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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.

Hot Tables: Tower Restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland

June 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Tower Restaurant

"Uniquely for a museum this has become the hottest table in Edinburgh"-- AA Gill, The Sunday Times

"....food so sublime it eclipses the wine. Almost" --Iain Banks, The Observer

Atop the Museum of Scotland, perched above the city with spectacular views of the castle and Edinburgh's defining landmarks, the Tower Restaurant has become one of the world's hottest dining destinations since its opening in 1998. Located on the roof of the striking 20th-century sandstone-clad building, the Tower has developed a reputation for the finest seasonal produce in the country. Open every day for lunch and dinner, the restaurant woos with superlative dining (featuring fresh local produce), signature service, and breathtaking views. The extensive menu highlights Argyll oysters, lobster, Fife crab, and platters of seafood, with the grill providing the Tower's signature Aberdeen Angus (proudly hung for 21 days) served with potato scone and Portobello mushrooms.


25th Annual Kapalua Wine and Food Festival, Maui, Hawaii

June 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Kapalua Wine and Food Festival

As if you needed an excuse to jet to Hawaii. The 25th annual Kapalua Wine and Food Festival, Hawaii's most prestigious and exciting festival of its kind, kicks off on July 6 with a "Silver Salute" four-day culinary extravaganza. Look no further than this for pure gastronomic bliss. World-renowned winemakers, top master sommeliers, celebrated chefs and industry insiders lead themed tastings, seminars, and gala evening events. Cooking demonstrations, wine tasting seminars and winemaker dinners are but a few of the highlights of this event. The festivities begin with the Grand Tasting on Friday, July 7th and culminate with the popular Seafood Festival on Sunday, July 9th.


Bryant Park’s Best Event Seats - The Penthouse

June 13, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

by Courtney W. May for Bryant Park Hotel, New York City Penthouse Bryant Park Situated directly across from New York City's storied Bryant Park, and steps away from the media, fashion, retail and transportation centers of Manhattan, the Bryant Park Hotel's midtown address alone renders it prime accommodations for the business or leisure traveler alike. Get the most out of your trip by reserving their Penthouse Suite (pictured). Make sure you do it when something exciting is happening in Bryant Park or when you can devote some time to park and people watching on your balcony. P.S. The Bryant Park bathroom - the actual Park's bathrooms aren't just outhouses - was awarded the title of "best in America" by Citysearch users in 2002 so make sure you check that out too. Penthouse Suite Details Location: The Bryant Park Hotel is 25 stories tall with only 128 guest rooms. The Penthouse Suite occupies the entire 24th floor with surrounding views of the New York City skyline. Size: 1,100 square feet (better then all of Manhattan's apartments) Rooms: The Penthouse features 1 and a half baths, a dinning area for up to 6 people, living room, bedroom and balcony. The Living Room: Notable aspects of the living room include one of the Suite's two 32" High Definition LCD flat screen televisions and a desk equipped with internet access is available for any business needs. Bathroom: A sleek double-headed shower, as well as an oversized bathtub, provides a luxurious bathing experience plus you can hoard Molton Brown products in your suitcase and keep asking the housekeeping staff and front desk to send you more. Balcony: Accessible through the Bedroom, the balcony provides amazing views which include the lawn of Bryant Park and the Manhattan skyline (make sure you bring binoculars). Note Bene: Through floor-to-ceiling windows, you can enjoy the view of the Empire State Building illuminated at night, all the while immersed in a flower-petal-infused bubble bath with your BOSE Wave Music System and a BOSE SoundDock Digital Music System for Apple iPod playing that hip music kids these days are listening to. Too cheap to get the Penthouse Suite? The Bryant Park Hotel does also have 16 suites, 10 park-view terraces, and a rooftop loft space with 360-degree skyline panoramas. They all have a fresh contemporary decor and signature room appointments that include authentic Tibetan rugs, goose-down duvets, and travertine marble bathrooms, even without shelling out the Penthouse nightly rate. Other New York Suites: Plaza Athenee's Penthouse Suite, "Park Avenue Suite at The Regency in New York City", "The Carlyle Hotel in New York City (Re)Opens The Royal Suite", "The Triplex Penthouse at the Time", and "Suite Escapes: the Mandarin Oriental New York Celebrates its Taipan Suite".


‘Man’cations at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

June 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Chicago

Could it be the hottest new trend in travel? The new romantic comedy from Vince Vaughan and Jennifer Aniston, The Break Up, introduces the term 'Man'cations (Vince is at it again, in a role where he champions hanging out with the boys), and now Fairmont has put together some neat and unique ways for the guys to get together on 'Man'cations across North America. The Fairmont Chicago partners with wine and spirits producer Brown-Forman to bring the gents the ultimate Chitown 'Man'cation. The package includes a Woodford reserve whiskey tasting led by master distiller, Chris Morris, a three-course steak dinner with wine pairings by Brown-Forman, and a post-dinner cocktail seminar led by Brown Forman's CEO Tim Laird. Starting July 28, priced at $150 for seminars, dinner, alcohol, and overnight accommodations starting at $249 with a special "hair-of-the-dog" turndown amenity. Or get the crew together for some spa pampering at The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa. The Speed Meets Spa package caters to both the need for speed and the desire for pampering. With this package, guests receive enrollment at the ESPN Russell Racing School's introductory three day driving course at Infineon Raceway, three nights accommodation, dinner for two at the Inn's handsome fine-dining restaurant, two 50-minute spa treatments, tasting for two at the Gloria Ferrer winery and a bottle of Sonoma Sparkling Wine upon arrival. Available until December 30, 2006, rates start at $3,595 for the entire three-night stay, based on double occupancy.


Get the Royal Treatment in Tuscany: L’Andana Hotel and Restaurant

June 9, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

L'Andana Hotel

Once owned by Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, this spectacular villa was transformed from an agricultural estate into an exquisite country inn and restaurant by legendary celebrity chef Alain Ducasse. Set within olive groves and vineyards, L'Andana Hotel is situated on a 500-hectare estate where gourmet olive oil and divine wine are produced for expectant foodies. The 33 guestrooms are beautifully appointed with views over the surrounding Tuscan countryside, and the suites boast fireplaces. The restaurant, as expected of Alain Ducasse, is excellent. There are recreational activities aplenty: cooking courses, horseback riding, tennis, heated swimming pool, guided tours, mountain biking, and (coming soon) golf. And the newly opened spa is a food-inspired dream, featuring ingredients from the kitchen garden such as olives, lavender, grapes, sunflowers and herbs. Enjoy relaxing treatments overlooking the vineyards and outdoor marble pool.


New Cooking School at the Hotel Meurice, Paris

June 8, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Meurice That's right. The opulent Parisian hotel has a new Culinary and Lifestyle Academy for folks to learn (and hopefully master) the art of French savoir-vivre. The landmark Hotel Meurice has always been ranked one of the most elegant hotels in the world, so we can trust that this fashionable new school will provide the best kind of expertise in subjects such as flower-arranging, wine-tasting, and pastry-making. Saturday classes include morning and afternoon sessions, with 12 students max. a class. Starting at EUR 105 per person.


An Interview with the GM - T. Colm O’Callaghan of the Conrad Chicago

June 5, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Mr. T. Colm O'Callaghan, General Manager of the Conrad Chicago

T. Colm O'Callaghan

The Conrad Chicago, formerly the Le Meridien Chicago, opened in November 2005 and has been continuing to upgrade ever since. Five Star Alliance and The Informed Traveler got in touch with the General Manager, Mr. T Colm O'Callaghan to find out more about his experiences with the new hotel and to learn more about what guests can expect.

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

Mr. O'Callaghan: My family owns a hotel in Ireland which meant I was born into the business; I also attended hotel school, worked for Hilton for 18years. When this position became available I jumped at the opportunity.

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. O'Callaghan: Location, location, location.

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

Mr. O'Callaghan: Our customers are both business and leisure with our feeder markets being Los Angeles, New York, the UK, and Germany.

Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel’s location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

Mr. O'Callaghan: We are located in the heart of The Magnificent Mile surrounded by wonderful shopping, great museums, great dining and within walking distance to city favorites as Millennium Park, and Navy Pier. My favorite thing to do is people watch, great people watching right on Michigan Avenue.

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. O'Callaghan: I can not speak about specific guests. I will say we do have a loyal client base. Our biggest compliment is our repeat guests.

Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?

Mr. O'Callaghan: All of our rooms are fabulous!

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. O'Callaghan: Designed by Chicago architects Frederick J. Thielbar and John Reed Furgard, this 16-story art deco limestone building is a collaboration between one of the city's leading architectural firms and the sculptors Eugene mad Gwen Lux. Gwen Lux is among America's pioneer women sculptresses; her work can be found at the Rockefeller Center complex in New York City and at the General Motors Technical Center in Detroit designed by architect Eero Saarinen. The McGraw-Hill Building served as the Midwestern offices of the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, among the largest trade paper and book publishers in the country.

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. O'Callaghan: The location of the hotel, and the warmth and friendliness of its staff.

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. O'Callaghan: The hardest part is the administrative aspect of the job it prevents me from interacting with the guests and staff as much as I would like.

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. O'Callaghan:

1. Sheen Falls – Kenmare, Ireland – ideal setting

2. Evans Hideaway Resort – Huahin, Thailand – love private villas, infinity pools and enclosed walls.

3. Conrad Tokyo – New standard for the International Conrad, great urban hotel.

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

Mr. O'Callaghan: Warm friendly staff, second none in Chicago.

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Mr. T. Colm O'Callaghan is the General Manager of the Conrad Chicago in Chicago, IL where he came from his position as the Resident Manager at The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago. Prior to that, Mr. O'Callaghan had over 20 years of European and American professional experiences with hotels such as The St. Regis Hotel New York, The New York Palace, Mandarin Oriental San Francisco, and Merv Griffin's Beverly Hilton. He received his B.A., an Honors Degree, from the Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland and his Graduate Certificate from the General Manager Development Program in Hong Kong.

More Information about The Conrad Chicago


Dining Behind the Scenes at The Peninsula Hong Kong Chef’s Table

June 2, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Peninsula Hong Kong

In a city known for endless dining options, at one of the world's most famous hotels, a new trend made waves: guests join the Chef's Table for a tailor-made meal prepared before their eyes. The Peninsula Hong Kong offers an exquisite culinary experience hosted by the Executive Chef, Florian Trento. Witness the inner workings of a busy hotel kitchen and watch in awe as your mouth-watering personalized menu-- comprised of one course from each of the hotel's seven dining venues-- is crafted before your eyes. The gourmet delight of the Grand Chef's Table can cater up to ten guests. Sample cuisine from each of the hotel's restaurants: Chesa, Felix, Gaddi's, Imasa, The Lobby, Spring Moon and The Verandah. It is only available on request with two weeks advance notice and costs HK$48,888 (US$6,268), and includes a special gift for each guest. Also available at The Peninsula: Gaddi's Chef’s Table, which seats only four guests. Three-course lunch $88, five-course dinner $191, ten-course dinner $268. Spring Moon Chefs' Table seats up to six guests, and is available only for dinner. The six-course dinner menu costs $1,071 for one to four diners, with up to two additional diners at $268. Reservations essential.


The Best of Key West Dining: Cafe Marquesa

May 31, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cafe Marquesa

The award-winning Marquesa Hotel-- Key West's finest small hotel, a luxurious gem with lush gardens just steps from Duvall Street in Old Town--is home to one of the best dining experiences on the island. The 50-seat restaurant offers Contemporary American Cuisine, with specialties including Seared Brioche Dusted Yellowfin Tuna, Goat Cheese and Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb and Grilled Marinated Key West Shrimp, along with fresh baked breads and desserts. Awards include the AAA four-diamond and the DiRona Award. And Zagat has distinguished the restaurant as one of the best hotel restaurants in the country, identifying its "sophisticated" Key West style, "beautiful" presentations, and "relaxing ambiance" as what "makes her a queen."


One of the World’s Best Hideaways: Huka Lodge, New Zealand

May 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Huka Lodge

There's a lot of buzz about New Zealand-- above and beyond the publicity generated by the Lord of the Rings flicks. Everyone's talking about this little island nation on the far south end of the Pacific. (Indeed, Conde Nast readers rated the country the #1 holiday destination in the world.) No matter what the season, New Zealand has it all: breathtaking scenery, recreational activities galore, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality. Easily the best place to stay on this gorgeous island nation is Huka Lodge, located in Taupo, in the central North Island, and considered one of the world's top retreats. This 20 suite lodge has racked up the awards: Travel and Leisure Top 500 list (the only property in New Zealand with this distinction), Conde Nast Traveler "Best Hotel Rooms in Australasia and South Pacific," Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report "Top 20 International Resort Hotels." And if the awards list seems impressive, you should see the famous guest-list. The guestbook reads like the party of the century.

The setting is magical. Situated in a beautifully landscaped park on the banks of the Waikato River, Huka Lodge is just a short walk from the spectacular cascades of Huka Falls. As can be expected, activities run the gamut from tennis to petanque, hiking to trout fishing, mountain biking to relaxing in the hot pools and outdoor spa. Spacious, light guestrooms are complemented by outdoor terraces and bathrooms with under-floor heating and sunken baths.

As described recently in Stuff NZ:

Huka Lodge is New Zealand's quintessential super-lodge for the globe-trotting rich, royal and famous… Since 2001, all the guest rooms and the Owner's Cottage - the super suite perched on a rise overlooking the first set of rapids - have been rebuilt or refurbished with the difficult aim of combining the comfort of a five-star hotel with a boysy ruggedness befitting its fishing hut origins.

And the dining is exquisite. Hotel rates include pre-dinner cocktails, a five course dinner and breakfast. All meals are communal seating with some private dinning available.