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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.

Rome’s Hotel Villa Spalletti Trivelli Ranked Among 50 Best Hotels in the World

March 1, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Villa Spalletti Trivelli, RomeHotel-obsessed travel addicts will want to check out the list of the "50 Best Hotels in the World" compiled by The Telegraph. Encompassing all budgets, the list of all-time favorites includes off-the-beaten path gems alongside the more popular icons. We weren't surprised to see the Hotel Villa Spalletti Trivelli-- among some of our other favorites-- make the cut. Here's what the editors had to say about the Villa:

The spectacular Roman town house of the blue-eyed and blue-blooded Count Giangiacomo Spalletti Trivelli has been turned into the city’s most aristocratic luxury hotel. Ideally placed between the shopping street of Via Nazionale and the presidential palace, this antique and art-stuffed palazzo boasts opulent interiors of such historic significance that they are listed by the Italian heritage ministry. But there’s no haughtiness or condescension: the customer is king here and from the spa to the turndown service, it all works to perfection.


The World’s Tallest Hotels (in Dubai, Bangkok, Shanghai… Where Else?)

February 25, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Burj Al ArabCurious about the tallest hotels on the planet? Do any hotels in the Americas make the cut? Web Urbanist just published the Top 10 List, and it's making the Internet rounds. Burj Al Arab-- the sail-shaped wonder soaring over the beach in Dubai-- lands on the list, along with two other Dubai properties: The Rose Rayhaan by Rotana and Jumeirah Emirates Towers. The rest of the buildings can be found in cities across Asia: The Baiyoke Tower II in Bangkok, The Cullinan I in Hong Kong, the Grand Lisboa in Macau, The Lanko-Grand Hyatt Hotel in Chongqing, Swissôtel The Stamford in Singapore, Oasis Skyway Garden Hotel in Shanghai, JR Central Hotel Tower in Nagoya, and Ryugyong Hotel Tower in Pyongyang. Check out all the photos here.


Tired of Romance? Go to Edmonton!

February 10, 2011
By: Daniel L. Moses

Most people want romance on Valentine’s Day, but sometimes when thing just aren’t going our way, that’s the exact opposite of what we seek. So I figured I’d save you some time and find the most un-romantic place on Earth. First a couple ground rules: I ruled out anywhere that is currently in the midst of major turmoil, and I fully acknowledge that ANYWHERE can be romantic if you’re with someone you love. So take all this with a grain of salt. Now without further ado, the most un-romantic place on Earth is Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada.

And before they get their lawyers ready to sue me, let me state for the record that the lack of romance doesn’t mean a lack of luxury. Nor does it mean a lack of adventure, in fact quite the opposite, Edmonton is filled with adventure. The skiing is top class, in fact all the winter sports are unrivaled in this part of Alberta, with the Canadian Rockies within sight from any vantage. Winter sports, of course, dominate this part of the world, especially with a day time temperature of 18 degrees as I write this. Fahrenheit, mind you, and if you don’t think being frozen is so bad, Edmonton just might be right for you.

Again, though, this is for the adventurous, and Edmonton has adventure in a more temperate setting: The West Edmonton Mall. Before you scoff, let me point out that this is not just any mall. In fact, it’s the largest in North America and boasts not just a full-sized amusement park, not just a waterpark, not just a miniature golf course designed to look like Pebble Beach, not just an indoor aquatic habitat for sea lions that includes a replica of Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria, but also a bowling alley, arcade, movie theater, pool hall, and performance arena that some of the world’s hottest acts have graced. That goes along with more than 800 stores and restaurants. I’m almost out of breath as I type this!

And while the West Edmonton Mall is incredible, and worth the visit, it’s hardly romantic. But it sure is fun!

There are two hotels worth your time in Edmonton, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. The first, alphabetically of course, is the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, a luxurious property that will fulfill all of your un-romantic notions (and gosh darnit, if you must, a few romantic ones too). Built in 1915 and resembling a French castle, this Chateau on the River will charm you from the word go.

The Sutton Place Hotel, EdmontonAlso in Edmonton is The Sutton Place Hotel. Modern and warm, this sultry property will indulge your every whim. For the highest rollers in the audience, ask for the Royal Suite, a two-story indoor palace.

Finally, if you’re dead set on romance, you can always take a short drive to Banff, where the Post Hotel in Lake Louise will knock your socks off! I suggest keeping them on, though, as it gets a wee bit chilly in the Great White North.

As they say in Canada, “Have a nice trip!”

Editor's Note: Disagree with our writer about Edmonton? Let him know in the comments section below why you think Edmonton is romantic, or where you think the least romantic destination might be...


Love on the Banks of the Seine

February 10, 2011
By: Daniel L. Moses

The Eiffel Tower from the balcony of the Hotel Plaza AtheneeThere are two things I value above all else: Luxury and Romance. Finding each individually is hard enough, but finding them together is nearly impossible. So I did what most people do when they are looking for something. I googled it. I entered simply, “Romantic Luxury Getaways”, and let the computer do the work for me. And I implore you to do the same. Go ahead, I’ll wait right here until you return. Don’t worry, it won’t spoil the ending…

Back yet? Okay, what did we both find? First, it was some of the great hotels of the world. And amongst them, of course, the city that appeared again and again: Paris, France. Not Paris, Texas, nor Paris, Arkansas, both of which I’ve visited and can say are truly unromantic. Paris, France, on the other hand, is, cliché or not, simply the most romantic city in the world. Luckily for us, it also offers some of the most luxurious hotels in the world.

Before I get into that, and therefore before I list which of Paris’ finest are my favorites, I want to tell you why Paris is romantic. You may now be grumbling about your last visit, or maybe your last 5 visits, and how you know very well what is and is not true about la belle ville. I’ve been several times myself in the last few years, and in fact lived two years in Paris on the Left Bank in my marauding early-20s. And yes, while I have the advantage of ordering a Domaine Romanée-Conti in heavily accented French, I’ve learned that in Paris anyone can find romance.

Where? I found it on the terrace of a café in an alley at a hole-in-the-wall Moroccan restaurant that no longer exists. The place was run down, the couscous overcooked, and yet when I raised a glass of Burgundy and toasted with the sweet, brown-eyed girl underneath a canopy of stars illuminating the French summer night, I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. Months later, a ring tucked deep in my pocket, I strolled down to the banks of the Seine, heard the muted stir of the river below, and found myself on one knee asking her to be with me forever. We returned for our honeymoon, and several trips thereafter, and Paris never let us down. The gray hair on my temples has never kept the romance at bay, and I still raise a toast with the brown-eyed girl on the other side of the table.

Now, though, when I go to the world’s most romantic city, I stay at the world’s most luxurious hotels. And why not? Luxury and romance go hand in hand, just as my hand goes with hers each and every morning when I wake up, and just as our lips come together each evening to say goodnight.

Hotel de CrillonSo make romance yours at L’Hotel de Crillon. This hotel is not for the overnight traveler. In fact, the pre-revolutionary construction is in classic Louis XV style, and will tantalize patrons with a stunning location only steps from Les Champs-Elysees, and make a stay of any length too short.

If you’re looking for a taste of the Belle Époque, seek out the Ritz Paris. Erected in 1898, the Ritz underwent a stunning renovation in 2010, and is known for its famous guests, more recently (Elton John) and a few years ago (Marcel Proust).

Finally, if you prefer views of the Eiffel tower from your flower-filled balcony, charm your loved one with a stay at the Hotel Plaza Athenee. Luxury is a given, romance an absolute, and with four restaurants on site overseen by the eminent Alain Ducasse, you’ll have the best of Parisian dining just steps away.

One final note: If you’re thinking of buying her that ring, or perhaps telling him that you love him all the more after all these years, don’t wait! Seize the moment! Paris may endure and always be waiting, but perhaps he or she won’t. Bon voyage!


The Peninsula Tokyo is Awarded “Best Asian Hotel”

January 19, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Peninsula TokyoAwards season is upon us. Not only are we getting our red carpet fix (celebrities in haute couture dripping Fred Leighton diamonds), but we're also getting the scoop on where to sleep around the world-- as top travel magazines are coming out with their lists of the world's best hotels. It's no surprise to see that The Peninsula Tokyo nabbed the award for "Best Asian Hotel" in Conde Nast Traveler's 2010 Reader's Choice Awards. The awards ceremony was held recently at the IAC Building in Manhattan and hosted by Angie Harmon and Liev Schreiber. The Peninsula's General Manager accepted the award from actress Kelly Rutherford. The Peninsula Tokyo deserves top honors-- for its in-room technology, jaw-dropping views, and hip hotel bar.


Top Destinations and Best New Hotels for 2011

January 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons London at Park LaneWho doesn't love a good "Top 10" list? It's that time of year again- when folks vow to pen New Year's resolutions, and the media churn out lists forecasting the top travel picks for the coming year. This past weekend, The New York Times released their highly anticipated round-up of the "41 Places to Go in 2011"-- including Santiago, Chile; Koh Samui, Thailand; Oualidia, Morocco; and Dresden, Germany. And The Telegraph has published a preview list of 2011's best new hotels, complete with photos (some real eye candy!) We're most excited about the W Hotel and Four Seasons Park Lane (pictured) in London, plus the Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental in Paris.


2011 Grand Award Winners from Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report

December 31, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

AmangiriHats off to the 2011 Andrew Harper Grand Award Winners! Since 1979, the prestigious publication has tracked the best in luxury hotels, and now the newest list is out. What's the criteria for choosing the award winners? From the official website: "Mr. Harper chooses his favorite properties visited over the past calendar year to comprise this list. All possess exceptional character, a commitment to classic hospitality and a profound sense of place." And without further ado, the top award, the "Hideaway of the Year," is Il Salviatino in Florence, Italy. Other award winners include: Amangiri, The Hazelton Hotel, and Lake Placid Lodge in North America; Tambo del Inka and Titilaka in South America; The Peninsula House and Tucker's Point in the Caribbean; Banjaar Tola (India) and Sumahan on the Water (Istanbul) in Asia & Mideast; Villa Bordoni and Hotel Le Fontanelle (Italy), Lydmar Hotel (Stockholm), Tenbosch House (Brussels), Amberley Castle and Lime Wood (England) in Europe.


Where to Stay in Chiang Mai, Top 10 City of the Year

November 3, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Chedi Chiang MaiLonely Planet just released a list of the "Top 10 Cities of 2011"-- featuring Tangier, Tel Aviv, New York, Wellington, and more. The venerable guidebook company had flattering words for Chiang Mai, Thailand's culture capital, which may just inspire us to visit soon:

If Chiang Mai were a person, it would be Bob Dylan. With a history dating back further than anyone can remember, its influence remains enormous. And despite its great age, there’s still a bohemian chic that makes it as relevant and hip as ever. Culture capital of Thailand, Chiang Mai was once the heart of the Lanna kingdom. Today those wanting to flee the bustle of Bangkok visit to lounge in coffee shops and drink in the city’s artisanal atmosphere. With a friendly, cosmopolitan feel, this is one easy, safe and pleasant place to explore. There are dozens of well-preserved temples here, too. Many new ecotours and adventure trips are appearing, and with a choice of river rafting, elephant rides, trekking and off-road cycling, even the biggest adrenaline junkie will be sated.

Looking for accommodations in town? Five Star Alliance has some choice Chiang Mai recommendations-- from The Chedi (ooh la la) to the Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental. In addition, Five Star Alliance offers some four-star properties in Chiang Mai. Browse away!


The Milestone Nabs Title of “Top Hotel in the British Isles”

October 19, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Milestone Hotel, LondonThe results are in from the 23rd annual Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards. The Milestone Hotel, the Kensington flagship for the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, has scored top honors as the only hotel in London in the top 100. Chosen as the "Top Hotel in the British Isles" by some 25,916 readers, the family-run hotel achieved a score of 95.8 out of 100. Here's what folks dig about a stay there: the "highest possible standards of personalized service" (to quote Jonathan Raggett, Managing Director of Red Carnation). A favorite of returning guests, the intimate hotel has uniquely decorated guest rooms overlooking Kensington Palace.

Learn about a festive holiday package at The Milestone Hotel and Apartments here.