The Luxury Hotel Insider

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.

The Lonely Planet of Airport Guidebooks (Almost)

October 13, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ever been lost in the psychedelic maze at Charles de Gaulle airport? Never again, thanks to a new world airport guide, brought to our attention by the savvy folks at Gridskipper.


Buzzworthy: Faena Hotel + Universe

October 13, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Faena Hotel and Universe

Phillipe Starck has done it again. After conceiving the Hotel Delano in Miami, Mondrian in LA, and New York’s Asia de Cuba restaurant, the master designer continues to knock our socks off with the extraordinary Faena Hotel + Universe in Buenos Aires. Decadent, lavish, imperial—the hotel is a contemporary, stylish masterpiece housed in a historic building. The hotel’s “Universe” is a sophisticated multifunctional space that includes an intimate library, elegant restaurants, a swimming pool (i.e. poolside-pretty-people-watching), a caberet, spa with hammam, and academy, offering tango and cooking classes. Each of the 105 rooms have river views, revealed behind automatic velvet curtains and Venetian blinds. Instead of a concierge, personal assistant or butler, lucky guests get “Experience Managers”— who organize every minute detail of the guest’s Porteño experience, including tango dancing, antiquing or—for the brave—polo-playing. We’re all about the hotel’s flexible check-in/check-out policy. (Guests check in whenever they want, and are guaranteed a 24-hour stay.) And with the peso still weak, the glam Latin capital is enticingly cheap. Thus living it large-- whether for a few nights, or a few months-- is not tough.


Itching To Plan Your Winter Getaway?

October 13, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Caribbean getaway

Luxury Travel Magazine just released their list of top new resorts in the Caribbean... Check them out and get tempted.


What’s Up With Macau?

October 13, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Lisboa

When I last visited China’s old Portuguese colony in May 2004, it was sleazy, shady, and—I’ll admit—a teensy bit scarey. Granted, there are plenty of interesting historical sites in the old city—its historic heart full of narrow streets, pastel facades, and Chinese courtyards lined with the signature Portuguese tiles. The East-West cultural exchange is awesome, proudly manifest in the architecture: Chinese temples standing side by side the remnants of the first Christian churches in Asia. But the view from my window in the dated Hotel Lisboa was downright depressing; the casino strip seemed caught in a time warp of aged, cheezy opulence. The hang-out for the dregs of Hong Kong. So I’m amazed by the latest buzz-- that Steve Wynn is scheduled to open a sophisticated hotel and casino in Autumn 2006. Looks like Wynn follows another Vegas based gaming resort. Last year the owner of the Venetian in Vegas opened the US$240 million Sands Macau. Indeed, Time Asia has predicted an explosive gaming boom for Hong Kong’s lesser known neighbor. Is Macau the next luxury hotspot for the world’s highrollers?


Suite Relief: The Hotel Plaza Athenee Unveils the Largest Accomodations in Paris

October 12, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Plaza Athenee Located on the fifth floor, the Royal Suite of the Hotel Plaza Athenee boasts 450 square meters, overlooking the Eiffel Tower and Avenue Montaigne. The decadent suite is furnished like an elegant Parisian home, brimming with antiques and beautiful fabrics. Two enormous, luxurious bathrooms have their own Turkish bath, a Jacuzzi and a mini-bar full of cosmetics. The good folks at the Athenee haven’t skimped on technology; the Royal has eight plasma-screen televisions, lights adjustable by remote control, and a private office with high speed internet. A night will set you back EUR 14,000. Hotel Plaza Athenee, Official Site Hotel Plaza Athenee Booking at Five Star Alliance


Taj Mirage? Taj Exotica Maldives Ready to Dazzle in December

October 12, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Taj Exotica Maldives

Taj Hotels and Resorts has created a seemingly ephemeral paradise—smack in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Situated on one of the largest lagoons in the Maldives, the all-new Taj Exotica Resort & Spa will open in early December. On the 20 minute boat ride from the airport, you’ll think your eyes are playing tricks on you. The Taj Exotica is glorious. The resort seamlessly blends with the island’s natural beauty, creating your own private sanctuary in the middle of the ocean. Each of the 62 villas is built entirely over the lagoon and sea. Balconies, sundecks, and even private freshwater plunge pools open out onto the vast, surrounding turquoise. Get this: the Rehendi Suite even boasts a glass bathroom providing infinite views of the sea. Plus, there’s diving, snorkeling, fishing-- galore. But what we’re really drooling over is the authentically Indian spa. The Jiva Grande Spa is like its own private island, accessible by a bridge from the main resort. Spa Pavilions-- each containing private sundecks and relaxation space—include two luxurious Couple Suites. But on top of this, the Jiva Grande offers a Signature Indian Royal Mud and Bathing Experience Pavilion (with Hammam and couple experience showers), an Ayurveda Sanctuary Pavilion (with traditional Ayurveda treatments), and Heat, Hydro and Relaxation Experience Pavilion. Wow.

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Official Site

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa Booking at Five Star Alliance


Fall’s Spectator Sport

October 11, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Loire Valley Chateau

It’s that time of year again. The hordes rubber-necking along the nation’s Interstates are the most obvious clue. Fall is upon us, and though you may have missed the stein-clunking, beer-guzzling merriment of Munich’s world famous Oktoberfest, it’s not too late to soak up the season’s best pageantry in other spots around the globe. The Fall leaves are only just peaking. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some top world destinations to check out the autumn leaves.

Scotland

This little country is all the rage right now, perhaps because of the filming of the cult classic The Da Vinci Code. Devoted fans have been pursuing the film-makers from pillar to post since they begin filming the thriller in June. But Autumn is the best time to visit: the rolling green landscapes are highlighted with distinctive autumn foliage, the northern lights are on show, the whale-watching is stupendous, and most of the tourists have departed with the end of the Edinburgh Festival. Of course, the icing on the cake is off-season rates.

Where to stay? Check out the world’s best golf at Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa in St. Andrew’s. As can be expected from the home of Golf, the resort’s championship course is spectacular and challenging, offering sweeping views of the coastline and sea.

France

Lucky us-- the Loire Valley is packed with more châteaux than French residents. (Only kidding; my partner-in-crime is French.) In the Autumn, the Valley’s charming villages are blazing with autumn colors, and the vineyards are turning all kinds of crazy colors. It’s also the annual grape-plucking time, and the harvest brings lots of festivals and activities.

Where to stay? Head to the ultimate palace of extravagance: perfume millionaire François Coty’s Château d'Artigny. Like the great historic châteaux of the Loire, the hotel is set in a 65 acre estate with marvelous formal gardens. Hey—if it was permitted—I’d even stake out a room in the cellar-- brimming with 20,000 bottles of delicious Loire Valley wine.

Tuscany

What could be better than wine-tasting in autumn in Tuscany? Now that the summer crowds have thinned, take an autumn stroll through striking Mediterranean scenery. The days are still hot, and the landscapes dotted with olive, cyprus and colorful deciduous groves. As the cultural capital of the region, Florence mesmerizes with historic treasures, artistic masterpieces, and shopping extravaganzas.

Where to stay? Located in the surrounding hills of Florence, Villa San Michele is a magically-restored 15th century monastery, with its façade attributed to Michelangelo. Orient-Express Hotels undertook the massive, comprehensive restoration, with the cooperation of the Florence Fine Arts Society.

Montreal

Can’t make it to Europe? Take a weekend trip to Montreal, a European style city complete with a vibrant café culture and passion for joie de vivre. Starting in September, Fall’s pageant opens and travels down to the Canadian border, leaving a full color spectrum in its wake.

Where to stay? The fashionable Windsor Arms hotel is decidedly hip. Just thirty yards from the Golden Strip, the 28 luxurious suites are tucked away in luxurious calm. Service is exceptional, with personal butlers discreetly in attendance 24 hours a day.

New England

This is where it's at for fantastic fall foliage. It’s hard to predict the peak of the colors, but this year the eager forecasters are calculating that the colors will be at their best until October 23. (For you avid Foliage Fans, they are even some hotlines you can call for precise forecasting.) Most of the region is covered in woodland, so the landscape is utterly transformed by color.

Where to stay? Head to Boston’s classy and eclectic suburb of Cambridge, where you can stroll through the ivied courtyards of Harvard Yard. The Charles Hotel is luxurious and contemporary, and offers the best Sunday brunch in the nation, at its restaurant Henrietta’s Table.

China

Leave it to the Chinese to launch an actual “Red Leaves Project” to beautiful the outskirts of Bejing. In 2000, the government meticulously planned a 230-km swath of red leaves which is just now on show. It gets quite cold in late October, so hurry up and book those flights today. (Avoid the Fragrant Hills, 28 kilometers north of Bejing, because of the crowds and traffic. Likewise, the Badaling stretch of the Great Wall resembles a Disney Land Park with tourists and vendors galore.)

Where to stay? The Peninsula Palace Bejing is ideally located just a short walk from The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and all the tourist treasures of the capital. Following a US$27 million renovation, the hotel is the premier address in Bejing.

Kenya

Forget the leaves. The attraction here is the incredible wildebeest and zebra migration that occurs every October without fail. During the summer months, the herds (made up of millions of animals!) hang out on the savannas of Kenya’s Masai Mara, before returning to Tanzania’s Serengeti plains with the inauguration of the October rains.

Where to stay? To enjoy this spectacle, check in to one of the luxurious camps along the Mara River, like the Mara Serena Safari Lodge. Even the swimming pool and restaurant overlook a watering hole where wildlife congregate to drink.


Bring the Kids to Grace Bay Club

October 11, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grace Bay Club, Turks and Caicos Possibly the most prestigious address in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Grace Bay Club is dripping with accolades: Robb Report’s Best of the Best, Forbes.com World’s Most Luxurious Beaches, Andrew Harper’s Best of the Caribbean. And the resort seems to stick like glue to Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List, where it’s been a fixture since 1997. The adults-only hotel has 21 luxurious suites, adorned with terra-cotta Spanish tiles on the edge of a stunning white-sand beach. Measuring a palatial 850-2,000 square feet, the suites have private ocean view terraces, sumptuous 220-count Egyptian cotton linens, hand-painted Mexican tiles, flat screen televisions and full kitchens. The oceanfront restaurant, Anacaona, is the island’s elegant best—serving up epicurean delights such as Turks and Caicos baby conch. The resort’s ultra-hip Lounge offers a creative martini menu on the beach. What could get better than this? Grace Bay Club just announced the opening of new family-friendly suites at the Villas. So while parents bask in the pampering at the 5,000 square foot European spa at the adults-only hotel, their kids are living it up at the eco-activity children’s program—Kids Town—not to mention their own pool and beachside Grill. Grace Bay Club, Official Site Grace Bay Club Booking at Five Star Alliance


Announcing Capella Hotels & Resorts

October 10, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Check this out. The former president of Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Horst Schulze, has just announced the launch of a new luxury hotel brand. Capella Hotels & Resorts will include four initial properties, including grand castles in Ireland and beachside spa resorts in Mexico, with other US and European destinations to follow. The brand’s name is taken from the sixth brightest star in the night sky, and the logo incorporates the binary star motif. (That's pretty sweet...) Each Capella hotel will offer 100 rooms or fewer, for a boutique experience with luxury service that is perfected for the individual consumer. Let the bliss begin in 2006.


What’s Hot - Esperanza Resort, Cabo

October 10, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Esperanza Resort, Cabo

Escape the winter blues and thaw by the turquoise Sea of Cortés at this new luxury property near Cabo San Lucas. Created by Auberge Resorts, Esperanza is deliciously alluring, chic and impossibly romantic. The sandstone villas are carved into the bluffs overlooking the sea, where the humpback whales migrate just offshore. The infinity pool seems to spill into the private cove beneath, with sweeping views of the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula. At the terraced Restaurant, enjoy a star-studded menu of local fish, like almond seared rare yellowfin tuna with warm avocado pie or grilled dorado steak with ricotta crepes and dark pasilla-huitlacoche mole. Or toss back a Piña Dorada at El Bar, watching the sun dip below the Pacific’s horizon. The resort's 56 guest rooms and suites have oversized tubs, large outdoor terraces and handcrafted furniture. Don’t miss the unique spa treatments—like grated coconut and lime body exfoliation—that feature natural, indigenous ingredients. After a yoga or pilates class, relax in the warm soaking pool or the indoor steam cave. Diving, sailing and kayaking trips are phenomenal.

Esperanza Resort, Official Site

Esperanza Resort Booking at Five Star Alliance