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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.

The Greenbrier Resort to Launch Luxury Train Service from Washington D.C.

June 28, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Greenbrier, West VirginiaThe Greenbrier is back. Saved from bankruptcy by local boy Jim Justice (a West Virginia coal baron), The Greenbrier is back in the spotlight after a mega-makeover by Dorothy Draper Inc. and the debut of a 90,000-square-foot casino. The West Virginia resort, a National Historic Landmark, continues to charm its guests with its stately architecture ad some 50 recreational activities including a spa and golf course. The latest from The Greenbrier? In a nod to the glamorous age of rail travel (à la the Orient-Express), the resort will launch a luxury train service from Union Station in D.C. to White Sulphur Springs starting in July 2012. Resort guests will travel in style aboard "The Greenbrier Presidential Express"- for a mere $650 roundtrip fare. The Associated Press reports that owner Jim Justice is spending $15 million on the train project: "The train’s 15 cars include a VIP suite car with private rooms, parlor cars, dining cars and an open-air car with safety railings. It will be powered by two diesel electric C39-8 locomotives."

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Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya Closes for Renovations

June 28, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mandarin Oriental Riviera MayaWhen it opened in 2008 in the Mexican Caribbean paradise south of Cancun, the editors of Travel + Leisure's "It List" described the Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya as "one of the year's most anticipated hotel openings." (they had to put their name on two waiting lists to get in). It's a dreamy destination: where the white sandy coastline of the Yucatan peninsula is fringed by tropical jungle, and just offshore lies the second largest coral reef in the world. Eager to go? Hold your horses; the Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya is temporarily closed. On the hotel's website, the "closure statement" indicates that the hotel shut its doors "in order to complete necessary improvements to its facilities." They'll announce a re-opening date "in due course."

Need an alternative in the Playa del Carmen area? Five Star Alliance has a bevy of four- and five-star hotels to choose from. (Warning: The photos might inspire some serious travel lust.)

 


New Hotel Amenities: Order Room Service on an iPad

June 24, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le Pavillon des Lettres, ParisWhen we toured the new Pavillon des Lettres in Paris-- a new hotel with a literary theme-- we were thrilled to see that each of the 26 rooms, named for a different writer, comes with an iPad. This fine hotel isn't alone in the industry in offering this coveted new amenity. According to the USA Today Hotel Check-In blog, more and more hotels are distributing iPads to guests for ordering room service:

Hoping to generate more food and beverage sales and reduce the need for staffers, a growing number of hotels are providing the popular tablet computer to guests in their rooms. An app, developed by Orlando-based Intelity and downloaded on the device, allows guests to order food, browse hotel amenities and local attractions, request wake-up calls, schedule housekeeping, message hotel staffers or other guests, and arrange car service. Flight information and 5-day weather are also shown, as are targeted ads based on guests' rates and preferences information.

Upscale hotels providing iPads include The Plaza, Mondrian SoHo, and Royalton Hotel in New York.


Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow Unveils Renovation

June 23, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Radisson Blu Hotel GlasgowWhile checking out one of the coolest cities around, why not check into the newly renovated Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow? The stylish hotel-- the recipient of numerous architectural awards-- just unveiled a refurbishment that sexed up the 250 guest rooms. The makeover means new decor, beds, flooring, and in-room amenities like iPod docking stations. (A brand signature: free wifi Internet access throughout the hotel.) The guest rooms now showcase two distinct styles. Gallery Rooms feature artwork by photographer Brian Sweeny and vintage posters from Glasgow's iconic Sub Club-- alluding to the hotel's proximity to Glasgow's legendary music venues. In contrast, City Club Rooms are light-filled spaces with wood floors and punches of red.


Win a Celebrity Trip: Join Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain on Facebook and Twitter

June 23, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sanctuary on Camelback MountainThis just in. One of our favorite hotels, The Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, just announced a swell contest. Follow the hotel on Facebook and Twitter for your chance to "win the trip of a lifetime and receive real celebrity treatment." Details: They'll fly you and a guest to Phoenix where you'll spend two days living it up like celebs in one of the hotel's exclusive homes. You can invite up to six peeps to join you as part of our "Entourage." And you'll get to enjoy an interactive dining experience with Celebrity Chef and Food Network star, Beau MacMillan. You can earn up to five entries by: 1) Liking the hotel on Facebook, commenting on the post, and sharing. 2) Follow the hotel on Twitter and tweet the following "Follow @sanctuaryaz for your chance to win the trip of a lifetime! http://fb.me/SanctuaryCamelbackMountain."


The Dashing New Renaissance Lucerne Hotel in Switzerland

June 23, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Renaissance Lucerne Hotel, SwitzerlandThe St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London may be hogging the spotlight (understandably, its extravagant renovation has tongues wagging!), but the newly-opened Renaissance Lucerne Hotel also deserves a little press love. Located in the very heart of Lucerne (just a few minutes from both the train station and Lake Lucerne), this century-old palace offers just 86 guest rooms with decorative ceilings meticulously restored after an ambitious renovation. Behind the historic facade, a contemporary hotel offers great dining options (Mexican eats at Pacifico, Asian plates and cocktails at the Blue Bar & Smoker's Lounge). The setting in the historic city center is fabulous; the concierge team can hook you up with boat excursions on the lake to take in the views of the iconic peaks, Pilatus, Rigi and Titlis.


Reveling in Russia at the New W Hotel St. Petersburg

June 22, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Hotel St. Petersburg, RussiaStarwood's cool brand of design-led W Hotels is taking the world by storm. The new W in London's Leicester Square has been a smashing success, and W St. Petersburg-- which debuted in April 2011-- is also drawing the cool crowd. Just a stone's throw from the city's major landmarks (like St. Isaac Cathedral and the Winter Palace), the 137-room hotel has a Bliss Spa, indoor swimming pool, SWEAT fitness center, and signature miX restaurant and rooftop lounge (by acclaimed chef Alain Ducasse). The W St. Petersburg was designed by the Milan-based Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel Partners; Departures Magazine notes that the team "took aesthetic cues from the city's architecture as well as the regal jewel tones of the Fabergé egg. Though Russian history plays a part in the look, the structure's limestone and marble façade and supersleek interior make it a refreshingly modern addition to the city's lineup of opulent hotels." Your wish is their command-- even booze cruises on the Neva River-- as the W St. Petersburg has imported the brand's signature Whatever/Whenever concierge service.


The Amazing Rebirth of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans

June 17, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hyatt Regency New Orleans

After sustaining serious damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Hyatt Regency New Orleans underwent a $275 million dollar renovation and redesign, and will be reopening to much fanfare in October 2011. Billed as one of the "most significant hospitality developments in New Orleans in over a decade," the restored hotel is now the city’s premier meeting and convention hotel- having doubled its meeting and exhibition space. Anchoring the Sports and Entertainment District in downtown New Orleans, the 32-storey hotel has 1,193 guest rooms and expansive food and beverage offerings. News from NOLA: The Hyatt Regency New Orleans has partnered with Make It Right-- Brad Pitt's nonprofit-- on a fundraising campaign to build 150 environmentally friendly homes in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, the neighborhood hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.


Buzz in Paris: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Opens Soon

June 17, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mandarin Oriental ParisOne of the most talked-about hotel openings of the year is the Mandarin Oriental Paris, debuting on the fashionable Rue Saint-Honoré in a matter of days (June 28th). A high-profile team of architects and designers (including Jean-Michel Wilmotte, Sybille de Margerie, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku) worked their magic on the building, which now offers an indoor garden, spa, and restaurants overseen by super chef Thierry Marx, the Michelin-starred "Bruce Willis lookalike" who champions molecular cuisine and is a judge on Top Chef. To celebrate this momentous occasion, the "J’aime Paris" opening offer is now available for stays between July 17 and August 28, with rates from $1,110 a night inclusive of a $435 credit per room and $725 credit per suite that can also be redeemed at the hotel’s spa or restaurants.


Night Snorkeling at Jalousie Plantation (Soon To Be Called The Tides Sugar Beach)

June 16, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Jalousie Plantation, Saint LuciaBack in 2008, we got giddy over the news that The Tides brand of chic, high-design hotels was planting a flag on the paradise island of Saint Lucia, "the Caribbean's "it" spot of the moment." The Jalousie Plantation is currently undergoing a $100 million makeover project and will be relaunched as The Tides, Sugar Beach in 2012. (The transformation thus far has included the construction of new luxury villas and a first-class spa.) Nestled in 192 lush acres of rainforest and white sand beaches overlooking the sea, The Jalousie Plantation is the only resort on Saint Lucia to offer night snorkeling- an incredible experience that provides an up close look at the nocturnal wonders in the National Marine Reserve beneath the Anse des Pitons.