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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.

Spring Special in South Carolina: Charleston Place Offers Extra Perks with Your Stay


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Charleston Place

For some real Southern hospitality, check into 205 Meeting Street in Charleston, South Carolina. The elegant hotel boasts a 1-to-1 staff-to-guest ratio that keeps guests returning time and again to Charleston Place. The spring season is the perfect time to visit this historic city, its enchanted gardens fragrant with flowers. Visit the Antebellum mansions, art galleries, and lively port before summer's humidity descends on the coast. An added benefit: Charleston Place is offering a "Spring Selections" package where guests get to choose a special experience on each day of their stay- at no extra charge. Choose between the following selections:

* $100 Food & Beverage Gift Card for use in the Charleston Grill, Palmetto Cafe, Thoroughbred Club or In Room Dining

* $100 Spa Gift Card for use in The Spa at Charleston Place

* Schooner Pride two hour Sunset Sail for two, including two drinks per person

* Magnolia Plantation Garden and House tickets for two as well as Breakfast for two in the Palmetto Cafe

The package is priced from $370 per night and is available until June 30th, 2010. Subject to availability.


Washington DC’s Renaissance: Just Check Out the View from the Cool W Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Hotel Washington DCWashington DC is cool again. This month's cover story in National Geographic Traveler shines the spotlight on the nation's capital which "has been shedding its reputation as a dozing, one-dimensional city of policy wonks and lawyers with the advent of a new generation of artists, tech barons, and a younger set that hungers for edgier fare than a stroll on the Mall." The transformation is visible everywhere; Washington DC has morphed into a "top-tier dining town" with cool museums and hotel options galore.

Maybe it's the shift of power from Manhattan, maybe it's a new optimism, but the city inside the Beltway has jettisoned its staid image for a wholesale revival of wide swaths of the cityscape. Washington today is Rome at year zero: the most important place on Earth," says David Von Drehle, who spent many years as a reporter and editor for the Washington Post. "We're talking money and power. As always, this combination attracts the brainy, the bold, the conniving, and the glamorous."

W Washington DCCenter stage in the article? One of our fave hotels. National Geographic Traveler highlights the happening rooftop bar at the W: "Another expansive vista of the city is found at the new W Hotel—minted from the capital's venerable Washington Hotel—which features a rooftop bar that enables you to watch the President's helicopter land on the south lawn of the White House."

Hot Deals: Until June 15, 2010, you can get 50% off your second night and a packet of seeds to start your own spring garden with the "Better Tomorrows" package at the W.


The Bay Area Arts Scene: Oakland Art Museum Gets Redone


By: Ruthanne Terrero

Richard Diebenkorn, Figure on a Porch, 1959The San Francisco area is one of our favorite destinations, especially when it comes to exploring cultural sites.  So we were thrilled when  we heard that the acclaimed Oakland Museum of California has just been completely reconstructed.

What’s changed, you ask? According to museum officials, “California's landscape, people and fertile creativity are showcased in innovative interdisciplinary, interactive exhibits with high-tech extras.”

Amidst established favorites, such as the works of Arthur and Lucia Mathews, new galleries now showcase contemporary works, such as Trevor Paglen's 2008 color photograph of swirling satellites and Hank Willis Thomas' "White Imitates Black."

We're also enamored of the work pictured here, Richard Diebenkorn's Figure on a Porch.

The museum will stay open until 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 9 p.m. on the second Friday of each month.

If you’re staying in San Francisco, consider one of these three luxury hotels: The Ritz-Carlton, The Four Seasons and The St. Regis. For more information, visit www.museumca.org.


Caravaggio plus the New MAXXI Museum: Art and Culture in Rome with the Hotel Hassler


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel HasslerHeading to Rome this spring? It's easy to get your arts fix in the Eternal City, where the plethora of sightseeing options is almost paralyzing. Culture vultures won't want to miss MAXXI, Rome's new Museum of 21st Century Art, housed in an impressive building designed by acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid. Italy's first national museum devoted to contemporary art will be opening in May. Or for something more classical, hit up the Caravaggio exhibition at The Scuderie del Quirinale and soak up the timeless beauty of the artist's key works including the Bacchus from Florence's Uffizi Gallery, the "David with the Head of Goliath" from Rome's Borghese Gallery, "The Musicians" from New York's Metropolitan, "The Lute Player" from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, and more... The Hotel Hassler Roma-- the award-winning luxury hotel perched atop the Spanish Steps-- is inviting guests to immerse themselves in the spring colors of the city and its culture with the "Legendary Caravaggio Package." Available through June 13, 2010 and priced from 540 euros per night, the package includes luxurious accommodations, daily buffet breakfast, private airport transfers, two tickets for the Caravaggio exhibition, a special gift from the hotel, free Internet access, and a 10% discount for one dinner for two at Imàgo, the Michelin-starred panoramic restaurant. Three-night minimum stay required.


Luxury Eco-Tour of Istanbul with Urban Nomads and the Newly Renovated Pera Palace


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Pera Palace, IstanbulAfter a two-year, $30 million renovation, Istanbul's Pera Palace is back on top. Built in 1892 to host passengers of the Orient-Express, the historic hotel was one of the most luxurious of its era, welcoming all kinds of royalty and celebrity guests, including Agatha Christie, who is rumored to have written "Murder on the Orient Express" at the hotel. (Room No. 411 has been preserved as the "Agatha Christie Room.") Stay tuned for details of the hotel's grand re-opening, slated for later this year... Buzzworthy: Visitors can now partake in a luxury eco-friendly tour of Istanbul for Christie's inaugural Green Auction,* courtesy of the Pera Palace and Urbane Nomads, a luxury travel company. Guests will stay in the Agatha Christie Studio Room for four nights, and visit Istanbul via fuel-efficient vehicles in a tour led by Gursan Ergil, a famous designer of eco-friendly furniture in Istanbul. At the Grand Bazaar, visitors will get the skinny on the city's sustainable produce.

*Christie's Green Auction will take place on April 22, 2010, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.


Destination Jordan: Insider Tips for the Lost City of Petra


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Lost City of Petra, JordanEver dreamed of playing Indiana Jones and galloping off to the rose-red city of Petra? Is a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site on your bucket list? A year-round destination and a safe haven in the Middle East, Jordan offers a diversity of landscapes and historic sites, including the archeological wonders of Petra. When making your vacation plans, don't limit yourself to a few days exploring the "Lost City." What else should be on your Jordan agenda? A float in the Dead Sea (nominated as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World) combined with spa pampering at Movenpick's sprawling Zara Spa, camping with bedouins under the stars in the Wadi Rum desert, snorkeling in the Red Sea, and exploring religious sites like Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where Jesus was baptized, and Mount Nebo, where Moses looked out over the Promised Land.

Petra By NightBut Petra is certainly the crown jewel in the country's archeological riches. Carved from sandstone canyons hidden deep within the mountains, Petra was "lost" to the western world for centuries. Mysterious and inspiring, this ancient city was built by the Nabateans in the 4th century BC, and flourished from profits made by controlling the region's caravan routes. Archeologically, the incredible ruins show the architectural influences of Assyria, Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Some tips:

--Many visitors falsely assume that Petra's highlight is the Treasury (pictured), the setting for Indiana Jones' discovery of the Holy Grail in the film. Not so. Petra sprawls over miles and miles of trails to follow through the sites. Don't miss a hike up to the Monastery. After climbing up hundreds of stone steps carved into the mountainside, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views across to Israel.

--Plan your trip to include "Petra by Night", an experience offered by the tourism office which leads visitors along a candle-lit path to the Treasury, lit by hundreds of flickering candles. You'll be served hot tea while listening to bedouin music.

--New maps are available at the visitor center, as are interpretative signs marking sites along the trails.

--Not far from Petra, enjoy another less touristed site called "Little Petra."


What’s New in Minneapolis: Chambers Hotel Morphs into Le Meridien


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Chambers MinneapolisIt's only natural that the art-filled Chambers Hotel-- described as the "Luxury Art Hotel in Minneapolis"-- is turning into a Le Meridien property. After all, Starwood's Le Meridien brand is all about culture and refinement, sponsoring various art programs at properties worldwide. Since it's opening in 2006, Chambers has gotten rave reviews for its design aesthetic and art collection featuring 250 original works. Now called "Le Meridien Chambers Minneapolis," the property is owned by art collector Ralph Burnet, who also owns W Minneapolis- The Foshay, a city landmark of cutting-edge cool.


The Pyramids and More: The Conrad Hotel Wants to Show You Around Cairo


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Conrad CairoGame to explore Cairo? The Conrad Hotel-- smack dab in the heart of town on the banks of the Nile River-- wants to show you the city's hidden treasures. If you can tear yourself away from the views from your guest room (private balconies overlook the river), a tour guide will drive you around town to check out the sights. Return to the hotel and relax with a snack at Felucca Café as you gaze out over the Nile. There's a heated pool and fully-equipped gym for those craving a work-out. And for those feeling lucky: an onsite casino. This special package-- called "Let Us Show You Around Cairo"-- includes two nights accommodation in a classic room with a complimentary upgrade to a deluxe room; meet & greet at the airport with transportation back to the hotel; daily breakfast buffet; tour guide, transportation and sightseeing entrance fees; choice of one of the following sightseeing attractions: Egyptian Museum and Cairo Tower; Pyramides and Sphinx; Old Cairo and Citadel; Islamic Cairo, Khan El Khalily Bazaar and Azhar Park.


What’s on in London: See the Landmark Van Gogh Exhibit with the Langham Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Langham LondonCalling all art lovers. The Royal Academy of Arts is staging a major exhibition of the work of Vincent van Gogh and The Langham, London will hook you up with tickets. A contemporary of the artist, The Langham opened in 1865 at the top of Regent Street as Europe's first Grand Hotel. After a recent renovation, The Langham continues to dazzle its guests. Running until April 10, 2010, "The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and his Letters" is the first major van Gogh exhibition in London in over 40 years, offering a unique glimpse of the artist through both his letters and the paintings and drawings described within the correspondence. So tickets are going like hot cakes. Book the "Art Aficionado Package" at The Langham-- just a short walk away from The Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly-- and you're guaranteed exhibition tickets (and you can cut the line). Priced from £249, the package includes overnight accommodation in a Grand Room, breakfast for two the following morning in Palm Court and two tickets to "The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and his Letters Exhibition." It's possible to upgrade the package to enjoy Grand Junior Suite accommodations and a dinner for two in The Landau restaurant from just £449.


Summer Down Under: Special Extras at The Langham Hotel Auckland


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Langham Hotel AucklandSun-seekers desperate for some rays, consider a jaunt to the southern hemisphere, where summer entices with warm weeks aplenty. Auckland, "the City of Sails," is one of New Zealand's sunniest destinations (with an average of 2060 sunshine hours per annum). Here in the country's largest city, The Langham brings five-star indulgence and the famous Langham service standards to a city center location. Fans of the hotel rave about the Langham Service Stylists (aka butlers), spacious rooms, Chuan Spa, well-equipped fitness studio, and heated swimming pool. Business travelers appreciate all the facilities catered to their needs. Book the "Wonderland-The Magic of the Rose" package for a Friday or Saturday night stay and you'll get all kinds of extras thrown in with your luxury accommodations in an Executive Room. Valid until April 16, 2010 and priced from NZ$289 per room, the package includes buffet breakfast for two, a complimentary bottle of Stoneleigh (Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2008), late check-out at 1 pm, two tickets to the Auckland Museum's 'Wonderland – The Magic of the Rose' exhibition, plus complimentary valet parking and use of the Chuan Spa facilities.