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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 in Honolulu, Hawaii: La Mer at the Halekulani Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

La Mer

La Mer is Hawaii's only Five-Diamond Restaurant. Located in the landmark Halekulani hotel-- its proud global reputation sustained by its long tradition of gracious hospitality and royal service-- La Mer features Neoclassical French cuisine crafted with indigenous island ingredients. Chef Yves Garnier's internationally-acclaimed creations are served amidst breathtaking ocean views, a setting deemed No. 1 for Decor in a Zagat study of the best hotel restaurants. Expect to pay a pretty penny for this divine gourmet experience; La Grande Assiette Gourmande (an appetizer for two people which includes a chef's sampler of Hamachi and Ahi Tartare on a Taro Chip, Lobster Medallions, Fresh Hearts of Palm and Red Beet, Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Marinated Anchovies on Potato, Small Mussel Soup and Sauteed Foie Gras) is $72. Jacket required for gentlemen.


Picnic in Style with the New Day Tripper Menu at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Vancouver

There's no shortage of spectacular picnic spots in Vancouver: observe harbor seals from your seat on the rocks at Lighthouse Park, hit the rainforest trails of Stanley Park (or soak up the sun at Third Beach), find a spot in the grass on Granville Island (after kayaking down False Creek), enjoy the people-watching along the seawall at Davie Street in Yaletown, or unpack your picnic after hiking Grouse Mountain, munching on lunch while savoring the beautiful view of city and ocean. Four Seasons Vancouver has recently launched a Day Tripper Menu, so that guests can visit these gorgeous urban picnic spots with a deluxe gourmet meal (by backpack or basket).


Best of the Berkshires: Fall Leaf-Peeping at Blantyre Hotel, Lenox, Massachusetts


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Blantyre

Dating from 1902, Blantyre is a Tudor-country-house estate (modeled after a castle in Scotland) situated amidst 100 acres of impeccably manicured grounds. Critics hail Blantyre as America's Best Inn, its elegant surroundings and superb service conjuring a bygone time of gracious living and refined taste. Here is the ideal spot to enjoy the Berkshires countryside and fall foliage. Recipient of the Mobil Five-Star Award since 2003, Wine Spectator Award of Excellence since 2002, and Andrew Harper's Hideaway Grand Award Winner, Blantyre offers guests an experience of grandeur. Guest rooms feature hand-carved four poster beds, fireplaces, French windows, and lavish furnishings. Play croquet on the tournament-rated croquet courts, hit on the four Har-Tru tennis courts, enjoy the heated pool, relax in the excellent new spa (housed in Blantyre's original Potting Shed), or take to the trails to appreciate the beautiful changing leaves. The hotel is happy to prepare a special picnic basket, decorated with flowers and ribbons, just for the occasion. Dinner, likewise, is a memorable experience (jacket and tie required).


Dr. Andrew Weil Presents Healthy Aging at Miraval, Life in Balance, Resort


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Miraval Life in Balance

As featured in the Robb Report (our friends at the Helium Report have published an awesome summary of the September issue, check it out!)— the world-renowned Miraval, Life in Balance Resort continues to pave the way for lifestyle resorts with the innovative and ground-breaking work of its Director of Integrative Health and Healing, Dr. Andrew Weil. America's leading expert on mind-body living, Dr. Weil has devoted the past thirty years to developing, practicing, and teaching others about the principles of integrative medicine. His books include the national bestsellers Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being, Spontaneous Healing, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, Eating Well for Optimum Health and The Healthy Kitchen.

As part of the Miraval resort's Luminaries Series— where guests are invited to meet and speak with thinkers who have shaped the ideas of our time— Andrew Weil will lead a special workshop on Healthy Aging at Miraval from October 29-November 1, 2006. Rates per person are $3092.06 single occupancy all-inclusive and $2738.32 double occupancy all-inclusive. Includes three nights luxurious accommodation, all retreat programming, three gourmet meals daily, evening appetizers, snacks and all non-alcoholic beverages, unlimited access to all scheduled programs and activities, one spa service, one-on-one consultation or one round of golf up to a $110 value per person, per night of stay, and round trip transportation from Tucson International Airport.

Consistently ranked the number one destination spa in the world, Miraval, Life in Balance is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Southern Arizona, its 104 exquisite hacienda-style guestrooms situated on 400 manicured acres in the picturesque Sonoran Desert. The resort offers luxury, privacy and a healthful focus for the body, mind and spirit. There is no strict regimen: guests are free to create daily agendas that suit their own goals.


The Best Dining in South Florida: Little Palm Island Resort and Spa, Florida Keys


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Little Palm Island

Your own pristine private island accessible only by boat and seaplane, Little Palm Island is a lush tropical paradise listed among the top resorts in the world by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure magazines. The internationally-acclaimed resort has got it all: romantic, spacious guestrooms (outfitted with ocean facing verandahs, private outdoor showers and jetted tubs), a heated lagoon style pool, natural white sand beach (rare for the Keys!), cozy Great Room library, endless array of watercraft choices, and fitness room. But the best part of all is the candle-lit Dining Room. Recently voted the best Hotel Dining Room in the Southeast by the Zagat Survey and number three in the nation, the Dining Room creates a real epicurean experience, sure to delight even the most discriminating of foodies. Executive Chef Luis Pous and his culinary team serve exceptional French-Caribbean plates served in a magical setting overlooking the turquoise sea. (And the service is really unparalleled.)


Thanksgiving at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Inn at Palmetto Bluff

What could be better than good Southern eats, coupled with that legendary Southern hospitality, at the elegant Inn at Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina's picturesque Low Country? The 2006 Andrew Harper's Hideaway Grand Award Winner is a peaceful and luxurious retreat just minutes from Savannah and Hilton Head Island. Surrounded by flowering gardens overlooking the May River, the Inn provides the ultimate pampering resort experience expected of a world-renowned Auberge Resort. It is also South Carolina's greatest golf resort.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday with the Inn at Palmetto Bluff and treat yourself to a delicious, traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the River House along with a slew of exciting family-oriented activities. Beginning Thursday, November 23 and continuing through Sunday, November 26, 2006 fun-filled adventures include: family games, the Crab Cake Social, 5K Turkey Trot, oyster roast, cider and hot chocolate around the fire pits, cooking and and wine demonstration, and a cruise on the May River for dolphin watching.


Reasons to Love The Jefferson Hotel Richmond


By: Courtney W. May

The Jefferson - Room 606 - Turn Down Service

I stayed at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia on the night of July 15th in Guest Room 606 (a deluxe room). I admit I got an awesome rate last minute and because I have a travel agency IATA card (for full disclosure I must mention that), I got a nice rate, but it wasn't free and I made no promises about my reviews. Now I'll cut to the chase and just list for you all of the good (and maybe bad) things to consider on your trip to Richmond.

* The rooms (at least all of the ones I saw) are HUGE (ceilings are tall, windows are large, and the closest had tons of space).

* The city of Richmond is not the absolute greatest view to have -I am not saying it's not bad)- but most importantly - none of the rooms at The Jefferson have views that are into walls, parking garages, or anything like that.

* The hotel pool is indoors, which might be nice in the winter, but Richmond is incredibly hot and in the summer a nice outdoor pool would be really, really nice.

* The Sunday Brunch is everything, plus more, that you've heard about.

* Again, let me say, Richmond is really, really hot in the summer.

* The employees are some of the best I've ever come across (they couldn't have been more helpful).

* I was able to walk to all of the locations I wanted to visit while in Richmond, but if I didn't want to the hotel would have provided a town car free of charge.

The Pool

* Although not associated with the hotel, the Shockoe Slip area of Richmond is a lot of fun and has great restaurants.

* The guest rooms have a strange layout and you can never expect two rooms in the same room category to be exactly equal - but that is because the hotel was built in 1895.

* It is really hard to get reservations for the Sunday morning brunch - so make sure you reserve early.

* Make sure to ask for a non-smoking room if you don't smoke - you're in tobacco country.

The end result is that I definitely want to go back. I traveled from the DC area (which prices for everything are much, much higher) and wouldn't mind spending two or three weekends in the fall, winter and spring in the Richmond area. Rates for this five star hotel are lower then you will find in more places - yet provide you with some of the best services I have experienced. You may not think you have a reason to visit Richmond, but The Jefferson is it.

More candid photos from the trip can be found in my Richmond, VA Photoset on Flickr.


Fourth Free Night at Hotel de la Cite, Carcassonne, France


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel de la Cite

The Medieval walled city of Carcassonne, standing high on a hill above the River Aude overlooking the Minervois vineyards in Southwest France, appears to be out of a fairytale. Europe's largest fortified citadel is a amalgam of ramparts layered in history, beginning with the Gauls, Romans, Visigoths, and added to by the Moors, Franks, and Cathars. La Cite is breathtaking, the dramatic witches' hat turrets and ramparts illuminated dramatically by night. The crowds in the summer can be overwhelming; over two million tourists flock to see Carcassonne's fortified walls every year. Thus the Fall is the perfect time to visit this enchanting historic city.

Hotel de la Cite, the luxurious hideaway from Orient-Express Hotels, has designed a special Autumn Leaves fall promotion that is too good to pass up. Standing between two historic landmarks, the Roman Chateau Comtal and the Gothic Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, in the heart of the old city, Hotel de la Cite is an exquisite structure of stone walls, wood paneling and stained glass windows set amidst gardens and terraces. Each of its 40 guestrooms and 21 Suites is individually furnished, with several boasting balconies and terraces with spectacular views of the medieval ramparts, the Castle, and the narrow cobble-stoned streets of the Citadel. In addition, the hotel's La Barbacane Restaurant offers a heavenly gastronomic experience in a fantastic setting with fireplaces, high ceilings and cathedral chairs. With the Autumn Leaves package, book three nights and get the fourth for free! Available from September 1 to October 31, 2006, the package also includes complimentary daily buffet breakfast at Brasserie Chez Saskia, and one special package dinner for two - The Chef's Choice - at La Barbacane Restaurant (excluding beverages). Savings of up to 40 percent off.

Via Travel and Leisure Hot Deals


Oktoberfest and Cooking Classes at Sea Island Resorts, Georgia


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sea Island Cooking School

The German-born executive chef of The Lodge at Sea Island will be teaching a delicious array of authentic German specialties, including sauerbraten (a savory, marinated German pot roast), spätzle (handmade German noodles), and schnitzel (crispy pan-fried veal cutlets with aromatic herbs). The next session of the Sea Island Cooking School takes place on September 18 and 19, 2006, starting with the Friday evening private reception and dinner with Chef Johannes Klapdohr in The Lodge Wine Cellar. Also includes Saturday morning cooking school with lunch prepared by the participants, Sunday brunch, and your very own monogrammed chef's jacket. The "Cook Together" package starts at $850 per night, with a two night minimum stay. (If you miss the cooking school, there's always the annual Oktoberfest celebration at Sea Island on October 10, 2006.)

"Add some sizzle with schnitzel," Chef Johannes Klapdohr says. And here's a teaser for your next Fall tailgating picnic, for Southern German Potato Salad:

Ingredients:

2 lb. Potatoes

1 lg. Onion, finely diced

2 c. Chicken stock

6 tbsp. Vinegar (mild vinegar like apple, with 5 percent acidity)

1 tbsp. Mustard

1 tsp. Salt

4 tbsp. Oil

1 tbsp. Parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp. Chives, finely cut

Pepper and Nutmeg to taste

Preparation:

Boil the potatoes in their jackets and peel while still hot.

Sweat onions with one tablespoon of oil and deglaze with chicken stock. Set aside.

Slice potatoes thinly in large bowl.

Season potatoes with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Add mustard, vinegar, parsley and chives.

Pour chicken stock over potatoes and add oil.

Mix carefully and let rest for 1 hr.

Serve warm.

Related Articles:

A Recipe for Romance: The Cook Together Package at The Lodge at Sea Island, Georgia


The Best Hotel Restaurant in the USA: The French Room in The Adolphus Hotel, Dallas


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The French Room

According to Zagat anyway. "There aren't enough superlatives to describe it," Zagat gushes about this elegant Grande Dame located in the Hotel Adolphus in downtown Dallas. The ambience of this French-American restaurant is decidedly romantic: with hand-blown crystal chandeliers and a soaring 18 foot high ceiling with hand-painted frescoes. The $72 fixed price, three-course dinner menu is spectacular, and features seared tuna, roasted Colorado rack of lamb, and vanilla and raspberry creme brulee. Jacket required.