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.

Excitations Gives the Unexpected with the Mandarin Oriental Washington, DC Presidential Suite Offer


By: Betsy LeTourneau

Mandarin Oriental Washington DCIts election time- time to live presidential in Washington, DC. Experience your Presidential weekend at the Mandarin Oriental for 2 in one of the "World's Greatest Suites" (Elite Traveler) where grandeur greets you with floor to ceiling windows and twin balconies offering sweeping views of Georgetown, the National Cathedral, The Tidal Basin and more. Arrive Friday for your unforgettable 2 night stay and move in to the Presidential Suite with its' magnificent master bedroom that is elegantly furnished with a four poster bed and jaw dropping luxurious bathroom complete with a soothing infinity edge tub and state of the art spa shower. Be entertained in your own sophisticated 24 foot Living Room, with its well stocked bar and Kitchen and your own Dining Room that seats 8. Unique touches abound your Presidential Suite and include an exquisite exhibition of 3 Chinese Compasses, Grand Piano, walk thru Study and 60 inch flat screen TV. The Washington DC Mandarin Oriental features award winning restaurants, indoor pool, fitness center and a rejuvenation spa. The Presidential Weekend at the Mandarin Oriental offers breakfast for 2 in your own personal Dining Room, valet parking, VIP service amenities and spa gift basket and monogrammed bathrobes to take home as reminders of your presidential stay. Explore all the monuments, museums and restaurants from this very convenient base or stay in and indulge in a Romance Bath complete with Rose Petals and candles. The Presidential Weekend at the Mandarin Oriental is available for $12,995.00. Cast your support for the unexpected by arranging your Presidential Weekend at the Mandarin Oriental. Also available through Excitations in Philadelphia at the Rittenhouse Hotel >>


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun: Think Pink at Hotel ZaZa, Houston


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel ZaZa HoustonFrom the decadent urban resort that brought you the indulgent 18 Karats package and the Magnificent Seven Suites, comes a package designed for girls' bonding time. Get your gals together for a sumptuous slumber party- bridesmaids, girlfriends, moms, sisters and daughters- and you'll get pampered with the royal treatment, ZaZa style. Pop the cork on a bottle of Pink champagne for a pre-dinner aperitif, then head to Monarch for a delicious dinner with preferred VIP seating (alcohol excluded). After a night on the town, retire to your spectacular Premium Balcony accommodations (you'll love the candlelight turndown service!) and unwind with your exclusive pink ZaZa t-shirt and pink sleep mask. The following day, enjoy a ZaSpa day of beauty, including a luxurious facial and Big Chill massage. You'll also get a complimentary disposable camera to record the fun, and complimentary valet parking for each guest. The Think Pink Package is priced at $1,050 (double), $1,375 (triple), and $1,700 (quad). Max occupancy is four ladies per package.


Buzz: Jalousie Plantation, St. Lucia, Will Morph Into The Tides Sugar Beach


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

St. LuciaThe Tides brand of chic, high-design hotels is staking a claim to the idyllic, paradise island of St. Lucia, the Caribbean's "it" spot of the moment with myriad new hotel openings. The Tides just announced plans to take over the Jalousie Plantation, give it a big makeover, and reposition it as The Tides Sugar Beach, the first Caribbean property for the luxury hotel chain. Situated in the Valley of the Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jalousie Plantation is nestled in 192 lush acres of rainforest and white sand beaches overlooking the sea. After an $100 million redesign, the resort will reopen in 2010 as the Tides Sugar Beach, joining the collection of properties set in pristine coastal settings (the Tides hotels can be found in South Beach, the Yucatan, and Zihuatanejo). From the 150 villas and guest rooms (all with private pools), guests will be able to gape at the views of the pitons (pictured). Also planned: four restaurants serving locally grown cuisine, recreational activities aplenty, a beach lounge, and comprehensive fitness center and spa with sustainable, marine-based products.


An Interview with the GM: Mr. Martin P. Nicholson of The Langham, Huntington Hotel & Spa


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Martin P. NicholsonMr. Martin P. Nicholson is the General Manager at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa in Pasadena, California - a AAA Five Diamond hotel and member of Leading Hotels of the World. Mr. Nicholson recently took some time to sit down and answer a few of our questions.

Five Star Alliance: What do you consider to be the best rooms at The Langham, Huntington Hotel & Spa, Pasadena?

Martin P. Nicholson: All the deluxe corner rooms have wonderful views and natural light. Also, the ground floor rooms facing the Horseshoe Garden are excellent because they have lovely patios. I'm also partial to our Spanish-style Clara Vista Cottage and the Tournament of Roses suite atop the hotel.

If I were checking into a standard room in the hotel I would choose a corner room on the ground floor facing Horseshoe Garden or one on the upper floors facing Japanese Garden.

Five Star Alliance: Any interesting trivia or history about the hotel?

Martin P. Nicholson: The hotel was home to California's first Olympic sized swimming pool. At one time it extended beneath the picture bridge, where many guests couldn't resist the urge to jump off the bridge into the pool. In the late 1980's the pool was shortened along with a number of other renovations to meet earthquake code.

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?

Martin P. Nicholson: The hotel is unique in that it sits on 23 acres of land in the middle of an upscale residential neighborhood in Pasadena. The architectural design of the buildings, the lush gardens and beautiful landscape make our guests feel like they are in their own wonderland. The hotel has soul, personality, character and a rich history. It's a landmark hotel and is very much a part of the social fabric of community. Guest have celebrated weddings, graduations, cotillions and other personal celebrations for more than 100 years at this hotel, and it's nice to have such grand stories and strong ties to the community .

Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

Martin P. Nicholson: The best thing about the hotel's location is that it's in a restful area. You can come here and feel like you're away from it all, yet you're close enough to Old Town Pasadena and Los Angeles to experience all vibrancy that these places have to offer.

My favorite thing to do in the surrounding area is play golf on the many fine courses in the area. I also like to motorcycle up in the foothills, to Ojai, down the coast, and in both Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks. California offers such diverse areas to explore and I love seeing all of it.

Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?

Martin P. Nicholson: I would want to know about the extensive and lush grounds and gardens, about the Michelin Star-awarded Dining Room and The Huntington Spa. I would also want to know about the care and comfort that envelops you when you walk through the doors.

Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?

Martin P. Nicholson: Approximately 60% of our guests visit from California. The other 40% come from the Tri-state area, the Midwest and Texas.

Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest thing about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?

Martin P. Nicholson: The hotel has a number of constituents: guests, owners, the community, employees and its brand. To address all stakeholders' concerns requires stamina and a significant amount of empathy - emotional empathy and also financial empathy. I need to ensure that everyone is "getting their money's worth," whether it be in terms of quality, profitability or wages. That, at times, can be a great challenge!

If I could change one thing about the property I'd add a golf course. Then the hotel would be a true urban resort.

Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, what do you consider among the greatest hotels in the world? Why are they special?

Martin P. Nicholson: Typically, I am impressed with hotels that have a sense of history and place, and I am more at home in smaller hotels that have an incredible amount of charm and quality of service.

The Langham, London, was the first purpose-built grand hotel in Europe and it must be experienced. It is the wellspring of our brand and embodies the spirit of Langham Hotels International.

The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok is a true masterpiece. Timeless elegance in one of the most spectacular settings on the Chao Phraya River.

The Hassler Hotel atop the Spanish Steps in Rome has been owned by the same family for many years and they have beautifully retained its charm. The hotel has a rich sense of history and pays attention to every detail to make your stay special. It must be seen to be believed.

Montpellier Plantation Inn on Nevis Island is an exclusive 17-room English country house hotel on a bluff overlooking the ocean. The views are breathtaking. Admiral Lord Nelson and Fanny Nisbet celebrated their wedding breakfast after their ceremony at Pear Tree Church.

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?

Martin P. Nicholson: My first year at college in Dublin I had a summer job at a hotel called the Russell Hotel. It was a famous, grand hotel at the time but, unfortunately, is no longer there. I liked the job so much that I decided to change majors at college and went on to graduate from Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland and later the Advanced Management Program for the Hospitality Industry (AMPHI) at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

I've been fortunate enough to live and work all over the world, which has provided me with a wealth of cultural and life experiences that I will cherish forever. I started my career at a resort on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, and then spent a few years as a Food & Beverage Director in Toronto, Canada. I moved up to be General Manager of the Delta Ottawa Hotel in Ontario, Canada, and later spent some years as Vice President and General Manager at Caneel Bay in St. John. I also worked at luxurious properties in Ireland and Jamaica but my four years in Carmel introduced me to the beauty of California. I was eager to get back, so when the General Manager position at The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel in Pasadena became available, I was able to seize the opportunity.

I worked as General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel for about two and a half years, and in January 2008, Langham Hotels International acquired the property. Langham is committed to maintain the property as a five diamond hotel and invest significantly in the physical assets and service levels in the years to come.


$19.28 Room Rates with Leading Hotels of the World


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Langham Hotel Hong KongCelebrate the birth year of Leading Hotels of the World, 1928, with an unbelievable promotion. At 8 am EST on October 1, 2008, LHW will "release a limited number of the world's most-coveted hotel rooms at the unprecedented rate of USD 19.28 per night. For 80 minutes only, registered consumers will be able to secure the celebratory USD 19.28 rate." Participating member hotels include the iconic Langham Hong Kong (pictured), the Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires, the Enchantment Resort and Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona, the Hay-Adams in Washington, DC, the Gran Hotel La Florida in Barcelona, and the Villa La Massa in Florence. Pre-register online today!


Le Royal Meridien Shanghai: Where To Stay in Shanghai


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le Royal Meridien ShanghaiYou can't beat this strategic location in the heart of Shanghai's commercial and shopping districts on historic Nanjing Road East, opposite the People's Square and overlooking the Shanghai Grand Theatre and the Shanghai Art Museum- just a quick walk to the iconic Bund on the river. Opened in September 2006, Le Royal Meridien is one of Shanghai's tallest landmarks at 66 storeys high- a sleek, stylish symbol of contemporary design in a city on the cutting edge. You can access a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and shops along the Nanjing Pedestrian Walkway that runs alongside the hotel. From you guest room, you'll enjoy spectacular views of the Huang Pu river and all the glittering lights of this famous urban skyline from floor-to-ceiling windows. Of course the 761 guest rooms are loaded with all the latest technological amenities.

Le Royal Meridien ShanghaiWhether in the city for business or pleasure this autumn, you can benefit from a 5th night free offer, with nights starting from RMB 2118 in a Grand Deluxe Room. Explore China's capital of art and fashion, and get your fifth night free with four paid nights, and you'll also enjoy full buffet breakfast served daily in Le Bistrot, along with entry for two to the Museum of Contemporary Art. Available until December 12, 2008.


Specials with the Hotel de Crillon: See the Picasso Exhibit Everyone’s Talking About in Paris


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel de CrillonThere's been quite the buzz about the upcoming Picasso exhibition at the Grand Palais Museum in Paris. Opening on October 8, 2008 and running until February 2, 2009, the prestigious exhibition will showcase an exceptional collection of works from each era of Picasso's career-- loaned from the Louvre, Orsay and Paris Picasso Museums-- to illustrate the influence of great masters like Manet, Delacroix, Renoir, and Titian on Picasso. Stay at the world-famous palace hotel on the Place de la Concorde and luxuriate in the very heart of Paris, while getting fast track tickets to the Picasso exhibit. The Hotel de Crillon has designed a special Picasso Offer so that guests can discover the legendary artist at what promises to be the blockbuster exhibition of the year. The Picasso Offer includes Continental or American Breakfast, brochure of the Picasso Exhibition, 2 fast track tickets to the exhibit, daily international newspaper, access to the fitness center, and free high speed (and wireless) internet. Priced from EUR 647 for two people in a Superior Room. Available from October 8, 2008 to February 2, 2009.


Special Opening Offer: Grand Mauritian Resort and Spa, Starwood Luxury Collection


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand Mauritian Resort and SpaCheck out the first Luxury Collection hotel in the Indian Ocean, the Grand Mauritian Resort and Spa, and take advantage of the opening offer from EUR 350 per night that includes daily breakfast, romantic dinner, exclusive amenities, Champagne and more. Plus, if you reserve two nights, you get the third night for free. Experience an enchanting island getaway nestled between a natural marine park and sugar cane fields, perched on a perfect beach on the northwest coast of Mauritius-- just off the eastern coast of Africa. Facilities include two swimming pools, water sports, kids club, and world-class dining venues celebrating indigenous flavors. Long walks on the beach and snorkeling adventures await... Mauritius is celebrated for its stunning landscape and exciting cultural melting pot; it's little wonder Four Seasons is also opening a luxury hotel there in October.


Endless Summer Special at The Lodge at Woodloch


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Lodge at WoodlochIn today's Escapes section, the New York Times just picked up on the latest travel trend in the Northeast: destination spas:

...As more travelers seem to expect spa treatments to be part of their getaway experiences, and spas within driving distance of New York City recognize that travelers in a squeezed economy want to stay closer to home, a growing number of nearby hotels and resorts are building spas, revamping existing ones and rolling out all-out marketing blitzes to draw more travelers to the luxurious land of the facial, the massage and the manicure.

One of the top picks in this category-- close to NYC, superb cuisine and dreamy facilities-- is The Lodge at Woodloch. Since it opened in 2006, The Lodge has received just about every travel award imaginable- from TripAdvisor's "Top 10 Spas in the World" to Spa-Finder's "Best for Mind-Body-Spirit," from Travel + Leisure's "Top 15 Destination Spas" to Conde Nast Traveler's Hot List 2007. From now until October 31, 2008, you can save up to $300 per room, per night with the End of Summer Special. Stay for three nights or more and you'll get a $150 credit per person, per night. This offer is available with the Complete Spa Plan – including all meals, group fitness classes, use of spa facilities and cooking classes.


Solis Cambrian Hotel: Alpine Paradise in Abelboden, Switzerland


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Solis Cambrian HotelFor an inspiring taste of the Alps this autumn or winter, book the Solis Cambrian Hotel located right on the main street in charming Abelboden, Switzerland. (The name of the mountain village means "noble ground" and is the home of Alpine skiing and the FIS Ski World Cup.) As viewed from the central lobby with its open fireplace, the surrounding setting is absolutely magnificent. Tucked away in one of the world's most beautiful places, Solis Cambrian has a slew of recreational activities at its doorstep: mountain sports, outdoor adventures, and Swiss spa-ing, of course, at the luxurious Spa Solis featuring multiple treatments rooms, traditional Swedish and steam saunas, Dr. Kneipp foot treatment, and 100 percent natural products from Sodashi. (Pssst. We hear the outdoor hot tub boasts incomparable mountain views.) Every guest room in this modern design hotel has views from a balcony, and all the contemporary luxuries like plasma TVs and DVDs, wifi, plush robes, and fully stocked mini-bars. You can take advantage of a number of packages that offer good value and lots of added extras: Gourmet Hiking, priced at CHF 560,00 for 2 people, includes breakfast, 4-course dinner, and an opulent picnic basket while the Solis Wellness package, priced at CHF 1060,00 for 2 people, includes breakfast, 4-course dinner, 1 Sodashi Soul to Sole Body Treatment (90 minutes) per person, 1 Sodashi Aromatherapy Facial or Sodashi for Men (60 minutes) per person, and more.