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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.

Dispatch from France: Renovation of the Chateau of Versailles


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Versailles After a staggering renovation project, a three-year makeover, the Hall of Mirrors at the Château de Versailles has reopened and is ready to dazzle the château's three million annual visitors. As described by the New York Times:

This week, after a $16 million makeover, the full spectacle finally resumed, with the hall looking, as closely as possible, the way it first appeared to Louis XIV in 1684. With its 357 mirrors, 17 glass doors, marble walls, chandeliers and ceiling paintings, it remains-- as was the Sun King's intent-- a sight breathtaking in its majesty.

Restoration of the palace will continue until 2020. This $455 million project-- the "biggest renovation since the king moved out in 1789"-- is a daunting undertaking, considering the sheer size and scale of this impressive château: 700 rooms, 2,153 windows, 352 chimneys and 28 acres of roof.

Photo Via NYT


Auberge du Soleil Unveils New Pool and Living Room in Napa Valley, California


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Auberge du Soleil Northern California's sophisticated getaway just got spruced up for the summertime. Sloping across a 33-acre hillside olive grove in Napa Valley, Auberge du Soleil is acclaimed for its informal elegance, celebrating the art of relaxation. And with the new "al fresco playground," hotel guests can appreciate the laid-back luxury of the Riviera smack dab in the middle of California's wine country. As reported by Daily Candy, SF residents escape the summertime fog on jaunts to Napa where you can "daydream you're in Provence on a plush daybed by the swanky new pool at Auberge du Soleil." Dedon lounge furniture imported from Germany, oversized market umbrellas, sweeping views from the terrace, and a gorgeous pool inlayed with an Italian mosaic and an iridescent Auberge sun crafted in mother-of-pearl... It's a sexy space, an exotic outdoor living room. Relax in oversized chaises or underneath gauze-draped canopies on day beds, sip signature cocktails, taste lounge food from Auberge du Soleil's award-winning restaurant, enjoy WiFi and a DJ-mixed pool soundtrack. Doting pool attendants offer refreshing amenities like the signature Auberge Bellini, gourmet Italian ices, sorbets, gelées, chilled eucalyptus-infused towels and iPods.


Wedding Travel Trends: New Cruise Packages at Half Moon, Montego Bay, Jamaica


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Half Moon Now you can tie the knot in style with the best of both worlds: a Caribbean cruise and a destination wedding in paradise at Half Moon. The prestigious resort has just introduced Cruise Day Wedding Packages, so that cruise passengers arriving at Jamaica's Montego Bay Cruise Ship Pier can be whisked away to Half Moon for a luxurious and memorable wedding. The Shore Romance package, priced at $3,900, includes all the amenities needed for the perfect wedding: marriage officer, professional videographer and photographer, two chilled bottles of champagne, chef's selection of hot and cold d'oeuvres for up to ten persons, wedding cake, two witnesses, plus the services of a June Wedding Incorporated certified wedding planner. Valid until December 14, 2007, includes a day use room at the resort. You can really go all out with the Shore Paradise package, which includes all the amenities of the Shore Romance package, plus professional make-up for the bride, lavish floral arrangements, Swedish massage for the bride and groom, a flautist or violinist, all for $6,200. Rest assured-- there's an army of event staff on-site (including a romance specialist) to handle all the planning logistics.


Buzzworthy: Bauer Il Palladio Opens its Spa in Venice, Italy


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bauer Il Palladio As recently featured on Travel and Leisure's "It List," Bauer Il Palladio is the hottest new hotel in Venice. Though the hotel is housed in a former convent, there is nothing austere about this place-- decked out in Murano-glass lanterns and the finest tapestries and paintings. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece of original 16th century brick walls and terrazzo floors, complemented by antique furnishings. The hotel is aptly called a "rare jewel in Venice," as its location on the exclusive island of Giudecca ensures stupendous views of the city. A cool perk: guests are transported by solar-powered boat to and from Venice's other islands. This summer, the five-star hotel welcomes its luxurious spa, which will offer a slew of first-class wellness therapies along with a Turkish hammam and saunas.

Related Articles:

The Newest Hotel in Venice, Italy: The Bauer Palladio Hotel and Spa


Nine World Wonders by Private Jet with Abercrombie and Kent


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Abercrombie and Kent private jet Visit nine wonders of the world-- from the Egyptian pyramids to the incredible carved sculptures on Easter Island-- with Abercrombie & Kent's globe-spanning journey by private jet. The luxury tour operator enlists expert guides to accompany their programs; these professionals are the ideal traveling companions who work hard to ensure an unforgettable journey. Privileged guests can choose from an array of sightseeing excursions, sport, shopping and spa options at selected destinations. And with Abercrombie & Kent, guests experience privileged access to these nine landmarks of world culture-- a real insider's perspective. As to be expected, the accommodations on this circumnavigation are the finest, like the elegant Hotel Monasterio in Cuzco, the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, and the luxurious Four Seasons First Residence in Cairo. For 2008, the itinerary spans Miami, Lima, Easter Island, Apia (Samoa), Sydney, Siem Reap (Cambodia), Yangon (Myanmar), Jodhpur & Agra (India), Muscat (Oman), Petra (Jordan), Cairo, and New York. Dates are January 13- February 6, 2008 and February 7- March 2, 2008. There are a limited number of seats on this once-in-a-lifetime journey. The private Boeing 757-200 is limited to just 50 guests, so make your reservations today.


21C Museum Hotel Will Open in Austin, Texas


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

21C Museum Hotel This is the best news we've heard in awhile. The 21C Museum Hotel, the extraordinary Louisville hotel that knocked everyone's socks off with its opening in 2006, is coming to Austin. Developers have announced a $200 million project which will dramatically change Austin's skyline: the 44-storey tower will rank among the city's tallest. Inside this soaring landmark, there will be a contemporary art museum, luxury hotel, spa, and stylish residences. Say hello to the second 21C Museum Hotel, set to open in 2010 at Third and Brazos streets. The contemporary art museum will offer free admission year-round to the general public (guaranteed to be mind-blowing). Each room in the hotel will also feature original works of art-- in addition to the luxurious amenities, cutting-edge technology, and contemporary furnishings. Straight from the horse's mouth:

21c Museum Hotel was born out of a love of contemporary art; a desire to create livable downtown spaces that prevent urban sprawl; a belief that art should be accessible, interactive and without pretense; and the conviction that art drives commerce.

The restaurant will become a hot spot, no doubt. The menu will be created by acclaimed restaurateur and author Michael Bonadies, the founding partner of the New York-based group that owns and operates Tribeca Grill, Nobu and Rubicon. Specializing in contemporary American cuisine, the restaurant will emphasize local and sustainable agriculture.

Related Articles:

Gridskipper, 21C Museum Hotel


The Hotel Boom in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gaslamp Quarter The hottest ticket in California right now is San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, where new hotels are opening a mile a minute. The long-awaited Ivy Hotel, about which we first reported last December, is finally ready to make its debut in August. Guests can expect 24-hour butler service, a fitness center, rooftop pool, and Cadillac Escalade courtesy cars. Fun, whimsical dishes will be the mainstay at The Quarter Kitchen, the hotel's on-site restaurant. Think caviar tacos and lobster pot pie. Hot on the heels of this sexy hotel's opening, the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego is scheduled to open in the fall. Book one of the rock star suites-- rumor has it that the Black Eyed Peas even designed one-- and enjoy LCD televisions, CD/DVD with iPod connections, and a martini bar.

It's no wonder this historic hood is attracting the eye of hoteliers. Experiencing a renaissance of sorts, the place is packed with boutiques, bistros, beautiful galleries, excellent restaurants, and happening nightlife spots. And of course as we sing the area's praises, we can't forget the signature old-fashioned gaslamps lining the sidewalks of the West's trendiest neighborhood.

Related Articles:

The Keating Hotel, San Diego: Celebrate the Grand Opening


Fourth Free Night in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at Casa Velas


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Casa Velas Follow your bliss to the soft sands and roaring surf of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where Casa Velas provides a peaceful, secluded oasis. Tucked away on the beautiful Marina Vallarta golf course, Casa Velas is an adults-only boutique hotel. Relax in your private plunge pool or hit the sand at the beach club. Retreat to the spa for an indulgent massage overlooking the ocean. In the evening, enjoy live music and a fabulous meal at the gourmet restaurant, Emiliano. This is the ultimate romantic hideaway. With the One More Night promotion, stay for three nights and get the fourth for free! And since this hotel is all-inclusive, you get all your meals, premium beverages, and round-trip airport transfers for free. Rates are for a Master Suite, and start at $540 per couple per night. (Rate is pro-rated to reflect savings for the four-night stay.) Available until December 20, 2007.


What a Hotel! Intimate Country Home


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Here's a challenge to test your luxury travel savvy. Do you know this hotel? Take a guess, leave us a comment letting us know which hotel you think this photo belongs to, and check back next week for the answer and new image.

What a Hotel!

Helpful Hints: 2,500-acres, Orvis-endorsed, 4 distinct seasons ...

All 4 contestants were correct in guessing Last Week's Hotel Contest:
What a Hotel!

The Hotel Le Meurice, Paris, France


Hot Dining in Hong Kong: Spoon by Alain Ducasse at the InterContinental


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Spoon by Alain Ducasse Savvy gourmands flock to the InterContinental Hong Kong for the best dining options in the city. The STEAK HOUSE winebar + grill lures meat lovers with prime cuts of the world's finest steaks on Hong Kong's only charcoal grill; the new Nobu restaurant was named one of the world's Hot Tables by Conde Nast Traveler. And then there's SPOON by Alain Ducasse, the high concept restaurant designed by the world's most awarded chef. This innovative hot spot gives guests the freedom to mix and match food and cooking styles, and select different sauces and side dishes. The best ingredients from around the world-- think French foie gras, lobster, the freshest fish and vegetables-- are incorporated into exciting, contemporary dishes by SPOON Executive Chef Tjaco van Eijken who moved to Hong Kong in June 2005 (from Mr. Ducasse's Il Cortile (1-Michelin star) restaurant in Paris).

Tony Chi designed the interiors to showcase the panoramic views of Victoria Harbor and Hong Kong island. The leather and chrome bar area is complemented by modern French chairs with eel skin upholstery and sofas with mink cushions. 550 hand-blown Venetian Mercury glass spoons adorn the ceiling, reflecting the custom-designed open kitchen and harbor views. The huge international wine selection (4,800 bottles with 450 different vintages) is dramatically showcased within the restaurant.

SPOON offers one of the most sought-after dining experiences in the city. Hong Kong residents easily make up half of the restaurant's clientele. Open daily for dinner and Sundays for lunch. Located on the Lobby Level of the InterContinental.