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LUXURY HOTELS: Love Stories

'It was almost midnight when her flight came in. Someone in Milan had made arrangements and the hotel car was to be sent. Traveling under a false name, her only thought was to escape...'

I have always loved the fact that hotels are an empty page on which you can write your own story, a stage set where anything could happen. Booking into a hotel always feels like the start of something to me. So its interesting to see that this month two hotel groups are taking the idea of story-telling and using it to promote their hotels.
It is not the first time hotels have used film to promote themselves but it is the first time love has featured so heavily. Both Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Squire Hotels are telling romantic stories to encourage us to check in at their hotels.
The lines above are the beginning of a story commissioned by Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts as part of a new campaign. Called 'The Stories Begin' the campaign uses words and film to tell the tale of one woman's experiences at The Waldorf. There is a hint of Mills and Boon about the plot which stars actress and Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, who starred in Quantum of Solace, and is shot at Waldorf Astoria Chicago. I was flattered that Simon wrote the role of Alexandra expressly for me. Bringing his character to life in this campaign was truly an unforgettable experience,' said Kurylenko. 'For someone who constantly travels for work, hotels play a very important role in my own life.'

British-born author Simon Van Booy crafts the character and the continuing story featuring Olga's character Alexandra Van Booy has written two collections of short stories, The Secret Lives of People in and Love Begins in Winter, which won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, the world's richest short story prize. He as also written two novels Everything Beautiful Began After (2011). and The Illusion of Separateness (2013).The New York Times said that 'Incurable romantics will savor Simon Van Booy's tender, Maupassant-like fables.' Which make him perfect for writing a hotel romance.

Although the story cleverly weaves romantic intrique - 'As Alexandra stepped across the marble floor toward a bank of elevators, she noticed a man standing very still'... - with references to the hotel staff and design- 'Alexandra noticed a pair of statues in the lobby. She imagined the artist's fingers upon the cool rock, anticipating the path of a chisel.'

The next chapter of the campaign will continue to tell Alexandra's story, and is scheduled to be produced in early 2015.
 
At the same time Squire hotels have also launched a series of stylishly short films telling the story of an intimate 'day-in-the-life' of a hotel guest. One film showcasing The Opposite House and one The Upper House -the third film runs the stories side-by-side and with the romantic suggestion that, even though the protagonists never meet in the films, there is a clear desire to meet, a longing for romance.

The soundtrack to the films is Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan's song 'I Don't Know'. The hotel group chose it because 'It explores the nature of individuality and wonders what it means to say we truly know someone.'
'Modern day travellers are looking for hotel experiences that are more than just staying in beautifully designed hotels,' said Brian Williams, Managing Director of Swire Hotels. 'We believe in creating unique and deeply personal moments for each guest that are based on their own interests and needs, and we hope these films depict this idea.'
The films are Produced by Laura Holmes Production in the uk and directed by Lynsey Miller who has written and directed a number of short films which have been screened at multiple film festivals around the world. Lynsey Miller sys, , 'Swire Hotels' properties are all stunning, but being able to capture on camera the guests' interactions with those around them was what helped us bring the hotel experience to life'.
Remember when hotels just produced a plain old brochure, now they are tempting us with the promise of romance too.
I can't wait to check in, who know who I might meet in the lobby.
 
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Hilary Doling 18/11/13
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