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.

The Mark Hotel Offers Exclusive Access to the Neue Galerie New York

February 23, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Mark New YorkArt lovers visiting Manhattan will want to reserve a room at The Mark. Steps from Central Park, the award-winning hotel has recently partnered with the Neue Galerie New York to provide exclusive tours off the tourist track. Located on the historic Museum Mile – just a few blocks from the hotel – the Neue Galerie is a museum of German and Austrian art founded by philanthropist Ronald S. Lauder and art dealer and curator Serge Sabarsky. A former Vanderbilt townhouse is now home to their impressive collection of early 20th Century Austrian and German art. Not only can guests visit the Neue Galerie on closed days and after business hours, but they also get benefits usually reserved for museum membership: advance reservations at Café Sabarsky plus access to Neue Galerie members’ programs including special lectures, gallery talks, exclusive breakfasts and Members’ Thursdays which provides extended viewing hours.

The Mark New YorkBook the "In the Art of New York" package, starting at $800 in a Superior Courtyard King Room, and get daily continental breakfast for two; a private tour for two people outside of business hours or on closed days (Tuesday and Wednesday); a reservation at the exclusive Café Sabarsky; a complimentary copy of the book “Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer"; access to Members’ lectures, gallery talks, breakfasts and monthly Members’ Thursday which provides for extended viewing hours; a 10% discount in both the Design Shop and the Book Shop; a welcome package in your hotel room from the Neue Galerie. This package at The Mark New York is valid until April 24, 2011.

Easter in Greece at Nafplia Palace Hotel & Villas

February 21, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Nafplia Palace Hotel, GreeceNafplion could be the most beautiful town on the Greek mainland (or so the locals like to think). It's chock full of historic sites (and loads of charm): Ottoman buildings, Venetian fortresses, twisting labyrinthine streets and white-washed houses adorned with colorful bougainvillea blossoms. And it feels a million miles away from the tourist crowds. Jet to Greece in April to experience Greek Easter,* the country's most important religious holiday, and discover the only hotel in Europe built within an archeological site. Nafplia Palace Hotel & Villas is located in an acropolis dating from the 3rd Century BC. All 33 villas are individually designed with heartstopping views of the bay and old city. While bedding down in style at Nafplia Palace Hotel & Villas, partake in the hotel's traditional Easter lunch with live music. Outside the town will be witness to numerous processions on Good Friday, where epitaphs- symbolizing the coffin of Jesus- are draped in flowers and carried from the town's churches to Syntagma Square.

*This year Catholic and Orthodox Easter share the same dates, so the Catholic Church of Transfiguration will be open for the entire week: Resurrection night and Easter Sunday. The church has a small museum and an underground crypt in which can be found sculptural work commemorating the defeat of the Turks at the hands of the Greeks and philhellenes.

Big Apple Artistry: SCOPE New York to Offer Contemporary Art

February 14, 2011
By: Katie Tandy

Big Apple Artistry SCOPE New York to Offer Contemporary ArtArt lovers start your engine: SCOPE has launched its 2011 season with its flagship fair, SCOPE New York, greeting the balmy spring breezes with a slew of artistic offerings poised to shock, seduce and surprise.

SCOPE New York has expanded its offerings to a 60,000- square-foot hall on the West Side Highway, minutes from The Armory Show, running from March 2 – March 6, representing more than 50 galleries from four continents and sixteen countries including China, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, UK, Spain, and Canada.

SCOPE New York will gather collectors, curators, artists, critics and art lovers together to view solo and thematic group shows offering an impressive slice of the contemporary art market. 2011 will also find expanded programming in partnership with local and international cultural organizations featuring film, music, installation and performance.

With over 40 fairs spanning a decade of avant-garde offerings in Miami, Basel, New York, London, and the Hamptons, SCOPE Art Show’s garners critical acclaim, with sales of over $150 million and attendance of over 400,000 visitors.

Photo courtesy of: Spinello Gallery | TYPOE | Confetti Death, 2010

Love on the Banks of the Seine

February 10, 2011
By: Daniel L. Moses

The Eiffel Tower from the balcony of the Hotel Plaza AtheneeThere are two things I value above all else: Luxury and Romance. Finding each individually is hard enough, but finding them together is nearly impossible. So I did what most people do when they are looking for something. I googled it. I entered simply, “Romantic Luxury Getaways”, and let the computer do the work for me. And I implore you to do the same. Go ahead, I’ll wait right here until you return. Don’t worry, it won’t spoil the ending…

Back yet? Okay, what did we both find? First, it was some of the great hotels of the world. And amongst them, of course, the city that appeared again and again: Paris, France. Not Paris, Texas, nor Paris, Arkansas, both of which I’ve visited and can say are truly unromantic. Paris, France, on the other hand, is, cliché or not, simply the most romantic city in the world. Luckily for us, it also offers some of the most luxurious hotels in the world.

Before I get into that, and therefore before I list which of Paris’ finest are my favorites, I want to tell you why Paris is romantic. You may now be grumbling about your last visit, or maybe your last 5 visits, and how you know very well what is and is not true about la belle ville. I’ve been several times myself in the last few years, and in fact lived two years in Paris on the Left Bank in my marauding early-20s. And yes, while I have the advantage of ordering a Domaine Romanée-Conti in heavily accented French, I’ve learned that in Paris anyone can find romance.

Where? I found it on the terrace of a café in an alley at a hole-in-the-wall Moroccan restaurant that no longer exists. The place was run down, the couscous overcooked, and yet when I raised a glass of Burgundy and toasted with the sweet, brown-eyed girl underneath a canopy of stars illuminating the French summer night, I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. Months later, a ring tucked deep in my pocket, I strolled down to the banks of the Seine, heard the muted stir of the river below, and found myself on one knee asking her to be with me forever. We returned for our honeymoon, and several trips thereafter, and Paris never let us down. The gray hair on my temples has never kept the romance at bay, and I still raise a toast with the brown-eyed girl on the other side of the table.

Now, though, when I go to the world’s most romantic city, I stay at the world’s most luxurious hotels. And why not? Luxury and romance go hand in hand, just as my hand goes with hers each and every morning when I wake up, and just as our lips come together each evening to say goodnight.

Hotel de CrillonSo make romance yours at L’Hotel de Crillon. This hotel is not for the overnight traveler. In fact, the pre-revolutionary construction is in classic Louis XV style, and will tantalize patrons with a stunning location only steps from Les Champs-Elysees, and make a stay of any length too short.

If you’re looking for a taste of the Belle Époque, seek out the Ritz Paris. Erected in 1898, the Ritz underwent a stunning renovation in 2010, and is known for its famous guests, more recently (Elton John) and a few years ago (Marcel Proust).

Finally, if you prefer views of the Eiffel tower from your flower-filled balcony, charm your loved one with a stay at the Hotel Plaza Athenee. Luxury is a given, romance an absolute, and with four restaurants on site overseen by the eminent Alain Ducasse, you’ll have the best of Parisian dining just steps away.

One final note: If you’re thinking of buying her that ring, or perhaps telling him that you love him all the more after all these years, don’t wait! Seize the moment! Paris may endure and always be waiting, but perhaps he or she won’t. Bon voyage!

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of JFK’s Camelot Presidency at Ritz-Carlton Washington DC

February 2, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ritz-Carlton Washington DCPolitical junkies visiting Washington D.C. should consider checking into the Ritz-Carlton in Foggy Bottom. The hotel just released a special package to celebrate the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inauguration. Available January 20, 2011 for 1,000 days (the length of JFK’s “Camelot Presidency”) and starting from $329 per night, the package highlights the tenure of the 35th President. Here's what's included:

  * Deluxe guest room accommodations

* Copy of best selling book Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House (with DVD)

* Two tickets to the Newseum, a 250,000-square-foot museum of news, with exclusive brochure highlighting the wide array of fascinating photos, artifacts, videos and stories that depict JFK’s biggest news-making moments

* Copy of historic Life magazine, JFK: The Run for the White House

Washington's second Ritz-Carlton, located in Georgetown, is also honoring JFK with the "Camelot at Dawn" package, starting from $399 per night. The package includes:

* Overnight guest room accommodations

* Walking tour of homes JFK and Jackie lived in before moving into the White House

* VIP reservation at Billy Martin’s Tavern in the booth where JFK proposed to Jackie

* Camelot at Dawn: Jacqueline and John Kennedy in Georgetown, May 1954

Sponsored Article: Romance in Florence at the Relais Santa Croce

November 22, 2010
By: Five Star Alliance

Relais Santa Croce, Florence

Is a romantic trip to Florence in the cards? The capital of Tuscany and birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, the city on the Arno River is steeped in history and romance, full of artistic treasures and excellent restaurants. Get inspired in the many museums, pick up the latest fashions, discover the incredible architecture, and dine by candlelight. A stay at the Relais Santa Croce, housed in an 18th century residence located in the historic city center just a two-minute walk from the Santa Croce Basilica, is guaranteed to rekindle the romance. A perfect balance between the luxury of a bygone era and modern comforts, the hotel is appointed with sumptuous furnishings and frescoed ceilings. You'll enjoy the intimacy of a private residence while getting pampered with impeccable service from the professional staff. Rooms are living works of art, equipped with free high-speed Internet access alongside the period furniture and precious fabrics. Right next door you'll find Enoteca Pinchiorri, a Michelin three-star restaurant.

Relais Santa Croce, Florence

The Relais Santa Croce has designed a "5 Senses Experience" with the romantic in mind. As seen on NBC's Today Show, the package allows guests to discover Florence through all five senses while enjoying accommodations in the hotel's top suite. Valid through December 31, the package includes:

* 2 nights in the de’ Pepi Presidential Suite

* One dinner at the Guelfi & Ghibellini restaurant, including a wine selection from the Sommelier

* Daily turndown with rose petals, candles and chocolate dipped strawberry with champagne

* In-room daily breakfast

* Round-trip transfer from Florence railway station or the airport to the hotel

Special activities to experience with your five senses:

* TASTE: one dinner at the 3 star Michelin restaurant the Enoteca Pinchiorri, including a wine selection from the Sommelier

* HEAR: midnight private violin serenade in the Sala della Musica

* TOUCH: 2 hour private lesson at the Leather School of Florence for 2 people

* SMELL: private guided visit to the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella

* SIGHT: private guided visit to a small jeweler laboratory in a medieval tower

Sponsored Article: Discover Art and Culture in Rome with the Regina Baglioni Hotel

November 15, 2010
By: Five Star Alliance

Regina Hotel BaglioniWith over two and a half thousand years of history, Italy's city on the Tiber River is a bastion of art and culture. As the ancient capital of the Roman Empire, seat of the Papacy, and one of the centers of the Italian Renaissance, Rome is a major draw for visitors, brimming with monuments and museums. In fact, it's the 11th most visited city in the world, and its historic center is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Regina Hotel BaglioniOne of Rome's most emblematic streets is Via Veneto, made famous by director Federico Fellini in the classic 1960 film La Dolce Vita. Lined with upscale shops, the street is also home to the Café de Paris and Harry's Bar. While visiting the Eternal City, why not stay in the center of the action and sleep on the Via Veneto? The five-star Regina Hotel Baglioni is the ideal jumping off point for discovering Rome's art and culture. Just a stone's throw from the Villa Borghese, Piazza di Spagna and Via Condotti, this luxurious hotel is a favorite meeting place of the international jet-set.

Regina Hotel BaglioniThe hotel has an excellent selection of rooms in original Art Deco style. The 39 Superior Rooms are appointed with antique furniture, rich brocades and precious Murano hand-blown chandeliers. The 46 Deluxe Rooms are a mix of styles; some are traditional with antique décor, precious silk tapestry, damask and Murano crystal chandeliers, while others offer a more innovative design, defined by fine marble floors and original Art Deco furniture. Some have private balconies overlooking the Via Veneto. The 18 Grand Deluxe Rooms feature tapestries in refined combination of colors, precious fabrics, Murano hand-blown chandeliers, original furniture and marble floors. All bathrooms are designed in elegant marble, and all rooms are equipped with free high-speed Internet access.

Regina Hotel BaglioniAfter a day of taking in the sights, relax with a spa treatment at the hotel's Tempio della Salute. Then enjoy refined Mediterranean dishes at the Brunello Lounge & Restaurant, while sipping innovative cocktails and people-watching on the Via Veneto.

Dispatch from Paris: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Le Royal Monceau

October 26, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le Royal Monceau, ParisThe talk of the town in Paris is the re-opening of Le Royal Monceau, the legendary palace hotel that recently emerged from a dramatic renovation by designer Philippe Starck. The Informed Traveler went behind the scenes before the official opening date to check out the property, now operated by Raffles. And we're totally smitten. This could easily be one of the hottest hotel openings around the globe this year. Here's what we loved:

Le Royal Monceau, ParisA thoughtful and eclectic design scheme. Inspired by the working studio of André Malraux, each spacious guest room is equipped with a guitar, haute couture walk-in closet, and a map highlighting Starck's favorite Paris addresses.

Desserts by Pierre Hermé. Enough said.

Le Royal Monceau, ParisA movie theater that puts iMax to shame. Built for major film premieres and private screenings, the 100-seat cinema has divine leather seats, high-tech projection equipment, and a decadent snack menu, including gourmet popcorn recipes dreamed up by Hermé himself. Can we say celeb central?

Le Royal Monceau, ParisAn impressive contemporary art collection in the hotel's public spaces. The on-site contemporary art bookstore boasts screens which broadcast live feeds of international art auctions. There's even an Art Concierge on staff.

The cigar lounge, painted in bright red, with 50 private cigar boxes outside, reserved for cigar-lovers to store their favorite cigars for the next visit.

Restaurants which are destined to become top addresses in the French capital. Both La Cuisine and Il Carpaccio boast talked-about decor (a chandelier made from shells in the Italian resto, a colorful ceiling painting called "Le Jardin de Paris" adorns La Cuisine).

Le Royal Monceau, ParisA central garden with a giant tea-pot sculpture designed by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. This garden is a magical space available for al fresco meals in the summer months. It's also got a neat pond with views- through sheer glass- of the spa swimming pool below. In another part of the hotel, there's an organic garden where the chefs grow herbs and produce for the restaurants.

Coming soon: an outpost of the trendy L'Eclaireur concept store. *Swoon*

Note: The spa-- My Blend by Clarins-- won't be open til next year.

Autumn in Rome: Shopping, Spa, and Foodie Delights at the Hotel Hassler

September 30, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Hotel Hassler, RomeAutumn could be the best time to visit the Eternal City, when the summer crowds have dispersed and Rome is yours for the taking. Immerse yourself in the fall colors (not to mention fashion!) and experience a stay at the Hassler Roma, the legendary hotel perched atop the Spanish Steps in the heart of the historic city center. The hotel of choice for visiting stars, The Hassler is just minutes away from Rome's top shopping venues and important landmarks (like the Pantheon and Coliseum). The "Autumn in Rome" package is the ultimate pampering experience. Here's what's included: • 3 nights in a room of your choice • Daily buffet breakfast at the elegant Salone Eva • 2 massages at the Amorvero SPA (1 per person, per stay) • Relaxing tea at the Amorvero SPA after the massage • Light lunch for 2 in the Salone Eva (starter, first course & home-made dessert, drinks excl.) Validity dates: November 1 – December 22, 2010. Limited availability! “Autumn in Rome ” package rates are euro 1,350 for a Deluxe Double / twin room and euro 1,530 for a Grand Deluxe Double / twin room. Rates are for a 3-night stay, per room. Cancellation deadline is 4 days prior to arrival in order to not incur a 50% penalty charge.

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