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.

An Interview with the General Manager: Luca Virgilio of the Hotel Baglioni London


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Mr. Luca Virgilio has been the General Manager of the Hotel Baglioni London since October of 2004. Prior to his work in London, most recently Mr. Virgilio was the General Manager of the Hotel Carlton Baglioni in Milan, and the Resident Manager of the Hotel Eden in Rome.

Luca Virgilio Carlton LondonFive 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?

Luca Virgilio: The décor plays a very important role in determining the personality of the Hotel. So I would say décor is a unique feature that distinguish us from other Hotels in the City. It has a very glamorous and decadent feel, and a definite Italian chic appeal. It is n hotel with energy a great soul and spirit. This is given by the staff who are always there to help but the feel is relaxed and without an "attitude"… people that frequent us make the Hotel Baglioni London what it is.

Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?

Luca Virgilio: We have many A-listers in the entertainment business that are known world wide, however they one of our most treasured secrets and we do not like to divulge…..

Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages?

Luca Virgilio: Definitely room 505. It is on the top floor has beautiful views over the park and in indeed a standard room. This said all our rooms are particularly spacious where the smallest is 300 square foot. My favorite rooms in the hotel are the '04 types. These are junior suites facing the park with beautiful contemporary 4 poster beds and working gas fireplaces.

Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel?

Luca Virgilio: Hotel Baglioni London is very well embedded in the London social scene. We have become a destination for the Londoners to meet for drinks or dinner. The restaurant and bar are very busy especially in the evening - lots of beautiful people around. We have held some of the most glamorous events and parties such as the Vanity Fair, Tatler, EMI after the Brits award party, Fashion Rocks, where many celebrities attended.

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?

Luca Virgilio: If the style and décor would suit my desires.

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

Luca Virgilio: Hotel Baglioni London is in a residential area facing Hyde Park. We are in the heart of the cultural part of London with the Victoria &Albert Museum, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Hall. We are at the cross roads between the touristy part of London and the London for the locals with bars, cafes, boutiques, art galleries. We can be in any of these 2 parts in 5 minutes and Kensington itself is a beautiful area where I just enjoy walking the streets window shopping or a little walk in the park.

Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?

Luca Virgilio: The Carlyle in New York, The Eden in Rome, The Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok. They all have a very strong individuality, soul and charisma. This is invaluable in the days where many go for one rule fits all.

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

Luca Virgilio: Age group is from 35 to 55 more or less and come from different geographic regions and background. From CEO of major international corporations, to the movie or rock star to a couple enjoying a romantic weekend, or a family traveling to enjoy quality time together. The main group of our guests come from the US, followed by England, Italy, France, Russia and Middle East.

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

Luca Virgilio: Is a fascinating job and I would not change it for anything in the world… indeed can be challenging, probably the hardest is to make sure you please every single guest as an individual, there is not one rule for all... change nothing add yes... a swimming pool.

Mr. Luca Virgilio is fluent in Italian, English and French, and has a fair knowledge of Spanish. He attended Cornell University, the University of Rome, Istituto Kennedy in Rome and Hotel Management School in Switzerland.


Buzzworthy: Gansevoort South Opens in South Beach


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gansevoort SouthThe South Beach branch of the celebrated New York hotel has officially opened its doors, but HotelChatter advises that a lot of facilities-- like the 42,000-square-foot David Barton Gym and Spa--are still closed during the soft opening phase. What's so cool about this place? A sprawling rooftop retreat with bar, lounge, and 110-foot long pool is billed as "the largest rooftop playground in the country." Beachside infinity pool, classy eateries, and an enormous shark tank in the lobby... And the coolest part of all? The celebratory opening for the Gansevoort South featured celeb tennis stars playing a match on the rooftop pool. Like, literally, *on* the water. Check out the pic on HotelChatter.

Image Via Snack


Hotel Zaza: Hipster Heaven in Houston


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Zaza HoustonWe can't stop talking about the glamorous Hotel Zaza and its cool, creative amenities. Houston's hottest hotel just got a shout-out from the Chicago Sun-Times travel blog:

ZaZa used to be the historic neoclassical Warwick hotel until a massive renovation turned it into swanky 315-room bastion of coolness. Especially funky are the themed suites decked out in clever motifs like the space theme in the "Houston, We Have a Problem" room.

The rooms are truly decadent. And the bar? "THE place to see and be seen."


Burj Dubai: New Seven Wonders of the World?


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Burj Dubai The Burj Dubai, the tallest building in the world, has just been selected by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the "new seven wonders of the architecture world" in the April issue. Designed by Chicago-based architect Adrian Smith, the towering skyscraper will be 2,111 feet high and 160-plus stories when it opens next year (that's 1.5 times the size of the Sears Tower):

Its completion will mark the first time the Middle East has been able to claim tallest-building rights since the early fourteenth century, when England's Lincoln Cathedral surpassed Egypt's Great Pyramid-- a point of pride for local backers.

And here's another record-breaker: the elevators will catapult visitors to the top at a speed of 40 miles per hour.


The World’s Greatest City Views: Westin St. Francis in San Francisco


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Westin St. FrancisNational Geographic's Journeys of a Lifetime has the scoop on some of the top urban views in the world, and the elevator ride in the Westin St. Francis, the landmark hotel situated directly on Union Square in downtown San Francisco, is a once-in-a-lifetime must. There are 5 exterior elevators, and these are the fastest in the city-- hurtling upward at 1,000 feet per minute. The panoramic views of the City by the Bay are breathtaking.

PS. Don't miss dinner at Michael Mina, the award-winning restaurant housed in the hotel.

Related Article:

HotelChatter, "Westin St. Francis Unveils 'Meet Me at the Clock' Contest"

Vagablond, Is the Hotel Still For Sale?


What’s Hot: The New W Hotel Istanbul


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Hotel IstanbulNow accepting reservations beginning April 1, 2008, the new W Hotel is the hottest thing to hit the scene in Istanbul. The hotel brand known for its chic, contemporary style has opened a sexy new property in the ancient city of gilded domes, minarets, and dynamic modern towers. Crossroads between old and new, East and West, the cosmopolitan metropolis of Istanbul welcomes a hotel as dynamic as the city itself. Designed by Geomim, the hotel is the centerpiece of the historic Akaretler Row Houses. You'll find all the signature W touches like iPod docking stations and flatscreen TVs, munchie boxes and mini bars, the luxurious W bed, separate showers and tubs in the bathrooms, and the cozy Living Room for cocktails. Plus, all rooms and suites have gardens, terraces, or cabanas. Indulge in all the decadent facilities on offer: chow down on the Southeast Asian plates at Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Spice Market before getting pampered with a massage at the spa. Talk about Turkish Delight.


The Perfect Combination - Astrology and Park Hotel Weggis


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Park Hotel Weggis If you faithfully read your horoscope each day and know the signs of all your friends, then you’ll want to visit the Park Hotel Weggis for their Park & Stars Package. It includes welcome champagne, accommodation including buffet breakfast, an individual astrological reading on the day of your arrival or a couple analysis, an astrological five course dinner (created around your astrological sign!), as well as a keepsake to take home with you. The astrological consultations are given by Doris Vollenweider, a counselor for astrological psychology. Park Hotel WeggisAll readings are given in German so unfortunately you are out of luck if you don't speak that language. When you reserve, you will need to give the hotel your exact date, time, and location of birth for your astrological reading. Packages are also available without the overnight accommodation for those who would just like to spend an astro filled day at the Park Hotel Weggis.


Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace: Earth Day Menu Benefitting Bette Midler’s NY Restoration Project


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bradley Ogden at Caesars PalaceEat farm fresh for Bette Midler with a special Earth Day Menu at the acclaimed restaurant Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. To celebrate its 5th anniversary and the successful premiere of Bette Midler The Showgirl Must Go On, Bradley Ogden Restaurant-- recipient of the James Beard Award and honors from Mobil and Michelin-- has introduced an exclusive tasting menu until Earth Day, April 22, 2008. As leader in the farm-fresh cuisine movement, Ogden and his family have long been associated with sustainable, responsibly produced cuisine, and now the Ogdens, along with Caesars Palace, will donate 15 percent of proceeds from the menu to The New York Restoration Project, a non-profit organization founded by Bette Midler dedicated to creating green spaces in New York City's underserved communities. Priced at $75 or $115 with wine pairing, the menu features Ogden signatures like Twice-Baked Maytag Souffle and Butterscotch Pudding and includes organic produce and protein including Organic Artichoke Soup and Free Range Petaluma Chicken. The wine pairings feature several organic and biodynamic selections.


Suite Package Deal in Prague at the Hotel Palace Praha


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Palace PrahaDating from 1909, the Art Nouveau-style Hotel Palace Praha is smack dab in the middle of Prague, just a stone's throw from Wenceslas Square. In addition to the 114 guest rooms, combining traditional elegance with all the modern comforts, the hotel boasts some to-die-for suites with marvelous views of Prague Castle: 3 Junior Suites, 2 stylish Old Town Suites located on the 6th and 7th floors, the Opera Suites with white Carrara and Rosso Verona marble bathrooms and state-of-the-art entertainment systems (and views of the State Opera), and the 5th floor Art Nouveau Suite. Our favorite is the 6th floor Palace Suite with its private sauna and balcony. When you book the Suite Package at the Hotel Palace Praha, you'll experience pure luxury in the heart of Prague with some excellent add-ons including a 3-course candle-lit dinner in Gourmet Club Restaurant-- awarded one of "The Top 10 International Restaurants in Prague." Priced from just EUR 335 per night in a Junior Suite and available through the end of 2008, the package includes luxurious accommodation in one of the suites, daily full buffet breakfast in L'Epoque Restaurant, welcome drink upon arrival, home made chocolate pralines in-room, 3-course candle-lit dinner, free access to the hotel sauna and business center, and a voucher to the nearby Fitness center (use of fitness, indoor pool, whirpool and steam bath).


Cherry Blossom Massage at the Willard InterContinental: Spring Fever in Washington D.C.


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Willard InterContinentalThe Cherry Blossom Festival is gearing up to start this Saturday and the trees in the Tidal Basin are already cooperating with lots of flowers. Daily Candy's got the scoop on all things cherry blossom, and the best-- by far-- is the hour-long spa treatment at the Willard InterContinental's luxurious I Spa, a massage which uses cherry massage oil mixed with organic orange oil, lavender, and rose geranium.