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Smirk4Life
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Gordon Campbell Gray’s New Beirut Hotel

Courtesy of CampbellGray Hotels
From June 2009
By Shane Mitchell

Hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray (One Aldwych, in London; Carlisle Bay, in Antigua) has fallen in love with Lebanon’s gritty capital, which is why he chose to open his latest property there. Designed by British doyenne Mary Fox Linton (along with Campbell Gray), the 87-room Le Gray (doubles from $360) faces the Hadiqat As-Samah, a garden in central Beirut. Here, Campbell Gray shares his favorite places in the city.

Eat
Set in an old villa on the seafront, Casablanca (brunch for two $60) has excellent fresh fish and lobster, and the produce is all organic. Come evening, I like Karam (dinner for two $100), designed by Christian Liaigre; it has delicious Lebanese meze. Or, overlooking the Bay of Jounieh, just outside the city, Chez Sami (dinner for two $120) serves regional specialties such as tabbouleh and hummus.

See
Spend an afternoon exploring Beirut’s religious architecture, including Amir Assaf Mosque (Weygand St.) and St. George’s Cathedral, an 18th-century Greek Orthodox sanctuary built atop the ruins of a Byzantine church; both are near Nejmeh Square. For the best shopping in town, don’t miss Marad Street, in the Bourj Hammoud district. Boutiques there sell everything from spices to traditional jewelry.

Play
For a fun Saturday night, the place to be is the open-air Sky Bar. DJ Jojo spins great dance music until the late hours.













 

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Smirk4Life
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Le Gray Opens in Beirut in 2009, The Latest from Hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray

BeirutFrom Wallpaper to HotelChatter, the Times UK to the New York Times, hotel authorities worldwide are in agreement about one of the hottest hotel debuts of the year: Le Gray in Beirut. From the mastermind behind One Aldwych in London and Carlisle Bay in Antigua, Le Gray promises to up the trend factor in this cool capital which is both coastal and urban. The sexy boutique hotel will have 80 rooms and a rooftop pool. Straight from the horse’s mouth:

I was also excited by the quality of the restoration work I’d seen in Beirut following previous wars. I don’t think any other city has ever brought together so many leading architects from around the world to get it right. Our 85-room hotel, Le Gray, is in Solidere, next to the Gardens of Remembrance, which is the area that was destroyed and completely rebuilt. The façades of the shell-damaged buildings were stunningly restored and the city was re-created down to the last detail, including the street furniture… The building is completely new; it was designed by Kevin Dash who did an amazing building in Beirut called Bank Audi. It will be eight storeys tall and made of beautiful yellow stone, with a restaurant, piano bar and an amber-coloured swimming pool on the roof. The piano bar will be housed under a huge glass dome that will change colour - you’ll be able to see it for miles around. The pièce de résistance will be a refrigerated wall displaying violet peppermint cream chocolates that will co-ordinate with the slashes of violet on the chairs. (We will be serving only violet creams with coffee.) And there’s a huge bronze wall in the lobby. The bedrooms will be very calm and sophisticated with an Islamic design, walnut ceilings and mosaics in the bathroom. It’s one of our most exciting and sexiest designs yet.
Beirut (courtesy of vovkin)
 

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Smirk4Life
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
^^ he's fallen in love with it, so it doesn't really matter :)
 

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Smirk4Life
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Le Gray, Beirut set to open in October


CampbellGray hotels open its highly-anticipated first hotel in the Middle East this autumn in the exciting city of Beirut.

Le Gray promises to deliver the same iconic CampbellGray style ever-present at its famous sisters, the Caribbean bolthole Carlisle Bay, London institutions One Aldwych and Dukes.

Located in the smart Solidere area, facing Martyrs' Square and Weygand Street in Beirut's fashionable Downtown, the hotel is all set to become the city's chicest hotel and meeting place located right in the centre of the newly rejuvenated shopping and entertainment district.

Commenting on the location for Le Gray, CampbellGray Hotels chairman Gordon Campbell Gray, said:

'Beirut was chosen as a destination because first of all I love the city and have felt for many years that its renaissance was imminent. It is an exciting place to live and an exciting place to visit and I feel strongly that its time has come again to be one of the most sought after and visited capitals in the world.'


Le Gray embodies an exhilarating, stylish and contemporary design symbolic of its city of residence. For the interior CampbellGray collaborated once again with renowned interior designer Mary Fox Linton, creating a cool, sleek and modern look from its Deluxe Rooms through to two Presidential Suites.

There are 87 spacious rooms and suites, some with balconies and terraces; the fifth floor, the highest floor for accommodation, is suites only and each has its own terrace.

Le Gray has many special features including a stunning sixth-floor roof-top restaurant, Indigo on the Roof, with spectacular panoramic views out to the Mediterranean Sea and the hills of Mount Lebanon; a late-night hangout Bar ThreeSixty on the seventh floor, which is set to become the city's ultimate place to see and be seen in, a 17m long roof top chlorine-free swimming pool with sundeck and Pool Lounge, the Cigar Lounge offering a great selection of Cuban Cigars and Gordon's cafe, a vibrant all day long café.

There is also a state-of-the-art gym and Pure Gray Spa offering an extensive variety of treatments and massages using Natura Bissé natural and innovative products.

Beirut is affectionately known as Paris of the East and is a meeting point of cultures, at the western edge of the Arab world and eastern edge of Europe. Culture, history, archaeology (Phoenician and Roman ruins of Baalbek, Tyre, Sidon and Byblos), mountains (ski slopes of Faraya and the Cedars), Mediterranean beaches stretching from the North to the South, gourmet cuisine, shopping and nightlife collide to make Beirut a fantastically vibrant place to visit for leisure or business.

http://www.ameinfo.com/208804.html
 

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Smirk4Life
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
courtesy of storyofourcity
 

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Smirk4Life
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·


 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Luxurious boutique hotel brings flair for art to Downtown Beirut
By Dana Halawi
Daily Star staff
Tuesday, October 27, 2009




BEIRUT: Beirut became the first Middle Eastern capital to boast a Campbell Gray contemporary luxury hotel which, as the owner puts it, is as stylish as the city itself. “I came to Beirut four-and-half-years-ago when Solidere was restored and I couldn’t believe it is the same city I visited 12 years ago when it was bombed out,” hotelier Gordon Gray told The Daily Star.

“I love the city and I believe it is ready for renaissance, so I thought let’s give Beirut a real sexy hotel.”

Gray is also the owner of the luxurious One Aldwych and Dukes hotels in London, and Carlisle Bay in Antigua.

Le Gray is located in the historic heart of Downtown Beirut, a 15-minute drive from Rafik Hariri International Airport, in the smart Beirut Central District. It offers cool, modern interiors, with 87 wonderfully spacious rooms and sensational suites, exciting restaurants, all accompanied by warm and highly professional service.

“When I got involved in the project the building was being designed but not yet built and I thought it was a great area. When, as a visitor, you arrive to a city I think the key is to be able to walk and reach everything easily and not always take a taxi,” he said.

The hotel is characterized by its collection of 500 works of contemporary abstract art, which Gray spent four years collecting from Cuba, Beirut, Damascus, Paris and London.

“I think most hotels don’t pay much attention to art but this is one of my passions,” Gray said, adding: “People have been stopping me in the lobby to tell me it is a masterpiece and I am overwhelmed.”

Gray feels very optimistic about his new boutique hotel and believes that it will draw many visitors to Beirut.

“Internationally we’re quite famous and there is a lot more press interested in this hotel than any other project I’ve done,” he added.

“When I said four years ago that I was doing a hotel in Beirut they used to be surprised, but the perception now has changed. My friends think that Beirut is dangerous but I believe that Beirut is the safest place in the world,” he said.

He added that tourists will feel safer to come to Lebanon when foreigners and not only Lebanese invest in the country.

Gray expects a high occupancy rate in his hotel even with the room rates ranging between $380 and $1,650 per night.

“I don’t think that our rates are high at all because I was paying a huge amount in other hotels in Beirut,” he said.

Hotel occupancy in Beirut improved considerably this year: a mirror image of the lively tourism activity witnessed in the country this summer. The occupancy rates in Lebanon’s hotels reached an average of 90 percent during the first six months of 2009, said head of Lebanon’s hoteliers’ association Pierre Ashkar.

Le Gray is the first in a brace of hotels preparing to open in the Lebanese capital: the Four Seasons Hotel is expected to open before the end of the year; the Summerland Kempinski hotel and resort is under construction at the location of the old Summerland Hotel at a cost of $200 million; and excavation has begun at the site of the new Grand Hyatt hotel which is to open in two years.

“We’re planning to construct two more hotels by the sea in Lebanon very soon but we still want to confirm the land. We’re also keen on doing something in the mountains,” said Gray.

 

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Smirk4Life
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
courtesy of Mike




 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·


Le Gray, Beirut (hotel review)
Rosemary Behan


The heated, chlorine-free infinity pool on the Le Gray's roof offers a view of Mount Lebanon. Courtesy of Le Gray Hotel

The welcome
A Lamborghini with Abu Dhabi licence plates is parked outside Le Gray when our less-than-glamorous transfer bus drops us outside; still, bags are seized and inside the lobby before we are. There’s a group of us, so there’s a slight scramble to get bags and bodies through the X-ray security system and into the otherwise chic reception area. A very pretty backlit white metal wall panel with the shapes of flowers and dragonflies cut through it hangs at the front of the lobby. The check-in area is welcoming, with two low desks and comfy chairs at each. A small elephant made out of multicoloured buttons, by local artist Nadim Karam, sits in front of the check-in area.

The neighbourhood
Le Gray is a brand new, purpose-built, seven-storey modern building on the edge of Solidere, the newly rebuilt and reconstructed downtown area of Beirut. The hotel fronts onto Martyrs’ Square: behind is the scrubbed Al Amin mosque, St George’s Cathedral and the Roman Cardo Maximus; the other side of the hotel is on the smart Rue Weygand; rooms on this side offer fleeting views of the sea and port. It’s an almost perfect location, with the new cafes, restaurants and shops of Solidere on your doorstep and the Corniche and Achrafiye within five minutes’ walking distance. There is, however, still a lot of building work and traffic around, and the patch of land behind the hotel is an eyesore – though a scenic “Garden of Forgiveness” is in the pipeline.

The scene
Most of the hotel’s visitors are Lebanese – young, old, smart and casual – some women with dark glasses in heaps of make-up, but overall, not too blingy. However, the hotel pitches itself internationally, and guests staying in the hotel (as opposed to just using its bars and restaurants) hail mainly from the Gulf, Europe and the Far East, as well as Lebanon. Business travellers for the moment at least outnumber holidaymakers.

The room
Le Gray has 87 rooms and suites; most are executive suites, which are 60 square metres and come in a range of three colour schemes – purple, blue and green – each with matching carpets and curtains. The first room I was allocated was on the noisy corner of Rue Weygrand and Martyrs’ Square – the windows didn’t close properly so I moved to a quieter room at the back of the hotel. All the hotel’s interiors are by Mary Fox Linton – a British designer who has styled all of Gordon Campbell Gray’s hotels including Duke’s and One Aldwich in London. I liked the grey textured wallpaper on the wall behind the bed, the sturdy but elegant Perspex and stone bookshelf beneath the television and the sumptuous brown marble bathrooms with rainbath showers and mosaic floors; also the easy-to-adjust lighting system. The Loewe wall-mounted television was slow to load, however, and one of my bedside lamps wasn’t working – teething problems no doubt, but irritating if you’re paying the rack rate of US$539 (Dh1,979) per night or more.

The service
Generally warm and attentive, though it took over an hour to move me to a different room after I complained about the road noise and the non-closing windows. Reception dealt directly with small requests that could have been directed to housekeeping, which was a nice touch. Reception staff were helpful without being intrusive or subservient; the staff in the bars and restaurants were available without being oppressive or over-the-top – almost the perfect combination – and there were plenty of them.

The food
There are three restaurants and two bars. Gordon’s Cafe is an informal coffee shop on the ground floor that serves organic Lebanese food including salads, fish and home-made pasta; Indigo on the Roof is a formal but relaxed international fine-dining restaurant and the Pool Lounge is a trendy cafe serving breakfast and light snacks. A three-course meal at Indigo costs $90 (Dh330) per person and there is plenty of choice: I had an endive, Roquefort and walnut salad, cod with vegetable cous cous and sticky date pudding. The bread is excellent, and baked on-site.

Loved
The views from the four bars and restaurants – and their terraces – at the top of the hotel. Watching a lightning storm over the sea from the newly opened Bar ThreeSixty, swimming in the heated, chlorine-free rooftop infinity pool with views of Mount Lebanon in one direction and the Warhol-esque Pool Lounge in the other; the snug Cigar Lounge, still with views of the Al Amin mosque, and Indigo, with its hugely spacious yet intimate eating areas and great views out over downtown Beirut. I loved the offer of free laptop rental (and free Wi-Fi) – allowing guests on short trips to leave their laptops at home and still work from their rooms. The spa, with its dark American cedar wood corridors and thick, heated massage beds – as well as the treatments themselves – was excellent. A 30-minute Jet Lag Recovery treatment costs $55 (Dh202).

Hated
I thought the exterior of the hotel, designed by Kevin Dash, was dull, and I didn’t like the dark carpet or the piano and accompanying singer in Bar ThreeSixty – it reminded me of an airport. The rooms on the second floor at the front of the hotel seem to suffer from road noise – so triple-glazing or better-fitting windows would be necessary to ensure a good night’s sleep – telling customers like me that it can’t be helped because of the hotel’s location just doesn’t cut it. As with the rest of the city, the hotel suffers from daily power cuts – a generator kicks in almost immediately, but on one occasion I was left in darkness in the bathroom for several minutes.

The verdict
Beirut’s first design hotel is a fabulous place to stay, and just about as swish and slick as you could imagine. It remains to be seen, however, if ironing out the early imperfections can justify the hefty price tag.

The bottom line

Prices start at $539 (Dh1,980) for a 40 sq m deluxe room to $6,050 (Dh22,220), for the two-bedroom, 220 sq m presidential suite; both including taxes. Le Gray, Martyrs’ Square, Central Beirut District (www.legray.com; 00961 1 971 111).

http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091212/TRAVEL/712119914/1255/LIFE
 

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Smirk4Life
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Lebanese love affair for Le Gray


GORDON CAMPBELL GRAY

With hotels including One Aldwych and the Dukes in London in his portfolio, GORDON CAMPBELL GRAY, chairman of Campbell Gray Hotels, enthused to SHALU CHANDRAN about his newest property, the Le Gray, in Beirut, Lebanon

What brings you to the Middle East?

We have just opened our property Le Gray, Beirut, and I am exceptionally passionate about it. It’s my favourite place in the world and I am quite stunned at how well the hotel has been received. I get very involved in the design and concept of the hotel and I don’t like modern and trendy, but do like sleek and modern classic.

I was also in Doha recently, where we were asked to do something, but don’t think it’s something that we will pursue. I am not ambitious to roll out a formula and I like to call each of my hotels a masterpiece in my way.

Why the decision to open in Beirut?
I had visited Beirut 11 years ago when the city was in pretty bad shape and all bombed-out. But when I decided to open a property here, it was almost an instant decision. I could see that Beirut had gone through a renaissance period and was looking amazing. I could see that its future would be interesting. I could see that it wasn’t a new destination but an old one being reborn.

The spirit, the authenticity is spectacularly positive. I had a great sense of confidence that it would come right – but it wasn’t easy as our two-and-a-half-year project turned to four-and-a-half!

We have been very lucky because we’re now open and the city is settled – the government and cabinet in place. We have plans to develop another beach resort in Beirut and ultimately probably do one more in the mountains for skiing enthusiasts.I am very committed to Lebanon and am its biggest fan. It’s very safe, with an edge.


How will these properties be different from one another?
Our properties will be like cousins. No two Campbell Gray hotels look the same but you can feel the relationship. Our resort in the Caribbean is completely different to the Dukes in London, which is a traditional hotel. The seaside property will be very sleek in design.

How can a guest relate to the Campbell Gray hotel?
When we opened in the Caribbean, 65 per cent of the guests were repeat guests in the first year. To me it is about training and motivating and giving inspiration to the staff. I have a very strong philanthropic arm. For me it’s all about creating sensitive quality. I always create an induction where I see all the new members. We are all equal human beings with different responsibilities. I make sure everybody in the team feels equally respected. If you want a successful business, love your staff. A company which is only there to make money isn’t a proper one.

The Le Gray Hotel has been built to service, principally, inter-Middle Eastern clientele. We expect to bring a new layer of travellers from around the world. People, who never thought they would come, didn’t think it was safe. Guests who know and relate to our hotels have a new city to visit and a new hotel to stay in.

You are very passionate about the environment. How much of this is enforced in your properties?
Yes. We are building a green team at the Le Gray Hotel in Beirut. The new generation of guests coming in cares about the environment. We have the team analyse every department, I hate waste. Luxury and extravaganza is one thing and waste is another. I think it’s wicked. I am a true Scot and do not appreciate any form of excess, probably the reason why Dubai is a destination I am personally not comfortable with. We are constantly being asked to undertake new projects. For me the criteria are location and finding the right partner.

Our One Aldwych hotel was recently awarded The Green Hotel of the Year award.

Are you looking for further opportunities in the region?
There are quite a few exciting projects that we are working on right now and will make an announcement on soon. I don’t believe big is beautiful. I believe in developing this very controlled, quality-driven small company where each hotel is something to be truly proud of. We are a niché brand and will never go beyond 12 to 15 hotels. Oman is a destination I love and think it would be quite appealing to create a beautiful hotel there.

How have your hotels performed during the global recession?
Beirut is a unique destination and one of the few places which was not really affected by the recession. Everybody warned me from investing in the Middle East but I was persistent because of my love for the city. London remained busy. It did get challenging in between but that was very short-lived. I think our smallness and haute-couture styles have meant guests stay with us. In the Caribbean we suffered a little but came out pretty well. I don’t get influenced by others and try not to be distracted by industry trends. We have always stayed slightly ahead without being flashy or ostentatious, always been environmentally conservative and quite in tune with the changing world. I would like my company to be recognised as an intelligent company.

What is your idea of a perfect holiday destination?
Two things. It would either be a long, white sandy beach, palm trees and a pile of books and absolutely no BlackBerry or I also like to get adventurous and discover a new place.

The Falkland Islands is a favourite with its wildlife. When I travel I don’t want to make any new friends. I want seclusion. Solitude is something I crave.

http://www.ttnworldwide.com/articles.aspx?ID=1336&artID=9473
 
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