by Sophie Gayot
The story starts in 1974 with two very prestigious hotels: The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and The Oriental in Bangkok. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has since grown to 42 hotels in 27 countries with 10,000 rooms. Synonymous with extreme luxury and legendary service, the Mandarin Oriental properties are located in prestigious locations, each of them imbued with a distinct personality. Representatives from as far as Singapore and Prague made a recent trip to Los Angeles to present us their hotels over lunch at the new private club Soho House on Sunset Boulevard.
Before enjoying dessert, I was already fantasizing about visiting the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona on the Paseo de Gracia (the city’s most prestigious address), featuring interiors by renowned Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola; or the Mandarin Oriental Jnan Rahma in Marrakech, due to open at the end of this year. The 161 rooms all in riad-style are set in 53 acres, of which a whopping 38,000 square feet are devoted to the spa. Remember the “Abu Dhabi” hotel in Sex & the City 2? It was actually shot at the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech; a great starring role for a hotel not open yet.
For future dreams, I will have to travel to Paris, where the Mandarin Oriental Paris will open its doors on rue Saint-Honoré, a few meters from Place Vendôme by mid-2011, or to the Maldives for some R & R; or perhaps Moscow.
A recent stay at the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas confirmed that the Mandarin Group is also very focused on what is happening in its restaurants. Pierre Gagnaire’s Twist restaurant in Vegas made our 2010 Top 10 New Restaurants in the US. Top toque Carme Ruscalleda runs Moments in the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, while Thierry Marx will open a restaurant in the Paris outpost. At the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London, which already features Daniel Boulud’s Bar Boulud, Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck will open his first London restaurant later this year.
Two of the chain’s restaurants made our 2010 Top 40 US restaurants: L’Espalier of the Mandarin Oriental Boston with chef Frank McClelland (which also graces our 2010 Top 10 Hotel Restaurant list) and CityZen with chef Eric Ziebold from the Mandarin Oriental Washington DC.
Having great restaurants adds a tremendous value to the Mandarin Oriental’s motto, “Offering 21st century luxury with Oriental charm.”