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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.

New Forum Tower Rooms at Caesars Palace Las Vegas


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Caesars Palace Forum Tower RoomCaesars Palace Las Vegas is the world's best known resort-casino, celebrating the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome in an 85-acre destination location that sets the standard for entertainment, dining and luxury. Caesars Palace is in the final stages of their Forum Tower renovations - where all the rooms, suites, corridors and elevator lobbies are being renovated top to bottom.

Forum Tower WashroomsAvailable to book as of January 31, 2008, with travel beginning in April, the new Forum Tower Rooms will be considered an upgrade room in addition to the Palace and Augustus Towers. Forum Tower Rooms will now feature two LCD televisions (the second built into the bath mirror), wired and wireless Internet service, iPod docking station, oversized showers with dual rain bath showerheads, plus more.


An Interview with the General Manager: Cliff Atkinson of Gramercy Park Hotel


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Gramercy Park HotelCliff Atkinson was promoted to General Manager of the Gramercy Park Hotel in July 2007 after joining as the Hotel Manager in October of 2006 with more than 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry.

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?

Cliff Atkinson: I was recruited by Ian Schrager to be the Gramercy Park Hotel Manager in September 2006 and I assumed the General Manager position in July 2007. I was very excited to incorporate my traditional luxury hotel background with the modern luxury that Gramercy Park Hotel introduced to the market.

Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

Cliff Atkinson: The best thing about our hotel's location is the access to Gramercy Park. My favorite thing to do on a Sunday is to grab a New York Times, with a morning coffee and sit in the park and read my paper all year round. It is so quiet and peaceful, right in the middle of New York City!

Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?

Cliff Atkinson: My favorite rooms are our Loft rooms. They really feel like an artist’s loft from the 1920's… very Bohemian. I recommend our "05" rooms, which have fantastic bathrooms and a large open feel.

Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?

Cliff Atkinson: The Private Roof Club access and the weekend Dim Sum brunch in Wakiya.

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?

Cliff Atkinson: I think there are five distinctive points about our hotel:

1. The unique design of the rooms. – They are different than anything in the market today, with a design created by Ian Schrager, the patriarch of the modern hotel industry and Julian Schnabel, a world renowned artist. The rooms set themselves apart from the usual homogeneous look of the majority of hotel rooms.

2. Our location – The Gramercy Park area is becoming the “new midtown”. It is close to both the traditional Midtown Manhattan shopping and the exciting dining and night life of downtown Manhattan. Plus, our location directly on Gramercy Park provides our hotel guests with an experience like no other by allowing exclusive access to New York’s only private park.

3. Our Food and Beverage – Our options for dining and entertaining are truly world class from our Chinese restaurant, Wakiya, to the exciting nightlife of our Rose Bar, to the comfortable, laid back garden atmosphere of our Private Roof Club. Guests don’t feel like they are in a hotel but rather a private mansion with an incredible selection of personal chefs!

4. Private Roof Club – There is simply nothing like our Private Roof Club anywhere in New York City. It is accessible to hotel guests only, it provides a private retreat with incredible artwork and is covered and temperature controlled 365 days a year. It is truly special.

5. Our Service – Our approach to service is the same approach I used at former Mobil Five Star and AAA Five Diamond Hotels and Resorts. Ian Schrager has the eye for the design and can create a hotel space like no other. It is my job to ensure the service is at the level you would experience at the World’s top luxury hotels packaged in this unique hotel casing.

Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?

Cliff Atkinson: Our hotel guests are the global luxury traveler, with over 40% international. The demographic spans all ages from young 20’s to mid 60’s – anyone who wants a luxury experience that is special, unique and personal.

More About Mr. Atkinson:

Prior to joining the Gramercy Park Hotel, Cliff worked for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group for seven years and held various positions within the company, most recently as the Executive Assistant Manager for Mandarin Oriental, New York. Before Mandarin Oriental, New York, Cliff was the director of Revenue Management for the Group’s properties in North America and Europe from 2000 – 2003. Cliff began his career in the hospitality industry with Hilton Hotels in Revenue Management and as Director of Front Office Operations and other various management positions in Rooms Division.

Cliff attended City College of San Francisco with a degree in Hospitality Management as well as the University of San Francisco and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Cliff resides in Manhattan with his wife Jennifer and is currently pursuing his MBA.


Win a Night in the Cinderella Castle Suite, Disney World


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cinderella CastleDisney's Year of a Million Dreams celebration has been extended until the end of 2008 (!) -- which means that lucky guests still have the opportunity to score a night in the Cinderella Castle Suite, towering four stories above Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Over the past year, hundreds of visitors to the Disney resorts have been awarded freebies by the Dream Squad, with the top prize at Disney World being an overnight in the fairytale chamber at the pinnacle of Cinderella's Castle, originally built for Walt Disney and his family. This prize is chosen randomly by a computer that designates a certain attraction, time, and seat number daily. The lucky winning party is plucked from the crowd and whisked away to a marvelous wonderland. Reached by private elevator, the salon, bedchamber, and bathroom are situated off a private marble-floored foyer appointed with 18-karat gold leaf. Canopy beds are draped with fluffy feather comforters. The famous glass slipper (worth $18,000) is displayed in a cove, "a memorable artifact from the story." The furnishings may resemble the style of the French rulers from the period inspiring the Cinderella story, but the amenities are definitely 21st century: garden tub plus shower, and a flat-screen HDTV hidden behind the framed portrait of Cinderella hanging above the fireplace.


Suite Specials Starting from $149 at The Venetian, Las Vegas


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Venetian, Las VegasKeep winter blues at bay with a Vegas getaway and get luxury for less at The Venetian. In the center of the action on The Strip, the resort's got plenty of wow factors: authentic gondola rides on the Grand Canal, the Guggenheim Museum, excellent live entertainment, top-quality restaurants, and the Canyon Ranch Spa... Talk about the ultimate winter playground. Skip the holiday frenzy and luxuriate in style at The Venetian, where you can unwind in one of the newly remodeled Luxury Suites for a mere $149 per night with their exclusive holiday rate. Available until January 3, 2008. (Weekend rates are slightly more at $199 per night.)


Suite NYC Weekend Escape at Bryant Park


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Bryant Park SuiteNew York City is aglow between Thanksgiving and the New Year, and everyone knows this is the perfect time to visit Manhattan. Whether you're looking for window shopping, holiday events and performances or a place to enjoy your Christmas dinner - the Bryant Park Hotel is in the center of it all. Between now and January 15th, 2008 - enjoy special low rates at the luxurious, contemporary Bryant Park Hotel or treat yourself and your family to an ice skating weekend package with 2 VIP Tickets to "The Pond at Bryant Park". For $699.00 per night the Weekend Suite Escape Includes:

    - Accommodations in a Bryant Park Suite (pictured)

    - Complimentary champagne and chocolate

    - Full American Breakfast for 2 people, daily through in-room private dining

    - Complimentary late checkout at 2:00pm

    - 2 Complimentary drink tickets for the Cellar Bar

    - 2 VIP Tickets to “The Pond at Bryant Park” – these tickets entitle 2 guests to immediate entry to the ice skating rink, as well as complimentary skate rental


Banish the Winter Blues with The Peninsula Hotels


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

The PeninsulaThis winter, The Peninsula Hotels invites you to a luxurious retreat with special offers to make your stay even more pleasurable. Winter Escapes helps guests to personalize their stays with a customized selection of benefits at each hotel. From 15 December 2007 through 31 March 2008 inclusive, each Peninsula hotel offers a menu of three enticing options. Guests booking rooms or suites can select one to tailor their stay to their personal taste and preferences, making a stay at any of the Peninsula hotels worldwide even more memorable. Highlights include:

As the mantle of winter descends and cooler months arrive, thoughts turn to escaping daily routines and indulging in some truly luxurious personal pampering, either by basking in the warm tropical climes of Asia or by maximizing a well-earned city break in the US at one of the Peninsula properties - an ideal way to banish those cool weather blues.


Suite Luxury: Casa Montana at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Surrounded by a lush oasis of flowers and trees on Camelback Mountain, the Sanctuary on Camelback is truly a legendary hideaway. Enjoy their highest level of luxury in Casa Montana, one of their homes with the most breathtaking panoramic views on the north slope of Camelback Mountain.

Casa MontanaCasa Montana

Size: 3,500 square feet - four spacious bedrooms, and six full baths.

Features: Private pool, whirlpool spa and scenic patio for entertaining, three wood-burning fireplaces, and a billiard room.

Casa MontanaRooms feature a master bedroom and adjacent private study, a king size bedroom and two rooms with double beds. The billiard room features a spacious bar area and pool table for entertaining your guests. Casa Montana's warm Old World Spanish inspired decor greets you with a comforting welcome and a view like no other.

Make your reservations for Casa Montana at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain >>


An Interview with the General Manager: Scott VandenBerg of Grand Hyatt Atlanta


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Scott Vandenberg Headshot Currently, Mr. Scott VandenBerg oversees the operation of Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead, a sub-city of Atlanta Georgia. In his role as General Manager, he manages 46 managers and 235 employees at the 4-diamond property. He grew up in western Michigan and started his hotel career at the age of 16 working for Holiday Inn in the Stewarding department. He has been at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta for three years and took some time to answer our questions.

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: Grand Hyatt Atlanta is a sophisticated retreat with the largest guest rooms in Buckhead. Our Buckhead Atlanta luxury hotel combines relaxation with the conveniences and excitement of the city.

Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the Grand Hyatt Atlanta's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hotel’s location at the intersection of Peachtree and Piedmonth allows access to some of the best shopping and dining in the Southeast.

Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The Grand Hyatt is host to many celebrities that visit the Atlanta area that include Bono from U2, Madonna, P-Diddy, Whitney Houston and Eric Clapton. It has also hosted Presidents George H. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hotel has one of the most successful kosher kitchens in the Atlanta area and is led by Chef Billy Skiber. The hotel is host to many of the city’s most profile events including the Susan b. Komen Pink Tie Ball, Childhood Autism Foundation Candlelight Ball and National Kidney Foundation Gift of Life Gala.

Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: All of the guest rooms in the hotel are wonderful; however, the Presidential Suite is a home away from home. It features a dining area with an eight-person table, a sitting area with sofas and chairs and a full kitchen. The living rooms is outfitted with such luxury items as an iPod with docking station, home theater system with DVD library and multiple flat panel plasma televisions.

Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: I would want to know all of the amenities that the hotel offers and what type of entertainment options are available in the area.

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: I knew from the moment I joined Hyatt in 1979 that I would like to climb the corporate structure and one day become a General Manager. I joined the company as a corporate management trainee. After working at 15 different Hyatts in many different positions, I was able to obtain my first GM job at Hyatt Westlake in Westlake Village California. After 4 years there, I became GM at Hyatt Regency Islandia in San Diego, California. I was successful at that property and after 4 years there, I was offered a chance to become GM at Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. The entire process took a lot of hard work, dedication and a drive to continue to succeed.

Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hotel customers are 50% group and 50% transient and come from all over the U.S. and some international as well.

Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hardest part of being a GM is trying to fit all of your obligations to community, staff, owners, guests and corporate office into a daily schedule. You are always "on the run" and meeting different people with needs for your time. If I could change one part of the hotel, it would be to add more public function space to the property. We are a very popular upscale venue and we must turn down some events due to previous bookings

Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: Favorite other hotels - Peninsula Hotel Beverly Hills is a classy hotel with a great clientele and a wonderful location, Grand Hyatt Kauai is a beautiful property that is very relaxing, Park Hyatt Paris is known for their excellent service and top of the world reputation.

Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: Grand Hyatt Atlanta is located on the prime corner of Buckhead and is a leader in Atlanta's hotel industry. The hotel ranks among the top 20 hotels in Hyatt's North American portfolio on customer service, facility design and services. The location lends itself to convenience when shopping or dining at the city's finest stores and restaurants. The staff is seasoned and will take care of guests needs with ease. We welcome you to experience the Hyatt touch at this magnificent facility.

Mr. Scott VandenBerg grew up in western Michigan and graduated from Holland High School in his hometown of Holland Michigan. He started in the hospitality industry at the age of 16 working for Holiday Inn in the Stewarding department. After performing several different jobs at this Inn, he decided that he liked the hotel business and wanted to go to Michigan State University to pursue a career in the hospitality industry. He graduated from Michigan State University with honors obtaining his B/A degree in business specializing in hotel/restaurant and institutional management. After graduation, he joined Hyatt's Management training program in 1979 and relocated to San Diego California. His career has taken him all over the United States, Canada, Caribbean and Hawaii. As a 27-year veteran of Hyatt, Scott has worked at 15 different Hyatt Hotels of which 5 were new openings. Additionally, he assisted in the opening of two other Hyatt Hotels. Scott's hobbies include skiing, hiking, gardening and outdoor activities. He also enjoys his two Corvettes and loves to ride his Harley around Georgia’s back roads on weekends.


Suite Dreams: The Presidential Suite at InterContinental Hong Kong


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Hong Kong, Presidential Suite There's a lot to love at the InterContinental Hong Kong: the large outdoor heated swimming pool and unique trio of infinity spa pools, the luxurious I-Spa (with its feng shui inspired ambiance), prime waterfront location in Kowloon, unparalleled dining, not to mention the spectacular views. But one of the best things about the hotel is the stunning Presidential Suite, one of the most beautiful in Asia, and the city's priciest and largest. The price tag is $10,000 a night for 7,000 square feet of pure luxury. The 2,500 square ft terrace boasts its own infinity pool overlooking the sparkling lights of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island. The wrap-around terrace can easily seat 50 folks for dinner, and 24-hour room service from Alain Ducaisse's Spoon Restaurant is a perk enjoyed only by guests of the Presidential Suite. Of course this five-room facility has made the roster of Forbes' most expensive hotel rooms in the world.


Royal Suite at the Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris: The World’s Super Suites


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Royal Suite at the Hotel Plaza Athenee We thought the Eiffel Suite was luxe. The Hotel Plaza Athénée is also home to the lavish Royal Suite, 4840 square feet of serious opulence. The four-bedroom suite is situated on the 5th floor, overlooking the Avenue Montaigne and the courtyard. Furnished with splendid antiques, drapes embroidered with three different gold threads, and the finest silks and fabrics, the Royal Suite is like an elegant Parisian home-- a truly exceptional one at that. Bathrooms are decked out in Italian marble, with steam showers and Jacuzzis. To be expected, the suite offers the utmost in state-of-the-art technology: plasma TV screen in each room, glass video projecting screen in the master bedroom, WiFi Internet access, telephone with eight lines, fax, music library with 5,000 titles, and incredible security (digital finger print entry on each door of the Suite, four electronic safes...)

Of course you don't have to be a member of the royal family to stay at the legendary Plaza Athénée. Make like Carrie Bradshaw and book a room at the most famous hotel in the City of Light (with our without the "lovah" in tow). Recently renovated and scented with a unique amber fragrance, the hotel's spacious guest rooms showcase French style at its best.