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See Michigan’s Coast from a New High-Rise Hotel

This week: New clues about Virgin’s Chicago debut, the best trip planning apps, and a new boutique hotel opens in Las Vegas.

A new place to rest your head and drop anchor.   Photo: Courtesy of Harbor Shores

Last Friday, the new nine-story Inn at Harbor Shores (800 Whitwam Dr., 269-983-1111; from $219) opened in Benton Harbor, Michigan, making it the first high-rise hotel to hit Lake Michigan’s southwest shore in 10 years. The $26 million waterfront property has 92 rooms, all with balconies. The hotel adds a needed lodging component to the 530-acre Harbor Shores development, a multi-use real estate project that includes the Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, which will host the PGA Senior Championships on May 22.

About 90 miles from Chicago, The Inn at Harbor Shores caters to area’s boater crowd with a modern marina that has direct, deep-water access to Lake Michigan, as well as a sandy, private kayak and canoe launch. Other features of the hotel include indoor and outdoor pools, a restaurant and bar, 13 miles of nature trails, and a rooftop deck with views across the lake, golf course, and two nearby rivers. Later this summer, the hotel will open a full-service spa and a market with local beers and more for sale.

The design of the Inn takes a cue from the classic coastal style of the great lakefront resorts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries—in particular, Plank’s Tavern, a historic St. Joe’s hotel built in the late 1800’s by John Oliver Plank. If you go, make a day of combing nearby beaches, including John Klock Park and the wide Silver Beach. You can also walk to the charming shops in St. Joseph’s or the galleries in Benton Harbor’s emerging Arts District.

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Clues on the New Virgin Chicago Hotel

The details of the new Virgin Chicago hotel, expected to open this fall as the first in the world from the brand, has largely been kept secret by Sir Richard Branson. The latest news? Rick Gresh, David Burke’s executive chef for the past seven years, is leaving the steak house in June to pursue a new project at Virgin Chicago. Eater Chicago has more on the chef move. Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels, also recently talked about the new hotel. HotelChatter interviewed the CEO and links to Virgin’s infographic about the hotel’s offerings.

The Best Travel Planning Apps

Next time you’re organizing a trip, cut through the clutter of travel planning apps and stick with these top picks: the well-designed Skyscanner, great for zeroing in on cheap flights; TripIt to log your entire trip itinerary; and IFTTT, which can perform all sorts of actions based on your prompts, including sending an e-mail when you arrive at a location. The New York Times has the full list.

The Cromwell Opens in Las Vegas

On Wednesday, May 21, the new 188-room Cromwell (from $249) opens in Vegas, the culmination of a $185 million renovation of the former Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon. Claiming to be the Strip’s “first stand-alone boutique hotel,” the Cromwell offers a rooftop pool that transforms into a nightclub, a 40,000-square foot casino, and the first restaurant by Food Network host Giada De Laurentiis. Read more at American Way.

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