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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.

Announcing the Villa Olmi Resort in Florence, Italy

May 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Villa Olmi

As if you needed another reason to go to Florence. The newly-opened Villa Olmi Resort, poised on a six hectare estate just outside the gates of Florence, has been renovated into one of the region's most exclusive and enchanting properties. The park and Italian gardens have been witness to centuries of history, dating back to the Renaissance, and the beautiful Villa still retains original characteristics such as 18th century murals. Villa Olmi is comprised of three main buildings: the Villa, the Country House and the Colonica, now gorgeous hotel facilities. The restoration was a careful and diligent process, managed by the Government Service for Monuments. And the hotel, with its focus on privacy and careful attention to detail, preserves an aura of an 18th century private nobleman's home. The 50 rooms and suites don't skimp on modern conveniences; they're loaded with Wi-Fi, plasma TV screens, DVD players, marble bathrooms with jacuzzis, and individual air-comfort systems in-room.


Magic in Madrid: Get the Royal Treatment at the Gran Melia Fenix

May 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gran Melia Fenix lobby

The recently renovated Gran Melia Fenix offers distinguished rooms and service to the most discerning of visitors to Spain's buzzing capital. The 215 guest rooms are exquisitely decorated in 19th century style, and equipped with cutting-edge technology: domestic control systems, Bang and Olufsen TVs, three phones and internet access, CD player, and electronic mini-bars. All complimented by highly-personalized service and excellent fine dining. Book a suite and enjoy the outdoor jacuzzi with awesome views of the city. But the best part of all is the exclusive Royal Service Floor, where guests are spoiled with the private reception area, butler service, pillow menu, private buffet and permanent bar.


Buzzworthy: Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa Accepting Reservations

May 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Maldives

Imagine: your own private coral atoll fringed by sand and crystal clear water. Thatched-roof villas with spacious rooms, outdoor showers, private plunge pools and decks over the turquoise. Some of the best diving and water activities in the Maldives. Welcome to the recently re-opened Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, a luxurious private getaway in paradise. Guests are invited to discover this unique and beautiful island with reservations beginning November 1, 2006. On a nearby coral atoll of its own, Four Seasons is opening a sister property called Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, with an authentic Ayurvedic Spa. Combine the best of sand and sea at both resorts with The Explorer, a 39-meter, 11-cabin, 3-deck catamaran. Go island-hopping in style, explore rarely-visited snorkeling spots, and sail untouched waters with this extraordinary private cruise experience.


Romantic Rendezvous at The Carlyle, New York

May 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Carlyle

Spice things up with a one-night romantic escape at New York's timeless classic: The Carlyle. A landmark on Madison Avenue, The Carlyle is all about elegance and refined taste. Like a stately private residence, The Carlyle welcomes its guests with the most exacting and discreet service. Enjoy sweeping views of Central Park from your sumptuous suite, individually appointed with the finest fabrics and Frette linens, some featuring private terraces and grand pianos. Rekindle the romance with a getaway to The Carlyle with the Legendary Love Package, which includes: accommodations for one night, chocolates, champagne and roses on arrival, one dinner for two in The Carlyle Restaurant, cover charges for two persons to see Elaine Stritch at Cafe Carlyle, Continental breakfast for two in bed, and two spa treatments at Exhale (up to $100 per treatment).

The Carlyle, Five Star Alliance


Prep like a Celeb with Baby Week at Peter Island

May 9, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

by Courtney W. May for Peter Island Resort, the British Virgin Islands

These days it seems all the celebs are popping out the little ones, and if you are part of the trend, then you might be interested in this awesome pampering package for mommy and daddys-to-be at Peter Island Resort -- where you can de-stress in paradise.

Peter Island Resort is the largest private island in the British Virgin Islands and developed the special program "Baby Week" for expectant parents. It includes a course given by Charlene L. Stokamer, MPH, MSN entitled "How to Relax and Have Your Baby." (We just hope she isnt advocating a 'silent birth' as 'relaxed').

Peter Island Resort Spa

The Baby Week program is offered in small intimate groups and includes:

- Five (5) two-hour sessions,

- A pre-natal massage for mommy-to-be,

- A deep tissue massage for daddy-to-be,

- Nightly themed turndowns,

- and proven relaxation practices for the couple.

Also included are three meals daily and assorted activities. Optional classes for couples are available: lactation management (!), breast-feeding and baby care. If you are like the celebs and have your c-section planned for August or later, then this could be the perfect Mother's Day gift - the program runs from July 15-20, 2006 and starts at around $3,300 for five-days of perfection.

Full details after the jump ...

Oftentimes, the joy of pregnancy can also bring with it a number of stress-inducing issues: what to name the baby, decorating the nursery, over-zealous grandparents, anxiety and mood swings, to name a few! Why not take a break from all of these worries and escape to an island paradise while learning helpful "preparing for baby' tips at the same time?

Peter Island Resort, the largest private island in the British Virgin Islands, has developed a special program for expectant parents called Prepare for Baby Week, which includes a "How to Relax and Have Your Baby," course given by Charlene L. Stokamer, MPH, MSN.

Stokamer has over 30 years of experience in the health industry and specializes in teaching tailored childbirth preparation, breastfeeding preparation and relaxation classes. She is not only a certified health education specialist, but she has also facilitated numerous health education fairs and other events to promote general health.

Wayne Kafcsak, managing director adds, "This week was developed for those couples seeking a way to relieve some of the stress leading up to having a baby by offering the opportunity for a world-class vacation that is seamlessly combined with prenatal education. Peter Island's beauty and charm will only heighten the couple's experience, better preparing them for the journey that lies ahead."

The program, which is offered as a small intimate group and includes five (5) two-hour sessions, a pre-natal massage for mommy-to-be, a deep tissue massage for daddy-to-be, nightly themed turndowns and proven relaxation practices for the couple. Also included are three meals daily as well as assorted activities. Optional classes for couples are available in lactation management, breast-feeding and baby care as well. This program runs July 15-20, 2006 and rates start at $3,306 for the five-day program.

Whether you're an expectant mother or a supportive daddy-to-be, Peter Island's Prepare for Baby Week is sure to add something extra special to your vacation in paradise.


Savor the Summer Specials at La Casa Que Canta, Zihautenejo, Mexico

May 8, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

La Casa Que Canta

This could be Mexico's finest hideaway and top-rated resort. Ranked #1 Best Hotel in Mexico, Central and South America by Travel and Leisure readers, the 25-suite resort was given the ultimate honor by Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report as a 2005 Grand Award winner. And it's no wonder. Situated on a panoramic cliff overlooking Zihuatanejo Bay, the exclusive and stylish resort is an adults-only paradise. La Casa Que Canta boasts two of the most elegant swimming pools found anywhere in the world. The Freshwater Infinity Pool is located on a promontory overlooking the bay and seems to overflow directly into the water below. Amenities include a new spa, al fresco restaurant and bar, and nearby 18-hole golf course, tennis, watersports and deep-sea fishing.

The resort recently announced fabulous summer specials with rates of up to 22 percent off. The "Summer Spa Package" includes accommodations for four to seven nights, round-trip airport transfers, two 50-minute massages, one manicure and one pedicure. Rates range from $2,608 to $3,774 (depending upon the number of nights selected) for a Grand Suite or from $3,522 to $5,160 for a Master Suite. The resort is also offering special summer rates at its ultra-private, four-suite villas, each with personal chef, concierge, large swimming pool, plasma screen TVs and private plunge pool for each suite. Guests save up to 20 percent on stays of seven nights or more by booking a suite or the entire villa. Summer promotional rates are valid from June 1 to October 15, 2006.


Complimentary Spa Treatment and Amenity for American Express Card Members at Preferred Resorts

May 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peter Island Spa Pool

Announcing an offer you just can't refuse. Book a stay at participating Preferred Resorts with your American Express Card, and receive a gift. With the "I Prefer Spa" package, guests indulge in a signature spa treatment, and get a welcome amenity. Luxurious spas include Napa's Carneros Inn-- nestled in the grapevines of California's exquisite wine country, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows-- the AAA five-diamond winner on Hawaii's Big Island, Las Vegas' Red Rocks Casino, Resort and Spa-- which recently opened to much fanfare and glowing reviews, and the Caribbean's Peter Island-- the luxurious private island in the BVI that is consistently ranked as one of the world's best places to stay.


Buzzworthy: Ralph Lauren Designed Pineapple Rooms at Round Hill, Jamaica

May 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ralph Lauren rooms at Round Hill

Ahhh, Round Hill: the elegant Jamaican hideaway, a favorite for Town and Country fashion shoots, a former pineapple, allspice and coconut plantation, where the elite and moneyed few escape for their tropical respites. The legendary resort, not far from Montego Bay, is an oasis of gardens, secluded beaches, private villas and horizon-edge pools. There's a Spa, tennis, diving, and fine dining, a vacation experience enhanced by the best, most discreet service.

The 36 guestrooms in the Pineapple House were recently renovated and designed by Ralph Lauren, with white stone floors, four poster bamboo beds draped in a white net, 300-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, and upholstered furniture from the Ralph Lauren home collection. The rooms are all-white, evoking tropical beach living, and with ocean or garden views. The bathrooms were also redesigned by Lauren, with deep soaking tubs, freestanding rain showers, and double sink vanities.


Sipping Bordeaux Wine in Saint-Emilion, France: the Grand Barrail Chateau Resort and Spa

May 1, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand Barrail Chateau

How's this for a perfect day. A leisurely lunch savored in the sunshine gazing up at the immense ruins of a 9th century church carved from sheer limestone walls. A stroll through winding cobble-stoned streets with panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards. A tour through a local wine-grower's chateau, its wine cave built deep into the hill's rock cliffs. A late afternoon glass of pink sparkling wine, accompanied with almond flavored macaroons, in the ruins of an ancient monastery. As the afternoon light fades orange against the city's ramparts and Roman stone archways, you can't help but think… This is the life.

Welcome to Saint-Emilion, 30 minutes from Bordeaux in the midst of the world's most famous wine-growing region. The town is steeped in history-- its name derived from the Benedictine monk hermit who resided in a cave here between 750 and 767-- and the luxurious traditions of art de vivre. The vineyards and township of St. Emilion are UNESCO-heritage protected sites because they've endured-- virtually untouched-- since the Roman poets extolled the virtues of the rich wines.

In such an extraordinary setting, the Grand Barrail Chateau Resort and Spa is the gem to choose for its unrivaled accommodations. Just outside the township of Saint-Emilion, the castle's towers and turrets emerge in splendor from the rolling hills of meticulously planted vines. Even the basic accommodations (Superior) are comfortable, spacious, and tastefully appointed. But the suites are extraordinary, with lavish bathrooms, light-filled rooms, and sweeping views over the lawn and countryside; one even boasts an enormous stone balcony and terrace that comprises most of the castle's second floor.

The new full-service Spa features hammam, Scottish bath, steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi, and a tantalizing menu of treatments with Ligne St Barth cosmetics. For example: the St. Barth Softness is a nourishing body peeling massage with coconut oil, fresh papaya and an extra-fine sea sand polish complex. (The sand is imported from the Caribbean island, and the Ligne St Barth cosmetics are enhanced with additional fresh fruit.)

Dining is a gastronomic experience, with plates as beautifully presented as the cuisine is rich and delicious. The chef's got quite a few awards under his belt. Compared to your nightly feast, breakfast isn't half bad. It's served in an elegant breakfast room filled with light through stained glass windows; dainty crossaints are served hot from the oven, accompanied with fine fruit jams and other delights from a generous buffet display.

Here in Saint-Emilion at the Grand Barrail Chateau, it's easy to see how the French have mastered the joie de vivre.


Plaza Athenee New York Penthouse Suite

May 1, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

by Courtney W. May and Karen Goldberg, Director of Sales & Marketing, Hotel Plaza Athenee New York

Hotel Plaza Athenee NY Penthouse Balcony

The Hotel Plaza Athenee is a small, charming European boutique-style hotel located on 64th Street at Madison Avenue. In 2006, Conde Nast Traveler featured the Hotel Plaza Athenee as “One of the Top Hotels in the World” on the Gold List. For those looking for a 'discreet location' in Manhattan, ecspecially on the fashionable Upper East Side, they need look no further then the Hotel Plaza Athenee's Penthouse Suite. Yes, that's right - we are once again writing about a luxury, high-level, freakishly huge and overdone suite at a five-star hotel in New York City.

In Hotel Plaza Athenee's Penthouse, free time not spent in the solarium, on the balcony, or their office alcove, can be spent indulging in the finest shops of the neighborhood. Also nearby is the Whitney, Frick or Museum of Modern Art. Not to mention all of the noteworthy restaurants where our the concierge staff will gladly secure your reservation.

Hotel Plaza Athenee NY Penthouse Atrium

Hotel Plaza Athenee New York Penthouse Suite

Location: The hotel is on the Upper East Side of New York City - on 64th between Madison and Park Avenue, one block from Central Park. The pale yellow decorated suite is a two-story duplex apartment located on the top two floors of the hotel - the 16th & 17th.

Size: 1972 square feet or 184 square meters.

Living Room: On the Suite's first floor, the 16th, the living room includes a decorative marble fireplace. The lower level also contains a pantry, formal dining room that seats 12, a ½ bathroom and an office alcove off the living room and the connecting second bedroom.

Master Bedroom: Spiral staircase leads to the second floor of the penthouse with full master bedroom, full bath and walk in closet, wrap around terrace and atrium.

Balcony & Atrium: Connected to the Master Bedroom, the balcony has a planted private terrace which runs half the length of the hotel. The atrium is a sun-drenched indoor space with rattan furniture.

Rate: Currently, the one-bedroom Penthouse Suite will run you about $3,900 per night, plus tax.

Fun Fact: The hotel's exterior is shaped somewhat like a pyramid - the higher up you go, the less space you have and the less numbers of rooms you get on each floor.

Hotel Plaza Athenee New York, Five Star Alliance

Hotel Plaza Athenee NY Penthouse Master Bedroom

Related Articles: "Park Avenue Suite at The Regency in New York City", "The Carlyle Hotel in New York City (Re)Opens The Royal Suite", "The Triplex Penthouse at the Time", and "Suite Escapes: the Mandarin Oriental New York Celebrates its Taipan Suite".

Don't forget, if you make your reservation with Five Star Alliance for the Hotel Plaza Athenee, you get the "Special Offer from Five Star Alliance: Afternoon Tea for two (2) with pastries and tea sandwiches once during your stay."