After a facelift, these top hotels are worth checking into for a fresh experience.
With new hotels entering the market every year, older hotels have felt the pressure to renew themselves. This is in spite of already having established a very sound reputation that is equivalent to grande dame or cult status for some of them. Not content with just refreshing rooms and dining concepts to cater to trends and changes in customers’ tastes, some even changed their names altogether. Here are our picks of the top hotel rebranding or revamp in recent years.
Photo: Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur
As far as luxury hotels go, the Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur was considered an institution in the Malaysian capital for nearly 20 years. It has upheld that status in recent years, partly due to a multi-million dollar overhaul completed in 2016 led by New York-based design studio Alexandra Champalimaud. Gone are the masculine-looking dark wood panels, and strong colour contrasts in the bedrooms. The current look in all 364 guestrooms and suites, restaurants and public spaces, is composed of soothing greys and creams. Though the streets of Kuala Lumpur city centre are paved with good food, consider dining in during your stay. The Library, a new restaurant in the hotel furnished like a well-appointed home library with a good collection of books, serves very well executed French cuisine which changes daily.
At 168, Jalan Imbi, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; tel: +60 3-2142 8000. Website: www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/malaysia/kuala-lumpur
Photo: Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel
An iconic fixture in the city landscape, the Taipei outpost underwent an 18-month renovation that cost US$50 million (S$68.8 million) in 2014. It now wears an updated Oriental look, with latticed woodwork in the 420 rooms and suites inspired by Song Dynasty window frames and Chinese art, which has been its theme since it opened in 1994. Specially commissioned pieces for this revamp include one by famous Taiwanese artist Shen Chen called “Along the River during the Qing Ming Festival”. It depicts the ancient Chinese capital of Kaifeng. Upon arrival, guests will be greeted by the impressive installation that stretches across two silk scrolls, each 7.2m by 1.68m and are embellished with natural amazonite gemstones.
At 1, Tun Hwa South Road, Section 2, Taipei, 10675, Taiwan; tel: 886 22378 8888. Website: www.shangri-la.com/en/taipei/fareasternplazashangrila
Photo: Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay
The first of all luxury resorts to offer individual standalone villas with plunge pools in Bali, the 31-year-old property has always managed to stay ahead of the competition even as a slew of hotels and resorts open on the island of Bali. After a revamp completed in 2016, it has increased the plunge pool size by a third in the Premier category. A living room has also been added, pushing up the size of the villas. Even the smallest one, the garden villa, starts at 250 sq m of private indoor and outdoor space. The revamped Taman Wantilan pavilion restaurant’s dining concept now reflects the Balinese communal village. It consists of nine mini-kitchens that invite you to wander around to make your selections. You can avail yourself to a few continents of cuisine choices in just one restaurant. Also, many of the Balinese paintings, a fixture in most resorts and hotels on the island, have been replaced by carved stone panels and wooden settees.
At Jimbaran, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali 80361, Indonesia; tel: +62 361 701010. Website: www.fourseasons.com/jimbaranbay
Photo: Marriott Bangkok Marquis Queen’s Park
After a total revamp that was completed in 2016, the former Imperial Queen Hotel in central Bangkok reopened with a completely new image and name – Marriott Bangkok Marquis Queen’s Park. With over 1,300 rooms, it is the largest hotel in Bangkok. And it’s all about space at this hotel which is decorated in a sleek modern theme with Thai design elements. The gym, lobby and pool are expansive. All facilities are clearly made to handle large MICE groups, which is one of the hotel’s target clientele. But leisure guests will still enjoy the hotel – from dining at one of four restaurants to relaxing in the sprawling wellness centre which now boasts two outdoor pools, a 24-hour fitness centre, and a sprawling authentic Thai spa with a comprehensive range of face and body treatments that incorporate local ingredients and age-old remedies.
At 199 Sukhumvit Soi 22 Klong Ton, Klong Toey Klong Toey Bangkok, 10, 10110, Thailand; tel: +66 2 059 5555. Website: www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bkkqp-bangkok-marriott-marquis-queens-park
Photo: The Peninsula Beijing
Opened in 1989, this grande dame was for the longest time, known as the luxury hotel to check into while in the Chinese capital. And it reclaimed that status in 2017 after a US$123 million (S$168 million) renovation. The dark, imposing reception area has been given a welcoming, light-filled look with modern Chinese art adorning it. Rooms are larger now – made possible by merging rooms, reducing the number from 525 to 300. Starting from 65 square metres, The Peninsula Beijing’s rooms are some of the largest in Beijing.
At 8 Jinyu Hutong, Dong Dan, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100006; tel: 86 10 8516 2888. Website: www.peninsula.com/en/beijing/5-star-luxury-hotel-wangfujing
Photo: Six Senses Kaplankaya
The youngest hotel on the list to get a revamp, the Anatolian outpost of the wellness hospitality brand was first opened as Canyon Ranch. But the attempted coup d’état on the Turkish President saw a sharp fall in visitor numbers to the country. Coupled with other reasons, the local owner felt it necessary to switch management to Six Senses. The rather cubist-looking main building remains but the hotel interiors were given a makeover to sport the signature Six Senses look. Inviting ottomans, intricately patterned Kilim rugs lend chic, relaxed vibes to the place. The software, ranging from farm-fresh food at the F&B outlets to an “alchemy bar” where skincare products are custom-blended for you on the spot, is also definitely Six Senses.
At Bozbük Mahallesi, Merkez Sokak No:198, 48200 Milas/Muğla, Turkey; tel: +90 252 511 00 51. Website: www.sixsenses.com/resorts/kaplankaya/destination
Photo: The Lowell
On trendy Manhattan’s Upper East, The Lowell reopened in 2016 after a facelift by the Obamas’ choice of interior design for the White House, Michael Smith and London-based architect Mark Pinney. A member of the Leading Hotels of the World, the property built in 1929 has retained its old world charm after the revamp. The lobby with vaulted ceilings and marble columns accented by etched glass work and alabaster chandeliers has been given a revitalised look. Marjorelle, a new restaurant in the hotel that serves French cuisine with a Moroccan twist, has very well received amongst new and regular guests alike.
At 28 East 63rd Street, at Madison Ave, New York, NY 10065, United States; tel: +1 212-838-1400. Website: www.lowellhotel.com
By Mavis Teo, June 2019
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