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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.

Armani Hotel Opens in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa; New Hotel Planned for Milan

April 29, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Armani Hotel DubaiAt long last, the Armani Hotel has opened in Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. After years of hype and anticipation, the designer's first hotel is welcoming guests to floors 0-8 (along with 38 & 39) of the soaring, 2,717 foot building. (The Burj Al Khalifa is also home to the world's highest mosque and swimming pool.) To quote the Telegraph UK: "Not content with letting his many collections be a feast for the eyes, the Italian fashion maestro seems determined his hotel should be a feast in every sense of the word. The Armani Hotel Dubai boasts not one, not two, not even three or four - but EIGHT restauarants, ranging from Italian (certo!) and Indian to Japanese and Mediterranean." And Armani himself designed these restos.

The Huffington Post quotes Armani at this week's opening: "Yesterday when I arrived and saw the hotel, I felt really emotional. After five years of working on this project, I finally saw how it all came to life. Working with me is not always easy, I think everyone here would agree because my standards are very high." The hotel features 160 guest rooms, a spa, the Armani Prive nightclub with $800 table reservations, and various shops (including an Armani boutique, Armani Dolci (sweets) and Armani Fiori (flowers). Price tag? Suites cost as much as 40,000 dirhams ($11,000) a night. Next up for Armani? A second hotel in Milan- to be built with partner Emaar Properties PJSC.

Photo Via HotelChatter

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Barcelona Sets The Bar High

April 28, 2010
By: Dave Eisen

Sagrada FamiliaIf Yankee Stadium (the better precursor to the mall-like structure now sitting in the Bronx) is the house that Ruth built, Barcelona is the city that Gaudí helped build. His capricious designs are scattered throughout this Catalan capital (some must sees: Sagrada Família, its intricate facade and unfinished steeples rising just off Avenue Diagonal; Casa Battló and its melted wax almost skeletal façade; and Parc Güell, a cornucopia of Gaudí work. Hint: Be patient—snapping a photo of the famed multicolored mosaic dragon fountain is a process as it’s always mobbed by tourists).

Like any great city, Barcelona has its share of great stores and restaurants. While Passeig de Gràcia is the 5th Avenue of Barcelona (think Escada, Hermès, Yves Saint Laurent), head west to El Born, its Soho, if you will. There you will find some great boutiques. One of our favorites is Ivo & Co. (Plaça Comercial, 3), which, if you are into high-end, retro-vintage home décor, is just the spot for you.

La RamblaAfter some hours shopping, you’ll want to head back east to the Barri Gòtic, better known as the Gothic Quarter, with its narrow streets and whimsical cathedral architecture. Despite several changes, many of the buildings date from medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. A short walk from the Gothic Quarter is the tourist-trafficked La Rambla—a must-see. Make sure to duck into the Boqueria Market for its endless stalls of produce, meat and other delectables.

Food is a major attraction of Barcelona. In the city, tapas restaurants are as ubiquitous as the street performers along La Rambla. While each is similar, Taller De Tapas, with four locations in the city, serves up a mean plate of salt cod fritters. Try Tapas, 24, and Bravo for fried sardines.

One of the wonderful things about Barcelona is that you find something new around every corner. We serendipitously came across a restaurant in Barceloneta that we are still raving about. Walking the desolate streets of this once small fishing town (Barceloneta is on the ocean and close to the W Barcelona), Restaurante Somorrostro (Carrer de Sant Carles 11) captured our eye (later our stomachs!). At first, we were hesitant to go in (not a soul occupied the small dining room). Then we remembered it was Christmas Eve. We have no problem saying you will have one of your most memorable meals here. The restaurant is an intimate affair, where you can watch the chefs toil away at their craft in the exposed kitchen. A Must: If you are lucky, the monkfish draped in béchamel sauce will be on the menu. Do not pass go without ordering this dish. One Word: otherworldly. After dinner, take a stroll down Sant Carles, toward the beach; you will come across Absenta Bar (Carrer Sant Carles 36), where they concoct authentic absinthe drinks. It’s the perfect spot to wrap up an evening in the City of Counts.

If you aren’t into doing everything on your own, check out Made for Spain, which offers bespoke experiences in Barcelona. How about lunch in one of the only places in the city that serves true—and truly good—paella? That’s not all, the lunch is hosted by Jeff Koehler, author of La Paella: Deliciously Authentic Rice Recipes from Spain’s Mediterranean Coast. Koehler explains in detail paella’s role in Spanish culture and tricks used to prepare it. Another fun one is a visit to Gaudí’s Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera. This isn’t just your regular museum visit: Made for Spain’s good friend María hosts the tour. “Maria who?” you might ask. Maria is Maria Milà, part of the Milà family, which commissioned Gaudí at the beginning of the 20th century.


Luxury for Less: A Dining Credit Plus Special Perks at The Fullerton, Singapore

April 7, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Fullerton

Singapore's landmark riverfront hotel, The Fullerton, is pulling out all the stops to pamper guests on weekends. An indulgent new package features a dining credit and enticing special perks (free Internet, late check-out, and Champagne in room). What's more-- the "Idyllic Gourmet Weekend" promises an exceptional luxury value because you get all this starting from just S$388 per night. Bask in the luxury of The Fullerton (the outdoor infinity pool is tops), or take the hotel's complimentary shuttle service to shop til you drop around town. Valid for check-in on Fridays & Saturdays until December 30, 2010, the "Idyllic Gourmet Weekend" includes one night's accommodation in a Courtyard Room, a dining credit of S$88 per night, complimentary in-room Internet access, and a late check-out at 4 pm. With a minimum two-night stay, you'll get a complimentary bottle of Champagne, to boot.

While in town, why not check out the hotel's new All-Chocolate Buffet? The chocolate creations prepared by Chef Carl Bertka are out-of-this-world. Here's a sampler of the indulgences on offer: a signature Chocolate Fountain, Chocolate Cremeux with Vanilla Panna Cotta and Confit Cherries, and the White Chocolate and Lychee Tiramisu... Best of all: a cup of thick hot chocolate infused with a selection of seasonings like Rose Petal, Lavender, Szechuan Pepper, Chili, Star Anise, Black Cardamon, Wasabi, Lemongrass, Ginger or Coffee.


Escape to Washington DC: Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner Has a Deal

March 22, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ritz-Carlton Tysons CornerWe've learned that the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner-- located next to the Tysons Galleria, the exclusive shopping mecca for Washingtonians-- is offering a Bed & Breakfast deal starting from $199. Spend a weekend in luxury, exploring the sites in the nation's capital, hitting the shops at Tysons, maybe luxuriating in the hotel's day spa. Along with your deluxe accommodations (featuring oversized Italian marble bathrooms and newly-installed flatscreen TVs), you'll get breakfast for two and overnight valet parking with this package. In town before Easter? Take the kids to the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner and celebrate spring with Peter Rabbit Teas (complete with peanut butter & jelly finger sandwiches) and Chocolate Egg Decorating Classes. The Bed & Breakfast package is available Friday-Sunday until December 31, 2010. [Map]


Spring Shopping in Milan: Discounts with the Swank Principe di Savoia

March 18, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Principe di Savoia, MilanSpring fever? Why not jet to Milan to get a new look with the new season? Stay in style at the Principe di Savoia, the five-star favorite situated on the Piazza della Repubblica in the heart of the Italian fashion capital. Witness to a recent glam make-over by acclaimed architect Thierry Despont, the hotel is home to some of the best digs in the city, including the Imperial Suite and nine new Principe suites, each appointed with hand-painted frescoes, Murano glass vases, Lasa marble baths, and traditional Italian furniture. Take advantage of the "Spring Package," available from March 22- April 11, 2010, and you'll receive the exclusive Principe Shopping Card, which allows you 10% off the most important designer boutiques in the famous Fashion District, a stone's throw from the hotel. Starting from €295 in a Classic Premium Room, the "Spring Package"also includes buffet breakfast, a voucher for two cocktails at the new Principe Bar, one scrub treatment at the Club 10 Spa, and daily complimentary Limo Shuttle service. Two-night stay required.


Magical Winter Days in Florence with Rocco Forte’s Hotel Savoy

December 14, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Rocco Forte Hotel SavoyIf you're lucky enough to pass through Florence during the holiday season, you'll be treated to endless yuletide delights: the city's sites decked in colorful lights, ice-skating on Piazza della Liberta, a festive market on Piazza Santa Croce brimming with handmade gifts, concerts and performances, and the huge, illuminated tree on Piazza della Republicca. But after New Year's Eve is just as fine a time to visit Florence. The winter sales start on January 7 so you can pick up some fashionable bargains; February's Artisan Chocolate Fair means all of Tuscany's finest chocolatiers descend on Piazza Santa Croce; and new exhibitions include a celebration of trompe l'oeil at the Palazzo Strozzi. Best of all: When you take a winter break in Florence, you can explore the magnificent Renaissance city without the crowds.

Rocco Forte Hotel SavoyBook a winter stay at the Hotel Savoy, the stylish luxury hotel that's part of the Rocco Forte Collection, and you'll find the Duomo just around the corner and the Uffizi just a short walk away. Several packages look enticing:

Festive Florence Package, available from December 19-29, from 420 euros: overnight accommodation, daily Buffet Breakfast, Christmas delights in room upon arrival, and a spending credit of 50 euros per room, per stay, applicable towards Restaurant charges.

Winter Days Package, available til February 28, 2010, from 420 euros: 2 nights accommodation, daily Buffet Breakfast, a hot chocolate and cake served at L'Incontro Bar, and a seasonal dinner at L'Incontro Restaurant.

European Winter Offer, available til March 1, 2010: Book 3 nights or more and receive up to a 33% reduction on the Bed and Breakfast Rate.


Holiday Shopping Package from $190 at The Clift, San Francisco

November 25, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Clift San FranciscoIn need of a little glamor? Stay at the sexy Clift San Francisco and get luxury for less while thrilling at the designer interiors. The Philippe Starck-designed lobby alone is worth a trip: filled with an eclectic furniture collection including chairs from Ray and Charles Eames, a coffee table by Salvador Dali, a surreal stool by Renee Marguerite, and a sculpture custom-made by William Sawaya. Not to mention the thirty-five-foot fireplace with a Bronze chimney sculpture by Gerard Garouste. Grab a cocktail at the historic Redwood Room (still cool) before dining at Asia de Cuba. This chic hideaway has a special holiday package priced from just $190 that's available until January 9, 2010. Along with your accommodations, you'll get complimentary valet parking daily, two welcome drinks at the Redwood Room, and exclusive discounts to select boutiques.


The Five-Star Personal Shopping Experience in London with The Milestone Hotel

November 20, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Milestone Hotel, LondonLondon is a shopper's paradise, and leave it to The Milestone Hotel-- voted No. 1 British Hotel on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List-- to help their guests get the most out of their London retail therapy. The hotel has teamed up with Y shop, the personal shopping and styling company, so that you can you have the ultimate personal shopping experience. Stylist Camilla Yonge and her team will advise and style you in a consultation of your wardrobe, sense of style, and coloring, before guiding you to the world-renowned department stores and hidden boutiques where you can find the best outfits to suit your taste. You'll get the inside scoop on the London shopping scene and a fabulous wardrobe, to boot. Available until January 31, 2010 and priced from £1303 for two nights, the 5-star personal shopping experience package includes:

* Welcome glass of bubbly on arrival

* Full Afternoon Tea and color consultation with your personal shopping assistant

* Full English Breakfast, followed by a wardrobe consultation with your personal stylist

* Half day shopping spree to carefully selected stores and boutiques with your personal shopping assistant


Get There First on Black Friday: Shopping with Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza

November 19, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Catie Copley at the FairmontBrace yourself for the shopping event of the season. The Fairmont Copley Plaza will arm you with energy drinks and sustenance for your midnight shopping escapades on Black Friday; they'll even shuttle you from Boston 45 minutes away to the Nike and American Apparel stores at the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets. Book the "Midnight Madness Shopping Adventure" package, priced from $279, and you'll also get a hearty breakfast and late check out with your accommodations. Available November 26 to 29, 2009.

PS. While staying in luxury at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, you'll get to meet the hotel's resident Canine Ambassador, Catie Copley (pictured).


Abu Dhabi on the Map: Book Your Stay at Beach Rotana Hotel And Towers

November 10, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Beach Rotana Hotel and TowersMove over, Dubai. The UAE's capital city of Abu Dhabi is making headlines as both a cultural mecca and an environmentally-friendly metropolis. The dramatic Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum is slated for the Saadiyat Island development which also includes the first branch of the Louvre outside of Paris. And Abu Dhabi has ambitions to create the world's first carbon neutral city. Currently under construction, Masdar City will run entirely on renewable energy, and boast car-free streets. The two Emirates cities couldn't be any more different; one is a symbol of glitzy development and excess, the other, of culture and intellectualized projects. Eager to check out Abu Dhabi? Check into the Beach Rotana Hotel And Towers, right on the shores of the Arabian Sea. Venture out from your luxurious, sea-facing room and you'll find 10 (count em, 10!) restaurants and a private beach. Home to the Abu Dhabi Trade Center complex, the Beach Rotana - Abu Dhabi is directly linked to the 1 million square foot Abu Dhabi Mall, the most prestigious mall in the capital, via an exclusive passageway.