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.

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.


Mandalay Bay Welcomes Deadly Komodo Dragon to Shark Reef Aquarium


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Komodo DragonLooks like the Vegas Strip has decided to import the deadliest lizard in the world. This fearsome predator's got 60 dagger-like teeth, deadly saliva (just one bite is enough to kill its prey), and razor-sharp claws. Indigenous to the southeast islands of Indonesia, the Komodo Dragon is a threatened population, with only 5,000 creatures worldwide. Starting June 20, you can check out the Komodo Dragon at Mandalay Bay's Shark Reef Aquarium, the 90,560-square-foot aquarium that's the only one in North America devoted to predators.

Image via Reuters


Suite Deal! The Fullerton Hotel Singapore Offers 50 Percent Off


By: Madelyn Giblin

Suite Deal The Fullerton Hotel Singapore Offers 50 Percent OffThe Fullerton Hotel is offering 50 percent off selected suites for a two night stay in their spectacular hotel. Guests can choose from one of the two-story Loft Suites, Palladian Suite, or the deluxe Fullerton Suites with outdoor terrace. Guests taking advantage of this great offer may also enjoy breakfast for two at the Town Restaurant, an in-room light meal, and all the benefits of the top of the line Straits Club. The exclusive executive club offers guests daily champagne breakfast, cocktails, afternoon tea and full use of the lounge with Internet access.

Plus, guests at The Fullerton making reservations with Five Star Alliance will receive a platter of fresh fruit.


Update on the Massive Makeover of The Savoy, London’s Iconic Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The SavoyThe guest list reads like a "who's who" of our time (Marilyn Monroe and Queen Elizabeth II danced on the ballroom's parquet floor), but despite its incredible history, The Savoy was looking a little worn around the edges. So on December 15, 2007, The Savoy closed its doors to undergo a GBP 100 million restoration, scheduled to re-open in early 2009. Now managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, the legendary palace on the Thames is beloved for its traditional afternoon tea and cocktails served at the American Bar (The Savoy Cocktail book has long been considered the mixology "bible"). Check out the hotel's new restoration website, now up and running, which features highlights of The Savoy's new look, "then and now" commentary, the "My Stay at The Savoy" column (in which prominent Londoners reminisce about residing at the hotel), and the General Manager's diary by GM Kiaran W. MacDonald.

Image of New Year's Eve 1907 at The Savoy via Wikipedia


Best Bites in Las Vegas: Rao’s at Caesars Palace Offers Backyard BBQ, Bocce Ball


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Rao's Bocce Ball CourtNothing beats a little bocce ball and barbeque in the summertime. Rao's Las Vegas is heating things up with a new "Bocce Bar & Grill Menu" at Caesars Palace. Chill out by the pool and nibble some delish grilled offerings, sip some limoncello, and play a game of bocce ball. Overlooking the 4.5 acre Garden of the Gods pool complex, Rao's is the perfect summer destination. Available daily from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm (May 8 until September 8, 2008), the menu includes grilled faves like Italian sausages and peppers, Mediterranean herb-grilled chicken wings, and Rao's famous meatballs made into hamburgers. The specialty cocktail menu is just as tempting, featuring Danny Devito's limoncello, the Strawberry Amore (Stoli strawberry and Disaronno mixed with fresh strawberries and cream), Tuscan Kool-Aid, and the Pomegranate Bellini. Of course beer buckets are available too! To help guests cool off in the heat, Italian ice is served all afternoon.

Psst. Sexy "Bocce Bellas" help guests learn the game.


Parc, Lake and Mountains with Park Hotel Weggis


By: Madelyn Giblin

Park Hotel WeggisExperience Switzerland in the finest way possible with Park Hotel Weggis' new "Parc, Lake and Mountains" package; available from April 1st until May 31st 2008. Located on the breathtaking Lake Lucerne, and only within a short traveling distance from various cities, the Park Hotel Weggis is the perfect place to vacation. The package includes a complimentary bottle of champagne upon arrival and four nights stay with buffet breakfast in one of the hotel's fabulous rooms. Not only are guests treated to a three course meal at the Restaurant The Grape, but they may also an enjoy a four course meal at the Restaurant Sparks, AND a five course dinner at Restaurant Annex. In addition, the accommodations include an impromptu aperitif at the Beach Bar Lounge or Sunset Caviar Bar, and a forty five minute body package at the spa designed to renew your skin and body. Guests are also offered an excursion to the majestic Mount Rigi or Lake Lucerne and have full use of the Hotel's covered outdoor pool and mountain bikes and fitness center. Rates start at € 1072.00 for a single room.


Fuse East and West at Park Hotel Kenmare in Kerry County, Ireland


By: Madelyn Giblin

Park Hotel KenmareFuse East and West with the Park Hotel Kenmare's "Essence of Chiva Som" package, available from May 2nd through 11th, 2008. The Park Hotel Kenmare will be hosting a showcase of one of the world's finest spa staffs, Chiva Som. Three of Chiva Som's top therapists and their Chef will be coming to Park Hotel Kenmare for an exclusive look at some of the world's best holistic therapies and cuisine. Guests who book under the "Essence of Chiva Som" package enjoy a two night stay in a luxury superior room, a water aerobics class at the hotel's state of the art underground pool, a Chiva Som dinner, one Chiva Som body treatment, daily serenity walk, and admission to a lecture on holistic medicine and how it affects the body. Leave Ireland feeling fully enriched and rejuvenated. Rates start at € 593.00 per person.


Ritz-Carlton and Jean-Michel Cousteau Expand the Ambassadors of the Environment Program


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ritz-Carlton, Grand CaymanWe're big fans of the aquatic education program at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, run by Jean-Michel Cousteau, the son of legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. Emphasizing education and respect for ecosystem sustainability with "hands-on" activities, the program was recently awarded "Best Children's Program for 2007" by Virtuoso. Participants explore coral reefs by snorkeling on the ocean floor, discover the critical role of mangrove trees in the ecosystem on pontoon expeditions, and participate in the breeding programs of rare species like the Blue Iguana. Now this collaboration between Ritz-Carlton and Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society will be expanded to other select destinations around the world, including Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Maui and Sanya, which opened April 24th, 2008.