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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.

What’s Hot: The Sarojin, Khao Lak, Thailand

December 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Sarojin

The west coast of Thailand-- including the tourist-adored islands of Phuket and Khao Lak-- took a beating after the disastrous tsunami of December 2004. At the time, The Sarojin was just about to open its doors: a luxury boutique hotel planted on ten acres of gorgeous beachfront. Now, after extensive repairs of the damage sustained by the tsunami's aftermath, The Sarojin has opened as one of the hottest properties of the year. (It's already racking up the awards, including "Asia's Leading Boutique Hotel" from the World Travel Awards 2006, and Conde Nast Traveler 2006 Hot List.) The Sarojin is located an hour north of Phuket, situated inside the Khao Lak National Park, where beaches, cascading waterfalls, wildlife, and spectacular primary forest lure visitors. Just steps from the breathtaking beach and turquoise Andaman Sea, The Sarojin consists of 56 guest residences nestled within expansive garden grounds with winding walkways and lotus pools. If you can tear yourself away from your residence (which boast private sundecks with intimate couples' baths, rainfall showers, and plunge pools), there are recreational activities aplenty: scuba and snorkeling cruises, sea kayaking, sailing, fitness center, infinity pool, Thai cooking classes, and farther afield: elephant trekking and bamboo rafting. Not to mention the beautiful spa.

Related Articles:

Let's Visit Asia, "World Travel Awards Winners (Asia Category)"


The Best Restaurants in Jackson Hole, Wyoming: GameFish at Snake River Lodge

December 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

GameFish

In the midst of Wyoming's rugged grandeur, situated slopeside at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the Snake River Lodge and Spa exudes informal elegance. Guests enjoy spectacular views of the Gros Ventre Mountain Range, recently-renovated guest rooms, and the 17,000 square foot Avanyu Spa, complete with indoor/outdoor pool, hot tubs, sauna, and treatment rooms. At the hotel's AAA four-diamond award-winning GameFish restaurant, discover distinctive Western cuisine and a comprehensive wine list. GameFish is renowned for its regional specialties like Wyoming Angus steaks, native fish, and grilled and smoked game. Savor the Porcini-dusted Wild Salmon and taste the Wild West.

Recipe for Porcini-dusted Wild Salmon

Florentine Orzo

1 lb orzo pasta

1 lb spinach

6 Roma tomatoes

4 sprigs thyme

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup heavy cream

2 T grated Parmesan

Kosher salt and white pepper to taste

Blanch spinach in boiling salted water for 10 seconds and place immediately in ice bath. Drain well and chop finely. Cook orzo in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, rinse and reserve. In a small saucepan, sweat spinach in dash of olive oil. Add cream, reduce by 1/3;

add Parmesan. Just before plating, heat orzo in the cream with chopped spinach; season with salt and pepper.

Balsamic Brown Butter Emulsion

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 lb unsalted butter

Reduce the balsamic vinegar by half. While vinegar is reducing, brown the butter over high heat until it gives off nutty aroma. When vinegar has reduced, using an immersion blender combine the brown butter to the vinegar in a slow steady stream. Reserve keeping warm.

King Salmon

4 each 7 oz salmon fillets

2 T porcini powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup olive oil

Combine the flour and porcini powder. Season and dredge the salmon in the flour mixture. If porcini powder is not available, grind dried porcinis in a spice grinder to achieve same results. In a large saute pan, heat 2 T of olive oil. Place the salmon in the pan and brown. When one side is browned, flip and place into a 375 degree oven for 5 minutes. (Depends on thickness of fillets and preferred temperature of salmon.) To plate, place equal parts of Florentine orzo on 4 plates, arrange salmon, then spoon balsamic emulsion around the salmon.

Serves 4.


New Year’s Eve in Washington DC: Celebrate at The Jefferson

December 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Jefferson

Just four blocks from the White House, the AAA four-diamond Jefferson Hotel is a premier DC address. The historic Beaux Arts-inspired hotel is a distinguished boutique property with 100 lavish rooms with marble bathrooms (suites feature canopy beds and wood-burning fireplaces). The hotel's original owner was an admirer of Thomas Jefferson, and thus the hotel now showcases an exquisite collection of rare documents written by the Founding Father. The Zagat award-winning dining room, a favorite of Washingtonians and visiting heads of state, charms the most discriminating palates with its excellent New American cuisine. Adjoining the restaurant, The Lounge is a sophisticated hot spot where guests enjoy specialty cocktails, the superb wine list, and a selection of fine cigars by the warmth of a crackling fire. Original caricature prints, dating back to the 1700's, adorn the walls.

This New Year's Eve, indulge in an extravagant eight-course tasting menu, specially crafted by Executive Chef Charlie Hansji, and then cap off 2006 with The Jefferson's New Year's party. This exclusive NYE celebration is themed the "smoke out," in honor of the smoking ban scheduled to take effect January 1, 2007 (say goodbye to the era of public smoking in the Jefferson's historic Lounge.) The menu's haute cuisine is beyond tempting: chervil custard, Osetra caviar; salsify and miso soup, crunchy frog legs; croustillant of langoustine; potato crusted turbotini; blanquette of wild Scottish pheasant; double lamb rib chop (sweet bread, Porcini and Burgundian black truffle Chartreuse); bitter French greens (Arbequina olive oil and 150-year-old Balsamico); followed by dessert and the cheese trolley. Each course is complimented with a wine pairing. The dining room will remain smoke free, but smokers will gather in the Lounge for a last hurrah: cigar, hookah and cigarettes all night long.

The dinner begins at 7:30 pm, and is priced at $200 per person, which also includes champagne, cognac tasting, smoking sessions, and NYE commemorative cigar/cutter giveaway. The hotel is offering a special Couples Celebration package, starting from $599 in a deluxe room, including dinner and party entrance fee.


Loews Hotels Jumps on the Anti Trans-Fat Bandwagon

December 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Madison, A Loews Hotel

Hot on the heels of New York City's decision to ban all artificial trans-fat in restaurant cooking, Loews Hotels has announced its own ban on trans-fat at its 18 hotels and restaurants. Loews has become the first hotel brand to do so, in an effort to create healthier kitchens and lifestyles. The full ban on artificial trans-fat will be implemented by June 1, 2007, and applies to all restaurants, room service, and snack service (bye bye, late-night-snack-binging at the mini-bar!) Forget pastries made with shortening (and all that partially hydrogenated badness); real butter will resume its important role in the kitchen as an all-natural ingredient.

Related Articles:

New York Times, "In City's Trans Fat Ban, a Challenge Fit for a Chef"

TravelWeekly, "Loews Hotels to trim the (trans) fat from foods by June 2007"


Announcing the New Raffles Dubai

December 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Raffles Dubai

Set off on a camel safari across the sand dunes, cruise the turquoise Gulf, or hit the slopes at the challenging indoor ski resort. In glitzy, glamorous Dubai-- setting of the only seven-star hotel in the world-- everything goes. And now, the New York Times has pinpointed the new Raffles as one of the hottest hotels of the year:

In Dubai, where hotels bearing names like Versace, Armani and Trump are all in the works, a pyramid-shaped Raffles is opening this summer with 248 pharaoh-chic rooms and a two-and-a-half-acre rooftop greenhouse.

Located in the heart of the city on Sheikh Zayed Road, the premier business and shopping district of Dubai, Raffles Dubai is a stunning landmark: an 18-storey pyramid rising like a mirage from the desert. The 248 guest rooms are plush and opulent; the Royal Suite is positively palatial, 480 square meters including a private balcony. There will be nine dining and drinking outlets, including the lively China Moon bar, and the heavenly RafflesAmrita Spa. The best part of all is perhaps the unique, one-hectare 'Sparkling Botanical Sky-Garden', depicting the four 'Elements of Life' (fire, wind, earth and water), in an oasis of exotic flora and orchids spread around the swimming pool. Coming Summer 2007.


InterContinental Hong Kong Welcomes Nobu Restaurant

December 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Hong Kong

The InterContinental could be the most stylish hotel in Hong Kong. With unrivaled views of Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong Island from its waterfront location, the hotel boasts sleek, contemporary rooms, 24-hour butler service, dazzling infinity pool, and feng shui inspired I-Spa and Fitness Center. The InterContinental is certainly the city's "it" place to eat. This month superstar chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa will open a branch of his famous Nobu eatery at the hotel. (This will be the second Nobu in Asia, and 16th location worldwide.) Interior Designer David Rockwell has transformed the space that used to be Yü restaurant into a sexy and happening hot spot. Signature dishes will include yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, and the beloved black cod with miso, along with new creations featuring local ingredients. As described by Sherman's Travel Magazine,

The InterCon has become one of Hong Kong's top dining destinations. First, celebrity chef Alain Ducasse opened his high-concept Spoon restaurant which was followed by Steakhouse Winebar and Grill. And now, a branch of Nobu adds even more cachet.


Ring in the New Year at the Peninsula Hotel New York

December 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peninsula New York

Welcome the New Year at the elegant Fives Restaurant at The Peninsula New York. Executive Chef Gordon Maybury has devised a tempting five-course dinner menu for the New Year's Eve Gala Dinner. (The prix fixe dinner includes party hats, noisemakers, and one bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne per couple.) Dance the night away to the upbeat sounds of a five-piece band. And take your chances with the special grand prize drawing-- for a two night stay in the Peninsula Suite, valued at $30,000. Black-tie, $400 per person. On New Year's Day, indulge in the sumptuous Champagne buffet brunch at Fives. Start the year off right with divine selections from the Sushi Bar, Carving Station, baked goods, Risotto Station, seafood, and decadent dessert bar. Brunch is served from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, and is $95 per person, inclusive of Champagne.


Winter Escapes: Riffelalp Resort 2222m, Zermatt, Switzerland

December 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Riffelalp

In the village of Zermatt, close to the Italian border, at one of the premier ski destinations in the world, there is a resort like no other. The luxurious Riffelalp Resort is situated at 2,222 meters above sea level, affording guests an extraordinary and unique alpine panorama. Hit the slopes at the heart of the Gornergrat skiing district; the in-house ski concierge can assist with equipment rental and even set up heli-skiing trips. At the end of the day, soak your tired muscles in Europe's highest outdoor pool (heated to 35 degrees Celsius), taking in superb views of the Matterhorn. Or head to the Wellness Center and explore the various baths-- stone steam, saline, immersion-- and the Finnish Sauna, or indulge in a massage. In the evening, sample Cheese Fondue and Raclette in front of the open fire, or dine in style at the hotel's fine eateries. Evenings are never dull; there is a plethora of entertainment, including two bowling alleys, billiard room, home cinema, wine bar, and cocktail bar.


Destination: Turks and Caicos Islands

December 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Amanyara

The cat's out of the bag about the white sand beaches and immense coral reef of the Turks and Caicos islands. As described by Outside Traveler:

Word of mouth helped establish TCI as a jet-set retreat. It started in 1998, when renowned hotelier Christina Ong built a private island resort on Parrot Cay... Now, with new nonstops from Boston and Fort Lauderdale, as well as flights from other hubs, TCI is no secret... and last February a new Carnival cruise-ship terminal opened on the southern end of Grand Turk.

But on the more isolated stretches of the archipelago, elite luxury hotels have staked their claim, dedicated to ecotourism, energy conservation, and preservation of the pristine natural environment. The stunning Amanyara resort opened in March 2006, nestled on the tip of a 5,000 acre nature reserve on the secluded western shore of Providenciales. Coming in 2008: the $300 million Ritz-Carlton Molasses Reef, a unique eco-conscious residential community and boutique resort situated on the unspoiled, uninhabited island of West Caicos. And in 2009, eco-friendly Fairmont Hotels is slated to open a 150-room luxury hotel on North Caicos.

Related Articles:

TripAdvisor, Turks and Caicos


New Years in Edinburgh: Hogmanay at the Balmoral Hotel

December 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is going off this holiday season. The traditional Hogmanay festival, a four day party filled with exciting events and traditional happenings, is one of the best New Year's parties in the world. The city itself is magical to behold during the festivities: charming cobblestone streets and squares, beautiful shop windows, sparkling lights and plentiful decorations. Things kick off with the Torchlight Procession on December 29; the revelry continues with the world-famous Royal Bank Street Party on New Year's Eve (along with The Concert in the Gardens, The New Year Revels, Seven Hills Fireworks, The Ceilidh in the Gardens, and the Candlelit Concert); the party concludes with the One O'clock Run on New Year's Day. Where to stay? Rocco Forte's award-winning Balmoral Hotel entices with roaring fires, seasonal lights, and luxurious accommodations and service. Overlooking the Edinburgh Castle, the hotel couldn't boast a more perfect location to enjoy the New Year's festivities. The Balmoral celebrates Hogmanay with a traditional Gala Ball, the most sophisticated and glamorous black-tie event in Edinburgh. Champagne and Canapés, a sumptuous four-course menu created by othe Michelin-starred Chef, Jeff Bland, dancing to a live band, and at the stroke of midnight-- the best views in town for the breathtaking fireworks display over Edinburgh Castle. The Gala Bala experience costs from GBP 555 per room, per night (two night minimum). Includes complimentary use of the Balmoral Spa.