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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 General Manager: Andrea Luri of Castello del Nero

February 26, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Castello del Nero StaffCastello del Nero is a 12th century castle outside Florence, restructured and opened as a 5 star deluxe hotel in June 2006. Andrea Luri is the General Manager.

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the Castello del Nero?

Andrea Luri: Following previous experiences as General Manager of 5 star properties in Italy and abroad, I took on this assignment with much enthusiasm and passion as I believed in the value of this project as well as finding in our President and CEO a person of integrity and broad vision and who made the opening of the hotel possible.

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?

Andrea Luri: The historic atmosphere and location combined with modern features and comforts. The estate of Castello del Nero collects the essence of Tuscan heritage in the unique location with views on the rolling hills as far as eyes can see. The hotel was brilliantly restored conserving the features of the XII century castle it is, such as frescoes and vault ceilings as well as adding services such as tennis courts, swimming pool, gym with state of the art equipment and most of all a 100 sqm spa with 10 treatment rooms. What really does set Castello del Nero apart, however, is our staff. A team completely devoted in creating an unforgettable experience for all our Guests.

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

Andrea Luri: A high percentage of our guests come from U.S and Canada, which are followed closely by UK and Italy and other European countries.

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?

Andrea Luri: The Italian law on privacy doesn’t allow me to actually share the names, however our Guests include famous movie stars, film directors, Italian and American politicians, pop stars and fashion designers. Many of whom come back to enjoy the privacy of the estate allowing them to relax in a safe and cocooned environment.

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

Andrea Luri: The location in the countryside assures relaxing peace and incredible views on every side which change constantly with the light and time of day. At the same time we are at short distance from all major cities of interest in Tuscany such as Siena, San Gimignano and Florence which our Guests can easily reach through a complimentary shuttle bus. Guests can also enjoy a hot air balloon ride which we actually operate on property. Being blessed with a fantastic location which is Tuscany, the wine and gastronomy sector offers unparalleled experiences such as wine tastings in Chianti wineries or even Tuscan cooking classes held by our chef on property which start with picking vegetables in our organically grown vegetable patch and follow by cooking along the chef's side in our kitchens.

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?

Andrea Luri: I would say that all frescoed suites and our Galway suite are simply incredible, thanks to the fact that you aren’t simply sleeping in a hotel room, but Guests actually undergo the experience of living in a castle like a king or queen surrounded by frescoes which date back centuries ago, or having a private dinner on a 100 sqm private terrace overlooking the Tuscan countryside. The historical charm which these rooms exude is magnificently combined with state of the art in room entertainment and high speed connectivity. Regarding our double rooms, they are all different and it is difficult to actually pin point one as I would be narrowing down to a single choice a multitude of experiences that the different rooms can offer. They are all large and comfortable and unique in layout or furnishing or view or simply in character.

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?

Andrea Luri: Of course, being a private noble residence since the XII century, close to the road that connects Florence to Rome, you can imagine that great men such as Michelangelo or Leonardo could pass by Castello del Nero . The last private owner was the noble Torrigiani family. One of the descendents, Carlo Torrigiani in the early 1900’s married a red cross nurse from Philadelphia, Anna Frey. This American lady was so affectionate with Castello del Nero that she requested her burial to be in the castle’s chapel where she rests ever since. Since the hotel opened we have had special events such as Sir James Galway perform with his golden flute and also the famous Jazz Saxophonist Scott Hamilton Quartet. Also one of the weddings which took place last season had reserved the hotel exclusively with a grand gala and fireworks – truly something that you will remember for ever.

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?

Andrea Luri: A guest would certainly appreciate to know that we have a courtesy shuttle to/from the center of Florence at scheduled times, this avoids having to worry about driving and parking in the city and makes visiting much more pleasant. For all other excursions our Front Office is at disposal for organizing all sorts of activities. At the hotel you have access to the state of the art gym, two tennis courts, the swimmingpool in the summer season. Our ESPA at Castello del Nero welcomes you in the relaxing atmosphere to enjoy the many holistic spa treatments.

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?

Andrea Luri: I have the same difficulty as most people do today: lack of time! Though, whatever happens, my first priority is taking the time to meet every Guest and get to know them. This job is incredible as it actually gives you the possibility of enjoying the company of extremely interesting people. If I had to change something about Castello del Nero it would probably be converting it from a hotel into my own home!

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?

Andrea Luri: Villa d'Este is certainly at the top of my list. I was fortunate enough to start my career there and believe it to be THE great hotel. It has history, location beauty and an atmosphere of absolute magic. Another wonderful hotel is the Amansara in Siem Reap, Cambodia. A stunning property with wonderful service in a beautiful country. In my top three I also have to include the Faena hotel and Universe in Buenos Aires - staying there is a fascinating experience.

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

Andrea Luri: We are now restructuring the various Villas which are located on the same estate as the hotel which will certainly turn out to be a great addendum to the property as they will also have access to the facilities of the hotel, other than having their own private pool and gardens.

Pictured From Left to Right: Restaurant Manager Giuliano Piscina, Spa Reception Maria Fanfani, Sales & PR Nathalie Beaugonin, Sales & PR Christina Ruettimann, General Manager Andrea Luri, Housekeeping Manager Sabrina Tonelli, Front Office Manager Alessio Nuzzi.


The Taj Tashi in Bhutan Opens its Doors

February 21, 2008
By: Guest Writer

[Courtesy of our friends at Goldarth's Review] Taj Tashi BhutanNext to Nepal, the Kingdom of Bhutan is probably the most sought-after destination for adventurous travelers yearning for an exotic and perhaps spiritual experience deep in the seclusions of the Himalayas. Now, you can take in the charms of this isolated Buddhist nation in luxurious environs, with the opening of the Taj Tashi in Thimpu. The latest jewel in the crown of the Indian-owned Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, it features 66 luxury rooms and suites (including 2 duplex suites), restaurants serving Bhutanese and Continental fare, lounges, bars, spa, a heated indoor swimming pool and fitness center, and Bhutan's first golf course. Be spellbound by spectacular views of majestic mountains and centuries-old Dzong temples from the comforts of your suites. After all, you're in "The Last Shangri-la on Earth". The Taj Tashi, Thimphu is situated in the centre of the capital city, has adopted age-old Bhutanese traditions in its architecture and offers panoramic views of neighboring mountains.


Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok 21st Floor Guest Room Video

February 21, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

The Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok comprises 799 luxurious guestrooms in two adjacent towers, the Shangri-La Wing and the Krungthep Wing. All rooms have river or city views, and are decorated with classic Thai touches, including silk and teak finishings. The below video offers a tour of a Conrad room on the 21st Floor of the Shangri La Hotel in Bangkok. [Video courtesy of youtube's gman2004k. Taken in October 2007.]


Raffles Grand Hotel Suite, Singapore Video

February 18, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Distinguished by their premier location in the Main Building, each of the seven Raffles Hotel Singapore's Grand Suites are elegantly appointed with tastefully selected antiques and artwork. All suites feature private parlours, dining areas and verandas.

Among these Grand Hotel Suites are the Raffles Grand Hotel premier suites which include the Sir Stamford Raffles and Sarkies Suites, each featuring two bedrooms, a private dining room that seats ten guests, a private parlour, pantry and veranda.


Golf Course Views in Naples, Florida at the Ritz Carlton

February 14, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

The palatial Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, FL offers deluxe accommodations and extensive greens. Use a Segway to scoot around or bring your furry friends - they have a Pet Program!

There are 2 Ritz-Carlton's in Naples, Florida - make sure you book the right one. The Ritz Carlton Naples Golf Resort is inland with two Greg Norman-designed golf courses, while the Ritz Carlton Naples sits on three miles of Gulf of Mexico beaches.


Tour the Ivy San Diego

February 12, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Look beyond a refined facade and peel back the elegant cloak to expose the edgy dark side of Ivy San Diego.

Make your reservation for the Ivy San Diego >>


Explore the Unexplored Wilderness at the Resort at Paws Up

February 8, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

The Resort at Paws Up offers unexplored wilderness with 37,000 acres of resort, 100 miles of trails, 7 miles of the Blackfoot River, and 1.5-million acres of the nearby Bob Marshall Wilderness - all which combine to make for the ultimate wilderness adventure playground. Go horseback riding, skiing, snowmobiling, or fly-fishing in the Blackfoot River and dine on gourmet cuisine.

Make your own video by visiting The Resort at Paws Up >>


An Interview with the General Manager: Karl Friedrich of the River Inn of Harbor Town

February 1, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

In October 2007, River Inn of Harbor Town opened its doors, offering Memphis visitors an entirely new lodging experience. Situated close to the Mighty Mississippi River in Downtown's Harbor Town neighborhood, the River Inn is a small boutique hotel where the history of the Old South meets the charm of classic Europe.

Karl FriedrichFive Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the River Inn at Harbor Town?

Karl W. Friedrich: Having managed luxury hotels in Europe, Caribbean and Pawleys Island, South Carolina for the past 35 years, the owners and the President of the River Inn Management Company thought I was the perfect fit for this unique and beautiful Boutique Hotel.

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?

Karl W. Friedrich: The River Inn at Harbor Town's architecture is influenced by European small luxury hotel concept with a touch of New Orleans look, the coziness and warm feeling of the lobby, small libraries on each floor, bedrooms/suites which open and one can sit in front and admire the great view of the Mississippi River. The Currents Fine Dining Restaurant with an elegant but warm decor and superb epicurean food served by a most accommodating and attentive Staff. In addition one can choose to go to TUGS, a bistro style casual restaurant with great food and draft beer.

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?

Karl W. Friedrich: We are new, nor do we tell!

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?

Karl W. Friedrich: Room 306 is one of our superior corner rooms with a typical New Orleans wrought iron balcony rail and double window, overlooking the Mississippi.

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

Karl W. Friedrich: The Hotel is located 5 minutes from down town Memphis with all its attraction; Beal Street, FedEx Forum, Auto Zone Ball Park, River Park Museum, St. Jude Hospital, The Trolley Area, and the famous Rendezvous BBQ Restaurant. The Inn is across the road from the River Park with 3 miles of trail to walk or jog along the Mississippi river.

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?

Karl W. Friedrich: The Hotel features hardwood floors brought in from a West Virginia Textile Mill dating back to 1850, also two of the fire place mantel pieces have been obtained in New Orleans and are antique from the 1850's.

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?

Karl W. Friedrich: That it is a true boutique hotel with the personalized service and atmosphere one expects at a small luxury Inn.

Five Star Alliance: What is your definition of luxury?

Karl W. Friedrich: Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort. Something desirable but expensive, something very pleasant but not really needed in life.

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

Karl W. Friedrich: Our patrons are either visitors for pleasure and sightseeing from around the world and the USA. We also cater to corporate guest and small executive retreats.

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?

Karl W. Friedrich: I would add a spa (this is already in the planning stage) to enhance the service and pleasure of our patrons.

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?

Karl W. Friedrich: The Fearrington House in Pittsboro, NC – Great atmosphere and well managed. The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Austin, TX – Great Hotel and also well managed. Twin Farms, VT – a wonderful place to get away and get spoiled.

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

Karl W. Friedrich: The River Inn is a place you will remember for making you feel welcome and the superb service, delicious food and well appointed rooms/suites with luxury amenities.

More Information About Karl Friedrich:

Karl brings to River Inn more than 30 years of experience in the management of full service hotels. Most recently, he was general manager of Litchfield Plantation, a small luxury hotel in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. During Karl’s eight years at Litchfield, he established a European sales and marketing strategy, which created a diverse mix of international guests, accounting for 20 percent of the total yearly occupancy.

Karl is the former president of International Hospitality Management, Inc., a management and consulting firm specializing in luxury Jamaican resorts. Additionally, he has managed Four-Star and Five-Star hotels throughout the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Antigua, St. Martin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

An Austrian, Karl holds a degree in business administration. He later attended hotel management school in Bad Hofgastein, Austria.

In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, sailing, and of course, travel. He and his wife, Belinda, a licensed professional counselor, have two grown sons.


New Forum Tower Rooms at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

January 15, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Caesars Palace Forum Tower RoomCaesars Palace Las Vegas is the world's best known resort-casino, celebrating the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome in an 85-acre destination location that sets the standard for entertainment, dining and luxury. Caesars Palace is in the final stages of their Forum Tower renovations - where all the rooms, suites, corridors and elevator lobbies are being renovated top to bottom.

Forum Tower WashroomsAvailable to book as of January 31, 2008, with travel beginning in April, the new Forum Tower Rooms will be considered an upgrade room in addition to the Palace and Augustus Towers. Forum Tower Rooms will now feature two LCD televisions (the second built into the bath mirror), wired and wireless Internet service, iPod docking station, oversized showers with dual rain bath showerheads, plus more.