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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.

Good to be a Gangster: Toast the End of Prohibition at Chicago's Renaissance Blackstone


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Renaissance Blackstone Chicago HotelRaise your glass to the days of Prohibition on Repeal Day, December 5. The Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel-- the storied address where Charles "Lucky" Luciano gathered a group of gangsters for the first-ever "Crime Convention" in 1923-- is a fitting place to celebrate the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. (Al Capone was also a regular at the Blackstone's barbershop and "The Untouchables," documenting Scarface's rise to power in Chitown, was filmed at the Blackstone.) With the "Good to be a Gangster" package, you can snag a great hotel deal in Chicago along with all kinds of goodies. What's more, the Blackstone's restaurant will be serving up all kinds of special cocktails for Repeal Day 2011 (think Mint Julep and gin-based Snowballs). Starting from $189 per night and valid through March 2012 based on availability, the package includes:

* Overnight accommodations * Two tickets to the Gangster Tour where guides named "Al Dente" and "Shoulders" uncover the secrets of the city's most notorious sites * A copy of Get Capone signed by author Jonathan Eig * A copy of Ken Burns' Prohibition on DVD * A Prohibition Cocktail in the hotel's Mercat a la Planxa restaurant


The Elysian Hotel Chicago to Become Part of the Waldorf Astoria Brand?


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Elysian Hotel ChicagoWord on the street is that one of our fave hotels in the U.S., the Elysian in Chicago, will become part of the esteemed Waldorf-Astoria brand. Hilton's uber-luxury chain is rapidly expanding in all four corners of the globe, and now has properties in Rome, Shanghai, Orlando, and Park City. Sources have told Crain's Chicago and The USA Today Hotel Check-In that the swank Elysian will most likely become part of Waldorf Astoria because "billionaire financier Sam Zell is buying the hotel for about $95 million." If this is true, says Hotel Check-In, "the per-room price for the 188-room hotel would be $505,000 - the highest, Crain's says, for a Chicago hotel. Zell apparently expects to lift the hotel's value by bringing in Hilton to manage it and market it to its millions of customers." The Elysian has won acclaim for its extreme level of luxury: to-die-for rooms, a dazzling spa, an on-site Marc Jacobs store, and a restaurant adored by the blogging cognoscenti. (Psst. Gwyneth loves these digs.)


Four Seasons Chicago Offers Incredible Holiday Services and Events


By: Oksana Balytsky

The Four Seasons Chicago is adding a little holiday cheer to your visit to the windy city. Perfect for families and individuals of varying ages, the following events are sure to brighten your spirits and make your holidays even more enjoyable.

Starting November 25th, the Four Seasons Chicago will have a Hot Chocolate Doc available to deliver specially crafted hot chocolate drinks right to your room. He’ll be available from 4:00 – 6:00pm until December 30th, making a variety of drinks with marshmallow crème and caramel drizzle toppings for kids, and offering a selection of rums and schnapps for adults. The price for these delectable treats is $8 for kids and $14 for the adult varieties with spirits.

The Four Seasons Chicago is also offering a Holiday Movie Room, a Family Gingerbread House Decorating Class, and even personal touches from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Enjoy holiday classic films and take your kids down to meet Santa while enjoying luxurious accommodations at the Four Seasons Chicago. Don’t delay, and make your holiday reservations early and enjoy a relaxing and stress-free vacation.


The Reindeer are Coming Back to Play at Trump International Chicago


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Rudolph at the Trump International Hotel and Tower, ChicagoLast year Chicago got a kick out of the live reindeer imported to the Trump International Hotel & Tower to play on the River Walk. Now that's our kind of holiday party! We hear that the luxury hotel is at it again this year, organizing a special celebratory family event on Saturday, November 19 with two reindeer, holiday music, lots of good food, and a viewing of Chicago's annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival fireworks show. Straight from the horse's reindeer's mouth: "Rudolph has informed us of his master plan to escape the North Pole and join us for the magical Festival of Lights. Rudolph will be staying at Trump International Hotel & Tower with a few of his friends and is eager to meet you."

Book "Rudolph's Great Escape," starting from $465 per night, and enjoy accommodations in a Deluxe King Guestroom; assorted cookies and milk at turndown; a vintage Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer DVD; complimentary meals for children under 10 years-old from the in-room dining children's menu (only when accompanied with an adult entree); photos with the reindeer; and a plush stuffed reindoor toy.


Hotel News Round-Up: Sleep in Buckingham Palace; Virgin Hotels Heads to Chicago


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

lebua New DelhiThere's so much fun and excitement happening the hospitality world these days (beer-themed spa treatments? Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh?) that you can't possibly be expected to keep up with it all. So we're helping out with a wrap-up of some of our favorite tidbits (and gossip) this week. First up: Rumor has it that Buckingham Palace might open as a hotel for tourists when when Prince Charles moves his home to Windsor Castle upon taking the throne. If this does indeed come to pass, expect to pay a "princely sum" to sleep there, says The Boston Globe's Melanie Nayer. Another fun news item: Sir Richard Branson has signed the first deal for his highly anticipated Virgin Hotels brand... in Chicago. The 27-storey Dearborn Bank Building at 203 N. Wabash-- just a block off Michigan Avenue and the river-- will get a makeover and open as a hotel in fall 2013.

Pictured: Another newsworthy item, the lebua New Delhi, opening in December.


Remember, Remember, the Month of November at the Ritz Carlton Chicago


By: Oksana Balytsky

The Ritz Carlton Chicago, a Four Seasons Hotel, is offering a few incredible activities and memorable events in November that are fun for the whole family. Kick off the holidays by participating in the Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights parade on November 19, 2011. The Ritz Carlton Chicago is located on the Magnificent Mile, just steps away from the upcoming parade. Your family and friends will enjoy hot chocolate, chestnuts, and other delicious snacks right outside the hotel prior to the parade, courtesy of the Candy Man from Candyality. After nibbling on treats, check out the parade, which begins with the lighting procession by none other than Mickey and Minnie Mouse at 5:30 PM. Take in the magic of seeing various Disney characters, floats, huge balloons, celebrities, marching bands, music performers, and last but not least, Santa Claus. During the parade, over 1 million lights covering 200 trees are illuminated, enlivening the spirit of the holidays, leading up to stunning fireworks along the Chicago River to conclude the parade. After the exciting parade, head back to the Ritz Carlton for a toast to the holiday season with a complimentary glass of champagne for adults and a cup of hot chocolate for children and the lighting of the hotel’s 17-foot (5 meter) tree at 7:30PM.

November is just around the corner, so get excited for some family fun and make your travel plans to Chicago today!


Fall into The James Chicago with a $50 Food and Beverage Credit


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The James ChicagoJust off the Magnificent Mile, The James Chicago is one of the coolest and most comfortable spots to bed down in Chitown. And for those looking for a quick urban getaway this fall, The James has unveiled newly updated suites that now have complimentary triple-filtered water systems, a selection of eco-friendly pillow options by Keetsa, Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin i-pod docks, and bath products from Intelligent Nutrients. Stay in one of these select rooms (Studio, Loft or Apartment suites) now through December 31, 2011 and receive a $50 food & beverage credit to enjoy dishes from David Burke's Primehouse. How about the creamy caramelized onion soup with homemade bacon puff pastry, and the mac and cheese (blue cheese & cheddar with apple confit, crispy shallots)?


Public Chicago Offers Modernized, Discrete Room Service; Also, Cows in Hats


By: Christopher Roney

Public Chicago, Cows in Hats

The Public Chicago just keeps coming up with something new. I just posted about them a couple of days ago, and already they’re back with more interesting and innovative concepts. HotelChatter has released reports of their amazing, new room service. Classic room service is based on the concept of the full-service experience – because pure luxury is being waited on hand and foot.  A butler brings the food to your room, and you go through an involved process of preparation and presentation.  But the Public Chicago has smartly realized that sometimes guests prefer their privacy to an extra inch or two of service.

In this case, Public knows that discretion is the better part of more than just valor, and they offer an alternate room service model in addition to the standard. Often on vacation we want nothing more than to be left alone to lounge in our ultra-soft blankets, so the Public has adapted the philosophy of the convenience in non-interaction (see the self-checkout line at your supermarket) to luxury service.  

Removing the pressure of having to look put-together and the hassle of removing unwanted dishes, the food is delivered in a surprisingly sleek brown bag with nothing but a discrete knock on your door.  It’s so circumspect; I’m half expecting them to offer a fake passport hidden in a false bottom with your every meal. While you might not be having a clandestine meeting with foreign intelligence agents, Public respects your desire for privacy and doesn’t skimp on the quality.  Look for this practice to catch on as more and more hotels cater to a modern sense of luxury.  But don't worry if you prefer the classic; Public Chicago still offers the industry standard if discretion is not your cup of tea.

I've neglected to even mention some of the other spectacular reports coming out of this new hotel, such as the breathtaking views, complimentary bike rides, or fine dining.  And if you're curious about the second part of the headline, I think this picture speaks for itself:



Ambassador East Goes Public: Rechristened Public Chicago Hotel Is Ready to Rumble


By: Christopher Roney

Public Chicago Hotel 

HotelChatter recently traveled to the newly renovated and renamed Ambassador East Hotel, now the Public Chicago Hotel, and have brought back their impressions along with a number of gorgeous photos. The verdict:  Public Chicago is undeniably the next big thing.  While the name itself evokes images of other, less luxurious public facilities, once you step inside, it becomes quite clear that the Public Chicago is warm, sleek, and modern.  While the hotel has been updated and modernized, reopening just this month, it also hasn’t forgotten its roots – the Public has integrated the traditional aspects of the Ambassador into their reimagining, ranging from a postcard of Dustin Hoffman dressed in their original bellman’s outfit to their inviting library and exquisite restaurant, The Pump Room. 

And when you consider the pricing of the rooms, officially starting at $135/night (though demand could quickly raise the cost), the “public” in the name becomes clear.  The value for the cost is far beyond other hotels of its class, and the Public manages to bring affordability to a luxury hotel without sacrificing the experience that discerning travelers have come to count on – something that many hotels have tried and failed to do.  This is no welfare system; it’s an atmospheric and ultra-modern hotel offering top-of-the-line accommodations at a price anyone could afford. Click through to see HotelChatter’s own analysis, and check out the galleries of the rooms and the public spaces for a look under the hood of a hotel so freshly rebranded, the cab drivers don’t even know its name. And if it looks like a destination that’s right for you (hint: it is!), don’t hesitate to book now while prices are still low.


National Chicken Month: Chow on All-You-Can-Eat Chicken at Four Seasons Chicago


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fried Chicken at Four Seasons Hotel ChicagoNational Chicken Month is upon us... And what are you doing to celebrate? Here's an idea: Why not stop by the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago for some finger lickin' fried chicken served up by Executive Chef Kevin Hickey, who learned a few tricks of the trade while cooking at the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta, known as the fried chicken capital of the South. The hotel has rolled out an "all-you-can-eat friend chicken menu" in Seasons Lounge this September. Order up the three-course menu and you'll start with a wedge salad with candied pecans and blue cheese from Georgia's own Sweetgrass Dairy, followed by a basket of buttermilk fried chicken, sweet corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits and honey, served family-style. For dessert? A peach pie with blueberry ice cream. The three-course fried chicken menu is $35 per person and is available for lunch and dinner on Thursdays.