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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.

Hay-Adams, Washington DC Wins Big at Conde Nast Johansens Awards


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hay-Adams Hotel The landmark Hay-Adams Hotel, the residence of choice while visiting the nation's capital, has scored another award to add to its impressive list. Winners of the 2007 Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence were announced by Cindy Crawford on February 5 at LA's Hotel Bel-Air:

The awards are given annually to those properties worldwide that represent the finest standards and best value for money in luxury and independent accommodation, as chosen by its readers, hotel guests and Condé Nast Johansens inspection teams.

And the winner for Most Excellent Hotel (USA and Canada) is... DC's supremely luxurious Hay-Adams. Can't really say that I'm surprised. This hotel has serious bragging rights: a location just across Lafayette Square from The White House, warm service, impeccable style, and an impressive history.


Flying With Fido


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

FidoAccording to the US Department of Transportation, there are more than half-million pets which fly each year. But navigating the rules and regs for flying with Fido can be tricky. Which airlines boycott pugs? When are fees required? Which airlines ban pets from the cabin? What if Fido needs his Prozac? CNN's got the skinny, with a list of helpful hints about the different airline policies. A sampling: pets must be considered "healthy" (with health certificates sometimes required to prove it), Southwest bans pets altogether while American and Northwest charge $80 for pets to fly in the cabin, and of course, no snakes are allowed on the plane. (Tip: "Do not feed or give water to your pet two hours before departure.")


California Dreaming: Cyrus Restaurant, Healdsburg, Sonoma


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cyrus RestaurantHeaded to Sonoma wine country? Forget trying to score a reservation at French Laundry. Head to Cyrus, the gem of a restaurant nestled just off the square in Healdsburg, housed in the superb Les Mars hotel. Rising Star Chef Douglas Keane and Maitre d' Nick Peyton offer contemporary cuisine in a flexible prix fixe format of three to five courses selected from any section of the beautiful menu. The ingredients are luxurious, the best from California's enormous bounty. Devour the terrine of foie gras with plum-ginger compote; corn, chanterelle and pancetta pansotti with cranberry beans, arugula and nage; or rack of lamb with eggplant ragout, fregola and stuffed squash blossom. Bartender Scott Beattie creates drinks to match, like the Creole Watermelon, a blend of vodka, crushed red watermelon, lime juice and Fresno chile rings, garnished with a triangle of watermelon rubbed with lime juice, kosher salt and chili powder. And if cocktails aren't your thing, Sommelier Jim Rollston's extensive wine list has over 750 world class wines, with a special focus on Sonoma appellations.


Gramercy Park Hotel, New York: Sensational Special Offer


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gramercy Park HotelThe hottest "new" hotel in Manhattan, the most talked about hotel opening of 2006, Gramercy Park Hotel is Ian Shrager's latest masterpiece. With the bold redesign of the classic Manhattan icon, Gramercy Park Hotel has emerged as the luxurious hideway for the "new haute bohemian." Artist Julian Schnabel has created the gorgeous, sensual interior, which features art exhibits including works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Lucky guests can imbibe cocktails under the stars at the Private Roof Club and Landscaped Garden, opening this spring. But perhaps the best part of Gramercy Park Hotel: guests receive a key, upon check-in, to the exclusive, gated Gramercy Park. Take advantage of a fantastic offer at this gem in NYC. For a limited time, receive a complimentary room upgrade for stays from February 25-March 18. Available with online bookings only. Upgrade is not available for suites, and blackout dates may apply.


The Restaurant at the Setai, South Beach


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Setai At the Restaurant at the Setai, trans-ethnic cuisine is crafted from the finest, freshest ingredients in an impressive exhibition kitchen. This is the pinnacle of haute dining in South Beach, the new "Vegas by the Ocean," so called by NYT critic Mark Bittman. The article “Is South Beach Growing Up?" identifies The Setai's restaurant as "visually stunning," with "competent, and actually warm, service":

The sheer scale of the Restaurant at the Setai-- South Beach's most opulent dining spot, and perhaps one of the most interestingly and arguably perfectly designed restaurants in the world-- is astounding. An enormous courtyard is dominated by a huge reflecting pool, and there are 20-foot ceilings, domes of 500 tightly grouped roses and an elaborate array of materials used to build the minimalist but intricate walls and floors: pressed metal, carved wood, imported antique brick, slate, stone, tile and fabric. Down the hall is a strikingly long bar, whose top is mother-of-pearl.

The price tag? A mere $120 per person with the prix fixe tasting menu.


Dining in Vail, Colorado: The Wildflower at The Lodge at Vail


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Wildflower at The Lodge at Vail Rack of Venison (with sweet yams and foie gras) or Sautéed Northern Halibut with Dungeness crab ravioli? The choices are sensational at The Wildflower, Vail Valley's only restaurant to be awarded both the AAA Four Diamond Award and Wine Spectator's "Best of Award of Excellence." The Lodge at Vail's signature restaurant serves creative American cuisine, under the supervision of newly appointed Executive Chef Randy Belanger. Rated the #1 restaurant in Vail in the Zagat survey, The Wildflower boasts views of the snow-capped mountains from the dining room. Enjoy the epicurean delights from the area's only tasting menu, which changes daily-- depending on the availability of the finest quality seasonal fruits, vegetables, and meats.


Conrad Chicago Weekend Getaway Offer


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Conrad Chicago A luxurious weekend in Chitown, plus a $100 credit (per night) for incidental spending at the Conrad Chicago? Bring it on! Escape for an exclusive weekend getaway at Conrad Chicago and enjoy the charm of the Windy City combined with the unparalleled luxury of the hotel. From one of the most prestigious addresses on the Magnificent Mile, take in incredible views over the city skyline. Within walking distance of The Loop, The Merchandise Mart, and Lake Michigan, the Conrad is a perfect urban oasis, with the best restaurants and shopping experiences at its doorstep. The 311 spacious, contemporary guest rooms are stacked with state-of-the-art technology, while the bar and restaurant offer a stylish respite at the very heart of the city. Take advantage of this special weekend offer, valid for Friday and Saturday nights only, with rates starting from $245 per night. With your $100 credit, dine at the excellent restaurant or indulge in the small luxuries that are often forgotten. Available until March 31, 2007.


Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Los Cabos: Post-Dinner Bath Menus


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Las Ventanas al ParaisoDinner and a... bath? Yep, that's right. Rosewood's world-renowned Las Ventanas al Paraiso, the only Five-Diamond property in Los Cabos, is once again leading the pack with peculiar innovative amenities. From the ultra-luxury resort that brought you pre-loaded poolside iPods, Mini Cooper S Convertibles and Porsche Boxsters on property, in-room telescopes for star-gazing and whale-watching, pool-side services like sunglass-cleaning, sewing kits personalized to each guest's wardrobe, and the Hot Type author program (whew!), comes another cutting-edge service. When guests sit down to dine at the upscale dining room for an unforgettable meal at The Restaurant, they are presented with the dinner menu and the after-dinner bath menu, which offers a choice of a "Stress Relieving," "Rejuvenating" or "Sensual & Romantic" bath experiences. Choose from the lists of Champagnes, premium tequilas and Cuban cigars, to enjoy in the bath. So while you gobble down your Baja-Mediterranean cuisine, overlooking the pool and the Sea of Cortez, your bath will be prepared for a luxurious experience en-suite.


Fairmont San Francisco Celebrates Centennial


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont San FranciscoPerched on top of Nob Hill, the glorious Fairmont, where Tony Bennett premiered "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," is celebrating its centennial come April 18. The landmark hotel is beloved by visitors and locals alike for its views (you'll gasp at the panorama of the city and bay), spacious guestrooms (that epitomize elegance), and the wonderfully kitschy bar, The Tonga Room. As recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The United Nations charter was written there. Mick Jagger partied in the penthouse there... It's all in 100 years' work for the Fairmont Hotel... Although the Fairmont's birthday isn't until April 18, the hotel isn't waiting for formalities. It's rolling out a yearlong series of events: public tours, special teas and centennial cocktails, and a penthouse centennial package that goes for a mere $100,000 to mark the hotel's first century in business.

The world-renowned hotel first opened on April 18, 1907, exactly a year after the earthquake and fire ravaged the city. Standing proud on top of the city, the Fairmont became "a symbol of the city's rebirth," the favored haven for "the rich, the royal, and roaming heads of state."


Loews Regency Hotel, New York: A Wicked Night Out On Broadway


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Loews Regency In the fast-paced City that Never Sleeps, Loews Regency provides an enclave of quiet elegance and indulgence. Here, it's the exceptional service, luxurious amenities, and attention-to-detail which distinguish this refined Park Avenue address among the plethora of NYC hotels. (Though the devoted regulars, head-over-heels for their preferred hotel in Manhattan, would rather keep it a closely guarded secret getaway). Leave it to the award-winning Loews Regency to devise the perfect night out on the town. You are invited to a "Wicked” night out to hit Broadway and take in the fabulous musical, "Wicked," winner of fifteen major awards, including a Grammy, three Tonys, and six Drama Desk Awards. Available until March 31, 2007, the "Wicked" package at Loews Regency includes luxurious accommodations in a magnificent one bedroom-suite (you'll swoon at the Park Avenue views from your balcony), two tickets to "Wicked," a welcome amenity of an autographed Charles Palmer cookbook and "Wicked" CD, car service to/from the Gershwin Theater, and three course pre-theater dinner at Charlie Palmer's Aureole. Total package cost is $1,399. To book, call 1-800-233-2356, and press 2.