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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.

Musee du Quai Branly Opens in Paris


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Musee du Quai Branly

It took eleven years, and EUR 232 million, but at the June 20 inauguration of the new Musée du Quai Branly, the world's gaze settled on the hottest new museum in Paris. After all, the Musée du Quai Branly represents the crowning cultural achievement of Chirac's reign, who has sought to create a space honoring "the world's forgotten civilizations." Jean Nouvel's architectural masterpiece now houses the 270,000 items from the African, Oceanic and Asian artworks from the Musée de l'Homme and the Musée des Arts Africains et Océaniens (only 3,500 are on display.)

The building itself is extraordinary: a piece of contemporary art beneath the Eiffel Tower, situated on 19 acres of green, sprawling along the Seine. It is disjointed: a colorful mass of metal, with curved glass walls and no sense of symmetry. It is distinctly modern. Standing within the gardens, or in the ticket line beneath the building's metal overhang, you catch glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, which seems to rise directly from the museum itself.

And though the lines of tourists assemble outside the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay in the summertime, the Musée du Quai Branly is a breeze. Upon entrance, visitors follow a long white ramp where a kaleidoscope of images is projected. Once you enter the Collections area, the light is dim, and the museum experience is an interactive one. You walk through a corridor lined with soft walls that are meant to be touched, called La Riviere, where indigenous stories and folklore are narrated for handicapped visitors. The museum is meant to be a place of ongoing exploration of anthropology and non-Western civilizations.

Hours: 10 am-6:30 pm, closed on Mondays. Tickets are EUR 8.50.

Related Articles,

New York Times, For a New Paris Museum, Jean Nouvel Creates His Own Rules


Terrace Movie Night at Conrad Chicago


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

by Courtney W. May for the Editorial Advisory Board Last week, the Conrad Chicago continued their renovations and updates with new linens in the guest rooms (500 thread count Pratesi linens) and plush Pratesi towels and bathrobes. They have also rolled out the complimentary high speed wireless internet throughout the entire hotel, comp shoe shine services and evening turndown service with comp bottled water. Other ongoing renovations include 42' flat screen HD plasma tvs and Bose home theater systems. 4 floors within the Conrad's building have been completed and the 5th floor of guest rooms should be done by the end of July - but all rooms should be upgraded with these new amenities by mid October of 2006.

Just past the fifth-floor lobby of downtown Chicago's Conrad Hotel is an alfresco escape -- The Terrace at Conrad (see image). It is a great place to unwind in a chic outdoor setting with fantastic cityscape views. This alfresco dining destination just recently opened at the end of May. Best of all, on Sunday and Monday nights you can enjoy movie night on the Terrace! The July movie line up includes: 6/2 – Guess who is coming to dinner 6/3 – Guy’s and Dolls 6/9 – Citizen Cane 6/10 – Star Wars 6/16 – Dr. Strangelove 6/17 – Rear Window 6/23 – Annie Hall 6/24 – All About Eve 6/30 – On the Water Front 6/31 – Ben Hur (but remember - movies may be subject to change so check with them first) And don't forget about the Special Offer from Five Star Alliance for the Conrad Chicago: Guests making their reservations through Five Star Alliance will receive a welcome amenity, continental breakfast for two (2) daily, and a possible upgrade upon check-in based upon availability.


Keith Urban’s Choice in Sydney: The Intercontinental Sydney


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Intercontinental Sydney

The media is abuzz with news of the nuptials between Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. The happy lovebirds have since jetted to the South Pacific on their honeymoon, but fans are no doubt eager for the scoop about the Intercontinental Sydney where Urban shacked up before the ceremony. As one of Sydney's leading five-star hotels, the Intercontinental Sydney overlooks the stunning harbor with panoramic views of the Opera House and Royal Botanical Gardens. Besides its central location, the hotel is distinguished by its majestic sandstone facade, as the hotel is housed in the heritage listed 1851 Treasury Building, a Sydney landmark. In 2005, the Intercontinental completed an AUD$30 million refurbishment with spacious, contemporary rooms and a gorgeous rooftop Club Lounge. I wonder if Urban staked out the Australia Suite, perhaps the best Presidential Suite in Sydney. Located on the 29th floor, the 245 sq-meter suite features an open-air terrace with dining area, living and dining room with grand piano, fully equipped kitchen, and bathroom with shower-steam room and spa bath. This is the height of luxury and indulgence.


Watch the Tour de France 2006 from the Hotel de Crillon, Paris


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel de Crillon

Let the countdown begin. The Tour de France is set to kick off in July, and all eyes are on this year's post-Lance race, the exciting 93rd Tour. And for the best vantage point to view the finish of the Tour de France at the Place de la Concorde, the Hotel de Crillon is the place to be. Overlooking the finish line in the heart of Paris, the legendary Crillon is a unique historical monument offering an exceptional five-star hotel experience in the City of Light. The best views, of course, are from the posh Presidential Suites, and for this momentous occasion, the Hotel de Crillon has created an exclusive package. "Tour de France 2006" includes two nights accommodation (Saturday July 22 and Sunday July 23), afternoon tea served in one of the grand Presidential Suites while watching the race on giant screen televisions, American buffet breakfast and access to the Fitness Center. The package rate is from EUR 1,210 for a Superior Room, subject to availability, inclusive of taxes and service. Other room categories are also available.


Queen’s Birthday Offer at the Dukes Hotel, London


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Dukes Hotel

The award-winning, classic Dukes Hotel, tucked in its own courtyard in a quiet corner on St. James's Place between Mayfair and Green Park, is offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the special exhibition in honor of the Queen's 80th birthday. On display at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace in honor of Her Majesty's birthday, the extensive exhibit showcases the Queen's evening dresses (80 of them! from the 1940's to the present) and personal jewelry, including private gifts and historic pieces, such as the Vladimir Tiara, the Cambridge Emerald Necklace, two brooches set with stones from the famous Cullinan Diamond, and a pair of Boucheron aquamarine and diamond clip brooches given to then Princess Elizabeth by her father, King George VI, for her 18th birthday. Visitors to the exhibition see the Palace's 39-acre garden, and appreciate rare views of the Palace's garden façade and the 19th-century lake. As part of Her Majesty's Birthday Celebration, Dukes Hotel is going over the top (try this for British pomp and pageantry) with a special package. "Her Majesty's Birthday Celebration" includes a two-night stay in a Classic Double room including daily breakfast and afternoon tea and two tickets to the "Special Exhibition" with entrance to Buckingham Palace. Priced at GBP 525, inclusive of VAT, available from July 26 to September 24, 2006.

(Guests will also enjoy Duke's luxurious spa and the world-famous Dukes Martini at the bar.)


The Latest Trends with Designer Boutique Hotels


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The New York Times dazzles with its savvy weekend piece "The Latest Splash? Baths and Pools." The next big thing for hip hotels includes "Peekaboo Baths" (where, in places like Madrid's Hotel Puerta América and the Hotel Rival in Stockholm, "bathers are exposed to their fellow guests" in an open-plan bathroom), "Pools with a View" (the rooftop bar and pool craze first started at The Standard in downtown LA), "Guest Galleries" (the trendy 21cMuseum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky is first and foremost an art gallery), and "Megasuites," like the EUR 30,000-a-night Penthouse suite at the Hotel Martinez in Cannes.


Chicago Hot Tables: Dine Overlooking the Skyscrapers at The Peninsula Chicago


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Outdoor Terrace at The Peninsula Chicago

The spot with the best Chinese food in the city--mouthwatering Shanghainese and Cantonese dishes--is also home to an exquisite (and unique) open-air terrace. Sit among the skyscrapers while experiencing the finest service for which the award-winning Peninsula Chicago is known. Voted number 1 hotel in the US by Travel and Leisure, the Peninsula Chicago is also a Mobil five star and AAA five diamond property. Located on the fourth floor of the hotel, the Shanghai Terrace is also known for its 1930's supper club atmosphere and elegant Asian decor.


Royal Festivities in Thailand


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Peninsula Bangkok Forget the full moon party. 2006 in Thailand is one year-long celebration, in honor of the King's 60th year on the throne. In early June, throngs took to the streets in parades and revelers enjoyed a week of work holidays, to commemorate the anniversary of his ascension to the throne on June 9, 1946. His Majesty King Bhumibol is the longest-reigning living monarch, and commands sincere loyalty and respect across the country, especially for his fight for the underprivileged classes. Now is the time to visit Thailand. Where to stay in Bangkok? Stake a suite at the riverside Peninsula Bangkok, and soak up the hotel's unparalleled luxury and panoramic views of the city and Chao Phraya River. At the hotel voted "World's Best Hotel" by Travel and Leisure readers, the service is legendary and the facilities-- three-tiered swimming pool, a Fitness Center with gymnasium, sauna, and steam rooms, tennis courts, and chic dining options-- are excellent. Related Articles, IHT, "Update: Royal Festivities Offset Seasonal Tourist Drop-Off"


Five Star Lodgings for Cats


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

…including webcam pet-watch services for travelers fraught with separation-anxiety from their four legged friends. That's right. The Russians sure are savvy when it comes to their pet hotels, which are springing up with reckless abandon around Moscow. As reported by the Moscow Times:

A sheet of paper was pinned to the door of each [pet] cabin for staff to keep records of the cats' appearance, psychological state, appetite and bowel movements; owners are also encouraged to leave tips about how their pets should be treated.
And at Cat's Dream Hotel:
Luxury cabins offer such perks as heated floors in winter, toys, premium cat food and fish bowls -- either real or on a flat screen. The business is so successful that the Kivva family is building another kennel exclusively for kittens. By the end of the summer, they hope to install video cameras linked to the Internet so that pet owners will be able to see their furry friends anytime, from anywhere.
Apparently, pet hotels are so popular, New Year's reservations require booking in August. Via The Moscow Times


New York City Summer Restaurant Week


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Nobu restaurant

The city that never sleeps is open 24/7. As a cute reminder of this fact, New York is celebrating its annual Summer Restaurant Week with its finest restaurants serving up three-course prix-fixe lunches for $24.07 (three-course dinners are $35, with beverages and taxes additional). July 10-14, and July 17-21, Monday-Friday only. The list of participating restaurants is extensive (200 of them!), covering all neighborhoods, and includes 21 Club, Asia de Cuba, FIVES at The Peninsula, Gramercy Tavern, Mercer Kitchen, and Nobu.

Via Washington Post "What's the Deal?"