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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.

Castello di Vicarello, Tuscany: Off the Beaten Path in Italy

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Castello di Vicarello As featured in Vogue magazine, the twelfth century Castello di Vicarello is a hidden gem nestled within olive groves, lavender fields, and vineyards in Maremma, the heart of Tuscany. Travel like royalty and discover this magical retreat. For the ultimate in privacy, there are only five suites, distinguished by thick stone walls and wood beams, and furnished with antiques and art from the owner's extensive travels. The property features two infinity edge pools, orchards cultivated since Roman times, and beautiful gardens from where vegetables are picked for exquisite meals. (Most of the food is grown on the grounds, following strict organic guidelines.) At Castello di Vicarello, enjoy traditional Tuscan fare with only the best and freshest ingredients.

Shelling Sea Shells by the Sea Shore

By: Courtney W. May

"I have a hobby. I have the world's largest collection of sea shells. I keep it scattered on beaches all over the world. Maybe you've seen some of it." - Steven Wright Coastal Living Magazine has come up with their list of the top 10 shelling beaches in North America - "Winter storms stir up a bounty of prize specimens. Here's where to hunt." See if you agree with their assesment: Shell Map1. Sanibel Island, Florida 2. Ocracoke Island, North Carolina 3. Bandon, Oregon 4. Galveston, Texas 5. Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii 6. Flag Ponds Nature Park, Lusby, Maryland 7. Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia 8. Eleuthera Island, The Bahamas 9. Great Peconic Bay, Long Island, New York 10. Stinson Beach, California Read more about each location over at Coastal Living or leave us your own thoughts below.

Welcome Back Spring at the Hay-Adams (with Sake!)

By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

The Hay-Adams is almost exactly a mile from the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin and on the walk over you'd get to pass 1) The White House, 2) Old Executive Office Building, 3) Washington Monument and 4) The National World War II Memorial. This year, the predicted peak bloom will be April 4th (although they start to bloom around March 30th). Hay-Adams Cherry BlossomsThe Hay-Adams "Cherry Blossom Package" includes a minimum of 2 nights, Cherry Blossom Fesitval information, a special amenity, and complimentary parking (normally $35.84 per night with the valet). Rates start at $369 for the package and will sell out quickly (check real-time availability here). Other packages available to welcome back spring to the area include "Spring Break" (low rates, breakfast and accommodations) and the "Sake Dinner Package" (five-course Asian influenced dinner, 5 different Japanese sake, breakfast, free parking, and of course the room). If you live in the area or are visiting and not staying at the Hay-Adams (shame on you) but want to partake in the "Sake Dinner" the night before the Cherry Blossom Parade and Festival, the cost for two is $150 plus tax and gratuity. Call the Lafayette Room at 202-220-4853 to make reservations - 6:30 pm Reception, 7:30 pm Dinner.

Cherry Blossom Package at The Madison, A Loews Hotel, Washington DC

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms See the nation's capital at its best, when the famous cherry trees are abloom. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, the annual citywide event featuring daily cultural performances and special events, celebrates the 95th anniversary of the Japanese gift of the cherry blossom trees and the ongoing friendship between the citizens of the United States and Japan. This year the festival will be held from March 31-April 15, 2007, with a parade on April 14, 2007. The Madison, A Loews Hotel, celebrates the spring season with a special Cherry Blossom Package, from just $229 per night, based on double occupancy (excluding taxes). The package includes overnight accommodations for two in a Deluxe guest room, complimentary parking, and a special turn-down amenity.

Destination: St. Petersburg Russia and the Grand Hotel Europe

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand Hotel Europe Plan ahead for the perfect summer escape to Russia's cultural capital: the magnificent city of St. Petersburg. During the last 10 days of June, darkness never falls and the lively White Nights festival inspires a celebration of ballet, dance, art, and rich history. Where to stay? The Grand Hotel Europe, perfectly situated in the heart of St. Pete's, has completed a dramatic renovation including a complete refurbishment of 200 rooms and suites, upgrade of the hotel's main entrance, and a redesign for the Caviar Bar restaurant. French designer Michel Jouannet also transformed the Grand Hotel Europe's sister establishments, the Hotel Cipriani in Venice and the Copacabana Palace in Rio. Choose a room on the historic first floor, and enjoy the services of your own personal butler.

Related Articles:

White Nights of Summer in St. Petersburg, Russia

Mosquito Island, BVI To Join Virgin Resorts Group

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

British Virgin Islands Sir Richard Branson has scored another one. A gem of a Caribbean island, that is. The founder of the Virgin group of companies (including Virgin Atlantic airline and Virgin Galactic) purchased Mosquito Island in the British Virgin Islands for $13.2 million and plans to convert it into a luxurious, eco-friendly resort. Accessible by boat from Virgin Gorda, the 124-acre Mosquito Island sits in North Sound about a mile from Necker Island, Branson's other Caribbean paradise, a favorite celebrity hideaway. Plans are in the works for the resort to be environmentally-savvy: the resort will be powered by renewable energy sources (wind, wave, and solar power); the Balinese style guest buildings will be built from sustainable materials; electric buggies will serve as the transportation. Branson aims to make his resort island carbon-neutral, providing an example for other resort properties in the Caribbean.

Never fear: the island was named for the Indian tribe, and not the pesky insect.

Image Via

Table 8, South Beach: Hot Dining in Miami

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Table 8 Announcing the hottest new restaurant in South Beach: LA's trendy, celebrity-beloved Table 8 has moved in on Miami's dining scene (recently profiled in the NYT by Mark Bittman). Bon Appetit raved, "It's hard to find a place where the scene is hot, the chef is hotter, and the food is actually worth the hype..." Celebrity chef Govind Armstrong, who launched his career at the tender age of 13 with Wolfgang Puck at Spago, recently opened a branch of his LA hot spot in The Regent Hotel South Beach. The restaurant features a main dining room, private VIP dining room, and a wine room. There is also a cool 40-seat lounge situated beneath the hotel's glass-bottom pool. Be sure to order the salt-roasted Porterhouse Steak, hailed by the Robb Report as the Best of the Best (2004).

Related Articles:

New York Times, "Is South Beach Growing Up?"

Bryant Park Suite Escape, New York

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bryant Park Manhattan's chic Bryant Park, midtown's first luxury designer hotel, is stylish, contemporary, and utterly fabulous. The Bryant Park suites are the essence of sophistication: French doors separate the living and bedroom areas, hardwood floors are adorned with Tibetan rugs, Travartine marble bathrooms are outfitted with both deep soaking tubs and separate showers, the technology is state-of-the-art (Bose Wave Music system, iPod docking station, etc). And of course the views from the hotel, housed in the Gothic-Revival-style American Radiator Building, are stupendous. Enjoy a weekend jaunt to NYC and score a fantastic rate with the Suite Escape package at Bryant Park. The package includes luxurious accommodations in a Bryant Park Suite, Raymond Hood Suite, or The Penthouse, chilled champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, full American breakfast for two served in-room daily, welcome amenity upon arrival, and complimentary late check-out at 1 pm. The package, excluding taxes, is priced from $659 until June 24, 2007; $599 from June 25-September 2, 2007; $699 September 5-December 31, 2007.

America’s Favorite Architecture: Willard InterContinental, Washington DC

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Willard InterContinental An American institution that has hosted almost every U.S. president since Franklin Pierce, The Willard InterContinental was recently listed as one of the most iconic buildings in the US. The Empire State Building and the White House topped the list of America's Favorite Architecture, according to a public poll of the 150 best works of architecture conducted by Harris Interactive and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The only DC hotel on the list, The Willard dominates the Pennsylvania corridor between the White House and the Capitol and was originally built in 1901 on the site of an older Willard property. At that time, Joseph Willard Jr. decided to create one of the city's first skyscrapers to "out-dazzle" anything else on the Washington horizon. The hotel's style? French Second Empire Beaux-Arts, distinguished by vast proportions and great columns, with an interior marked by huge chandeliers, inlaid mosaic marble tile floors, elaborate plaster work and painted and carved ceilings. Truly majestic. The newspapers of the day raved that The Willard was "The Handsomest of Washington Hotels," and today, guests are still dazzled by the hotel's architectural magnificence.

Dining in Scottsdale: Cafe Zuzu at Hotel Valley Ho

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Valley Ho The Monday Night Chef's Table continue to dazzle diners at the ultra-cool Café Zuzu, located at Scottsdale's hip urban resort, Hotel Valley Ho. Since the hotel's opening in late 2005, Café Zuzu has been racking up the awards. Critics swoon over the stylish American comfort food, hand-crafted cocktails, and fun retro setting. The next Monday Night Chef's Table: The Great White-- Rediscovering Chardonnay on Monday, March 5. A note of explanation from the witty chef:

A few months ago, a Monday night theme was ABC (Anything But Chardonnay), a sentiment shared by some wine lovers in the '90s when overly oaky, flabby and overpriced renditions of the grape were emerging from California. It's not that we have anything against chardonnay; we simply wanted to expose our guests to some alternatives. The truth is though, when chardonnay is poorly done it's extremely difficult to pair with food. We do enjoy a well made chard however, so we thought it was high time to rediscover this extremely popular varietal and design a menu around it ("The Great White") just in time for summer.

The menu looks divine: Smoked Salmon (hearts of palm and garlic cream), Braised Pork Belly (roasted cipollini and foraged mushrooms), Pheasant Breast (truffle gnocchi, English peas and tomato confit), and Peach Tarte Tatin (honey mascarpone cream and blackberry nectar). From 6:30-8pm, priced at $42 per person.