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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.

Special at D.C.’s The Madison Hotel: “Geckos: Tails to Toepads” at National Geographic Museum

September 28, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Madison, A Loews HotelKids are sure to go wild over the new exhibition, "Geckos: Tails to Toepads," at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C. Through January 5, 2011, the museum will showcase 75 live geckos from around the world. Visitors can check out diverse gecko habitats, listen to gecko voices, try to spot camouflaged geckos and even experience gecko night vision. As a sponsor of the museum, The Madison, A Loews Hotel is offering a special overnight package for guests to experience "Geckos: Tails to Toepads." Starting from $204 per night and available through January 5, 2011, the package includes:

* Luxe overnight accommodations at The Madison, a few blocks from the National Geographic Museum

* Admission to the "Geckos: Tails to Toepads" exhibition

* Free in-room internet access

* Complimentary valet parking

* A one-year subscription to the National Geographic Kids magazine

* 20 percent discount at National Geographic Museum Store


Hot in Paris: See the Blockbuster Art Exhibition of the Year, Claude Monet at the Grand Palais

September 15, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel de Crillon

Heading to Paris in the next few months? Don't miss the Claude Monet exhibition at the Grand Palais, the "biggest the world has ever seen," opening next week. The most famous father of Impressionism is being honored in a big way; 200 of his paintings will be displayed to show Monet's artistic development over the 60 years he painted-- including still-lifes (like "Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe") and the large-scale waterlilies painted in his garden at Giverny. It's already sold 38,000 tickets and promises to outsell the huge Picasso exhibition showcased earlier this year. Stay in style at the Hotel de Crillon (pictured)-- the gorgeous palace on the famous Place De La Concorde-- and take advantage of a special offer promoted by Concorde Hotels & Resorts. A special "Monet Exhibition Package" is available at the company's six Parisian hotels, including the Crillon, Hotel Lutetia, Hotel du Louvre, Hotel Concorde La Fayette, Concorde Opéra Paris, and Hotel Concorde Montparnasse. Starting from $245 per night, the package includes two priority tickets for the exhibition, accommodations for two, early check-in (helpful after those red-eye flights from the U.S!), late check-out, and buffet breakfast for two daily.


Special at St. Regis Hotel Washington DC: First Ladies, American Style at the White House

August 27, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

St Regis Washington DCA new package at the posh St. Regis Hotel in Washington D.C. has tongues wagging. Where better to and "play First Lady" than at this elegant icon, located on K Street just two blocks north of the White House? (With the Alain Ducasse-helmed Adour Restaurant and personalized service through the St. Regis butler program, this hotel is totally "presidential.") Here's the skinny from HotelChatter on the offer, available on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights:

Forget the Real Housewives! We want to live it up like a First Lady. So if we can rustle up the $509 a night necessary, here's what we'd choose to do over being tacky and crashing a White House party... If we booked this offer, we would:

· Sleep in the posh Caroline Astor Suite at the St. Regis

· Nosh on breakfast in bed -- on dishes inspired by First Ladies (We'd probably opt for Lady Bird Johnson’s beef tenderloin and eggs over Laura Bush’s favorite carrot muffins)

· Throw back complimentary cocktails for two at The Bar at The St. Regis

· Take a private guided tour of the First Ladies at the Smithsonian exhibition over at the National Museum of American History

· Ooh and ahh at the sight of Michelle's Jason Wu dress and anything Jackie Kennedy ever touched

· Take home our welcome amenity/memento from The National Museum of American History

· Realize that we were not cut out to be a First Lady or political wife of any kind ...


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

July 12, 2010
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.


Art of Ethiopia at the Sheraton Addis

July 9, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sheraton AddisThe Sheraton Addis, A Luxury Collection Hotel, will be hosting the third annual Art of Ethiopia 2010 from August 21- 24. The finest hotel in the Ethiopian capital, the Sheraton Addis sits on a hilltop opposite the National Palace overlooking the city. The free exhibition will showcase nearly 400 works of art from 40 of Ethiopia's leading established artists (and exciting new talent) in the Lalibela Grand Ballroom. Long a patron of Ethiopian art, the hotel also boasts a permanent art collection featuring local artists. In fact, sales of the exhibition catalogue-- prepared by the hotel-- will go to the Sheraton Addis Art Endowment Fund to support art initiatives in Ethiopia.

Booking a stay in Addis Ababa? The hotel is currently running some enticing special offers-- including a package that doles out a fourth night free and a family package that gives 50% off the second room and free meals for the kids.


Tour Italy with an Itinerary from Starwood Hotels (Guaranteed USD Rate)

July 7, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Gritti Palace, VeniceWant to take a Roman holiday? Explore the romantic canals of Venice? Immerse yourself in Renaissance art in Florence? Snag some fashionable threads in Milan? Eat and drink your way across the Italian boot? Have it all with a unique offer from Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Create your own personalized Italian itinerary, staying a minimum of seven nights in any combination of participating Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and you'll get a guaranteed US dollar rate and buffet breakfast included. For example: Shack up in style at the Hotel Gritti Palace in Venice-- luxuriating in an opulent guest room detailed with Murano Glass chandeliers and original gold-trimmed ceilings-- for $360 per night (included: complimentary rollaway bed for 1 child aged 12 or under). For the "Welcome to Italy" package, participating hotels include the Hotel Gritti Palace, Hotel Danieli, and The Westin Europa & Regina in Venice; the Westin Palace in Milan; the St Regis Grand Hotel, The Westin Excelsior Rome, and the Hotel Eden in Rome; and the Westin Excelsior Florence and the Grand Hotel in Florence.


Travel to Doha: The Jean Nouvel-Designed National Museum of Qatar

July 2, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

National Museum of Qatar, Jean NouvelTravelers to Doha will soon be able to experience a magnificent new museum that's destined to become a pilgrimage destination for architourists. Back in March, Pritzker award-winning architect Jean Nouvel unveiled his design for the National Museum of Qatar at a buzzed-about event at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Described by The New York Times as perhaps "the French architect’s most overtly poetic act of cultural synthesis yet," the museum will reflect the traditions of Qatar's Bedouin people. (Nouvel has embraced Middle Eastern culture in some of his other landmark buildings: the Arab World Institute in Paris, a branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, and an office tower in Doha, "sheathed in aluminum latticework and capped by a filigreed, mosquelike dome.") The Qatar government is currently pursuing a strategy of encouraging "the exchange of cultural traffic-- between East and West, tradition and modernity" and this museum, along with I.M. Pei's Museum of Islamic Art, is part of the effort. Nouvel's museum will be comprised of interlocking discs of different dimension, said to be inspired by sand roses, "the tiny formations that crystallize just below the desert's surface." Surrounded by desert landscaping, the museum will have 86,000 square feet of permanent gallery space, 21,500 square feet of temporary gallery space, a 220-seat auditorium, a 70-seat food forum / TV studio, two cafés, a restaurant and a museum shop.

Planning a trip to Doha and looking for hotel recs? Browse Five Star Alliance's portfolio of hotels for suggestions.


Summer in Shanghai at the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco

June 22, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mandarin Oriental San FranciscoThe award-winning Mandarin Oriental San Francisco-- housed in the city's third tallest building-- is inviting guests to "experience the magic of Shanghai," San Francisco's sister city, with a special package in conjunction with the Asian Art Museum, currently staging a Shanghai exhibition. The talked-about exhibition is part of the Bay Area's year-long "Shanghai Celebration" honoring the dynamic Chinese city as it hosts the 2010 World Expo. Featuring paintings, Shanghai Deco furniture and rugs, revolutionary posters, movie clips and more, the exhibit traces Shanghai's fascinating history. The "Summer in Shanghai" package at the Mandarin Oriental includes one night's deluxe room accommodations, two admission tickets to the Asian Art Museum and the Shanghai exhibit, and two complimentary MO Bar signature cocktails. Rates for the package are from $340, available until September 5, 2010 when the exhibition closes.


Rocco Forte’s Hotel Amigo: Where to Stay in Brussels

June 14, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Amigo, BrusselsThe European capital often gets a bad rap. But as The New York Times affirms in a recent "36 Hours in..." write-up, Brussels is hardly staid and boring!

As the seat of the European Union, Brussels gets its share of gray suits pouring off the Eurostar. Luckily, the ties come off after work. Beneath the buttoned-down facade is a lively capital that follows its own sartorial trends, indulges in decadent flavors (especially when it involves beer) and exhibits a witty, even wacky sense of humor. What other city would erect an entire museum to a single comic book series? Or to an artist famous for painting faceless men in gray suits?

You'll find plenty of tips about what to see and do in Brussels in this article. Where to stay? The NYT suggests Hotel Amigo and we can't help but agree. "Just behind the Grand Place, has the feel of a luxury pied-à-terre, with splashes of humor, like Tintin prints on bathroom walls." After all, the Amigo is part of the Rocco Forte Collection, meaning top-notch service and stylish design. The hotel is currently offering a "European Summer Escape" package which includes daily breakfast and 33% off your stay when you book 3 nights or more. Starting from 239 euros in a Deluxe Room, available for arrivals between July 12 and September 5, 2010.

Related Articles:

Brussels is One of Europe's Great Secrets


Summer in London: Lunch at The Ritz, Visit the Royal Academy of Arts

June 4, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Ritz LondonLooking to plan the perfect day out in London this summer? We've got the answer. Indulge in a three-course luncheon and a glass of Champagne in the Ritz Restaurant (an experience in itself) and then walk over to the Royal Academy of Arts to check out the Summer Exhibition, the world's largest open submission contemporary art exhibition (and a mind-blowing one at that). To quote from the program: "Now in its 242nd year, the exhibition continues the tradition of showcasing work by both emerging and established artists in all media including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film. This year's co-ordinators, Royal Academicians Stephen Chambers and David Chipperfield, will select works for the exhibition around the theme of "Raw." This special program can be booked through the Ritz London for just £46 per person. Available June 14- August 22, 2010.