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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.

Simpson House Inn, Santa Barbara: Creative Romance Packages


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Simpson House Inn

Rated North America's only AAA five diamond bed and breakfast, the Simpson House Inn is a luxurious and serene hideaway, only a five-minute walk from Santa Barbara's restaurants, theaters, museums and shops. Located in a lovely and historic neighborhood of Santa Barbara, the Simpson House is private and secluded, set behind tall hedges in an acre of English gardens. The landmark Victorian estate, considered one of the most distinguished homes of its era in SoCal, features 15 rooms, suites, and cottages each individually appointed with antiques, exquisite decor, and generous amenities. Guests enjoy European spa services in the comfort of their own room.

The Simpson House Inn has created some whimsical Celebration of Romance Packages, which include Flirt (the romantic getaway), Love Story (the anniversary plan), Enchanting Proposal (for popping the question), Fantasy Elopement (for getting hitched), and Passion (the honeymoon package). Passion is priced at $3,500 for five nights, and promises "all the romance of the American Riviera." Choose a Garden Cottage or Historic Barn room with wood burning fireplace. Guests are pampered with champagne, chocolate cheesecake hearts and a dozen roses on arrival. During the stay, guests enjoy two massages, complimentary bathrobes, and a framed photo taken at the Inn. The package also includes a day in the Santa Barbara Wine Country with car, driver and picnic lunch, and a custom itinerary with scenic hikes, shopping and dining suggestions, beach walks, and theater picks.


New Washington DC Hotels: Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Palomar DC

In a city of traditional hotels, Kimpton's Hotel Palomar is a welcome addition. Known for distinctive, modern hotels (with lots of color and personality), Kimpton has opened this luxury boutique hotel in the trendy Dupont Circle area. Stylish and vibrant, the Hotel Palomar Washington DC is inspired by the modern elegance of 1930s French Moderne designers, decked out with geometric marble flooring, exotic wood, and bold artwork. The 335 guestrooms and suites are touted as some of the most spacious in the nation's capital. Guests enjoy flat screen TVs, complimentary high-speed WiFi Internet access, complimentary evening wine reception, complimentary morning coffee and tea in the living room, and an on-site fitness center and outdoor lap pool. The hotel is proud of its pet-friendly status, and spoils Fido and Kitty with luxurious amenities (there's a pet concierge, and Bark Bar, the three-tiered water bar for dogs outside the hotel). Even with seven hotels in the metropolitan DC area, Kimpton is apparently scouting out more locations in the area.


Winter Escapes: Sundance Resort, Utah


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sundance Resort

Created by Robert Redford, Sundance Resort is an intimate preserve that balances art, nature, and community. Situated at the base of 12,000 foot Mount Timpanogos, the resort consists of 95 luxurious guest cottages and 6,000 acres of pristine mountain wilderness to explore. Though rooms may be all booked for the celebrated Sundance Film Festival (January 18-28, 2007), superb winter packages entice guests to indulge in a luxurious hideaway at Sundance. Dine in the highest Zagat-rated fine restaurant in the state of Utah, the Tree Room. Pamper yourself at the Native American-inspired spa, which utilizes all organic products in its sumptuous treatments. Take a class at the artisan center: jewelry making, photography, painting, pottery, and recycled glass blowing demonstrations. And explore Utah's beautiful terrain with a vast array of mountain activities including biking, hiking, fly-fishing, horseback riding, skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, and cross-country skiing. For a limited time, enjoy a one-night escape at an amazing value, starting at $160.25 (based on double occupancy). Package includes a luxurious night in one of the mountain cottages and a full American breakfast for two in the Foundry Grill. Available until December 7, 2006. Sundance Resort offers another excellent package: Stay 3 Ski Free. If you book three or more nights in a cottage suite, enjoy two all day lift passes per day. Also includes breakfast for two. Package starts at $927 based on double occupancy.


The Surf Concierge at Four Seasons Resort Aviara, San Diego


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Aviara

Surf's up. Welcome to San Diego, where it's always sunny and seventy degrees, and the leading luxury resort-- the AAA five diamond Four Seasons Aviara-- has a surf concierge. That's right. This concierge dude hangs out in a poolside surf shack and relays the latest wave conditions and ocean temperature to interested guests. A Surf Shuttle departs from the resort daily at 10:30 am to transport guests to Moonlight Beach, one of San Diego's top surf spots, where lessons are held. The surf concierge-turned-instructor gives personalized two-hour lessons, which includes wetsuit and board. (Never fear: s/he's a professional, and life-guard-certified.) The ultimate goal of the surf concierge: help you catch your first wave.


The Best Restaurants in LA: The Belvedere at The Peninsula Beverly Hills


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Belvedere

It’s really no wonder The Belvedere is so good. It's located in the only hotel in So Cal to earn the distinction of an AAA Five-Diamond and Mobil Five-Star rating for 13 consecutive years. Its sophisticated ambience, impeccable service, and outstanding American cuisine have distinguished The Belvedere as one of the finest restaurants in LA. In fact, readers of Travel and Leisure recently voted it the "Best Hotel Restaurant in the Continental US and Canada." Star chef Sean Hardy has created a beautiful menu which includes signature items like the famed "Macaroni and Cheese", Elbow Pasta with Taleggio Cheese, Shaved Truffles, and a Parmesan Tuile, or Potato-Crusted California Sturgeon. Guests can dine on the patio and soak up the California rays while indulging in the exemplary cuisine. One can even get their food to go (*gasp*) with the Pen-Air menu, originally designed to accommodate guests on their flights home. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. The Sunday brunch is especially popular.


Announcing The Resort at Singer Island, Florida


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Resort at Singer Island

Palm Beach County's newest luxury resort, smack on the oceanfront on Florida's Gold Coast, is a member of Starwood's Luxury Collection. The 239 elegant suites are mammoth, ranging in size from 800-2,100 sq ft, outfitted with high tech kitchens, marble baths, and modern decor. And then there's the view. From the expansive suite terraces, guests can take in breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway. Resort facilities include an 8,500 sq ft spa, two swimming pools, beach and pool cabanas, luxury collection kids club, and exquisite dining. (There's even a temperature-controlled wine room available to store private wine collections.) And of course butler service, valet attendants, and a full-time concierge will dote on guests' every need. Now accepting reservations for arrival on or after February 1, 2007. PS. It's totally smoke-free.


Fine Dining in Orlando: Victoria and Albert’s, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Victoria and Alberts

"The best splurge in Orlando," claims Zagat, and most diners who experience this elite eatery will agree. Adored by the nation's top food critics, this formal American restaurant offers an excellent six-course prix fixe menu paired with exceptional wines. The Victorian ambience may seem a bit contrived (harpist? long-stemmed rose for the ladies? maid and butler duo to attend to your every whim?), but this is the Magic Kingdom we're talking about. The doting service and sheer opulence of the establishment will certainly make you feel like royalty. The menu is customized daily with fresh seasonal produce; diners indulge in a culinary experience akin to a "one-of-a-kind pampering of the palate." Though there's a six-month wait to sit at the Chef's Table located right in the kitchen, it's worth it. Evening attire required (jackets for men). Located in Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.


Suite DC Weekend Upgrades


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

The Madison, A Loews Hotel Guestroom

The Madison, a Loews Hotel is offering a sweet suite deal for guests staying with them on Thrusdays, Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays. The hotel's special "Fall and Winter Weekend Special" offers a complimentary suite upgrade to guests during the weekends between November 15th and January 7th, 2007.

What's going on in DC during these weeks to help entice your visit? For one you can visit the "Pageant of Peace" on the Ellipse at the White House (the official lighting of the living National Christmas Tree is on December 7th), or you can visit one of the many magical winter shows at The Kennedy Center (including 'The Nutcracker' over Thanksgiving and a show for their New Year's Eve celebration), or visit the brand new US Air Force Memorial which was unveiled and dedicated in October 2006.

This offer is based on availability, so make sure you reserve your nights now. Check availability at The Loews Madison in Washington, DC.


Family Christmas in Montreal at the Hotel Place d’Armes


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Place d'Armes

Historic streets wrapped in a blanket of snow, lively restaurants and warm cafes, boutiques and art galleries... Old Montreal is the perfect destination for a magical Christmas. The sophisticated boutique hotel Le Place d'Armes, the first ever Canadian hotel to be awarded the International Star Diamond award, has designed a Christmas package for the whole family to enjoy the holiday spirit of Montreal. In addition to its elegant rooms, the historic luxury hotel features the Rainspa (which boasts the city's first hammam) and the award-winning restaurant Aix Cuisine Du Terroir. The Family Christmas Package includes accommodation for two, full Continental breakfast daily, wine and cheese cocktail every evening, gourmet dinner for two at the gastronomic restaurant, turndown service with gingerbread man for the whole family, a visit to Atelier Toutou (Plush Factory) where guests can make two stuffed animals, and tickets to the Montreal Science Centre in the Old Port. Available seven nights a week, from December 16-29, 2006. Starting at $618 for two adults and two children.


The New Beach House at the Ritz-Carlton Resort Naples, Florida


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ritz Carlton Beach House

The five-star, five-diamond Ritz-Carlton Resort Naples has got it all: seven different restaurants, world-class spa, pool and beach activities, golf, tennis, kids programs, and a wide selection of water sports. It's no wonder The Robb Report lists The Ritz-Carlton Naples as one of the "100 Best Places to Stay in 2006" (May 2006). But now there's another reason to check out the beachfront resort: the Beach House. Located on the pristine sand of the Gulf of Mexico, the $4.5 million beach house is a 3,000 sq ft, two-storey, multi-use facility for weddings, private dinners, business functions, or parties. (It can host 120 people for a sit-down dinner or 150 for cocktail receptions.) The Beach House sports mesquite hardwood floors, Caribbean wicker ceiling fans, plantation shutters, state-of-the-art technology, and a full service kitchen for on-site catering needs complete with black granite bar. And of course there are remarkable views overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.