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.

Sicily’s Finest: Grand Hotel Mazzaro Sea Palace


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand Hotel Mazzaro Sea Palace, SicilyYou'd be hard-pressed to find a more evocative spot on the Mediterranean. On a private beach on the most beautiful bay in all of Sicily, the Grand Hotel Mazzarò Sea Palace is elegant, charming... downright dreamy. Here's what we love:

*Each guest room provides sigh-inducing views of the bay. If you choose a suite, you'll get treated to your very own private pool.

*You can also get your fix of those dazzling bay views when you dine at La Terraza.

*Unlike a lot of European hotels, the fitness center at the Grand Hotel Mazzarò Sea Palace is actually a state-of-the-art facility.

*Frequent renovations over the years means the luxurious guest rooms-- outfitted with original art, wicker furniture, and wood or tile floors-- have all the latest amenities like Wifi.

*You can easily check out the lava at Mt. Etna, Europe's highest volcano. In fact, you can even play a game of golf at the 18-hole Il Picciolo course nearby on the slopes of Mt. Etna.

*Or just hang out at the resort, a self-contained oasis with surfing, sailing, water skiing and scuba diving.


The No. 1 Bar in London: The Coburg Bar at The Connaught


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The ConnaughtSo we're a little obsessed with the GBP 60 million renovation of The Connaught, the world-famous London hotel situated in Mayfair. We're not the only ones. Check out what the Travel and Leisure "It List 2008" says about The Connaught's redo:

In the newly hip Mayfair district, this landmark brick Victorian has reclaimed the glory of its golden era thanks to a $140 million renovation, creating a sophisticated throwback that no soulless Modernist hotel could ever hope to emulate. Classicist designer Guy Oliver supervised the preservation of burnished mahogany paneling, gilded scrollwork, and formal Adams fireplaces; fortunately, a welcome infusion of 21st-century fun saves the 123-room Connaught from being too somber. Witness the cartoonish Julian Opie cameos in the aubergine-and-slate Coburg Bar (created by India Mahdavi), film-noir nights with buttered popcorn, and chinoiserie cocktail cabinets filled with DIY martini fixings.

Coburg Bar at The ConnaughtYes, the Coburg Bar is turning heads. It was just voted "Best Bar in London" in Time Out Magazine (May 2008). Parisian-based designer, India Mahdavi, created a masterpiece with this one. Bar aficionados appreciate the trendy décor and distinctive Connaught cocktails- sipped from the old Connaught wingback chairs (re-upholstered in velvet with black fringing) and the caramel Heppelwhite 'loveseats.'


Chic and Choc Picnic, Ice Cream Trolley, and Summer Cocktails at Hotel De Crillon, Paris


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel De CrillonThe patio has re-opened at the Hotel De Crillon, the majestic palace hotel located on the world-famous Place de la Concorde in the very heart of Paris. And the picnic baskets are once again in season. The new 2008 picnic comes in two "flavors." Choose "Chic" and you'll be delighted by dishes like a Duck confit foie gras sandwich, Bellevue salmon with sauce verte, strawberry and rhubarb charlotte-- all the flavor sensations created with Chef Jean-François Piège's composed chic. On the other hand, "Choc" will awaken flavors from your childhood: Sardine/Vache Qui Rit, the famous Egg Mimosa and Petit Lu biscuits with Nutella and rasberries. Kids will have a mini-picnic of their own, consisting of ham/Russian salad, cold chicken with mayonnaise, potato chips and an ice cream cornet. Plus, they'll get a surprise gift from the Crillon. On the Patio, you can also enjoy the summer creations of the hotel's head barman including milkshakes and tasty, fruity cocktails. During the summer months, there is also an ice cream trolley at the Hotel De Crillon, ready to satisfy your sweet cravings!


The Best of England’s Town and Country: Egerton House, London and Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Dorset


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Summer Lodge Country House HotelEnjoy the best of both worlds with a stay in cosmopolitan London where you can shop at Harrods or Savile Row, catch a show in the West End, and visit the British Museum, followed by a relaxing jaunt to the magical English countryside. Red Carnation Hotels has devised the ultimate five-night package for you to enjoy the finest English hospitality in two vibrant locations. The "Town and Country" package starts with three nights at the five-star Egerton House Hotel, the lovely 30-room property situated in the heart of Knightsbridge, where guests enjoy a full English breakfast each morning, an Egerton afternoon tea for two and a famous Antonio Martini on arrival. On the fourth day, guests are transferred by private Bentley to London's Waterloo station for first-class rail travel to Dorset in Thomas Hardy country, where the charming villages showcase thatched cottages and beautiful gardens. Guests will relish two nights in a Presidential Suite at the award-winning Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, including an English breakfast each day, a traditional English pub lunch in the historic Acorn Inn in Evershot, and a sumptuous "picnic to go" on the return journey home. Here you'll find all the best English country pursuits-- from croquet to horseback riding. Priced at GBP 1560 for two people; valid until September 30, 2008.


Guaranteed Rates for American Guests at Ashford Castle, Ireland


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ashford CastleNow's your chance to summer in your very own castle in the picturesque Irish countryside. Once the home of the Guinness family, the 13th century Ashford Castle is situated on 350 acres on the shores of Lough Corrib, Ireland's second largest lake. Enjoy the resort's very own 9-hole golf course, fly a hawk in the school of falconry, take a picnic in the walled garden, or go fishing for wild salmon or trout in the beautiful lake. This distinguished property is a favorite of celebrities the world over. To entice American guests who may avoid long-distance travel because of the falling dollar, Ashford Castle is offering guaranteed rates for American guests for stays of two nights or more. Available through September 30, 2008, these rates start at $595 per night- almost 50 percent savings off the normal nightly rates.


Grand Brand New Interiors at the Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg


By: Betsy LeTourneau

Grand Hotel EuropeThe highly regarded Grand Hotel Europe St. Petersburg Hotel, an Orient Express Property, is pleased to announce the completion of its 3rd stage of refurbishment, that of the Mezzanine Cafe interior and the 12 unique, luxury one bedroom suites, the Belle Chambres Suites. With careful attention to detail, the new style and design showcases St. Petersburg's first atrium with a glass roof that floats over the cafe and allows natural light to illuminate the new decorative elements that bring the beauty and majestic facades of St. Petersburg's buildings inside. Not to be outshown, the newly refurbished (at $300,000 each) Belle Chambres presents Designer Monsieur Jouannet work's as a masterpiece of the synthesis of St. Petersburg classical elegance from the time of Tsar Alexander I, and the needs of modern living. These large suites are able to attain a relaxing atmosphere in luxurious surroundings with all the modern amenities carefully integrated in the original grand style without compromise.


The World’s Tallest Skyscrapers: Move Over, Sears Tower and Empire State Building


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Burj DubaiWe've been following the steady growth of the Burj Dubai as its spire gets higher and higher- its final height planned to be 1,000 feet higher than Taipei 101, the world's current record holder. But tall building construction is not limited to the Burj Dubai, the $1 billion anchor of a $20 billion development in downtown Dubai. There's the Mubarak al-Kabir tower in Kuwait, the Russia Tower in Moscow, and the Incheon Tower in South Korea. As the New York Times recently pointed out, supertalls are "rising at a frenetic pace around the globe," especially in Asia and the Middle East, reflecting the "expanding economies of these regions and their desire to compete for international status and business." The list of the 20 tallest buildings in 2020 will include only 2 properties from the U.S.: the Chicago Spire and the One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) in New York.


Town House Galleria: Private Butlers and Montblanc Suitcases in Milan


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Town House GalleriaWe've been keeping our eyes on this gem since its buzzed-about debut at the end of 2006. Touted as Europe's first "seven star" experience, the Town House Galleria has definitely earned its reputation as a discreet, ultra-luxurious hideaway. Housed in a palazzo above the flagship Prada store in the historic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (the world's coolest shopping mall, pictured at right), the Town House Galleria is distinguished by hand-painted vaulted ceilings, oak floors, and stunning designer decor. The setting in the heart of Milan is magical, and the 25-suite hotel offers the highest level of service. Think dedicated butlers who can plan luxury shopping trips, make dinner reservations, prepare your wine cellar, and arrange private cocktail parties. The dedicated concierge team can even get you VIP access to view Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper (forget the six-week waiting list). To quote W magazine:

Each room has a Montblanc suitcase waiting in the closet for shoppers who can’t squeeze all their purchases into their existing luggage. The accommodations also come with a selection of rare wines in the minibars, laptops in lizard cases, cell phones with GPS, and a choice of linen, cotton or silk sheets. A Bentley ferries guests around town.


Hot Eats in Paris: Le Meurice Restaurant


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel MeuriceThe world capital of haute cuisine is home to quite a few stunning restaurants. And one of the finest is located in Hotel Meurice, the sumptuous palace hotel boasting an unbeatable location opposite the Tuileries Gardens between Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. Celebrated chef Yannick Alléno takes his inspiration from the seasonal gourmet treasures locally grown in the Parisian region. Not surprisingly, Le Meurice gastronomic restaurant holds three Michelin stars. And recently, Le Meurice was singled out by the Sunday Telegraph as one of The World's 100 Best Restaurants and one of The 20 Best French Restaurants. The restaurant also ranks 33rd in The S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants. And Philippe Mille, Assistant Chef of Yannick Alléno, recently triumphed in the 6th Concours National de Cuisine Artistique and will go on to represent France at the two prestigious Bocuse d'Or contests.

PS. We're also big fans of the hotel's Le Dali restaurant, a fantastic vision by Philippe Starck.


Villa La Vedetta: Fabulous Views and Michelin-Starred Dining in Florence, Italy


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Villa La VedettaHigh in the hills above Florence, just next to Piazzale Michelangelo in a vast garden filled with cypress and olive trees, the Villa La Vedetta offers breathtaking panoramas of the city. The Neo-classical style villa has been transformed into a refined five-star hotel with 18 rooms appointed with fine antiques, walnut floors, marble bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, and all the latest technology. Choose the two-level Bellavista suite and you'll be spoiled with the most exquisite views of Florence from the enormous windows. A member of Relais and Chateaux, the Villa La Vedetta is celebrated for its gourmet restaurant Onice, which received a Michelin star in 2004 just after its debut in November 2003. The menu changes seasonally, based on the freshest local ingredients available to the Executive Chef Massimiliano Blasone. With an impressive resume in hotel kitchens spanning the continents, Blasone is famous for his chocolate. Here's a menu sampling to tickle the taste buds: Duo of Lobster with paprika jus and crispy bread salad to start, a flan of of "Caciocavallo Podolico" cheese to follow, and then a main dish like Home Made Agnolotto filled with zucchini flowers, dried broad beans, sole with fine herbs and celeriac sauce, carrots and espellette pepper vinaigrette, followed by a second course of fish like Steamed John Dory marinated with almond's pesto, radishes, served with a tartare of sea scallops.

Nice perk: the hotel offers a shuttle service to the city center.