood’s first property; in the
ensuing 25 years, the chain has added other upscale city properties and glamorous resorts, including Caneel Bay on St. John and the King Pacific Lodge in British Columbia, a seasonal floating outpost. Last year, in a move to strengthen the brand, the Dallas-based firm added the Rosewood name to all its properties.

Jumby Bay on Antigua, A Rosewood Resort
British Virgin Islands: Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda, A Rosewood Resort
Canada: King Pacific Lodge, A Rosewood Resort, Princess Royal Island,
B.C., Canada
Japan: Hotel Seiyo Ginza, A Rosewood Hotel, Tokyo
Mexico: Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort, Los Cabos
Saudi Arabia: Hotel Al Khozama, A Rosewood Hotel, and Al Faisaliah,
A Rosewood Hotel, both in Riyadh
United States: The Mansion on Turtle Creek, A Rosewood Hotel, and Hotel Crescent Court, A Rosewood Hotel, both in Dallas; and the Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel, New York City
U.S. Virgin Islands: Caneel Bay on St. John, A Rosewood Resort

Meetings: All properties can accommodate meetings and incentives; according to the national sales office, the main meeting venues are the Carlyle, the Mansion at Turtle Creek, the Crescent and Hotel Seiyo Ginza. Properties range in size from 17 to 224 guest rooms. The chain’s website features online RFPs.

Future plans: In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Corniche, A Rosewood Hotel, is set to open by year’s end. Acqualina, A Rosewood Resort, will open in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., in early 2006. La Solana, A Rosewood Resort, will open in late 2006 in Punta Mita, Mexico, as will Laguna Kai, A Rosewood Resort, in Mayakoba on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. In 2007, the chain plans to open Taunovo Bay, A Rosewood Resort, on the south coast of Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu.

U.S. contact: National sales office, New York City, (212) 593-2252; www.rosewoodhotels.com