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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.

Countdown to Christmas: Santa, Spice and Everything Nice at Le Meurice, Paris

November 14, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le Meurice, ParisWant to spice things up for Christmas this year? Hop the pond to the most visited city on earth for some raucous merrymaking-- French-style. The Champs-Élysées will be sparkling with lights, the street markets fragrant with hot mulled wine, the department stores dazzling with over-the-top window displays. What are you waiting for? Paris awaits you with open arms. Bed down at Le Meurice- the majestic palace hotel facing the Jardin des Tuileries- and you'll be privy to some fun festivities, as the hotel decks the halls with colorful decorations and goes all out in the food department. Best part of all: Santa will be pulling up his sleigh at Le Meurice for three Wednesdays in December, starting December 7, to give gifts to the kids at teatime.

The hotel is offering a special package for Christmas, available from December 1- December 28, 2011, starting from 560 euros, which includes accommodations (upgrade guaranteed at booking time) and American breakfast for two guests, Champagne and petits fours amenities, a Christmas gift for children, and free access to the wellness centre, Sauna, Turkish bath and Jacuzzi.


Christmas at Plaza Athénée, Paris: Plant Your Own Tree at the Palace of Versailles

November 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Plaza Athenee, ParisHere's your chance to "plant your roots in French History" at the Château de Versailles. Talk about cool Christmas gifts! The Hotel Plaza Athénée, the luxurious Parisian palace hotel, is offering you a special limited-time special offer to buy a Christmas tree and plant it at the legendary Château, where you'll have your name engraved, and get free access to the Château de Versailles for one year. Not only that, you'll also receive your very own ownership certificate to show off to friends back home. The sprawling palace-- a symbol of royal opulence-- is surrounded by an important forest, currently being replanted by local governmental organizations. To be part of the legend, you must act fast! The Plaza Athénée's "My Private Tree" offer is limited to 10 available trees. Here's what's included in the package, priced from 1428 euros in a Deluxe Room (with guaranteed upgrade to a Junior Suite):

* At Château de Versailles: Your own Tree (Value 1000 euros) only 10 trees available; Ownership certificate; Your name engraved at the Château de Versailles; Free access to the Château de Versailles for one year

* At the Plaza Athénée: Daily Continental breakfast for two and a bottle of organic Champagne with your luxurious accommodations

Rates are per night for a two nights stay minimum. Available until December 28, 2011.


The World's Best Hotels: Announcing the Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards 2011

November 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Bel-AirLooking to get inspired for your next getaway? The savvy editors at Fodor's have just released their first-ever list of the world's best hotels. After careful deliberation, the team of Fodor's editors and writers curated the "Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards 2011" spanning eight hotel categories. Here's a sampling of some of our favorites that made the cut.

New & Noteworthy- The Year's Best New and Reinvented Hotels: Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, Mondrian Soho in NYC, Hotel Bel-Air & The Redbury in Los Angeles

Grande Dame- Legendary Hotels with Superlative History and Service: The Carlyle in NYC, Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, Hotel du Russie in Rome, The Savoy in London

Casual Chic- Effortlessly Stylish Hotels with Rustic-Modern Appeal: Cavo Tagoo in Mykonos, Bardessono in Napa, The Allison in Oregon

Design- Cutting-Edge Boutique Hotels at All Price Points: Hotel Missoni in Edinburgh, Jia in Hong Kong

Cavo Tagoo, MykonosLocal Flavor- Go-To Hotels for a Truly Authentic Experience: Fairmont Chateau Montebello in Quebec, Evason Ma'in Hot Springs and Six Senses Spa in Jordan

Clubby Atmosphere- Hip Urban Pied-à-Terres: 21C Museum Hotel in Louisville, The Liberty in Boston, The Augustine in Prague

Luxurious Retreat- Top Choices for a Complete Escape: Little Palm Island Resort and Spa in the Florida Keys, Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, Inkaterra Machu Picchu

Trusted Brand- World-Class Examples of International Hotel Chains: Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, The Peninsula Bangkok


Get Royally Pampered at Le Royal Monceau in Paris

November 1, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le Royal MonceauLe Royal Monceau knows luxury. The palace hotel reopened in October 2010 after a two-year, top-to-bottom makeover by design guru Philippe Starck, and every single aspect of it-- from the private cinema to the brand spanking new spa-- is fabulously opulent. So you know you're in good hands when you choose Le Royal Monceau for a lavish Parisian getaway. Better yet, for an over-the-top experience you'll never forget, book the hotel's new "Be Royal" offer. After getting whisked from the airport in a Mercedes Class S, you'll be ushered as a VIP into your Junior Suite, where you'll find a Clarins welcome gift along with Pierre Hermé macarons and a bottle of Champagne. Wake up to an extravagant American breakfast at La Cuisine restaurant, then have a private Art Tour of Le Royal Monceau with the Art Concierge. During your stay, you'll also enjoy a private appointment at a famous French fashion house, fine dining for two at La Cuisine (drinks excluded), a "Royal Indulgence" treatment at the dazzling new spa, a late check-out at 4 pm, and an upgrade upon availability. Priced at 1450 euros per night, available until December 30, 2011 with a three-night minimum stay required.


Who Won the 2011 Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize?

October 31, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Plaza Athenee, ParisWe've been waiting with bated breath to find out which talented designer would nab the prestigious Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize. The luxury hotel group-- celebrated for iconic hotels in urban centers in Europe and the U.S.-- launched the Fashion Prize to honor the work of young designers- and it's gotten some serious buzz in the press. Just this past weekend, the prize was bestowed in The Rodeo Ballroom at The Beverly Hills Hotel after a runway presentation featuring models from cycle 18 of America's Next Top Model. (The event was filmed for an upcoming episode to be aired in spring 2012.) After much deliberation, the judges chose the collection by Anndra Neen as best representing “the spirit of individuality, luxury, style and craftsmanship" of The Dorchester Collection's hotels. Anndra Neen received $40,000 and will have the opportunity to display their work at the fabulous Hôtel Plaza Athénée (pictured) during Paris Fashion Week in 2012.


Winter in Paris: Pop-Up Champagne Bar at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe

October 20, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hilton Arc de Triomphe ParisThe "Snow Bar" is coming back to the City of Light! Every year the Hilton Arc de Triomphe Paris-- designed in a nautical Art Deco style by architects Jacques Garcia and Alexandre Danan-- gets in the holiday spirit by transforming its outdoor Andalusian Patio into a wintry wonderland. Last year there were snow-covered fir trees, a chalet bar, and cocktail waitresses wearing Santa outfits. This year the hotel has teamed up with Taittinger Champagne to create a unique concept called "Bubble in Paris"-- an exclusive all-white lounge decked out in fur and frosted glass inside an actual bubble. From December 1, 2011- January 2, 2012, the hotel welcomes guests to the "Bubble in Paris" bar with a special "Festive Period" package. Starting from 280 euros per night, the package includes luxurious accommodation, a complimentary upgrade to next room category (subject to availability), a VIP gift in room and a glass of Champagne for two in the “Bubble in Paris” bar, English breakfast served in the Safran restaurant, and access to the beautiful Mosaïc Spa.


Christmas Market and Skating Rink at Trianon Palace Versailles

October 18, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Trianon Palace, VersaillesThe Christmas market is back at The Trianon Palace Versailles! Part of the Waldorf Astoria collection of hotels, the Trianon Palace knows how to get in the Christmas spirit. What could be better than sipping hot chocolate or mulled wine while browsing the artisanal crafts and gourmet treats on display outside one of the world's most opulent palaces? (The Trianon Palace is actually located in the heart of the Royal domain of the Chateau de Versailles.) The hotel's annual Christmas market promises good times for one and all. There's also an on-site ice skating rink- what could be merrier? The Trianon Palace Versailles has put together a "Festive Period Package" for stays between December 3, 2011 and January 2, 2012, that includes a host of amenities. Along with your luxe accommodations, you'll get a VIP gift in room and a glass of Champagne for two in the Gallery Bar; English breakfast served in La Veranda restaurant; free entrance to the ice rink; free access to the Guerlain Spa. Rates from 269 euros per room per night.


Sponsored Article: A Perfect Location in the City of Light at The Westin Paris-Vendôme

October 3, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

The Westin Paris VendomeThe Westin Paris – Vendôme has an enviable location in the heart of Paris just off the Place Vendôme, next to the Place de la Concorde and immediately opposite the spectacular Tuileries Gardens. Just a stone's throw from the Louvre, the hotel is surrounded by famous landmarks and is minutes away from the city's best shopping on the elegant Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré. This is the capital's busiest and most fashionable neighborhood.

When the hotel was first opened in 1878 it was celebrated as the most exclusive property of its kind and was regarded as a national treasure of France's Second Empire. Over the years, it has been renovated and restored many times, most recently in 2008. But important historic details remain: a courtyard fountain with a white marble water nymph, and a spectacular glass roof from 1878. This is where Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, took up residence during her husband’s exile from 1898 to 1919, as commemorated by an inscription near the front entrance. This is also where Victor Hugo held three large banquets celebrating his 79th, 81st and 83rd birthdays in the lavish Imperial Salon on the ground floor. The most celebrated fashion houses such as Yves Saint-Laurent, Hanae Mori, Nina Ricci, Torrente, and Ungaro regularly hold their shows in the hotel’s historic salons.

Six Senses Spa at Westin Paris VendomeWith 440 rooms, The Westin Paris - Vendôme has the largest number of suites of all the traditional Parisian luxury hotels in its category. From their Second Empire classicism, the majority of the suites at the hotel offer exceptional views of the capital- truly one of the best panoramas of the Paris skyline. The famous designer Sybille de Margerie refurbished the rooms in a sophisticated contemporary style. Taking inspiration from the history of the hotel, Sybille de Margerie created an ambience of renewal and relaxation with muted color schemes of plum–mauve to taupe, with splashes of light green and Bordeaux reds. Of course all the rooms at The Westin Paris - Vendôme are equipped with the sleep-inducing Westin Heavenly Bed, one of the great innovations developed by Westin. The bed has proved so popular with guests that the Westin Heavenly Bed is now for sale at the Westin online store.


Fantasy Meets Reality: I'm Dreaming of Paris

September 23, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

We return now to our series of fantastical destinations as well known for their stories as their reality. [For previous installments, read about New Zealand and Crete.] Today, we visit another kind of fantasy: Paris, the city of love and home to the dreams of many.

Part 3 - Paris

So famous for being the romantic capital of the world that an entire movie was made about it as a setting for love stories, Paris is a city of wine and of cafes. But love is not all that happens in the cafes of Paris. Two locations stand out today as sites of some of the most famous movie scenes of our time.

The Café des Deux Moulins is famous for its art deco style and fine food, but it’s even more well-known for the fantasy character who once worked there. Located in Montmartre, the small café played home to Amélie, and it was here that she dreamt of happiness and set out to find it for others.  The Crème Brulée is now named for this sweet girl who helped so many, and many flock to the Café to see her .

The Café Debussy, on the other hand, doesn’t exist either in real life or in the fantasy world where it featured prominently. Actually a deli called Da Stuzzi that was repurposed for the Christopher Nolan film, the Café Debussy explodes in a shower of rubble as Inception’s dream-world destabilizes around it. This quiet deli located on a side street hasn’t been overwhelmed by the crowds of Inception-lovers, and it is a lovely place for lunch, run by a true local who only wants her shop to do well. In that sense, Da Stuzzi is the perfect fantasy location. The humble reality of the spot is almost bigger in your mind than the stars who once sat there.

So next time you’re in Paris, it’s worth making a trip out of your way to see these gems.


Le Meurice in Paris Bestows 4th Annual Prize for Contemporary Art

September 22, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le Meurice, ParisIn just a few short weeks, Le Meurice in Paris will announce the winner of its 4th Annual Prize for Contemporary Art. The luxury palace hotel-- decorated with beautiful artwork and designer furniture by Philippe Starck-- created this annual art prize to highlight its commitment to young, up-and-coming artists who are shaking up the French art scene. Chosen from an exclusive group of 50 artists by a panel of acclaimed arts professionals, the winner will get to exhibit their work at Le Meurice, and they'll receive an endowment of 20,000 euros. There are now six finalists in the running, and we wish them luck!

* Nicolas Moulin (Galerie Chez Valentin), who will be exhibiting in Bratislava 2012

* Louidgi Beltrame (Galerie Jousse Entreprise), who will be exhibiting in Sao Paulo and Rio in 2010 and will also show at Zona Maco Contemporary Art Fair in Mexico in 2012

* Emilie Pitoiset (Galerie Lucile Corty), who will be exhibiting at Galerie Klemm in Berlin in 2012

* Didier Faustino (Galerie Michel Rein), who will be exhibiting at the Fine Arts Museum in Taipei in 2012

* Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc (Galerie Marcelle Alix), who will be exhibiting at The Serralves Foundation in Porto in 2012

* Fabien Giraud and Raphaël Siboni (Galerie Loevenbruck), who will be exhibiting at the International Contemporary Art Fair "Art 43" in Basel in 2012