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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.

Prairie Produce Week and a Farmer’s Market at the Trump Chicago

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Trump ChicagoIt's Prairie Produce Week at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago! Frank Brunacci-- the hotel's executive chef-- is celebrating the "Prairie Produce" of local farms with menu items crafted from ingredients harvested within driving distance to Chicago. Time Out Chicago quotes the chef: "Prairie Produce week is a celebration of the fantastic bounty available right here in the Midwest and presents an exciting opportunity for us to make a new connection with our guests." In addition to these epicurean treats available at the restaurant, Prairie Produce Week will also bring a farmer's market to The Terrace at Trump on Thursday, September 2 from 7- 11 am. Here's what you can find at this "sky high farmer's market" on the hotel's 16th floor: "cheese from Nordic Creamery, sausages from Mint Creek Farm, handmade truffles from Katherine Anne Confections; produce from Nichols Farm; seasonal preserves from Rare Bird Preserves; beef and pork products from Slagel Farm; and much more." Sixteen (the restaurant) will also offer a breakfast buffet made up of all the displayed produce, plus you'll be able to have a "meet and greet with the farmers that put all those goods on your table."

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Family Vacation in Canada’s Banff National Park with Fairmont Hotels

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Chateau Lake LouiseIt's not too late to plan the ultimate summer/autumn family vacation in the heart of Canada's Rocky Mountains. Discover the alpine majesty of Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can go hiking, mountain bike The Great Divide, take a Bow River float trip, and let the kids embark on a photo expedition. After a fun-filled day, unwind at a Fairmont spa and reconnect with your family over dinner. Fairmont makes it easy with a special themed package at its two Banff hotels: the Fairmont Banff Springs, styled after a Scottish Baronial Castle, and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, a resort recognized globally for progressive environmental stewardship and responsible tourism. The Mountain Adventure package gives you the freedom to enjoy activities with a $100 CAD resort credit, plus kids eat for free. Available until December 20, 2010, the package starts from $339 CAD per night at the Fairmont Banff Springs and $299 CAD per night at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

On-the-Farm Organic Lunch with the Chefs from Loews Coronado Bay Resort, San Diego

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Loews Coronado Bay ResortSan Diego's Loews Coronado Bay Resort gets props for its extensive facilities (private 80-slip marina, tennis courts, pools) and top-notch eats. One of our favorite dining spots is Mistral, which serves modern French cuisine with the finest, responsibly grown ingredients (including fresh herbs from the resort's own garden). The views at Mistral are just as spectacular as the grub: sunsets over the Pacific, vistas of Coronado Bay, and the glittering San Diego skyline stretch out beyond floor-to-ceiling windows. Buzzworthy: Master Chef Marc Ehrler and Mistral Chef de Cuisine Chef Patrick Ponsaty are launching an "On the Farm" series of events where guests get a hands-on farm encounter and enjoy a three-course lunch freshly made from organic farm ingredients. The first such event will take place at Suzie's Farm on Saturday, August 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features a Cocktail Reception & Mixology Lesson, Three-Course Lunch with Organic Bonterra Wine Pairings and Interactive Farm Exploration. $75 per person, plus tax & gratuity. Reservations are required at 619-424-4476 or Space is limited.

The World’s Best Up and Coming Hotels

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The James ChicagoIn its August 2010 issue, Travel + Leisure highlights "20 to Watch: 2010's Best Up-and-Coming Hotels," many of which can be found in the Five Star Alliance collection. Predicting "the next hottest hotels around the globe," Travel + Leisure scoured the globe "to pick out this year's new and refurbished, expanding, or otherwise evolving hotels." What the magazine's editors found: domestic hotels are raising the bar, with fantastic luxury hotels in the United States and Canada. So without further ado, here's the list:

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

Algodon Mansion, Buenos Aires

Amangiri, Utah

Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

Four Seasons Beirut

The James Chicago

Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort, Antigua

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

The Peninsula Chicago

The Pierre New York, A Taj Hotel

Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan, Paris

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Phulay Bay, Krabi, Thailand

Town Hall Hotel & Apartments, London

Trident, Bandra Kurla, Mumbai, India

Veranda Resort, Turks & Caicos

Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sicily

W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Australia

Destination Spa: The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu , Malibu, California

Hotel Le Germain Toronto Tosses Plastic Water Bottles, Introduces Filtration System

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Le Germain TorontoHot on the heels of Ritz-Carlton's decision to ditch plastic water bottles, Toronto's Hotel Le Germain has announced the new eco-installation of OVUPUR water filtration systems on every floor. Guests can stay hydrated with a ready supply of pristine drinking water, eliminating the need for plastic water bottles. The installation of this cutting-edge technology is estimated to save 73,000 water bottles from landfills each year. Moreover, OVUPUR is renowned for its energy efficiency:

The unique porcelain system preserves and revitalizes water without electricity. It relies on gravity to filter imperfections using a special filter designed to reproduce nature’s water cycle. The reusable, multilayer cartridge contains tried and tested filtering materials that have been proven to remove chemicals and organic pollutants from drinking water.

This new eco-friendly amenity is just another example of the thoughtful service found at Hotel Le Germain. With just 118 rooms and suites, the boutique hotel knows how to take care of its guests: complimentary Internet, a rooftop terrace and putting green, a 24-hour fitness room, plus delicious Canadiana cuisine by young culinary talent Chef David Chrystian at Victor Restaurant....

Cool Technology and Spa Rooms at the Park Hyatt Istanbul

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Park Hyatt IstanbulThere's a lot to love at the Park Hyatt Istanbul-Maçka Palas, one of the hottest hotels in town since its November 2008 opening in the fashionable district of Nisantasi. First, there's The Terrace: ideal for sipping fresh lemonade in a cushioned lounge chair by the infinity pool by day, and by night, a buzzing summer hang-out for cocktails and moderately priced fare (think gourmet burgers and lobster rolls). Then there's the in-room technology which makes techies drool: JBL On Time iPod docking stations, DVD players, a Smartbox (hiding multiple adapters) and black-out curtains controlled by a panel at the bed. Of this gadgetry, we most like the nifty water filtration system in the bathrooms. Fill up a gorgeous crystal pitcher instead of tossing back plastic bottles. Did we mention the Spa Rooms? This innovative room category is all about pampering; spa bathrooms have five different bathing experiences: a Dornbracht RainSky shower, steam room, hammam, soaking tub and colored light therapy. Good luck trying to summon the energy to leave your perfect room, a restful haven in the bustling city.

Buzz: New LED Lighting Makes a Fab Light Show at InterContinental Dubai Festival City

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Dubai Festival CityIn a city often criticized for its rampant development, InterContinental Dubai Festival City is taking an eco-friendly stand. The hotel partnered with Phillips to replace 35,000 exterior and interior lights bulbs of the hotel with energy-saving LED lights, cutting carbon emissions by 80%. Phase one-- the exterior facade-- is complete, and pretty soon all the hotel rooms, suites, and public areas will be outfitted with LED technology as well. The coolest part of all? Dazzling nighttime light shows on the hotel's exterior, a marvelous sight on Dubai Creek. Just check out this video on YouTube. The installation of new, energy-efficient lighting isn't the only way that InterContinental Dubai Festival City is going green; the hotel also has an aggressive recycling program and a fleet of Lexus LS600 hybrid cars for guest transfers.

Thai Cooking Classes, Yoga, and Sea Turtle Rehab with Phuket’s Aleenta Resort

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Aleenta Resort, PhuketNow's the time to travel to Thailand. As we've reported recently, luxury hotels in Bangkok and the islands-- faced with lower tourism numbers-- are rolling out the discounts to entice travelers back to Thailand. Score luxury for less and get your sunshine fix in a tropical paradise with the Aleenta Resort, perched on one of Phuket's most pristine and private beaches with staggering views of the Andaman Sea. More than just a spa and beach destination, Aleenta offers some unique activities, including guest participation in the on-site Marine Turtle Foundation, dedicated to the conservation of Thailand's four threatened turtle species. What's more- the resort offers Thai Cooking Classes and a stellar yoga program in addition to the "normal" resort recreational activities of boating, yachting, snorkeling, cycling, and sun-bathing on the sand. Both "early bird" and "last minute" rates are available at Aleenta Resort.

Green Hotels: The Urban Garden at Baltimore’s InterContinental Harbor Court Hotel

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Harbor Court HotelFarm-to-table cuisine is all the rage these days as the "eat local" movement gains momentum across the country. From San Francisco to Atlanta, hotels are participating in this important trend. Some are taking it one step further, not only purchasing produce from local farmers but also planting gardens on their premises. As recently reported by Peter Greenberg, the InterContinental Harbor Court Hotel has created a green space smack dab in the middle of urban Baltimore:

"The hotel planted a 600-square-foot garden with more than 400 plants, vegetables and edible flowers. The neat thing here is that since it was just planted, guests can watch its progress and then return in a few months to see those ingredients used in the menu."

The Harbor Court's restaurant, Brightons, serves flavorful cuisine featuring seasonal produce and local favorites like crab cakes and rockfish. Overlooking the Inner Harbor, the hotel has extensive facilities: a rooftop fitness center with views, an indoor pool, racquetball and tennis courts, and a full-service business center. Tip: The hotel is offering a string of tempting packages this summer including an insider's Baltimore Aquarium experience and a cruise package, which lets guests park a vehicle for up to seven days when embarking from Baltimore on a cruise.

New Culinary Garden with Honey Beehives at the Fairmont San Francisco

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont San Francisco HotelThe buzzz in San Francisco? As part of Fairmont Hotels' commitment to the environment, the Nob Hill hotel has planted a new culinary garden with four honey beehives. The idea? To grow herbs and produce for the kitchen, while also cultivating home-harvested honey, thereby supporting the honeybee population which has seen a dangerous decline of 90% since the 1980's.* In partnership with Marshall's Farm (known for their award-winning organic honey), Executive Chef JW Foster of the Fairmont San Francisco installed the beehives last week, each containing 20,000 bees. When the beehives mature, they will each contain 50,000 bees, producing a total of 250 pounds of honey which will be served in the hotel's dining outlets (which emphasize local, organic cuisine). Think soups, salads, pastries, ice cream, and as an accompaniment to the hotel's tea service.

*To quote the hotel's press release: "The United States Department of Agriculture believes a virus is responsible for the collapse of honey bee colonies. This situation is often called "CCD" or Colony Collapse Disorder. Without honey bees, pollination is not possible. The decrease of the honey bee population is extremely significant since one out of three mouthfuls in the diet is affected by the honey bee population."

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