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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.

Summer Sales in Florence, Italy at Rocco Forte’s Hotel Savoy


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Savoy, FlorenceLocation, location, location. The five-star Hotel Savoy has an unbeatable address in the heart of Florence, not far from the famous Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, and the Ponte Vecchio. The stylish hotel offers 88 rooms and 14 suites appointed with carefully chosen ceramics, artworks and fabrics. You'll find beautiful mosaics in the marble bathrooms. Brimming with luxury and style, Rocco Forte's Hotel Savoy promises impeccable service (how about guaranteed tix to the Uffizi?) and the highest standards of cuisine at L'Incontro Bar and Restaurant where you can dine alfresco on the piazza. Hotel Savoy has put together a special summertime package for when the Summer Sales start on July 14, 2008. They run until the first week of September, and this is your chance to secure some great bargains at the most fashionable boutiques. Starting from EUR 315 in a Classic Double room, the offer includes Daily Buffet Breakfast, a welcome gift by a renowned Italian designer in the room, and an after shopping aperitif at the fashionable L'Incontro Bar.


Raffles Dubai: Best Hotels in Glitzy Dubai


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Raffles DubaiLooking for an over-the-top getaway in the heart of Dubai? Look no further than Raffles Dubai, the stunning 19-storey pyramid that has become a landmark on the city's skyline since its debut at the end of 2007. Easily one of the hottest hotel openings of the year, Raffles Dubai has it all: an extraordinary location in Wafi City, Dubai's ultra-exclusive lifestyle complex (read: shopping like you've never experienced), blissful pampering at the RafflesAmrita Spa, the one-hectare 'Raffles Botanical Garden', depicting the four 'Elements of Life' (earth, wind, fire and water). Don't miss Khan Murjan in Wafi City, a recreation of a 14th century souk where artisans and craftsmen display stunning gold products. Luxury abounds at Raffles Dubai, but for the ultimate indulgence, book the Royal Suite, a palatial 650 square meters of sheer opulence. You'll enjoy two separate "his and her" en-suite bathrooms, a huge master bedroom with four-poster bed, an elegant dining room, featuring a separate kitchenette with a discreet access for butlers, and an entertaining room with a gentlemen's bar. The best part of all? A terrace boasting sweeping views over Dubai.


Special Opening Rates at The Regent Bal Harbour, Florida


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Regent Bal HarbourCheck in to unrivaled luxury in the affluent enclave of Bal Harbour Village and score special seasonal rates at Regent's new flagship in the Americas. This ultra-luxury hotel-- the first to open in Bal Harbour Village in 50 years-- entices guests with privacy and exclusivity, the likes of which the area has rarely seen. Just 15 minutes from Miami's airport and a hop from the world-renowned designer shops at Bal Harbour, The Regent Bal Harbour boasts dramatic ocean views from each of its 124 guest rooms and bathrooms, never more than two guest rooms per floor; a $4 million, privately-commissioned art collection with works by established and emerging American artists; the first Guerlain Spa in North America, standing at 10,000 square-feet; as well as the signature 1 Bleu restaurant. Above all, The Regent is getting rave reviews for its highly personalized and anticipatory service. Experience The Regent Bal Harbour and enjoy The Regent Opening Rates starting at $375 per night on weekdays and $425 per night on weekends May 1 – September 30, 2008, including superior accommodations for two and breakfast in 1 Bleu. Considering that rack rates start at $750 per night, this is a hot deal.


A Weekend with the Girls at The Sagamore Hotel


By: Guest Writer

A Weekend with the Girls at The Sagamore HotelFrom Victoria Winters

This past April I attended my girlfriend's bachelorette party in Miami, and naturally we stayed in South Beach. I had been to South Beach once before (for a the World Adult Kickball Competition I was in ... I kid you not), but was looking forward to a more upscale and relaxing vacation this time around with just the girls. We booked 2 rooms (414 and 416 at around $500 total per room) at The Sagamore Hotel for 8 women, each room was equipped with two double beds and a pull out couch. We arrived on a Thursday and stayed through Sunday.

Known as "The Art Hotel" I have to begin with the hilarious art work in the lobby. My friend and I probably spent the first 30 minutes at The Sagamore looking at photos upon photos of naked people.A Weekend with the Girls at The Sagamore Hotel Don't get me wrong this is tastefully done, but you would be amazed by how many people stripped down to their birthday suits for these photos….good way to avoid tan lines, I guess! Throughout the hotel (hallways, bathrooms, elevators…etc) you will constantly be engaging in new art mediums which makes for a really cool and interesting stay to say the least.

Besides staring at nudes... I also managed to experience the hotel restaurant, Social; lounge by the pool (and eat and drink poolside); go for a run at the gym; and take in some rays at the beach. The following is a list of pros and cons from my experience with the girls:

Pros:

    Excellent location (close to Lincoln Ave and all the hot night spots)

    Nice size suites (heard they are larger than the Delano)

    Excellent beds and comfortable bedding

    Pull out couch in each room

    Large L-shaped couches in rooms great for large groups and entertaining

    ipod docking station in each room with great speakers

    Separate toilet from bathroom

    Refrigerator with a good size freezer

    Excellent kitchen space for entertaining

    Excellent service all around

    Relaxing pool environment, not a pool “scene”

    Poolside bar & grill serves great drinks and food

    Private/designated beach area for guests

    Beach chairs (2 per room, additional chairs $15) and umbrella (1 per room)

    Interesting artwork throughout the hotel

Cons:

    Darks halls

    Single and shallow pool

    Odd layout of furniture in the rooms

    Weak hairdryers, if traveling with 2 or more women bring an extra

    Bad lighting in the bedroom near the mirrors which made getting ready with a group difficult

    Small gym with little equipment

    Good number of children at the pool (although if traveling with children this might be a pro)

    Social – restaurant is very cool but over priced for the food they serve

Would I go back to the Sagamore Hotel with the girls? Definitely! We loved that it wasn't "the place to be seen" which was exactly what you want the morning after a bachelorette party.


Doing Time at Boston’s Liberty Hotel: Spring Discount and More


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Liberty HotelLooking for a little solitary confinement this Spring? Boston's Liberty Hotel, the former-jail-turned-luxury-hotel that caused quite the stir when it opened last year, is offering 20 percent off plus complimentary valet parking with its Spring Special. This limited time offer must be booked prior to May 11, 2008 (mention "SPRING08" when booking). The hotel's got a killer location in Beacon Hill, and the guest rooms are positively plush. Think Molton Brown bath amenities, private bar with martini set, and flat-panel HD-LCD televisions. And the views from the floor-to-ceiling windows are stunning. Red Sox fans will go gaga over the "Swing! Batter, batter!" package offered by the Liberty Hotel, which includes lots of baseball swag, but-- as Hotelchatter advises-- doesn't promise the tickets themselves.


Now Open: The Mansion on Peachtree, Atlanta


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Mansion on PeachtreeBuckhead's newest luxury addition is now accepting reservations. We've been watching this one for months, and now Rosewood's opulent Mansion on Peachtree-- a combo of luxury residences and intimate ultra-luxury hotel-- is set to dazzle Atlanta. Plush velvet, macasser ebony, polished chrome and marble... Sound good? There's more. Each and every guest will get the personal attention of a private butler. On site: exquisite dining options (the Italian-inspired Neo and haute cuisine at Craft Atlanta), indoor lap and leisure pool, and 15,000-square foot luxury spa designed by 29 Cosmetics' Lydia Mondavi.


Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Pool Entrance Package, Dubai


By: Madelyn Giblin

Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Pool Entrance Package Dubai You'll find tranquility for the whole family with Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Desert Resort Dubai's Pool Entrance Package. Located amongst the impressive sand dunes, guests can enjoy the 250 sunloungers available beside the luxury infinity pool. And don't worry about the kids! With entrance children have full access to the waterfall at the children's pool, complimentary camel rides, a falcon show and access to Sinbad's Kids Club. Parents can sit back and relax, in the sun or the shade and enjoy lunch from one of the hotel's fantastic restaurants, with all-inclusive soft drinks. In addition guests have access to the changing rooms, unlimited towels, and the variety of extra activities available at the pool, including putting green, tennis, volleyball and aqua aerobics classes. Open from 9am to 6pm, children under the age of 6 earn free admission, children 6 to 12 are AED 300, and adults 12 years or older are AED 500. (Rates subject to change on holidays.) The all day price includes: * All day access to the pool and sunloungers * Lunch of your choice from our superb restaurants, Al Forsan restaurant, Masala Indian restaurant and Pizzeria Le Dune, or a la carte service available at the pool-side. * All inclusive of soft drinks during meal time (juices and all other beverages are charged additionally) * Use of the changing rooms, showers and personal secured lockers, and unlimited towels * Cold towels and use of local newspapers and magazines * Camel, pony riding and falcon show available in the late afternoon * Use of Sinbad's Kids Club * A variety of games and fitness activities, including a 9-hole putting green, croquet, petanque, table tennis, volleyball, bicycle tours, aqua aerobics * Amenity services around the pool


Weekend Buyout of the Viceroy Santa Monica


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Viceroy Santa MonicaIt doesn't get much better than this. Santa Monica's swanky Viceroy Hotel, quite the happening hotspot, is available-- in its entirety-- for a two-night, two-day buyout celebration. Designed by Kelly Wearstler, this posh adult playground is the ideal spot for "Opulence Unleashed." With this Friday and Saturday night package, you'll get the entire 162 room hotel, fully stocked mini-bars in every room, and an ongoing schedule of extravagant dining events for up to 300 guests. It all starts Friday evening, with a poolside dinner orchestrated by Whist Restaurant. Executive Chef Warren Schwartz will man the outdoor grill, while personal mixologists take care of drinks. (There's also a cigar tent.) On Saturday, your guests will indulge in an all-day pool party, with DJ and dancing, on demand massage service and a fabulous brunch with an open bar. In the evening, guests are transported to the Getty Museum for a private, catered event that includes dinner and drinks. The weekend concludes with poolside brunch on Sunday. Guests will receive a Viceroy travel package, before being transported to LAX by luxury shuttle service. All for just $500,000. Plus tax.


Tax Rebate Package at Acqualina Resort, Sunny Isles Beach, Florida


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

AcqualinaOf all the tax rebate packages offered by hotels right now, this has got to be one of the best deals. Rosewood's sumptuous Acqualina Resort, situated on the white sand between Ft Lauderdale and Miami, was one of the hottest hotel openings of 2006. Guests are lured by the ESPA oceanfront spa, acclaimed Il Mulino New York restaurant, marine-biology based kids' program, and glorious swimming pools overlooking the Atlantic. Here's the skinny on the tax rebate package: A couple can take their $1200 and splurge on a two night stay in an oceanfront room, daily continental breakfast for two, and a 60-minute spa treatment per person. Considering that the rack rate for 2008 is $1050 per night, lucky guests are getting a good value. Valid from May-September.


What Is Your Definition of Luxury? Part 1


By: Courtney W. May

What Is Your Definition of Luxury Part 1Something that is an indulgence rather than a necessity, sumptuous or expensive, abundance or great ease and comfort - these are all definitions of luxury. In the past we have tried to help define luxury in terms of hotels and resorts at Five Star Alliance - but overall, there no longer seems to be one standard definition to help determine what is or is not luxury. No longer can something be considered luxury just based on cost, marketing campaigns, or desires. The Google Images "luxury" image results include a shower head, Phantom Rolls Royce, palm tree, a sleeping pod, and a villa exterior - just to name a few. After we asked hundreds of people for their definition of luxury, read quotes both online and off, we found a wide range of varied responses. Do you agree with the ones below? Disagree? What is your definition of luxury?

"A 'luxury experience' is something that simply makes me feel good. Or Special. In defining a luxury hotel, for some people this can be staying at 'the' Landmark property in town - while for others it can be checking into the newest, hippest, trendy Boutique. Luxury in a hotel goes beyond the physical presence and amenities and extends to the all important levels of service. Luxury is an experience. It's the total package. One of my friends once told me 'it's what I deserve' - I think that's pretty close to a perfect definition." Cal Simmons, Chairman, www.FiveStarAlliance.com

"When needs and desires are anticipated and fulfilled even before being realized to the extent that they become a requirement." Christie Gaderson, Priorities Concierge

"Luxury, by definition, means something that appears to be the best of whatever it represents. It's a word that raises people's expectations, whether talking about clothing for women or locations for people to live ... You pay for recognition, but probably the most important thing it represents is delivery on the promise of the brand's name." Isadore Sharp, Founder, Chairman & CEO, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

“Luxury is defined by attention to the details. Meticulous workmanship, sumptuous atmosphere and discerning good taste.” Robert Mackasek, CEO, Valera Global

"Luxury means total serenity.” Herve Van der Straeten, Furniture Designer

"Time is the greatest luxury. In today's non-stop world, every second counts - so spending time with people you love is more and more precious. When planning time away, anything that can help to get us where we're going quickly and easily is incredibly valuable. This is evident in the increasing popularity of private aviation (go when you want), and destination or private residence clubs. What's more luxurious than being surrounded by your family, no to-do list in sight?" Jamie Cheng, Co-Founder and Chief Analyst, Halogen Guides

"Luxury is style and comfort, priced accordingly. Extravagance is style and comfort, cost be damned." Tod Herbers, Publisher, Home and Design Magazine

"Luxury - to me luxury is simply the best of the best. The finest quality and exceeded expectations in any area. Luxury is exquisite with supreme taste. In regards to the service that we provide, luxury is living without limits and having your time and peace to it ALL at the highest level.” Reginald Roberson, CEO, Lavish Lifestyles, LLC

"Luxury is … Uniqueness, exclusivity, these are luxury to me. Also, to be happy is a luxury. You could put me in the most beautiful place, but if I’m not happy, I’ll want to leave.” Bruno Frisoni, Accessories Designer

“Luxury can to be defined by consistent superior quality with an element of uniqueness and exclusivity. A stay experience that I can boldly share and recommend to people within my inner circle. A stay experience that will make me feel “very special” from arrival to departure and beyond. As a General Manager, selection of associates who are genuinely delighted to please others is an essential quality that I seek. The consistency of our brand elements must be maintained at all times to provide continuity of the “best Westin experience” for our guests from one Hotel to another. In my experience, this consistency of brand values and unparalleled personal service will drive customer loyalty that is “beyond reason”. This to me is luxury service.” John Varghese, General Manager, The Westin Alexandria

"Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort. Something desirable but expensive, something very pleasant but not really needed in life." Karl W. Friedrich, General Manager, River Inn Memphis

"To me luxury is defined as the best that life has to offer: an endless supply of amenities, a legendary setting, wondrous tranquility, spectacular scenery and the opportunity to embrace each moment because every needs has been satisfied." Jose Luis Mogollon, Director of Development, Quivira Los Cabos

"Travelers looking for a luxury trip want their dreams to become reality. They look for something unique, above their expectations with superb service where their needs and wants are fulfilled. This includes exclusivity, privacy, and everything from relaxation to adventure, with pampering and extras." Carrie McDougall, President, Cultural Crossroads

"The word luxury is overused and often ambiguous. True luxury delivers unexpected pleasures above and beyond what is essential or necessary. It exists in the small details that differentiate an experience from what is 'normal' or 'average'." Michael McFadden, Co-Founder, The Society of Leisure Enthusiasts

"I define luxury as the details that exceed your expectations and please the five senses. It's the touch and feel of fine linens or a plush robe. It's in the taste of fresh herbs and ingredients. It's the quality sound of live music. It's the beauty and fragrance of fresh flowers." Sheila Beal, Editor, www.GoVisitHawaii.com

"Something that is an indulgence rather than a necessity but makes you feel so good...who cares how much it costs." Victoria Winters, Adcision

"Exceptional: Five stars - The finest hotels in the world. Five-star lodging is characterized by luxury appointments, superlative service, and the highest standards of comfort. Five-star hotels offer originality in architecture and interior design, high-grade materials in construction and decor, and such special touches as fresh flowers and plants in abundance. These properties also maintain a high staff-to-guest ratio, gourmet dining, and 24-hour room service." Expedia Travel

Do you agree? Disagree? What is your definition of luxury? Let us know your thoughts and feelings in the comments below or send us a note. We will continue to share the best ones from the comments and that we receive in Parts 2 and 3 which will run in the next few months.