While resort development has certainly slowed due to the global recession, with many projects shelved these past two years, 2012 will be a banner year for the unveiling of new properties. Billion-dollar mega-resorts, ultra-chic honeymoon hotspots, and boutique hotels in downtown centers will all open their doors to the public this coming year.
In some instances, cost has not been spared. Take, for example, the $2.4 billion Revel, set to open on 1,000 feet of Atlantic City boardwalk this spring. Built to delight all Boardwalk Empire fans and folks who like their casinos to display Vegas-style flair, Revel will occupy more than enough space to entertain guests for a weekend of gaming. The 47-story tower will house 12 restaurants, six pools, a 5,800-seat theater, close to four dozen retail stores, and one massive casino.
As one would expect, London is gearing up for the 2012 Summer Olympics with a slew of new hotel construction. Yet two of the most exciting openings have pushed their launch dates beyond the Games. Near Hyde Park Corner, in the upscale neighborhood of Knightsbridge, the Wellesley Hotel London is now scheduled to debut in November 2012. Next door to the Lanesborough Hotel, the Wellesley will feature 36 spacious suites, including the largest suite in the city, and is billing itself as the first six-star lodging in London.
Overlooking the Thames in London, the 70-story building dubbed "The Shard" is supposed to be completed by the end of the year, but Hong Kong hotelier Shangri-La reportedly won't move in until early 2013. Once finished, the Renzo Piano-designed building will be the tallest structure in the European Union. Shangri-La will occupy floors 34 to 52, so rest assured that you'll have glorious vistas of the city's skyline.
Marrakech has also been a hot destination, of late, with the Royal Mansour Marrakech and the Four Seasons opening their doors this past year. Now you can add Assoufid to the list. Located 15 minutes outside the city in a serene locale, Assoufid is an all-suite property with pools and a golf course. It plans to open in the early spring, the perfect time of year to visit one of the rare North African countries not experiencing political turmoil.
Honeymooners should look to the far-flung corners of the globe for their special getaway. In January, the NIYAMA Maldives will open its sybaritic retreat with 87 private bungalows along the beach, many with their own private pool. Adding to the allure is the 24-hour spa (who can resist a couple's massage at midnight?), the signature floating restaurant, and the world's first underwater nightclub. Yes, that's right, an underwater nightclub.
Along with the Wellesley London, other intriguing boutique hotel offerings include 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and SLS South Beach in Miami. Set in the former estate of the director of the British East Borneo Company, near the Ping River, 137 Pillars House will open on New Year's Day. The 30-suite hotel exudes old-world charm with its rattan furniture, Oriental rugs, and Victorian baths.
The glam factor will be on high for the unveiling of the SLS South Beach on April 1st. Phillipe Starck is lead designer of the 142 rooms, while celebrity chef Jose Andres brings his beloved Caribbean and Latin American fusion-style cooking to the restaurant, Bazaar. Word has it that singer Lenny Kravitz will design a water bungalow and penthouse suite for the hotel.
If that sounds a little futuristic, head back in time to Hotel Castello di Casole, a restored 10th-century castle in the heart of Tuscany that on April 2, 2012, will debut as a 41-suite boutique hotel. It has taken more than five years to refurbish the 100 acres of vineyards, gardens, and olive groves, but the fruits of their labor will soon be tasted at the nightly dinners. Wash it down with a good bottle of Barolo, and you'll want to move here permanently.
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