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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.

What’s Up With the Ducks at the Peabody Hotels?

February 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peabody Memphis

After late nights pondering the question, I've finally found the answer. Novelist Jay McInerney-- with his sarcastic wit and true command of the South and all things Southern-- describes the Peabody Memphis in his book The Last of the Savages:

I think it was Faulkner—usually a safe bet in these matters—who said the Mississippi Delta originated in the lobby of the Peabody. Certainly no one would have mistaken this for the Boston Ritz-Carlton, or for the Plaza in New York. That curious and beguiling southern blend of ease and formality were in the air—that rhythm oscillating between languor and hysteria. The lobby was thronged with revelers in evening dress... Young women in ball gowns wafted about the two-story lobby, while their male counterparts lurked in corners, conspiring and breaking out into sudden fits of suppressed hilarity. These young swains applauded as a tiny man in livery marched the ducks from the fountain in the center of the lobby across the floor and into the elevator en route to a pen on the hotel roof. The ducks were the descendants of a batch of live decoys—or so Cordell Savage once told me—which had been dumped into the fountain one afternoon by a band of liquored-up hunters fresh from the duck blind who wanted to continue drinking at the hotel bar.

So much for the ducks' noble origins.

The Peabody Memphis, Official Site

The Peabody Memphis, Five Star Alliance


Suite Escapes: the Mandarin Oriental New York Celebrates its Taipan Suite

February 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mandarin Oriental exterior

Imagine a luxurious home-away-from-home in the heart of Manhattan, featuring designer furnishings by rock-star designers Robert Kuo, Martha Sturdy, Barbara Berry and Bill Sofield. The two-bedroom Taipan Suite is a dreamy 1,210 sq feet, with floor-to-ceiling views overlooking Central Park, the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline from the 54th floor of the Mandarin Oriental. The decor? The best of urban chic, with Asian and Art Deco influence. The bathrooms—equipped with heavenly bath products by FRESH—are unique and luxurious: an oversized marble bath with LCD flat panel TV and separate shower, and the other featuring a soaking tub with picture window overlooking Central Park. Take care of some business—your suite converts easily to an office with three multi-line telephones, high-speed internet access, laptop connections to LCD TV, and printer and fax machine upon request. Or relax with a drink from the wet bar with Bisazza tiles, and enjoy a flick from the home theater set-up.

Mandarin Oriental New York, Official Site

Mandarin Oriental New York, Five Star Alliance


Skiing in the Morning and Sunbathing in the Afternoon in Dubai

February 20, 2006
By: Guest Writer

Ski Dubai

Since its opening in December, Ski Dubai has captured our imaginations (and wagging tongues). Contributor Alex Rose has the scoop.

You can now go snow skiing in one of the hottest places on earth. Dubai, the city-state in the United Arab Emirates, opened the first of two state-of-the-art indoor snow parks this past December; the second, Dubai Sunny Mountain Ski Dome, is scheduled for 2006. It’s the world’s third largest indoor ski resort and the only one in the Middle East. The 25-storey structure covers an area of about three football fields and can hold up to 1,500 people at a time. The indoor park maintains temperatures between 18F and 28F with real snow including falling snow flakes. It's connected to the billion dollar Mall of the Emirates and resembles a Swiss mountain resort complete with the St Moritz Cafe to warm yourself with a hot drink. The indoor snow park has chairlifts with skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding, and a ski school. It includes five color-coded slopes with varying degrees of difficulty for both enthusiasts and beginners, and the world's first indoor black diamond run. The longest ski run is over 1200 feet. There's even a rumor that Dubai might field a team for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Admission to Ski Dubai is $35 and winter clothing and ski gear are rented as part of the admission fee.


Miami Hot Spots: South Beach Food and Wine Festival

February 16, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

South Beach Festival

Decadent, daring, delicious. This is one of the country's premier culinary extravaganzas, with a star-studded lineup of celebrity chefs and renowned wine and spirits producers ready to entertain and delight over the three-day-weekend. Hosted by Food and Wine magazine, the South Beach Food and Wine Festival will boast 75 restaurants and 150 wineries under tasting tents overlooking the beach. Starring chefs include Wolfgang Puck and Nobu Matsuhisa. Feb 24-26 (though Veuve Clicquot's Bubble Bath, at the Hotel Victor, is on the 23rd). Buy your tix online.


World’s Best Cities for a Business Trip

February 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Economist has created a "business-trip index" for 127 cities worldwide, ranking the best and worst destinations for business, which includes factors like crime, climate, transport and recreation along with the usual suspects (convention facilities, corporate meetings and seminars). At the top? Canadian cities like Vancouver kick some serious booty, while cities to avoid include Lagos, Nigeria (it's hard to pity the oil tycoons that are doomed to conduct business in this dirty town.)


Take Home Kimpton Hotels Style

February 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

KimptonStyle table

Delighted, fashion-savvy guests are stocking up on the unique, luxurious items featured at various Kimpton Hotels—everything from plush organic towels to Hibiscus Bath Bloomers to furniture as whimsical and eccentric as the boutique hotels themselves. The octagonal, Moroccan table (pictured)— its floral pattern hand-painted by skilled artisans—is showcased at the Hotel Monaco, New Orleans. Yours for only $850. The lynx throw at D.C.'s Hotel Palomar that you didn’t want to part with? Or regal Jefferson bust (that absolutelybelongs in your front hall!), on display at the same Washington landmark? Just one click away on KimptonStyle.com.


White Nights of Summer in St. Petersburg, Russia

February 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

In the dark, dismal throes of winter it's easy to fantasize about the antithesis: St. Pete's lively White Nights of Summer, when sunlight dances over the pastels of the city's buildings, lingering late into the night and inspiring people to flood the streets in understated celebration. A journey to St. Pete's is a once-in-a-lifetime must. The time to go? During the last 10 days in June, when darkness never falls, and the White Nights festival showcases ballet and dance. The city is aesthetically marvelous and steeped in culture, history and romance. Footbridges grace winding canals, framed on either end by majestic statues, and haunted by musicians drinking beer and playing guitar under the stars (or—in the case of the summertime—the endless waning sunlight).

Sites to see: With its huge dome standing proud over the Petersburg skyline, St. Isaac's Cathedral is even more extravagant on the inside: its interior a mix of marble and mosaic. The Hermitage Museum rivals the Louvre, with its overwhelming collection of art housed in the grand imperial palace on the banks of the Neva river. The Russian Museum, located in the former Mikhailovsky Palace, offers a breathtaking collection of works by Russian artists. Or follow the steps of famed Russian novelist Dostoyevsky, or his character Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment. The city is rich in the literary haunts of Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy.


Franco-American Relations Redeemed: the Reconstruction of La Fayette’s Ship in Rochefort, France

February 9, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hermione ship

The French are supersizing it. In the small, historic seaside port of Rochefort, near La Rochelle on the country's Atlantic coast, expert craftsmen have undertaken an enorme project: the reconstruction of the 65 meter ship that carried the legendary General La Fayette to join General Washington and the American leaders in their fight for independence in 1780. When it was first constructed, the Hermione required 11 months of work by hundreds of skilled workers; its reconstruction will take 10 years, and cost $10 million. This is the ultimate symbol of Franco-American fraternity, and an emblem of France's past naval strength. And a brilliant museum to visit, off the beaten path in France.


Celebrating Cezanne’s Centenary in Aix-en-Provence, France

February 8, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Provence

That's right, the charming city of Aix is paying tribute to the great artist—this is the father of modern art we're talking about!-- all throughout 2006. Indeed, Cézanne's light-filled paintings have become inseparable symbols of the Provençal setting they depict, the landscape that helped create the artistic genius that influenced Cubism, Fauvism and abstract art. Head to the south of France for the spectacular exhibit Cézanne in Provence, which features over a hundred of the artist's works, with 80 oil paintings and 30 water colors—all associated with the region around Aix. Now at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and showing at the Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, from June 9 - September 17, 2006. Additionally, starting April 8th the Tourism office will be operating a shuttle bus service to tour special Cezanne sites, including the studio at Les Lauves, the manor at Jas de Bouffan, and the quarries at Bibemus. The Cézanne 2006 season also includes performances, concerts, exhibitions, and music and dance. To really do it right in celebrating Cézanne's Provence, shack up at the Villa Gallici, an elegant paradise (and destination hotel) just 10 minutes from the town's historical center. (Where you can sip an aperitif on the statue-flanked terrace, overlooking the pool and Florentine gardens, before indulging in the evening's gastronomic feast.)

Villa Gallici, Official Site

Villa Gallici, Five Star Alliance