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.

Pets on the Payroll: Luxury Hotels with Animals-in-Residence

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Charlie at the Hotel Monaco AlexandriaBack in July we reported on the canine ambassadors at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, a beloved service for pet-deprived guests seeking canine companionship. In fact, pet amenities are all the rage these days-- whether it be the pet turn-down service at Jumeirah Essex House to the Doggie Happy Hour at the Hotel Monaco Alexandria. Conde Nast Traveler recently published a piece on "Pet-Friendly Hotels with Pets on Staff" (August 2010) with a fun online slide-show illustrating these "pets on the payroll." There's Chance, the Chocolate Labrador at Montana's Resort at Paws Up who "gets his snout into a little bit of everything"- including quail hunts. Matilda is the Ragdoll Cat at The Algonquin Hotel in New York whose "annual birthday party is the kitty equivalent of Truman Capote's Black and White Ball, and usually benefits one of Matilda's favorite animal rescue charities." And then there's Thelma & Louise, the two flamingo-like birds who hang out in the lobby at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort in California. For the full slide-show, click here.

Pictured: Charlie, the Monaco Alexandria's Director of Pet Relations.

Travel with Pets: Lufthansa’s VIP Animal Lounge at Frankfurt

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Lufthansa VIP Animal Lounge in FrankfurtTraveling across the continents with your pet? Fly with Lufthansa, and Fido will be privy to some VIP pampering at the "Animal Lounge" in the Frankfurt Airport. The airline recently opened a specialized animal station for pets during transit, billed as the "world's most modern animal airport facility." Spanning 4,000 square meters, the dedicated space offers care, handling, feeding, and shelter facilities as well as veterinary care. "The name 'Animal Lounge' is very appropriate for the new animal station because just like in an airport lounge for passengers, the animals can relax and rest there before and after transport," said Axel Heitmann, director, Competence Centre Animals of Lufthansa Cargo. Some 14,000 household pets and 1,500 horses and wild animals pass through the Animal Lounge annually (ranging from polar bears to tropical fish), and Lufthansa promises that these animal "passengers" are ensured "the ultimate comfort."

Travel Trends: Resident Hotel Dogs and Fairmont’s Canine Ambassadors

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Catie Copley at the Fairmont BostonWe're the first to admit: we tend to obsess over the Fairmont Copley Plaza's canine ambassador, Catie Copley (pictured). For the last few years, the luxury Boston hotel has offered canine companionship for pet-deprived guests in the form of an eight-year old black Labrador Retriever. Originally trained as a guide dog, Catie Copley is a fixture at the hotel, resting in her dog bed near the hotel's St. James entrance when she's not out for walks/runs with guests. When guests sign up with the concierge to take Catie out on the town, they get a walk pack with dog biscuits plus a booklet illustrating the dog's favorite walks and commands.

Beau, The Fairmont VancouverImagine our delight when we discovered recently that Catie is not the sole canine ambassador for Fairmont Hotels. In fact, the company offers this distinctive service at myriad hotels in the U.S. and Canada (even Kenya). These adored pets include Smudge (the golden lab at the Fairmont Algonquin in New Brunswick), Jordy (the black lab at Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu), Sonny (Director of Pet Relations at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise), and Beau & Mavis at the Fairmont Vancouver, former Guide Dog trainees turned K9 Ambassadors.

Photo of Beau in the Fairmont Vancouver's Christmas-time lobby via TourismVancouver

Travel with Pets: New Canine Turndown Program at Jumeirah Essex House

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Jumeirah Essex HouseLuxury hotels are going to the dogs. The latest to launch a special program for guests' four-legged friends? The Jumeirah Essex House, which yesterday introduced "A Dog's Delight"-- a "canine turndown program" with luxurious five-star amenities created in partnership with Amy Kizer of the Wagwear New York City boutique. So when you retire to your sumptuous room, expecting perhaps some fine chocolates on your pillow, you'll also find some indulgent treats for Fido: a Wagwear dog bed or Wagwear "Tee Pee Hound Lounge" (a tiny tent complete with cozy bed), homemade dog treats created by the hotel's pastry chef, Wagwear food and water bowls with a matching place-mat, and a gift bag brimming with goodies. Forgot a leash? The Jumeirah Essex House has got you covered. Colorful Wagwear collars and leashes are available at the front desk.

Related Articles:

Talk of the Town: Gilded Spa Treatments at the Jumeirah Essex House, New York

Lego Mania in New York: Lego Replica of the Newly Renovated Jumeirah Essex House

Kimpton’s Summer Playground: Goodies for Just $10 More at Hotels like Philly’s Palomar

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Palomar PhiladelphiaWe're loving the "Your Summer Playground" promotion at all 50 Kimpton Hotels across the country. From the same innovative hospitality company that brought you "Breakfast for a Buck" comes a new offer that gives guests a bunch of goodies for just $10 more. Along with your deluxe room, you'll get special drinks (like sangria at the hosted evening wine hour), a $25 restaurant credit for every night of your stay, and a free in-room movie, complete with popcorn. For example: Stay at the new Hotel Palomar in Philadelphia-- the only LEED registered hotel in the city-- and you can savor iced coffee in the morning, afternoon Arnold Palmers, sangria at wine hour, along with your restaurant credit and movie. Set in the heart of Center City Philly in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, this eco-friendly hotel is filled with original artwork and custom-designed furnishings. The hotel's restaurant, Square 1682, gets great reviews for its new American menu featuring organic ingredients. Also available: The Hotel Palomar is running the Summer Lovin' package with a complimentary upgrade to a King Deluxe Room starting from just $149 per night.

The "Your Summer Playground" promotion is also available at luxury boutique hotels like the new Hotel Palomar Chicago, the Lorien Hotel and Spa in Alexandria, the Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge, MA, Nine Zero in Boston, the Sky Hotel in Aspen, Hotel Monaco in Portland, Hotel Solamar in San Diego, Hotel Palomar in San Francisco, Hotel Monaco Seattle, and 70 park avenue in New York.

Family Fun and the Dog Days of Summer at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Tucson

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Loews Ventana Canyon ResortFor a fantastic family vacation, consider the desert dreamscape at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, nestled in Arizona's Catalina Mountains. With pampering spa treatments, two Tom Fazio-designed golf courses, plenty of water activities, and some of the best hiking in the West, the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort has something for everyone. Not to mention the kids. The Loews Loves Kids Program gets props for its special themed perks: from Fisher-Price welcome gifts to "teens only" food bars. Moreover, there's no need to leave Fido at home. Loews Ventana Canyon is pet-friendly. Two packages to consider this summer: "Family Fun" means 50% off a second room, plus a complimentary 1/2 day Kid's Club credit. (Kids 12 and under eat free.) With the "Dog Days of Summer" package, available until August 31, 2010, your pampered pooch will get a special barbeque meal created by Master Chef Marc Ehrler. "Scooby BBQ Sliders" are veterinarian approved! Also included is a "Fling Thing" Frisbee from West Paw Design and dog walking tips from pet expert Wendy Diamond, author of "It's a Dog's World."

Last Minute Deals: Memorial Day Escapes Close to Home

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Andaz West HollywoodNo plans for Memorial Day? Why not fete summer's arrival with a last-minute getaway? There are deals to be had! Lucky you; Five Star Alliance has some hot rates at luxury hotels across the country. Check out the sampling below:

Boca Raton Resort in Florida for $109

Boca Raton Resort and ClubMoana Surfrider on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii for $177

The Liberty Hotel in Boston for $192

Sofitel Chicago Water Tower for $185

Andaz West Hollywood for $220

Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix for $159

Loews Lake Las Vegas Hotel for $139

The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, Colorado for $135

W Washington DC for $226

Win a Night at Napa’s Bardessono, the Green Luxury Hotel Everyone’s Talking About

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

BardessonoWe're just in the mood today to hook up our readers with insider tips on freebies and giveaways. Here's another not to miss: A Giveaway contest at Bardessono, "the greenest luxury hotel in America" that wins acclaim for its gorgeous spa, rooftop pool, artisan-crafted cocktails, carbon-fiber bicycles free for guest use, local wine-makers' dinners, and pet-friendly vibe... For a list of the top 10 reasons why we're enamored with this Napa Valley resort, click here. Now Bardessono is running a Giveway promotion on Facebook:

In honor of Earth Month AND our new Facebook page, we want to give away 1 night free at the hotel! How to enter? Become a fan, tell a friend, and make sure to comment! Giveaway runs through 4/28, winner announced after! Spread the word.

Hurry-- just a few more days to enter this contest!

Traveling with Pets: Smuggling Fido Onboard

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Travel with PetsA pet-dedicated airline, canine concierges and resident dog ambassadors at hotels... The US of A certainly loves their pets, and traveling with them. Now journalist Christopher Elliott reports on the lengths those pet-adoring travelers are willing to go when it comes to avoiding pet fees-- even stowing Fido in their bags or under blankets:

Boggs, a consultant in Atlanta, frequently packs her nine-pound dog in her carry-on luggage. But like an increasing number of travelers, she doesn't tell anyone. She's been caught twice, and the airline has forced her to pay a $150 surcharge for the pet. "When I asked why I had to pay a fee in order to stuff my dog under the seat in front of me, I was told it was their policy," she said. "I concluded that it's really just a ploy to charge another fee."

Trends at Luxury Hotels: Canine Concierges and Resident Dog Ambassadors

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Doggie Happy Hour, Hotel Monaco


Pet-friendly facilities are certainly de rigueur at luxury hotels these days. From the Doggie Happy Hour at the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria to the Pumped-Up Pet Program at Loews Hotels, the pet-friendly phenomenon has spread like wildfire. Not to mention the launch of Pet Airways. But taking it up a notch: the growing trend of canine concierges or canine ambassadors in residence at five-star hotels across the country. First, we tipped you off about the resident "top dog" at the Loews Annapolis Hotel: Luke, the Labrador retriever who helps check in guests (and is available for walking when traveling guests get pet-sick). Then we told you about Catie Copley, the black lab who offers canine companionship for pet-deprived guests of the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston. Now we've learned from Gridskipper about the teacup pomeranian named Ginger who serves as Director of Pet Relations at the Muse Hotel in New York. Here's the skinny from the hotel's website: Ginger "prefers Prada, visits to the spa and ahi tuna, and would be delighted to share where to go and what to see in NYC with our four-legged guests."