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Private Preview 2003: Grand Hotels

Sheila J. Gibson

When traveling in style next year, you’ll have a host of fresh and intriguing choices to choose from. Fine luxury hotels are opening and reopening in exotic desti-nations such as Chile and Hungary, as well as in more familiar favorite spots such as Jackson Hole, Wyo., the English countryside, and Athens, Greece.

Budapest Rising
A sure sign that Hungary is gradually thawing out after the Cold War is the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel, Gresham Palace, Budapest, set for spring 2003. Gresham Palace, which was completed in 1906 and is one of Europe’s finest examples of Art Nouveau architecture, has had a colorful history. Originally a home for wealthy British aristocrats, it was occupied by Soviet troops during World War II and was used as a private apartment building through Hungary’s communist years. Local entrepreneurs attempted to convert it into a luxury hotel after a democratic government took power in 1990, but the project didn’t move forward until late 1999, when Four Seasons became involved.

The restoration has produced 179 rooms fitted with standard modern luxury hotel conveniences and Art Nouveau decor; a health club with a lap pool, spa, sauna, and gym; a restaurant overlooking the Danube River; and a wing separate from the rest of the hotel for VIP guests who prefer extra privacy.

Ready for the Olympics
Just as Athens, Greece, is sprucing up in anticipation of the 2004 Summer Olympics, so too is the city’s historic Hotel Grande Bretagne. Nicknamed the “Royal Box of Athens,” since it was the preferred guest house of Greek regents, the 130-year-old hotel is scheduled to reopen in spring 2003 after a $57 million renovation that promises to restore its former glory. The hotel, which was previously a 364-room Sheraton, will be reborn as a Starwood Luxury Collection property with 320 rooms, including 35 suites. The Hotel Grande Bretagne will gain a ballroom, a health club, a spa, an indoor pool and a rooftop swimming pool, a sundeck, and a restaurant with views of the Acropolis.

Skiing in Style
The ski resort of Jackson Hole, Wyo., will gain more cachet next fall when a Four Seasons opens next to the main lifts, close enough for ski-in, ski-out access to the slopes at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The 124-room resort also offers a private health club with spa and pool, two restaurants, plus a small number of slopeside and penthouse suites.

Blooming England
The Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire at Dogmersfield Park, scheduled to open in fall 2003, will give travelers yet another excuse to visit the English countryside. It is situated on a property in Hampshire that dates back more than 900 years and was owned by a parade of kings, bishops, and other nobles. The Georgian manor house has been transformed into a resort with 136 guest rooms that include 25 suites, and its 230 acres of land feature historic gardens, trails for walking and jogging, and on-site fishing, boating, shooting, riding, and tennis. Its stables have been converted into a sizable spa that includes a hydrotherapy suite and two private spa rooms. In addition, the resort will offer a fully equipped fitness club, a lap pool, activity centers for children and teenagers, and reasonable proximity to central London—Heathrow Airport is a 35-minute drive away.

A Toast to Santiago
Wine lovers, among others, will rejoice when the Ritz-Carlton, Santiago opens in the capital of Chile in the winter of 2003. Among the amenities that will be offered at the 15-story boutique hotel is a wine bar that serves the best local vintages. The first Ritz-Carlton in South America will also offer a multilingual concierge staff and a glass-enclosed rooftop fitness center and spa with spectacular views of the city below and the nearby Andes mountains. Its 205 rooms will feature South American furnishings and high-speed Internet access.

Four Seasons Hotel, Gresham Palace, Budapest, 800.332.3442
Hotel Grand Bretagne, 800.325.3589
Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, 800.332.3442
Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, Dogmersfield Park, 800.819.5053
Ritz-Carlton, Santiago, 800.241.3333

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