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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.

Give the Gift of Intellect from the Neiman Marcus Holiday Catalogue

October 20, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

With the winter holidays just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about gifts for your family members and friends. This year, however, we bet you want something different, something special, something extravagant, something over the top. Did we just read your mind? For the luxury seekers, the best gift givers, and the folks who always go above and beyond what is expected, the Neiman Marcus Holiday Catalogue may be just for you.

For an intellectual and mind-opening gift, consider the custom library, with its shelves filled with 250 books for $125,000. This atypical gift comes from the publishing house Assouline, and the library can be added anywhere you’d like. From a house to a boat to an airplane, the sky is the limit. This gift includes a full redesign of the space of your choice by adding custom carpets, art objects, and exquisitely framed prints. After the space redesign, 250 contemporary and vintage volumes are added to the beautiful shelves in the genre of your choice. Line the bookshelves with masterpieces from renowned writers, artists, photographers, architects, designers, and culinary and fashion virtuosos. This is a gift that keeps on giving because aside from an incredible library, Neiman Marcus will also donate $2,500 to First Book, a non-profit organization that provides children in need access to new books. For details, call 1-877-9NM-GIFT, or visit neimanmarcus.com

The Neiman Marcus Holiday Catalogue is for the thoughtful gift-givers, and while it offers truly lavish gifts, about half are under $250, so whatever your price range, the Neiman Marcus Holiday Catalogue has something to offer you.  Looking for something a little different?  Consider booking a trip for your family and friends and spending the holidays somewhere exotic, snowy, sunny, or simply somewhere relaxing

(Photo via Neiman Marcus)


New Indian-Inspired Spa Treatments at The Pierre, New York

October 13, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Pierre, A Taj Hotel in New YorkNirvana in New York? Yes please! The Pierre, A Taj Hotel on New York's Central Park, is bringing a piece of India to lucky guests who need a little R&R. The luxury hotel has introduced Jiva Spa in-room treatments, inspired by India's ancient wellness rituals. Beginning with a foot bath in flower petals and soothing oil, the head-to-toe treatments range from massages to facials and everything in between. Utilizing all-natural signature Jiva products, the therapies are designed to create a holistic path to harmony and balance, and can be personalized for each guest. Only have 30 minutes? No prob! Bihar Yoga sessions are also available. These services are arranged in the comfort of your own guest room, or in the private treatment room on the third floor next to the fitness center. (A new Jiva Spa space will open at The Pierre in 2012.) A few examples from the menu:

Vishram Relaxation Massage: A full-body massage designed to melt away stress using alternating palm and thumb strokes and fragrant signature oil blends of kewda, frankincense and brahmi with infusions of sandalwood and sesame to release tension and instill ease and tranquility; 60-minutes, $220; 90-minutes, $300

Champi Indian Head Massage: This invigorating hair treatment is believed to promote hair growth and restore the natural sheen and glossiness of the hair fiber using a signature blend of traditional ingredients (amla, brahmi, jatamansi, curry leaves and neem) to instill long-lasting, enriching benefits and relieve muscular tension from the head, neck and shoulders to create a deep sense of joy and clarity of thought; 45-minutes, $180

Indian Aroma Therapy Treatment: Aromatic oil blends from Ayurveda Pharmacopoeias have been carefully chosen for these treatments, which have powerful healing properties. All ingredients used for these treatments are native to India. Choose from the selection of specially prepared signature oil blends to meet your need of the day; priced according to desired duration, from $180 - $300 for 30 - 90 minutes. 

Anana Lepa Facial: Many Indian women use homemade recipes passed down from mother to daughter to nourish their families and their skin. Following this custom, Jiva uses fresh, all natural ingredients straight from the home. Your facial will also include a face massage that tones and nourishes the skin so that you emerge with a radiant natural glow; 60-minutes, $220.


A 3-Day Weekend in New York: 30% Off at The Mark

October 12, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Mark, New YorkThe Mark is inviting you to make it a three-day weekend in Manhattan this Fall with a tempting 30% off when you arrive on Friday and stay for three nights. That's the equivalent of one complimentary night! So why not linger longer for less? From The Mark's address on one of the best blocks in the Upper East Side, Central Park is at your doorstep. With that extra savings, why not hit up the neighborhood's fine boutiques then splurge on an extra dessert (or two) at The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges? Housed in a 1927 landmark building from 1927, The Mark was completely reimagined by designer Jacques Granges and now offers one of the finest hotel experiences in New York.

Here's the fine print on the "3-Day Weekend" offer at The Mark: Valid on all room categories. Available for Friday arrivals only until December 31, 2011, subject to availability, and some blackout dates may apply. Additional nights offered at the Best Available Rate.

Related Article: The Mark Hotel New York Now Offers a Private Courtesy Car for Suite Guests


The New York Times Reviews The James Hotel New York

October 10, 2011
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

October 7, 2011
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

October 6, 2011
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

October 3, 2011
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

September 22, 2011
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

September 14, 2011
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

September 8, 2011
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.