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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 New York Times Reviews The James Hotel New York

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.

Catch a Concert at Madison Square Garden; Stay at Affinia Manhattan Across the Street

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Two for the Show package at Affinia ManhattanHoping to catch a concert at Madison Square Garden this fall? There's an impressive roster of big names coming to New York. Try Duran Duran, Foo Fighters, Katy Perry, Enrique Iqlesias, Taylor Swift, Josh Groban, and more... After your show, get some shut-eye at the Affinia Manhattan, located just across the street. Fresh from a $25 million redesign by the internationally acclaimed Rockwell Group, the hotel has designed a special package that's sure to delight music fans. Available through December 31, 2011, the "Two for the Show" package includes a complimentary room upgrade, two cocktails at Niles New York City Bar & Restaurant, a $10 iTunes gift card to buy your favorite songs before the show, and a late check-out at 3 pm so you can sleep in after a late night on the town. Need tickets to the show? The hotel’s resourceful concierge can be reached at 646-733-2901.

Ice Skating by Moonlight in Manhattan with the Setai Fifth Avenue

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Setai Fifth Avenue, New YorkManhattan by moonlight from an ice rink open just for you... For all you romantics out there, it doesn't get much better than this. The Setai Fifth Avenue, a Capella Managed Hotel, has set the bar high with a new package that offers an exclusive winter experience. Enjoy an evening of jazz at the Bar on Fifth, bottle of Champagne included. And then when the clock strikes midnight, you'll get the famous Wollman Rink in Central Park all to yourselves for an hour. Return to your swank guest room at The Setai Fifth Avenue, outfitted with plush amenities like Pratesi linens, a Duxiana bed and a Zuma Deep soaking tub. Available from November 1, 2011 to February 28, 2012, the "Manhattan by Moonlight Winter Romance Experience" is priced from $2,850, based on double occupancy and a two-night minimum stay, and includes two nights accommodation; a reserved table and bottle of Champagne for a jazz performance at Bar on Fifth; one hour of private, midnight skating at the Wollman Rink; and luxury transportation from The Setai Fifth Avenue to and from Wollman Rink

Celebrate Halloween in New York City

By: Oksana Balytsky

Halloween is fast approaching, and we hope you’re ready to embrace all the fun that comes with this superstitious holiday. Aside from watching scary movies and carving pumpkins, consider making a trip out to New York for the NYC Village Halloween Parade on October 31st. This is the largest parade in the country, and it brings more than 50,000 costumed marchers, puppeteers, and bands to the Big Apple. This parade strongly encourages public participation, so get your costume ready and book your trip to New York City today!

Consider staying at the Pierre Hotel New York for your Halloween escapade. This luxurious hotel was recently renovated, and is located on 5th Avenue overlooking Central Park. The Pierre’s incredibly central location and legendary history make it an exceptionally elegant hotel. All of the Pierre’s guestrooms and suites have been transformed to feature an inviting, residential-style décor. During your luxurious stay, don’t forget to check out the NYC Village Halloween Parade, going from 7pm-11pm on Sixth Avenue from Spring Street to 23rd Street. A crazy night out for the parade isn’t in the cards for you this year? Then be sure to watch it live on WPIZ Channel from 7pm – 10pm and on NY1 from 8pm – 9:30pm on your flat panel television in the Pierre Hotel. Let us reemphasize that this parade strongly encourages public participation, and prizes will be awarded for the best costume, so start brainstorming your outfit now and book your stay at the Pierre Hotel today!

Pink Ribbon Pedicure at Waldorf-Astoria's Guerlain Spa for Breast Cancer Awareness

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Waldorf Astoria, New YorkOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness month, an annual international health campaign to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for research. Many will wear pink ribbons, volunteer at local charities, and participate in the National Race for the Cure. Hotels are also giving back and supporting the cause. Case in point: The Waldorf=Astoria in New York is offering the "Pink Ribbon Pedicure" at its swank Guerlain Spa during the entire month of October. $10 of the $90 treatment will be donated to help fund breast cancer awareness and research. What's in store for lucky ladies? While sipping on a sparkling pink champagne cocktail, they'll indulge with an ultra pampering luxury pedicure topped with P.Y.T. pink polish.

Restaurants in New York: Le Bernardin Unveils Makeover

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le BernardinOne of NYC's finest restaurants-- Chef Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin-- closed for a month in August to revamp the interiors. It's now much more contemporary and sleek in style. Architects Bentel & Bentel, who did up the Gramercy Tavern and the Modern, were behind the makeover. The New York Times has the skinny:

Twisted vertical strips of steel dominate one wall in the dining room. Some smaller floor-to-ceiling teak panels screen serving stations and separate the dining room from a redesigned bar. Where 32 tables had been there are now 28, many at curved banquettes, a first for the restaurant. Translucent silvery fabric covers the windows. The chairs are upholstered in brown leather, framed in steel, not wood... Textured carpeting has a circular design suggesting fossilized sea creatures. The pièce de résistance is a 24-foot triptych painting of a stormy sea, "Deep Water No. 1," by Ran Ortner of Brooklyn, covering the back wall.

There's now an expanded bar and lounge with a cocktail menu (new for the restaurant). It has a more casual vibe-- jackets aren't required like they are for the dining room, and they don't take reservations. Read: A happening new spot!

Image via Eater New York

Trends in Travel: Spas are Using Locally Grown Ingredients

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Miraval ResortLike the farm-to-table food movement, spas are sourcing locally grown ingredients like chamomile and lavender. This new trend was highlighted in the International Spa Association's annual trend showcase in New York on August 18. Another new direction that spas are taking? Treatments are focusing not just on beauty but also on remedying stress and pain. Lastly, as The Washington Post points out, spa treatments are embracing technology:

  • The Spa at Trump demonstrated a pulsating light treatment on hands at the ISPA event; the LED therapy is used in facials at Trump Hotel spas ($150 for 30 minutes at Trump Soho). The Trump team also showed off a sparkly new line of SpaRitual vegan nail polish (animal fat can be an ingredient in nail polish).

And the spa market is looking pretty healthy, too, with statistics showing that the industry is recovering from the recession. An annual study by PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that revenue was up to $12.8 billion in 2010, a 4% increase over 2009, with spa visits increasing from 143 million to 150 million.

Pictured: A spa treatment at Miraval Resort in Arizona.

A Peachy Recipe from the Shop at Andaz 5th Avenue Pastry Chef

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Andaz 5th AvenueSure, it's September, but we're still craving summer peaches. Lucky for us, New York Magazine has published a fabulous recipe, bringing together two of our favorites: Andaz 5th Avenue (the NYC hotel that's quite the crowd-pleaser) and that divine fruit of the gods. Try this sweet and spicy recipe from the pastry chef at the Shop at Andaz 5th Avenue, and prolong your summer just a little bit more...

Charmaine Mcfarlane’s Peaches With Chiles, Sugar, Salt, and Lime

6 tbs. sugar, 2 tbs. salt, 2 Thai chiles (chopped), 2 limes, 6 peaches

Combine the sugar, salt, and chopped chiles in a mortar and pestle and grind to a consistency like wet sand. Zest the limes and reserve the fruit for another use. Stir zest into the sugar-salt-and-chile mixture. Halve the peaches by (1) slicing them along their seams and cutting through to the pits and around the fruits. (2) Gently twist until the halves separate. Remove pits. Blanch the peach halves for 45 seconds and remove to an ice bath for a minute. (3) Peel off the skins. Sprinkle peaches with the sugar-and-salt mixture and let macerate for half an hour. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

3rd Night Free at The Carlyle in New York

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Carlyle, New YorkLive it up in Manhattan with a stay at The Carlyle, a timeless classic in the Upper East Side overlooking Central Park. Part of the Rosewood Hotels collection, this ultra-luxurious hotel emanates New York luxury-- from the legendary Bemelmans Bar to the jewel-like Sense Spa. (Even the tiniest guests are spoiled rotten at The Carlyle; the Rose Buds Kids program means Baby Primrose skincare products, the Madeleine tea, and lush velour terry child-sized bath robes and slippers.) Bed down in this refined residence, called home by leaders in business and society, and get a special rate this summer. Take advantage of the "MORE Rosewood" offer and get one more night on the house. Stay two nights and get the third night for free, valid through August 31, 2011.

Private Tours of the MoMA with The Setai Fifth Avenue

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Setai Fifth AvenueGet a load of this. The Setai Fifth Avenue-- the luxurious, Capella managed hotel in Midtown-- now offers guests private tours of the MoMA. Before New York's world-famous Museum of Modern Art opens its doors to the daily hordes of tourists and art enthusiasts, hotel guests can get a private viewing of "the greatest collection of modern art in the world" (to quote The New York Times).

This distinctive offering is part of "The Connoisseur" package, which also includes swank overnight accommodations and a complimentary breakfast delivered to the room. "The Connoisseur" is available at a starting rate of $1,046. All guests of The Setai Fifth Avenue also enjoy signature Capella Hotels and Resorts amenities such as the attention of personal assistants; complimentary snacks, water and soft drinks stocked and replenished in-room daily.