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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.

L.A.’s Little Door Restaurant

November 22, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Little Door Garden Patio

I kind of love that the entrance (a decidedly BIG wooden door) is unmarked. Only a coolly-clad bouncer marks the entrance to swankdom. Step inside and it's a colorful world of uber-romance. Enjoy a glass of wine on the patio or winter garden (choose from 85 varieties of wine by the glass). Of the Mediterranean/Californian fare—all organic-- even the salads are drool-worthy. Though some reviewers are prone to deem it "so hip it hurts," I’d choose 4 out of 3 meals a day at this joint.


The Windsor Court Hotel Reopens in New Orleans

November 21, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Windsor Court Hotel

The legendary New Orleans establishment has opened again with a full range of services. The Windsor Court is well-known as one of the world’s finest hotels, with overly-spacious suites, superb service and cuisine, and the finest collection of European art in the South. In its 20 year history, the Windsor Court has remained a fixture at the top of all the World’s Best lists (Conde Nast, Travel and Leisure, Andrew Harper’s Hideaway, you name it…) Post-Katrina, the hotel is not only housing clients associated with the city’s rebuilding, but is also offering a “Returning Home” rate for locals who need a place to stay while overseeing home repairs. The rate of $235 a night includes suite accommodation, breakfast for two in the New Orleans Grill, and parking. Additionally, the hotel can stock your refrigerator with groceries and configure the in-room phone line to accept forwarded calls from your home or business.

The Windsor Court Hotel, Official Site

The Windsor Court Hotel, Five Star Alliance


Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas at Sea Island Resorts, Georgia

November 18, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sea Islands Christmas

Sea Island Resorts is absolutely brimming with good cheer and merriment this holiday season. They’ve put together a bunch of events sure to delight the whole family. Activities include: ballroom dancing, nightly elf tuck-in for the kiddies, crafts workshops, holiday bingo, and a Stables Christmas Party-- complete with horses parading in their holiday best, games, and a bonfire for roasting s’mores. The best part of the deal is the guaranteed White Christmas, with a special delivery of blown snow at the Beach Club. Take advantage of the 12 Days of Christmas Package, which includes room, breakfast for the family, welcome gift, Reindog parade, Family Holiday Show, elf tuck-ins, and lots more events. Rates: Ocean House Nature View and Deluxe Ocean View - $350. Ocean House Ocean View - $425. Lodge - $525. Two night minimum required, available December 18 through December 30 (excludes NYE).

Cloister at Sea Island, Official Site

Cloister at Sea Island, Five Star Alliance

The Lodge at Sea Island, Official Site

The Lodge at Sea Island, Five Star Alliance


Explore Germany’s Christmas Markets with Discounts at Sofitel Hotels

November 18, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Christmas in Munich

In December, the country is hopping with some 2,500 traditional Christmas markets held every year. Dating back to Medieval times, the markets showcase local cuisine (sausages and mulled wine, anyone?) and booths of artisan’s gifts. Sofitel is offering fantastic rates at Dorint Sofitel Gendarmenmarkt Berlin, Dorint Sofitel Bayerpost Munich and at Dorint Sofitel Quellenhof Aachen with offers up to 40% off rack rates, seven days a week, until December 31st 2005.


Thai Cooking School in Chiang Mai, Thailand

November 17, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Thai cooking school

I did not know how to wield a knife. Did this phase the chef? Not at all, as he smiled graciously, then relaxed into a huge grin, cracked some jokes, and coaxed me into cooking for (almost) the first time in my life. And it was pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. The cooking schools in Chiang Mai are world-renowned for teaching delicious menus, hilarious Super-Chefs, and beautiful environments for day-long classes in an outdoor paradise. My pick? The Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School, with its terraced garden kitchen, wildly entertaining staff and colorful book of recipes you get to take home with you. A sample menu includes: Thai Hot And Sour Prawn Soup, Green Curry With Chicken, Thai Style Fish Cakes, Phad Thai, Minced Pork Northern Style, Water Chestnuts With Sugar Syrup And Coconut Milk. Did I mention you get to eat all the delicious dishes you prepare?!

Where to stay? This city in northern Thailand has become increasingly upscale in recent years, now offering luxury resorts and spas. (The Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental have both staked their claim here.) Head to the Chedi Chiang Mai, situated on the banks of the Ping River. A GHM hotel, the Chedi Chiang Mai is a modern, minimalist masterpiece. 84 rooms are spacious and have riverview balconies. Set in a split-level colonial house, the restaurant features meals that tastefully blend East and West.


Palate Perfection: Delfina Restaurant in San Francisco

November 16, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Delfina salad

The cat’s been out of the bag for sometime about this perfect Mission trattoria, but I still start salivating when someone mentions the menu. Even just a nibble of antipasti will suffice. Especially when it’s prosciutto San Danielle with fuyu persimmons and Parmigiano. And believe it or not, the all-organic menu’s not even the best part. Despite its chic clientele and happening atmosphere, this place remains true to its Mission environs—the staff friendly, tattooed, and down-to-earth.


Travel in Rajasthan, India: A Journey of the Senses

November 12, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Brahmin cow in the street

Opening Scene: Backdrop and History

The Rajasthan landscape flies by outside the car window. A wash of sandy beige interrupted by dazzling color: the bright-orange turban tightly coiled on the head of a passing motorcyclist, women clad in magenta or turquoise saris with water jugs balanced on their heads, carts of lemons piled high. And the ubiquitous water buffalo and Brahmin cows with their cute, dropping ears.

Even on a short trip to India, it’s easy to become intoxicated by the country’s chaotic energy, noise, and cultural history. Rajasthan’s temples, palaces and forts are architecturally magnificent. The bazaars are brimming with handicrafts and clothes you’ll see in trendy Soho boutiques (marked up umpteen hundred times.) But more than that, traveling through Rajasthan is an experience of the senses: tiny clay pots of sugary chai tea, the smells of spices and sweet fragrances, the kaleidoscope of color in the markets, delectable tastes dancing on the tongue. It’s a constant sensory explosion.

Rajasthan’s history is shrouded in myth. For over 1,000 years, the northwestern desert state was fiercely guarded by the Rajput clans. These legendary warriors defended their turf with a serious code of chivalry and honor. Thus Rajasthan remained independent from all the encroaching great empires throughout history. Indeed, Rajasthan’s city of Jaisalmer was the last kingdom to succumb to British colonization.

No longer just a budget backpacker’s paradise, India has become an inspiration for the international jet-set as well. Rajasthan’s beautiful Palace hotels can make anyone feel like a modern-day maharajah. The winter is the perfect time to make the trip; the monsoon rains are kept at bay for at least half a year. Hire a driver, bring out the map, and dream up your perfect itinerary.


Islands Mag November Events Calendar

November 11, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

South Pacific Island

Islands Magazine has put together a pretty snazzy events calendar for this November. Their picks? Hawaii, for the incredible star-gazing of the Taurid meteor showers. (You've never seen falling stars like this!) Moorea, on November 3-6, for Tattoonesia, the island’s first International Tattoo Convention. (Ooops, the revival has already come and gone.) St. Barts on November 16, to taste the first Beaujolais Nouveau wine of the year (six hours ahead of France, confined to the traditional midnight uncorking). And Australia, on November 4-13, for the Whitsunday Fantasea Reef Festival, celebrating the marvels of the Great Barrier Reef.


New York’s 8th Annual Chocolate Show

November 10, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Though perhaps a bit trite after my last news alert, I can’t resist passing on the news about New York’s Chocolate Show. I missed the fashion show opening on the 10th, but Gridskipper and Luxist provided nice descriptive reviews, and reading about it is half the fun! Hurry over to the Metropolitan Pavilion, to get your chocolate fix, before it closes on the 13th.


Hello Healdsburg: Les Mars Hotel and Cyrus Restaurant Do Up Sonoma’s Wine Country

November 9, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Les Mars Hotel exterior

I used to think of historic Healdsburg as Napa sin crowds, the little country town where seekers of great wine could avoid the weekend traffic jams that plague the neighboring valley. (Napa’s long corridor usually jammed bumper to bumper just like 5 pm on the Bay Bridge.) Indeed, Healdsburg’s country stores, fantastic deli, and boutiques embody country charm. Surrounded on all sides by vineyards, Healdsburg is the epicenter of three distinctive growing regions: the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley. After a blissful drive to vineyards like Pezzi King, along country roads snaking through spellbinding scenery, you’d find yourself alone with the vintner, enjoying a delicious glass of wine and basking in the warmth of familial hospitality. Healdsburg is now undergoing a chic transformation, as new restaurants and hotels have added a touch of luxury and decadence to Sonoma County’s charming capital. Opened since March, the $3.5 million Les Mars Hotel is a splendid, European-style inn, full of gracious artwork and antiques. Sixteen guestrooms have been created out of what used to be an auto parts store. Room rates range from $425 to $995 (depending on the season and choice of room). The French-inspired Cyrus restaurant, directly off the lobby, has been called “Sonoma’s answer to French Laundry” in Napa’s Yountville. The owners hail from some of SF’s best restaurants: Gary Danko and the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton. Elegant menus are fixed course: three, four or five for $58, $69, and $80, respectively.