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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 Traveler's Compendium: 1,000 Places to See Before You Die

March 9, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

Bucket lists.  We've probably all got one, and I can't get over my slightly morbid fascination of the idea of making the list of the things you'd like to live framed around dying.  Maybe it's that the finitude of life creates a sweet sense of urgency that makes experience all the more poignant.  But I'm not here to philosophize; I leave that to the well-bearded among us.  I'm here to tell you about the second edition of 1,000 Places To See Before You Die with the much more uplifting subtitle: A Traveler's Life List.

A coffeetable book if there ever was one, 1,000 Places lays out some of the most unique and gorgeous places the world has to offer. And one of the things about the luxury hotel industry is that we've done a pretty good job of making sure that most of these places have the accommodations for you to experience them.  Heading to the Amalfi Coast? Why not stay at the Palazzo Sasso, which has a breathtaking view of the ocean stretching out from its feet, 350 meters below.  Or perhaps you're interested in Paris.  The Plaza Athenee or Hotel de Crillon have you covered.  It's really quite incredible when you step back to think how easy it is to experience the unique gems this blue-green sphere has to offer.  So pick up your copy of 1,000 Places To See Before You Die and pick out your next vacation destination.  We have certainly have some suggestions for you.


A Boutique Critique: Thalassa Boutique Hotel & Spa

March 8, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

I have a special place in my heart for tiny boutique hotels. It may be a little smaller than some of the other chambers, and there aren't enough spots for everybody, but that just makes the few who do make their way into my good graces all the more special. I can give each and every one the loving care and attention they deserve. And thus began my new segment on boutique hotels that I just adore.

 I'm not sure what it is about the Mediterranean. Maybe it's the fresh sea air or the cradle of Western civilization lying under your feet, but it always feels like coming home.  And in the spirit of carrying an analogy too far, if the Mediterranean is like home, then the Thalassa Boutique Hotel & Spa is being curled up in your bed under the covers on a cold winter's night.  Except with a view.  And spa treatments.  So it's completely unlike that analogy.  Another thing it's unlike is my writing ability, which is slowly collapsing like a flan in a cupboard. But what the Thalassa Boutique is like is an island oasis, a heavenly spa, where every suite is served by a personal butler and you can slough off the cares of the world as the pigment in your skin darkens from the soft, Mediterranean sun.  It's six millenia of relaxation crystallized into a seaside retreat, begging you to forget yourself in its warm embrace.  And when I'm looking to run away from the world, I want a spa hotel where every room gives a perfect view of the sun slipping under or out from the horizon and kids are rarely seen (and none under 12).  Surrounded by sea on three sides and with the sandy beach just steps away, I can't imagine a better place to get away than the Thalassa Boutique Hotel & Spa.  In fact, just writing this convinced me to go there right now.  Bye.


A Burning Ritz of Fire: Ritz Paris Suffers the Smoke of Nearby Garage Fire

March 8, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

If any of the iconic hotels in Paris were going to suffer the collateral damage of a nearby underground garage going up in flames, it's probably just as well that it was the Ritz Paris.  While unfortunate for anyone in the hotel industry, the Ritz is fortuitously scheduled to undergo an extensive two-year renovation coming up in August, so if anything was damaged by the smoke billowing out from the garage, you can be rest assured that the hotel was looking to replace it.  No news yet on whether the interior of the hotel was affected in any way, and no one appears to have been injured in the fire, so as flaming conflagrations go, this might not be so bad.  In any case, our hearts go out to the hotel, the nearby Place du Vendome, and to anyone whose things were caught in the blaze.  Hopefully, we'll hear more soon.  As of now, the hotel is still slated to be open up through its August closing, and unless we hear otherwise, with no reports of damage yet, future guests need not fear for the quality of their stay.

Photo via Le Parisien.


Visiting London? Check Out the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane

March 5, 2012
By: Oksana Balytsky

The Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane is located on a quiet street in the heart of Mayfair. It is one of the few luxury hotels in London that has greenery and open spaces on all sides, allowing visitors access to the best of both worlds; nature and the city. Hyde Park, Green Park, and St. James Park are all located nearby, and the hotel is just a short stroll from to the West End theatres, Bond Street, Knightsbridge, and Buckingham Palace. Aside from an incredible location, this luxury hotel has a few other distinguishing factors that make it one of the best hotels in London. It has a putting green on its terrace as well as a glass-walled rooftop spa offering 360 degree views of the treetops and the city. The Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane is also a wonderful choice for families, and it certainly goes out of its way to welcome young travelers. The concierge is extremely accommodating and always available to assist with making reservations for a family dinner, a babysitter, and more.

Need more details about the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane? Be sure to explore room types, availability, and photos here!


It's Not Pint-Sized: Ashford Castle

March 1, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

Before it became one of the most renowned castle hotels in Europe, the Ashford Castle was the home to the Guinness family, to which all of the beer drinkers among us owe a serious debt of gratitude.  I think I need not explain more, for we all know Guinness's enchanting charm.  Built originally in the 13th century, the estate holds over 350 acres of private land and has played host to the rich and famous, including President Reagan and Pierce Brosnan, who married there.  You could end up feeling just as cool as the agent himself while staying in rooms that combine a preserved 13th century style with all of the modern amenities of top-notch hotels.  Resident Chef Stefan Matz offers four unique dining experiences on the property that make innovative use of traditional Irish fare; you'll be stepping into a world where meat and potatoes are anything but meat-and-potatoes.  A dedicated spa featuring the products and philosophy of Yan Ka, meant to help the skin regain its vital balance and energy.  

Alongside the property lies the second-largest Irish lake, the Lough Corrib, whose idyllic shores offer unparalleled views as well as a number of outdoor activities.  Miles of hiking trails are available through the countryside, and a 9-hole golf course, designed by legend Eddie Hackett, features prominently.  Fishing and hunting are available on the grounds, with Lough Corrib offering some of the best in Ireland during May, June, and July.  Not only that, you can enjoy a jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room alongside your beauty treatments, and then refresh in the crisp lake air on any one of three daily lake tours.  The Ashford Castle is truly one of the jewels of Ireland.


Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012: Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin

March 1, 2012
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 work hard to offer you the best in the industry, and we’d like to welcome you to our second blog series where we feature the best and most luxurious resorts in the world. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business and have made the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012.

The Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012 is the eighth of their annual lists, and the hotels chosen by their team of editors and experts are the best for service, food, location, rooms, leisure facilities, ambiance and design.

The Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin is featured on the Gold List 2012: Best for service. This luxury hotel is located right at the historical Pariser Platz, a short stroll from the beautiful boutique shops and right in the vicinity of the financial district. Its atmosphere is inspired by history and modernity, and a number of the rooms and suites offer breathtaking views of the Bradenburg Gate. This luxury hotel burned down in 1945, was rebuilt in 1997 and remodeled in 2007. This hotel’s service certainly sets it apart, and their concierge team is more than willing to set up and organize whatever sort of adventure you want. Their staff is flawlessly prepared and extremely helpful and accommodating to any and all questions or concerns.

Check rates, availability, photos and more at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin here!


A Boutique Critique: JK Place Firenze is No Joke

February 29, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

I have a special place in my heart for tiny boutique hotels.  It may be a little smaller than some of the other chambers, and there aren't enough spots for everybody, but that just makes the few who do make their way into my good graces all the more special.  I can give each and every one the loving care and attention they deserve. And thus began my new segment on boutique hotels that I just adore.

Starting off this series is a relatively new kid on the block, at least as far as Five Star Alliance is concerned.  The JK Place Firenze has just joined our collection, and we're more than excited to bring them on board, we're...more excited?  Weighing in at just a 20-room property, it's almost more a home than a hotel, and that, in my opinion, is what the boutique hotel is all about.  Some go the flashier, avante garde route, but the JK Place Firenze has firmly defined itself as the kind of property that immediately sets you at ease as you walk through its front doors.  The neo-classical decor is reminiscent of the collection one might build up in a home with a lot of history.  Intentionally ecclectic and always tasteful, the antique collectibles and 50s and 60s furniture lend an air of panache to the intimate setting.  

The hotel plays home to the J K Lounge, which offers some wonderful dining, and you'll be well within reach of the all the finest establishments in Florence.  It's the perfect outpost to explore the city from, a home away from home.  So be sure to check out the JK Place Firenze for the kind of personal attention that only a boutique hotel can offer.


In with the New: Ritz-Carlton to Vienna

February 28, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

Vienna get even ritzier than it already is?  Sounds crazy, right?  Well, it's just crazy enough to be true because the Ritz-Carlton is making its way to Vienna in the second quarter of this year.  On the city's iconic central street, the Ringstrasse, the hotel is within walking distance of just about everything you'd want to see, except Schloss Schonnbrunn, which is only a few metro stops away.  The Ringstrasse is possibly the most opulent street in Europe and certainly the only one to come close to rivalling the Champs d'Elysees.  If you slap Neo- in front of it, the street plays host to just about every architectural style imaginable, and is full of iconic palatial residences, national museums, and gorgeous churches.  And just a few stops off the ring, you can find the iconic Cafes that define Viennese cuisine, like the Sachertorte (which may actually be better at Cafe Demel than Sacher itself, but don't tell anyone I said that).  

The hotel itself will feature 207 rooms and suites and brings the standard that we've come to know from Ritz-Carlton properties to a city with so many royal empires in its past, you could call it an empirical fact that Vienna has luxury down to a science.  Keep on the lookout for this hotel opening, and in the meantime, check out our other five-star hotels in Vienna.

Photo via WienVienna.com


An Insider’s Guide on Where to Stay in Paris

February 28, 2012
By: Oksana Balytsky

Paris, a thriving, bustling city with over 70 luxury hotels located throughout its districts can be a bit overwhelming for folks deciding on where to stay to get the most out of their experience. We understand that travelers visiting Paris for the first time have different interests and desires than frequent visitors, so we’ve put together a short, sweet and to the point guide for you to ensure that you choose the perfect hotel for your trip!

Hotel du Louvre

Hotel du Louvre is the perfect luxury hotel for first time visitors to Paris looking to be in the heart of the attractions. The beautiful décor of the hotel was inspired by the Napoleon III style, and all of the guest rooms have modern comforts while retaining a traditional feel. The draw of this hotel is certainly its location, perfectly situated in the heart of old Paris with easy access to the fashion and business districts, steps from the Brasserie du Louvre, and immediately opposite the Comedie Francaise. Just steps from the Louvre Museum, certain rooms and suites at the Hotel du Louvre offer views of the exhibits! The Opera Granier is set to one side of the hotel, and the Palais Royal is on the other side. The area is busy with authentic cafes and is a short walk from the bustling shopping street of Rue St. Honore. It also offers interconnecting rooms, perfect for a family vacation.

Hotel Lutetia

Hotel Lutetia is a phenomenal hotel option for travelers who have been to Paris before, who have explored the famous areas in Paris, and who are looking for a much more detailed look into the city. It’s a very modern hotel with a contemporary style and artistic surprises. The bustling lobby has an edginess with displays of art by renowned contemporary artists including Arman, Cesar, Perrin, and Thierry Bisch. The Hotel Lutetia has an artistic and elegant culture that is clearly visible in the Art Deco architecture, period furniture, crystal chandeliers, and live jazz music flowing through the Lutetia Bar. It’s located on the left bank in Saint-Germain des Pres, in the heart of the fashion, art, and literature district. What sets this hotel apart is that if you make a reservation for a suite, you are guaranteed an Eiffel Tower view! (We do ask, however, that you request an Eiffel Tower view ahead of time)

Hotel de Crillon

Hotel de Crillon is a very royal, elegant 18th century style luxury hotel situated in the famous Place De la Concorde in the heart of Paris. This hotel is for new travelers as well as frequent visitor to Paris, perfect for those who are looking for the absolute best and most royal hotel in the City of Love. It is only a few steps from the Champs-Elysees and the Fabourg Saint Honore. It is decorated in a Louis XV style, and its guest rooms and suites are decorated to represent the rich history and culture of Paris. Similar to the Hotel du Louvre, the Hotel de Crillon has connecting room options as well, making it another perfect hotel for a family or group vacation.


France Comes to Berlin, and It Doesn't End in a Headbutt: The Hotel Concorde Berlin

February 27, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

It's long been said that in heaven the French are the cooks, and while Germany has its own national specialties, like the Currywurst that you simply have to try at Konnopke's Imbiss, you might find after a few days that you'll be lusting after the luxury of French delicacies.  And the Hotel Concorde Berlin certainly delivers on the French flair we've come to expect from all the Concorde Hotels.  La Faubourg is a modern take on the traditional brasserie and even offers al fresco dining on the terrace once the city warms in May. With a visible sightline to the famous Gedächtniskirche, elegant in its preserved, broken beauty, the Hotel Concorde is ideally located in Berlin's ritzier and more glamourous southwestern corner.  Just steps from the Kurfurstendamm, the main Allee that is home to much of the city's upscale shopping establishments, you can also sneak away into more secluded spots with the real personality that makes Berlin so special.  Check out the nearby A-Trane Jazz Club, a hole-in-the-wall joint that has supported the underground Jazz scene for two decades and has played home to some of the greats and up-and-coming stars, like Toumani Diabate and Matthew Shipp. 

The hotel itself has 311 rooms, including 44 suites, and each brings a unique take on its sleek, modern style.  The whole building was designed by German architect Jan Kleihus and built just in 2005, and his cutting-edge style is infused in the very foundations. The Hotel Concorde Berlin understands the contemporary demands of luxury, coming from a nation with a long history of defining the European standard, and transplanting that cultural expectation to Berlin has created the perfect fusion of the modern, bustling metropolis with the storied tradition of French dining and hospitality.  It's bucket list material for sure.