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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: Cliff Atkinson of Gramercy Park Hotel

January 15, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Gramercy Park HotelCliff Atkinson was promoted to General Manager of the Gramercy Park Hotel in July 2007 after joining as the Hotel Manager in October of 2006 with more than 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry.

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

Cliff Atkinson: I was recruited by Ian Schrager to be the Gramercy Park Hotel Manager in September 2006 and I assumed the General Manager position in July 2007. I was very excited to incorporate my traditional luxury hotel background with the modern luxury that Gramercy Park Hotel introduced to the market.

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

Cliff Atkinson: The best thing about our hotel's location is the access to Gramercy Park. My favorite thing to do on a Sunday is to grab a New York Times, with a morning coffee and sit in the park and read my paper all year round. It is so quiet and peaceful, right in the middle of New York City!

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?

Cliff Atkinson: My favorite rooms are our Loft rooms. They really feel like an artist’s loft from the 1920's… very Bohemian. I recommend our "05" rooms, which have fantastic bathrooms and a large open feel.

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?

Cliff Atkinson: The Private Roof Club access and the weekend Dim Sum brunch in Wakiya.

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?

Cliff Atkinson: I think there are five distinctive points about our hotel:

1. The unique design of the rooms. – They are different than anything in the market today, with a design created by Ian Schrager, the patriarch of the modern hotel industry and Julian Schnabel, a world renowned artist. The rooms set themselves apart from the usual homogeneous look of the majority of hotel rooms.

2. Our location – The Gramercy Park area is becoming the “new midtown”. It is close to both the traditional Midtown Manhattan shopping and the exciting dining and night life of downtown Manhattan. Plus, our location directly on Gramercy Park provides our hotel guests with an experience like no other by allowing exclusive access to New York’s only private park.

3. Our Food and Beverage – Our options for dining and entertaining are truly world class from our Chinese restaurant, Wakiya, to the exciting nightlife of our Rose Bar, to the comfortable, laid back garden atmosphere of our Private Roof Club. Guests don’t feel like they are in a hotel but rather a private mansion with an incredible selection of personal chefs!

4. Private Roof Club – There is simply nothing like our Private Roof Club anywhere in New York City. It is accessible to hotel guests only, it provides a private retreat with incredible artwork and is covered and temperature controlled 365 days a year. It is truly special.

5. Our Service – Our approach to service is the same approach I used at former Mobil Five Star and AAA Five Diamond Hotels and Resorts. Ian Schrager has the eye for the design and can create a hotel space like no other. It is my job to ensure the service is at the level you would experience at the World’s top luxury hotels packaged in this unique hotel casing.

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

Cliff Atkinson: Our hotel guests are the global luxury traveler, with over 40% international. The demographic spans all ages from young 20’s to mid 60’s – anyone who wants a luxury experience that is special, unique and personal.

More About Mr. Atkinson:

Prior to joining the Gramercy Park Hotel, Cliff worked for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group for seven years and held various positions within the company, most recently as the Executive Assistant Manager for Mandarin Oriental, New York. Before Mandarin Oriental, New York, Cliff was the director of Revenue Management for the Group’s properties in North America and Europe from 2000 – 2003. Cliff began his career in the hospitality industry with Hilton Hotels in Revenue Management and as Director of Front Office Operations and other various management positions in Rooms Division.

Cliff attended City College of San Francisco with a degree in Hospitality Management as well as the University of San Francisco and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Cliff resides in Manhattan with his wife Jennifer and is currently pursuing his MBA.


An Interview with the General Manager: Heinrich Morio of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel

January 3, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Heinrich MorioHeinrich Morio, born in the United States to German parents in 1960, joined Jumeirah in the position of General Manager Operations in October 2004. He brings over 25 years of operational experience all of which was spent in some of the finest luxury hotels including Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg, Plaza Athenee in New York, Turnberry Isle in Florida, One&Only Le Saint Geran, Mauritius, Ritz Carlton in New York and The Peninsula in Beverly Hills.

Prior to joining Jumeirah, Heinrich held the position of General Manager of One&Only Le Touessrok, Mauritius where he successfully directed the closure, re-opening and re-positioning of the hotel, as well as General Manager of the One&Only Ocean Club, Bahamas and Little Palm Island, Florida Keys. Heinrich holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University, Miami.

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

Mr. Heinrich Morio: I started working in the hotel industry approximately 30 years ago, over the years I have worked in many different functions including restaurants, kitchen and reception. I have worked my way up in the industry and I have now realized my dream of managing a luxury hotel.

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

Mr. Heinrich Morio: The architecture of the hotel in itself is very distinctive and unique. It is designed to reflect the shape of a breaking wave which has become an instantly recognizable symbol of Dubai.

In addition, we are unique in the fact that all of the 617 rooms, suites and villas at Jumeirah Beach Hotel have stunning ocean views across the beautiful Arabian Gulf, this feature is a favorite amongst all of our regular and first time guests.

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. Heinrich Morio: All of our guests are important to us and we have many guests who return to us on a regular basis. We provide all of our guests with the level of service that they would expect to find in a five star luxury hotel and we also respect the privacy of all 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. Heinrich Morio: All of our rooms are extremely spacious and provide a minimum of approximately 50m2 of living space. Full advantage has been made of the fact that all of our rooms are ocean facing and each room has floor to ceiling windows which mean that guests have maximum enjoyment of the spectacular panoramic views.

For the ultimate in luxury the villas at Beit Al Bahar (Arabic for 'House by the Sea') are perfect for guests searching for a truly personal, uniquely special holiday hideaway. Each villa benefits from a private plunge pool and an unparalleled level of service which means that Beit Al Bahar is known as one of the regions most luxurious private retreats.

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. Heinrich Morio: Our impressive conference centre is Dhow shaped and has hosted some of Dubai's most spectacular and significant events. The conference centre has a ballroom space of 1332m2, a tiered auditorium that seats 416, two floors of dedicated conference facilities and custom-built executive boardrooms.

Another interesting feature of the hotel is the large sculpture in the atrium that shows the original destinations that Emirates flew to when the hotel first opened ten years ago. If we tried to update this sculpture to reflect the current destinations that Emirates fly to today, this would be extremely difficult due to the vast number of routes now in operation.

In addition there is also our iconic beach front location which is simply stunning, the hotel boasts over 3800m2 of beautiful outdoor beach and garden areas.

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

Mr. Heinrich Morio: Jumeirah Beach Hotel provides guests with the ultimate in luxurious family resort style accommodation, in addition to our stunning beaches and rooms we also have a world class conference facility, Pavilion Sports centre, dive facility, private marina and over 20 restaurants and bars. The extensive choice of dining options at the hotel and range of international cuisine of offer is sure to satisfy any guest.

Our guests are also provided with the opportunity to upgrade for the duration of their stay to become a Club Executive or Premium Leisure Club guest. These options provide access to additional facilities such as the tranquil Executive Pool and the Club Executive Lounge.

In addition to the above, high on my priorities would be knowing what the weather forecast is for the duration of my stay!

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. Heinrich Morio: The hotel is ideally located on Jumeirah Beach and our popular beach front restaurants all have stunning views of the spectacular Burj Al Arab. We are very centrally located and all of Dubai's attractions, including the amazing shopping malls and world class golf courses are only a short taxi ride away. We are also only 20-30 minutes drive from the airport.

Wild Wadi Water Park is an integral part of the resort and is located right next door to the hotel, all Jumeirah Beach Hotel guests receive unlimited access to the water park for the duration of their stay.

My favorite way to spend time in the surrounding area is to take a visit to Bab Al Shams for a unique desert experience. Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa is an elegant desert resort in a traditional Arabic fort setting and is perfect for a relaxing retreat away from the city.

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

Mr. Heinrich Morio: Over the past ten years we have welcomed guests from all over the world, many of our guests come from Europe and we have lots of visitors from the UK, Germany and Russia. Our excellent family facilities mean that we have lots of families who visit the hotel, many returning on a regular basis. In addition our superb conference facilities are used by a wide range of guests attending private and corporate events of all sizes.

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. Heinrich Morio: Over the last ten years Jumeirah Beach Hotel has undergone continuous growth and development, we deliver an excellent level of service which is largely due to our fantastic colleagues. If it were not for our exceptional colleagues then my job would be much harder!

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. Heinrich Morio: For me Jumeirah Emirates Tower is the finest business hotel in the world. It is very popular with frequent business travelers and is ideally located in the heart of Dubai's commercial district.

The Madinat Jumeirah is one of the most impressive and fascinating resorts that I have ever visited. Known as The Arabian Resort of Dubai the hotel is a magnificent tribute to Dubai's heritage and is styled to resemble an ancient Arabian citadel. The hotel offers the height of opulence and with two grand hotels, superb facilities and a traditional souk the Madinat Jumeirah really is unique.



O.A.R.S Catalog of Luxury Adventure Vacations

January 3, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

OARS Alaska WhitewaterThe Chairman of Five Star Alliance (also known as the Cal Simmons of The Informed Traveler) recommends O.A.R.S. which provides Whitewater rafting with experienced professional guides and top notch equipment since 1969. Cal has run rivers with the owner, George Wendt, in Africa, Fiji, Idaho, California and The Grand Canyon. According to Cal their Grand Canyon camping is even better than a luxury hotel.

For almost 40 years, O.A.R.S. (Outdoor Adventure River Specialists) has been a leader in the adventure travel industry. The California-based, eco-conscious organization provides exceptional, award-winning customer service, friendly, experienced and safety-conscious guides, comfortable and clean camping equipment, undeniably delicious and hearty meals and an ideal environment for a traveler to experience the outdoor vacation of his or her dreams. Some vacations include catered camping and rafting excursions through one of six national parks, lodge-based outings with comfortable beds and hot showers, multi-week expeditions, half-day escapes, weekend retreats close to home or private chartered trips specifically and uniquely designed for a given client's needs.

New to O.A.R.S.' vacation menu in 2008 includes rafting on the Apurimac River, the source of the Amazon and lodge-to-lodge trekking to Machu Picchu, 15 or 16 days.

Read More about O.A.R.S and their 2008 schedule here:

http://www.prweb.com//releases/OARS/Adventure_Travel/prweb588702.htm


Suite NYC Weekend Escape at Bryant Park

December 3, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Bryant Park SuiteNew York City is aglow between Thanksgiving and the New Year, and everyone knows this is the perfect time to visit Manhattan. Whether you're looking for window shopping, holiday events and performances or a place to enjoy your Christmas dinner - the Bryant Park Hotel is in the center of it all. Between now and January 15th, 2008 - enjoy special low rates at the luxurious, contemporary Bryant Park Hotel or treat yourself and your family to an ice skating weekend package with 2 VIP Tickets to "The Pond at Bryant Park". For $699.00 per night the Weekend Suite Escape Includes:

    - Accommodations in a Bryant Park Suite (pictured)

    - Complimentary champagne and chocolate

    - Full American Breakfast for 2 people, daily through in-room private dining

    - Complimentary late checkout at 2:00pm

    - 2 Complimentary drink tickets for the Cellar Bar

    - 2 VIP Tickets to “The Pond at Bryant Park” – these tickets entitle 2 guests to immediate entry to the ice skating rink, as well as complimentary skate rental


Enjoy the new Fairmont Gold Program

December 1, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

According to Fairmont, the new "Fairmont Gold" program will offer the following to be rolled out at selected hotels starting in 2008 -

"Representing a commitment to hospitality excellence, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts' offers guests Fairmont Gold. Fairmont Gold is a hotel within a hotel dedicated to a consistent high quality of personalized service and exclusivity that is designed to meet all the needs and expectations of the discerning business executive and leisure traveler. Within the `residential' surroundings of the Fairmont Gold Lounge, the specially trained & dedicated Fairmont Gold Managers provide warm, anticipative service through attention to detail and recognition.

As a guest of Fairmont Gold, you will be welcomed to the private and exclusive Lounge on the Fairmont Gold floor, where your room details are taken care of and your arrangements for a quick and easy departure are anticipated. The Fairmont Gold Lounge, exclusive for Guests staying in Fairmont Gold bedrooms and suites, caters specifically to each of the discerning guests' needs from a leisurely breakfast, to afternoon tea or evening refreshments from the honor bar.

Fairmont Gold rooms - elegant and residential in design - offer large feather pillows, lush terry cloth bathrobes, Twice Daily Housekeeping with Evening Turndown service and a special selection of personal care items. Furthermore, a spacious work area features a desk lamp, two telephones and complimentary high speed Internet connection for your laptop. Fairmont Gold truly is a definitive expression of our commitment to excellence."

Fairmont Gold Module


Banish the Winter Blues with The Peninsula Hotels

November 27, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

The PeninsulaThis winter, The Peninsula Hotels invites you to a luxurious retreat with special offers to make your stay even more pleasurable. Winter Escapes helps guests to personalize their stays with a customized selection of benefits at each hotel. From 15 December 2007 through 31 March 2008 inclusive, each Peninsula hotel offers a menu of three enticing options. Guests booking rooms or suites can select one to tailor their stay to their personal taste and preferences, making a stay at any of the Peninsula hotels worldwide even more memorable. Highlights include:

As the mantle of winter descends and cooler months arrive, thoughts turn to escaping daily routines and indulging in some truly luxurious personal pampering, either by basking in the warm tropical climes of Asia or by maximizing a well-earned city break in the US at one of the Peninsula properties - an ideal way to banish those cool weather blues.


Taste of Luxury in Venice with Starwood Hotels

October 23, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Venetian culture comes alive when your US Dollar buys up to 40% more this Fall and Winter in Venice, Italy.

Westin Europe and ReginaVisit Venice before 31 December 2007 with one of Starwood's Taste of Luxury or Taste of Venice USD packages and take advantage of the special One US Dollar = One Euro* exchange rate parity deal. Valid for a minimum stay of 3 nights at Hotel Danieli, Hotel Gritti Palace, or The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice. Stay in characteristic accommodations from USD 350 (instead of Euro 350) per room per night for two, inclusive of American buffet breakfast, tax and service. Don't delay. Book by 29 December for stays until 31 December 2007.

*Rates confirmed in USD are guaranteed in US dollars when paid in US cash or traveler's checks. Payments made by credit cards at the hotel will be charged in the local currency equivalent based on the exchange rate used by the hotel on the day of arrival. Currency conversions by bank or credit card companies in processing payments are not within the control of the hotel and are subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Please consult the Terms & Conditions for full details of this promotion.


Suite Luxury: Casa Montana at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain

October 10, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Surrounded by a lush oasis of flowers and trees on Camelback Mountain, the Sanctuary on Camelback is truly a legendary hideaway. Enjoy their highest level of luxury in Casa Montana, one of their homes with the most breathtaking panoramic views on the north slope of Camelback Mountain.

Casa MontanaCasa Montana

Size: 3,500 square feet - four spacious bedrooms, and six full baths.

Features: Private pool, whirlpool spa and scenic patio for entertaining, three wood-burning fireplaces, and a billiard room.

Casa MontanaRooms feature a master bedroom and adjacent private study, a king size bedroom and two rooms with double beds. The billiard room features a spacious bar area and pool table for entertaining your guests. Casa Montana's warm Old World Spanish inspired decor greets you with a comforting welcome and a view like no other.

Make your reservations for Casa Montana at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain >>


Spend Christmas and New Years at Le Meurice, Paris

October 5, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Hotel Le MeuriceEnjoy the lively rhythm and elegant ambiance of the chic 1st arrondissement at the legendary palace hotel that has played host to international royalty, fashion designers and countless public figures, Hotel Le Meurice. The Christmas package, starting from EUR 590 per room, per night, includes accommodations, daily American breakfast, Christmas gifts and chocolates for parents and children. Extraordinary Christmas Eve and Day dinners are available at Restaurant Le Meurice and Jardin d'Hiver. Package available from December 7- December 27, 2007.

Or if a Christmas stay isn't in the works, plan a New Year's escape to the heart of Paris. This internationally renowned five-star hotel is Paris at its most elegant and stylish. Between December 28, 2007- January 2, 2008, your family can enjoy a minimum two-night stay with accommodations, daily American breakfast, Christmas gifts and chocolates for parents and children starting at EUR 730 per room, per night.


What a Hotel! Monumental Elegance

September 28, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Here's a challenge to test your luxury travel savvy. Do you know this hotel? Take a guess, leave us a comment letting us know which hotel you think this photo belongs to, and check back next week for the answer and new image.

What a Hotel!

Helpful Hints: Moorish Elegance, World Heritage Monument ...

Bordan correctly guessed our Previous Hotel Contest:
What a Hotel!

One Aldwych, London, United Kingdom