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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.

Villa La Vedetta: Fabulous Views and Michelin-Starred Dining in Florence, Italy


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Villa La VedettaHigh in the hills above Florence, just next to Piazzale Michelangelo in a vast garden filled with cypress and olive trees, the Villa La Vedetta offers breathtaking panoramas of the city. The Neo-classical style villa has been transformed into a refined five-star hotel with 18 rooms appointed with fine antiques, walnut floors, marble bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, and all the latest technology. Choose the two-level Bellavista suite and you'll be spoiled with the most exquisite views of Florence from the enormous windows. A member of Relais and Chateaux, the Villa La Vedetta is celebrated for its gourmet restaurant Onice, which received a Michelin star in 2004 just after its debut in November 2003. The menu changes seasonally, based on the freshest local ingredients available to the Executive Chef Massimiliano Blasone. With an impressive resume in hotel kitchens spanning the continents, Blasone is famous for his chocolate. Here's a menu sampling to tickle the taste buds: Duo of Lobster with paprika jus and crispy bread salad to start, a flan of of "Caciocavallo Podolico" cheese to follow, and then a main dish like Home Made Agnolotto filled with zucchini flowers, dried broad beans, sole with fine herbs and celeriac sauce, carrots and espellette pepper vinaigrette, followed by a second course of fish like Steamed John Dory marinated with almond's pesto, radishes, served with a tartare of sea scallops.

Nice perk: the hotel offers a shuttle service to the city center.


Audi Drive Packages at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, San Diego


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Lodge at Torrey PinesTake off and explore the stunning California coast in an Audi (primed with a full tank of gas). The Lodge at Torrey Pines, the AAA five-diamond resort perched on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific's pristine beaches and beautiful Torrey Pines State Reserve, has partnered with Audi to create some packages for your driving pleasure. Site of the 2008 U.S. Open, The Lodge at Torrey Pines is the ideal location to see all that SoCal has to offer. (Plus, there's an incredible spa and ample recreational activities, to boot.) With the Audi Signature Drive Package, you get two nights accommodation in Signature Accommodations, the use of an Audi A6 for two days, a full tank of gas, and a 4 PM guaranteed late check-out. Priced at $475 per night. The Audi Suite Drive Package is two nights in a Palisade Suite and the use of an Audi RS 4 "Cabriolet" for two days, priced at $1,200 per night. And the Audi Dream Package is even better: accommodations in the Blacker or Gamble Two-Bedroom Suite, use of an Audi RS 4 "Cabriolet" for two days, full tank of gas, two 140-minute spa treatments, two spa gift robes, daily breakfast in bed for two, one dozen roses upon arrival, and 4PM guaranteed late check-out. Priced at $7,500.


Summer Bargains in the Caribbean: Radisson Aruba, Sivory Punta Cana, Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall (Jamaica), Discovery at Marigot Bay (St. Lucia)


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Discovery at Marigot BayReconsider the Caribbean in summer. In the Sunday Travel section, the New York Times explains why the summer season, contrary to popular belief, is actually the best time to head south to the Caribbean. Temperatures are only a few degrees higher than the peak season (and soothing ocean breezes mean these paradise isles are actually cooler than the popular beach spots in the U.S.). More importantly, room rates at leading resorts can be found at 60 percent lower than the winter rates. Case in point: the Radisson Aruba Resort's Summer Fun Sale means rooms can be found for $275 per night, plus a fourth night free. The ultra-luxurious Sivory Punta Cana, located on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, drops rates to $290 per night (vs. $490 in the winter season). You can snag a room at the Ritz-Carlton Golf and Spa Resort, Rose Hall for just $199 a night. And the gorgeous Discovery at Marigot Bay in St. Lucia is going for $330 per night (including tax and breakfast).


Get More Out of Your Vacation with Mount Juliet’s Master Classes


By: Madelyn Giblin

Conrad Mount JulietIt was such a hit last year that Conrad's Mount Juliet is once again offering you a chance to get more out of your vacation with a variety of Master classes where you can get expert training in a variety of different subjects. Hone your knowledge and skills in wine tasting, culinary arts, golf, angling, and coming soon arts and equestrian classes. Each master class is specifically designed to be as informative as possible and provide instruction to make the most out of your experience.

Get More Out of Your Vacation with Mount Juliets Master ClassesWine Master classes are available the 12th and 13th of May, and the 29th and 30th of November; Angling Master classes are available the 12th and 13th of May and July 14th-16th; Food Master classes are available the 12th and 13th of May, 2nd and 3rd of June, 10th and 11th of November and 1st and 2nd of December; and Ladies Golf Master class is available the 9th and 10th of June, 7th and 8th of July, and 28th and 29th of September.


Business First at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower, London: Free Stuff for Business Travelers


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Jumeirah Carlton TowerTraveling on business to London? Book a stay at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower, the exclusive address in Knightsbridge, and you can benefit from a slew of all-important business amenities thanks to the hotel's new "Business First" package. Priced from GBP 249 per night (plus VAT), the package includes overnight accommodations with full English breakfast, free local and national calls from the room, free Internet access, free movie selection in-room, daily newspaper, and complimentary access to the The Peak Health Club & Spa. Valid for stays Monday to Friday until December 31, 2008. The Jumeirah Carlton Tower is perfectly situated in one of London's hottest fashion districts, surrounded by all the designer boutiques on Sloane Street and just a hop from Harvey Nichols and Harrods. Guests appreciate the first-class service, indulgent spa and health club, and glamorous bar. What's more- the hotel is home to some drop-dead-gorgeous Luxury Suites, recently unveiled by famed interior designer Khuan Chew.


Tennis Anyone? An Ace Deal With The Cranley London


By: Lucy LeTourneau

The CranleySituated in a quiet, tree-lined street in the heart of the London Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, The Cranley is one of London's most charming townhouse hotels, comprised of 3 buildings built in 1869. More than a hotel, The Cranley is an ideal city-centre haven appealing equally to the discerning business or leisure traveller wanting a tranquil residence in the heart of London. It is within easy walking distance of most famous London museums and exclusive shops. The CranleyThe Cranley is serving up an ace deal this June for all Five Star Alliance guests! Along with the complimentary bottle of wine upon arrival, all Five Star Alliance guests can enjoy a complimentary upgrade and 20% off the price of breakfast. Wimbledon is between the 23rd June to the 6th July. (Room upgrades are subject to availability, so book early!!)


Celebrate July Fourth at Loews Hotel Philadelphia from $149/Night


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Loews PhiladelphiaWhat's a better spot than Philadelphia to take in the July Fourth fireworks? Celebrate America's birthday in the City of Brotherly Love and score a luxurious deluxe room for a song! Loews Philadelphia is the official hotel of the 2008 Sunoco Welcome America! festival, and has put together a special package for the occasion starting from just $149 per night. Conveniently located near all the city's major attractions and within close proximity of all the birthday activities-- including music and dance venues, yummy eats, and activities for kids of all ages-- the Loews Philadelphia will also be throwing a party of its own. In addition to overnight accommodations, the package also includes daily activities in the hotel-- like visits from historic characters and storytellers, and Independence Day favors for all. Don't miss out on the celebration!


Summertime in Washington DC: 30 Percent off at The Madison, A Loews Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Madison, A Loews HotelWho says it's too hot and humid in DC in the summer? To the contrary, the summer is the ideal time to check out the nation's most iconic monuments and explore all the museums and exhibits. The Madison, A Loews Hotel, offers the ideal base to discover all the best the capital has to offer. Located in the heart of the city, just a short walk from the White House and Embassy Row, the Madison welcomes families this summer with the Summertime Weekends Promotion. Take a family vacation and have some adventures in DC. You can even bring Fido along with you; furry family members are welcomed with the famous Loews Loves Pets program! Book this promotion and you'll receive 30 percent off Loews Best Rate when you stay three nights or more. Valid until September 7, 2008.


Beach Butlers and Endless Sea Views at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Royal Pavilion, BarbadosOn the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea, where the shimmering pink sand meets the sea and sky, discover an enchanting luxury hotel. Described as "The Jewel in the Crown of Barbados," the Fairmont Royal Pavilion blends Old World hospitality and stunning scenery (swaying palms aplenty) with all the world-class facilities expected by sophisticated travelers. Golf, tennis, snorkeling, sailing, water skiing, and all that jazz. During the high season, this resort is a couples-oriented destination-- ideal for honeymoons and romantic escapes-- with kids welcomed from May 1 and October 31. Boasting endless views of the turquoise Caribbean, all rooms are decorated with mahogany furniture and luxurious fabrics in the tradition of a Barbadian plantation house, outfitted with all the latest technology. Personalized service is a given here. Read: Beach Butlers who'll deliver fresh towels, sunscreen, drinks and ice water, anything your little heart desires…


Family Affair at the Viceroy Santa Monica


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Viceroy Santa MonicaHead to the California seaside for a stylish family weekend at Viceroy Santa Monica. The chic hotel has put together an exclusive Family Affair package, utilizing its exclusive hotel amenities and gorgeous setting, to set a fun-filled agenda of activities for the whole fam to enjoy together. How does this sound? Popcorn and movies, surf lessons on a classic urban beach, private yoga lessons by the pool or drives through posh Malibu in a luxury convertible. Here's the skinny:

- Two night stay in a one-bedroom suite with connecting room with two beds

- Welcome Amenity of wine & cheese for parents, cookies & milk for kids

- Movies and popcorn delivered to the room on the first night of stay

- Breakfast each morning at Whist or in room

- Surf lessons for four (additional surf lessons are $120 per person)

- Private family yoga session for four on the Viceroy pool deck

- Luxury convertible car rental for the weekend with map to Malibu and new Getty Villa

The total price for the Viceroy's package is $3,500, available for Thursday, Friday and Saturday night stays from now until October 31, 2008. Must be booked 7 days in advance.