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.

Exercise in Style: NH Lingotto Rooftop Track


By: Oksana Balytsky

Are you an avid exerciser who doesn’t like to give up working out when you’re traveling and away from home? We definitely understand the need to keep up with your routine while still enjoying the beautiful city you’re in, so we’d like to introduce you to hotels that offer you an opportunity to exercise that’s a bit different from your typical access to a treadmill, elliptical, and a few weights in a hotel gym.

Today’s featured luxury hotel is the NH Lingotto in Turin, Italy, and its exercise facility is sure to be unlike any other you’ve seen. The hotel is situated in the former Fiat automobile factory, and the redesign of the entire space has made the NH Lingotto a striking blend of the modern and historic. The hotel’s first floor connects to a shopping gallery, with various boutiques and cafes, while the top floor houses the incredible Pinacoteca Giovannie Marella Agnelli art gallery. Aside from these luxurious amenities, the NH Lingotto also has 240 beautiful rooms and suites and a 1,030 meter running track on the roof that was formerly a Fiat car-testing track. This track allows you to exercise outdoors while taking in the most magnificent views of Turin, Italy.

So whether you’re a serious runner or simply enjoy going for a walk, consider checking into the NH Lingotto and checking out the outdoor track for some fresh air and a unique exercise opportunity that’s quite outside the norm.


Create a Christmas Vodka Flavor: Win a Stay at London's Montague on the Gardens


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Montague on the Gardens, LondonThe Montague on the Gardens, the lovely Georgian townhouse hotel in the heart of London's Bloomsbury, is getting in the Christmas spirit early this year. They're creating the "12 Vodkas of Christmas" and inviting you, dear reader, to help dream up one of the delicious Christmas-themed flavors. They've already got 10 flavors including Cinnamon, Spiced Apple and Candy Cane, and now they're looking for two more to add to the menu. If your flavor is chosen, you'll win a night's stay for two people at the Montague on the Gardens, including breakfast, a festive Afternoon Tea for two, plus a bottle of your very own flavored vodka to savor at home! To enter, email winterwonderland@rchmail.com, or leave a comment on their blog with your creative idea. From the judges: "Points will be awarded for originality of mouth-watering flavors that will help keep us warm while we’re in our Winter Wonderland this December!"

Closing date for entry is November 11, 2011. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Prize valid until end of March 2012, subject to availability and terms and conditions apply. Festive Afternoon Tea will be replaced with Traditional Afternoon Tea from January 2012."

PS. Don't miss the hotel's "alpine lodge"-- as they transform their deck into a winter wonderland with pine trees, reindeer, even falling snow. The perfect spot to sample one of those 12 Christmas vodkas.


Race to the Top: 51 Buckingham Gate Opens New Luxury Jaguar Suite


By: Christopher Roney

51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites and Residences, in London has opened up its newest suite, inspired by the design of one of the finest luxury vehicles, the Jaguar. Though it’s not a Mustang, the new Jaguar suite is bucking trends: It’s sleek, modern, and one of (if not the first), rooms to bring a sports car aesthetic into the lap of luxury. Buckingham Gate is bringing the cool Jaguar vibe indoors with sleek wood paneling and custom wallpaper. Minimalistic design choices hint at the unique curves of the vehicle itself, and they go so far as to shape the fireplace in the form of the iconic rear window. The devil is in the details, and Buckingham Gate has gotten it all right. From the dark leather to the custom wallpaper, the room evokes Jaguar’s design choices without ever approaching gaudiness. It’s well-crafted, timeless, and minimalistic, and I wish I were staying there right now.

If you have even a passing appreciation for the artistry that goes into a fine luxury car, you are guaranteed to fall in love with the space the Buckingham Gate has crafted in its new Jaguar suite.


A Simple Sip of Bijoux Tea: The Langham London's Luxurious Liquid


By: Christopher Roney

I’ve been around the world in eighty brews, to see the place it takes me to

To make a brew that tastes like the cream cakes made by angels do

-Professor Elemental, "Cup of Brown Joy"

It may be that we’ve finally found the elusive brew the Professor sought: The Langham London offers a classic tea time that will take you places you’ve never dreamed of. We recently posted about the signature Halloween drinks their bartender is whipping up, but if you’re in the mood for more traditional fare, The Langham's Stephen Webster limited edition Bijoux tea is the best money can buy.  For those less familiar with the British tea tradition, tea is more than a drink; it’s a three-course afternoon adventure including sandwiches, cakes and scones. Eschewing the standard cucumber sandwiches in favor of smoked salmon and cream cheese with cucumber pearls and a poached quail breast, the tea’s best feature is actually its standard scones, whose melt-in-your-mouth texture tastes suspiciously of ambrosia. I entreat even teetotalers to try this total tea experience. So throw on your tea-shirt and sashay scone-wards, because the Bijoux brew is not just Britney’s favorite, it’s the best Cup of Brown Joy your taste buds can touch.


InterContinental Hotels Celebrates Responsible Business Week with National Geographic


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Presidente InterContinental Cozumel ResortFrom supporting local craftsmen in Romania to clean-ups of the reefs in Cozumel, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts knows responsible business. In fact, they've partnered with National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations to celebrate Responsible Business Week. Hotels around the world are "taking part in activities that ensure their location remains an appealing place to visit for future generations"- to quote the official press release. The protection and preservation of local environments is key. Examples of these geotourism initiatives include: InterContinental Boston's rooftop beehives that pollinate the flora in surrounding parks and provide local honey for the kitchen; InterContinental Bora Bora Resort's salt water air-conditioning system, the first in the world; Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort's environmental work to protect the reefs and marine life, teaching guests how to scuba dive responsibly. More details can be found here.


Home, Sweet Home: Radisson Blu Adopts Contest-Winning Room Design


By: Christopher Roney

There’s one criticism I’ve heard a lot about high-end hotels: These luxurious accommodations and world-class amenities are all well and good, but I still feel like a guest. And I tend to agree. Regardless of the number of free fruit bowls and complimentary drinks they throw at you, there can be a kind of artificiality to the hotel experience.

And that’s the worry that motivated contest winner Wim Alenus in his design of a new room at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Belgium. Abandoning the overused velour and gold-plated everything of traditional hotel rooms, Mr. Alenus has created a home away from home. The room has been designed to evoke a feeling of comfort, and the jury described it as “eclectic…elegant, relaxing, and real.” It’s a room where you can kick your feet up, read the paper, and make yourself as comfortable as sinking into your favorite couch. The contest itself attracted over 10,000 entries and the winning designer has won 30 nights in the room of his creation. That’s a man to be jealous of!

Could this become a trend in the hotel world, both in design and operations? We might very well see a return to an emphasis on comfort, and I know I’d love to see more independent designers get the chance to show what they would do when given the chance to design some of the best hotel rooms in the world.


Best of the Best: King George Palace has the Best Scenic View in 2011


By: Oksana Balytsky

We understand that no one aims to come in second place; there is no recognition for mediocrity. We at Five Star Alliance understand better than anyone the importance of offering the most luxurious resorts in the world, so we notice what’s going on in the industry, and it matters to us, because it matters to you. We’d like to welcome you to our new blog series, Best of the Best, where we’ll be featuring the best and most luxurious resorts in various categories. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business by the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Awards, so you can relax and stop worrying about your upcoming trip, knowing that it truly will be the best of the best.

Today’s featured luxury hotel is the King George Palace, recipient of the Best Scenic View award in 2011. Located on Constitution Square, just steps from the Greek Parliament, this luxurious resort offers the best of Athens. Not only has the King George Palace received the prestigious award for hotel offering the best scenic view by the World Luxury Hotel Awards, but it has also been distinguished as one of the best hotels in Greece. This luxury boutique hotel has been home to Kings, Princes, and Presidents since the 1930s, and it will surely be your best home away from home. Be sure to visit the Acropolis, see the Parthenon, and stroll through the Agora, Athens’ central market. As your day draws to an end and as the sun is setting, dine at the rooftop restaurant of the King George Palace, and prepare to have your breath taken away by the incredible view of this phenomenal city.


Book Your London Hotel for the Olympics & Queen's Jubilee


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Athenauem Hotel and Apartments, London2012 will be a big year for Britain, says Travel Agent Magazine. London is prepping for a series of blockbuster events, starting with the Queen's Jubilee in June, honoring Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne (can we say gigantic flotilla on the Thames?) If you're eager to get in on the action, and also partake in Olympic fever, it's best to book your hotel room ASAP. The USA Today reports that "hotels are expected to fill about 92% of their rooms, which will mean many sold-out nights"-- according to a new forecast from Pricewaterhouse Coopers. "And that's despite a number of new hotels that have opened, including Dorchester Collection's tony 45 Park Lane in Mayfair and Starwood's trendy W in the heart of Leicester Square."

Looking for a hotel in London or the surrounding area? Five Star Alliance has a number of recommendations- whether you want a family-friendly boutique hotel or an opulent palace on the Thames. There are also a slew of four-star hotels available.

Pictured: The Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments.


Sponsored Article: A Perfect Location in the City of Light at The Westin Paris-Vendôme


By: Five Star Alliance

The Westin Paris VendomeThe Westin Paris – Vendôme has an enviable location in the heart of Paris just off the Place Vendôme, next to the Place de la Concorde and immediately opposite the spectacular Tuileries Gardens. Just a stone's throw from the Louvre, the hotel is surrounded by famous landmarks and is minutes away from the city's best shopping on the elegant Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré. This is the capital's busiest and most fashionable neighborhood.

When the hotel was first opened in 1878 it was celebrated as the most exclusive property of its kind and was regarded as a national treasure of France's Second Empire. Over the years, it has been renovated and restored many times, most recently in 2008. But important historic details remain: a courtyard fountain with a white marble water nymph, and a spectacular glass roof from 1878. This is where Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, took up residence during her husband’s exile from 1898 to 1919, as commemorated by an inscription near the front entrance. This is also where Victor Hugo held three large banquets celebrating his 79th, 81st and 83rd birthdays in the lavish Imperial Salon on the ground floor. The most celebrated fashion houses such as Yves Saint-Laurent, Hanae Mori, Nina Ricci, Torrente, and Ungaro regularly hold their shows in the hotel’s historic salons.

Six Senses Spa at Westin Paris VendomeWith 440 rooms, The Westin Paris - Vendôme has the largest number of suites of all the traditional Parisian luxury hotels in its category. From their Second Empire classicism, the majority of the suites at the hotel offer exceptional views of the capital- truly one of the best panoramas of the Paris skyline. The famous designer Sybille de Margerie refurbished the rooms in a sophisticated contemporary style. Taking inspiration from the history of the hotel, Sybille de Margerie created an ambience of renewal and relaxation with muted color schemes of plum–mauve to taupe, with splashes of light green and Bordeaux reds. Of course all the rooms at The Westin Paris - Vendôme are equipped with the sleep-inducing Westin Heavenly Bed, one of the great innovations developed by Westin. The bed has proved so popular with guests that the Westin Heavenly Bed is now for sale at the Westin online store.


Eco-Friendly Travel to London: Organic Meals and a "Green" Butler with The Savoy Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Savoy, LondonWhen The Savoy opened its gilded gates in London last year after a staggering £220 million restoration project, London couldn't stop talking about it. (And when we dropped by for a visit earlier this year, there was an impressive line of visitors gawking at the famous bars and lobby.) A lot of ink has been spilled about the "most ambitious hotel restoration in British history"-- but did you know that it was also an eco-friendly one? (Fairmont-- who manages the hotel-- gets serious props for its green programs.) The Savoy is all about sustainable luxury, having installed the latest in green technology in the hotel, and having launched various sustainable initiatives. To show guests the green side of London, the hotel has launched "The Savoy Elements Package." Here's what it includes:

* Overnight accommodation

* Return transfers in a luxury hybrid vehicle from a London airport or station

* A “Savoy Green Butler” to assist with requests such as packing and making travel arrangements as well as advising on green initiatives within the hotel and places of interest around London

* Welcome green gift on arrival

* Choice of inspirational 3-hour walking green tour of London

* Complimentary valet car parking if arriving by hybrid vehicle

* Complimentary use of a BMW bicycle with helmet provided

* An organic, 3-course dinner in either the River Restaurant with a pre-dinner, biodynamic cocktail

* Organic breakfast with selected organic juices

* A one-day travelcard allowing free use of London's public transport network

* A donation of £10 to London charity Thames 21, on behalf of the guest

* An organic, gourmet picnic hamper and blanket can be arranged at an additional cost

* Details of outdoor activities, including heritage sites, nature walks, cycle and jogging routes, wildlife centres, conservation programmes and community projects for volunteering are available through the Concierge

Rates from £825 per night, based on double occupancy and subject to availability.