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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.

August in Paris: Explore a Serene City with Hotel Discounts Galore


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

L'Hotel, ParisThe best time to hang out in Paris? According to many residents, August-- when Parisians flock to the provinces for their summer vacations-- can't be beat. The streets are calm and quiet, cafes are pretty peaceful, and a "sense of serenity settles over the city"-- to quote a recent article in National Geographic Traveler. (Of course this doesn't apply to the city's notorious tourist traps.) Titled "The Longest Sunday," the article explains why August in Paris is akin to a "monthlong weekend of lazy doings and simple diversions." In August, visitors to the city will also be privy to hotel discounts galore. In the high-end market, even legendary hotels like L'Hotel offer specials. Set in the heart of St-Germain-des-Prés, L'Hotel guarantees an opulent guest experience with decadently designed rooms accessed by a unique spiral staircase, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a romantic pool and sauna in the cellar. L'Hotel has played host to quite a few celebrity guests, including Oscar Wilde. Book the "August 2010 4 for 3" offer and you'll get a 4th night free when you stay three consecutive nights, subject to availability. This limited offer is valid throughout the month of August.


Mint Juleps in Morocco at the New Royal Mansour Marrakech, King Mohammed’s Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

June saw the much anticipated opening of Royal Mansour Marrakech, the opulent luxury hotel owned by Morocco's King Mohammed VI, whose ambitious tourism strategy has aimed to attract 10 million visitors to the country in 2010. His Majesty's Plan Azur is certainly working; Royal Mansour isn't the only new luxury hotel on the scene. The Rocco Forte Collection, Four Seasons, and Monte Carlo SBM have all staked their claim to Marrakech, which has emerged as a major tourism hot spot. In fact, Marrakech has been singled out as one of the "It Places" to travel in 2010 by both Conde Nast Traveler and The New York Times.

Royal Mansour Marrakech is a sight for sore eyes. No expense was spared in the hotel's construction, located directly within the medina walls of old Marrakech. In fact, Royal Mansour has been described as "the only entirely hand-built hotel in the world." 53 individual riads were designed with multicolored ceramic tile, elaborate woodwork, and Moroccan mosaics by top local artisans. Rooftop terraces and private pools offer stunning views of Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains. And the cuisine is by the Michelin three-starred chef (and Parisian sensation) Yannick Alléno. A fascinating Bloomberg News article describes the over-the-top indulgences found at the king's pad: from shoes polished with Champagne to laundered clothes wrapped in silk paper by private butlers to expertly mixed cocktails (even mint juleps). A staff of 400 is on hand to spoil guests rotten: "The hotel staff operates underground, driving golf carts along a maze of passageways, entering the three- and four-story riads through hidden portals. Each riad is serviced -- quietly -- by at least 10 people."


Outdoor Bars, Hotels, Restaurants and More: Top New Reasons to Visit New York


By: Guest Writer

By Meagan Drillinger, Jena Tesse Fox and Ruthanne Terrero

The Surrey's Presidential Suite

For starters, we say a stay at The Surrey will make you fall in love with all that is the best of Manhattan. Set on East 76th Street between Madison and Fifth avenues, it’s close to Central Park, elegant shopping (think Lisa Perry, Alain Mikli, Carolina Herrera, Vera Wang, Jack Vartanian, Missoni and Lily Pulitzer) and classic, refined residential brownstones and townhouses.

The hotel is ideal for those seeking a secure, intimate setting; step into the lobby and you’re greeted by staff at the reception desk; someone is always on hand to guide you to the elevator and to see you to your room, should you wish. And what choices you’ll have. Starting at the top with The Surrey’s most lavish accommodation is the Presidential Suite (No. 1406). It has 4,500 square feet of space and can be configured to have one or two bedrooms. Other important elements include a private terrace, formal dining room for 10, a living room with a fireplace and an iMac, a baby grand piano and a full kitchen.

The Penthouse (No. 1701) on the top floor, we must say, is a fine runner-up to the Presidential Suite. At 1,150 square feet, it has a full kitchen, a living room with a marble fireplace, dining area with seating for six and a posh, private 1,000-square-foot wraparound terrace that provides fabulous views of Central Park and the Upper East Side. Note: A huge plus of staying in the Penthouse Suite is its exclusive access to The Surrey’s new private rooftop garden.

Good to know: Ultra Deluxe Suites (No. 1403 and the “01” line of suites, for example, No. 1401) have small kitchens and terraces with Central Park views. Note: Those in the know will appreciate that The Surrey has Duxiana brand beds in all of its rooms. Additionally, as only smaller buildings surround the hotel, all rooms have bright light all day. P.S.: The hotel is pet friendly; there's also a wonderful rooftop garden for guests only.

Andaz Wall StreetThis winter, Andaz, a new luxury brand by Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, opened a hotel on New York City's Wall Street. This month, the Andaz Wall Street got a new sibling in Manhattan: The Andaz 5th Avenue.

We hear the hotel takes its design from its midtown location. Think sleek lines with classic luxury, reminiscent of New York City apartments at the height of their glamour.

The 184-room hotel boasts 36 suites. Ask about the six that offer terraces overlooking the New York Public Library. Each room has a black footbath in the shower area.

Top digs: The Andaz XL Two-Bedroom Terrace Suite measures a whopping 1,779 square feet, offering sweeping views of the Hudson and East River.

The ground floor restaurant seats an intimate 38 and offers selections from New York City staples. Think Katz's Delicatessen, Sullivan Street Bakery and the Pickle Guys.

Head down to the cellar and visit the bar, serving a selection of wines, liquors and small plates.

Speaking of Bars…..

Here in New York it’s open season on drinking outdoors, so we thought we’d round up some news of outdoor bars where one can imbibe in style. Here goes….

When Rockefeller Center's Ice Rink closes up shop for the winter, the Rink Bar opens for business in its place. This summer it features a newly expanded cocktail menu. Think mojitos, specialty lemonades, martinis and frozen drinks.

In the mood for a snack? We hear that in addition to popular bar snacks, Rink Bar serves up some tasty barbeque. We're talking slow-roasted pork shoulder, mango and jalapeno glazed chicken, St. Louis ribs - with all the trimmings from corn on the cob to slaw.

Rink Bar is open seven days a week. It is located off Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th streets. For more information visit www.patinagroup.com.

While in midwtown, the Roosevelt Hotel's mad46 rooftop lounge is open. This year it’s better than ever, with expanded indoor space, retractable glass windows and an interior bar. (And the air conditioning will be appreciated when the mercury hits 90. Not many of us like spending hours in a sauna, either!) We hear that the indoor spaces are bookable for private parties if you want to celebrate a big birthday.

Convenient touch: Those wishing to bypass the hotel's lobby can use the exclusive elevator on 46th Street that will take them directly to the lounge and enjoy the fresh air...such as we have it!

For more information, call 212-885-6095 or visit www.mad46.com.

Feel like have a drink indoors? Just go downstairs; the Roosevelt has also just opened its new Vander Bar. Open Monday through Friday from noon until 9 p.m., the bar has a wide variety of beers on tap, as well as a menu of light bites (the Mini Lobster Rolls sound divine). For some funky cocktails, try The Blackberry (a vodka-infused drink named in honor of one of Midtown’s favorite toys…look, just be happy they didn’t call it the Crackberry!), the Madison Avenue Mai Tai, the Bull Moose (pictured right, a mix of coffee and Patrón—yum!) or The Lombardo, a salute to the Big Band great Guy Lombardo who began his New Year’s Eve tradition of broadcasting “Auld Lang Syne” from the hotel.

(It’s amazing, the trivia you can learn in bars. Why else do you think it’s the Guinness Book of Records?)

Nice touch: Vander Bar has its own dedicated 45th Street entrance.

Downtown, the SoHo House rooftop has fantastic views over the West Village and the Hudson River. Members and guests, as well as those staying in the hotel, can lie on loungers or sit at tables for drinks and breakfast, lunch and dinner daily during the summer months.

Where else can you brunch poolside, next to an all-glass balcony and take in panoramic views of New York City? Or go for a dip in the pool, bathing in the sun while sipping a Strawberry Lemonade Cocktail? (That’s made with fresh lemons, muddled strawberries and vodka and has been a rooftop favorite since its opening  – even Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte from Sex and the City enjoyed it in a summer episode.)

Theater Watch

All New York-bound theater fans, mark your calendars for October! Acting legends James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave will be returning to Broadway this fall in Alfred Uhry's classic play Driving Miss Daisy, which was made into an Oscar-winning movie with Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy.

The play, a sensitive study of race relations as seen through the eyes of an elderly Jewish woman and her African American chauffeur, premiered off-Broadway in 1987, and was made into a hit movie two years later. Jones was last on Broadway in the recent revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, while Redgrave earned a Tony nomination for her performance in Joan Didion's one-woman play The Year of Magical Thinking.

Driving Miss Daisy will begin performances on October 7, at the John Golden Theatre (252 West 45th Street), with an official opening on Monday, October 25.

Driving Miss Daisy will play the following performance schedule: Monday, Wednesday - Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2:00 p.m.  (From October 7 – 25, Tuesday performances begin at 8:00 p.m.)  Tickets ($65 - $125) will be available via Telecharge.com and beginning September 9, will also be available at the box office of the Golden Theatre.

On the Radar:

Exciting news for foodies in New York: The New York Times is reporting that Thomas Keller  will be opening a second Bouchon Bakery (www.bouchonbakery.com/)  next March. It will replace the Dean & DeLuca at 1 Rockefeller Plaza (48th Street).

Unlike the Bouchon Bakery in Time Warner Center, this eatery will not be a complete restaurant. Keller told the Times that in good weather, there will be about 45 tables outdoors, but there will be no waiter service. Sébastien Rouxel, the pastry chef for Bouchon uptown, will also be involved in this project. Fresh touch: All of the baking will also be done in-house. Tiffany Jones will be the chef de cuisine for both Bouchons, in charge of savory items.


Pacific Paradise: St. Regis Bora Bora Resort Gets a Makeover


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

St Regis Bora BoraAfter a devastating cyclone season in February in French Polynesia, the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort suffered some gnarly storm damage. But now-- after a big makeover-- the resort is back, ready for the summer season. Some of the finest accommodations in the South Pacific, the beach and overwater villas have been restored to their former splendor, their private pools boasting new glass tiles. With direct access to Bora Bora's powdery sands and turquoise waters, these digs are coveted by Hollywood stars (like Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Eva Longoria, and Tim Allen). Tastefully designed in exotic woods and marble, these villas also come with personal butler service. The resort's revamp includes a spa facelift, new Polynesian artwork around the main pool, and resculpted beaches.

PS. This is where the Vince Vaughn comedy, Couples Retreat, was filmed.


The Best Views in London: The Rooftop Suite at The Athenaeum Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments, LondonThe Athenaeum-- the small family-owned hotel in Mayfair-- is known to bend over backwards for guests, creating "a home away from home" in London. The concierge can devise a city itinerary just for you, whether you want to catch a show, sup at a happening restaurant, or whiz around galleries and museums. Back at the hotel, stop by the hotel's Whisky Bar where the dedicated Whisky Sommelier, one of only two in London, can provide an individual whisky tasting experience, helping you choose between the 270 available varieties. Then bed down in five-star luxury in guest rooms that are outfitted for your complete comfort with a pillow menu, your favorite magazines, Bose speakers for your iPod, complimentary treats in your mini-bar... Best room of all: the hotel's new Rooftop Suite, where abundant windows provide endless views of iconic London sights dotting the city skyline. There's a private balcony with panoramic views, a Jacuzzi bathroom with a TV and a shower with views over Green Park, and a choice of three double bedrooms, two bathrooms and six plasma screen TVs. That's not all. This apartment suite comes equipped with bountiful extras like free Wifi, Nespresso coffee, daily newspapers, and a mini-bar with free soft drinks, nibbles, and ice cream.


Great Rates and Extra Benefits in Bangkok at lebua at State Tower


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

lebua at State Tower, BangkokNow's the time to travel to Bangkok. The city is bouncing back, welcoming visitors with open arms (and reduced rates at luxury hotels). The all-suite lebua at State Tower-- located in the second tallest tower in Bangkok on the banks of the Chao Phraya River-- is promising "peace of mind at lebua" with a free upgrade,* Sky Bar cocktails, late check-out and flexible cancellations included with all reservations. Available until July 31, 2010, this "Best Bed & Breakfast" package means savings on the already discounted bed & breakfast rate-- starting from just $109 nightly! lebua at State Tower is home to Sirocco, one of the highest al fresco restaurants in the world, and the Sky Bar (pictured), featuring dramatic views of Bangkok. You'll find these impressive city views from the suites too, outfitted with Bvlgari amenities, 330 thread count linens, and Petrossian delights in the minibar. Other facilities include a fully-equipped gym, state-of-the-art business center, and open-air swimming pool.

*Free room upgrade from Superior Suite to Riverview Suite


Luxury Value in Dubai: All-Inclusive Resort Experience at the Palm Tree Court & Spa


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Palm Tree Court and Spa, DubaiLooking for a luxury resort experience in Dubai? You'll get great value with the "All Inclusive Value Package" at the Palm Tree Court & Spa, the five-star family beach resort nestled on the grounds of the Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa. An oasis outside of Dubai City, the resort is immersed in lush gardens, boasting its own private, palm-dotted beach overlooking the Arabian Gulf. Within the larger resort (where you can take your pick of recreational activities- from horseback riding to seaplane flights), the Palm Tree Court & Spa offers exclusive suites featuring designer baths and dine-out balconies or private gardens. The all-inclusive package includes buffet breakfast at La Fontana, lunch and dinner at your choice of 15 restaurants and bars, unlimited soft drinks throughout the day and drinks during dinner at Jebel Ali Hotel and Palm Tree Court & Spa. Complimentary leisure activities include wind surfing, catamaran, laser, kayaking and camel rides. Valid throughout 2010 with rates starting from AED 1,250 in a Garden View Junior Suite at Palm Tree Court & Spa.


Pezula Resort, South Africa: The Choice of the French Team for the FIFA World Cup


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Pezula Resort Hotel and Spa, South AfricaA world-class spa? Check. Gourmet eats? Check. A magnificent setting on the coastline of the Western Cape? The Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa has jaw-dropping views of the Indian Ocean, the Knysna Lagoon, and the Outeniqua Mountains from its 1,000-hectare estate. The French soccer team certainly doesn't compromise when it comes to luxury digs for the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa. The 1998 champions may be struggling a bit on the field this year, but they're still planning to enjoy the Word Cup challenge (and Pezula's renowned hospitality) while in South Africa this summer. What else will they find at this sparkling resort? A slew of on-site activities to enjoy during their down-time, like tennis, championship golf, hiking through indigenous forest, canoeing along the Noetzie River to a beautiful secluded beach, even an animal "touch farm." And the 78 suites? They're equipped with private balconies or patios, log fireplaces and sumptuous en-suite bathrooms. If les bleus are victorious, they can party at the Champagne & Whisky Bar.


Suite Escapes: Lots of Extra Perks at the Carlton Hotel Baglioni in Milan


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Carlton Hotel Baglioni, MilanTreat yourself right on your next trip to Italy's fashion capital and book a sumptuous suite at the Carlton Hotel Baglioni, situated in the heart of Milan directly overlooking Via della Spiga. A darling of the international jetset, this prestigious hotel is home to Baretto al Baglioni, one of the most famous restaurants in the city. Stay two consecutive nights in one of the hotel's top suites and you'll get pampered with some fab amenities:

* One way complimentary transfer

* Open bar

* One complimentary dinner for two people (wines matched by the sommeliers)

* Daily buffet breakfast

* In person wake-up call delivered with coffee/tea and newspaper of choice

* Choose from one of the following additional services: 3 hours of babysitting, 3 hours with a personal shopper or 4 hours in a complimentary meeting room

The "Sweet Suite Program" is valid until March 30, 2011 with a minimum two-night stay required. Rates are as follows:

* 2 night-stay in Leonardo Suite: 2,130 euros

* 2 night-stay in Art Déco Suite: 2,530 euros

* 2 night-stay in Montenapoleone Suite: 3,530 euros


Summer Bliss on St. Bart’s: 5th Night Free at Hotel Le Toiny


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Le ToinyPrivacy, exclusivity, and off-season prices are yours for the taking on St. Bart's this summer. Splurge on a vacay on this French jewel in the Caribbean and get spoiled rotten at Hotel Le Toiny, a spread of 15 pastel-colored bungalows overlooking the bay of Toiny and the dazzling Caribbean. Surrounded by tropical gardens, each of these Villa Suites has its own gated entrance and a red mailbox flag (aka "Do Not Disturb" sign). Talk about privacy! Guests are quickly seduced by the hotel's service standards. Snorkel from the beach, play a game of tennis at the nearby Flamboyants Tennis Club (free of charge), embark on a sunset cruise, even try surfing with Le Toiny's boards.

Hotel Le Toiny, St BartsTake advantage of the "Summer Bliss" package: Stay five nights and pay for only four, or stay 10 nights and only pay for eight. (Accommodations in a Junior Suite with private pool and partial ocean view, or a one-bedroom Villa Suite with private pool and ocean view.) Rates starting from 2080 euros for five nights, from June 1- August 30, 2010. Included: private round-trip airport transfers, daily Continental breakfast for two, welcome cocktails, and a departure gift. Note: All guests at Le Toiny enjoy complimentary laundry service, wifi, daily Nespresso coffee and bottled water in-room, as well as the use of surf boards, snorkeling and beach equipment.