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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.

Bye, Bye Stardust Las Vegas


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Stardust Casino

The aging resort and casino sits on some 63 acres of prime Strip-front property, and the Boyd Gaming Corp. sees four sparkling, new hotels (including a Shangri-La) where Stardust's decrepit 1,500 rooms used to be. The developers will welcome Echelon Place—the $4 billion complex with 5,300 rooms, spas, casino, restaurants and bars, meeting facilities and a 4,000-seat theater– in 2010. Besides the Shangri-La, the Morgans Hotel Group (of Mondrian and Delano fame) is keen on the scene.


Between a Rock and a Soft Place


By: Guest Writer

Originally published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 21 December 2005 By George Romanyk Even as I write this, the guttural growl of a Harley Davidson (not to mention a roaring chorus of other Harleys, BMWs and Japanese superbikes) is still echoing in my ears. You see, I've just returned from a five-day road trip to the Golden Triangle, along with an assortment of biker friends who also happen to be company presidents, CEOs and entrepreneurs. Now, before you start wondering what this has to do with a column on branding (or start snickering "born to be mild''), I'd like to share some insights I garnered during the course of this challenging and exhilarating journey. While our group was on the road during the days, we certainly weren't averse to roughing it. We got our motors running, we headed out on the highway, and when the highway occasionally deteriorated into a rutted, muddy track, we were well up for it. Ah, but at the end of each day, the discomforts of the road were eased by the unique boutique resorts on the Mekong our assistants had booked us into, as well as some first class meals, and the imported wines and cheeses and some truly tasty Cuban cigars we had smuggled along in our saddlebags. My point (besides making you green with envy) is that our little jaunt was a good example of a major change sweeping the world right now in how luxury is perceived and experienced. For many of the "baby boomers'' and the swelling ranks of "Generation X'' (people born between 1964 and 1976 or thereabouts), the era of ostentatious luxury is over, and instead they are demanding authenticity and adventure. We still want our luxuries, but we want them contemporary, with a hip twist; luxury that "keeps it real'', as it were. Particularly in the luxury hotel and travel sector are these demands being felt. At the recent International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes, the age of ostentatious travel was proclaimed to be over, with new research unveiled showing today's wealthy travellers needed "authenticity, exclusivity and attention to detail'' to keep them happy. "Personalised'' and "private'' were also big buzzwords. In a survey of 248 travel suppliers from around the world who service the needs of the affluent, 84% agreed their clients sought a more subtle form of luxury than in the past. The survey, by the Future Foundation, concluded: "No longer content to visit the classic haunts of the rich and famous, today's luxury traveller would prefer to be a trailblazer, albeit in great comfort, and visit new and less discovered destinations.'' According to ILTM's founder, Serge Dive: "The tastes of the rich don't stay still. Our research shows that the luxury traveller of today doesn't just want to be pampered-- they want a total escape from their highly pressured lives and they want to come back from their holiday having experienced something new.'' Another trend is that as more people get rich younger, they take less formal but shorter trips, with technology allowing them to blur the line between business and leisure travel. Also, little things often count for much: 65% of those surveyed said the toiletries on offer in a hotel were important, with recognised luxury brands meriting maximum brownie points. After our trip, I can heartily agree with that last point: eight windblown hours in the saddle of your steel steed, and you really appreciate little treats like a scented hot towel, some luxurious shampoo and shower gel, and a unique hotel experience. These findings also echo research our own firm has conducted during the course of a major re-branding project with one of our major hotel clients. Our research results concur that well-heeled travellers prefer service that gives them space to be themselves and to feel totally relaxed (while still meeting their every need of course) rather than the more intrusive and obsequious style of service offered by many five-star hotels in the past. A recent article in Newsweek notes: "Travel used to be divided into two basic categories: luxury and no-frills. The former consisted of flying first class, dining at three star restaurants and staying in decadent comfort; the latter involved backpacking and camping out in some of the world's most beautifully remote spots. Now, tourists can have their wine and see the wildlife too; communing with nature and living the good life are no longer mutually exclusive.'' Newsweek defines this as "rustic luxury'': a group of wealthy "new nomads'' toting Mount Everest-ready backpacks by luxury luggage-makers like Tumi, who want to visit the most rugged deserts, jungles, mountains and forests, and go rock-climbing and wreck-diving, but want their designer coffee and Egyptian cotton sheets when the day's adventuring is done. There is also the element of one-upmanship among this growing demographic. As one new nomad tells Newsweek: "It's a status game. Staying at the Four Seasons seems kind of bourgeois, since any doctor from the Midwest will know about it.'' To me, getting wild without losing the luxury is like a marriage made in heaven. There's nothing like zipping through rugged jungle tracks on your hog, getting down and dirty, when you know that some prime rib, a nice glass of Bordeaux and a fat stogie have your name on them. George Romanyk is chief executive officer of Creative Inhouse, a local branding consultancy and ad agency.


Special Offers: “Only One Way” Winter Rates at Fairmont Canadian Locations


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Whistler

Check out the great winter rates at Fairmont's Canadian hotels and resorts. Enjoy a 4th Night Free at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, or discover the charms of old Quebec at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac for $179 a night (and that's Canadian dollars, folks!) or indulge in the luxurious Willow Stream spa at The Fairmont Empress for a mere $129 a night. Fairmont's Only One Way Winter Rates are available through April 30.

And get this. For any travelers booking before January 31, Fairmont is offering a $50 food and beverage credit for bookings of two nights or more!


Dubai Towers…Istanbul?


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Dubai Towers

Forget the Burj al Arab. Istanbul's getting a make-over with the help of Dubai Holding's international subsidiary, Dubai International Properties. The pair of 150-meter high towers will be the tallest buildings in Istanbul-- a grand, ever-present symbol of foreign investment in Turkey. In renewed negotiations to become the first muslim state in the EU, Turkey has become a hot ticket for Arab investors. The $500m Dubai Towers will include a five-star hotel, luxury residences, office and retail space.


Hot Deals: Warm Up In Washington at the Sofitel Lafayette Square


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sofitel Lafayette Square

Act fast. The Sofitel Lafayette Square just announced record-low rates for January. Like $175 low. (That's a whopping 65 percent off!) But hurry- there's a limited number of rooms available! A gorgeous historic landmark building in a killer location, luxurious comfort, and superior service: this is the spot for your next business meeting in DC.

Sofitel Lafayette Square, Official Site

Sofitel Lafayette Square, Five Star Alliance


Introducing the Intercontinental Kansas City at the Plaza


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Intercontinental Kansas City

Bye, bye Fairmont Kansas City. Intercontinental's taking over the AAA four-diamond property. Consistently rated as KC's best hotel, the name-in-transition hotel is opening soon as the Intercontinental Kansas City at the Plaza. The team at IC hotels group has planned all sorts of marvelous upgrades to the property, including room renovations, which will take place throughout 2006 and 2007. It's got a kick-ass location in the Country Club Plaza area, just minutes away from the city's entertainment district with outdoor museum and oodles of boutiques and restaurants. Additionally, the hotel boasts a fantastic fitness center with spa treatment rooms, outdoor pool, fine dining at the Oak Room, and balconies on all 366 guestrooms.


The Brand Spanking New Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Tokyo Skyline

Now open. The Mandarin Oriental scores a perfect location in downtown Tokyo, in the historical district of Nihonbashi, within walking distance of the Ginza entertainment and shopping district and the Imperial Palace. Why does this hotel rock? Let me count the ways. A 38th floor Sky Lobby with vistas of the city behind a sheer wall of glass. Guestrooms that are some of the largest in Japan. A kick-ass spa: 9,500 sq ft devoted to luxurious relaxation through Heat and Water Experiences. 9 treatment rooms, 5 luxurious private Spa suites, steam and sauna, vitality pool and bubble pool, and the Ice Fountain arctic refresher. Superb gourmet dining in several establishments. And highly sophisticated technology: widescreen TVs with surround sound, connected to multi-standard DVD players (you can output your laptop onto the LCD TVs), and 100 Mbps broadband data network that delivers high speed Internet access and high-definition digital video.


The Peninsula Chicago- Luxury Extraordinaire!


By: Guest Writer

The Peninsula Chicago

By Alex Rose

Would you like to know how royalty is treated? Then make plans to stay at The Peninsula Hotel in the heart of downtown Chicago. You'll notice its distinctiveness as the doorman greets you and you enter the lobby. Once you reach the main level, you'll be welcomed to the hotel lobby by the beautiful mural commissioned to artist Gerard Coltat of Nice, France. The Magnificent Mile provides world-class shopping only minutes away, and at nighttime, you can see the beautifully-lit Chicago Water Tower. For epicureans, treat yourself to some true Chicago treasures such as Everest, Gibson's, Charlie Trotter's, and Japonais. And during your stay, treat that special person in your life to the Peninsula Essential Massage at the Spa. (Note: The internet rates offer a nice discount for online reservations.)

The Peninsula Chicago, Official Site

The Peninsula Chicago, Five Star Alliance


Roll into the Ritz in London: Centenary Celebrations


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Ritz

The Ritz in London is commemorating its centenary in 2006 with lots of celebrations. Starting with an over-the-top Grand Gala Dinner Dance on New Year's, complete with seven course gourmet dinner, Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne, fireworks and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force regimental marching band and a lone Scottish piper.

In honor of this special year, the Ritz has ordered a brand new 2006 Rolls Royce, "Ritz blue" in color with custom fitted interiors in smoke grey leather and walnut trimming. Equipped with the latest satellite navigation system, two DVD screens and crested door handles, the car will be driven by Rolls Royce trained chauffeurs and available as a guest service throughout the centennial celebrations.

Starting in January, guests can book the Centennial Celebration Package, from GBP 1,500. Includes two nights lux accommodation, airport transfers in that bad-ass Phantom, complimentary membership to The Ritz Club, theater tickets to a London production of the guests' choice, and dinner in the classic Ritz Restaurant.

Too bad the hotel couldn't go the extra mile with their new spa addition, a paltry treatment room on the hotel's seventh floor, with just one full-time therapist. Guests can choose a range of beauty treatments including massages and facials, but this isn't exactly a full-service spa.

The Ritz in London, Official Site

The Ritz in London, Five Star Alliance


Pound for Dollar Rate at the Athenaeum Hotel, London


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Athenaeum guestroom

Smack in the middle of London's fashionable Mayfair district, the Athenaeum is privately-owned and family-run, and it shows. The family atmosphere, reinforced by a long-standing staff, ensures impeccable service. Pleased guests are known to return time and time again, tickled pink by their luxurious experience at the Athenaeum (40% returning clients is pretty impressive). Easily one of the top hotels in London, featured on the CN Traveler Gold List, the Athenaeum launched a special promotional rate this past year, which has been wildly popular. The Pound for Dollar rate is a savings of more than 40% on the hotel's luxurious accommodations. The good news for us? The hotel has decided to continue this rate into the spring season and beyond.

The Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments, Official Site

The Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments, Five Star Alliance