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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.

A Luxury Traveler’s Bucket List: Prague, Czech Republic

January 4, 2012
By: Oksana Balytsky

We’ve all made New Year’s resolutions and managed to stop going to the gym or taking those cooking classes come February. This year, make a commitment to a simpler, more fulfilling resolution: travel more. Take in what the world has to offer, and do it in style. Be sure to keep up with our new blog series where we’ll be featuring an incredible destination everyone should visit in his/her lifetime. Consider this list a tool to give you a few ideas and inspiration on exciting places to go, where to stay, and what to see!

Our first feature destination today is Prague, Czech Republic.

About Prague:

Prague, the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic has a rich history and culture running through its narrow, cobblestone streets. Prague is a city of resilience, persevering through floods, fires, and invasions, making it extremely unique and captivating. This city’s breathtaking churches, Gothic-style architecture, the castle, and the Charles Bridge all make this one of the most incredible cities in Europe.

Must-See Attractions:

The most famous landmark is the Prague Castle, which is the largest castle complex in the world. It is open daily and is home to the Czech Crown Jewels. Witness the changing of the guard at the top of every hour and opt in for a guided tour to take in the history and beauty of the castle. Another must-see attraction is the Charles Bridge, which is the oldest bridge in Prague. Both ends of the bridge are reinforced by towers, and the entrance gate is beautifully adorned with Gothic sculptures.  For other must-see attractions, we encourage you to explore the list of the Top 10 Prague Monuments, put together by PragueWelcome.com

Local Cuisine:

Be sure to try the pork or beef dumplings called ‘Knedliky,’ fried cheese, and their onion and garlic soup. And of course, be sure to try traditional, Czech beer as well!

Luxurious Accommodations:

Prague has 26 luxurious hotels. A few worth checking out are the Augustine and the Boscolo Carlo IV. The Augstine has been created from several buildings, including the 13th century Augustinian St. Thomas Monastery. The hotel’s beautiful rooms all have stunning views of the courtyards, the monastery chapel, or Prague Castle. The Boscolo Carlo IV is another incredible hotel, and it offers unique amenities such as a Cigar Bar and an indoor pool with a striking Mosaic floor. This hotel encompasses a magical blend of the past and future in its architectural design and room décor.

Have you been to Prague? Where did you stay? We encourage you to get involved and tell us about your excursions on our Facebook or Twitter page!


Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012: The Henry Jones Art Hotel

December 15, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

We understand that no one aims to come in second place; there is no recognition for mediocrity. We at Five Star Alliance understand better than anyone the importance of offering the most luxurious resorts in the world, so we notice what’s going on in the industry, and it matters to us, because it matters to you. We work hard to offer you the best in the industry, and we’d like to welcome you to our second blog series where we feature the best and most luxurious resorts in the world. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business and have made the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012.

The Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012 is the eighth of their annual lists, and the hotels chosen by their team of editors and experts are the best for service, food, location, rooms, leisure facilities, ambiance and design.

The Henry Jones Art Hotel in Tasmania, Australia is featured on the Gold List 2012: Best for ambiance and design. This luxury hotel is the first and only dedicated art hotel in Australia. It presents an atmosphere that allows guests to enjoy art in a unique manner. The public areas in the hotel have 300 paintings and sculptures, many of which are for sale. There are beautiful works of art in every guest room, exposing guests to sophisticated art all the while providing them with a luxurious experience.


The Best of New England: Mandarin Oriental Boston and Blantyre Resort Team Up

November 15, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

Mandarin Oriental BostonThe Mandarin Oriental Boston has partnered with Blantyre Resort to offer guests an unforgettable taste of New England in both the city and the countryside. Not only will you get a dose of Boston's history and culture, but you'll also get to relax in the heart of the Berkshires on Blantyre's sprawling 117-acre estate. The "East Meets West" package-- connecting Eastern and Western Massachusetts via the MA turnpike-- offers exclusive rates and services at these two stylish properties. Starting from $595 and valid until December 20, 2011, the package includes the following:

At Mandarin Oriental, Boston: * Upgrade to next available room type at time of check-in, based on availability * Daily full American breakfast for two at Asana restaurant * Two welcome signature cocktails in M Bar & Lounge overlooking bustling Boylston Street * $50 credit towards a treatment at the five-star spa * Two tickets to Top of the Hub's Skywalk Observatory atop The Prudential Building, located steps from the hotel * Minimum two-night stay

At Blantyre: * Upgrade to next available room type at time of check-in, based on availability * Daily Breakfast for two at the Main House restaurant * $200 resort credit * Complimentary tickets to Edith Wharton’s The Mount Estate & Gardens and Norman Rockwell Museum * Minimum two-night stay


Squaw Valley Offers More than Just Skiing

November 14, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

The winter months are rolling in, and that means it’s time to put away the shorts and start waxing your skis and snowboards. Squaw Valley, an incredible world class resort offers 4,000 acres of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of various ages and skill levels. My family is a group of avid skiers, and I have had the opportunity to ski at most of the resorts surrounding Lake Tahoe, so I can confidently say that Squaw Valley is one of the best resorts with some of the toughest runs, but it’s also a resort that offers a lot more than just incredible slopes.

Come spring and summer, Squaw Valley offers access to its Umbrella Bar, the only mountain top bar in the United States with a pool and hot tub. This favorite drinking spot offers a relaxed environment to spend time with friends while making new ones. The Umbrella Bar is surrounded by breath-taking mountain views, making it the perfect place to relax after a day of outdoor adventures.

Hop on to the Cable Car and ride 2,000 vertical feet to High Camp. Check out the Olympic Museum and learn about the 1960 Olympics which took place at Squaw Valley. High Camp also serves as the gateway to beginner terrain, allowing visitors to enjoy access to plenty of wide, gentle slopes perfect for beginners developing their skills.

For luxurious accommodations located steps from the slopes, consider the Resort at Squaw Creek. This hotel provides ski-in/ski-out access, on-site cross country ski center, 18-hole championship golf course, heating swimming pools, waterslide, and beautiful hiking and biking trails.


Christmas at Plaza Athénée, Paris: Plant Your Own Tree at the Palace of Versailles

November 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Plaza Athenee, ParisHere's your chance to "plant your roots in French History" at the Château de Versailles. Talk about cool Christmas gifts! The Hotel Plaza Athénée, the luxurious Parisian palace hotel, is offering you a special limited-time special offer to buy a Christmas tree and plant it at the legendary Château, where you'll have your name engraved, and get free access to the Château de Versailles for one year. Not only that, you'll also receive your very own ownership certificate to show off to friends back home. The sprawling palace-- a symbol of royal opulence-- is surrounded by an important forest, currently being replanted by local governmental organizations. To be part of the legend, you must act fast! The Plaza Athénée's "My Private Tree" offer is limited to 10 available trees. Here's what's included in the package, priced from 1428 euros in a Deluxe Room (with guaranteed upgrade to a Junior Suite):

* At Château de Versailles: Your own Tree (Value 1000 euros) only 10 trees available; Ownership certificate; Your name engraved at the Château de Versailles; Free access to the Château de Versailles for one year

* At the Plaza Athénée: Daily Continental breakfast for two and a bottle of organic Champagne with your luxurious accommodations

Rates are per night for a two nights stay minimum. Available until December 28, 2011.


Special Offers in London: Free Afternoon Tea at Hotel 41

October 24, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

Hotel 41, LondonLondon is buzzing with excitement this time of year, and almost impossibly festive when it comes time for Christmas. For those looking to experience the merriment, hop the pond for some holiday shopping, theatrical shows, and open-air ice skating on the huge rink outside the Natural History Museum (open from November 4, 2011- January 8, 2012). Shop til you drop, then tuck into a mountain of cakes, scones and pastries for Afternoon Tea. When you book a two-night stay at the Hotel 41-- a discreet five-star hotel directly opposite the Royal Mews and just behind Buckingham Palace-- you'll get an Afternoon Tea thrown in for free. The boutique hotel is known for its fine service; staff outnumber guests two-to-one, and the thoughtful touches really impress guests. At turndown, the staff puts floating candles in your bath and sprays lavender on your pillow, while the pet concierge makes sure that Fido is as pampered as you are.

The "Complimentary Afternoon Tea" offer is available on all room types and suites with a minimum two night stay. Available from now until December 23, 2011, and between January 2 and February 13, 2012. Black-out dates may apply.

Another tempting offer: Check into one of the Hotel 41's luxurious suites for two nights and stay a 3rd night free. Includes welcome drink on arrival, use of the Pantry and Butler service.


Take the Family to Rome: Homemade Gelato and More at Hotel Hassler

October 24, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Hassler RomaLeave 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


The New York Times Reviews The James Hotel New York

October 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The James New YorkIn typical New York Times fashion, Sunday's Travel section was a whopper. A fantastic piece on Paris by Matt Gross, Fall Foliage Deals in the "Practical Traveler" column, and "Caves and Kayaks in a Quiet Corner of Thailand." We were also pleased to see an in-depth review of one of our fave hotels, The James in New York. From its location at the edge of SoHo to its rooftop pool and art collection, it's hard to pinpoint what we love most about this place. Here's a memorable quote from the most venerable of papers:

...The hotel’s striking lobby offers free use of Apple computers, alongside free happy-hour wine with snacks. Each floor features work by a different contemporary artist, with explanatory texts and mobile tagging. There’s also a small rooftop bar and heated pool; a well-equipped gym; the Treetop terrace bar; and a restaurant, David Burke Kitchen, serving modern American fare. The mini-bar was chockfull of healthy organic snacks, as well as an “intimacy kit.”...

 

Bottom line: If you picture life as a magazine spread-- where the architecture is modern, the art cutting-edge and everything else organic or free-range — then the James New York may fit you to a T.

Interested in seeing photos or booking the hotel? Click here.


Best of the Best: King George Palace has the Best Scenic View in 2011

October 4, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

We understand that no one aims to come in second place; there is no recognition for mediocrity. We at Five Star Alliance understand better than anyone the importance of offering the most luxurious resorts in the world, so we notice what’s going on in the industry, and it matters to us, because it matters to you. We’d like to welcome you to our new blog series, Best of the Best, where we’ll be featuring the best and most luxurious resorts in various categories. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business by the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Awards, so you can relax and stop worrying about your upcoming trip, knowing that it truly will be the best of the best.

Today’s featured luxury hotel is the King George Palace, recipient of the Best Scenic View award in 2011. Located on Constitution Square, just steps from the Greek Parliament, this luxurious resort offers the best of Athens. Not only has the King George Palace received the prestigious award for hotel offering the best scenic view by the World Luxury Hotel Awards, but it has also been distinguished as one of the best hotels in Greece. This luxury boutique hotel has been home to Kings, Princes, and Presidents since the 1930s, and it will surely be your best home away from home. Be sure to visit the Acropolis, see the Parthenon, and stroll through the Agora, Athens’ central market. As your day draws to an end and as the sun is setting, dine at the rooftop restaurant of the King George Palace, and prepare to have your breath taken away by the incredible view of this phenomenal city.


Emerging Destinations: New Delhi, India

September 29, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

Tired of your typical vacation spots and looking to spice up your plans with a visit away from the norm? Then you’ll love our new blog series, Emerging Destinations! We’ll be featuring an exciting hotspot with every post that’s not your typical resort. So whether you’re looking for an exciting adventure or simply an escape to a new world, we guarantee to awaken the intrepid spirit in you, encouraging you to take a leap of faith and check out a new location for your next vacation!

Today’s featured destination is New Delhi, India. New Delhi is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and according to the National Geographic’s Traveler Magazine, it’s one of the most incredible cities of a lifetime to visit and explore. For your trip to this emerging destination, consider staying at the Taj Mahal Hotel. New Delhi has gorgeous ancient monuments including Humayn’s Tomb and the Akshardam, a jaw-dropping Hindu temple, as well as a lively performing arts scene. Check into the Taj Mahal Hotel for a truly unique and eye opening experience. This luxury hotel has a warm, pristine lobby with details reminiscent of Mughal architecture. The Taj Mahal Hotel is an authentic showcase of artifacts, and the domes and panels perfectly compliment the marble fountain streams. Sound like the perfect escape from the hectic and an opportunity to see and view the tranquil beauty of a new destination? Then take the leap and connect with your inner self by booking your trip to India today!

In case you missed our first featured emerging destination, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, you can check it out here!