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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.

London’s Triple Threat - The Maybourne Group


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

by Courtney W. May for Maybourne Hotel Group

Berkeley Tea Cookies

The Maybourne Hotel Group has 3 hotels in London - The Berkeley, Claridge's and The Connaught. The Berkeley, overlooking Hyde Park in Knightsbridge, is offering a Prêt-à-Portea & Champagne Prêt-à-Portea this summer descrbed as "A Fashionista's Afternoon Tea." Eclairs, fancies and frou-frou mousses are all set for a makeover in the style of the world’s top fashion designers, such as Bottega Veneta, Ralph Lauren and Versace (the Autumn/Winter 2005 fashion collections are the inspiration - see photo).

Some awesome special rates at all 3 of the properties are available during the summer. Examples include 'Summer in the City' where reserving two consecutive room nights will give you a third night for no charge, or the 'Twice is Nice' offer where when you reserve one room you get a second room complimentary which is ideal for a family or two couples.

Check them all out at:

www.maybourne.com


Escape World Cup Madness with SLH Member Hotels


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

from Courtney W. May and Lanny Grossman, Director of Communications for Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Chateau St Gerlach

Now that the World Cup is officially underway in Germany (my bracket has the Czech Republic walking away with it all - even though I am a huge US fan), some travelers might be looking for alternatives to dealing with the crazed soccer fans who have descended on Germany this summer. Personally, I can't imagine not wanting to be in the thick of things, but if you're one of those looking to go away during June, SLH has the following promotion "7 : 0 for Small Luxury Hotels: Best Escapes from the Soccer World Championship".

With World Cup madness hitting Germany and much of Western Europe, here are seven ways to visit the region and escape to a world of private luxury and ultimate experiences.

Wild Water Rafting in the Austrian alps: Around Kitzbuhel numerous river routes through spectacular mountain gorges are available for wild water rafting excursions, which the Hotel Tennerhof (www.slh.com/tennerhof) can arrange for its guests. A more tranquil alternative exclusiv for hotel guests: Fishing at a lake nearby where the Tennerhof holds private fishing rights.

Falconry in baroque gardens: As stylish as the ambiance of the castle hotel Chateau St. Gerlach (Netherlands) are the leisure activities of this SLH hotel: Golf, Horse-Riding, Tennis and falconry are on offer in the hotel's baroque gardens and in the wonderful nature of the Geul valley. (pictured)

Clay Pigeon shooting high above Mozart town: Salzburg lies afoot the Vitalhotel Kobenzl. On the Gaisberg mountain, high above the city, which celebrates this year Mozart's 250th anniversary, the Hotel offers attractive sporting alternatives: Clay Pigeon shooting, fishing, mountain hiking and biking as well as sailing, tennis and croquet.

Hot Air Balooning in the Black Forest: The Hotel Belle Epoque (www.slh.com/belleepoque), a neo renaissance villa from 1870, arranges sightseeing flights from Baden-Baden into the wonderful nature of the Black Forrest.

Archery in nature's paradise: Golf, Horse-riding, archery, mountain climbing and many more activities offers the Hoteldorf Gruner Baum (www.slh.com/grunerbaum) in the spectacular mountain world of Gastein. The main building of the hotel was built 1831 as hunting lodge for Duke Johann. Besides the countless leisure activities of the hotel the surroundings tempt visitors with romantic castles, dripstone caves and the national parc Hohentauern.

Formula 1 at the Hotel die Hirschgasse: The hotel offers a Formel 1-Package, which includes a three nights stay in a suite with jacuzzi, daily breakfast buffet and a bottle of champagne at arrival. Tickets and transfer to the Grand Prix at Hockenheimring can be arranged by the concierge. The package is available from 27 to 30. July 2006 and costs 1.300 Euro per room. www.slh.com/diehirschgasse

Arlberg from a bird's eye view: Many guests of the SLH Hotel Kristiania Lech in Austria (www.slh.com/kistiania) arrive by helicopter and enjoy a bird's eye view of the wonderful alpine nature: only 300 metres from the hotel, guests can also find a paragliding field .

View more Small Luxury Hotels with Five Star Alliance.


Hot Tables: Tower Restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.