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The Silicon Valley-funded hotel company trying to change the game

Life House breathes new life: On Tuesday, a chain of hotels co-founded by Rami Zeidan (formerly of Starwood and 1 Hotels) and Yury Yakubchyk made its official debut. According to Zeidan, Life House is the first “Silicon Valley-backed hotel company in the U.S. with a tech first approach” that has secured US$70 million in funding to date. The first location will open in Miami’s Little Havana, followed by Miami Beach, with plans to open 20 locations over the course of the next year. The company checks all the trend boxes: boutique, social, tech – Forbes spoke with Zeidan about, amongst other things, why he feels there’s a need for yet another hotel chain. —Chloe Riley

Influencer trend going strong: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has launched Envoy by Four Seasons, engaging storytellers and artists to tell stories about the brand through any artistic expression they choose. Four Seasons will select four to six Envoys each year via an online application and work with them to choose a destination that aligns with their “personal passions, crafts and curiosities.” Each Envoy will then create an original work inspired by their experience, which will be brought to life across their own social media channels, as well as Four Seasons brand channels. The first Envoy will be announced in early 2019. Four Seasons will fund each Envoy collaboration entirely from start to finish. Sorry, but this editor still questions how these influencer marketing moves resonate. —Jeff Weinstein

Or maybe just have a brownie? I almost like the Fresh Toast’s description of itself better than the story it’s running about how to discreetly toke up in a hotel room without getting caught: It’s a “lifestyle and entertainment platform featuring dynamic and robust coverage of cannabis, culture, comedy, glorious triumphs, hot messes, food, drink, edibles, and much, much more.” That said, the story offers a useful reminder of what lengths some folks will go to in order to enjoy the sweet leaf, given that 97% of hotel rooms in the U.S. are now considered “smoke-free.” Probably the best advice in the list, though? Tip the cleaning crew daily. —Barbara Bohn

No Trump? New York guests flock back: Nearly a year ago, the Trump name was removed what at the time was the 391-room hotel Trump SoHo, which first opened in 2008. (It was then renamed the Dominick.) According to this story from the Boston Globe, since the name change, clientele has started to return. One challenge, according to the hotel’s GM? People still refer to it as “the old Trump SoHo,” and he says he knows it’s difficult to completely separate the building from the brand. —C.R.

The trickle-down effect. Cape Town, South Africa, was in the news a lot in 2017 as it struggled with a water crisis triggered by a drought. The city and its hotels took big steps to conserve water, and the many efforts paid off – including one at the Westin Cape Town, which installed a desalination plant that processed more than 400,000 liters of water a day and took three hotels off the water “grid.” Tourists, though, have yet to get the message, writes Travel Market Report. —B.B

Nothing like a little boar heart: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has released its fifth annual Culinary + Cocktail Trend Forecast, citing sustainability and wellness fueling the superfood revolution and the vegetable movement. At the bar, it says expect to see reimagined mocktails, mushroom-infused spirits, the rise of flavored alcoholic seltzers and parings like wild boar heart and burgundy. While it also cites the plant-based movement, sign me up for their thoughts about doubling-down as a carnivore. —J.W.

And we mean everything vegan: U.K.-based The Green House Hotel isn’t messing around when it comes to vegan. It’s developed what it claims is the UK’s first totally vegan wedding package. And it’s just animal-friendly wedding cake. We’re talking cruelty-free make-up and hair, vegan shoes, and fair-trade flowers. With the plant-based food trend on the rise, hotels should be experimenting more than ever with drawing in the anti-animal cruelty crowd. —C.R.

What resonates with me? Bode: It’s a new brand just launched out of Irvine, California, by real estate entrepreneur and investor Philip Bates. Created with a focus on group-friendly spaces and floor plans, Bode offers residence-style accommodations that are supposed to “balance vacation rentals with the comfort and conveniences of a boutique hotel.” The 100 bedrooms (which can be made into 40 flexible units) are intentionally uncluttered allowing dwellers to adapt the space to feel like their own. With the exception of the single king, each unit features living rooms and kitchens, while some units also feature private balconies and backyards. It has a café-bar, an artisanal market and outdoor “living room” spaces with fire pits and gardens. The first hotel opens in Nashville this month and plans call for more Bode hotels in Chattanooga, Tennessee (2019), Palm Springs, Indian Wells and Orange County, all in California (2020). When I saw the website, it appeared as a thoughtful concept for the moment. Take a look for yourself. —J.W.

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