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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.

MGM in Mumbai: Bellagio and MGM Grand Hotels Head to India

October 14, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bellagio, Las VegasYou heard that right. MGM Hospitality is developing Bellagio, MGM Grand, and Skylofts hotels in Mumbai, India. They'll be located in the Maker Maxity mixed-use development complex in Bandra-Kurla Complex. As quoted in the official press release, the CEO of MGM Hospitality, Gamal Aziz, wants to blend Mumbai's culture and personality into the architecture and style of the properties. "The proximity to Bollywood and the affluent Bandra neighborhood provides a perfect setting for the confluence of energy, indulgence and luxury that the Bellagio, MGM Grand and Skylofts hotels will bring to the destination." They're promising all kinds of goodies for the international business traveler, along with world-class nightlife, restaurants, meeting venues, and entertainment. But what's the word on gambling? Will there be a Vegas-style casino for Mumbai's highrollers?

Pictured: The Bellagio in Las Vegas.


A Fresh Redesign: Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles Reopens

October 13, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

Now this is the story all about how

my life got flipped, turned upside down

And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there

I’ll tell you how I went on vacation to a hotel called Bel-Air.

Now here’s news: The Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles is reopening this month, and the property has turned things upside-down with its renovation. With a fresh new look, they’re positioning themselves to be the prince of spa services. The revitalized property offers a 4,000 sq. ft. spa by La Prairie and is the first US hotel to launch a line of in-room amenities by the same luxury Swiss company. The familiar swans still glide across the serene lake they call home, and their habitat is now maintained by an updated circulation system that saves over 1.5 million gallons of water. It’s great to see more and more hotels incorporate green engineering into their modernized design plans. Alongside the familiar Grace Kelly suite, the new presidential suite even offers a private courtyard and private pool where can guests can relax after enjoying dinner for up to ten people from their private chef’s kitchen. The main buildings preserve some of the original colonial Spanish aesthetic, while also being ‘modernized’ to include retro themes from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. This is hotel the Dorchester Collection is clearly proud to be reopening, and as well they should be.

Not only does the Hotel Bel-Air feel completely renewed, until December 29th, Hotel Bel Air will include a $100 dining credit with your reservation, so you can enjoy fresh cuisine imagined by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck the next time you stay at this lovely hotel.


What's Hot in D.C.: Capella Georgetown to Open in January 2012

October 13, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Capella GeorgetownCome January 2012, Washington D.C. will have a swell addition to its luxury hotel scene. Capella is coming to town! (The ultra-luxury brand has established a reputation in the hospitality world for its service standards. Read: Personal assistants for each and every guest.) Located at 1050 31st Street, NW alongside the historic C&O Canal, the Capella Georgetown will be intimate in size. Just 48 guest rooms and suites will cater to "a sophisticated and discerning clientele including global industry leaders, heads of state and other visitors." What else is in store? An elegant restaurant and lounge serving seasonal cuisine overlooking the Canal, a rooftop pool and bar, and exclusive spa.

Related Articles: Design Dream: Capella Singapore Features Objets d’Art from Lamont Design

Announcing the Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas

The World’s Hottest Hotels: Capella Ixtapa (Special Introductory Rates Available)


The W Retreat Koh Samui Celebrates 1st Birthday with a Special Offer

October 12, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Retreat Koh SamuiThe W Retreat Koh Samui is turning 1. Now's the time to surrender to a tropical island escape... W's sexy resort on the Gulf of Thailand made some waves when it opened last year. (One look at the photos and you'll see why.) Situated on a pristine stretch of Koh Samui's coastline, the resort manages both to delight the local party crowd and mesmerize global jetsetters, all while keeping its cool. Secluded villas surrounded by lush foliage make for the ultimate in relaxation after sampling the island's red-hot nightlife. Book the "1st Year Celebration" at W Retreat Koh Samui and you'll reap the rewards:

* A price of THB 11,111 per Retreat/per Night in a Jungle Oasis with free breakfast for two. (That's $358.)

* Only 11 Retreats are available per day for this special offer, so act fast to book.

* 1+1 Thaimazcal Spa Experience (buy 1 get 1 free at THB 2,400)

* Reserve your stay over 11/11 and get a free Thaimazcal Spa Experience for two persons

Book by November 30, 2011 for stays from November 1- 30, 2011.


The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong Voted "Best Hotel in the World"

October 12, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong

The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong set the bar high when it opened on June 21, 2010. Literally, the hotel caps off Cesar Pelli’s IFC Shanghai building with an incredible rooftop bar on the 58th floor that's the tallest in Shanghai. Gadling buzzed about the hotel as "luxury in a modern Mandarin-style shell." Travel + Leisure said: "The 285-room hotel places you in a cloud-level fantasy." And now the readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine (U.S. edition)-- besotted with all the hotel's superlatives-- have voted it the 'Best Hotel In The World' in the magazine's 24th annual Readers Choice Awards. Two top awards were bestowed upon the hotel in one evening, Best Hotel in Asia Pacific, and then Overall Best Hotel in the World. Collecting the award on behalf of the hotel was The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company President, Herve Humler.


New Fahrenheit Ballroom at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

October 11, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ritz-Carlton GeorgetownThrowing a ball or getting hitched in D.C.? A new ballroom is turning heads in town, located- where else?- in the swank Ritz-Carlton Georgetown. The official press release cited "greater guest demand" as the reason why the hotel is transforming Fahrenheit restaurant into permanent banquet rental space, and the hotel's bar and lounge into a three-meal restaurant and bar called Degrees Bistro. Slated to open in a matter of weeks on November 1, 2011, the Fahrenheit Ballroom has already been picked by Daily Candy D.C. as a prime wedding venue:

Turn up the heat at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown’s new event space, the Fahrenheit Ballroom. Located on the top floor of the brick factory-turned-hotel, the grand dance hall wows with huge windows, steel beams, and a loftlike feel.

Related Article: Ritzy the Nesting Duck Checks in to the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown


Caribbean Escapes: The BodyHoliday in St. Lucia Reopens after Renovation

October 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The BodyHoliday, Saint Lucia

News from the postcard-perfect Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. The BodyHoliday-- the all-inclusive resort famous for its promise "Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind"-- has opened its doors after a $20 million makeover. The renovation added a brand new infinity pool; doubled the size of the Watersports Center; and upgraded the resort's public spaces and dining venues. Not to mention the all-new, open-plan Penthouse Suite-- complete with a marble hammam and a soaking tub for two with sea views. What's more- the resort is introducing two new beauty partnerships to guests: THALGO, a high-end marine-based skincare and beauty line available at the wellness center, and REN, a bioactive skincare line available in-room.


Hotel Review Guide: Reviewing the Reviews

October 7, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

hotel comic strip

Hello friends/acquaintances/internet (wo)men,

Today I want to take some time out of my busy schedule to address an important issue in the hotel world.  Randall Munroe of XKCD has been kind enough to bring to our attention one of the problems plaguing hotels and travelers alike: The bogus hotel review. Who are these evil people who are out to ruin the reputation of perfectly good hotels and steer you wrong in your vacation plans? Are they fun-hating scrooges who kick puppies and steal candy from babies? Maybe. But that doesn’t have much to do with writing reviews. Maybe instead they’re hired guns engaging in intricate plots of corporate espionage, compromising their rivals with claims of bed bugs and sticky-fingered staff. Or maybe they’re just entitled people full of rage at some perceived slight: “Agh, my muffin wasn’t cut in half for me! Worst hotel ever!!!”

We may never know for sure. But what we do know is this: Telling the real reviews from the fake is just as important as any step in the booking process. And it can be really difficult to do so. Here’s a couple of tips I’ve picked up in my time working with online reviews.

1. Don’t base your decision off a single negative review. Look at the aggregate of a hotel’s reputation online and across more than one site.  Some of the biggest review sites are so worried about trustworthiness, they're changing their slogans.  Any mistake can be made once, but the mark of a problem is when more than one person on more than one site points out the same bad service.

2. Go to the experts. If industry staples are reviewing a hotel well, it’s unlikely that poor reviews are anything but an anomaly. And conversely if it’s getting bad reviews, you might want to think twice about booking. This isn’t to say you should ignore customer reviews, however. Professional reviews are great at getting drilling deep into the nitty-gritty of a hotel stay and evaluating across multiple hotels, but customers are more likely to spot the most recent changes in a hotel’s practices. If a hotel has taken a turn for the worse, customers will be the first to know.

3. Pay attention to the language.  According to a study by Cornell researchers, if a reviewer itemizes every experience they had, mentions the name of the hotel, and uses a lot of exclamation points, there’s a chance that it’s been generated by the hotel itself. Plenty of people enjoy their stays and want to gush about them, but very few will take the time to give you an itemized list of everything you can see and do there.

4. Above all, trust your instincts. Ultimately, reading online reviews is about reading the people who wrote them, and even after only a couple of sentences you’ll have a good sense of who is trustworthy. If you think someone sounds like a fake or is completely irrational, don’t let them color your judgment.

Reading reviews is certainly anything but a science, but hopefully with these tips, you can be a little more confident in your next choice to book some of the world’s top hotels.

Comic via XKCD


Hotel Buzz: St. Regis Florence Completes 10-Month Restoration

October 6, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

St. Regis FlorenceHot off the press! Starwood has unveiled a dazzling hotel in Florence, Italy. After a 10-month restoration, the property that was formerly called the Grand Hotel Florence has been reborn as a St. Regis- meaning it features the signature St. Regis Butler service and St. Regis Aficionado program, providing guests with insider access to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Talk about historical grandeur! This hotel was originally designed in 1432 by Filippo Brunelleschi, the architect of the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, and is one of the city's most culturally significant buildings. The 81 guest rooms-- including the opulent designer suite by Bottega Veneta-- are decked out with paintings, decorative antiques, frescos and crystal chandeliers-- thus paying homage to local Florentine artisans. Overlooking the Arno River, the hotel also features three Iridium Spa Suites for the ultimate in pampering. What we're most excited about? A stellar restaurant called Etichetta Pinchiorri, opened by the folks behind the Michelin three-star restaurant Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence.

Check out the photos of the St. Regis Florence.


InterContinental Hotels Celebrates Responsible Business Week with National Geographic

October 5, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Presidente InterContinental Cozumel ResortFrom supporting local craftsmen in Romania to clean-ups of the reefs in Cozumel, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts knows responsible business. In fact, they've partnered with National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations to celebrate Responsible Business Week. Hotels around the world are "taking part in activities that ensure their location remains an appealing place to visit for future generations"- to quote the official press release. The protection and preservation of local environments is key. Examples of these geotourism initiatives include: InterContinental Boston's rooftop beehives that pollinate the flora in surrounding parks and provide local honey for the kitchen; InterContinental Bora Bora Resort's salt water air-conditioning system, the first in the world; Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort's environmental work to protect the reefs and marine life, teaching guests how to scuba dive responsibly. More details can be found here.