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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.

Check Out Monet’s Waterlilies at the Musee de l’Orangerie, Paris

July 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Waterlilies

After an impressive six-year renovation, and a $36 million investment, the Musee de l'Orangerie has reopened at long last. Monet's series of waterlilies are perhaps the most monumental work of his lifetime: the artist spent 30 years captivated by the light on the waterlily pond at his home in Giverny, and managed to capture this mysterious light, and the changing seasons, in his large Abstract canvases that wrap around the walls of the museum. These eight paintings are enormous: over six feet high and one is over 50 feet long. The artist donated them to France, and they were hung at l'Orangerie in 1927, a year after his death. In the 1960's, the government attempted a renovation of the museum that holds the paintings, which failed miserably, and so for years, the nymphéas (as they are called) sat forgotten and neglected.

No longer. The museum re-opened in mid-May, and presents the paintings as Monet initially intended them to be viewed. Natural light floods through the ceiling; the white walls curve and bend to accommodate the canvases. The architecture is as stunning as the paintings. The water lilies are housed on the ground floor, while the downstairs showcases the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works, including a corridor of Renoir, Matisse, Derain, and Modigliani.

Tickets are EUR 6.50, and individuals are only allowed in the museum from 12:30-7 pm, as groups tour the museum in the mornings. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. A warning: the lines assembled outside can snake around the building. Reserve your tickets ahead, and you'll skip the wait entirely. Though there are worse things than standing in the sunshine in the Jardin des Tuileries.

Related Articles,

New York Times, Paris's Jewel-like Orangerie, Home to Monet's Waterlilies, Reopens, Polished and Renovated


Paris in the Summertime

July 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

view from George V

Now is the time to go to Paris. The French team has made it to the finals of the World Cup (Allez Les Bleus!), the Tour de France has commenced, and Les Soldes--the annual summertime sales-- mean incredible bargains at the world's most beautiful boutiques (often over 50 percent off). After a few days in the City of Light-- wandering the alleys in the Marais, checking out the newest museums, soaking up the sun outside the Louvre and Notre Dame, shopping the Soldes-- I've picked up a few tips which I want to share with our readers on The Informed Traveler. Today is devoted to Paris.


Romantic Getaway Package at Banyan Tree Bangkok

July 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Banyan Tree Bangkok Spa

Voted to the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List of the World's Best Places to Stay, Banyan Tree Bangkok is located in the heart of the bustling commercial center of the city. With easy access to the shopping and entertainment access of Silom road, the all-suite Banyan Tree Bangkok is a rejuvenating sanctuary away from it all. Dining is a treat, both for the tasty gourmet meals and the superb views over the city. These fine dining establishments are the highest in the city (Vertigo Grill is on the 61st flooor!) The Spa--a heavenly oasis with the service and quality of treatments to be expected at Banyan Tree--is likewise situated high above the city: a whopping 54 floors above Bangkok. For the ultimate luxury, reserve the Presidential Suite (the preferred choice of presidents and business leaders), which consists of a two-storey glass dome with spectacular city views, and a loft style bedroom. The Spa Suites are similarly lavish, with their own private treatment rooms, and your choice of bath salts, scrubs, essential oils, and incense.

Splurge on a romantic getaway to Bangkok: immerse the senses with the incredible cultural stimuli of the city, and then retreat to your private urban oasis at the Banyan Tree where you can indulge in sumptuous spa treatments. The Romance in Bangkok Package includes: daily continental breakfast for two persons, one romantic dinner per stay at Bai Yun or Saffron restaurant, choice of one 2-hour 'Rejuvenation' or 'Renewal' spa treatment per person per stay, one 'Intimate Moments' suite decoration including one bottle of wine per stay, Banyan Tree Gallery gift, 10 percent discount at Bai Yun, Saffron and Rom Sai restaurant, and return transfer by Mercedes Benz limousine from the airport to the hotel. Starting at $305 per night. Valid until December 31, 2006. Minimum three night stay.


Terrace Movie Night at Conrad Chicago

July 6, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

by Courtney W. May for the Editorial Advisory Board Last week, the Conrad Chicago continued their renovations and updates with new linens in the guest rooms (500 thread count Pratesi linens) and plush Pratesi towels and bathrobes. They have also rolled out the complimentary high speed wireless internet throughout the entire hotel, comp shoe shine services and evening turndown service with comp bottled water. Other ongoing renovations include 42' flat screen HD plasma tvs and Bose home theater systems. 4 floors within the Conrad's building have been completed and the 5th floor of guest rooms should be done by the end of July - but all rooms should be upgraded with these new amenities by mid October of 2006.

Just past the fifth-floor lobby of downtown Chicago's Conrad Hotel is an alfresco escape -- The Terrace at Conrad (see image). It is a great place to unwind in a chic outdoor setting with fantastic cityscape views. This alfresco dining destination just recently opened at the end of May. Best of all, on Sunday and Monday nights you can enjoy movie night on the Terrace! The July movie line up includes: 6/2 – Guess who is coming to dinner 6/3 – Guy’s and Dolls 6/9 – Citizen Cane 6/10 – Star Wars 6/16 – Dr. Strangelove 6/17 – Rear Window 6/23 – Annie Hall 6/24 – All About Eve 6/30 – On the Water Front 6/31 – Ben Hur (but remember - movies may be subject to change so check with them first) And don't forget about the Special Offer from Five Star Alliance for the Conrad Chicago: Guests making their reservations through Five Star Alliance will receive a welcome amenity, continental breakfast for two (2) daily, and a possible upgrade upon check-in based upon availability.


Babymoons at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

July 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

The award-winning Chicago hotel caters to expectant couples who seek a weekend of pampering, and a few days of revelry as a couple, before the baby's arrival. Babymoons are all the rage these days; USA Today reports that 60 percent of new parents opt for a babymoon these days. And at Four Seasons Chicago, they do it right, with the ultimate in lux accommodations and lots of fun amenities. Here's the scoop on the Expecting You Package: includes plush accommodations (with sweeping views of the city and Lake Michigan and body contour pillows to keep comfortable the mother-to-be), a copy of the book "What to Expect When You Are Expecting" with a book light for late night reading, complimentary manicure from the Spa when booking a pregnancy massage, complimentary "Toast to Fatherhood" in Seasons Bar for the dads-to-be, complimentary Midwest breakfast from Room Service or in the Cafe, complimentary visit from The Ice Cream Man, and special savings from premier shopping partners (for example, receive a complimentary bassinet at Neiman Marcus with any $200 purchase in Layette clothing). Rates begin at $480 per night.


Summer in the City at The Jefferson, Richmond, Virginia

July 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Jefferson

An American landmark since 1895, The Jefferson is one of only 23 hotels to hold both the Mobil Five Star and the AAA Five Diamond ratings. This crown jewel is a charter member of Historic Hotels of America, celebrating its historic details and distinct architecture. Located in the center of downtown Richmond, The Jefferson is a luxurious haven of old-world charm and personalized service. Signature features include the antique furniture, tapestries, faux-marble columns, the 70-ft ceiling with stained-glass skylight, and the sweeping staircase that looks straight out of Gone With the Wind. The 264 guestrooms are opulent, with high ceilings, tall windows, and custom-designed furnishings such as mahogany armoires and beautiful carpets. Facilities include a fitness center and pool. The Champagne Brunch on Sunday is not to be missed: this Richmond tradition is served in the Rotunda lobby amidst the columns-- the buffet is lavish with freshly made omelettes, waffles, carving station, seafood, imported cheeses, signature spoonbread and desserts.

Take advantage of the exceptional "Twice as Nice" package, where guests can score 1 room for 2 nights, or 2 rooms for 1 night. Superior accommodations are $299, and deluxe are $339. Valid until September 4, 2006. The Jefferson is also offering the "Summer Bed and Breakfast Package" which includes buffet breakfast for two in Lemaire (the hotel's AAA five-diamond restaurant) and accommodations. Superior is priced at $215 per night, and deluxe at $235 per night.


Golf at Pebble Beach, California: The Inn at Spanish Bay

July 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Inn at Spanish Bay

Jack Nicklaus raved about the award-winning course: "If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach. I've loved this course from the first time I saw it. It's possibly the best in the world." Ranked the number 1 golf resort by Golf Digest Magazine, Pebble Beach offers four unique courses of breathtaking beauty, including the Scottish links-style Links at Spanish Bay. Perched dramatically on the Pacific coastline, nestled within groves of tall Monterey pines, The Inn at Spanish Bay offers more than just world-class golf. The 269 luxurious rooms and suites feature a private patio or balcony view over the Monterey Peninsula, along with a cozy fireplace. Outstanding facilities include The Spanish Bay Club, Oceanside Beach and Tennis Club, outdoor pools and Jacuzzi, and full-service spa and salon.


A Recipe for Romance: The Cook Together Package at The Lodge at Sea Island, Georgia

July 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Lodge at Sea Island

How's this for a romantic retreat: a weekend at the legendary Lodge at Sea Island devoted to cooking classes and culinary delights (of course there's superb golf and relaxing spa treatments, too!) The award-winning resort-- rated number one small hotel and number 1 for top dining in the 2006 Zagat survey top US hotels, AAA five-diamond award, Mobil five-star award three years in a row-- pampers its guests with genuine Georgia hospitality and unparalleled personal service. This summer, The Lodge at Sea Island has plans for great food, fine wine and good times with its weekend Cook Together Package. The package includes luxury accommodations for the weekend, private reception and dinner with Chef Johannes Klapdohr in The Lodge Wine Cellar, Cooking School with lunch prepared by the participants, "How To's" of wine tasting with Lodge sommelier Jane Rate, and monogrammed Chef's jackets. The July Cooking School Themes are Grilling and Smoking, including barbecue shrimp and fallen'-off-the- bone baby back ribs, on July 8-9, and Summer Soups and Salads, featuring heirloom fruits and vegetables, on July 21-22. From August 2-5, the theme is Grilling and Smoking. And on August 18-19, the class focuses on Tailgating Octoberfest Style, with lessons on cooking schnitzels, sourbraten, spatzle and more. Cook Together Package starts at $825 per room per night, with a two-night minimum stay required.


Complimentary Wireless and Broadband Internet Access at The Peninsula Palace Beijing

July 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peninsula Palace Beijing

After a $34 million renovation, The Peninsula Palace Beijing is the premier address in the city. Perfectly located in the center of Beijing, just a short walk from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, the hotel combines traditional Chinese style with all the modern amenities expected in a five-star hotel. The 525 guest rooms are beautifully appointed, the restaurants are exquisite, and the fitness facilities are world-class (including a fully-equipped fitness center, swimming pool, steam room, saunas, and massage treatment rooms). Notably, the Peninsula Palace Beijing is the first hotel in the city to provide guests with completely free wireless and broadband Internet access in every guest room. Business and leisure travelers appreciate the hotel's sophisticated technology, inluding 42-inch plasma screen TVs, LCD TVs in the bathrooms, silent fax machines, and bedside electronic panels that control all lighting and audio-visual equipment in-room. Luxurious rooms start at an unbelievably low CNY 1,265 ($158) per night.


Smintair: the Luxury Airline for Smokers

July 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

SMINTAIR offers every passenger refuge from daily stress and restriction, an island of tranquillity, a World of it's own in the skies... Although innovative, SMINTAIR will treat it's passengers like the guest of an international Grand Hotel. It is an obligation to SMINTAIR to bring back the exclusivity in flying encountered in the 1960s and dearly missed by so many. The classic ambience pared [sic] with today's technology will make flying SMINTAIR a unique experience.
So states Smintair on its website. A German entrepreneur has announced plans for a luxury airline that allows its passengers to smoke. Smintair (no, the name doesn't come from the little box of post-cigarette mints; it's an acronym for Smoker's International Airways) is slated to launch in March with flights from Dusseldorf to Tokyo's Narita International on two Boeing 747 aircraft. The flights will offer 30 first class and 108 business class seats, with abundant leg room.
Allowing our guests to smoke is one of the freedoms we are happily prepared to grant. Non-smokers will find the cabin air more refreshing than on any other flight with any other airline, as SMINTAIR adds fresh outside air to the conditioning system! This is more expensive, as it burns more fuel, but it is seen as an additional service to our guests... As the World's first smoker's airline, SMINTAIR is entering many uncovered niches in aviation, designed to give the traveller maximum pleasure out of their flight experience. SMINTAIR spends more than three times the amount usually invested on passenger's nourishment. Signature recipes created by internationally renowned chefs will make each meal a feast. Charming and beautiful flight attendants in uniforms designed by famous couturiers are there to take the very best care of you. Every two years, a new designer will be elected to keep the uniform design a la mode.
Marketwatch is skeptical; Smintair needs to raise at least 40 million euros for an operating license from the German federal aviation authority. Time will tell if this baby will actually get off the ground. Related Articles: BBC News, German Plans Airline for Smokers Gridskipper, "Smokes on a Plane"