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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.

The Best of Music City at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel Nashville

May 12, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Loews Vanderbilt Hotel NashvilleCountry music fans, budding songwriters, wannabe music stars: head to Nashville and discover the best that Music City has to offer. You'll get the star treatment and enjoy lively entertainment at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, the 340-room luxury property that has a fitness center, art gallery, and day spa on-site. The hotel has created a package so that you get the most out of your trip to Nashville. When you book the "Music City" package, you'll get two tickets to the Country Music Hall of Fame along with your accommodations. Dedicated to the history of country music, the Hall of Fame has fun interactive exhibits (sing along with the stars!) and a permanent exhibit, Sing Me Back Home, sprawling over two floors of the museum. Priced from $189 per night, the package also includes overnight valet parking.


Hotel Sofitel on Renmin Square: Where to Stay in Xian, China

May 8, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sofitel Xian on Renmin SquareHeading to Xian to see the Terracotta warriors?  One of the oldest cities in Chinese history, situated at the eastern end of the Silk Road, Xian boasts more than 3,100 years of history and a slew of interesting sites. Of all the pagodas, museums, and temples, the most touristed is the world-famous Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang and his Terracotta Army-- a UNESCO World Heritage Site that's not-to-be missed. The place to stay in Xian is the Sofitel on Renmin Square, easily the most luxurious hotel in town, and close to all the major sites. Recognized as one of the world's top business hotels (as Xian is also an important business capital), the Sofitel has myriad dining options and a spa and indoor pool, along with swanky accommodations.


Hotel Claris: Rooftop Swimming Pool, Dazzling Art Collection in the Heart of Barcelona

May 8, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Claris BarcelonaThe rooftop swimming pool is reason enough to book a stay at the Hotel Claris, the charming boutique hotel smack dab in the middle of it all in Barcelona, an easy jumping off point to discover the magic of Gaudi's architecture and the most exciting urban beaches in the world. From the hotel's rooftop, you can take in marvelous views of the sun-bleached city, and in the evening, bliss out to live music and creative cocktails. The 124 luxury bedrooms are outfitted with all the latest technology, decorated with original Egyptian, Roman and Hindu art. In fact, the hotel itself is like a museum, boasting an art collection of over 400 works: original Egyptian art from the Egyptian Museum, engravings commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, mosaics and Roman sculptures from the 2nd and 3rd centuries.


Trends: Art Collections at Hotels like Gramercy Park, New York

May 4, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gramercy Park HotelThe latest hot trend in hotels across the country? Art installations that are a fundamental element of hotel design, to quote The New York Times, "challenging guests to think more deeply about their experience." Extensive collections of art can be found in hotels from Minneapolis to Miami Beach. Case in point: the Gramercy Park Hotel, "whose total refurbishing by Mr. Schrager debuted in 2006, has so much high-caliber artwork that the Museum of Modern Art once took a tour group there." With design that's a feast for the senses, the Gramercy Park Hotel is an artistic vision (with happening bars and a Private Roof Club and Garden, to boot). Guests can gape at original pieces by Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Fernando Botero-- among others.


Tips from the Concierge at the New York Palace Hotel

April 29, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

New York Palace HotelLooking for the best insights on the Big Apple? Gunter Kleemann-- concierge at the opulent New York Palace Hotel-- "holds the key to the city," as reported in a fabulous interview by The New York Times. He is also the President of New York's Association of Hotel Concierges, so he knows a thing or two about Manhattan. Guests at the New York Palace Hotel are in luck; he can score "tables at prime restaurants and seats at sold-out Broadway hits." The full NYT interview is below:

How he knows what he knows: At first you think you can do it with a Zagat’s and a computer. There’s nothing that beats personal experience. My wife and I are always going out. You’ll always find me someplace.

Proudest of: My golden keys, the universal standard of service excellence.

Most-asked question: Where to eat.

How he answers: Are you looking to dine or just to eat? It’s a big difference.

Weird requests: One guy asked, “Can you get me six brunettes, six blondes and six black-haireds?” Of course, we don’t do that. Some guy asked me, “Can you find me the gross income of this company for a year?” How bizarre is that? I had to tell the guy nicely, that’s not the kind of thing we pursue. I get people asking for a stock certificate from 1865, a cork from a 1980 Chianti, a 6-by-9-foot painting with a hunting dog, a shotgun and a pheasant. We try to track it down.

The German accent: I was born in Kottweiler-Schwanden, near a big American Army base. I used to see the tanks come through. I’d find old Lugers in the field. My mother lived through the firebombing of Dresden. I came here with my parents when I was 10 years old.

Résumé: I went to the New School for graduate work in film and got a job with a top fashion photographer as an assistant. After a few years, I worked with a commercial filmmaker. I got cast in acting roles. You ever hear of “I Spit on Your Grave”? It was one of the biggest cult films ever. It’s about revenge, in a nutshell. A female writer goes from the city to the country and is accosted. She gets her revenge. It’s a piece of dreck, but for some reason I got a fan club.”

Fondest New York moment: In ’74 I was living in the Village, across from the Caffe Dante, where Bob Dylan used to go. I’d see Joni Mitchell and Ginsberg. They were all hanging out together.

On becoming a concierge: I wanted to work for Gray Line as a tour guide. They weren’t hiring, but still they had a couple of desks in hotels. I started at the Roosevelt in ’99, manning a Gray Line desk for a few months. At the end of the year they were giving up the desk and I took a job with Continental Guest Services, which rents desks in hotels and operates on commissions. Then I was hired at the Lucerne Hotel on Amsterdam Avenue as a real concierge.

The money thing: There isn’t any charge, but I tell people at the end of their stay if they feel I did something special for them, gratuities are allowed.

On taking freebies: Once they know you’re a concierge, you get a lot of offers, but a lot of times I pay on my own. I want to go incognito.

Best advice he ever got: If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working.


Grand Hotel Wein Honors Austria’s Most Acclaimed Classical Composer

April 24, 2009
By: Christina Vasquez

The Grand Hotel WeinCelebrate the 200th anniversary of one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the classical period as Austria commemorates the death of one if its most celebrated composers: (Franz) Joseph Haydn-- revered as the "Father of the Symphony." The Grand Hotel Wein is offering a package that honors Haydn's work and achievements. Book the Haydn Package at The Grand Hotel , and receive two night's accommodations, extensive buffet breakfast in the restaurant Grand Café, an exclusive 3-course menu in the gourmet-restaurant Le Ciel, and two tickets for the famous Haydn-house. A special farewell gift will be presented by the hotel to help you remember Joseph Haydn and your exciting trip to Vienna!

Package offer is valid until December 28th 2009. Package rates vary according to availability and room category, certain terms and restrictions may apply.


The Iron Gate Hotel and Suites Gives Prague the Royal Treatment

April 17, 2009
By: K. Clare Johnson

Iron Gate Hotel and SuitesAlways wanted to visit Prague? Now's your chance. The Iron Gate Hotel and Suites is offering a delightful "Royal Prague" package, which will show you the town in style without breaking the budget. The luxury hotel, which is housed in a carefully renovated 14th Century building, is situated in the heart of Prague's Old Town, in a picturesque, cobbled side street just steps from the famous Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square. You'll be transferred to and from the hotel in a Mercedes. Then, spend two nights in one of the luxurious Junior Suites or Royal Suites decorated with frescoes or wooden ceilings from the 14th-18th century. The package includes a 20 minute horse carriage ride through Old Town for 2 persons, a 3-course dinner in Iron Gate Cafe & Restaurant, welcome drink, full buffet breakfast in restaurant or breakfast served to the room, bottle of Bohemian sparkling wine, water and fruits upon arrival, and All taxes & VAT included. Rates start at 495 Euros per night, and the package is valid until December 27, 2009. Certain terms and restrictions apply, and this offer is subject to availability.


Be Treated Like a Queen at Tharroe of Mykonos

April 15, 2009
By: K. Clare Johnson

Tharroe of MykonosLonging for bright blue skies, sun-drenched beaches, luxury accommodations and a sense of history? Look no further. Tharroe of Mykonos is a blend of sophisticated luxury influences and modern facilities. Spotted on the top of a small hill, offering panoramic view of the Aegean Sea, Mykonos old town center and magical sunsets, Tharroe of Mykonos is close to the town center but away from the crowds. And whichever of the 26 rooms you stay in (all were renovated in 2008), you'll be staying in a space fit for a queen. During the Mycenaean period (1600-1400 B.C.), a King ordered the construction of a Thule tomb for his Queen. This tomb was discovered while the hotel was under construction and is now on display. Many amphorae, cylices, various pots and two golden necklaces were found during the excavation; some of them are now on exhibit at the Archaeological Museum of Mykonos.


Celebrate April at the Westin Paris

April 14, 2009
By: K. Clare Johnson

The Westin ParisThere's still a few weeks left for celebrating April in Paris. One of the newest luxury hotel additions to the City of Lights is The Westin Paris. The hotel's stunning location overlooks the magnificent Tuileries Gardens and the Eiffel Tower-- just a few steps away from the Louvre Museum, Place de la Concorde, the renowned Place Vendome and the elegant shopping of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. You can even relax in a signature Heavenly Bed. The Westin Paris also offers Westin's Best Rate Guarantee, so you can be sure you are getting the best rate on your room. Bon Voyage!


Learn About Chinese Culture with The Peninsula Beijing

April 14, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Peninsula Palace BeijingLeave it to the super-lux Peninsula Beijing to create special programs for its guests to get insights into Chinese culture and traditions while staying in sumptuous style. Just a short stroll away from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, The Peninsula offers the crème de la crème of Beijing's room accommodations, showcasing sprawling marble bathrooms, supremely comfortable beds, and room controls at your fingertips. It's a delightfully decadent hotel experience, but The Peninsula understands that its guests want to take advantage of the hotel's proximity to the capital's key business and leisure landmarks. So they've designed The Peninsula Academy Programme so you can immerse yourself in Chinese culture and glean insights into this ancient civilization. With this personalized program, you can learn about Chinese antiques or furniture restoration, the Wild Great Wall, or Beijing's old embassy area. A range of exclusive cultural activities-- from culinary experiences to lifestyle and nature immersion-- are led by experts for one or two people.