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LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
 
FSA LogoThe Luxury Hotel Insider: Exclusive luxury hotel deals, features and special rates from the luxury hotel experts at Five Star Alliance. 
 
Named one of Tripbase's Best Luxury Travel Blogs for 2011, below are Five Star Alliance's newest articles featuring exclusive information on luxury hotels worldwide including special offers and deals at the world's best hotels.

Home, I Have No Home: NYT Examines the Hotel Lifestyle

December 6, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

Recently the hotel lifestyle got quite the shout-out in the New York Times. Guy Trebay offers an insightful look at the experience of being a frequent traveler and the allure of luxury hotels as well as the simple charm of a roadside motel. It’s part story of a lifetime of travel and part examination of the the at-home feeling of otherness we all feel as strangers temporarily filling up an empty space with our lives. The transience of a hotel room, coupled with the fake familiarity of its wait staff is both welcoming and fleeting, like a summer romance. He gives special mention of a few hotels with which he’s shared the remarkable journey: Claridge’s, Halekulani, the various Raffles hotels, the Grand Hotel d’Angkor. It’s certainly well worth a read – he understands well the mind of the restless traveler, at home in impermanence, on the vacation that is so beautiful precisely because it is stepping out of your life.


New Mondrian Hotel to Open in London

December 5, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

The sixth Mondrian Hotel will be coming to the South Bank of the London Thames River in 2014. This hotel is expected to have 100 more rooms than the Mondrian in New York, and it will be the first Mondrian hotel in Europe. This swanky hotel will reportedly have a restaurant, a ground floor bar, and a rooftop bar. This hotel is expected to bring a new excitement to the already exciting city of London, so keep an eye out for its grand opening in 2014!

Don’t want to wait until 2014? Then we encourage you to check out a few other Mondrian properties including the Mondrian Soho in New York City, the Mondrian South Beach in Miami Beach, and the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood.


Luxury Resorts on the Slopes in the U.S. with Availability in December

December 5, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

We’re pretty excited about ski season, and apparently so are our luxury travelers! A number of hotels are solidly booked for the end of December, but there are still incredible hotels with availability. Be sure to make your arrangements pronto, and you’ll be swishing down the mountain before you know it!

The St. Regis Deer Valley in Park City, Utah is located in a private, gated community, and it stands upon the beautifully covered slopes of the Wasatch Mountains. The Snake River Lodge and Spa in Teton Village, Wyoming is located slope-side at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The Hyatt Escala Lodge in Park City, Utah is located within the mountainside village of the Canyons, and this all-suite property offers room options for families with easy slope access. The Four Seasons Resort Vail in Vail, Colorado is located high in the Colorado Rockies, and it is consistently ranked among the world’s top ski destinations. The Sky Hotel in Aspen, Colorado offers a unique experience at the base of Aspen Mountain. Last but certainly not least, the Resort at Squaw Creek in Olympic Valley, California, is nestled at the base of Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

Looking to go outside the United States and ski new terrain? Then check out our list of the top ski resorts all over the world!

Please be advised that rates and availability are subject to change prior to making a reservation.


Missoni Fashion and Décor at the Four Seasons Maui

November 29, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

The 22 Knots Boutique in the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea recently partnered with Missoni to offer its full line of Italian décor as well as apparel to the beautiful city of Maui. Lee Ann Sauter, the CEO and Founder of Seaside Luxe states that “the Missoni collection is one we know our customer won’t want to leave the island without.” Two Missoni-inspired Cabanas have been added to the Serenity Pool, providing favorite beach accessories, pillows, blankets, and furnishings. 22 Knots Boutique will have Missoni’s latest collection of swimsuits, skirts, shorts, and accessories perfect for fashionable travelers.

Aside from incredible fashion options at the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea, Missoni also has two luxurious, 5-star resorts in the United Kingdom and Kuwait. Both of these resorts embrace the Missoni Way of making the world more beautiful and comfortable. The rooms and suites at the Missoni Hotel Edinburgh have a dynamic color scheme, unique patterns, and elegantly apply signature Missoni design notes. All of the rooms and suites at the Hotel Missoni Kuwait have stunning views overlooking the Arabian Gulf Road. The Missoni properties, style, and décor embrace elegance and warmth, and we encourage you to experience what these properties have to offer!


Loews Hotels Prolonging the Thanksgiving Feast

November 23, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

If you, like us, wish that the incredible Thanksgiving feast could last longer than one day, then be sure to check out the following luxury hotels that have embraced the concept of leftovers. The Loews Hotels will offer a turkey sandwich menu addition all week long, and these properties can be found all over the U.S. and Canada. These hotels have found a way to embrace both the Thanksgiving tradition of turkey and a bit of creativity to offer creations such as turkey sushi rolls at the Loews Lake Las Vegas, a Cuban-style sandwich at the Loews Miami Beach, and a trio of sliders with gravy and mustard-cranberry mayonnaise at the Loews Regency in New York. Post-Thanksgiving travels not in the plan this year? Then check out Loews’ Facebook page for a full collection of their recipes and photos of each incredible dish!


Top 10 Spas All Over the World

October 28, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

What do you get when you combine luxury, serenity, and incredibly gifted hands? The best spa resorts, of course! Check out our list of the top 10 luxury spas all over the world, make your reservation for that much needed vacation, and step into a relaxing paradise of mineral baths, facials, saunas, mud masks, massages, and much more.

10. The Wickaninnish Inn, Canada

This peaceful spa is surrounded by forest on the Pacific Ocean, creating the perfect, natural environment with the sound of splashing waves and the smell of the ocean permeating the atmosphere. This spa offers high-quality spa products and its estheticians focus on providing a truly relaxing and rejuvenating experience.

9. Auberge de Soleil, United States

Located in the wine country of San Francisco, this spa is surrounded by private gardens and breathtaking views of Napa Valley. This spa offers the opportunity to partake in relaxing activities for romantic couples or friends of four with access to a private outdoor garden and hot spring. Embrace this spa’s philosophy of nurturing the body and mind while sinking into a peaceful state of relaxation.

 

8. Banyan Tree, Thailand

This one is considered to be one of Asia’s most spectacular spa resorts. All of this resort’s 123 villas have access to their own garden and an open air sunken bathtub, 52 of its villas have their own Jacuzzi, and 46 have their own private swimming pool. For the ultimate getaway, consider one of 13 villas with access to a private pool, Jacuzzi, private steam, and sauna room, and be sure to sign up for this hotel’s renowned ‘Intimate Moments’ partner massage.

7. The Grove, United Kingdom

The Grove is London’s cosmopolitan country estate, and it offers spa treatments that sooth and stimulate all of your senses. This spa prides itself on offering a total caring experience and ensuring that you escape, relax, and re-energize during your stay. Breathe in the tranquility, breath out the stress, and leave with a little more balance in your life.

6. Enchantment Resort and Mii Amo Spa, United States

This spa is located in a private red rock canyon in Sedona, Arizona-- in what is considered to be one of the most sacred healing places on Earth. World class spa therapists create unique and memorable experiences and offer a variety of specially tailored services, aiming to provide a sense of harmony and health.

5. The Setai, United States

This Miami Beach luxury spa embraces ancient traditions and offers a complete experience with access to three private, sparkling swimming pools. This spa is dedicated to absolute privacy and relaxation, and its treatments will leave you feeling fresh and revitalized.

4. Four Seasons Hualalai Kona, United States

This exotic, Hawaiian themed spa integrates tropical gardens and exudes serenity. Its complimentary, pre-spa services include access to the lap pool, whirlpools, steam rooms, saunas, and cold plunges. The treatment massages can be performed outside amidst beautiful nature and bamboo that naturally bring about a sense of calm.

3. Le Sirenuse, Italy

This spa embraces the ancient philosophy of individualized treatments to reach harmony from the inside out.  Be sure to take advantage of their unique treatment options and enjoy various services made especially for your needs.

2. Four Seasons Bali Jimbaran Bay, Indonesia

Inspired by the surrounding ocean, this resort has eight magnificent treatment rooms and offers suites equipped with outdoor soaking tubs. The spa treatments utilize essences of plants, aromas of healing flowers, and herbs and spices, all blended together to create soothing and rejuvenating recipes for an enhanced experience.

1. Little Dix Bay, British Virgin Islands

Dramatically located on a cliff’s edge, this spa overlooks the resort and the beautiful Sir Francis Drake Channel below. The indigenous botanical resources along with therapeutic practices make for the most relaxing spa experience. The best part, however, is that this spa is willing to accommodate you in their Cliff Spa Suite, in your room, on the beach, or even under the stars!

Try as we might, we just couldn’t pick one favorite, so we encourage you to share your favorite luxury spa experiences with us on Facebook. Is your favorite spa on our list? Let us know! We love hearing from you.


How to Choose the Best Luxury Hotel when Traveling with Kids

October 24, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

It’s a common misconception that traveling with kids means you cannot stay in 5-star, luxury hotels. While it is true that the industry standard is double occupancy, many luxury hotels are willing to make adjustments and modifications to best accommodate you and your travel companions. In order to choose the best room(s) at the best rate(s), we’ve come up with 5 tips to help you plan your next travel excursion, and ensure an enjoyable trip with kids.

#1: Provide the hotel with details including the number of kids traveling with you as well as their ages. This is to make sure the hotel is prepared for your arrival and has time to make the necessary adjustments to your room. Providing this information will also ensure that the appropriate adjustments are made, and that a crib is not added for the 13-year-old teenager traveling with you.

#2: Many hotels will be able to provide extra bedding for one child, but it is unlikely that they will be able to provide bedding for two or more children in one room. If you’re traveling with another adult and two or more kids, consider booking a suite, but be sure to double check with the hotel to find out how many people the suite sleeps, and make your travel plans from there.

#3: If you are traveling with children that are older, and the hotel of your choice does not have suites that suit your needs, consider reserving 2 rooms and requesting that they be adjacent, adjoining, or connecting rooms.

#4: If you are traveling with children that are younger and two adults, we advise that you book two rooms, request that they be adjacent, adjoining, or connecting rooms, and have one adult stay in each room.

#5: Be flexible, open, and willing to take advice and make adjustments as need be. Please be aware that all requests are simply requests only, and cannot be guaranteed until confirmed with the hotel.

We hope these tips ease the stress of planning your next trip with kids, and we wish you happy travels and a truly memorable experience!


Conrad Celebrates 25 Years by Giving You Hotel Credits

October 14, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

Conrad Rangali Island MaldivesHilton's Conrad brand of luxury hotels has been around for a quarter century. And to celebrate that milestone, they're giving away hotel credits to guests who check into their hotels around the world- from Indianapolis to the Maldives (pictured)- this fall. So whether you're craving chocolate in Brussels, doing business in Tokyo, or shopping Chicago's Magnificent Mile, choose Conrad and you'll get a nice little birthday present. Simply book the "Conrad 25th Anniversary Promotion" rate for stays through November 30th, 2011, and receive a $25 hotel credit for each night of your stay.


Hotel Review Guide: Reviewing the Reviews

October 7, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

hotel comic strip

Hello friends/acquaintances/internet (wo)men,

Today I want to take some time out of my busy schedule to address an important issue in the hotel world.  Randall Munroe of XKCD has been kind enough to bring to our attention one of the problems plaguing hotels and travelers alike: The bogus hotel review. Who are these evil people who are out to ruin the reputation of perfectly good hotels and steer you wrong in your vacation plans? Are they fun-hating scrooges who kick puppies and steal candy from babies? Maybe. But that doesn’t have much to do with writing reviews. Maybe instead they’re hired guns engaging in intricate plots of corporate espionage, compromising their rivals with claims of bed bugs and sticky-fingered staff. Or maybe they’re just entitled people full of rage at some perceived slight: “Agh, my muffin wasn’t cut in half for me! Worst hotel ever!!!”

We may never know for sure. But what we do know is this: Telling the real reviews from the fake is just as important as any step in the booking process. And it can be really difficult to do so. Here’s a couple of tips I’ve picked up in my time working with online reviews.

1. Don’t base your decision off a single negative review. Look at the aggregate of a hotel’s reputation online and across more than one site.  Some of the biggest review sites are so worried about trustworthiness, they're changing their slogans.  Any mistake can be made once, but the mark of a problem is when more than one person on more than one site points out the same bad service.

2. Go to the experts. If industry staples are reviewing a hotel well, it’s unlikely that poor reviews are anything but an anomaly. And conversely if it’s getting bad reviews, you might want to think twice about booking. This isn’t to say you should ignore customer reviews, however. Professional reviews are great at getting drilling deep into the nitty-gritty of a hotel stay and evaluating across multiple hotels, but customers are more likely to spot the most recent changes in a hotel’s practices. If a hotel has taken a turn for the worse, customers will be the first to know.

3. Pay attention to the language.  According to a study by Cornell researchers, if a reviewer itemizes every experience they had, mentions the name of the hotel, and uses a lot of exclamation points, there’s a chance that it’s been generated by the hotel itself. Plenty of people enjoy their stays and want to gush about them, but very few will take the time to give you an itemized list of everything you can see and do there.

4. Above all, trust your instincts. Ultimately, reading online reviews is about reading the people who wrote them, and even after only a couple of sentences you’ll have a good sense of who is trustworthy. If you think someone sounds like a fake or is completely irrational, don’t let them color your judgment.

Reading reviews is certainly anything but a science, but hopefully with these tips, you can be a little more confident in your next choice to book some of the world’s top hotels.

Comic via XKCD


InterContinental Hotels Celebrates Responsible Business Week with National Geographic

October 5, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Presidente InterContinental Cozumel ResortFrom supporting local craftsmen in Romania to clean-ups of the reefs in Cozumel, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts knows responsible business. In fact, they've partnered with National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations to celebrate Responsible Business Week. Hotels around the world are "taking part in activities that ensure their location remains an appealing place to visit for future generations"- to quote the official press release. The protection and preservation of local environments is key. Examples of these geotourism initiatives include: InterContinental Boston's rooftop beehives that pollinate the flora in surrounding parks and provide local honey for the kitchen; InterContinental Bora Bora Resort's salt water air-conditioning system, the first in the world; Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort's environmental work to protect the reefs and marine life, teaching guests how to scuba dive responsibly. More details can be found here.