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Hottest new business hotels of 2004

This was a busy year for the hotel industry, with new hotels launching in New York, London, Athens and Milan.
Conrad is the upscale branch of Hilton hotels, and it is working on expanding in the U.S. market. Conrad Miami, which opened in July, is the first new Conrad hotel in America.
Conrad is the upscale branch of Hilton hotels, and it is working on expanding in the U.S. market. Conrad Miami, which opened in July, is the first new Conrad hotel in America.Courtesy of Conrad Miami
/ Source: Forbes

Stepping into a brand new hotel room with nary a scuff mark on the floor is the lodging equivalent of the new car smell. There's a certain pleasure in knowing that no one else has stepped into your territory.

Some people like to stay in the same business hotel year after year. While familiarity is always comforting, it can also become boring and inconvenient. Even the finest hotels can start to look a little worn on the edges, and the decor starts to look outdated. Aesthetics aside, an aging hotel may not have had the time or the budget to install the latest technology, such as Wi-Fi in all rooms and public spaces, as well as DVD players and flat-screen televisions. The newest and shiniest gadgets can almost always be found in newly built hotels. When it comes to Wi-Fi, it is much easier (and less expensive) to install when a building is going up, rather than to re-configure an older property. This gives new hotels a bit of an edge as they splurge on top-of-the-line amenities to compete with existing hotels, as well as to help them standout from the competition.

When New York City's Alex hotel opened in March, the challenge was to lure business travelers away from the established hotels in town, which is never an easy task. Apart from the novelty appeal of staying in a new hotel, the Alex--located in midtown near Grand Central Station--offers its long-term guests corporate suites equipped with Sub-Zero refrigerators, Poggenpohl cabinets and Miele dishwashers. Call it culinary name dropping, but it helps the hotel stand out from the pack.

The new Bulgari hotel in Milan did not have to rely on expensive imported appliances to lure new travelers. The hotel's draw was its novel concept. The Bulgari hotel is the first to be rolled out by the Italian luxury goods company, as part of a new partnership with the Ritz-Carlton, a division of Marriott International. The hotel is already a hit, especially for travelers in the fashion industry who are always seeking the latest trend.

But checking into a brand new hotel can have its drawbacks. Every new hotel has its "teething issues," and it can take several months to a year for a hotel to fully find its legs. A well-trained staff, even those at the top hotels, do not materialize over night, so glitches are to be expected. One thing that can ease the pain is the price. Nearly all new hotels offer a low introductory rate to drum up business, which can offer a significant savings. So get out the corporate card and sample one of the new hotels which have opened up around the world. You'll appreciate the new design and gadgets, while the accounting department will be pleased by the price.

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