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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.

An Interview with the General Manager: Scott VandenBerg of Grand Hyatt Atlanta

By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Scott Vandenberg Headshot Currently, Mr. Scott VandenBerg oversees the operation of Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead, a sub-city of Atlanta Georgia. In his role as General Manager, he manages 46 managers and 235 employees at the 4-diamond property. He grew up in western Michigan and started his hotel career at the age of 16 working for Holiday Inn in the Stewarding department. He has been at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta for three years and took some time to answer our questions.

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: Grand Hyatt Atlanta is a sophisticated retreat with the largest guest rooms in Buckhead. Our Buckhead Atlanta luxury hotel combines relaxation with the conveniences and excitement of the city.

Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the Grand Hyatt Atlanta's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hotel’s location at the intersection of Peachtree and Piedmonth allows access to some of the best shopping and dining in the Southeast.

Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The Grand Hyatt is host to many celebrities that visit the Atlanta area that include Bono from U2, Madonna, P-Diddy, Whitney Houston and Eric Clapton. It has also hosted Presidents George H. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hotel has one of the most successful kosher kitchens in the Atlanta area and is led by Chef Billy Skiber. The hotel is host to many of the city’s most profile events including the Susan b. Komen Pink Tie Ball, Childhood Autism Foundation Candlelight Ball and National Kidney Foundation Gift of Life Gala.

Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: All of the guest rooms in the hotel are wonderful; however, the Presidential Suite is a home away from home. It features a dining area with an eight-person table, a sitting area with sofas and chairs and a full kitchen. The living rooms is outfitted with such luxury items as an iPod with docking station, home theater system with DVD library and multiple flat panel plasma televisions.

Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: I would want to know all of the amenities that the hotel offers and what type of entertainment options are available in the area.

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: I knew from the moment I joined Hyatt in 1979 that I would like to climb the corporate structure and one day become a General Manager. I joined the company as a corporate management trainee. After working at 15 different Hyatts in many different positions, I was able to obtain my first GM job at Hyatt Westlake in Westlake Village California. After 4 years there, I became GM at Hyatt Regency Islandia in San Diego, California. I was successful at that property and after 4 years there, I was offered a chance to become GM at Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. The entire process took a lot of hard work, dedication and a drive to continue to succeed.

Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hotel customers are 50% group and 50% transient and come from all over the U.S. and some international as well.

Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hardest part of being a GM is trying to fit all of your obligations to community, staff, owners, guests and corporate office into a daily schedule. You are always "on the run" and meeting different people with needs for your time. If I could change one part of the hotel, it would be to add more public function space to the property. We are a very popular upscale venue and we must turn down some events due to previous bookings

Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: Favorite other hotels - Peninsula Hotel Beverly Hills is a classy hotel with a great clientele and a wonderful location, Grand Hyatt Kauai is a beautiful property that is very relaxing, Park Hyatt Paris is known for their excellent service and top of the world reputation.

Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: Grand Hyatt Atlanta is located on the prime corner of Buckhead and is a leader in Atlanta's hotel industry. The hotel ranks among the top 20 hotels in Hyatt's North American portfolio on customer service, facility design and services. The location lends itself to convenience when shopping or dining at the city's finest stores and restaurants. The staff is seasoned and will take care of guests needs with ease. We welcome you to experience the Hyatt touch at this magnificent facility.

Mr. Scott VandenBerg grew up in western Michigan and graduated from Holland High School in his hometown of Holland Michigan. He started in the hospitality industry at the age of 16 working for Holiday Inn in the Stewarding department. After performing several different jobs at this Inn, he decided that he liked the hotel business and wanted to go to Michigan State University to pursue a career in the hospitality industry. He graduated from Michigan State University with honors obtaining his B/A degree in business specializing in hotel/restaurant and institutional management. After graduation, he joined Hyatt's Management training program in 1979 and relocated to San Diego California. His career has taken him all over the United States, Canada, Caribbean and Hawaii. As a 27-year veteran of Hyatt, Scott has worked at 15 different Hyatt Hotels of which 5 were new openings. Additionally, he assisted in the opening of two other Hyatt Hotels. Scott's hobbies include skiing, hiking, gardening and outdoor activities. He also enjoys his two Corvettes and loves to ride his Harley around Georgia’s back roads on weekends.

A Diver’s Paradise in the Maldives at Cocoa Island

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cocoa Island, Maldives Imagine: a host of teeming marine life-- trumpet fish, white and black tip reef sharks, and turtles-- right outside your villa sundeck. Cocoa Island, the Indian Ocean outpost from COMO Hotels and Resorts (the folks behind Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos), is located in a quiet atoll where the waters are undisturbed. Diving in the Maldives is rated among the best in the world, and Cocoa Island has an on-site dive center staffed by PADI certified instructors catering to every level of experience. You can rent equipment, enroll in PADI sanctioned diving courses, and adventure out on safari dives farther afield. You can even take part in night dives. Cocoa Island's house reef stretches to over 500 meters along the southern flank of the atoll, and with a visibility of 20 to 25 meters, both divers and snorkelers are delighted by the exquisite coral and its thriving ecosystem.

Announcing The Peninsula Tokyo

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Peninsula Tokyo Come September 1st, The Peninsula Tokyo will dazzle guests with the legendary glamour and prized service of The Peninsula brand. With the Tokyo debut, The Peninsula Hotels opens its eighth hotel worldwide-- and guests are in for a treat. Rooms are among the city's largest and boast stunning views of the Tokyo skyline, Imperial Gardens and Hibiya Park. Forget multi-use high-rises or office buildings; the 24-floor hotel is the only free-standing luxury hotel to be built in Tokyo in more than a decade. Conveniently situated in the business district of Marunouchi on Harumi-dori Avenue and Naka-dori Avenue, located near the shopping capital of Ginza, The Peninsula Tokyo is a contemporary homage to Japanese heritage and culture, with traditional accents in the guest rooms, along with all the comforts and innovative technology to be expected in this tech capital. Sophisticated facilities include five unique restaurants, a modern lounge bar, two ballrooms, six elegantly designed function rooms, a wedding chapel, a Japanese ceremony room, a fitness center, The Peninsula Spa by ESPA and three luxury jewelry shops, all making their retail debut in Japan-- GRAFF, de GRISOGONO and Chantecler Tokyo.

Hotel Arts Barcelona: The Allure of a One-of-a-Kind City

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Arts Barcelona Discover the best of Barcelona on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. From museum hopping to boat trips, from Gaudi's architecture to gothic cathedrals, from reflexology massages by the pool to personal shopping tours, Hotel Arts Barcelona understands the art of enjoying summer. A member of the Ritz-Carlton family of hotels, Hotel Arts Barcelona overlooks miles of Barcelona beachfront and the grand vista of Port Olimpic. The view may be nice, but the hotel's striking contemporary architecture is really what turns heads. In addition, there is a spectacular collection of Spanish contemporary art housed in the hotel. Sit down for an al fresco meal, fanned by a mild summer breeze, at the Restaurante Marina. Sink into a soft sofa on Arola's chill-out terrace, sipping a cocktail and sharing tapas. This is what summer's all about. The hotel also boasts a stunning Spa by Six Senses on the 43rd floor, outdoor pool, open-air Jacuzzi in terraced gardens, and a fitness center with personal fitness consultations.

Mix at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay: Hot Dining in Las Vegas

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mix at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay Everything about this joint encapsulates the over-the-top vibe of Sin City. The best views in Vegas? Check. The best décor? Hands down. Truly one-of-a-kind culinary creations? You'll be begging for more. After all, Mix is the vision of Alain Ducasse, the renowned celebrity chef whose stellar restaurants have catapulted him into stardom. You'll be tempted with contemporary and classic French and American dishes with global accents, as well as signature dishes from Ducasses' restaurants in Paris and Monte Carlo. At Mix, the setting high atop THEhotel at Mandalay Bay is as much an experience as the cuisine. The cutting-edge restaurant is adorned in white and silver, distinguished by sweeping staircases, mid-century modern furniture, and an incredible 24-foot chandelier of 15,000 hand-blown glass spheres. It's no wonder Mix was named "Best Restaurant" by the Travel+Leisure Design Awards 2006. Dinner only. Reservations a must.

Photo via Flickr/davetron5000

Bargains in the Bahamas: Summer Savings at Old Bahama Bay at Ginn sur Mer

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Old Bahama Bay Summer specials abound in the warmer climes. Case in point: Old Bahama Bay Resort, newly dubbed Old Bahama Bay at Ginn sur Mer, is offering an Endless Summer Package for a song. Enjoy deluxe accommodations, welcome drink upon arrival, round-trip airport transfers, and complimentary use of sail boats, kayaks, snorkel equipment, Hobie Cats, fitness center and bicycles-- starting from just $209 per night in an Ocean View Junior Suite. Three night minimum stay required; available until October 30th, 2007. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Old Bahama Bay has an ambiance of barefoot elegance with an out-island remote feel, though it's only 56 miles from the Florida coast. A new member of the Ginn Resorts family, the full-service resort has got it all: beachfront suites with luxurious touches, a 72-slip port of entry marina, three restaurants, and a host of activities including the 4,000 sq ft heated swimming pool with infinity edge, massage services, fitness center, fishing, snorkeling and boating.

Destination Day Spa at The Carneros Inn, Napa Valley, California

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Carneros Inn Just an hour from San Francisco but worlds a part. The Carneros Inn, frequently featured in top travel magazines around the globe, is a beautiful oasis; relaxation incarnate. Designed to reflect its rural surroundings, The Carneros Inn combines local architecture-- barns, silos, ranchers' cottages-- with stylish, modern interiors. Brimming with the region's distinct charm, these rustic cottages are nestled among 27 acres of grape vines, unspoiled farmland, and apple orchards. These roomy accommodations don't skimp on the comfort; there are wood-burning fireplaces with polished concrete hearths, private patios, spacious bathrooms with soaking tubs, flat-panel TVs with DVD players, and high-speed Internet access. Enjoy a glass of California's finest wines in the private gardens, delicious dining at the Hilltop restaurant, outdoor showers under the stars, and decadent spa treatments inspired by local ingredients. Indeed, the Spa at The Carneros Inn is a destination in and of itself. Indulge in a Destination Spa Day and enjoy a full day in one of the cottages complimentary, when you purchase $300 worth of luxurious spa treatments. Please call (707) 299-4900 to make your reservations. Cottages offered from 10-6 p.m. on the day of spa services. Monday through Thursday only.

Personal Assistant Service at the Newly Remodeled Tides South Beach, Miami

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Tides South Beach Bellhops? Pa-leese! The Diva of Ocean Drive, fresh from a glamorous redesign by trendsetting designer Kelly Wearstler, offers personal assistant services for guests. Upon arrival at The Tides South Beach, you are welcomed by your very own Personal Assistant who delivers advanced round-the-clock services: beachside amenity baskets with bottled water, magazines, and sunscreen, in-suite dining and catering, laundry, dry cleaning and shoe shine service as well as complete business services such as translation, transcription, desk-top publishing, postal and parcel service. Trained by Robert Watson from The Guild of Professional English Butlers, the hotel's PAs do it all. And with The Tides' Guest Recognition Policy, these personal assistants understand guests' preferences before they even arrive.

Escape to the Alps at Spa Hotel Jagdhof, Tyrol, Austria

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Spa Hotel Jagdhof Stunning accommodations surrounded by some of the most sublime scenery on earth. Welcome to the Spa Hotel Jagdhof, situated in the midst of the Tyrolean mountains, just 30 minutes from Innsbruck, against the backdrop of the Stubai Glacier. This Relais and Chateaux property is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts-- country walks through the slopes of the Alps provide glimpses of chamois, stags, and dear-- and spa lovers, alike. The hotel's renowned Vital & Beautywelt Spa is a beautiful oasis that offers 17 different treatments in an area spanning 2,000 square meters. Exceptional cuisine includes hunted game and lamb from the hotel's own farm. With the Tyrolean Spa Experience package, enjoy four nights in a cozy 'Zwölfer' apartment including extensive breakfast, a six-course à la carte dinner, complimentary use of spa, indoor and outdoor pools, saunas and steam rooms, one stimulating Tyrolean massage, one glacier massage with high-quality natural oils from the Alps and return transfers from/to Innsbruck airport. Rates starting from EUR 899 per person for four nights. Valid until September 30, 2007.

Double Hilton HHonors Points at Conrad Indianapolis

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Conrad Indianapolis Stay at the Conrad Indianapolis, the luxury destination hotel in the heart of Indiana's capital, anytime until August 31, 2007 and you can earn double Hilton HHonors points and a continental breakfast for two at Vitesse. Since its debut last year, Conrad Indianapolis has been wowing its guests with its lavish, high-tech facilities. The 23-storey hotel tower houses the luxurious Spa Chakra, fitness facilities, two unique dining options (a brasserie-style restaurant and a lounge), and state-of-the-art meeting and event space.