LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
March 9, 2012
By: Christopher Roney
Bucket lists. We've probably all got one, and I can't get over my slightly morbid fascination of the idea of making the list of the things you'd like to live framed around dying. Maybe it's that the finitude of life creates a sweet sense of urgency that makes experience all the more poignant. But I'm not here to philosophize; I leave that to the well-bearded among us. I'm here to tell you about the second edition of 1,000 Places To See Before You Die with the much more uplifting subtitle: A Traveler's Life List.
A coffeetable book if there ever was one, 1,000 Places lays out some of the most unique and gorgeous places the world has to offer. And one of the things about the luxury hotel industry is that we've done a pretty good job of making sure that most of these places have the accommodations for you to experience them. Heading to the Amalfi Coast? Why not stay at the Palazzo Sasso, which has a breathtaking view of the ocean stretching out from its feet, 350 meters below. Or perhaps you're interested in Paris. The Plaza Athenee or Hotel de Crillon have you covered. It's really quite incredible when you step back to think how easy it is to experience the unique gems this blue-green sphere has to offer. So pick up your copy of 1,000 Places To See Before You Die and pick out your next vacation destination. We have certainly have some suggestions for you.
February 29, 2012
By: Christopher Roney
I have a special place in my heart for tiny boutique hotels. It may be a little smaller than some of the other chambers, and there aren't enough spots for everybody, but that just makes the few who do make their way into my good graces all the more special. I can give each and every one the loving care and attention they deserve. And thus began my new segment on boutique hotels that I just adore.
Starting off this series is a relatively new kid on the block, at least as far as Five Star Alliance is concerned. The JK Place Firenze has just joined our collection, and we're more than excited to bring them on board, we're...more excited? Weighing in at just a 20-room property, it's almost more a home than a hotel, and that, in my opinion, is what the boutique hotel is all about. Some go the flashier, avante garde route, but the JK Place Firenze has firmly defined itself as the kind of property that immediately sets you at ease as you walk through its front doors. The neo-classical decor is reminiscent of the collection one might build up in a home with a lot of history. Intentionally ecclectic and always tasteful, the antique collectibles and 50s and 60s furniture lend an air of panache to the intimate setting.
The hotel plays home to the J K Lounge, which offers some wonderful dining, and you'll be well within reach of the all the finest establishments in Florence. It's the perfect outpost to explore the city from, a home away from home. So be sure to check out the JK Place Firenze for the kind of personal attention that only a boutique hotel can offer.
January 20, 2012
By: Christopher Roney
Valentine's Day is coming up, and, as such, it's time to think about where you'd like to spend the day with that special someone. Whether you're enjoying a cozy night in or an adventure on the town, a night in a luxury hotel can be the perfect gift to the both of you, a chance to escape to another world where no expense will be spared in giving you the night of a lifetime. What follows is just one in a series of our favorite romantic hotels, and, we think, a great place to take him or her this February the 14th.
No list of romantic hotels would be complete without an entry from perhaps the most romantic city in the world (although Paris would certainly like to dispute that fact). The Bauer Il Palazzo is everything you'd imagine from Venice's most intimate boutique hotel. Overlooking the Grand Canal and just steps from St. Mark's, the Palazzo is the perfect staging point to explore the winding streets and canals.
Its 76 rooms and suites make liberal use of the finest in Venetian workmanship, including iconic Murano glass chandeliers. A word of advice: If you're looking to pick up a piece of this truly unique artwork, it's worth a trip on the ferry to the island of Murano itself, where the glass is made behind the very shop from which you're purchasing it. When you're ready for a waterfront meal, make sure to return to the Palazzo's very own Settimo Cielo, where you can enjoy views as stunning as the fresh Italian cuisine. The Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure Award-winning Bauer Il Palazzo represents the pinnacle of the opulent Venetian lifestyle, and there is, in my opinion, no better way to see one of the most romantic and cultured cities in the world.
December 31, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance
In the final days of 2011, Five Star Alliance is counting down the Top 20 Luxury Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, as decided by our guests.
Our countdown has come to an end, and it is time to announce the number one hotel as chosen by our discerning travelers and determined by sophisticated algorithms and more than a little bit of voodoo magic. Five Star Alliance's #1 hotel for 2011 is
- On the shore of Lake Como, one of the most secluded and breathtaking lakes in Italy, the Villa d'Este was originally the summer residence of Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio and is just a short trip north of Milan, one of Italy's most romantic cities.
- Its 152 rooms, divided between two palatial residences, each offer a unique feel, a result of the meticulously maintained renaissance decor of the original residences built in 1568. Live in true luxury, in rooms once occupied by the royal guests of the Cardinal and preserved in their original glory.
- The Villa is perfectly self-sufficient: included in its amenities are eight tennis courts, several dining options, including sushi and classical Italian, a Turkish bath and sauna, winery tours by chaffeur, and one of the most challenging par 69s in Europe only seven miles away.
- If you want a change of scenery from your grand room, simply head outdoors to enjoy the 25-acre park, which is perfectly designed and continuously manicured in its original Renaissance style: the entire park molds nature into a work of art.
- Its hotel pool was featured in our Ten Best Hotel Pools in the World for its floating pool, literally on the lake, not to mention an additional kids pool to keep them away from your relaxation:
"The pool at Villa d’Este on Lake Como would make Archimedes blush. Floating above the very lake that the Villa rests against, the pool features a built-in Jacuzzi and fantastic view of the surrounding mountains. It’s like swimming in the lake just inches below your feet, but it’s always the perfect temperature."
- Four reception rooms hold up to 400 people alongside another 250 in nine different meeting rooms, all to the same standards of luxury as rest of the classical Renaissance hotel.
- As if that weren't enough, it's also a Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure Award Winner.
View photos, learn more about the hotel, and check availability at Villa d'Este > >
Be sure to keep up with our countdown! See below for the full list of Top Hotels for 2011!
#20 – The St. Regis Resort Aspen
#19 – The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore
#18 – The Peninsula Chicago
#17 - The Tower Club at Lebua
#16 - Auberge du Soleil
#15 - The Mount Nelson Hotel
#14 - The One and Only Maldives at Reethi Rah
#13 - The Hotel de Crillon
#12 - Peninsula Hong Kong
#11 - Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi
#10 - Majestic Hotel and Spa Barcelona
#9 - Jumeirah Essex House
#8 - Atlantis the Palm Dubai
#7 - Hotel Le St. James
#6 - Half Moon, a Rock Resort
#5 - Charleston Place
#4 - King George Palace
#3 - La Tremoille
#2 - Don Cesar Beach Hotel
#1 - Villa d'Este
December 10, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
The Hotel Cipriani officially has the most atmospheric massage spa I've ever seen. And that's because the spa is Venice! That's right, the Hotel Cipriani offers its patented Gondola Massage, a massage spa treatment on a boat drifting through the world's most iconic canals. It's relaxing, revitalizing, and certainly rare. The next time I head back to Venice, I'll be sure to make my boat ride the one that works out all the tension from my flight with deft hands and a centuries-old backdrop. The 15th century hotel itself overlooks the Piazza San Marco and the two ancient palazzos that make up the hotel offer only the finest in cuisine, not to mention a private butler. That's service I could make a trip to the Hotel Cipriani for.
November 14, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
For his first eponymous hotel, Giorgio Armani didn't exactly go about it quietly. He chose the tallest building in the world-- the towering Burj Khalifa-- as the setting for the sleek Armani Hotel Dubai, which embodies the fashion mogul's sophisticated style even in the tiniest of details. Now Armani has done it again-- this time with a brand new "palazzo" hotel in his home town of Milan. Situated on via Manzoni in the city's designer shopping district, the Armani Hotel Milan recently held a star-studded opening gala where celebs like Jessica Alba donned their finest Armani apparel.
Conde Nast Traveller says: "Giorgio Armani has created a home from home, or casa della casa, for suitably stylish guests in Milan. Interiors are perfectly in keeping with Armani/Casa's sleek style and his clothing line; a continuation of his ocean-inspired Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection - think silver and sophisticated gold." Luxury Travel Advisor is smitten with the suites that come with private gyms and personal kitchens. "Each guest is assigned his or her personal "lifestyle manager," (think 24/7 butler). There is a rooftop spa with Japanese onsen-style Jacuzzi and gym overlooking the Duomo and La Scala (posh indeed!)."
November 7, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
To the disappointment of the Hollywood celebs and business tycoons who bunk down at The Gritti Palace while staying in Venice, the iconic luxury hotel has shuttered its palatial doors for a 15-month restoration. When it reopens in 2013, this Starwood Luxury Collection hotel is guaranteed to still have its magnificent historic features and design elements (original Rubelli Venetian textiles and unique furniture custom designed by Donghia and inspired by Venetian Rococo couches and pozzetti). But it will also flaunt up-to-the-minute technology and all the latest contemporary conveniences. The finest craftsmen have been enlisted for this meticulous renovation project. Located on the Grand Canal and housed inside a 16th century palazzo, The Gritti Palace is a fixture on Travel + Leisure magazine's "T+L 500" list of top-rated hotels around the globe.
For other accommodations options in Venice, check out our recommended hotels.
October 28, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky
What do you get when you combine luxury, serenity, and incredibly gifted hands? The best spa resorts, of course! Check out our list of the top 10 luxury spas all over the world, make your reservation for that much needed vacation, and step into a relaxing paradise of mineral baths, facials, saunas, mud masks, massages, and much more.
This peaceful spa is surrounded by forest on the Pacific Ocean, creating the perfect, natural environment with the sound of splashing waves and the smell of the ocean permeating the atmosphere. This spa offers high-quality spa products and its estheticians focus on providing a truly relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
Located in the wine country of San Francisco, this spa is surrounded by private gardens and breathtaking views of Napa Valley. This spa offers the opportunity to partake in relaxing activities for romantic couples or friends of four with access to a private outdoor garden and hot spring. Embrace this spa’s philosophy of nurturing the body and mind while sinking into a peaceful state of relaxation.
This one is considered to be one of Asia’s most spectacular spa resorts. All of this resort’s 123 villas have access to their own garden and an open air sunken bathtub, 52 of its villas have their own Jacuzzi, and 46 have their own private swimming pool. For the ultimate getaway, consider one of 13 villas with access to a private pool, Jacuzzi, private steam, and sauna room, and be sure to sign up for this hotel’s renowned ‘Intimate Moments’ partner massage.
The Grove is London’s cosmopolitan country estate, and it offers spa treatments that sooth and stimulate all of your senses. This spa prides itself on offering a total caring experience and ensuring that you escape, relax, and re-energize during your stay. Breathe in the tranquility, breath out the stress, and leave with a little more balance in your life.
This spa is located in a private red rock canyon in Sedona, Arizona-- in what is considered to be one of the most sacred healing places on Earth. World class spa therapists create unique and memorable experiences and offer a variety of specially tailored services, aiming to provide a sense of harmony and health.
This Miami Beach luxury spa embraces ancient traditions and offers a complete experience with access to three private, sparkling swimming pools. This spa is dedicated to absolute privacy and relaxation, and its treatments will leave you feeling fresh and revitalized.
This exotic, Hawaiian themed spa integrates tropical gardens and exudes serenity. Its complimentary, pre-spa services include access to the lap pool, whirlpools, steam rooms, saunas, and cold plunges. The treatment massages can be performed outside amidst beautiful nature and bamboo that naturally bring about a sense of calm.
This spa embraces the ancient philosophy of individualized treatments to reach harmony from the inside out. Be sure to take advantage of their unique treatment options and enjoy various services made especially for your needs.
Inspired by the surrounding ocean, this resort has eight magnificent treatment rooms and offers suites equipped with outdoor soaking tubs. The spa treatments utilize essences of plants, aromas of healing flowers, and herbs and spices, all blended together to create soothing and rejuvenating recipes for an enhanced experience.
Dramatically located on a cliff’s edge, this spa overlooks the resort and the beautiful Sir Francis Drake Channel below. The indigenous botanical resources along with therapeutic practices make for the most relaxing spa experience. The best part, however, is that this spa is willing to accommodate you in their Cliff Spa Suite, in your room, on the beach, or even under the stars!
Try as we might, we just couldn’t pick one favorite, so we encourage you to share your favorite luxury spa experiences with us on Facebook. Is your favorite spa on our list? Let us know! We love hearing from you.
By: Oksana Balytsky
October 24, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Leave it to the Hotel Hassler, recently voted the No. 1 hotel in Rome in the 2011 Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards, to pull out all the stops to delight even its pint-size guests. A new "Family Escape Package," available from November 1, 2011- October 31, 2012, spoils the kids with homemade ice cream, milk and cookies before bedtime, and a special gift at check-in (a Bukowsky stuffed bunny). The Hassler's concierge can arrange all manner of family-friendly activities- like a private lunch in an ancient alley or Roman piazza, a trip to the Museo dei Bambini (Children's Museum of Rome), or a carriage or helicopter ride. Of course if you're in need of some alone time in the Eternal City, babysitters are on call to keep your kids happily entertained at the Hassler. Set atop the Spanish Steps in a postcard-perfect setting, the Hotel Hassler has dazzling views. These panoramas can also be gaped at from the hotel's Michelin-starred restaurant, Imàgo. Based on double occupancy for a family of four and priced from €614 - €934 per night (approximately US$845-US$1,285), the package includes:
* Three nights' accommodation in two Deluxe or Grand Deluxe rooms
* Private check-in for children with a special gift (a Bukowsky stuffed bunny)
* Daily buffet breakfast
* Milk and cookies before bedtime
* 'Ice Cream Pleasure' - a selection of the Hassler's home-made ice cream
* In-room movie for the entire family
* Optional babysitter for four hours per day
October 20, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Autumn could be the best season to visit Tuscany. The sun is shining, the tourist crowds have dispersed, and truffle foraging is in full swing. Not to mention the brilliant hues of the fall foliage. Just outside of Florence, Il Salviatino invites guests for a "Taste of Tuscany" until November 30, 2011. You'll tour a vineyard, taste local wines, go hunting for truffles, and sample the region's best seasonal delights while staying in luxury at the hotel named "Hideaway of the Year" in the 2011 Andrew Harper Grand Award Winners. Nestled in the rolling Tuscan hills, Il Salviatino is housed in a 15th century villa with original frescoes and Italian gardens-- and offers spectacular views of Florence. Starting from 1,920 euros, the "Taste of Tuscany" package includes:
* Two nights accommodation in a Deluxe Room * Breakfast for two daily * A seasonal dinner at Le Serre with a bottle of Tuscan wine * Truffle foraging for half a day * A vineyard tour and wine tasting * A spa treatment each in the award-winning Thai Devarana spa * Service and tax