NEW YORK, May 4, 2013 — What do Elvis Presley, Charles Dickens and Vladmir Lenin have in common? They have all stayed in one of the Luxury Collection’s 80 hotels around the world.
The hotel group has just has just released Hotel Stories ($45 at Assouline Boutiques and online) that offers details about some of their properties.
A question might be: Why would anyone — other than those associated with the hotel — be interested in this collection? The answer lies in its execution. This is a far cry from a catalogue of hotels and their amenities. Instead, it’s a collection of vignettes, both historic and contemporary, that reveals something about the essence of each property. Plus, it’s peppered with anecdotes from stars like Susan Sarandon.
Because some of the hotels have such illustrious histories, the hotels themselves become characters in their own mini novellas.
The hotel profiles run no more than three pages each, including photos. In fact, if there’s a flaw in this book it’s that the chapters on each property are so fleeting that they leave readers wanting more, more stories, more photos, more time to immerse themselves in the uniqueness of each hotel. Perhaps this is the intent. Perhaps the chapters were designed to whet the readers’ appetites, to incite travel so that they become part of the collection’s stories. If so, the book has succeeded.
Here are a few facts about a few properties, discovered with the pages of Hotel Stories:
The Gritti Palace in Venice, Italy
Dating back to the 15th century, The Gritti Palace recently underwent a massive two-year renovation, retaining the antiques, artisan-crafted furnishings and Murano lamps that gives its interiors a distinctively luxurious texture. The hotel is as much of an icon in the city of Venice as the city’s canals and byzantine streets.
Unfolding in its all-too-brief chapter is the influence the hotel has had on artists like Hemingway and painter Raoul Dufy. It was here that Dickens holed up often to write, claiming he found more inspiration here than any other place on earth. A modern day addition to the artistic roster is actor Stanley Tucci, who, in a sidebar, tells us that his favorite part of staying here is having his morning coffee beside a window overlooking the busy canal.
The Sheraton Kuwait in Kuwait City
A gilded and crystal festooned high rise in Kuwait City, The Sheraton Kuwait has been designed as a meeting place for the wealthy, powerful and influential. It’s brief entry in the book reveals that it’s played host to both former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The restaurants’ kitchen, we learn, tips its hat to its international clientele by delivering global cuisine. English tea? Check? Chinese noodles? Check. Lebanese tabouleh? Check. Iranian ash? Check.
Tambo Del Inka in Valle Sagredo in Peru
Perched atop the Andes in a remote area near Macchu Picchu called the Sacred Valley of the Incas, this new LEED certified property blends with the distinctive topography surrounding it. Tambo Del Inka, we learn, allows visitors to pick their own organic vegetables from the greenhouse for their meals. We also discover that designer Cynthia Rowley brought her mother and daughters to the property and rather incongruously that Rowley’s favorite trip was hiking in Tibet.
The Equinox in Manchester Village, Vermont
The Equinox hosted many of the bold faced names of the American Revolution. This 2,300-acre estate began life as humble tavern before blossoming into one of New England’s most beloved resorts.
Its chapter takes readers on a brisk skip through history. We learn that for a time the property was such a controversial meeting place among British loyalists that the revolutionaries seized it to protect the war effort. The history marches on to note how Abraham Lincoln’s wife and sons stayed here, and that part of the resort now includes Lincoln’s granddaughter’s home.
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