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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 Fabulous Evolution of the Hotel Mini-Bar


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gramercy Park Hotel Mini-barIt all started back in 1963 with The Madison in Washington D.C., when the capital's landmark hotel decided to introduce a novelty: the in-room mini-bar! Fabulously convenient, stocked full of helpful items, the mini-bar is now universally appreciated (late-night snack binging!) and abhorred (scandalous overpricing!). Since its debut, the mini-bar has come a long way. In an era of truly over-the-top hotel amenities (baby butler service, pet pampering, unpacking and bath service), the mini-bar has been completely made over and sexed up.

Gramercy Park Hotel Mini-bar

Hotel Victor in Miami offers all kinds of decadent treats. A hotel this cool-- furnished by celebrity designer Jacques Garcia with retro furniture and an illuminated moon jellyfish tank in the lobby-- has gone one step further by introducing full-size in-room bars, stocked with a large range of liquor and "South Beach life-style essentials" like chilled eye masks.

The Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta caters to female guests with practical items like stockings and nail-polish remover. Gentlemen, don't despair when you forget socks at home! The mini-bar is stocked with fresh pairs of black socks to match your dark suits.

Omni Hotels created Sensation Bars in cities like New York, Chicago, Houston and San Francisco with all sorts of items to create soothing mini-spa treatments in-room. Think sleep inducing CDs, lavender pillow sprays, eucalyptus bath salts and mini Zen gardens.

Hotel Mela Mini-bar

But the biggest trend of late is sex kits in the mini-bar. NY's 60 Thompson and Miami's Sagamore may have "Shag Bags," and the Montalembert in Paris has a "petite love box," but the Hotel Gansevoort has ticklers!

On a recent trip to New York, we snapped these shots of the goodies on-hand at the Hotel Mela and Gramercy Park Hotel. The mini-bar at Hotel Mela isn't refrigerated; instead you'll find a basket spilling delicious snacks, drinks, and an "Intimacy Kit." What's inside? Lifestyles, lubricant, and individually wrapped life savers. (We just couldn't resist buying one. As a *cough* souvenir...)

The mini-bar at Gramercy Park is nothing short of awesome (check out the pix). T-shirts, sweet treats... They've also got an Intimacy Kit, of course, but it's as classy as they come. And if things get too rowdy, there's a first-aid kit, to boot.

Curious? Be careful when you take that item from the mini-bar! Most of today's "smart" minibars have infra-red sensors (or wireless technology, found at the sophisticated Willard Intercontinental in Washington D.C.) that automatically records your purchase on your bill when you reach for, say, a bag of M&M's or something equally as tempting...

Photos Via Courtney May (top to bottom: mini-bar of Gramercy Park, Gramercy Park, Hotel Mela)


Winter Specials: Stay like a Sultan at the Ciragan Palace, Istanbul


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ciragan PalaceNow's your chance to stay in a genuine Ottoman Palace, Turkey's only imperial palace hotel, for a mere EUR 215 a night. Get luxury for less this winter 2008 with special weekend rates available at Istanbul's most glamorous hotel. Overlooking the Bosphorous Sea, the 282-room Ciragan Palace-- the former home of a line of Ottoman sultans-- was restored by the Kempinski Group for over $100 million in the 1990s. You'll find a lobby decked out in 19th century marble and mother-of-pearl. The stone latticework and marble colonnade of the façade were recreated by hand from materials salvaged onsite. Besides the glorious views, you'll enjoy a marvelous infinity pool (heated during the winter time), authentic Turkish Hammam, fine cuisine, and personal butler. Special winter weekend rates are priced at EUR 215 in a Park View room, and EUR 287 for a Bosphorous View Room. Valid Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday until March 31, 2008.


Celebrate Valentines in Style: Maybourne Hotels, London


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Maybourne HotelsSteal away to London and spoil yourself with a stay at one of the capital's chicest hotels: The Berkeley, the deluxe Knightsbridge retreat that's home to Madonna's favorite Blue Bar and rooftop spa with glorious views over Hyde Park; Claridge's, known as London's art deco jewel, situated in the heart of Mayfair; The Connaught, the stylish hideaway that quietly re-opened in December after a multi-million pound restoration which brought together some of the world's finest designers and artisans. At these three Maybourne Hotels, you'll be spoiled by staff who accommodate every whim. During the month of February 2008, choose the Truly Madly Deeply package and you'll get one nights luxurious accommodation including English breakfast, a bottle of champagne, a fresh basket of fruit, roses in your room and bathrobes for the special couple. Starting from just GBP 395 per night.


Starwood’s Luxury Collection - Dreaming of Danieli


By: Courtney W. May

With 70 properties worldwide, Starwood's Luxury Collection is a group of unique hotels and resorts offering exceptional service to an ultra elite clientèle. Located in over 25 countries (even Ethiopia), the collection offers resorts, city-center high-rises, centuries old buildings, modern boutique properties, over water bungalows, and more. A current favorite of mine is the Hotel Danieli in Venice. Lagoon View at Hotel DanieliMade up of 3 interconnecting palaces - Dandolo Palace, Casa Nuova, and Danielino - the Danieli is steps away from Piazza San Marco, Doge's Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs. A great choice for special occasions and first visits to Venice are the Lagoon view rooms (pictured), some of which have a balcony - all are beautifully decorated in Empire or Venetian style and offer romantic views of the Venice lagoon.

NOTE: Guests making reservations at Hotel Danieli through Five Star Alliance will receive a traditional English high tea once during stay and, based on availability, a one category room upgrade at check-in. Pretty snazzy.


Fly in Luxury to London: Dynamite Deal on Silverjet


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

SilverjetIn honor of its first anniversary on January 25, 2008, Silverjet-- the exclusive, premium class airline with only 100 lie-flat seats on each aircraft-- is offering "very sivilised sale fares" of $1,500 RT between London (Luton) and Newark. Considering that these fares are valid for flights until October 31, 2008, including the summer months when flights to Europe are astronomical in price, this deal is a real steal. Simply enter the promotional code DAILYCANDY08 when booking at flysilverjet.com before January 30, 2008. You'll get to experience the convenience and luxury of a private jet at a fraction of the price (this special offer is over 35 percent off the standard roundtrip fares!) Plus, Silverjet is a carbon-neutral airline.


Roman Holiday: Special Offers at Hotel Hassler


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel HasslerVoted No. 1 hotel in Rome on Travel+Leisure's list of the 500 best luxury hotels in the world, the Hotel Hassler has been wowing visitors for over a century. Perched atop the Spanish Steps, the Hotel Hassler promises an unforgettable stay in an enviable location. Take advantage of some unbeatable special offers available in the Eternal City. When you book the Magic Roma package, you can score rates as low as EUR 410 per night in a Classic Room. Stay over Valentine's Day and you'll luck out with an extraordinary dinner. The menu's got tantalizing tasters like pan-friend scallops with seasoned Cinta Senese bacon and white asparagus, black cabbage ravioli and ginger burrata cheese with hazelnut foie gras, and saffron pasta veils with crab. (EUR 155 per person)


London Fashion Week Specials from Red Carnation Hotels


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Egerton HouseThe 2008 London Fashion Week is upon us. Just like Milan, NYC, and Paris, London is now a universally accepted showcase for the world's most exciting fashions. Why not "Spring into Fashion" with Red Carnation's luxury hotels? With this special offer, you can enjoy all the excitement of the catwalk (the cream of British designers including Matthew Williamson, Stella McCartney, Ben De Lisi, Armand Bassi, Julien MacDonald and Louise Goldin) while indulging in an unrivaled five-star hotel experience. With full English breakfast, refreshing welcome drinks, and two admission tickets to London Fashion Weekend (February 20- 24, 2008), to boot! The "Spring into Fashion" package is available at all three RCH five-star London properties: Kensington's Milestone Hotel; '41' opposite Buckingham Palace; and The Egerton House Hotel in Knightsbridge. Priced at GBP 365 per room, per night. Valid from February 8- 18, 2008.


Globespotters: The Blog from The International Herald Tribune


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bangkok AirportWe're big fans of the blog from the International Herald Tribune. Where to eat the best seafood in Hong Kong? How do the airports measure up in Zurich and Bangkok? For insider tips and recommendations from the folks who know-- IHT reporters and editors-- check out this invaluable resource. Cities covered include Bangkok, Paris, Hong Kong, Rome, Washington....

Photo of the New Bangkok Airport Via Globespotters


Jumeirah Carlton Tower, London Unveils Six Exclusive Luxury Suites


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Jumeirah Carlton Tower Luxury SuiteLondon's celebrated hotel, the Jumeirah Carlton Tower, has just announced the addition of six brand new luxury suites created by world-renowned interior designer Khuan Chew (the genius behind the stunning interiors at Dubai's seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel). Located smack dab in the middle of Knightsbridge, the Jumeriah Carlton Tower raises the bar for luxury in London: these new suites are simply oozing glamour and sophistication. Private lobbies sweep through to spacious lounges appointed with rich upholstered couches and dark wood furniture. Bedrooms are detailed with chrome studding set into the leather walls, modern light fixtures, and sumptuous bedding. The bathrooms, appropriately, are the largest in the hotel-- with deep infinity baths and rich red marble for the double sinks. The Six Luxury Suites can be booked as either a one- or two-bedroom suite starting from $3,610 for a one-bedroom suite and from $4,880 for a two-bedroom suite.

P.S. The hotel has also recently unveiled 92 refurbished rooms! You'll love the new pop-up TV at the foot of the bed, and mirror-vision concealed TVs in the bathrooms.


Four Seasons Hotel Firenze: Italy’s Hot New Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Hotel FirenzeNow accepting reservations for July 1, 2008 arrivals, the new Four Seasons Hotel Firenze will knock your socks off. One of the hottest hotel openings of the year, the 117-room hotel is housed in two historical masterpieces: the Palazzo Della Gherardesca (a 15th century palace) and the Conventino (a former convent dating from the 17th century). It's only fitting to discover the birthplace of early Renaissance art and architecture while staying in this art-filled city sanctuary with abundant original frescoes and sculptured reliefs. Just a stroll away from Michelangelo's David, the Duomo, and the wonders of the Uffizi, the Four Seasons offers an open-air pool, sumptuous spa, and a tranquil private park-- one of the largest private gardens in Florence. Rooms blend Renaissance artistic details with high-tech comfort. For the ultimate in luxury, book the Della Gherardesca Suite (Royal Suite), touted as the "most desired accommodation in the city." Located in the nobles' quarters of the Palazzo, the suite boasts beautiful frescoes, painted vaulted ceilings, and an original Capodimonte Maioliche-style ceramic floor by Ignazio Chiaiese in the gallery. Like the other guest rooms, 21st century amenities are standard: iPod docking stations, flat-screen TVs, and spacious bathrooms.