ILTM Day 4: Independent Hotels and Villas to Put on Your Radar

Our London correspondent, Emily Goldfischer, was on site at ILTM in Cannes, France last week and has dispatched the following report, offering intel on small brands and independent properties to put on your radar.

According to the organizers, this was the biggest ILTM ever with over 1,800 exhibitors and 1,800 buyers from 77 countries. In this final dispatch, we rounded up the news from one-on-one meetings with smaller hotel brands and independent hotels, and offer some private villas to put on your radar.

Small Brands and Independent Hotels to Put on Your Radar

Next year Nobu Hotels will open in Marrakesh (January), Rome (April), San Sebastian (July) and Atlantic City (summer). The long-awaited Nobu Hotel and Restaurant Marrakech will mark the brand’s first venture into Africa. Situated in the Hivernage district, just steps away from the Moroccan capital’s cultural epicenter, the luxury lifestyle destination will have 71 rooms and suites, a selection of dining venues and rooftop spaces, a 24,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

The other big news: Nobu is opening in April in Rome. Vice President Sales and Marketing Rachel Palumbo tells us it will be “la dolce vita meets Nobu.” Located in the historic heart of Rome, on the exclusive and world-renowned Via Veneto and just a short walk from Villa Borghese, Piazza Barberini, Trevi Fountain and Piazza di Spagna, Nobu Hotel Roma is the union of two 19th-century buildings combined to create a modern space that celebrates its grand, historic past. The hotel will have 115 guestrooms and suites, including a 5,400-square-foot Nobu Suite. The San Sebastian hotel will only have 20 rooms and the Atlantic City property will be located within the Caesars.

Maisons Pariente is a collection of chic boutique, five-star hotels in France, run by the glam daughters Kimberly and Leslie of the family that started the Naf-Naf fashion brand. They are gearing up for the opening of Le Grand Mazarin in the Le Marais district, the first hotel in their native Paris. The property will have 61 rooms (11 are suites) with interiors by designer Martin Brudnizki, whose other projects include Annabel’s London, The Beekman in New York, and The Pendry in Los Angeles. The Paris hotel is the fourth for Maisons Pariente, with the others in the Provence countryside, Meribel for skiing and Saint-Tropez for beach—basically everywhere fashionable French people vacation. 

You also need to know Almae Collection. So far just in Chamonix—and soon to open properties in Cognac and Venice—this is a new boutique brand to look out for in Europe. Armancette, the brand’s five-star property near Chamonix has 17 rooms, including two suites, plus three chalets (one sleeps eight; the other two sleep 14), right on the slopes. Charming interiors have a modern rustic vibe. The hotel has a heated pool with views of Mount Blanc, plus a spa and top chef Fabien Laprée serving serious gastronomy as well as overseeing a bistro and wine bar—all with a focus on regional cuisine.

The family-owned 40-suite/villa Cali Mykonos on the island's southeastern edge in the exclusive coastal village Kaylafatis opened in the summer of 2022 to much buzz. The project was seven years in the making: All suites were built with local stone, creating a beautiful white-washed look, while most units have heated seawater pools. There is also a central 425-foot swimming pool overlooking the sea; plus, the hotel has a private dock and beach where guests can rent boats for the day to explore nearby islands. A full spa kitted out with a hammam and treatment rooms is set to open in June 2023; plus, there is a gym, pilates, and yoga classes. F&B is by Lefteris Lazarou, Greece's first Michelin-star chef, whose cuisine is centered around showing off the best of the local produce.

Francesco Pantalone, who has worked his way up the luxury hotel ranks in the Middle East and Asia, is thrilled to be back in his native Italy to run the Romeo Hotel in Naples. Owned by one of the largest builders in Italy, the design of the 79-room property is impeccable—led by famous Japanese architect Kenzo Tange & Associates, and distinguished by dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows, unique artwork and original photography, alongside a combination of antique and modern furniture. Top digs: The Two Bedroom Zen Garden Suite, which has a private garden filled with succulent plants, fragrant jasmine, precious bonsais and designer chaise lounges. For dining, the hotel is home to Il Comandante, a Michelin-starred restaurant. There is also a rooftop pool with views over the Med stretching to Capri. 

Turtle Bay on Hawaii’s famed North Shore of Ohau has just completed a multimillion-dollar overhaul. Owned by Blackstone, who is very experienced in reinventing luxury hotels, the 450-room property now has seven new dining outlets, an 11,000-square-foot spa, and a celebrated surf school, plus other watersports along its five-mile beach, as well as horseback riding and hiking options. The resort is sustainable, too, utilizing solar energy and sourcing food from their onsite farm.

Hotel Esencia, originally built as a private hideaway for an Italian duchess, is a 50-acre estate in Tulum. It was purchased by the Hollywood producer and entrepreneur Kevin Wendle in 2014,who turned the property into a chic beachside retreat beloved by celebrities and the fashion crowd. With just 29 suites and two villas, no expense has been spared to create the perfect hideaway with beachy rooms with 360-degree views. Food includes a Michelin-star sushi chef, plus expertly prepared local cuisine and a new speakeasy-style bar. There's also extensive watersports and beachside yoga available. No wonder Managing Director Sean Murphy tells us 80 percent of the guests never leave the property during their stay. Good to know: It is the only property near Cancun with a private helipad and helicopter pilot on staff.

Amazing Villas and Private islands

France: We checked out the new Villa Gaïa, a stunning contemporary-design villa perched over Cap Ferrat with views stretching dozens of miles to Cannes. Part of a new company focused on high-end villas, Amavia Collection, the 5,000-square-foot Villa Gaia is its first property, debuting this past summer. Its built into the hillside over three levels, the focus of which is an outdoor pool and large terraces that maximize sea views. On the inside, there is a spa with an indoor pool crafted in natural stone, a sauna, a fully equipped gym, a cinema room, and six en-suite bedrooms with private balconies. The villa comes with a Michelin-star chef and full staff, plus VIP manager Ella Donaldson can arrange excursions by helicopter to wineries in Provence, and access to hot restaurants and clubs, private yacht excursions. Fun fact: Tina Turner used to have a villa a few doors down.

Norway: There are two companies to check out here for bespoke holidays to explore the fjords, mountains and wildlife. The first is 62 Nord, wich operates three rustic luxury hotels and some cabins in Norway. It will arrange anything from cycling and skiing to fishing tours of the fjords. The other bespoke operator is Christine C. Gaffney, a former private guide who has started her own luxury travel company partnering with local experts, The Luxury Travel Designer. Gaffney specializes in remote trips and has access to the only twin-engine plane in the region; she also has remote lodges and boats that are unique to her company. Based in Norway, she also arranges holidays in Denmark, Greenland, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden. Trends she is seeing: Treetop accommodations and igloo-shaped glass hotel rooms.

Scotland: Opened in 2018, Dun Aluinn is an exclusive-use stately home situated in Aberfeldy Perthshire in the Scottish Highlands. Imagine a Scottish version of Downton Abbey. The stately main house at Dun Aluinn sleeps up to 18 guests in nine bedrooms, each with a private en-suite bathroom. In addition, The Lodge at Dun Aluinn sleeps eight more guests (4 bedrooms, all ensuite), so it can accommodate parties up to 26 in total. Lots of nice local walks, a cute local village and fishing on the nearby River Tay are available; private whiskey tastings at three different nearby distilleries with meals from private chefs can also be arranged. 

Spain: A Creba is a fully staffed private island off the coast of Galicia in Spain. Crafted from local stone the chic, five-bedroom villa has nautical interiors by the same designer that works for the Spanish royal family, plus a pool, the use of three boats and lots of different amenities to enjoy the sea. The hideaway feels exotic despite being only 10 minutes by boat or a quick helicopter ride (yes, this property has a helipad, too) to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, on the northwestern tip of Spain.

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