The 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.
We're keeping an eye on the latest launch to emerge from Google Labs: City Tours. A recent article in The Guardian highlights the few tweaks that need to be made to "the internet giant's first foray into travel." But these customized city itineraries have loads of potential, using Google Maps to determine which sight-seeing destinations are closest to each other. Curious? Head over to the site and check out suggested tours for San Francisco, New York, and London.
Forgot your camcorder at home? Rosewood Hotels will hook you up. In a first for the hospitality industry, Rosewood Hotels has announced a cool new guest program. The luxury chain's North American properties, including the swanky Rosewood Mayakobá, pictured at right, are handing out Flip UltraHDs so you can capture your picture-perfect vacation on video. Not sure how to work the gadget? The concierge will give you a tech tutorial, and even help with uploading the videos to YouTube upon your departure. Participating hotels include the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, the Rosewood Mayakobá in Mexico's Riviera Maya, Virgin Gorda's Rosewood Little Dix Bay, the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, and Caneel Bay in St. John.
In Google Earth, you can get close enough to examine a painter's brushstrokes or the craquelure on the varnish of a painting. The images of these works are about 14,000 million pixels, 1,400 times more detailled than the image a 10 megapixel digital camera would take. In addition, you'll be able to see a spectacular 3D reproduction of the museum.
There's a slew of new smartphone applications out there targeting the business and leisure traveler. Of the 900+ available, the USAToday recently tested a few of the most popular iPhone travel applications. FlightTrack ($4.99) "provides real-time flight status with scheduled departure and landing times, as well as actual takeoff and projected landing." WorldView Live ($2.99) shows video streams from 6,000 webcams worldwide. Babelingo ($3.99) "contains 300 useful phrases and words in 11 languages." Zagat To Go '09 ($9.99) gives you access to all those whimsical Zagat reviews. Excess Baggage ($1.99) gives you the skinny on all the airlines' policies on baggage. Free aps include Where ("find local points of interest from your current location"), Global Wi-Fi Finder, and Simultravel GPS Lite which "displays an interactive map of hotels near you with their rates on the day of search."
SteriPEN, the leader in handheld water purifiers, has won the Travel + Leisure 2009 Design Award for the Best Travel Gadget, for its SteriPEN Journey LCD, which will be featured in the March issue of the magazine. The gadget is in good company; awards recognize standout design in 15 categories, including hotels, restaurants, fashion, and luggage. The panel of judges was top-notch too (think Calvin Klein, preservationist Laurie Beckelman, graphic designer Michael Bierut, New Museum Director Lisa Phillips, architect Adam D. Tihany and landscape designer Edwina von Gal). This marks the first year for the "Eco Travel Gadget" category.
Polaroids have been out for a while, so I'm sure you are using a less archaic camera to take postcard-perfect pictures. However, if you are thinking of upgrading, check out the Leica D-Lux 4 Digital Camera in titanium. This fancy gadget is lightweight and sports a high-performance, fast precision lens. Its high speed also makes the camera ideal for available light exposures. For the adventure-seeking traveler with a photographer's eye, the D-Lux 4's integrated image stabilizer protects against camera shake in all photographic situations-- so you can bring back pristine images of those safari and rafting trips. This sleek camera is now available with a matching leather case.
Sony's Laptop Lite
At long last there is a laptop for the leisure traveler. It is obvious that people want to stay connected while on vacation; they just don't want to lug a bulky laptop with them. Solution: The 8-inch Sony Vaio P-Series Netbook. Weighing a paltry 1.4 pounds, this laptop is thin as a cell phone, but not flimsy. I like to think of this laptop as a second home: not your primary computer or laptop, but the one you use to stay connected to the Internet (it has a built-in Wi-Fi receptor). Although the keyboard is small, you won't find it difficult to bang out an e-mail. The laptop runs on Windows Vista, supports all the software programs found in full-sized notebooks and comes with my seal of approval!