TO open a hotel in 2010 — when the industry is in its worst slump in decades — requires chutzpah.
Who’s got chutzpah? Donald Trump, for one. The Trump SoHo (www.trumpsohohotel.com), a 391-room hotel in Lower Manhattan, is expected to open this spring, towering over its low-rise neighbors with a lot of razzle-dazzle.
Oh, and Kelly Wearstler has chutzpah. The former Playboy centerfold is putting the finishing touches on the Viceroy Snowmass in Colorado and the Viceroy Anguilla in the Caribbean (www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com). Both have the kind of glamour that have made Ms. Wearstler a top interior designer and Bravo TV star.
And Giorgio Armani has chutzpah, or whatever it’s called in Italian. This spring, he plans to unveil the first in a much-hyped chain of Armani Hotels (www.armanihotels.com). Where? In the Burj Dubai, the tallest building in the world. The hotel features lots of dark leather and wood and — given Dubai’s economic troubles — will stand either as a symbol of rebirth or of hubris.
It won’t be the only new hotel in the emirate. One & Only Resorts (www.oneandonlyresorts.com) is set to open a new resort on the tree-shaped Palm Jumeirah Island. So what if there’s already a One & Only (the Royal Mirage) overlooking Palm Jumeirah Island? Call it the Two & Only.
Another desert emirate sprouting new hotels is Dubai’s oil-rich sister, Abu Dhabi. The biggest surprise there may be the Yas (www.theyashotel.com). Designed by Asymptote, the hot architecture firm based in New York, the 499-room Yas Hotel is covered in a shell of diamond-shaped glass panels, like a high-tech veil. Even more surprising, it bridges Abu Dhabi’s new Formula One racetrack.
While new hotels in the Middle East are making bold architectural statements, European hotels seem to be slipping into older buildings unobtrusively. In Venice, Philippe Starck designed the modern, 26-room Palazzina Grassi (www.palazzinagrassi.it) to disappear behind a 15th-century facade. In Amsterdam, the 23-room Canal House Hotel (www.canalhouse.nl) is set to open in a group of charming old houses on the Keizergracht, with canal views and contemporary styling.
In London, the Dean Street Townhouse (www.deanstreettownhouse.com) — a 39-room hotel in what was once the Gargoyle Club — has four-poster beds, hand-painted wallpapers and other retro-chic touches. And in Portugal, the Palácio do Freixo (www.pousadas.com), in Porto, occupies a magnificently restored Baroque palace and former factory next door.
Closer to home, the hotel boom doesn’t seem to have slowed much in New York City. Vikram Chatwal, the hotelier behind the Dream Hotels in New York and Bangkok, is opening the Chatwal (www.vikramchatwalhotels.com) in the former Lambs Club on West 44th Street designed by the great Beaux-Arts architect Stanford White. An outpost of the Mondrian Hotel (www.mondrianhotel.com) is coming to SoHo, with design based on the 1946 Cocteau Surrealist film “Beauty and the Beast” and the “Top Chef” alum Sam Talbot manning the kitchen.
Also expected to open are the W Downtown (www.whotels.com), with views of the World Trade Center site, and Fashion 26 (www.wyndham.com), a Wyndham Hotel that takes its cue from the Fashion Institute of Technology, its 26th Street neighbor. The Kimpton chain, known for its affordable, boutique-ish hotels, will open the Eventi (www.eventihotel.com) in the Chelsea neighborhood. And Patrik Horstmann, the longtime manager of the Gansevoort Hotel, will open the Nolitan (www.nolitanhotel.com), a boutique hotel just north of Little Italy.
Not all the openings are in Manhattan. The 321-room Sheraton Brooklyn (www.sheraton.com/brooklyn), near the MetroTech Center, is expected to open in March, and will be one of the borough’s largest new hotels in decades. Elsewhere in the Americas: In Cartagena, Colombia, the Sofitel Santa Clara (www.hotelsantaclara.com) is opening in a former monastery that dates from 1621. And in Mexico, in another sign of Acapulco’s rebirth, Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, the Singapore-based chain, plans to open the Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués (www.banyantree.com/en/cabomarques).
Asia, meanwhile, continues to add hotels at a furious pace. In Thailand, Ritz-Carlton Reserve opens Phulay Bay (www.phulaybay.com), a 54-villa resort in the southern town of Krabi that offers private butlers and meditation classes taught by monks. Not far away, W Hotels is planning to open the W Retreat Koh Samui (www.whotels.com/kohsamui).
Anantara, a resort chain based in Bangkok, is opening the Anantara Kihavah Villas in the Maldives (www.kihavah-maldives.anantara.com), a secluded 82-villa resort with private swimming pools, thatched roofs and an underwater restaurant.
Don’t confuse Anantara with Aman — the ne plus ultra chain that is set to open Amanfayun (www.amanfayun.com), a spectacular 42-room resort that evokes an ancient Chinese compound, about 20 minutes from Hangzhou, China. It’s just one of hundreds of hotels expected to open in China in 2010, including three hotels from Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts (www.shangri-la.com), in Beijing, Guilin and Shanghai.
Another growth market is India, where Starwood has more than a dozen hotels in the pipeline, including three Aloft hotels (www.alofthotels.com) and the Westin New Delhi Gurgaon (www.westin.com/gurgaon), scheduled to open in July.
The St. Regis is set to open its first hotel in Japan, in the heart of Osaka (www.stregis.com/osaka). In Tokyo, the Tokyu hotel group plans to open the Capital Hotel Tokyu (www.tokyuhotelsjapan.com) near the Imperial Palace. This is no capsule hotel — the smallest room will be more than 400 square feet.
Singapore is also bucking the global hotel downturn. The Wangz Hotel (www.wangzhotel.com) on Tiong Bahru Road occupies a futuristic cylindrical building (the shape is said to induce relaxation). Even more spectacular — or gaudy — is the Marina Bay Sands (www.marinabaysands.com), a giant resort composed of three 55-story towers, with a giant park on their shared roof. When it opens, the hotel-casino-resort is expected to feature a production of “The Lion King,” and restaurants by Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud. All three are known for their cuisine and for their chutzpa