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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 Story of The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC

July 12, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

The Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa, recently acquired by Omni Hotels, set atop Sunset Mountain features guestrooms with spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and its lush Donald Ross–designed golf course and is is one of the South's best-loved resorts. Celebrating its Centennial today, the luxurious Grove Park Inn opened on July 12, 1913. Here's the story of how it all began: 

The Grove Park Inn - Then and Now"Edwin Wiley Grove, known as the "Father of Modern Asheville" was born in 1850 on a small farm in Tennessee. After serving in the Civil War he had a very definite plan for his life and career – the pharmaceutical business and the determination to rise from his early poverty to great wealth and success.

He purchased a pharmacy in Paris, Tennessee in his mid-twenties. He put all of his energy into formulating a tasteless quinine to prevent malaria, a life-threatening disease that permeated the South in the 19th century (he suspended quinine in liquid form). After experimenting for several years, Grove introduced Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic and experienced immediate success. In the late 1890's Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic, which had become a household staple, sold more bottles than Coca-Cola. After 20 years on the market, Grove had sold over 1.5 million bottles of his Tonic and surpassed his dreams by making millions of dollars. 

Grove himself was often ill, afflicted with periods of bronchitis and exhaustion and his doctors recommended the clean mountain air of Asheville, NC to relax and recover. He spent time in Asheville throughout the year and that is where he would realize his next big dream.

While still pursuing new pharmaceutical inventions, Grove met Fred Seely in Detroit, who was making a name for himself in the pharmaceutical business. While working together in Detroit, the two sparked a friendship and mutual admiration. Grove invited Seely to his summer home in Asheville. One week later he left his position in Detroit to work for Grove and his Paris Medicine Company. But business was not the only thing that interested Seely. When Grove introduced his daughter, Evelyn, to the bachelor, within 24 hours Grove had given Seely permission to wed her.

Grove Park Inn and SpaSeely began working for the Paris Medicine Company in June 1898 and in October of that year married Evelyn. Both men ventured into other businesses including real estate. In Asheville Grove began purchasing property, he had successfully developed residential neighborhoods in Atlanta and was considering doing the same in prospering Asheville. With the expansion of the railroad and publicity surrounding the opening of George Vanderbilt's Biltmore House, Grove was positioning himself as a serious investor in the future of Asheville. In 1909 Grove purchased 408 acres in north Asheville, including what would become The Grove Park Inn. But he would concentrate on residential neighborhoods before ever considering building a hotel.

Two years later Grove began to plan the building of a hotel on Sunset Mountain. In 1911 Seely became involved with the plans. After reviewing the plans of several prominent architects, Grove did not find any of them satisfactory. The consummate visionary, Seely presented a sketch of the proposed hotel to Grove and he not only accepted the plan but gave Seely the enormous task of building the hotel.

Four-hundred men worked 10-hour shifts six days a week. With only the use of mules, wagons and ropes, granite boulders, some weighing as much as 10,000 pounds, were hauled from Sunset Mountain to build the hotel. Seely kept his promise to be open for business in less than one year from the ground breaking.

Just three days shy of one year, The Grove Park Inn opened on July 12, 1913. Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, delivered the keynote address to four hundred of the most distinguished men of the South, gathered for the opening banquet. 

Another version of this story is available at http://www.groveparkinn.com/the-grove-park-inn-story

View more photos and check rates and availability for The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa >>


Your Questions Answered: Where in Prague Can a Family of Four Stay?

July 9, 2013
By: Betsy LeTourneau

Boscolo Prague
We at Five Star Alliance work tirelessly to ensure we bring you the best luxury hotels selection and information regarding amenities, location, and highlights so you are confident that the hotel you choose will exceed your expectations and serve your needs. Sometimes, however, you are left with a few questions that go unanswered, and that’s why we’re here. Be sure to explore our new blog series ‘Your Questions Answered’ to find answers to real questions submitted to us by our clients regarding traveling with kids, pets, the best beach hotels, and much more.


QUESTION:
We are going to Prague, for 2 nights. We have a party of 2 adults and 2 children, ages 7 and 11. What luxury hotel do you recommend?

ANSWER: Boscolo Prague – Prague, Czech Republic 

The hotel's 152 splendid rooms, including 42 deluxe room, 20 Junior Suites and Suites, designed by architect Maurizio Papiri, are the epitome of genteel elegance. Advanced technology and fine amenities are the additional luxuries that make the Boscolo Prague the preferred address for the discerning traveler. The most unique luxury and comfort flow through from the room to the restaurant, from the business centre to the Cigar Bar, to the indoor swimming pool with its striking mosaic floor. In this ultra-modern, surreal setting created by talented Adam D. Tihany, polished steel and light mirror and enhance exclusive moments of conviviality and relaxation. The Inn Ox bar is a labyrinth of myriad reflections, refined mazes and surprising sinuosity- smooth surfaces, innovative materials and the excellent drinks make it one of the city's most trendy rendez-vous at night.

You will want to choose the Junior Suite or the Presidential Suite to accommodate your party. The Junior Suite will accommodate 2 rolloways. There are no connecting rooms offered at this hotel. 
 

All rates are based on double occupancy and extra person charges may apply. Please be advised that the rates, availability, as well as any extra person charges are subject to change depending on the hotel’s policies.

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The Arizona Biltmore - Then and Now

July 8, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

The Arizona Biltmore Resort in PhoenixBuilt as one of Phoenix's first resorts in 1929, the Arizona Biltmore was constructed in grand form by brothers Albert, Charles and Warren McArthur. Frank Lloyd Wright served as the consulting architect, and the Arizona Biltmore remains one of the only existing hotels in the world to benefit from his influence. The Arizona Biltmore has been an Arizona landmark since its opening on Feb. 23, 1929 when it was crowned "The Jewel of the Desert."

In 1930, when the estimated $1 million construction cost doubled, Chicago chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., one of the original investors in the project, became the sole owner. Over the next 44 years, the Wrigley family owned and operated the Arizona Biltmore and it became world renowned as the preferred luxury oasis for celebrities, heads of state, captains of industry and other famous travelers.

Arizona Biltmore Hotel Pool DiverDid you know that the famed song composer Irving Berlin penned many tunes, including "White Christmas" while sitting poolside at the Arizona Biltmore? Or that the pool was first built by the Wrigleys in 1930 and was host to diving competitions as well as fashion shows? Marilyn Monroe called this her favorite pool. A Who's Who of rockers have vacationed at the Arizona Biltmore – Elton John, Eric Clapton, U2, Steely Dan, Neil Diamond and Bruce Springsteen, to name a few. 

Today, the luxury hotel features 740 hotel guest accommodations; 78 one-and two-bedroom villas; eight swimming pools; seven tennis courts; a full-service resort spa, salon and fitness center; and five dining options across 39 acres. The adjacent Arizona Biltmore Country Club boasts two of the best 18-hole PGA golf courses in Phoenix: The Links and The Adobe.

The Arizona Biltmore offers 1.5 hour long History Tours three times per week - free to registered guests or $10 for the general public.

More archival photos available here: Arizona Biltmore Archive Photos

Learn more about the hotel and check rates and availability here: Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona


Suite Dreams at Grosvenor House

June 22, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

Grosvenor House London
Set just back from Park Lane and overlooking the sweeping gardens of Royal Hyde Park, Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel is a living reminder of an age of elegance and a name synonymous with luxury and London’s rich history; a destination that is "Quintessentially British."

Our sister publication, Luxury Travel Advisor has the latest news on their royal nursery:

Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott Hotel, and bespoke nursery designers Dragons of Walton Street, have announced an exclusive partnership which will see a luxury Premium Park View suite transformed into a British nursery, said to have been designed and tailored with a royal baby in mind. Dragons of Walton Street has a historic association with the Royal family, with Princes William and Harry, Beatrice and Eugenie all growing up in a Dragons’ nursery. 

More on the Grosvenor House's royal nursery...

View rates, details, and more photos of Grosvenor House London >>

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Le Burgundy Loves Babies (and Kids)

June 18, 2013
By: K. Clare Johnson

 

Le Burgundy parisLe Burgundy Paris is a cozy boutique hotel just off the Champs-Elysees in the City of Lights. The architect and decorator have produced a restful setting, blending contemporary furniture and luxurious cloths while favouring space and light. The owner's passion for art is expressed in the ground floor's black-marble Guy de Rougemont puzzle, through which runs a brass thread. Paintings, lithographs and black-and-white photographs bring a personal touch to the decor.

Le Burgundy also believes that their youngest guests deserve luxury treatment.  In addition to child-size robes and slippers, pint-size visitors are welcomed with candy, cartoons, and a teddy bear. Strollers, high-chairs, cots, changing mats, and a toy box are also available Children are given access to the swimming pool, and petite palates can be catered to via special room service and Le Baudelaire dishes. There's even a children's concierge to arrange baby-sitting services, or activities such as face-painting, museum visits, pastry-making classes, and magic shows. 

Your children aren't going to want to go home. 

View rates, details, and more photos of Le Burgundy Paris >>

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The Value of an All-Inclusive Resort

May 6, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

Wes Moss recently asked the question "Is the all-inclusive vacation a good deal?" in the personal finance section of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Five Star Alliance features a number of luxury all-inclusive resorts (you can view our favorite's here) and we get asked that question a lot.

Spring break is over. Mercifully. When there’s no school for the kids, but mom and dad still have to work, it’s no vacation for anyone. All of a sudden, it’s a circus at the house. It’s enough to make you think it will be worth the money to go somewhere.

Exterior of Grand Velas All Suites and Spa Resort All Inclusive HotelI’ve always wondered about the financial wisdom of the all-inclusive trip. Is it really a good deal? So this year I talked to several families that went to an all-inclusive resort with their children for spring break. I found out the real numbers behind (at least one) popular family destination.

I looked specifically at Beaches, a company that offers all-inclusive packages in Turks & Caicos, which is just a quick – and direct! – two-and-a-half-hour flight from Atlanta. A passport is required, and I’m not factoring the cost of a passport into my calculations. You’d need it for this destination whether you were going all-inclusive or pay-as-you-go.

Here’s the math. Minus airfare, here’s what a day in an all-inclusive paradise will cost you, based on a family of four. I’m assuming there are two adults and two kids.

Five nights (Sunday through Thursday) will run you about $3,750. Spring for a sixth night, and you’re looking at about $4,500. Either way, the average cost, including lodging, food and all the incidentals at the all-inclusive resort cost is $750 per day.

Patio of Barcelo Puerto Vallarta All-inclusiveNow, let’s break down what a typical day, per family, costs at a place where you’re paying a la carte. These costs may even be on the low side. Kids have a way of turning parents into human ATMs:

Breakfast buffet: $15 x 4 = $60
Snacks and desserts: $30
In-room waters/soda: $15
Kayaks and windsurfing: $15
Kids' camp in the morning: $60
Kids' camp in the afternoon: $60
Lunch $ 17.50 x 4 = $70
Dinner for the two grown-ups, with drinks: $100
Afternoon drinks, 5 x $10 = $50 (One for each family member, plus an extra)
Other (there's always something else!) and after-dinner drinks: $50
Nightly entertainment/shows for the whole family (fire twirlers, comedy): FREE
Gym workout (For your sanity – not for the kids) FREE
Hotel: $250 (at least) per night
Without the hotel, we're looking at approximately $510 a day in food, drinks and fun. And that doesn’t even count gratuity. That could be another 20 percent on top of $515 per day. If you pay $102 a day in tips, your per day total is $612.

If you add in a hotel room for $250 per night, we're at $862 – certainly higher than the $750 per night at the all-inclusive resort.

And at the all-inclusive place, you've also saved yourself the hassle of paying for every meal, drink, dessert, show and bottled water.

Throw in Xbox games, water slides, a lazy river, ice cream three times a day, another umbrella drink for mom and dad at the pool, souvenirs, sunscreen, aloe for the sunburn and all the other extras, and it looks like all-inclusive is the better deal.

Next spring break, go all in(clusive).

The original article by Wes Moss is posted at The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Find, research, and book your luxury all-inclusive resort now >>


The Grosvenor House Hotel in London Unveils Dedicated Nursery Suite

May 2, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

With over 100 luxury hotels in London, properties really have to work hard to stand out. We think that Grosvenor House has come up with a creative, thoughtful and practical solution for travelers with young children in mind. Our sister publication, Luxury Travel Advisor, recently wrote about Grosvenor House's unveiling of their dedicated nursery suite for guests.

"Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel in London, and nursery designers Dragons of Walton Street have opened the 'Suite Dreams' nursery at the hotel. Designed and tailored with a royal baby in mind (and it just so happens that one is due in July), one of Grosvenor House's Premium Park View Suites has been transformed into a quintessentially British nursery – making it the first nursery offering of its kind from a central London luxury hotel.

Grosvenor House Suite Dreams Nursery SuiteInspired by the suite's views of Hyde Park and the hotel’s history, Dragons of Walton Street (which has a historic association with the Royal family) has created and installed a selection of bespoke, hand crafted and painted furniture ideal for families with small kids. The master bedroom has a sculpted scroll top cotbed, complete with a coronet and sheer voiles draped either side. Combining the practical with luxury, the bedroom also has a chaise longue with two arms making nursing easier for new mothers.

Between the bedroom and the bathroom, guests will find a practical baby changing area themed with Beatrix Potter characters, including Peter Rabbit.

The living area has a more playful London theme, with child-size furnishings and toys, including a hand-painted play table and rush-seated chairs, hand-painted for Grosvenor House. But we hear the pièce de resistance is a dolls house cupboard hand painted to represent Grosvenor House's signature architecture (the intricate artwork for this piece alone took five days to paint!). The Suite Dreams nursery also includes a Balmoral Silver Cross Pram, the original coach-built pram that, like Dragons' furniture, is handmade and hand painted in the UK. (We hear it has been the pram of choice for royalty and celebrities around the world for decades.)

Guests will be able to select from three packages that include the suite: Clarence (one night), Windsor (two nights) and Buckingham (three nights). Guests who choose the premium Buckingham package will get a full baby concierge service including: pick up from the airport, an evening of childcare, dinner for two in JW Steakhouse, spa treatments for both parents, a private consultation with one of the Dragons of Walton Street's head designers, a private tour of Buckingham Palace (date dependent) as well as a personal shopping trip at Harrods.

The 'Suite Dreams' package will be available to pre-book from May 2013 and will be officially open to the public from June."

View rates, details and more photos for Grosvenor House in London >>


Your Questions Answered: What are the best rooms for families at the Omni San Francisco

March 26, 2013
By: Shannon Sullivan

Your Questions Answered: What Are the Best Rooms for Families at the Omni San Francisco.The Omni San Francisco

We at Five Star Alliance work tirelessly to ensure we bring you the best luxury hotels selection and information regarding amenities, location, and highlights so you are confident that the hotel you choose will exceed your expectations and serve your needs.  Sometimes, however, you are left with a few questions that go unanswered, and that’s why we’re here.  Be sure to explore our blog series ‘Your Questions Answered’ to find answers to real questions submitted to us by our clients regarding traveling with kids, pets, the best beach hotels, and much more. 
 
QUESTION:  What are the best rooms for families at the Omni San Francisco?
 
ANSWER:   Kids Fantasy Suite: The colorful suite features bunk beds, beanbag chairs and is stocked with books, games and toys. Parents can relax in an adjoining Deluxe King bedroom. Deluxe Rooms offer 385 square feet of space and come with either one king or two double beds with courtyard or city facing views.
 
All rates are based on double occupancy and extra person charges may apply. Please be advised that the rates, availability, as well as any extra person charges are subject to change depending on the hotel’s policies.   

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Your Questions Answered: Family-Friendly Resorts in Crete

March 21, 2013
By: Betsy LeTourneau

We at Five Star Alliance work tirelessly to ensure we bring you the best luxury hotels selection and information regarding amenities, location, and highlights so you are confident that the hotel you choose will exceed your expectations and serve your needs. Sometimes, however, you are left with a few questions that go unanswered, and that’s why we’re here.  Be sure to explore our new blog series ‘Your Questions Answered’ to find answers to real questions submitted to us by our clients regarding traveling with kids, pets, the best beach hotels, and much more. 

QUESTION:  What are some family friendly resorts in Crete, Greece for a family of 4, children ages 8 and 11 

ANSWER: There are a number of resorts that fit the bill. Here are the top 3 that we recommend:

 

Blue Palace Resort and Spa – Elounda Crete, Greece. Blue Palace Resort and Spa

The Blue Palace Resort and Spa offers a variety of suites where a maximum of 4 occupants can comfortably stay and they are child-friendly. 

The Deluxe Suites with Sea View and Private Pool  are luxurious bedrooms with elegant décor. In addition they offer a separate living room which leads to an oversized veranda with a corner infinity pool of 44 square meters (473 square feet). These suites can accommodate up to four guests and are 68 square meters(732 square feet).  A Corner suite has a slightly smaller private pool, impressive sea views, a veranda with sun beds and umbrella, and a separate living room. 

Island Luxury Suites with a Sea View and Private Heated Pool have amazing sea views, enlarged private heated pool of 30 square meters (322 square feet) and an outdoor patio with privacy. Two to four guests can be accommodated and they are 72 square meters (775 square feet). These suites include a spacious patio with sun beds, umbrella, separate living room, four poster bed, egg-shaped bathtub or Jacuzzi. 

At Blue Palace Resort and Spa,  guests 12 and under are considered children and sleep for free in the existing bedding of a room shared with a paying adult. (Rollaways, child rollaways and cribs may incur extra charges.)

Kids Only: The Blue Palace Resort and Spa is pleased to provide extensive children facilities and amenities. In addition to an indoor and outdoor playground and two children's swimming pools, they offer a wide range of engaging activities including theater, fishing, painting, and Greek dancing, creating fun-filled times during their stay with great memories to take home.  Baby-sitting can be arranged for the day or night upon request at a charge. The Kids Club is available only to children aged 3 to 12-years-old. 

View photos, read descriptions and check availability at Blue Palace Resort and Spa >>

 

Elounda Gulf Villas and Suites – Crete, GreeceElounda Gulf Villas and Suites

Stylishly designed Two Bedroom Deluxe Family Suites have an area of approximately 100-120 sqaure meteres and can accommodate up to 5 guests. All Two Bedroom Deluxe Family Suites feature two master bedrooms, spacious bathrooms and a cozy living room equipped with tea and coffee facilities. Beautiful large windows offer views to the azure sea. Tromp l' oeil hand-painted ceilings adorn the spacious marble bathrooms featuring makeup mirror, hairdryer, pool towels, soft bathrobes and slippers and luxury toiletries for a truly comfortable stay. Families can enjoy a refreshing swim at the main stunning pool of the hotel and specially designed children’s pool located only a few steps away from the suites. All Two Bedroom Deluxe Family Suites are ideal for groups of friends and relaxing family vacations.

View photos, read descriptions and check availability at Elounda Gulf Villas and Suites >>

 

St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel and Villas – Aghios Nikolas, Greece

St. Nicholas Bay Resort Hotel and Villas offers interconnecting rooms and family suites, club suites and villas with private pool for families up to 6 persons, The St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel has a fully serviced private beach that has been distinguished with an EU Blue Flag rating. The protected sandy cove is ideal for kids and their parents alike. Children can enjoy a seawater paddling pool next to our large outdoor swimming pool just few steps from the sea

Penelopi  Suite: a two bedroom suite with a private pool, offers great privacy and superb seaviews from privileged location with large private swimming pool heated in colder months. The bedrooms have ensuite marbled lined bathroom with Jacuzzi, an elegant living room and spacious terrace.  St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel and Villas

Apollo  Suite: a two bedroom Club Villa with a private pool: Centrally located offering generous space and a cool contemporary feeling with elegant open plan lounge leading to a beautiful terrace garden and a large private pool (heated during the colder months). Privacy and tranquility meet panoramic sea views and your own sun loungers, sunshades and open-air dining table for four persons. Two bedrooms offer direct access to two spacious marble lined bathrooms with Jacuzzi bathtub. 

Poseidon House: a two bedroom, 2 story Villa with a  private pool: With a privileged seafront location, this delightful villa combines indoor and outdoor living with spacious rooms, terrace garden with an extra sized swimming pool (heated during the colder months), large patio with dining table, sunshades, daybeds and sun loungers and commands spectacular views to the Mirabello Bay. Centrally located in two levels it is composed with 2 bedrooms, separate living room, dining room area and kitchenette on the mid level. Master bedroom features a french double bed, ensuite marble lined bathroom with Jacuzzi while the upstairs bedroom has separate shower and balcony with sea view.

St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas welcomes Kids at the Hotel's Mini Club every day and the complimentary kids's program is available for children from 4 to 11 years old under the supervision of dedicated and fully certified staff. Children’s menus and high chairs provided in all restaurants, except “Minotaure” restaurant by the pool. 

All rates are based on double occupancy and extra person charges may apply. Please be advised that the rates, availability, as well as any extra person charges are subject to change depending on the hotel’s policies.   

View photos, read descriptions and check availability at St. Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel and Villas >>

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The Summer Houses of Dar Al Masyaf at Madinat Jumeirah

March 12, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

Dar Al Masyaf is one of the three properties of Madinat Jumeirah Resort. Literally translated, Dar Al Masyaf means summer houses and the property features 29 summer houses comprising 283 rooms and suites with private balconies or terrace areas.

Beautifully appointed, all 283 rooms and suites portray an Arabian theme in keeping with the overall style of the resort. An integrated design means that guests can take either one room or even an entire summer house. Designed for the guest who seeks added privacy within intimate enclaves yet with easy access to all Madinat Jumeirah resort facilities,  the summer houses of Dar Al Masyaf are an ideal refuge. Offering two house types (Gulf and Arabian), each with luxurious guest rooms and suites, the Gulf summer houses offer superb access to the beach and all houses benefit from privileged locations within the resort.

Dar Al Masayaf Arabian Summer Houses

View more photos, read more, or check rates and availability at Dar Al Masyaf at Madinat Jumeirah >>