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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.

An Interview with the GM - T. Colm O’Callaghan of the Conrad Chicago

June 5, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Mr. T. Colm O'Callaghan, General Manager of the Conrad Chicago

T. Colm O'Callaghan

The Conrad Chicago, formerly the Le Meridien Chicago, opened in November 2005 and has been continuing to upgrade ever since. Five Star Alliance and The Informed Traveler got in touch with the General Manager, Mr. T Colm O'Callaghan to find out more about his experiences with the new hotel and to learn more about what guests can expect.

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?

Mr. O'Callaghan: My family owns a hotel in Ireland which meant I was born into the business; I also attended hotel school, worked for Hilton for 18years. When this position became available I jumped at the opportunity.

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?

Mr. O'Callaghan: Location, location, location.

Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?

Mr. O'Callaghan: Our customers are both business and leisure with our feeder markets being Los Angeles, New York, the UK, and Germany.

Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel’s location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

Mr. O'Callaghan: We are located in the heart of The Magnificent Mile surrounded by wonderful shopping, great museums, great dining and within walking distance to city favorites as Millennium Park, and Navy Pier. My favorite thing to do is people watch, great people watching right on Michigan Avenue.

Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?

Mr. O'Callaghan: I can not speak about specific guests. I will say we do have a loyal client base. Our biggest compliment is our repeat guests.

Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?

Mr. O'Callaghan: All of our rooms are fabulous!

Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?

Mr. O'Callaghan: Designed by Chicago architects Frederick J. Thielbar and John Reed Furgard, this 16-story art deco limestone building is a collaboration between one of the city's leading architectural firms and the sculptors Eugene mad Gwen Lux. Gwen Lux is among America's pioneer women sculptresses; her work can be found at the Rockefeller Center complex in New York City and at the General Motors Technical Center in Detroit designed by architect Eero Saarinen. The McGraw-Hill Building served as the Midwestern offices of the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, among the largest trade paper and book publishers in the country.

Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?

Mr. O'Callaghan: The location of the hotel, and the warmth and friendliness of its staff.

Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?

Mr. O'Callaghan: The hardest part is the administrative aspect of the job it prevents me from interacting with the guests and staff as much as I would like.

Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?

Mr. O'Callaghan:

1. Sheen Falls – Kenmare, Ireland – ideal setting

2. Evans Hideaway Resort – Huahin, Thailand – love private villas, infinity pools and enclosed walls.

3. Conrad Tokyo – New standard for the International Conrad, great urban hotel.

Five Star Alliance:Anything else you would like our readers to know about you’re your property?

Mr. O'Callaghan: Warm friendly staff, second none in Chicago.

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Mr. T. Colm O'Callaghan is the General Manager of the Conrad Chicago in Chicago, IL where he came from his position as the Resident Manager at The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago. Prior to that, Mr. O'Callaghan had over 20 years of European and American professional experiences with hotels such as The St. Regis Hotel New York, The New York Palace, Mandarin Oriental San Francisco, and Merv Griffin's Beverly Hilton. He received his B.A., an Honors Degree, from the Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland and his Graduate Certificate from the General Manager Development Program in Hong Kong.

More Information about The Conrad Chicago


Global Business Etiquette

June 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Etiquette matters in the business world, and if you're a slob at the dinner table (recent college graduates, you), it may effect your chances of being hired by companies looking for employees who can travel well, say Jeanette Martin and Lillian Chaney, authors of a new book titled Global Business Etiquette: A Guide to International Communication and Customs. The book offers a slew of tips-- don't give striped ties as gifts in England, wear dark suits (only) in Japan-- for business travelers. As described by the IHT:

This year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, business travel will account for $672.5 billion in direct spending around the world. The growing scope of face-to-face multicultural transactions in diverse environments steadily increases the odds of making a faux pas that could be costly-- and could be avoided by doing some homework.
The answer? Read the book.


Going to Manila? Great Value Rates at The Peninsula Manila

May 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peninsula Manila Modern and stylish rooms. Home of Manila's top restaurants. Club Floor catering to every need of business travelers. Complimentary internet access in all guest rooms and suites. State-of-the-art Spa and Fitness Center-- arguably the city's best-- with gym, pool, sauna, steam room, and massage treatments. Signature Peninsula service. The only hotel in the Philippines honored in Travel and Leisure's "World's Best Business Hotel" awards. Located in the heart of the business and financial district, The Peninsula Manila is the place to stay in the city. Ideal for business travelers, the hotel is also ideal for leisure visitors to the Philippines. And a luxurious stay at the city's best hotel has never been of better value, with rates starting at $120 per night for a Superior Room. Valid until December 31, 2006.


Luxury Air Travel: Special Last-Minute Promotion to London on Maxjet

May 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Maxjet Airlines

With airfares to Europe skyrocketing, this promotion is almost too good to be true. Maxjet Airways-- all business class and low airfares too-- flies luxurious transatlantic service between London Stansted and New York and Washington. The service is sensational: gorgeous pre-departure lounges, signature gourmet meals, on-demand entertainment, and deep-recline, all-leather seats onboard. From now until June 2, you can fly the luxury airline with discounted fares of just $1,000 roundtrip. Now that's a steal.

Via MSNBC


Say Hello to the New JW Marriott San Francisco

May 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

JW Marriott San Francisco

The former Pan Pacific has morphed into the new JW Marriott San Francisco. But touches of the classic SF establishment remain: its dramatic atrium lobby (three floors with skylight ceiling), elegant guestrooms with tasteful, contemporary furnishings, and its air of romance and sophistication. Located in the heart of the city in Union Square, surrounded by upscale shopping, fine dining and art galleries, the JW Marriott boasts one of the best addresses in San Francisco. The hotel is just a hop from the Moscone Convention Center, Nob Hill, and countless SOMA museums. There's creative California cuisine and a well-equipped fitness center. For better or for worse, the JW Marriott is definitely a business-oriented, convention type hotel, with 14,000 sq ft of event space and business with state-of-the-art technology. But it's a classy and luxurious spot nonetheless.


The Greenbrier Plans $50 Million Renovation for Winter 2007

May 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Greenbrier Golf

The award-winning resort located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia represents the pinnacle of ultra-luxury and elegance. Its classic architecture, sumptuous interiors, gorgeous grounds, excellent recreational activities (including three championship gold courses, indoor and outdoor tennis and a 38,000 sq ft spa), and impeccable service have distinguished the resort for over two centuries. But the National Historic landmark is in need of a little sprucing up, as reported by the Associated Press. The resort will be closing for three months next winter, starting January 2 after the holidays. The project is the most extensive since the 1940's, and is slated for 18 months total. The renovation will include the main dining room, the Tavern Room, Old White Lounge, main kitchen and about 65 guest rooms in the main building, which will be enhanced by new furniture and marble bathrooms. The Greenbrier seeks to restore its Mobil five star rating, which it lost in 2000 after 38 years.


Bacchus at the Wedgewood Hotel and Spa, Vancouver Wins Double Gold

May 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Wedgewood Hotel

Vancouver's delightful boutique hotel already has plenty of gold in its collection. A fixture on Travel and Leisure's Top 500 list and considered the best hotel in Canada by Conde Nast Traveler readers, the Wedgewood is a delightful European style hotel situated in the city center on Robson Square. The 83 luxurious rooms and suites all feature private balconies and beautiful, plush furnishings. The four Penthouse Suites are currently undergoing a $1 million renovation, and will reopen at the end of May. At 700 sq. ft. each, the Penthouse Suites will feature large private garden terraces and balconies with views of the Robson Square gardens and waterfalls, luxurious Spa bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, walk-in showers and heated limestone floors, living rooms with fireplaces and marble wetbars, and bedrooms with French doors and LCD flatscreen TVs. A truly blissful spot in this cosmopolitan city.

And to add to the awards at the Wedgewood, Vancouver Magazine recently gave top honors to Bacchus Restaurant and Lounge at the 17th Annual Vancouver Restaurant Awards. The restaurant received Gold for Best Bar/Lounge, Gold for Best Hotel Dining and Bronze for Best Formal French in Vancouver. In addition, Bacchus was awarded the title of Best Bar and Lounge in the City, for the seventh consecutive year.


Travel Planning Resources: Florida, Hurricane Season, and Trip Insurance

May 16, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Florida Keys Last year's hurricane season was shocking in scale and scope. And this year, the storms could escalate in strength. As quoted in Travel Weekly:

"The 2006 season will be an active one, with 17 named storms, of which nine will reach hurricane strength, and of those, five will be between Category 3 and Category 5 storms," said William Gray, head of the Dept. of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.
Hurricane season (at its strongest from August-October) is thus a big deterrent for tourists to South Florida, on both business trips and leisure vacations. As reported today by CNN, meeting planners are reluctant to book their conferences at this time of year, and thus "Visit Florida last year began offering event insurance up to $200,000 to defray marketing and rescheduling costs if there is a hurricane disruption." Similarly, "to sweeten the deal for leisure travelers, several businesses in the area are offering two-for one packages on diving, sailing and spas." Thus, leisure travelers can take advantage of some excellent bargains promoted by the area's luxury hotels. Many resorts offer guarantees, and hurricane protection, so check ahead. Resources: The Monroe County Tourism Development Council has upgraded its Web site with lots of Hurricane info, including health and welfare issues for travelers, the science of hurricanes, tracking maps, and local emergency plans. Key West Magazine has scheduled an important hurricane feature for their June 2006 issue.


Abu Dhabi Announces its Newest Five Star Hotel: the Emirates Pearl

May 16, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Emirates Pearl

What did I tell you? Abu Dhabi is where it's at. Apparently, the capital of the UAE is aiming for 25,000 hotel rooms by 2015. The latest five-star hotel announcement is the Emirates Pearl, expected to take two years to build and at a cost of $136 million. The coastal hotel's defining feature? A 240 meter high tower (that's 47 storeys) designed by Austria's award-winning architect Dennis Lems:

The tower, which houses 352 spacious rooms and suites and 104 luxuriously furnished apartments all with balconies and Gulf views, sits on a 22 meter high, five-storey podium which features a 20-meter high atrium with five restaurants, service centres, offices, a gym, hair salon, spa, meeting rooms, business centre and shops.

The Emirates Pearl will be constructed with a contemporary twisting glass design. And the hotel's entrance will be marked by a "figurehead sculpture of an Arab hunting scene." How snazzy. And they sure picked a winner of a name for the place.


Magic in Madrid: Get the Royal Treatment at the Gran Melia Fenix

May 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gran Melia Fenix lobby

The recently renovated Gran Melia Fenix offers distinguished rooms and service to the most discerning of visitors to Spain's buzzing capital. The 215 guest rooms are exquisitely decorated in 19th century style, and equipped with cutting-edge technology: domestic control systems, Bang and Olufsen TVs, three phones and internet access, CD player, and electronic mini-bars. All complimented by highly-personalized service and excellent fine dining. Book a suite and enjoy the outdoor jacuzzi with awesome views of the city. But the best part of all is the exclusive Royal Service Floor, where guests are spoiled with the private reception area, butler service, pillow menu, private buffet and permanent bar.