The Sand Hotel – Dorset, UK

Remember when you were a kid, on the beach building the biggest sandcastle you could make? Have you ever thought of going back to those childhood memories? Or maybe you’re just a beach lover?

Well….ever thought of living in the castle that you built by the beach? Let me tell you, it is absolutely do-able.

The Sand Hotel located on the Weymouth Beach, Dorset (UK) is a hot topic when it comes to the summer season. It was built back in 2008 and it is the world’s first hotel built purely of sand from the beach. The approximate measurement of The Sand Hotel come to a total of 15 sqm by 4 meter high using 1,000 tons of sand and water from the sea.

The designer and sculptor of the hotel, Mark Anderson was commissioned by the website LateRooms.com to build this gigantic sand castle hotel. Along with the assistance of 6 other team members, The Sand Hotel took 14 hours per day for 7 days to be completed! According to tripadvisor, the beach is the number 1 place to visit when you’re in Weymouth and Mark Anderson quotes that he has been to over 200 beaches and it is the best sand to use to build your very own sandcastle.

world's first sandcastle hotel

What was supposed to be a publicity stunt turned out to be a very big hit. For roughly $20 (AUD) a night, you can stay in the man-made sandcastle – eat, sleep and watch the stars at night in the clear sky. Bear in mind with limited rooms available, you would surely have to book well in advance.

Unfortunately, the hotel has limited facilities since it’s made out of sand. Did I tell you there are no toilets/showers? I guess you can live without having a shower for a day but what do people do when they need to use the bathroom? Either hold it in or head down to the water.

Having no roof might be good on a nice day and you can gaze the stars at night but make sure you check the weather forecast cause if it rains, you will probably have to find another place to stay. As I said before, it is built purely with sand. Whether you’re sleeping or not you will get sand everywhere on you.  There are three room types available – one double, two single beds or a family room.

Forget about setting your alarm because the bright sun and tidal waves will certainly wake you up. If not, don’t worry because the water at your feet due to low/high tide will surely do the trick.  Does this place appeal to you?

I am afraid to say that The Sand Hotel only lasted as long as it rained, unfortunately……

But don’t get too disappointed, there’s also another place called the Sandworld located closely to the Weymouth Beach, where you will find man-made sculptures created from sand also done by Mark Anderson. The artworks are as outstanding as The Sand Hotel.

The Sand Hotel attracted media attentions by creating a positive publicity through Mark Anderson as he has had an established reputation in the industry already, it is assumed that the hotel can appeal to certain niche markets such as sustainable travelers who enjoy nature and and a long-term maintenance of well being.

“the roofless structure gives guests the chance to “star-gaze” at night, said hotel creator Mark Anderson. – The Sand Hotel 

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The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel – Macao

This may seem like a graphic image of a superior luxury building, in fact The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel is actually present somewhere around the world called Macau (Macao).

Has anyone heard of Macau or know where exactly it is?

It is a small city city located in the southeast of China. It is one of the two special administrative regions in the country (the other being Hong Kong). Approximately 95% of the people living there are Chinese, however it was first occupied by the Portuguese from the mid-16th century until 1999, and it was the last remaining European colony in China. Today, there are still many that occupy the city. It is a well known for the Chinese culture mixed with the foreign Portuguese buildings.

Macau is known as the Las Vegas in China, while the gambling industry in the city has become an important part in boosting the local economy. The Venetian Macao being a casino hotel has a huge impact in, in 2007 it was attracting more than 20 million people each year, largely drawn by the international casino.

The Venetian Macau Resort Hotel Night Time

The Venetian Macau Resort Hotel was first opened in August 2007 and is actually the world’s largest casino, owned by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. The hotel was built 40 stories high at 2.4 billion dollars. It is the largest building in Asia and the 5th largest building in the world.

The entire city itself has been positioned as the Las Vegas in Asia and this is the competitive advantage compare to other hotels. Due to its enormous size, it makes other hotels impossible to even be a market follower. It is the leader in the Asian market with a huge coverage of all many retail/hotel/entertainment/casino businesses.

We always say that first impression is important, so lets start the hotel tour from the front desk and lobby.

There is approximately 1 million square feet of retail and dining areas at Shoppes Grand Canal. Restaurants and shops are set along streetscapes reminiscent of historical Venice streets. There are three canals, each featuring gondola rides.

Gondola To Take You From One Place To Another

Your ‘Captain’ Will Sing Serenades For you While You Are On A Tour

Hotel Street View

As you can see the hotel is more like a small city, you could easily get lost. Here are some interesting facts about the hotel.

  • The hotel has 3000 rooms available
  • The casino has 3400 slot machines and 800 gambling tables
  • The CotaiArena sport and entertianment area can seat up to 15000 people
  • 350 branded retail stores
  • 30 restaurants with different cuisines from all over the world
  • The total size of the hotel is equivalent to 56 football fields
  • 64 Paiza suites, some of which include private massage rooms, gyms, pools, and media/karaoke rooms
  •  An 85,000-square foot facility owned and managed by the Lisbon-based Malo Clinic Health Group, which offers comprehensive medical treatments and spa services.
  • A convention centre and meeting room complex of approximately 1.2 million square feet.
  • A 1,800-seat luxury theatre.

The average size of a room at the hotel is 70 square metres or larger. Whereas in Australia, a standard room size is around 30 square metres. They provide rooms for the average leisure/corporate travelers up to a family of 6.

Bella Suite

bathroom-at-venetian-macao

Bathroom

Bella Suite Living Area

-The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel

Royal Suite

The rooms and the deco speaks for its name, on top of that there an Asian flair to make it even more unique and existing.

How about the hotel surroundings?

Castle-Like Swimming Pool

View Of The Mini Gold Course Outside The Room

The main attraction is to visit the Venetian Macao Casino (much like the Crown Casino). Hundreds of slot machines and tables to choose from, what are the chances to win Jackpot?

Everywhere you go creates a wow factor, even if you are just day dreaming and standing by the stairs.

venetian-macao-staircase

View From the Staircase

valet-parking-at-venetian-macao

Concierge Services

The sporting and entertainment arena below can seat 15,000 people. Celebrities such as the Black Eyed Peas, Beyoncé, Linkin Park, Lady Gaga, and even an exclusive one-off match between Pete Sampras and Roger Federer have also hosted their concerts here previously.

With a cast of over 150 entertainers, The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel have their own acrobats, singing gondoliers, magicians, jugglers, Broadway acts and opera singer.

There is a vast variety of cuisines available, most of the chefs at the The Venetian Macau Resort Hotel has a background from the finest restaurants in the world.

The Tasting Room

The Tasting Room – International Cuisine

Food Court

Food Court

Edo Japanese Restaurant

Edo Japanese Restaurant

From Chinese buffet, fine dining Japanese to international cuisine restaurants.

If you like to shop, this is the place to be – around 55% of the travelers come here just to have a shop spree. The Venetian Macau has over 600 shops available for tourists and has the largest duty-free shopping experience available.

There are boutique shops that sell souvenirs for you to take home to remember this unforgettable trip in Macau.

               

Thinking of your next trip Las Vegas? perhaps you can replace the thought with this new destination. Don’t worry about the accommodation to be overly priced, surprisingly it is approximately around $260 AUD – $400 AUD per night only! I am glad that this luxury hotel isn’t as expensive as the hotels in Europe, yet the experience can still be absolutely amazing.

“Nowhere else in Asia will you find the finest in luxury suites, world-class shopping, sensational entertainment and irresistible dining” – all under one roof” The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel

Posted in Cool Hotels Around The World | 12 Comments

The Nine Hours Kyoto Teramachi – Capsule Hotels in Japan

After my couple of hotel blogs introducing the boutique and unique properties in Europe, I have decided to choose a type of hotel that is more value more money and realistic for everyone, so how about sleeping in a capsule that has a size no larger than a coffin? This sort of reminds me of the movie I watched a couple of years ago called ‘Buried’, which was about a man that woke up in a wooden coffin buried under the ground and attempted to escape. I swear I had problem breathing throughout that entire movie.

Capsule Hotels (カプセルホテル) is a Japanese designed hotel features large numbers of rooms with extremely small spacing. The very first Capsule Hotel was opened back in 1979 in Osaka by an architect called Kisho Kurokawa (黒川 紀章), up until today, this style of hotel has become extremely popular in Japan.

If you are seeking for a budget hotel without services this would be extremely suitable for you, but bear in mind that there is nothing more than just sleeping over and don’t expect anything more than that. This may be unsuitable for people that are claustrophobia as the approximate measurement of the rooms are 2m x 1m x 1.25m. 

I would say that these rooms are a bit of a in-between of hostels and 2-3 star hotels, where you get your own person spacing but at the same time paying less than a budget hotel room. I personally think it is pretty smart and niche since the hotel has found the gap between the two types of accommodation and fulfilled the needs of the guests that are in between.

Due to security reasons, most of these hotels target at men only, though there are some Capsule Hotels that can accommodate both sex, such as The Nine Hours Kyoto Teramachi – a brand new modern capsule hotel in Kyoto just opened in December 2009. The building consists of 9 levels with a total of 125 capsules.

Nine Hours Capsule Hotel Exterior

The hotel is a renewed version of the traditional Capsule Hotels, offering a little more luxury for backpackers, while living in minimal spacing. There sure is a definition behind the name of the hotel – ‘Nine Hours’ indicating that 1 hour to shower (this must be a very loooong shower), 7 hours sleep (I would prefer an 8 hours sleep actually  and 1 hour rest. The location of the hotel is extremely central – only 2 minutes walk from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station or about 10 minutes by taxi from JR Kyoto Station.

The hotel is sleek, white and modern, with indicated signs on the floor you can easily understand the instructions while checking in a the front desk.

As this is a hotel for both female and male, there are different lifts that you can catch to go up to different levels.

After you check in, you can go up to the third floor (female only) where you can find the locker and shower room. Inside the locker, you will find the complimentary room wear and toiletries with hotel branding.

Mt Fuji Bottled Water

I must say it’s a bit of a downside that the room doesn’t have a TV, not like that I will understand it anyway. Though there are many other Capsule Hotels in Japan that provides in room TVs.

Capsule Rooms With Rooms Numbers Written On The Floor

The High Quality Sheets Used Are Equivalent To A Four Star Hotel

I must say the design of the ‘alarm’ is smart – since so many people are sleeping so closely together, how do you get woken up in the morning without disturbing one another? The system above your head will control the lighting of the room, therefore as the set time approaches the brighter the lighting would become and eventually the whole room would be as bright as day light to wake you up.

In- Room Panasonic And Matsushita Systems : Lights Will Turn On Automatically According To The Time Set

Shower area is separated into two sections – individual showers and a common bath. As soon as you walk to the changing area, you will  see two glass doors, one leads to the shower, and the next one will take you to the common bath. This means that you can easily have a shower and walk out to the bath straight after – very convenient indeed.

After a long day it’s time for bed….ZZZzzzzz

I personally think there is definitely a niche market for hotel as such, though this would not be classified as ‘luxury’ compare to many of the 4 and 5 star hotels out there, but from a backpacker’s point of view, this is definite offering something more than you can expect.You will be paying approximately $55-$65 per night to stay at the hotel – the price that you will pay between a budget hostel and a 2-3 star hotel.

Capsule Hotel is believed to be at its ‘growth’ product life cycle, as in 2012, it has successful entered the Chinese market. I think the hotel will continue to expand its market in Japan and around the world because it has positioned itself as an ‘luxury backpacking’ from the travelers’ eyes.

“Simplicity, a new definition for sleep and a hotel stay” – The Nine Hours Kyoto Teramachi

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World’s First Ice Hotel – Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

How about this for your next holiday – something more than just snow, skiing and snowboarding.

When I say Sweden…what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

meat balls? IKEA? Absolut Vodka? Volvo? or …..an over sized igloo?

It may sound strange, but it truly does exist. People on TripAdvisor say ” this is a bucket list experience!”

Each year The Ice Hotel is open between mid December to mid April in a village called   Jukkasjärvi, in Sweden, located 200 km north of the Arctic Circle with a population of 900 residents. Every single spring it is re-built and re-designed from ice or compacted snow, which all came from the Torne River using over 10,000 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow.

The construction covers a total of 5,500 square metres and the ice are usually stored near the production hall each prior to the establishment over the summer, while the actual construction only takes place in November and December.

Just imagine how inspirational this hotel art project is – every year it’s transformed from water, ice to the hotel, then melts away in spring and return to the Torne River. This true combination of ice sculpture art design and hospitality. I am so extremely proud to be a hotelier to see how innovative people can get with this industry.

Stay At An Over Sized Igloo With A Sky full Of Aurora Borealis

This is the 23rd year for the Ice hotel which was originally created by a group of inspirational artists. Dated back to 1989, Jannot Derid, the French artist hosted an art exhibition in an igloo built from the the Torne River, however due to the large numbers of visitors, the tourist attraction created accommodation shortage for this small town. Fortunately this issue was solved when a group of tourists arrived and asked to stay over one night at the igloo with reindeer hides and sleeping bags- the amazing Ice Hotel was then born.

2013: Art Suite Interactive 1: Elliptical. Artists: Geertje Jacob & Gaston Vacaflores. Photo: Paulina Holmgren.

2013: Art Suite Interactive 1: Elliptical. Artists: Geertje Jacob & Gaston Vacaflores. Photo: Paulina Holmgren.

2013: Art Suite Dragon Nest. Artist: Bayarsaikhah Bazarsad. Photo: Paulina Holmgren.

2013: Art Suite Dragon Nest. Artist: Bayarsaikhah Bazarsad. Photo: Paulina Holmgren.

2013: Art Suite The Flower. Artists: Natsuki Saito & Shingo Saito. Photo: Paulina Holmgren.

2013: Art Suite The Flower. Artists: Natsuki Saito & Shingo Saito. Photo: Paulina Holmgren.

This year, Ice Hotel has built 23 art suites attracting approximately 50 000 visitors all around the world. All the pictures above are the latest suites designs of 2013.

For someone like me that cant even really stand the winter in Melbourne,  I would suggest anyone who is interested in visiting The Ice Hotel to stay for no more than one night, as the temperature in each room is around -5  Celsius. It is also recommended that guests should wear gloves, warm clothes while sleeping inside the thermal sleeping bags. The friendly hotel staff understand that the hardest thing would be getting out of the sleeping bag in the morning, so you will be served with a cup of warm lingonberry (red berries that are commonly used in Northern Europe) juice to help you to wake up in the mornings.

2010 – Electrified Tron Hotel Ice Suite Interior2010 – Electrified Tron Hotel Ice Suite Exterior

Dont be afraid that you will starve here, the Ice Restaurant provides a variety of local cuisines to bring out the best of the Norrland specialties – a range of different roe (fish eggs), reindeer fillet (shoulder and tougue) served with  lingonberry sauce and potatoes, sour cream and flatbread served on ice. Alternatively, guests may also dine at the traditional Homestead Restaurant which is an old log building built back in 1768.

Kalix Löjrom ( the roe of the small salmonid fish) with smoked bleak and pickled red onions served on ice

Not only do you get to dine, the Absolut Ice Bar is not something to be missed. Throughout the winter the bar opens from 1PM until 1AM everyday serving colourful and tasty drinks.

All Drinks At The Ice Bar Are Served In Ice Made Glasses

ICEBAR_BY_ICEHOTEL_Jukkasjarvi_-_Photo_Paulina_Holmgren_800x533_72_100

I think when the whole idea of an ice made property gets even more romantic and exciting when you have the chance to get married in the Ice Church.

Give your vows in a magical surrounding. Photo by Bigbenphoto.com

There are definitely other activities that you can do while you are on holiday, such as dog sledding ( you may even order this transfer service from the Kiruna airport), snowmobile tours and Northern Light (Aurora oval) tours, where you get to see the sky turning green as if it’s the end of the world.

Every year, tourists all over the world come and visit The Ice Hotel, not because they want to stay in the icy cold beds, they came because the hotel has a competitive advantage that no other places can offer – its artistic ice sculpture. Though The Ice Hotel in Sweden remains its position as a market leader in the industry, there have been many other market followers that started their own replica version of the hotel. This could be identified as a threat for the hotel as it is becoming more and more competitive. Ice Hotel continues to expands its product and services such as offering the dog sledding airport transfer to enhance the customers’ experience.

We all must admit that these valuable experiences don’t come cheap – I have just tried to make a reservation for this year’s December to see how much it costs, and it has come to a total of 5400 Sek per night, equivalent to $804 AUD. Indeed an experience.

“We are proud to offer our clients the genuine thing. Our ice always comes with a story; a message about the wild, pure and natural water of Torne River.” The Ice Hotel – Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Posted in Cool Hotels Around The World | 14 Comments

Seven Hotel by Elegancia – Paris

Coming from a hospitality background, I thought I have seen and come across a few  different hotels already, but nothing like this one….not only do you sleep in the room, you get to live in the dream while you sleep.

Seven Hotel is a boutique hotel owned by a hotel group called the Elegancia, located in Paris France, closely to the Notre Dame de Paris. This luxury design hotel is Ranked #53 of 1813 hotels in Paris, and was awarded as the winner of Travelers’ Choice® 2013 on Trip Advisor. There are total 35 standard rooms, and 7 themed Suites.

Are you looking for a magical and dreamy experience while you are on your holiday? have you thought of floating in the sky while you watch over the stars upon you? The purple lights in the room definitely add a little more quirkiness to the overall atmosphere. All the aspects of the hotel are designed to impress – the crystal bedside table, ocean blue carpet, candy floss like ‘levitation’ bed, transparent shower (not too sure about this actually), fiber optics, and the shimmer stars on the ceiling. Just let your creations run wild. Note to remember….when you get out of the bed, please be extra careful.

Absolute Levitation Room

This isnt one of those superior city view or deluxe garden view rooms you would get in  the usual hotels. All rooms are named by its design or theme. This is one of the more popular rooms called the ‘ Absolute Levitation’

‘Close to the Stars’ with the transparent bathroom behind you

As mentioned previously, there are also 7 other themed rooms in the Seven Hotel, I wont be able to go through each one of them, but would like to share some of the favourite ones I really like.

The Lovez-vous Suite is a definite the cup of tea for couples. As I do not understand French, google translate has told me that Lovez-vous means love you in Enlgish. I think when you walk into the room, you feel like you are in another sort of space, but this is a different feeling to the Absolute Levitation, which had more of a mysterious sense like you were wondering a purple night sky, but this suite here, brings me to day like again, more cutting edge and futuristic in terms of its bright furnishing.

The Lovez-vous Suite

The Lovez-vous Suite

The modern bioethanol chimney simply creates a unique fireplace design to the room. Perfect for winter!

For someone that enjoys having a bath or spa, this is the choice for you – I am impressed with the idea of having a cow hide bath, adding that slight differentiation to the rest of the other rooms in the hotel. The private balcony with a Jacuzzi is designed for two, as per the hotel description – I suggest you to take turns in the spa, it does seem quite small.

The Lovez-vous Suite

Can I have one of these in the my bathroom please?

The Lovez-vous Suite

warming glowing candles and a couple of glasses of champagne is the way to match the Lovez-vous Suite

The very last suite that I am very fond of is the Alice Suite. As each room is themed under a certain topic, movie or something else, when I saw the name of the room, I thought it was names after the person who designed the room, but in fact it is themed for ‘Alice in Wonderland’, which is one of my favourite cartoons when I was young.

The Alice Suite

Alice in Wonderland

There are 10 psychedelic settings in this rooms. As soon as you walk into the room, you see clashing colours, there are yellow, green, pink purple red and more and somehow you dont know where to focus, because you eyes start to dazzle with the contrasts. After a few second of being over fascinated, you will notice there is a big soft toy rabbit coming out of the wall, tiny colourful mushrooms growing out of the blankets, a few different lightings hanging from the ceiling and tons of small to large clocks and alarms tick-tocking on the wall, not to mention there is also a chessboard in the middle of the bathroom. The illusion of stepping in a wonderland, suddenly seems to be so real. Perhaps you should consider to roll out a spinning top in here just in case you get lost.

The Alice Suite

Mr White Rabbit, shall we play a game of chess?

The Alice Suite

Hmmm…which clock should I look at?

These rooms dont come cheap, as you can imagine it is a luxury designed hotel in Paris. The least expensive room would be the standard rooms starting from 167 € per night. Alice Suites start from 367€ and the Lovez-vous being the most expensive, they start from 667 €, depending on the occupancy and dates of the year.

Seven Hotel, like no other hotels, positioned itself away from all the competitors by differentiating themselves, using innovative ideas and unique design to become one of the niche and boutique hotels in Paris. Not only is it modern, Seven Hotel has targeted itself to travelers with a special interest, such as designers, couples on honeymoon, or even people that are looking for something completely different for an one-off experience.

Reception desk

Seven Hotel – Lobby

Reception desk

Seven Hotel – Lobby # 2

Lounge/Bar

Seven Hotel – Lounge/Bar

Want to see more of Seven Hotel……?

There are 6 other hotels under the Elegancia Hotel Group and are all located in Paris. If you are fascinated by Seven Hotel, why not check out the other hotels on http://www.elegancia-hotels.com for further information.

The Five Hotel

The Hidden Hotel Room

Hotel O – Lobby

The Hidden Hotel Exterior

– Dive into a design and boutique world, where details and perfectionism are the key words.- Seven Hotel

Posted in Cool Hotels Around The World | 24 Comments