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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.

Travel Trends: Hotel Mini-Bars Go Local

September 19, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gramercy Park mini-barWhether you love it for late-night snack binging, or hate it for its over-priced bag of peanuts, who doesn't have an opinion about the hotel mini-bar? (No surprise that this is one of our favorite subjects; one of the first things we do upon check-in is swing open the door to the mini-bar to check out the goods. Curious about the history of the mini-bar? Check out our article on its "Fabulous Evolution" here.) So imagine our delight when we stumbled upon a recent Wall Street Journal article about how hotels are overhauling their mini-bar offerings, substituting gourmet local goodies for the boring standard items. Surprisingly, hotels actually lose money on mini-bars; the contents expire, have to replenished, need to be checked by employees daily. To quote:

In an attempt to convince guests to spring for pricey treats, some hotels are swapping out the standard potato chips and candy for unique local snacks or other items you can't get at the nearest 7-Eleven. The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago, for example now offers ham-flavored Chilean almonds. The Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Ariz., swapped out bottles of its lowest-selling beer, Heineken, with Grand Canyon Pilsner, a local brew. Loews Hotels is in the process of adding more locally sourced items to the minibars at its 18 hotels, such as chocolates from Dylan's Candy Bar in New York. Omni Hotels & Resorts will soon test a gluten-free pretzel in its minibars.

Pictured: Some items from New York City's Gramercy Park Hotel mini-bar, circa 2008

Related Articles:

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Personalized Mini Bars at the Peabody Hotel Orlando


A London Hotel for Insomniacs: Sweet Dreams at The Milestone

September 19, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Milestone Hotel, LondonCalling all you insomniacs out there... Sometimes even a Hästens mattress wrapped in 300-thread-count sheets and feather duvets is not going to cut it. You need tips from a specialist to ensure a "sound sleep experience." Enter The Milestone Hotel and Apartments, the award-winning property in Kensington. According to London Hotels Insight, the boutique hotel launched a package this summer which includes a luxurious night’s stay, a private, one-hour consultation with sleep therapist Tej Samani, treatments in the hotel’s spa therapy room and an assortment of aromatherapy oils, eye masks and other helpful aids to help you drift off. Get this: You can even take advantage of the Alpha Sleep Pod, "a matchbox-sized machine with earphones that pump out audio to match your sleep dilemma, whether you can’t fall asleep, can’t get back to sleep or just want a power nap." Starting at £976 per room per night based on two people sharing a Deluxe King room.


World's Largest Four Seasons Resort Planned for Walt Disney World

September 19, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Resort, Disney World

Get ready, Orlando. The Magic Kingdom is getting a luxe addition. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has announced that it will begin construction on a $360 million luxury resort in December. Slated for 2014, this will be the largest resort for the brand on the planet- encompassing 444 guest rooms, 40 time-share units, 90 Four Seasons private residences (any buyers out there?), a rooftop resto with views of Walt Disney World, and a "lazy river" water complex. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Four Seasons snatched up the real estate in August 2008 for $51 million, including Disney's Osprey Ridge golf course, which will become part of the resort.


Win a $20,000 Diamond Ring! The 2nd Annual Annapolis Diamond Dash

September 15, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Loews Annapolis HotelThis is a real treasure hunt we're talking about... with a $20,000 Martin Flyer diamond ring as the pirate's booty. On September 17, the 2nd Annual Annapolis Diamond Dash will take place all over the city's historic downtown. And did we mention it's free to enter this one-day treasure hunt? All locations and challenges will be delivered straight to participants' cell phones. It's easy: Grab a teammate, solve riddles, and earn points! Teams of two answer riddles and complete challenges right from their cell phones, as they follow clues throughout the downtown area for the chance to win the ring. What's more, participants are also granted access to the exclusive after-party, hosted by Loews Hotel starting at 2 pm. For more details, check out the website.

Pictured: Loews Annapolis Hotel, a proud sponsor of the event.


Dubai International on Track to Become the World's 2nd Busiest Airport

September 14, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Armani Hotel DubaiIt looks like massive tourism growth in glitzy Dubai has had a big impact on Dubai International. The airport handled 4.7 million passengers in the month of July alone, and is on track to eclipse Hong Kong and Paris Charles de Gaulle. The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has determined that Dubai's airport will move into place this November as the world's second busiest international airport. London's Heathrow continues to be the world's busiest airport. Interested in jetting to Dubai to check out the indoor ski resort or the LED light show at InterContinental Dubai Festival City? Browse the Five Star Alliance collection of four- and five-star hotels...

Related Articles:

Where to Stay in Dubai for the Middle East’s Top Tennis Tournament

Special Five Star Alliance Rates at the Armani Hotel Dubai


Restaurants in New York: Le Bernardin Unveils Makeover

September 14, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le BernardinOne of NYC's finest restaurants-- Chef Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin-- closed for a month in August to revamp the interiors. It's now much more contemporary and sleek in style. Architects Bentel & Bentel, who did up the Gramercy Tavern and the Modern, were behind the makeover. The New York Times has the skinny:

Twisted vertical strips of steel dominate one wall in the dining room. Some smaller floor-to-ceiling teak panels screen serving stations and separate the dining room from a redesigned bar. Where 32 tables had been there are now 28, many at curved banquettes, a first for the restaurant. Translucent silvery fabric covers the windows. The chairs are upholstered in brown leather, framed in steel, not wood... Textured carpeting has a circular design suggesting fossilized sea creatures. The pièce de résistance is a 24-foot triptych painting of a stormy sea, "Deep Water No. 1," by Ran Ortner of Brooklyn, covering the back wall.

There's now an expanded bar and lounge with a cocktail menu (new for the restaurant). It has a more casual vibe-- jackets aren't required like they are for the dining room, and they don't take reservations. Read: A happening new spot!

Image via Eater New York


Open-Air Massages with Views of Florence at the Villa San Michele

September 13, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Villa San MicheleOne of our top picks for lodgings in Florence, Italy? The Villa San Michele, an Orient-Express property housed in a former monastery that boats a 15th century facade attributed to Michelangelo. The location is killer; the hotel is nestled on a hilltop amid terraced gardens with unrivaled views across the Arno Valley to Florence. From the panoramic swimming pool, you can soak up the stunning views over the Tuscan hills. And that's not all. A brand new Massage Gazebo at the Villa San Michele is the perfect place for open-air massages with a view. Special offers: The hotel is currently running the "One More Night" offer where you get a third night for free when you stay two consecutive nights. Your daily room rate is pre-discounted by 33% and includes Full American Breakfast daily. Rates are valid only during selected periods and are subject to availability.

Related Article: Buon Appetito: Italian Cooking School in Florence at the Villa San Michele


Boot Camp in Toronto: Jock Yoga at the Windsor Arms Hotel

September 13, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Windsor Arms Hotel, TorontoCalling all fitness fanatics. Have you heard of Jock Yoga? Yoga pro Michael De Corte created these unique Power Yoga classes for all levels of fitness. Straight from the horse's mouth: These intensive classes are "for the yoga-skeptic, the inflexible, the over-flexible who wish to build strength, women and men who want to tone and strengthen their muscles, jocks/athletes, people who want to strengthen their spirit/ambition/resolve, and just about anyone who is willing to sweat!" Jock Yoga bootcamps are motivational four-week programs with one-hour sessions targeting the core and upper and lower body. Piqued your interest? The Windsor Arms Hotel, a bastion of luxury in Toronto, is currently hosting a month long boot camp, coinciding with the debut of the new Windsor Arms Yoga Studio.


This Weekend: Four Seasons Hotel Miami Hosts Last Pool Party of the Year

September 9, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Hotel MiamiThe place to be in Miami this weekend? The Four Seasons Hotel for a happening pool party-- the last one of the summer season! What's so special about this bash? For one thing: the Leblon caipirinha cart, a very grown up version of the ice-cream cart, which will dispense made-to-order drinks chaise-side for just $7. But this isn't one last hurrah. This party marks the start of "Miami Season"- i.e. mucho revelry and merrymaking non-stop from October through March. The pool part will take place on Saturday, September 10, 2011 from 11:00 am to sundown. A special party menu will feature ceviche and light snacks priced from $10- $20. Expect high energy music and lots of signature amenities (think Evian spritzes, cool towels and butler-passed frozen treats).

Entrance is available with a $25 pool pass and members of The Sports Club/LA enter free. Cabana packages are available and include use of a cabana by four people, mineral water, fruit platter and one cocktail per person for $150. Reservations are recommended as space is limited.


Free Stuff with Your Stay at Opus Hotel Vancouver

September 9, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Opus Hotel VancouverPaint the town red in Vancouver; the Opus Hotel is inviting you to treat yourself to a deluxe evening out with a bevy of free add-ons with the "Lights Out" package. We're talking $170 worth of inclusions! Kick off the good times with free martinis in your stylish OPUS Suite as you primp for an evening out with priority access to Vancouver’s most desirable restaurant, One Hundred Nights. They're open until 3am so of course you'll get late 2pm check out the next morning and breakfast for two. Priced from $279, the package includes these complimentary perks:

* Martinis for 2 | mix or drink it straight up

* OPUS Perks Card | Exclusive offers at 14 Yaletown Retailers

* 15% off Deluxe and Executive Suite room rates

* VIP access to OPUS Bar/One Hundred Nights | flash your room key

* Breakfast for two in One Hundred Nights

PS. The Opus Hotel Vancouver is part of Five Star Alliance's four-star hotel collection. For other four-star hotels, browse the Five Star Alliance site...