Briefs: Mandarin’s home collection; Dorchester homage to Liz Taylor

Mandarin Oriental launches home collection: Mandarin Oriental Group, in partnership with StayOne, has launched Mandarin Oriental Exclusive Homes — a branded collection of luxury private villas and mansions which are available for this year’s summer season. The initial selection of the branded homes are located in Ibiza (Tagomago Private Island; The Palms, San José; Villa Lagarto, Jesús), France (Villa Oxygen, Grimaud; a Maison vue de Saint Jean, Èze-Mer), Mallorca, Spain, (Villa Puesta del Sol, Port d’Andratx; Ca’n Miquelet, Deià) and The Cotswolds, U.K. (Cirencester Estate, Cotswolds). These homes are accessible only via the Mandarin Oriental Exclusive homes platform.

Elizabeth Taylor Bungalow 5 at The Beverly Hills Hotel

Dorchester Collection honors Liz Taylor: The late actress Elizabeth Taylor spent several of her honeymoons in Bungalow 5 at The Beverly Hills Hotel, while the penthouse Harlequin Suite at London’s Dorchester became her home away from home and the spot where Taylor negotiated a deal to film Cleopatra and become the first million dollar-actress for 20th Century Fox. Now, the Dorchester Collection, in partnership with House of Taylor, has formally named the spaces in her honor – the Elizabeth Taylor Harlequin Suite and Elizabeth Taylor Bungalow 5. She dined regularly at the Beverly Hills Hotel’s Polo Lounge where her splurge day favorite, fried chicken with mashed potato and lots of gravy, is still served. She celebrated her Oscar win for BUtterfield 8 at the hotel and after her passing in 2011, Taylor’s family hosted a private gathering in Bungalow 5. Taylor met Richard Burton on the set of Cleopatra and the couple were regulars at The Dorchester throughout the 1960s and 1970s. It was also where she stayed in 2000 for the Buckingham Palace ceremony in which she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by HM Queen Elizabeth II for services to acting and charity. Guests booking the suite and bungalow will be able to read books that give a nod to Taylor’s vision for a “kinder, braver, more beautiful world.”

Baglioni to debut in Milan: Baglioni Hotels & Resorts will open its first property in Milan, Casa Baglioni, later in 2022, marking the group’s third opening in 18 months. Baglioni has two other  property openings planned in the year — Baglioni Resort Sardinia in June and Baglioni Masseria Muzza in Puglia in May. Casa Baglioni will offer 30 rooms and suites, a living area, wine cellar and a restaurant by Michelin-starred Chef Claudio Sadler. The hotel’s interiors are being designed by Italian architects Spangulo & Partners. The hotel will join The Leading Hotels of the World.

Soho House expansion: Membership Collective Group (MCG) is further expanding its Nick Jones-founded Soho House brand by opening Nashville House, the group’s 12th and largest Soho House in North America, as well as the first Soho House coastal UK site in Brighton later this month. At the same time, MCG’s restaurant collection is expanding with Cecconi’s Italian restaurant opening a second New York location this summer at The Ned NoMad hotel. Following the recent acquisition of Mandolin Aegean Bistro concept, this spring MCG will bring the East Coast concept to Soho Warehouse DTLA in Los Angeles.

Wecan Group closes Series B funding: Wecan Group SA, the Swiss parent company of Wecan Comply, has closed the second round of Series B funding worth CHF1.7 million (US$1.83 million) with new shareholders, including Michel Reybier, reaching a total funding of CHF3.3 million (US$3.55 million). The company said having Reybier onboard will enable it to diversify into hotel, medical, wine and real estate industries. Reybier, the founder and owner of La Reserve and co-founder and shareholder of Mama Shelter Hotels and MOB Hotels, has several investments in private clinics across Switzerland.

Benchmark Pyramid adds to US portfolio: Benchmark Pyramid has assumed management of the 318-room Pittsburgh Airport Marriott in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. This is the 29th hotel that Benchmark Pyramid has added to its U.S. portfolio of third-part managed properties since the company merger in 2021. The company now has three hotels in the greater Pittsburgh metro area and five overall in Pennsylvania. Benchmark Pyramid’s current global portfolio consists of 240 properties in the U.S., Caribbean and Europe.

US performance dips: Hotel performance in the U.S. fell from the previous weeks, according to STR’s latest data through March 5.

  • Occupancy: 61.2% (-8.2%)
  • ADR: US$137.96 (+4.7%)
  • RevPAR: US$84.39 (-3.8%)

Although none of the Top 25 Markets saw occupancy rising over 2019, Norfolk/Virginia Beach came closest to its 2019 comparable (-0.8% to 56.3%). San Francisco/San Mateo registered the highest occupancy decrease from 2019 (-36.8% to 51%), while Miami posted the highest ADR (+27.3% to US$311.19) and RevPAR (+25% to US$254.37) increases over 2019. The steepest RevPAR deficits were in San Francisco/San Mateo (-64.2% to US$87.61) and Washington, D.C. (-38.9% to US$74.70).

Americans’ travel sentiment, budget rises: Travel sentiment in the U.S. has picked up steam with 53% of Americans planning on traveling this spring (March 1- May 31), revealed the Spring Travel Index by Tripadvisor. About 39% are planning to take two or more trips, compared to the 35% of Americans who reported to have traveled this winter (December 1, 2021- February 28, 2022). Americans seem to be spending more on travel with 51% of those who traveled last spring and plan to travel this year too planning to spend more this year with 23% planning to spend “significantly more.” The average spend per booking for U.S. travelers this spring surged by 87% YOY. As per the study, the most favored dates this spring are March 11, 12 and 31. While domestic travel has been flourishing during the pandemic, 23% of the respondents plan to travel internationally this spring, with Paris, London and Rome trending as the top three international destinations. About 77% of respondents plan to travel within the U.S. between March and May, with Orlando, Florida, emerging as the most popular domestic destination.