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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.

Between a Rock and a Soft Place

January 14, 2006
By: Guest Writer

Originally published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 21 December 2005 By George Romanyk Even as I write this, the guttural growl of a Harley Davidson (not to mention a roaring chorus of other Harleys, BMWs and Japanese superbikes) is still echoing in my ears. You see, I've just returned from a five-day road trip to the Golden Triangle, along with an assortment of biker friends who also happen to be company presidents, CEOs and entrepreneurs. Now, before you start wondering what this has to do with a column on branding (or start snickering "born to be mild''), I'd like to share some insights I garnered during the course of this challenging and exhilarating journey. While our group was on the road during the days, we certainly weren't averse to roughing it. We got our motors running, we headed out on the highway, and when the highway occasionally deteriorated into a rutted, muddy track, we were well up for it. Ah, but at the end of each day, the discomforts of the road were eased by the unique boutique resorts on the Mekong our assistants had booked us into, as well as some first class meals, and the imported wines and cheeses and some truly tasty Cuban cigars we had smuggled along in our saddlebags. My point (besides making you green with envy) is that our little jaunt was a good example of a major change sweeping the world right now in how luxury is perceived and experienced. For many of the "baby boomers'' and the swelling ranks of "Generation X'' (people born between 1964 and 1976 or thereabouts), the era of ostentatious luxury is over, and instead they are demanding authenticity and adventure. We still want our luxuries, but we want them contemporary, with a hip twist; luxury that "keeps it real'', as it were. Particularly in the luxury hotel and travel sector are these demands being felt. At the recent International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes, the age of ostentatious travel was proclaimed to be over, with new research unveiled showing today's wealthy travellers needed "authenticity, exclusivity and attention to detail'' to keep them happy. "Personalised'' and "private'' were also big buzzwords. In a survey of 248 travel suppliers from around the world who service the needs of the affluent, 84% agreed their clients sought a more subtle form of luxury than in the past. The survey, by the Future Foundation, concluded: "No longer content to visit the classic haunts of the rich and famous, today's luxury traveller would prefer to be a trailblazer, albeit in great comfort, and visit new and less discovered destinations.'' According to ILTM's founder, Serge Dive: "The tastes of the rich don't stay still. Our research shows that the luxury traveller of today doesn't just want to be pampered-- they want a total escape from their highly pressured lives and they want to come back from their holiday having experienced something new.'' Another trend is that as more people get rich younger, they take less formal but shorter trips, with technology allowing them to blur the line between business and leisure travel. Also, little things often count for much: 65% of those surveyed said the toiletries on offer in a hotel were important, with recognised luxury brands meriting maximum brownie points. After our trip, I can heartily agree with that last point: eight windblown hours in the saddle of your steel steed, and you really appreciate little treats like a scented hot towel, some luxurious shampoo and shower gel, and a unique hotel experience. These findings also echo research our own firm has conducted during the course of a major re-branding project with one of our major hotel clients. Our research results concur that well-heeled travellers prefer service that gives them space to be themselves and to feel totally relaxed (while still meeting their every need of course) rather than the more intrusive and obsequious style of service offered by many five-star hotels in the past. A recent article in Newsweek notes: "Travel used to be divided into two basic categories: luxury and no-frills. The former consisted of flying first class, dining at three star restaurants and staying in decadent comfort; the latter involved backpacking and camping out in some of the world's most beautifully remote spots. Now, tourists can have their wine and see the wildlife too; communing with nature and living the good life are no longer mutually exclusive.'' Newsweek defines this as "rustic luxury'': a group of wealthy "new nomads'' toting Mount Everest-ready backpacks by luxury luggage-makers like Tumi, who want to visit the most rugged deserts, jungles, mountains and forests, and go rock-climbing and wreck-diving, but want their designer coffee and Egyptian cotton sheets when the day's adventuring is done. There is also the element of one-upmanship among this growing demographic. As one new nomad tells Newsweek: "It's a status game. Staying at the Four Seasons seems kind of bourgeois, since any doctor from the Midwest will know about it.'' To me, getting wild without losing the luxury is like a marriage made in heaven. There's nothing like zipping through rugged jungle tracks on your hog, getting down and dirty, when you know that some prime rib, a nice glass of Bordeaux and a fat stogie have your name on them. George Romanyk is chief executive officer of Creative Inhouse, a local branding consultancy and ad agency.


The Best Weekend Travel Section

January 14, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The NYT Travel section once again rocks my world, with superb pieces on St. Barts, the popularity of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (and the unchecked development that can plague towns that are named to the list), Aspen's Winter X Games, comparing online Vacation Packages, and the unrivaled, glamorous destination of South Beach.


Cheap Airfare to Sundance

January 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

A big thanks to the Mobissimo blog. (Flights from SF are $435, from NYC $389, and LaLaland $325.)


Travelers Beware! Health Risks on the Road

January 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

IHT's got the skinny on a newly released study on the health dangers for those traveling to developing countries. Fun stuff like mosquito-born dengue fever (aka bone-crushing disease) and parasite infections. Two thirds of travelers to the developing world get sick, and the study-- which contains the most comprehensive records of those travelers treated at travel clinics-- provides a real blueprint for doctors. For more gory deets (parasites, bugs, worms, mosquitos...), check out the related CNN.com article.


All About Turin, Italy

January 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The sights, the eats, the Turin Olympic transformation... CNN.com Travel's got it covered. (But the best time for experiencing the city's marvelous renaissance may be after the Feb 10-26 Olympic Games, when visitors can enjoy a year full of festivals sponsored by UNESCO, sin the crowds.)


Fit Hotels Directory

January 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

With the new year upon us, fitness is on the mind. And if you're prone to travel, the idea of dismal hotel fitness facilities may scare the bejesus out of you! But never fear-- the Fit Hotel Directory is here to help. In their words:

Find a quality hotel gym instantly! Gone are the days of searching for your hotel's tiny fitness room or gym, full of out-dated, bulky equipment simply to get a good workout. Guests have long been demanding quality, in-hotel fitness equipment and FitHotelDirectory.com is answering back resoundingly with our directory of the finest hotels with top-notch gyms and fitness rooms.


Forbes.com World’s Most Romantic Hotels

January 9, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Tah-dah. Here it is, though booking now for Valentine's Day may prove an impossible feat.


Earn Double Hilton HHonors Points This Winter at Conrad Hotels

January 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Conrad Bali

From now until the end of March, stay at participating Conrad hotels and you'll receive double points. Valid at all 19 of Conrad's award-winning hotels—spread around the globe from Chicago to Bali to Tokyo to Istanbul. Heading to Chitown on business? The latest addition to the Conrad family-- the Conrad Chicago-- awaits on the Magnificent Mile. Desperate for a beach-break? The Conrad Bali is a stunning sanctuary among lagoons, cascading waterfalls, and gorgeous gardens. Or discover the modern luxury of the Conrad Tokyo. The choice is yours.


Top Ten Events Worldwide for 2006

January 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Thank God for the Washington Post, which put together this sweet list of global happenings for the new year, including the Turin Olympic Winter Games and the centennial of the San Francisco Earthquake.


France Tacks On a New Airline Tax

December 23, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Starting in July, flights leaving France will be taxed an additional EUR 40. Chirac's measure will raise an estimated EUR 200 million a year for developing countries, to fight AIDS and support health programs, mostly in Africa. Via IHT