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.

Cabriolet for Kids at the Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Plaza Athenee, ParisThe chic Parisian hotel on the avenue Montaigne is known for going the extra mile for guests. Even your kids get the star treatment at the Hotel Plaza Athénée, where coddled VIPs carry kid-sized umbrellas for strolls around Paris, and get comfy in slippers and bathrobes made specially for them. The luxurious hotel from the Dorchester Collection recently added a collectors-edition Cabriolet roadster (pictured) which will surely delight your little ones. What an indulgent gift for Christmas, polished in Plaza Red and emblazoned with the Plaza Athénée logo! It has classic chrome wheels and black leather seats. Inspired by BMW's 328 model created in 1936, the 6/10-scale replica is a BMC & De-la-Chapelle masterpiece with a 6.5HP gas engine, speedometer, headlights, horn, hydraulic brakes and maximum speed of 12 mph. Don't worry-- it's pedal powered.


Hot Bars in Rome: Stravinskij Bar at the Hotel de Russie


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel de Russie, RomeThe hotel, a member of the Rocco Forte Collection, is as exciting and stylish as the Italian capital itself. Smack dab in the middle of it all in the bustling city, situated between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo, the luxurious Hotel de Russie is celebrated for its picturesque terraced gardens, health club, and the exclusive Nijinsky Suite, arguably the most gorgeous Presidential digs in Rome, overlooking the hotel's butterfly garden from a sprawling private terrace. But there's another reason to love this five-star gem: The Stravinskij Bar. This fashionable establishment, known for martinis served with caviar, also offers lunch buffets and traditional afternoon tea. It was recently named by Virtuoso and VIRTUOSO LIFE as the Best of the Best (the 10 awards categories include "Best Bar"):

The Stravinskij Bar has earned a cult following for its unrivalled martinis, as well as having been made a full-fledged member of the James Bond Bar circuit for its elegance, impeccable class and cosmopolitan crowd.


Villa d’Este, Lake Como: Serious Wow Factor in Italy


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Villa d'Este, Lake Como"The precise location of heaven on earth has never been established but it may very well be right here." It's little wonder that the Villa d'Este, the lakeside villa celebrated for its high standard of service and adored by the world's celebrities, was recently featured in an article on "outrageous itineraries" and over-the-top vacations. These digs will impress any traveler looking for a serious wow factor. Dating from the 16th century, the princely residence is set in a picturesque 25-acre park overlooking the shimmering waters of Lake Como. (Pssst. George Clooney hangs out here.) Guests get a taste of the luxury and magnificence of a bygone era, and the gracious hospitality to match. Float in the unique pool floating on the lake, and soak in the built-in Jacuzzi. There is a Sporting Club for those feeling more ambitious.


Travel Trends: Voluntourism, and Give-Back Getaways with Ritz-Carlton Hotels


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand CaymanVolunteer tourism, a.k.a "voluntourism," is a growing trend in travel, and more and more travelers are jumping on the bandwagon and planning to volunteer during their vacations. Forbes Traveler sums it up nicely:

There comes a point — generally when you're on your third margarita, sunburned over 60 percent of your body and the kids are screaming in the infinity pool — when you start to wonder if there is more to the whole vacation concept than lying on a beach getting toasted. A way of showing thanks for your own good fortunes, perhaps. You want a chance to contribute more to a local economy than buying overpriced trinkets that neither you nor your friends back home really need.

Ritz-Carlton has taken notice. They've created the Give Back Getaways program- to offer guests a chance to give back to the community with half-day local community experiences, working alongside Ritz-Carlton Ladies and Gentlemen in a Community Footprints humanitarian or environmental project. All profits from the Give Back Getaways programs are donated to the partner organizations. An example is the Blue Iguana Recovery Program at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, led by naturalist Jean-Michel Cousteau, where guests assist with the breeding program to help a unique species on the brink of extinction.


More Value for Your Dollar in Paris at Sofitel Hotels


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sofitel Trocadero Dokhan'sSavor the last days of summer in the City of Light when the city is empty of Parisians (still on vacay at French beaches and mountain resorts). Americans and Canadians can take advantage of a special offer at Sofitel Hotels. "More Value for Your Dollar" means a 15 percent discount for a three-night minimum stay. Check into the Sofitel Trocadero Dokhan's, reminiscent of a sumptuous private residence situated between Trocadéro and the Champs Elysées, and you'll love the original artwork and neo-classical interiors in this haute couture hotel. You'll also appreciate sipping a glass of bubbly at the French capital's only Champagne bar, housed in the hotel. The offer is also available at the Sofitel Faubourg, boasting an exceptional location near Faubourg Saint-Honore, la Place de la Concorde, and the Louvre.

*The offer is available until the end of August. You must present your passport upon check-in.


Weekend in London: Sale at Brown’s Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Brown's Hotel, LondonGrab a room* at London's legendary Brown's Hotel, a member of the Rocco Forte Collection of luxury hotels, for just GBP 199 plus VAT, until September 7, 2008. Set in the heart of Mayfair on Albemarle Street, historic Brown's Hotel exudes sophistication and classic English style. The hotel itself is comprised of 11 Georgian townhouses just a short walk from exclusive Bond Street shopping and West End theaters. Though an intimate hotel (only 117 guest rooms), Brown's has three spa treatment rooms, a dedicated kids' program, a fully-equipped gym, fine dining at The Grill, and celebrated Afternoon Tea at the English Tea Room, a London institution.

*Classic King Room


Culture Tour of Switzerland with the Victoria-Jungfrau Hotel Collection


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Palace Hotel LuzernExplore Switzerland's most exciting and attractive destinations with the exclusive Victoria-Jungfrau Hotel Collection. Defined by a luxurious ambiance and century-old tradition of hospitality, these five-star hotels are located in four top spots in a small, but delightfully diverse, country. Indeed, you can create your own itinerary and discover the dramatic Alpine scenery and crystal-clear lakes in Zurich, Lucerne, Berne and Interlaken. The Victoria-Jungfrau Collection has created a special package for guests to discover the scenic cities and cultural treasures of the country. With the "Culture Tour," you can enjoy any combination of 5 overnights at the Eden Au Lac in Zurich (with sweeping views of Lake Zurich); the Palace Luzern (a landmark of old world elegance nestled on the shores of Lake Lucerne); and the Bellevue Palace, the pearl of luxury hotels in Berne (situated directly next to the Swiss Parliament Building). Plus, you get daily buffet breakfast, free use of the Palace Spa facilities, the ZurichCard when staying in Zurich (72 hours worth of free public transport, free and reduced-price admissions), a private escorted city walk through Berne, and a private city walk through Lucerne which includes the Rosengart Collection. Valid until December 21, 2008, the "Culture Tour" is priced at CHF 1790 per person (double occupancy) for 5 nights.


The Best of Interlaken, Switzerland: Spa Cruise and More with the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Lake BrienzA stay at Interlaken's finest hotel, the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa, is itself an unforgettable experience. The panoramic views, over the lakes of Thun and Brienz to the Alps, are breathtaking. With an outstanding spa and wellness center and impeccable service, the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel embodies Old World European grandeur and is beloved by connoisseurs who appreciate the finer things in life. The best hotel in Switzerland's beautiful resort town of Interlaken, the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand is also a fixture on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List, which describes this first-class resort as follows:

Hardwood floors and bright colors create a loftlike feel in rooms, while stained glass windows in the reception area and satin-upholstered chairs pay homage to La Belle Epoque. "The old and new opulence are in great balance." The nineteenth-century lakefront property surveys a park and snowcapped mountains. Dining on Swiss food in the Jungfrau Brasserie is "like eating in an old-fashioned grand ballroom."

The Spa Cruise with Victoria-Jungfrau Grand HotelOver two weekends in September, the Victoria-Jungfrau partners with the Bernese Oberland Shipping Company to offer guests a luxurious spa cruise on the magnificent Lake Brienz (pictured). The MS Jungfrau is transformed into a "floating oasis of pleasure" so that guests can relax and take a deep breath in these majestic surroundings. Awaiting onboard: a variety of wellness and fitness activities, such as massages, masks, foot rituals, taiji, qigong and speeding bikes. Available Saturday and Sunday, September 20th and 21st, and September 27th and 28th.

Photo of Lake Brienz Via Switzerland Traveler


Frank Gehry’s Hotel Marques de Riscal: Relaxing in Spain’s Rioja Wine Region


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Marques de RiscalThe hottest hotel opening of 2006, Hotel Marqués de Riscal is a masterpiece by Frank O. Gehry, nestled in the vineyards of Spain's Rioja wine region. We stopped by for a visit before its official opening, and noted how the architectural elements were similar to Gehry's landmark in nearby Bilbao: the Guggenheim Museum. This was Gehry's first hotel design, and it's pretty cool. A member of Starwood's Luxury Collection, the 43-room hotel offers a discreet locale for savoring the region's flavors. The setting is the best part of all, offering panoramic views over the lush vineyards from eight separate terraces. The on-site Caudalíe Vinothérapie Spa, specializing in "wine therapy" treatments, offers an indoor pool, steam room, fitness center, Jacuzzi, and 14 treatment rooms. Meetings can be arranged in an ancient wine cellar converted into a modern banqueting space. Book the "Summer Experience" package and you'll get daily breakfast included with your room rates, along with double Starpoints for SPG members. Rates from EUR 395 per night.


Will You Marry Me? Hayfield Manor Will Help Her Say ‘Yes’


By: Betsy LeTourneau

Hayfield ManorWhen you propose to the one you love, you want an ultra romantic setting and Hayfield Manor in Cork, Ireland promises just that. Set in 20 acres of nature gardens and on the cusp of city centre, the Manor offers individually styled guest rooms filled with antique furnishings, exquisite fabrics and modern amenities you would expect in Cork's premier 5 star hotel. To help set the stage, Hayfield Manor now offers the "Will You Marry Me?" Package that includes you nights accommodations in a luxurious suite, candlelit gourmet dinner for 2 in the privacy of your suite, your own butler on hand to ensure your every wish becomes a reality, a bottle of chilled champagne to celebrate the moment, and a luxury breakfast for 2 in your suite. Hayfield Manor has even partnered with Keanes Jewellers, Ireland's most renowned jewellers located in the heart of Cork, to offer you a private engagement consultation. Keanes Jewellers is in return offering guests who purchase an engagement ring from them, a free Engagement Portrait Photograph Session with Pineapple Studios. This romantic and truly memorable experience at Hayfield Manor is guaranteed to ensure you get the positive answer you are hoping for!