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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 Merrion, Dublin: Traveling with Kids in Ireland (and Spoiling Them Rotten)

October 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Merrion Hotel

Chocolate chip cookies with milk, Frette robes, "mocktails"… Dublin's luxurious five-star Merrion Hotel has unveiled the "Miss and Master Merrion" program, where young guests are welcomed with a slew of complimentary amenities (and pampered alongside their 'rents). While children are delighted by the in-room milk and cookies (note: healthier options are available), babies receive complimentary products such as baby wash, moisturizer, talcum powder, and bottles. Frette children's robes and slippers are available in-room, and also at the Tethra Spa. Special children's menus include delightful homemade options including real chicken nuggets, chicken noodle soup, homemade pizza, and pigs in a blanket. And the bartender at No. 23 or The Cellar Bar can even prepare "mocktails" for kids to enjoy alongside their parents. (There's a wealth of family entertainment in Dublin-- from the Dublin Zoo to the Lambert Puppet Theater--easily arranged by the Merrion concierge.)


Christmas at Les Ambassadeurs Restaurant, Hotel de Crillon, Paris

October 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Les Ambassadeurs

It's no wonder that one of the oldest and most exclusive luxury hotels in the world also boasts one of the best restaurants. Like the opulent hotel it occupies, Les Ambassadeurs Restaurant reflects total decadence: from the crystal chandeliers to the lavish marble interior, from the first extraordinary course to the last artfully-prepared dessert. A meal at this two-star Michelin restaurant is not just memorable; it's a once-in-a-lifetime event. This Christmas, Les Ambassadeurs features a special four-course Christmas menu at EUR 415 (exclusive of drinks).


Cathay Pacific Announces Seat Upgrades

October 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cathay Pacific

Starting in January, Cathay Pacific will unveil some swanky cabin upgrades. First class-fliers will go gaga over the new seat that can be transformed from armchair, to chaise lounge, to bed (and an extra-long and wide one at that!) Business class passengers will appreciate the seats that recline to fully flat beds. And even the economy folks will enjoy a new seat, designed to let passengers recline without intruding on those seated behind them. (Plus economy fliers will get video and audio on-demand.) This is hot on the heels of Virgin Atlantic's announcement—reported by the folks at Mobissimo—of the airline's $25 million investment for newly-designed seats.


The World’s Most Expensive Hotel Rooms: The Imperial Suite at the Hotel President Wilson, Geneva

October 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel President Wilson

Rest assured, it's got bulletproof windows and doors, along with the brilliant views of Lake Geneva. After all, the folks who stake out the famed Imperial Suite are heads of state, billionaires, and celebs looking to squander their cash spend. The Imperial Suite takes up the entire floor of the art deco Hotel President Wilson, reached via private elevator. Overlooking the Lake, the bay windows and private terrace offer incredible vistas of Mont Blanc and the Alps. In addition to the four bedrooms, the suite features five bathrooms with mosaic marble floors, Jacuzzi and steam bath, living room with billiards table, and library. The cocktail lounge can accommodate 40 people, while the dining room seats 26, so no need to venture out on the town (when you can bring the party to you). Though the hotel does boast an excellent location in the heart of Geneva, with easy access to the sites, shops, restaurants, and businesses. All this for just $50,000 a night. Talk about bang for your buck.


Berlin’s Hip Urban Delights

October 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Berlin

The uber-chic German capital has got it all: more than 170 excellent museums, happening nightlife, dreamy palaces, and exquisite fine dining (but don't rule out the beer halls and down-home sausage and sauerkraut specialties). Berlin boasts a rich cultural landscape. To quote Sherman's Travel:

If an outdated mental picture of Berlin as a once-divided city is keeping you from visiting the capital of Germany, you haven't heard that it is the hot, hip urban destination for jet-setters, beer-lovers, and culture-vultures alike. New life has been breathed into the city, and now is the time to go and experience it.

And perhaps the best part of all, Berlin's positively brimming with world-class hotels, from the elegant and utterly luxurious Regent to the world famous Kempinski Hotel Bristol, from the Schlosshotel Im Grunewald, the city's only historic castle hotel, to the Radisson SAS with its enormous lobby AquaDom (the world's largest cylindrical aquarium) stocked with 2,500 exotic fish.


The Peninsula New York Chef Creates Lufthansa Onboard Menus

October 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peninsula New York

Say goodbye to nasty airline food. Executive Chef Gordon Maybury has designed delicious and healthy menus for First and Business Class menus of Lufthansa outbound flights from the US. Starting in November, passengers will indulge in selections inspired from the hotel's Fives restaurant, including pistachio dusted shrimp with sweet pea tarragon flan appetizer, vanilla thyme roasted halibut with baby bok choy and fondant potato, and wild berry charlotte in its own consommé with sweet cream, and a selection of international cheeses. This culinary partnership will continue throughout 2007, with Lufthansa featuring rotating menus from the chefs at the Peninsula Chicago and Peninsula Beverly Hills in addition to the Peninsula New York.


Romantic Escapes with Relais and Chateaux and American Express: Free Fourth Night

October 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Caesar Augustus

An exotic tropical island, beachfront villa on Martinique, private bungalow in the Greek Islands, the seclusion of the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee… Relais and Chateaux properties offer the perfect romantic escape, whether for a honeymoon, anniversary, or quick romantic getaway. When you use your American Express Card to book at select luxurious destinations around the world, you'll receive the fourth night for free, along with a special VIP welcome amenity, such as Champagne on arrival and an assortment of local regional delicacies. Available through December 31, 2006.

(Pictured: Capri's stunning Hotel Caesar Augustus, perched on the cliffs high above the sea.)


Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Takes the World by Storm

October 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La Hong Kong

Look out, Four Seasons. Shangri-La, the largest operator in Asia of deluxe hotels (raking in revenue of about $1 billion a year) is coming to Europe. According to a recent IHT article, the Hong Kong-based company is "on a major expansion spree, with 44 new hotels to be developed over the next four years, and the company is still seeking more sites." Indeed, the chief executive, Giovanni Angelini, personally scouted the ideal spot in Paris for Shangri-La's first luxury hotel in Europe: the historic palace of Prince Roland Bonaparte near the Trocadero. The hotel group is also looking at major American cities and European capitals. Significantly, Shangri-La is the largest operator of luxury hotels in China and is planning to double its current 20 hotels by 2010. To quote Angelini:

"By the year 2020, it is expected there will be more than 100 million Chinese travelers," he said. "Can you imagine the impact? Japan has made a tremendous impact in the industry and it never reached more than 17 million travelers.


The Blue Bar at The Berkeley Hotel: The Best of London Nightlife

October 2, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Blue Bar

Adored by Madonna, the super-stylish Blue Bar-- located by the lobby of the Berkeley hotel-- is oft considered one of London's best bars. Designed by David Collins, the 50-seat bar is distinguished by the black crocodile print leather floor, white onyx bar, sunken seat area, and, most of all, by the gorgeous color of the room, which the designer has dubbed "Lutyens Blue." The drinks list includes a wide selection of Champagnes, original and contemporary cocktails, wine by the glass, and over 50 different whiskies. (There's even a Grape and Smoke menu for guests to pair cigars with carefully chosen wines.) In addition to the olives, caramelized nuts, and tasty nibbles which accompany each drink order, guests also enjoy the Asian-inspired tapas menu, which includes delicate and delicious dishes like queenie scallops with wasabi and lime vinaigrette, char smoked salmon with basil and yogurt, lime leaf and chicken on coconut crisp and citrus coulis rice paper, and nori wrapped vegetable rolls.


Hotel Fouquet’s Barriere: The Hottest New Luxury Hotel in Paris

September 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Champs Elysees

I recently had the honor of visiting Hotel Fouquet's Barrière before its November 3, 2006 opening date. In a city of superlatives--Paris is the most romantic and beautiful metropolis of them all--the luxury hotel scene sets the standard for elegance, sophistication, and impeccable service worldwide. I was pleased to discover (even with construction underway) that Hotel Foquet's Barrière proudly carves its own place in this impressive roster of opulent Palace Hotels.

The new kid on the block sports two defining characteristics that are hard to come by in Paris-- an enormous Spa with stunning swimming pool-- and location, location, location. Hotel Foquet's Barrière stands prominently on the corner of two fabled boulevards: the Champs-Elysées and Avenue George V. Surrounded by chic designer boutiques (Hermes, Louis Vuitton) and fine dining, the hotel is perfectly situated at the nexus of the Triangle d'Or.

A word about the architecture. Celebrity architect Édouard François has created a contemporary masterpiece by fusing the old and new. Attached to the legendary Brasserie Fouquet's, the hotel is comprised of five Haussman-style buildings located around a central interior garden. The project is extraordinary, years in the making, and destined to become a destination in its own right. All the buildings were not originally connected. As I walked around the outside of the hotel, I noticed how the architect created a faux Haussmann-style façade which has been molded onto the exterior of the newer adjoining buildings: on this grey stone--which is in marked contrast with the sandy colored old buildings it adjoins--the architect has superimposed large contemporary windows which are rectangular in shape and placed perpendicular, against the grain, to the corresponding window cut-outs in the façade.

And the interiors are just as remarkable. Interior designer Jacques Garcia has created 107 lavish guest rooms in a combination of art-deco and empire style. Utilizing rich velvets, leather, gold leaf, shark skin, precious marble, and plush fabrics, Garcia has created posh, imperial spaces that are also extremely comfortable. I've never seen beds so big. Bathrooms are like mini-spas, decked out in marble, with large bath and separate walk-in rainshower room. In the Presidential Suite, the large jetted tub actually overlooks the grand stretch of Champs-Elysées (though these rooms are ultra sound-proofed for peace and quiet.) The Presidential Suite, like all guest rooms, is equipped with the most cutting edge technology: the flat screen TV is embedded in the mirror, totally invisible until turned on.

The U Spa Barriere is located underground, a vast restorative space that includes seven private treatment rooms, fully equipped fitness room, hammam, steam room, sauna, and the hotel's gem: the gorgeous swimming pool. Besides the famous Brasserie, the hotel will feature Le Diane restaurant, overlooking the garden, and Le Lucien bar. Above, an enormous teak rooftop terrace offers the perfect space for private receptions, with views of the Eiffel Tower.

I think I'm in love. 35 days and counting…until we can get pampered in style in the City of Light.