LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
The Luxury Hotel Insider
: Exclusive luxury hotel deals, features and special rates from the luxury hotel experts at Five Star Alliance.
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, 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.
It's still possible to take a vacay during the economic downturn, Forbes points out, especially as other currencies fall against the dollar. Suddenly European holidays are looking a lot more feasible (and won't break the bank). Airfares have been slashed, and hotels are offering great incentives. Case in point: The five-star Mandarin Oriental in fashionable Prague, housed in a renovated 14th century monastery, is offering a free night from January 3- March 31, 2009 (and visitors from the U.K. get their flights flown in for free!)
From the Stone Age, humans have inhabited the caves in Matera (in Basilicata, Italy), recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the remarkable houses built into the rock cliffs. Now you can stay in a beautiful boutique hotel, spread out over a few of these renovated caves and comprising 18 spacious rooms. Sassi di Matera Albergo Diffuso is the result of a meticulous renovation, featuring antiques rescued from nearby historic buildings and beautiful appointments by local craftsmen. As highlighted in the New York Times Travel Magazine, the hotel is Italy's most intriguing new hotel:
The towering wood door swings open, and it's the glow that strikes me first. My hosts, Daniele Kihlgren and Michele Zasa, lead me out of the blazing afternoon heat and into a vast Neolithic cave with 20-foot-high walls that seem to be lit from within. The walls are carved out of soft tufa stone the color of honey and pockmarked with hundreds of pits and crevasses, chiseled by the shepherds who have lived here over the past 2,500 years. Zasa, a local guide, points out fossilized seashells embedded in the double-height rock ceiling and a pear-shaped cistern once used as a well. In hushed tones we admire the graceful vaulted archways that look as though they've been splattered with lumpy cake batter
Image via Hidden Travel Gems
What better place to recover and restore your sanity and health than Italy? Alpen Palace Deluxe Hotel and Spa is offering a Winter Wellness Package that's sure to cure what ails you. Starting at EUR 1,008, you'll get seven nights in a selected room, which includes 2/3 Wellness Pension and use of the Wellness and Spa area. You'll also get an Ahrntal Winter card that has discounts for ski passes, ski rentals, and more. Even better, the hotel has arranged some special outings for you. On Tuesday, enjoy tobogganing by moonlight on South Tyrol's longest night-time toboggan run. Wednesday it's a romantic sleigh ride through the winter wonderland that is the Italian Ahrntal. Finally indulge in the Winter Magic Comfort Program, which features a herbal foot bath, steam bath, full body vitality massage with steamed herbal stamp massage, and a head and face massage. Don't forget to take advantage of the 80 mountains with over 3,000 meters of perfect ski slopes, and take a soak in the heated outdoor pool.
Special Offer from Five Star Alliance: Five Star Alliance guests at Alpen Palace Deluxe Hotel and Spa will receive an exclusive wellness voucher in the amount of 50 Euros for the luxurious spa.
Still suffering food coma from Thanksgiving? Or did a hearty meal only whet your appetite for more culinary adventures this winter? José Andrés, the author, TV star, and celebrity chef behind the Spanish culinary revolution in the U.S., now serves at the helm of an extraordinary new restaurant in Beverly Hills at the SLS Hotel, and he's got some recipes to share. The LA Times has the skinny on his new restaurant:
It's an exuberant experiment in dining, located in the public space of the 11,500-square-foot hotel lobby, with several whimsical dining areas: a cocktail bar and raw bar, a space featuring his tapas as well as cured meats and cheeses, a "patisserie" with a display kitchen and a roving "street food" cart. "Who needs one more chef in one more building with four walls and a kitchen?" Andrés asks.
For a morning-after-Thanksgiving extravaganza, try these Olive Oil pancakes, generously studded with Spanish chocolate. (Recipe after the jump.)
Servings 4, Cook time 30 minutes.
Note: To make lemon honey, combine one-fourth cup honey with one-half teaspoon lemon zest in a small saucepan. Steep the honey for several minutes over low heat and strain before using. Spanish chocolate is available at select Ralphs stores and specialty markets.
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons best-quality olive oil, preferably Spanish, plus more for frying
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate, preferably Spanish
1/4 cup honey, preferably lemon
Fresh mint leaves
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk in the egg, buttermilk and 2 tablespoons olive oil until the batter is smooth, then stir in the chocolate pieces.
2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat. Ladle one-fourth cup of the pancake batter into the pan and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancake with a spatula and cook until golden brown on the second side, 1 to 2 more minutes. Place the pancakes in a warm oven until all are cooked and ready to serve. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more olive oil to the pan as needed.
3. To serve, drizzle the pancakes with honey and garnish with mint.
If you are a connoisseur of fine champagne, then the Dorchester Collection has the ultimate experience for you. With the "Krug Escape" enjoy a two night tour of Krug Champagne across two countries, with luxury accommodations, fine dining, and exceptional champagne. Starting in London at The Dorchester, enjoy a Krug Champagne breakfast tailored to accent the fine flavors of Krug Grande Cuvee. Proceed on to Hotel Le Meurice in Paris, where a luxury suite awaits, along with an afternoon of relaxation at the Valmont Spa, and afternoon tea. Pre-dinner drinks of Krug Grand Cuvee precede a seven-course dinner prepared by celebrated Chef Yannick Alleno.
On the second day, following a leisurely breakfast, guests are transported to the fabulous Maison Krug for a personal tour of Krug and the Krug cellars, along with Champagne tasting and fine lunch. Return to Paris for a second night, this time in the Hotel Plaza Athenee. Enjoy another bottle of Krug champagne before dinner, and another exquisite seven course meal in the hotel's fantastic Alain Ducasse Restaurant, followed by a relaxing evening in one of the hotel's breathtaking luxury suites. The Krug Escape package starts at $20,000, and is valid weekdays from now until April 30, 2009, excluding December 19-31, 2008.