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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.

Capella Castlemrtyr’s Dream Car Getaway


By: Madelyn Giblin

Experience Cork, Ireland in the fast lane, and book Capella Castlemartyr's Dream Car Getaway. A two night stay in one of the exquisite Capella Rooms includes the breakfast buffet, a bottle of Roedere Christal Champagne in the room upon arrival and a picnic basket for two prepared by Executive Chef Roger Olson. But guests also receive an Aston Martin DB 9, Bentley GT, Bentley Flying Spur or Porshe 911 C4 for the duration of their stay to drive around Cork. The car is available for take over upon arrival at the airport, and you can speed off into the sunset in a plush ride-- to the elegant resort located in close proximity to a 1000 year old Irish castle. This heavenly getaway at Capella Castlemartyr is available for Euro 1,950 during high season, and Euro 1,500 during low season.


What’s New in London: The Connaught’s Massive Makeover and New Star Chef, Helene Darroze


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Helene DarrozeWe can barely contain our excitement about the appointment of Hélène Darroze, one of France's most distinguished chefs, as the Executive Chef at The Connaught. For the last 18 months, The Connaught has benefitted from a finely-tuned, GBP 60 million renovation and now Phase 1 is complete-- after skilled artisans have labored to restore original features and added a whole bunch of contemporary art and technology. The hotel's priceless London location and coveted legacy have lured connoisseurs of luxury for over a century, and now The Connaught can continue to offer this grand hotel experience to its clients. The hotel's long love affair with gastronomy will continue with Hélène Darroze at the helm in the hotel's kitchen. Trained by Alain Ducasse, awarded with two Michelin stars, Darroze is considered one of the top-ranking female chefs in the world. Slated to open in the third week of June, "Hélène Darroze at the Connaught" will wow diners with Darroze's innovative dishes, inspired by authentic regional and seasonal flavours, with roots in her native Landes region of South West France. To quote the Guardian: "At the Connaught, she follows in the footsteps of Angela Hartnett, Gordon Ramsay's protégée who won a Michelin star there before the tenancy expired last September."

Image Via The Independent


Summer in Vienna: US Dollar Rates at the Grand Hotel Wien


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand Hotel WienThe only thing more magnificent than the legendary Grand Hotel Wien is its location on the Ringstrasse, just a stone's throw from the Opera and St. Stephen's Cathedral. At the turn of the century, the Grand Hotel Wien opened its doors in all its Belle-Epoque splendor and the hotel's been at the epicenter of Viennese social life ever since. The Grand Hotel Wien embodies all the plush decadence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; the rooms are styled for those with the very highest standards of taste. Now you can enjoy a little taste of the good life with guaranteed dollar rates at the Grand Hotel Wien. A big thank you to the hotel for using a fixed conversion rate of 1.4894 which works in the favor of Americans traveling abroad. Prices start at $380 per night in a Superior Room (double occupancy) including tax and service.


The World’s Most Expensive Cocktail: The Merchant Hotel, Belfast, Northern Ireland


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Merchant Hotel, Belfast, IrelandBelfast has been getting a makeover, thanks in part to the opening of its first truly decadent, five-star hotel: The Merchant, housed in the Italianate-style, former headquarters of the Ulster Bank. Besides the swankiest of guest rooms, this place also happens to offer the world's priciest cocktail. As described by the New York Times:

Nothing symbolizes the recent transformation of Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, better than the Merchant Hotel. Besides one-upping the old Europa-- once "Europe's most bombed hotel"-- the Merchant sells the world's most expensive cocktail, a mai tai made with hand-cut Fijian ice and rare Wray & Nephew rum, for GBP 750.

Image Via The Guardian


Exclusive Upgrade Offer from Hayfield Manor


By: Madelyn Giblin

Hayfield ManorEnjoy the beautiful Irish summer with exclusive summer deals on rooms at Hayfield Manor. A stunning five star hotel in Cork, Ireland, Hayfield Manor charms guests with the beautiful surrounding countryside and multitude of activities in Cork itself. Guests who book rooms for May 23rd, 24th, and 25th are treated to a complimentary upgrade in room upon availability, and guests who book rooms during the June Bank Holiday receive a complimentary picnic basket with their room, and upgrade upon availability. Offer applies for May 31st and June 1st and 2nd.

Special Offer from Five Star Alliance: All guests of Hayfield Manor who make reservations with Five Star Alliance will receive complimentary afternoon tea for two - once during their stay valued at 25 Euro per person.


Ode to Chef Jean-Francois Piege: Don’t Miss a Meal at Les Ambassadeurs, Hotel de Crillon


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Jean-Francois PiegeParis may be the capital of haute cuisine, but at Les Ambassadeurs-- the fine dining restaurant at the Hotel de Crillon-- food is elevated to an art form. Master Chef Jean-François Piège was only 34 when he came to Les Ambassadeurs in February 2004 to take over the reins as Head Chef. Diners have been dazzled ever since. Hailing from the Drome region of Southeastern France, known for the quality of its fresh produce, Piège first yearned to be a gardener: "As a boy I used to look after the garden with my uncle. I was passionate about growing food; I loved being able to say: "I grew this myself and now I'm eating it." Armed with this knowledge of plants, Piège has enjoyed a glowing career in cuisine-- with stints at Chabichou in Courchevel, the French Riviera's Chateau Eza, and in the kitchens of the French presidential palace. He's worked under the tutelage of Bruno Cirino and Alain Ducasse, who chose Piège to take over for him at the Plaza Athenee in 2000. To quote Ducasse: "He embodies French savoir-faire and French savoir-vivre."

Bar tapioca d'huitreNow Piège has updated the Crillon's grand gastronomic restaurant with innovation and flair. Just check out that beauteous creation pictured at right, called "Bar tapioca d'huître" (have you ever seen oysters look so pretty?) And the desserts? Pinch me now. Though it's hard to believe, Les Ambassadeurs itself is just as gorgeous as the platters. Surrounded by marble and crystal chandeliers, you'll sink into your seat and be presented a unique menu designed by the chef himself with the rods used to hold newspapers for hotel guests. Piège's fans are thrilled about his new book Côté Crillon Côté Maison (Preface by Alain Ducasse and Thomas Keller) which includes 41 dishes from the chef's Crillon kitchen, and 41 dishes from cooking at home.

Photo by Stéphane de Bourgies


Free Afternoon Tea Awaits You at the Draycott Hotel, London


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The DraycottLooking for a charming, intimate hotel in the heart of London, replete with grand interiors and a discreet, professional staff? The Draycott, situated between Chelsea and Knightsbridge, will satisfy your every whim. The 35 rooms are beautifully, individually appointed, each theatrically themed and filled with Victorian antiques. Enjoy the delights of summer with a stay at the award-winning Draycott Hotel with London's finest shopping and restaurants just minutes away. Allow the Draycott to spoil you with an indulgent Traditional Afternoon Tea on arrival and all the other luxurious trimmings you would expect from a 5-star townhouse. This "Summer Special" includes Traditional Afternoon Tea on the day of arrival, an early evening glass of Champagne, a mug of hot chocolate before bedtime, and daily English breakfast. Deluxe Double priced at GBP 255, valid from July 26 to September 7, 2008.


Von Trapp Family Villa: Home from The Sound of Music Opens as Hotel, Salzburg


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Von Trapp Family VillaFans of "The Sound of Music"-- and there are many, as the flick is the third most successful of all time, bested only by "Gone With the Wind" and "Star Wars"-- will be happy to learn that the von Trapp family's house in Salzburg, Austria will open on July 25, 2008 as a 14-room hotel. As reported by Goldarths Review, "For 100 euros (or US$155) a night, visitors will have a chance to relive scenes from the movie. Sip coffee at the gazebo where Liesl, eldest daughter of the von Trapp family and her boyfriend Rolf had a secret rendezvous or dine at the von Trapp family table."

Image Via HotelChatter


Dollars for Euros at Capella Castlemartyr, Cork, Ireland


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Capella CastlemartyrWe aren't the only ones who can't stop talking about Capella Hotels and Resorts, the six-star hospitality group launched by Horst Schulze, the guy behind Ritz-Carlton's success and "whose name is synonymous with visionary hotel-building" (to quote Travel + Leisure). Guest service is truly an art form at these new luxury hotels. Travel + Leisure loves 'em just as much as we do:

Before leaving New York for Schloss Velden, in southern Austria, and Capella Castlemartyr in County Cork, Ireland... Benjamin and Iona called, identifying themselves as my private assistants. Was there anything they could do for me or needed to know about me before my arrival-- dietary don'ts, transfers, reservations, specific things I wanted to see or do? Wow, I thought. Lots of hotels send "thank you for staying with us!" notes after you check-out, but such exhaustive pre-calls are rare.

At Castlemartyr, the 100-room, ultra-luxe hotel situated on 220 lush acres in County Cork, Capella's team of private assistants, "defined as proactive concierges" can handle any request. (Macrobiotic meals? No prob.) This summer, experience this already-legendary service with a fantastic "Dollars for Euro" promotion for stays booked through July 31, 2008. U.S. residents will be allowed to pay the room rate with dollars (even though it's listed in Euros). Considering the exchange rate is hovering around $1.55, this is a deal.

Image Via Blogs.NYPost.Com


Discover Italy’s Enchanting Cinque Terre with Hotel Splendido, Portofino


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel SplendidoOverlooking the sparkling bay of Portofino, the Italian Riviera's glamorous coastal town, Hotel Splendido is an exclusive hideaway for the international jetset. The guest book is filled with VIPs (like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor) who have long sought out the superb accommodations at this 16th century monastery-turned-luxury hotel. The sea views are absolutely stunning, and the hotel can even arrange a chartered yacht or sailboat for you to discover small fishing villages along the coast and the prime beaches only accessible by sea. The Splendido Mare, the recent extension of the Hotel Splendido, is situated in the heart of Portofino overlooking the famous Piazzetta and the waterfront. (It's only a five-minute walk from the main hotel.) There you'll want to sit on the terrace at Chuflay Bar Restaurant for some excellent cocktails and people-watching.

The Hotel Splendido can arrange a wonderful excursion to the Cinque Terre, the five postcard-perfect fishing villages that hug the cliffs of Liguria. The two-day, two-night journey starts with a gourmet dinner in either the Splendido Mare's Chuflay restaurant or in the Splendido's La Terrazza restaurant. The next day, guests will be taken by chauffeur-driven car from the hotel to the railway station at Santa Margherita, where they will board the train for the Cinque Terre (tickets available from the concierge). Upon their return, scheduled for late afternoon, guests will find a car waiting to take them back to the hotel. Prices for two persons in a double room with sea view include flowers, a bottle of spumante in-room, full American-style breakfast and all the activities in the program. Until June 5, 2008 (and from September 15-November 9, 2008), the prices are EUR 1670 at Hotel Splendido and EUR 1315 at Splendido Mare. During high-season (June 6-September 14, 2008), prices start at EUR 1585 at Splendido Mare.