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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.

Room with a View on the Grand Canal: Hotel Gritti Palace, Venice, Italy


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Gritti PalaceAhhh, Venice, the "open-air museum" of architectural treasures, grand palazzos with frescoes and romantic canals. From La Galleria dell'Accademia to the Peggy Guggenheim collection, the city is simply brimming with artistic masterpieces. And fine restaurants and shopping means Venice could be the perfect European destination. The hotel of choice is the exquisite Hotel Gritti Palace situated directly on the Grand Canal with incomparable views. Built in 1525 as the residence of Andrea Gritti, the Doge of Venice, the award-winning hotel is part of Starwood's Luxury Collection. And with gold-trimmed ceilings, marble tiles, and the finest Venetian antiques, it's really no wonder the Hotel Gritti Palace is considered one of the world's best hotels. Dine at the Club del Doge restaurant and fall in love with the views while getting spoiled like royalty. Choose the Room with a View Special and get great rates for a mid-week stay, including a bountiful buffet breakfast. Valid from Sundays- Thursdays until March 31, 2008, the offer is priced at EUR 459 per night. And if you reserve three consecutive nights at Hotel Gritti Palace (during the months of March, April, July and August 2008), you'll receive the best available rate plus your fourth night for free!


Porto Zante’s De Luxe Villas on Zakinthos Island


By: Madelyn Giblin

Porto Zante GreecePorto Zante is a luxurious Villa-Hotel located on a private beach west of the Greek mainland. Private villas offer gorgeous poolside views overlooking spectacular sandy beaches and the open ocean. Located only 8 kilometers from the international airport, Porto Zante is both a remote get-away and accessible vacation scene.

Porto Zante De Luxe offers four different options for villas, accommodating anywhere from two to twelve people. Villas include bathrooms complete with Jacuzzi bathtubs and hydro jet showers. Each villa comes with living rooms and is fully air conditioned with a private parking area. Many of the villas also come with fireplaces and verandas. Enjoy a spectacular view of the surrounding area, providing a relaxing environment to kick back and enjoy the many delights this culturally rich area has to offer.

Rates start at 500 Euros ...


Take the Family to Brussels: VI’Kids at the Hotel Amigo


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Amigo, BrusselsShare a magical time with your family in the heart of the European capital. One step away from Grand Place, one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, and close to the city's key historic sites and attractions, the stylish Hotel Amigo is a newly-refurbished gem in the Rocco Forte Collection. Renowned for its five-star accommodations and impeccable personal service, the hotel is the ideal base for you and your family to discover Brussels. The Hotel Amigo has put together a VI'Kids program (how clever!) with all sorts of special amenities. After a generous buffet breakfast at the Ristorante Bocconi (or in your room), spend the day with your kids at the Natural Science Museum, checking out the impressive collection of dinosaurs. The VI'Kids program includes 2 Classic Rooms connecting or adjoining (for 2 adults and 2 children) with 50 percent reduction on your kids' room, full buffet breakfast, tickets to the Museum of Natural Science, a welcome basket filled with goodies and children's amenities, a "Bvlgari" present for kids, daily newspaper and access to the fitness center. Total price for 2 Classic Rooms is EUR 405. Available every weekend until April 30, 2008.

PS. The Hotel Amigo offers a Family Lunch with a special 3-course Children's menu, along with Babysitting service.


The Perfect Valentine’s Day at Villa Olmi, Florence


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Villa OlmiWhat could be more romantic than Florence for Valentine's Day? Savor the dolce vita at an enchanting Renaissance villa nestled on six hectares of beautifully-landscaped gardens. Just outside the gates of Florence, the Villa Olmi entices guests with its original murals, refined antiques, and contemporary amenities galore. (Marble bathrooms with jacuzzis, plasma TV screens, Wifi, the works...) The Italians certainly do things right for Valentine's Day. Escape to Florence and enjoy splendid accommodations with an essential oils Jacuzzi bath, fresh fruit and Italian "Spumante" in-room upon arrival, and a complimentary buffet breakfast. On February 14, there will be a sumptuous, candle-lit feast with live music (EUR 65 per person). Rates for the "Luxury Valentine Escape" start from EUR 295 for the Classic Room. Plus, if you stay for three-nights, you'll enjoy a wine-tasting session in the villa's impressive wine cellar. Available from February 11- February 17, 2008.


Luxury for Less at Hotel Majestic, Barcelona


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Majestic, BarcelonaThere's nothing like Europe in the off-season, when great deals at luxury hotels abound. But the best thing about this 3 X 2 Special Offer at Barcelona's landmark Hotel Majestic-- it's actually available for select dates throughout the year. Go ahead and splurge at this sumptuous hideaway that's played host to a number of presidents and globe-trotting celebs. When you pay for two nights, you can enjoy the third for free! Available February 1- 7; March 14- 20; July 13- 31, August 1- 29; December 1- 28, 2008. The Hotel Majestic has a killer location on Paseo de Gracia, within walking distance to Las Ramblas, the Plaza de Cataluña, Gaudi monuments, and the Gothic Quarter. Behind the neoclassical façade, you'll find 303 luxurious guest rooms and suites, the Michelin-starred restaurant, and magnificent rooftop swimming pool and bar.


Starwood’s Luxury Collection - Pulitzer is a Prize


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

With 70 properties worldwide, Starwood's Luxury Collection is a group of unique hotels and resorts offering exceptional service to an ultra-elite clientèle. Hotel PulitzerOne of those classic luxury properties is the Hotel Pulitzer. Overlooking two of the city's most picturesque canals, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht, Hotel Pulitzer is ideally located in the middle of the old city center of Amsterdam. This unique property is comprised of 25 restored 17th and 18th century canal houses. Each of the 230 distinctive guest rooms represents a small piece of Dutch history and culture. And although the hotel does have the historical feel and look, it also offers all the upgraded facilities and services of today - like wifi Internet, air conditioning, and full fitness facilities.

PS - I know the above title is cheesy - I had to do it - give me a break.


Smokin Hot Deal: La Perouse Hotel, Nice, French Riviera


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

La PerouseNow's the time to jet to the Cote d'Azur for the biggest event of the season: The Carnival of Nice. Think crazy, colorful costumes, parades and pageantry, floats and fireworks on the Promenade des Anglais. The two-week extravaganza runs from February 16 – March 2, 2008. The place to stay is the elegant La Perouse Hotel, where rates can be found as low as EUR 130 per night in mid-February during the Carnival. Tucked into the hillside below the chateau and just a stroll from Old Nice, this charming hotel overlooks the Mediterranean. (These views of the Baie des Anges are what inspired artists like Matisse.) Note: If you book with Five Star Alliance, you get complimentary in-room continental breakfast.


Singles in the City with Hotel FortySeven, Rome


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel FortysevenRoses and bubbly? Chocolates, pink hearts, hovering cupids? Who needs 'em! Valentine's Day looms but you can dodge that bullet with a perfectly-timed European escape to the Eternal City. The Hotel FortySeven in Rome has tailored a Made for Singles package perfect for you and your pals. Situated in Rome's historical center just across from the Temple of Vesta inside the Roman Forum, the Hotel FortySeven is a sleek boutique hotel where each of the five floors is dedicated to a 20th century Italian master: Mastroianni, Greco, Modigliani, Quagliata and Guccione. From each and every guest room, the city views are priceless. There's a beautifully landscaped Roof Garden, a downstairs Lounge for conversation and cocktails, and a gym with a Turkish bath. The offer includes two nights in a Deluxe Room or Suite, daily buffet breakfast, welcome drinks upon arrival, and your choice of a personal shopper for 2 hours or a personal trainer for 1 hour. Available from February 1- March 31, 2008, and July 15- August 31, 2008 (black-out dates: March 13-16, and March 22-24). Priced from EUR 650.


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.