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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.

The Best Afternoon Tea in London at The Berkeley


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley, LondonWe aren't the only ones to think The Berkeley's Afternoon Tea is tops in London (if not the world). The Washington Post recently scoped out the scene in London, seeking the quintessential English experience. The verdict? See below:

"Name a swank hotel—the Ritz, Brown's, the Dorchester—and you can count on finding a lavish tea. But for my money... The Berkeley's Pret-a-Portea, a fashionista's afternoon tea, wins hands down.

In my cup is a most delicious sip of pear-caramel tea. The waiter presents a tier of tiny canapes, identifying each: crust-less sandwiches of ham, cheese and cucumber; cherry tomatoes stuffed with couscous; salmon in a snaillike curl. Finally, the waiter offers what I'm here for: a fanciful array of cakes and sweets, whose colors and shapes replicate the creations of top fashion designers for the season. Framed photos display each item's inspiration. The pink-iced, chocolate-sashed cookie-dress is a Michael Kors; the sky-blue-iced, lemon-sponge, handbag-shaped concoction, an Anya Hindmarch; in all, nine delectable works of art. And truly, the sight of my proper Englishman at the next table biting into a pastry shaped like a Manolo Blahnik stiletto is quite worth the price of the tea on its own."


Hotel Concorde Berlin: Where to Stay in the German Capital


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Concorde BerlinThe coolest place to stay in Berlin, Germany's capital of cool, is the new Hotel Concorde. Sleek and stylish, the hotel is housed in a striking limestone building that's 17 storeys tall. Home to the most spacious guest rooms in Berlin, the Hotel Concorde is characterized by understated design and minimalist interiors graced with dazzling contemporary artwork. Located just off the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm in the heart of the City West, the Hotel Concorde mixes French style and savoir-faire (found at its brasserie Le Faubourg) with celebrated German design (renowned Berlin architect Jan Kleihues is responsible for the hotel's cutting edge look). Wait til you get a glimpse of the two-storey lobby, where the lighting is concealed in the silver-leaf covered ceiling. Guests adore the sophisticated amenities and excellent location-- just 100 meters from the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, and within walking distance of the Zoologischer Garten. Note: If you book your stay with Five Star Alliance, you'll receive a 15 percent discount voucher for Food & Beverage in the Brasserie Le Faubourg as a welcome gift.


The Mighty Dollar Roars in London at The Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel


By: K. Clare Johnson

Christmas has come early at The Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel. The luxury hotel has just introduced a new program for Americans visiting London during the Christmas holidays. Pay before you leave in US dollars and then you won't have to settle up in pricier pounds sterling before you leave England.

Jumeirah Lowndes HotelThe offers costs $259+VAT per guest room per night and $324 per deluxe room based on two sharing. Price is valid on stays from Thursday to Monday inclusive and is valid until the end of February 2009. The package is subject to availability and excludes 17.5 percent VAT and a discretionary 5 percent service charge. To qualify, guests must have a valid USA address. Full payment in advance is required.

Just because the exchange rate is less than ideal, doesn't mean that US travelers need to skimp on luxury.


Spotlight On: Capella Schloss Velden and the New Breed of Luxury Hotels


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Capella Schloss Velden"Could the grand hotel of yesteryear be dead?" So begins Sunday's article in the New York Times Travel magazine, describing the plethora of new hotel brands to hit the scene recently:

At a time when travelers are spoiled for choice, the one-size-fits-all approach of traditional big-hotel service is giving way to ever more tailored experiences. And hotel companies are adapting not by making themselves over but by introducing new brands: 40 in about as many months, including offshoots of major players like Hyatt, expansions from the likes of Gansevoort and the Fountainbleau, and fledgling chains like SLS and Missoni.

One of the highlights of the article? The Capella Schloss Velden-- where there is a "restaurant that will open for you in the middle of the night." Horst Schulze, visionary behind the new Capella brand, is quoted as describing the "little service processes" that represent the new paradigm of luxury hotels. Guests don't want stiff formality, but they want to be taken care of. An incredible innovation of the Capella Hotels? Doing away with check-in and check-out times, "a notion historically based on what's easy for the hotel." To quote Schulze: "Why do we force the customer to do something that's convenient for us? We should have seen this long ago."


Incredible Last Minute Offer in Rome at the Villa Spalletti Trivelli


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Villa Spalletti TrivelliNow's your chance to luxuriate in a splendid urban villa in the heart of Rome for a fraction of the normal price. Surrounded by the world-famous sites of the Eternal City, just minutes from the Trevi Fountain, the luxurious Villa Spalletti Trivelli is centrally located, yet secluded from the city's bustle. Connoisseurs of art are entranced by this historic residence and its Italian garden. The refined interior spaces are just as elegant, furnished with antiques and sumptuous fabrics. The Villa Spalletti Trivelli offers a unique and memorable hideaway in Rome.

Villa Spalletti TrivelliBook the Last Minute Offer, valid from today until September 29, 2008, and you can get incredible savings! With a two-night minimum stay, this special offer is priced at EUR 350 per night in the "Romantic" room category, with continental breakfast included. The only catch: this offer must be prepaid and is non-refundable.


The Augustine, Prague, from the Rocco Forte Collection: The World’s Monastery Hotels


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

PragueAfter all the talk about converting old jails into luxury hotels, this trend seems rather ho-hum. From the drop-dead gorgeous Hotel Monasterio in Cuzco, Peru to the new Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, there are a whole bunch of monastery-hotels cropping up in phenomenal locations worldwide. Here's what Forbes Traveler says about Villa San Michele:

But it's doubtful there could be a view more serene than that of Florence from the Villa San Michele, a former century monastery that clings to a lush hillside in Fiesole. The monastery portion was built in the 16th century, the façade was designed by Michelangelo and the entire property is run with smooth, contemporary efficiency by General Manager Luca Finardi, an affable Florentine if ever there was one. "The Michelangelo Suite, the monastery's former library, was where Napoleon once stayed," Finardi says.

Perhaps most exciting of these hotel openings is The Augustine, slated to open in January 2009. Housed in five historic buildings around the St. Thomas Monastery in Prague, the new hotel promises abundant style and sophistication- like all the Rocco Forte Collection hotels.


Buzz: Langham Hotels Signs First India Property in Pune


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Langham Place, Koregaon Park, Pune, IndiaFrom the legendary London hotel to Hong Kong's stylish establishment, Langham has brought its stimulating hospitality concept to four continents now. Luxury hotel operator, Langham Hotels International, has doubled in size in the last year with 16 hotels open or in the pipeline. We just got word that Langham has signed a contract for Langham Place, Koregaon Park, Pune, India- as Langham expands into what's termed the "new Silk Road of China, India and the Middle East." Slated to open in 2010 in the "Silicon Valley of India," the 180-room hotel will be home to India's first Chuan Spa concept, featuring oriental hot tubs, ice caves, herbal steam rooms, singles and couples treatment suites, and an infinity edge indoor and outdoor pool. The exciting restaurants on offer will include a new hybrid concept called Portal- Work & Play. Here's the scoop from the press release: "By combining a lobby lounge, cocktail bar and business centre, Portal is where work and play seamlessly intertwine to meet the needs of today's multi-tasking world." A DJ will spin in the lobby-atrium, setting the mood.


Galerie des Gobelins at the Hotel Plaza Athenee: Hot Spots in Paris


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Galerie des Gobelins, Hotel Plaza Athenee ParisIt's not just the bar that's the place to be in Paris. The Hotel Plaza Athenee, the 188-room embodiment of Parisian luxury set between Avenue des Champs Elysées and the Eiffel Tower, is also home to La Galerie Des Gobelins, a newly-designed lounge area that's the talk of the town in Paris. The hotel recently unveiled a tremendous re-imagining by interior designer Pascale Benhamou, and the Galerie now features velvet sofas, a mosaic carpet, amber lighting from chandeliers, and made-to-measure furniture (like beaten-metal lampshades by Societé Lyonnaise Bronzes d'art Francais and pedestal tables of French-polished walnut by Taillardat). This chic, Parisian venue is the perfect spot to lounge after a day of shopping in the Golden Triangle. There's a "fashion parade of a menu" so you can enjoy epicurean delights like "Start the show" (nibbles), the "Spring & Tea Collection" (afternoon tea) and the "Hottest Fashions" (main courses). Desserts are crafted by Christophe Michalak, the world-famous Pastry Chef.


Around the World in 80 Ways: The Epic $1 Million Journey from Leading Hotels of the World


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

One Aldwych, LondonWe recently spread the word about the incredible deal-- $19.28 room rates!-- offered by Leading Hotels of the World to celebrate its 80th anniversary. And now it's time to highlight another celebratory package from LHW-though this one is a tad more extravagant. Leading Hotels of the World has created an epic voyage, "Around The World in 80 Ways," to pay homage to both the 80th anniversary of the Academy Awards, and their own 80th birthday. The price tag for this amazing, glamorous journey? One million dollars.

Traveling in a private jet all the way, you and a companion will see everything in the world worth seeing and do everything in the world worth doing. Best of all, 10 percent of the USD 1 million price will be donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation for the global fight against AIDS. So, with that in mind, we invite you to open your hearts and wallets and get ready to set off on the adventure of a lifetime.


Buzz: Montenegro as the “Monaco of the Balkans”


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sveti Stefan island, MontenegroWe've reported on Montenegro, the jewel of the Adriatic, as an up-and-coming destination and future coastal "it" spot. Indeed, Amanresorts is restoring the resort island of Sveti Stefan as a glamorous vacation spot for A-listers. Now Luxist has the skinny on schemes to make Montenegro the next Monaco:

A group of billionaire investors including Oleg Deripaska (Russia's richest man) and LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault are backing a scheme to turn Tivat, a derelict port and ex-Yugoslav naval base in the former communist country of Montenegro, into the next playground for the megarich.

Porto Montenegro, aka "Monaco of the Balkans," will be home to a "marina for the oversized yachts of the rich and famous." Four Seasons is even planning to open a luxury property there. Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has his sights set on a nearby beach for his own luxury resort.