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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.

What’s Hot: The New W Hotel Istanbul


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Hotel IstanbulNow accepting reservations beginning April 1, 2008, the new W Hotel is the hottest thing to hit the scene in Istanbul. The hotel brand known for its chic, contemporary style has opened a sexy new property in the ancient city of gilded domes, minarets, and dynamic modern towers. Crossroads between old and new, East and West, the cosmopolitan metropolis of Istanbul welcomes a hotel as dynamic as the city itself. Designed by Geomim, the hotel is the centerpiece of the historic Akaretler Row Houses. You'll find all the signature W touches like iPod docking stations and flatscreen TVs, munchie boxes and mini bars, the luxurious W bed, separate showers and tubs in the bathrooms, and the cozy Living Room for cocktails. Plus, all rooms and suites have gardens, terraces, or cabanas. Indulge in all the decadent facilities on offer: chow down on the Southeast Asian plates at Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Spice Market before getting pampered with a massage at the spa. Talk about Turkish Delight.


Suite Package Deal in Prague at the Hotel Palace Praha


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Palace PrahaDating from 1909, the Art Nouveau-style Hotel Palace Praha is smack dab in the middle of Prague, just a stone's throw from Wenceslas Square. In addition to the 114 guest rooms, combining traditional elegance with all the modern comforts, the hotel boasts some to-die-for suites with marvelous views of Prague Castle: 3 Junior Suites, 2 stylish Old Town Suites located on the 6th and 7th floors, the Opera Suites with white Carrara and Rosso Verona marble bathrooms and state-of-the-art entertainment systems (and views of the State Opera), and the 5th floor Art Nouveau Suite. Our favorite is the 6th floor Palace Suite with its private sauna and balcony. When you book the Suite Package at the Hotel Palace Praha, you'll experience pure luxury in the heart of Prague with some excellent add-ons including a 3-course candle-lit dinner in Gourmet Club Restaurant-- awarded one of "The Top 10 International Restaurants in Prague." Priced from just EUR 335 per night in a Junior Suite and available through the end of 2008, the package includes luxurious accommodation in one of the suites, daily full buffet breakfast in L'Epoque Restaurant, welcome drink upon arrival, home made chocolate pralines in-room, 3-course candle-lit dinner, free access to the hotel sauna and business center, and a voucher to the nearby Fitness center (use of fitness, indoor pool, whirpool and steam bath).


The Four Seasons $100,000 Gift Card


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Golden TriangleHow's this for some mind-blowing indulgence? Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts offers a $100,000 gift card, and as Forbes Traveler points out, why not give the gift of around-the-world travel? With some stays at seriously luxurious digs, no less. You can hit up the Four Seasons Miami for the rowdy South Beach nightlife, taking advantage of the newly-appointed nightlife concierge, before hopping across the Atlantic to the Provence property with its sexy new spa, and then heading over to Asia for some luxury camping in the Golden Triangle of Thailand. Or, as the company recommends, why not start the trip with three nights in the Beverly Wilshire penthouse, followed by two nights at the Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche, then 11 nights in Thailand? (Two at the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, three in a one-bedroom residence at the Four Seasons Chiang Mai, three in a luxury tent at the Four Seasons Golden Triangle, and three in a two-bedroom estate at the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui.) The grand finale? Three nights in the chairman's suite of the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi.


View and Tour the Westin Europa & Regina in Venice


By: Courtney W. May

Westin Europe & Regina VeniceSituated on the final stretch of Venice's Grand Canal where it broadens to become the Bacino di San Marco, The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice occupies a position of absolute privilege, offering views which inspired the impressionist painter Claude Monet, and facing the beautiful Italian Baroque church of Santa Maria della Salute.

Click on the link below to pop open a new window, and tour through the guest rooms, restaurants, outdoor areas, and more - to get a better view and feel for the Westin Europa & Regina - then plan your visit.

Don't forget: Guests making reservations for the Westin Europa and Regina through Five Star Alliance will receive a reserved table at the Bar Tiepolo with local Venetian aperitif (one per person) and plate of Venetian "cicchetti" once during stay. Guests will also receive a one category room upgrade at check-in, based on availability.


Small Luxury Hotels Announces Photo Competition: Win Cool Trips and Prizes!


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hostellerie Les Frenes, ProvenceSmall Luxury Hotels of the World-- the exclusive brand of more than 440 independent properties in 70 countries-- recently launched its inaugural worldwide photography competition with some incredible prizes. The idea is for travelers to share their most inspired moments and experiences "caught on film" during their trips-- whether biking through the Tuscan hills or watching the sunset over a beach in the Indian Ocean. The possibilities are limitless! Running from March 17, 2008 through July 31, 2008, the contest will take place completely online via a dedicated competition website. You can register with the site and then upload up to 10 of your favorite photos that capture a sense of place and experience. All submitted photos will be viewable in an online gallery. Four overall winning photographs will be chosen by a panel of judges including celebrity photographer Andy Earl (who shot Madonna, Prince and Pink Floyd for their album covers). And get this: anybody who registers and submits at least one photo will be automatically entered into a prize draw for a five-night stay at any of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties.

The top prize winners will all receive a brand new Nikon D80 SLR 10.2 Camera with an 18-135mm zoom lens, plus, choose one of four incredible prize getaways including two round-trip tickets on American Airlines. The available prize packages are:

* A six-night Costa Rican Adventure spent at both Hotel Punta Islita and Gaia Hotel and Reserve

* A five-night English Town and Country Experience spent at both The Capital Hotel in London and Luton Hoo Country Estate

* A four-night Mexican Escape at Esencia on the Riviera Maya

* A three night Big Apple Experience in New York City at The Iroquois New York


Business Travel to London: “Time for Business” at The Metropolitan


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Metropolitan LondonFlying across the pond on business? The Metropolitan Hotel in London understands your red-eye pain. (Unless, of course, you're traveling with Eos Airlines, pampered in a private suite with lie-flat bed-- then we have less sympathy.) The chic, contemporary hotel, located on Park Lane, understands that "time is more valuable than money" and has designed the ultimate business package for road warriors seeking a sleek and efficient experience with more time to relax. A guaranteed early check-in at 10 a.m. means your room is ready with fresh seasonal fruit. So you can be up and running immediately, complimentary Wifi smooths the transition. At the end of the day, relax with a work-out in the COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, and when you're ready to put your feet up, The Metropolitan will deliver a Nobu Bento Box and bottle of Isake Sake Premium to your room. In the morning, you'll get a nutritional 'Brekkie-to-Go'. Now that's service. Available from GBP 279 per night, based on singled occupancy.


Villa Aminta’s New Palazzo Aminta Beauty and Spa


By: Madelyn Giblin

Villa AmintaThe Villa Aminta on Lake Maggiore in Italy is excited to announce the opening of their Palazzo Aminta Beauty and Spa, opening in May 2008. Under the direction of Professor Nicola Sorrentino, the Spa offers the ultimate in personal pampering. Enjoy a variety of treatments from massages to facials to a range of rejuvenating skin treatments that uses a range of natural ingredients designed to help you feel your very best. The facility also offers a full cardio fitness center and heated pool open year round.

Don't forget, Five Star Alliance guests staying at the Villa Aminta will receive a bottle of wine in the room upon arrival.


What’s Hot: Kempinski Opens Dukes’ Palace Hotel in Bruges, Belgium


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Kempinski Hotel Dukes PalaceThe fairytale city of Bruges, with its medieval buildings, cobbled alleys, and winding canals, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We're big fans of this charming "Venice of the North"-- not far from the European capital of Brussels. Coming in April 2008: the deluxe Kempinski Hotel Dukes' Palace. When the hotel opens its doors in a prime location in the historic city center, it will be the first 5-star hotel in Bruges. The building itself is astonishing: the former Prinsenhof from the 15th century, built on the occasion of the wedding between Philip the Good and Isabelle of Portugal. The restored palace offers 93 luxury rooms and suites with many original features and unique historic touches, all outfitted with the latest technology. Noteworthy: the Prinsenhof Suite features a terrace built into the tower for a romantic rooftop view, and the historic-listed Marie Bourgougne Suite houses a collection of 15th century paintings. The hotel also offers an indoor pool, boutique spa with hammam and sauna, fully-equipped fitness room, and gourmet restaurant.


An Interview with the General Manager: Marco Novella of Hotel Gritti Palace


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Prior to the Hotel Gritti Palace, Mr. Marco Novella was most recently at the St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome. Before that, he worked at the Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo and the Four Seasons Hotel Milano. He took some time to answer a few of our questions about Venice, the hotel, and what visitors should know.

Marco Novello Gritti PalaceFive Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?

Marco Novella: After a 4 year experience including being involved in the re-opening of the St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome.

Five Star Alliance: What best describes the personality of the Hotel Gritti Palace?

Marco Novella: A residential Palace with a true Venetian feeling to it.

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel?

Marco Novella: The history of its 16th century building and its fine art collection. The hotel’s superb location on the Grand Canal and its beautiful views from the hotel terrace.

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?

Marco Novella: During the opening week of the last three editions of Venice’s Biennale of Art exhibition, Christie's has invited its most important guests to our hotel ballroom for a preview of its most prestigious auction of the year. Hotel Gritti Palace's terrace is the most sought after place to be, to see and be seen both during this prestigious event and during the Venice Film Festival in September.

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?

Marco Novella: Our guests’ favorite rooms are those with the incomparable views of the Grand Canal and the S.M della Salute Church.

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?

Marco Novella: From the time it was built, the Gritti Palace has been the residence of Doge Andrea Gritti’s family, and of many noble Venetian families and prominent authorities.

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?

Marco Novella: That the hotel fully reflects the atmosphere of the city which I am visiting and that the size of the hotel would make me feel more like I am a guest in a private home (or Palace) rather than in a hotel.

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

Marco Novella: Our guests come from all over the world, in particulare from Europe, USA, Middle East, India and China.

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

Marco Novella: Hotel Gritti Palace faces onto the waters of the Grand Canal, with breathtaking views to S.M. della Salute Church. It is in a very peaceful corner of Venice, with some of the best shopping in the city just a few steps away. Walking in the area is interesting because of the many historical attractions, the numerous museums, and the beautiful views of the Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge. It is a very safe area.

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?

Marco Novella: I am very satisfied with the associates of Hotel Gritti Palace and its guests are among the best I have encountered in my professional life.

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?

Marco Novella: The St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome is special because of its history and of its present state. It was created by the legendary hotelier Cesar Ritz. Today, after its refurbishment completed in 2000, it offers an extremely high level of service and an excellent sense of hospitality.

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

Marco Novella: Hotel Gritti Palace is the most sought after hotel for art collectors during the Biennale. Its terrace is the best place in Venice for enjoying a tasteful Venetian meal or a cocktail. It is an excellent place for socializing and encountering interesting people.


Marie Antoinette Offer at the Hotel de Crillon, Paris


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel de CrillonNow showing at the glass-roofed Grand Palais in Paris: the Marie Antoinette exhibition. The public's obsession with the big-spender of a Queen continues to this day, and Sofia Coppola's film did a fine job dreaming up the Queen's world in all its excessive finery. Running through June 30, 2008, the exhibition showcases 300 works from all over Europe to illuminate the personality and destiny of Marie-Antoinette. While visiting the City of Light, book a stay at the city's exceptional address at the Place de la Concorde in the very heart of Paris. The world-famous Hotel de Crillon, the palace hotel that was designated a unique historical monument, is as good as it gets. Choose the Marie Antoinette offer and you'll enjoy breakfast served in the comfort of your own room or at the fine dining restaurant, 2 tickets for the exhibition, daily international newspaper, access to the fitness center, and free wireless internet. Starting from EUR 670 in a Superior Room. Available until June 16, 2008.

P.S. A meal at the Crillon's Michelin-starred Les Ambassadeurs is not to be missed.