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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 Waldorf Astoria New York is Getting a Makeover

July 5, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Waldorf Astoria New YorkIn other news out of New York, one of the city's most famous Grande Dame hotels is rumored to be getting a renovation-- "to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars." Celebrated designer Alexandra Champalimaud will redo the interiors of The Waldorf Astoria, restaurants included. (Champalimaud is also responsible for the gorgeous design at The Pierre and The St. Regis Beijing, along with the penthouses at The Dorchester.) We can't wait to see what she'll do with the Bull and Bear Steakhouse. The legendary hotel is the flagship for the eponymous hotel collection, encompassing global properties like the Casa Marina Resort in Key West and the Trianon Palace Versailles outside Paris.

Celebrate New York's Historic Marriage Decision at The Pierre Hotel

July 1, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Pierre Hotel New YorkThere's been much rejoicing in the wake of New York's decision to legalize same-sex marriage. And for those newly betrothed who want to live large in the Big Apple, The Pierre, A Taj Hotel has announced the "Modern Marriage Package." Spend your wedding weekend in the privacy of a sumptuous suite high above Central Park and get treated to a variety of delights. Priced from $2,095 per night in a City View Suite ($3,500 per night in a Luxury Grand Suite), the package includes:

* All the festive wedding trimmings: A welcome cocktail, personalized wedding cake by The Pierre's expert pastry chef and a luscious floral arrangement designed by L'Olivier Atelier

* Indulgences: Relax with breakfast in bed, an in-room couple's massage and a late night aphrodisiac menu with selections that include oysters, chocolate and Champagne

* A special gift for your wedding celebration: A memorable carriage ride through Central Park, followed by a specialty picnic basket for lunch in the world's most romantic park

Valid through September 11, 2011. Subject to availability, blackout dates apply.

Sofitel The Grand: A "Legendary" Hotel in Amsterdam

June 30, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sofitel The Grand AmsterdamSofitel's iconic Amsterdam hotel has been reincarnated after a two-year, top-to-bottom renovation. Located between two canals in the heart of the city, Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam is the brand's second Legend property in the world (along with the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi), and the first in Europe. Housed in registered buildings with at least 100 years of history, Legend properties "highlight iconic, historical properties throughout the world, blending the French roots with the local culture of each property." French interior designer Sybille de Margerie did up the 125 rooms and 52 suites with inspiration from the colors in Dutch artist Karel Appel's famous mural. Students of the Eindhoven Design Academy also collaborated. The Imperial Suites sound positively swanky (think butler service and a private hammam). Oh, and the spa uses Carita and Cinq Mondes products... Swoon.

Grand Opening Special Rate at Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver

June 29, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Rosewood Hotel Georgia in VancouverCome celebrate the reopening of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia! After a lavish restoration, the Vancouver hotel is welcoming guests to experience "a return to the golden age of hotel travel." The Hotel Georgia made a splash when it first opened in the Roaring '20s, bringing all kinds of luxuries to the young city. Since that day, a star-studded roster of guests- including Elvis Presley, Nat "King" Cole, Katharine Hepburn- have made the Hotel Georgia their Vancouver home. Now- with Rosewood managing the property- it's home to Sense, A Rosewood Spa, a fitness center, indoor swimming pool, a nightclub and Hawksworth Restaurant. In honor of its 1927 debut, the Rosewood Hotel Georgia is offering a grand opening rate of $192.70 for a Superior Room as well as 50% off other select rooms and suites for a limited time. Advance purchase and two-night minimum stay required. Offer is non-refundable and not applicable to groups.

Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company to Manage Al Bustan Palace in Muscat

June 29, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Al Bustan Palace, MuscatIt’s safe to say the Sultanate of Oman is on the traveler’s radar screen. An oasis of stability in the Middle East, Oman is appreciated for its hospitality and breathtaking landscapes: fjords and mountainous peaks abutting the pristine beaches on the Arabian Sea. Tourism infrastructure is sound, and luxury hotels abound. (The government has embarked on a campaign to expand the tourism sector and diversify the oil-dependent economy; the goal is to attract 12 million upscale visitors annually by 2020.)

Big news out of Oman: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company just announced that it will assume management of the legendary Al Bustan Palace in the country’s capital city of Muscat starting this Friday, July 1, 2011. All the current employees will be retained by The Ritz-Carlton under the new management. Set against a dramatic mountainous backdrop overlooking the Gulf of Oman, the luxury hotel recently underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment. The “Jewel of the Sultanate” isn’t lacking when it comes to recreational facilities; we’re talking five pools, a spa, water sports center, and a Tennis Village. The hotel—surrounded by 200 acres of landscaped gardens—also has seven restaurants and bars.

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!"