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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.

Malbec in Mendoza: Argentina’s Cavas Wine Lodge

March 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cavas Wine Lodge

Wine-lovers rejoice; the seasonal grape harvest in the Southern Hemisphere is only just beginning. In Mendoza, Argentina, where the rolling fields of vines are set against a magnificent backdrop of the snow-capped Andes, the award-winning malbec and torrontes varietals are divine. Indulge in copious quantities at the wine-cellar at Cavas Wine Lodge, the region's hottest new hotel. The 14 free-standing guest rooms are spacious, with fireplace, private terrace, plunge pool and al fresco shower. Top-of-the-line technology includes entertainment centers, two-line phones and high-speed internet access. Soak up the breathtaking views by the outdoor pool, indulge in the restaurant's gastronomic delights, or relax with a superb spa treatment. And of course there are (lots of) glasses to be savored, overlooking the surrounding vineyards.

Related Articles:

The New York Times, "Peel Me a Grape"

Frommer's, "Embrace the Cold Shoulder Season in Chile and Argentina"


The World’s Tele-Skiers Unite! The Live Free Heel Fest in Livigno, Italy

March 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Snow in the Alps

The globe's biggest tele-marking festival is a rip-roaring good time, a week packed full of races, treks through the Alps, a film festival, equipment expos, open-air barbecue, and lots of grub and wine. So toss those bindings and jet to Italy! Formerly known as La Skieda, the festival runs from April 1-8. $170 gets you lift tickets and entrance to all events.


Announcing the Grand Opening of the Conrad Indianapolis

March 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Conrad Indianapolis

At last, a luxury destination hotel for business travelers in the heart of Indiana's capital. The Conrad Indianapolis debuts today (and Conrad's been prepping for this opening ceremony for months!) The 241 guest rooms are loaded with technology and amenities for business travelers: 42 inch flat screen TVs with satellite, high speed wireless internet, spacious work areas, three telephones and fax. In addition, the hotel's got ample meeting space (10,000 sq ft. of it), excellent spa facilities, and fine dining. The Vitesse tapas and caviar bar may even lure East and West coasters into the depths of the Heartland's fly-over territory.


Ritzy Singles Cooking Classes at the Hotel Ritz Paris

March 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Dining at the Hotel Ritz

That's right. The outstanding cooking school-- Ecole Ritz Escoffier-- at the legendary Parisian palace hotel is now offering the Ritzy Rendez-vous one Friday evening per month, for singles to wine and dine... and cook, of course. The setting couldn't be more perfect, opposite the great kitchen at the Ritz, where gourmands and professional chefs flock to learn the secrets to the best modern French cuisine. (EUR 90)


Four Seasons Hotel Chicago Announces Kevin Hickey as New Executive Chef

March 23, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Chicago restaurant

The award-winning hotel that is oft considered the best city hotel in the United States has a dining room to match. Seasons Restaurant is an opulent dining experience, both in its gorgeous seventh-floor setting overlooking Chicago's avenues, and in its creative Franco-American cuisine. The new executive chef brings with him an 11 year career with the company. A Chicago native, Hickey is a frequent shopper of neighborhood ethnic markets, incorporating local, organic products into his distinct menus of American cuisine.

As described by Chicago Magazine:

Seven months ago, four-star executive chef Robert Sulatycky left Seasons for Napa Valley to pursue his dream of becoming a winemaker. Since the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons hotels are sister properties, that left Kevin Hickey, the executive chef of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, responsible for the entire kitchens of both hotels. The guy says he has literally been running across the street in his chef whites as many as four times a day, "writing menus, driving the creative force, being involved with events." How do you do it? Dish asked. "I don’t know," Hickey replied, "but I delegated a lot. I have great sous chefs and put a little bit more work on their shoulders." One set of those shoulders belongs to the executive sous chef at the Ritz, Mark Payne, a UK native with credentials that include nine years with the Four Seasons family from properties in Nevis (West Indies) to New York City. Clearly Payne and Hickey each performed at the top of their culinary game because Hans Willimann, general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, has announced that as of April 1st, Hickey will become the executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel and Payne will be promoted to the top toque position at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Both chefs expect to have their new dining room menus in place by mid-May.


Bicycle in Italy with Lance Armstrong and Trek Travel

March 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Lance Armstrong

That's right: experience the 2006 Giro d'Italia and ride with Lance Armstrong! Trek Travel-- offering cycling vacations of a lifetime on grand tours through Europe-- designs fantastic Italian cycling adventures. From May 9-May 15, savor the best of the Italian countryside, delightful cuisine, scenic cycling, and quality time with badass champion Lance. The trip details for "Giro d'Italia with Lance Armstrong": 7 days, 6 nights, starting in Piacenza and ending in Forli, moderate (40-70 miles per day), $8500 (double occupancy).


Travel Trends: Luxury Hotels Offer Gourmet Meals As Airlines Nix Menus

March 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Pay $5 for a snack box with a cardboard-tasting sandwich and mushy apple? I don't think so, say many luxury travelers, who are opting for delightful gourmet take-out meals offered by their upscale hotels. As the Miami Herald reports:

...the posh Peninsula Beverly Hills sells takeout platters of blue fin tuna, poached salmon and Cobb salad in narrow cardboard boxes with suitcase-like handles for about $20. Guests at the Hotel Plaza Athene in New York can order a chicken club or shaved roast beef sandwich packed with monogrammed cloth napkins and a reusable thermos from the hotel's "Goodies to Go" menu. Hotels aren't just filling doggie bags with food from their restaurant menus. Some are devising special dishes that travel well and stay tasty at room temperature.
Now that's a way to build loyalty among your (happily-satiated) clients.


The Other California Wine Country: Paso Robles and the Villa Toscana

March 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Villa Toscana

The beautiful and scenic California coastline near San Luis Obispo is also Cali's fastest-growing wine region. But the cat's not yet out of the bag-- the rolling hills and undulating countryside are still peacefully quiet. No Napa traffic jams here. To explore these tranquil environs-- just about halfway between Lalaland and San Fran-- take a room at the charming Villa Toscana, a luxe bed and breakfast that boasts just eight romantic suites. Overlooking the vineyards, the rooms are opulently decorated, each named for one of the estate's award-winning wines. To really do it right, reserve the private winemaker's residence: a two-bedroom, 2.5 bath suite, with a detached two car garage, private courtyard, patio, and Jacuzzi.

Via Outside magazine April issue


Free Fourth Night at The Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables, Florida

March 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Biltmore

South Florida's national historical landmark is renowned for its luxurious, Old-World European accommodations, and impressive resort amenities. Located in Coral Gables, the destination hotel features the 18-hole, Donald Ross-designed championship golf course, 10-lighted tennis courts, fitness center, fine restaurants and bars, private wine cellar club, and an enormous pool (the largest in the continental US!) with private cabanas. Reasons to go now? Besides the new and deliciously-luxurious Biltmore Spa--12,000 sq. ft. with spectacular views, wet rooms with hydrotherapy tubs and Vichy showers, connecting specialty suites for couples, exceptional men's and women's locker facilities with steam and sauna rooms, a signature line of Solarte of Provence amenities, and state-of-the-art treatments -- The Biltmore is currently offering a promotion for a free night! Make a booking for four nights, and pay for only three.

The Biltmore, Official Site

The Biltmore, Five Star Alliance


Shopping and Dining in Key West, Florida

March 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sailing Key West

Amidst the rowdy hordes of spring-break revelers, tacky t-shirt stands and shops spilling flamingo kitsch, wary sun-seekers may despair: where is the colorful, whimsical Key West of old?! But step away from the mobs on Duvall Street, the wet t-shirt contests and "clothing optional" bars and tacky sunset scene of Mallory Square-- where the shadow of an enormous Carnival Cruise ship looms-- and the palm-lined alleys and side-streets reveal the other side to Key West's Old Town: white clapboard Victorian houses framed by fuchsia bougainvillea blossoms, Gypsy roosters clucking and crowing alongside the city's famous fat lounging cats, art galleries and Cuban coffee shops, friendly and eccentric locals.

The best dining in Key West-- hands down-- is Cafe Sole, located off the beaten path on Southard and Francis Streets. Chef John Correa learned his magic in Provence and Bordeaux, and superb dishes-- like Hog Snapper smother in a red pepper hollandaise sauce-- reflect his culinary training. For the island's best brunch, head to Blue Heaven in Bahama Village, where you can devour blueberry pancakes and lobster benedict in a flowering, friendly backyard-- full of whimsy and good cheer.

Shopping? Don't despair on Duvall. A few steps away on Petronia Street, Besame Mucho is one of the world's most pleasant boutiques. The fragrant interior is full of fine jewelry, exquisite Provencal soaps, Kiehl's products, luscious gourmet candies and beautiful Moroccan shoes. Indeed, as the slogan goes: "shop here once and life will be a joy forever.”