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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.

Get Ready, South Beach: Thompson Ocean Drive to Open in 2012

September 28, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Victor, South BeachSay goodnight to the Hotel Victor. Located next to the Versace mansion on Ocean Drive in South Beach, the sexy designer hotel once embodied South Beach's pleasure-seeking vibe. Back in 2004, the press fell hard for the concept after the Victor had a major overhaul by French designer Jacques Garcia; the Hotel Victor debuted mini-bars stuffed full of “South Beach life-style essentials” (like chilled eye masks), the personal "vibe manager" to arrange your stay in Miami, and cool, signature treatments like the Jet Lag V at the Spa V. Oh, and let's not forget the illuminated jellyfish tank in the bar. Now we hear that Thompson Hotels has acquired the Hotel Victor will be re-branding it as the Thompson Ocean Drive after a multi-million dollar renovation of the public spaces and guest rooms. Anticipated date of completion: early 2012.


Special $159 Opening Rates at Hotel Palomar San Diego, Formerly the Sè Hotel

September 28, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Palomar San DiegoKimpton has snatched up a fine piece of real estate in San Diego- the former Sè Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter. Just this week, the property reopened as the Hotel Palomar San Diego with a rooftop bar and pool deck, destination spa, and a two-story "gastro-lounge" called Saltbox Dining and Drinking. Kimpton's latest hotel joins sister property, Hotel Solamar, which is located eight blocks away. Say hello to the shiny new hotel with a special introductory offer of $159, plus a complimentary glass of Champagne for two while dining at Saltbox. Subject to availability, through December 30, 2011.

For more history on this sleek, design-led hotel, and who owned it even before it was called the Sè Hotel, check out this article.


Around the World by Private Jet with Four Seasons Hotels

September 27, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Bali Jimbaran BayLeave it to Four Seasons to put together the ultimate globe-trotting adventure: Around the World by Private Jet. Departing from Los Angeles on October 29, 2012, this 22-day adventure will hit up Four Seasons destinations in Hawaii, French Polynesia, Australia, Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Egypt and the UK. Just 78 guest will be whisked away on a specially-outfitted Boeing 757 provided by TCS & Starquest Expeditions. (Jetsetters will feel right at home in the VIP seats, attended to by a Four Seasons concierge, and debriefed on destinations by onboard experts in art history, cuisine, and more.) On the ground, personalized itineraries will include local specialties, behind-the-scenes tours, and off-the-beaten path treasures. Here are a few of the highlights of this three-week trip:

Two of the world’s most active volcanoes in Hawai’i, the vibrant coral gardens of the South Pacific, Sydney’s iconic buildings and scenic gorges, the mystical allure of Ayers Rock, Bali’s Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) and Yeh Pulu temples, Thai cooking classes in Chiang Mai, Agra’s Taj Mahal, Mumbai’s Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum, and a private, lantern-lit dinner amid the pyramids of Gîza.

Pictured: Four Seasons Bali Jimbaran Bay.


Kimpton to Transform Philly's Historic Lafayette Building into 4-Star Hotel

September 22, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Lafayette Building, PhiladelphiaBig hotel news out of Philadelphia: Kimpton Hotels is taking over the historic Lafayette Building and transforming it into a four-star Hotel Monaco, one of only two city hotels to open next year, and the first new hotel in the Society Hill/Old City area in a decade. Major Nutter was on site for the recent groundbreaking ceremony- to applaud the project's jolt to the local economy (the new hotel will create 400 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs). Overlooking Independence Mall at Fifth and Chestnut Streets, the hotel is located in "the most historic square mile in the country." Expect brightly colored spaces, and a hefty dose of signature Kimpton whimsy. The 268-room Hotel Monaco will be joining the Hotel Palomar-- located at 17th and Sansom Streets-- as Kimpton's second property in the City of Brotherly Love.

Image via The Philadephia Inquirer


Pink Ribbon Pedicure at Waldorf-Astoria's Guerlain Spa for Breast Cancer Awareness

September 22, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Waldorf Astoria, New YorkOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness month, an annual international health campaign to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for research. Many will wear pink ribbons, volunteer at local charities, and participate in the National Race for the Cure. Hotels are also giving back and supporting the cause. Case in point: The Waldorf=Astoria in New York is offering the "Pink Ribbon Pedicure" at its swank Guerlain Spa during the entire month of October. $10 of the $90 treatment will be donated to help fund breast cancer awareness and research. What's in store for lucky ladies? While sipping on a sparkling pink champagne cocktail, they'll indulge with an ultra pampering luxury pedicure topped with P.Y.T. pink polish.


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:

Best Hotel Mini-Bars: Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago Gets Props

Personalized Mini Bars at the Peabody Hotel Orlando


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.


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


London's Halkin Turns 20 with New Suites and a Pop-up Culture Lounge

September 14, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Halkin, LondonThe Halkin is celebrating 20 years as a glamorous boutique hotel in London with a fun-filled calendar of events this month. Just two days ago, the art publisher ASSOULINE opened an immersive pop-up "Culture Lounge" which will run through November 30, 2011. Visitors can browse gorgeous coffee-table books in a library-style environment, and noted authors will participate in literary events. September will also see The Halkin unveil its new 20th anniversary suites - two COMO Suites and one Belgravia Suite on the second and third floor which have been renovated and now include large balconies overlooking the hotel gardens. Various anniversary packages are available with value-added extras (like milkshakes, cookies, and a Children’s Box of Delights for kids traveling with their families on vacation).


New Restaurants in London: Thirty-Six by Nigel Mendham at Dukes Hotel

September 8, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Dukes Hotel LondonThere's a new signature restaurant at Dukes London and it's guaranteed to get foodies drooling. The restaurant's name-- Thirty-Six by Nigel Mendham-- is derived from the number symbolizing good luck in Chinese astrology, the symbol of the magic square of the sun, as well as the hotel's address on Little St. James. Michelin-starred chef Nigel Mendham cooks up traditional British dishes in a "classic contemporary style" highlighting superb local produce. Here's a sampling:

Starters

Dry aged beef carpaccio, beetroot, horseradish; Rare breed pork of braised cheek with Waldorf salad; Scallops, cauliflower, smoked eel, red sorrel

Main Courses

Highland venison, butternut fondant, ossobucco; Lemon sole, langoustine tortellini, carrot puree, hazelnut crumb; Brill rib of beef with watercress and native oysters;

Desserts

Carrot cake, liquid carrot, iced cream cheese, spiced walnuts; Apples and brambles crumble, brulee, sorbet; Dark chocolate delice, crunchy pears and cardamon

All menu selections are offered prix fixe at Thirty-Six by Nigel Mendham: dinner is £49 for two courses and £60 for three courses; and lunch is £26 for two courses and £36 for three courses. The restaurant's nine-course tasting menu - which includes a Margarita right before the dessert courses - runs £95 or £150 with matching wines.