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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.

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."


Tennis and Diving at Amanpulo, Pamalican Island, The Philippines

April 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Amanpulo

Discover the remote private islands of the Philippines. Accessible only by private charter flight, Amanpulo is surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise waters and pristine coral reef just 300 meters offshore. The diving is fantastic. And the resort offers an abundance of other watersports, additionally. Enjoy the views from the treetops or from the water's edge: Amanpulo's 40 casitas are heavenly hideaways with generous space, divine amenities, and spellbinding views. From April until October, Amanresorts' resident tennis professional, David Bush, will be offering private tennis tuition at Amanjena, Amandari, Amanpulo, and Amanpuri. A former NCAA Division 1 player, David coaches all levels of sporting ability, from beginners to serious competitors. Therefore, Amanpulo has designed a special Tennis package available from September 1 to October 31. Over a three night stay on the private island of Pamalican, guests can enjoy daily breakfast, a complimentary one hour private tennis session with David Bush, and a one-hour massage per stay. Starting at $1,960 for a Beach Casita.


The Fairmont Mayakoba Opens its Doors in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

April 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Mayakoba

Just south of Cancun on a stunning and isolated Caribbean coast, the Yucatan's prized Riviera Maya, lies a dazzling, eco-friendly resort community. Surrounded by lush forest canopy and beautiful waterways, Mayakoba is a luxury destination with golf, tennis, fine dining, and world-class snorkeling and diving. After the destruction caused by Hurricane Wilma last year, Cancun and the Yucatan peninsula have made a courageous comeback. The Fairmont Mayakoba had to delay its original opening because of hurricane damage, but has finally opened its doors and is welcoming guests to paradise. In addition to its luxurious accommodations overlooking beaches and lagoons, the resort offers a huge free-form pool with swim-up bar, superb Spa, children's programs, excellent dining outlets, and access to Mayakoba's fine golf and tennis facilities. Take advantage of the Only One Way Summer Promotion, starting at an unbelievably low $199 per night (double occupancy). Available from May 15- September 5, 2006.


Be One of the First to Discover the Athenaeum’s Transformation

April 26, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

The Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments, London

Athenaeum Hotel London Guestroom

In case you needed more reasons to visit the Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments in London other then the special £ for $ rate and guaranteed room upgrades we posted about last week, guests visiting this summer will be among the first to discover the Athenaeum's totally new look. The entire ground floor of the Athenaeum will be brilliantly transformed by Martin Hulbert, mastermind behind The Grove’s (the Athenaeum sister-property in Hertfordshire) award-winning "groovy grand" look. Other upgrades include:

- New Lobby, Reception, Bar, Restaurant and Lounge Interiors as of May 2006

- Digital television and entertainment systems by Bang & Olufsen in all guest-rooms

- Refurbished Classic British Collection apartments to include more sofa beds and plasma televisions as well as new soft furnishings.

- Three apartments within the Modern British Collection redesigned in a contemporary style - a family-style apartment, a traditional luxurious apartment and a modern high-tech apartment.

Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments, Five Star Alliance


Hawaii Honeymoons at the Mauna Lani Resort at Kalahuipua’a

April 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mauna Lani Resort

Located on the sun-drenched Kohala Coast of Hawaii's Big Island, the Mauna Lani Resort is surrounded by some of the world's most breathtaking topography: five majestic peaks, volcanoes, lush rainforests and waterfalls. This is definitely one of the most romantic spots in Hawaii: a tranquil, natural paradise with endless beaches and the ideal Hawaiian haven for your honeymoon. The amenities at this award-winning resort include a Tennis Club, two championship golf courses, water sports, children's camp, Sport and Fitness Club, and five dining venues. The 25,000 sq ft spa offers almost as much outdoor treatment space as it does indoor space; of the 17 treatment areas, nine are unique outdoor thatched huts. The Spa is a unique and luxurious space, including a naturally heated lava rock sauna, Aquatic Body Therapy facility and a relaxation hut situated in the healing garden.

Mauna Lani Resort, Five Star Alliance


Canning Cannes: Heading to the Hotel Martinez apres the Film Festival

April 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Martinez

So maybe there's no availability for the Cannes Film Festival. This baby's been booked for months. But after the film festival struts its stuff from May 17-28, the Hotel Martinez is yours for the taking. This is the French Riviera at its most chic, where you can take in the rays in style (after all, Cannes boasts 300 days of sunshine per year). The legendary Art Deco hotel commands a perch overlooking the largest private beach on the Croisette, though its octagonal pool-- surrounded by towering palm trees-- is an equally inviting spot. The finest accommodations in this award-winning establishment are on the 7th floor: terrace apartments and exceptional Junior suites that offer panoramic views of the sea from private teakwood decks with sunken Jacuzzis. Almost like a personal spa, the marble bathrooms are a heavenly space to relax and unwind. Enjoy the hotel's acclaimed Givenchy Spa--filled with natural light from its solarium-- with a specially designed Spa Package 2006. Starting at EUR 305 per night, the Spa Package includes luxurious accommodations, continental breakfast in room or restaurant buffet breakfast, one 50-minute massage per person, and free access to the fitness center and sauna.

Hotel Martinez, Five Star Alliance


Why Go Now: Four Seasons Maui at Wailea

April 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Maui

Twist my arm. Fine. I'll let you in on a little secret. After a packed winter season with scarcely any availability, the Four Seasons Maui is welcoming the summer with plenty of rooms available-- and tons of value added packages, like Bed and Breakfast, Room and Car, and Romance For All Seasons. Why would this award-winning hotel-- considered one of the world's finest resorts--give us such a break? Well, most folks don't realize that June is an ideal time to visit Hawaii, with days in the mid 80s kissed by delicious ocean breezes and cool, pleasant evenings. But now you can enjoy all the services and amenities that have distinguished this pad as one of the best in the world-- with an even better value. Championship golf, white sand beaches, delicious cuisine, and the largest guest rooms on the island with beautiful views of this Pacific paradise. But shhhh! Mum's the word. Space is filling up fast.


America’s Most Celebrated Restaurant: The Inn at Little Washington

April 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Inn at Little Washington

In the heart of Virginia's picturesque Shenandoah Valley in a storybook setting, The Inn at Little Washington presents a dining experience that is hailed "the gastronomic equivalent of sex." (Thank you, Zagat.) At this splendid country inn, somewhere between the first course of Carpaccio of Baby Lamb with Rosemary Mustard, the second course of Pecan-Crusted Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Italian Mustard Fruit, and the main course of Filet Mignon of Rarish Tuna Capped with Seared Duck Foie Gras on Charred Onions with a Burgundy Butter Sauce, it's not hard to see why this is the country's most exulted culinary destination. Even Alice Waters licks her chops over these entrees. The restaurant's 30 intimate tables are spoiled with an award-winning wine list (the 14,000 bottle cellar includes the finest selections from France and California) and plates that are devised by the legendary Chef Patrick O'Connell, dubbed the "Pope of American Cuisine."

And if you should harbor any doubts about the Inn's gastronomic excellence (God forbid), let's take a quick run through the award list. The first place ever to receive Mobil's 5 stars for its restaurant, and 5 stars for its accommodations. Likewise, a double whammy with AAA: the first joint to earn the prestigious 5 Diamond Award for both room and board. Top 10 Best Restaurants in the World by IHT. Zagat #1 restaurant in the fifty United States. And Travel and Leisure jumped on the band wagon with another #1 in America rating.


Oh-So-Hot Opening for Red Rock Casino Resort

April 18, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

from Julie A. Skrei, Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa & Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa

Red Rock Casino Resort Room

Exactly 12 Hours from this moment (12 noon EST), The Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas will host it's Grand Opening (and grand offers) in the master-planned community of Summerlin, Las Vegas. And the newest good news to hit this $925 million resort is the "CHERRY" night club operated by Rande Gerber and his brother Scott, founders of After Midnight Company (and of course family to Cindy Crawford).

CHERRY was designed with NYC's Rockwell Group, featuring art such as the 7-foot sculpture of red cherries from Takashi Murakami. The club encompasses 8,500-square-feet with an indoor nightclub and outdoor pool deck, electric red leather walls, translucent crimson glass doors and mirrored entranceway leaging to the oval shaped venue. Guests can find the club directly off the casino and pool where there are hanging domes and beaded chandelier.

Some of CHERRY's coolest/strangest/weirdest features include:

• Snakeskin tile mosaics in the bathrooms

• Glass, red hot, pouting lips from Holland for the "gentleman's" urinals

• VIP areas overlookign the dance floor with banquette seating, flat screen TVs and steel cocktail tables

• Pool deck seperate from the casino pool, with rotating sun beds and individual daybeds in private areas

• Eight large VIP cabanas with plasma TVs, stereos, refridgerators, fans and private bars adjacent to the pool

• Exclusive house DJs featuring eclectic mix of music, with occasional celebrity DJs (no woner they need the VIP sections)

• The most advanced lighting and sound system ever created for a club worldwide - which took more then a year to develop and months to program

Five Star Alliance still has rates available for the Red Rock Casino these next few months, including Deluxe Canyon Rooms with Red Rock Canyon Views and a Special Breakfast for 2 in the Feast Buffet for as little as $149.00 a night, double occupancy.

Related Articles:

Special Introductory Offer at Red Rock Casino Resort Spa, Las Vegas March 29, 2006

For Gentlemen Only: A Luxury Grooming Tradition Returns March 3, 2006

New Las Vegas Hotels: Red Rock Station December 19, 2005

George Clooney’s Las Ramblas, Las Vegas November 10, 2005