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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.

Sponsored Article: Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa on South Africa’s Garden Route

December 1, 2009
By: Five Star Alliance

This article is sponsored by the Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa on the banks of the Knysna lagoon in the heart of the Garden Route of South Africa.

Pezula Resort HotelWhatever your dream is – a romantic honeymoon, a family holiday, a quiet weekend break or a week of pampering and relaxation – Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa offers the perfect venue. With superb accommodation, gourmet dining, an award-winning spa and a host of activities, the choice is endless.

Located on the Eastern Head of Knysna on the exquisite Western Cape coast, just a 40-minute flight from Cape Town, Pezula is surrounded by rugged cliffs, ancient forests and sheltered beaches. With sweeping views of Pezula Championship Golf Course, the Indian Ocean and the Knysna Lagoon, it is a haven of privacy and luxury.

Pezula Resort HotelSeventy-eight stylish suites, including two presidential suites, are housed in detached villas and deliver a whole new world of luxury in an elegant African style. Each has its own patio or balcony, individual climate control, satellite television, a DVD player, electronic safe, direct telephone, Wi-Fi connectivity and walk-in wardrobe. A pantry kitchen with delicious deli snacks, a well stocked drinks cabinet and real log fireplaces add unparalleled luxury to the accommodation.

Bathrooms are huge with oval-shaped calabash baths and wet rooms big enough for two. Beds are beautifully dressed with Egyptian cotton linen and guests are supplied with luxurious toweling gowns and slippers.

The main building houses a sumptuous cigar lounge, champagne and whisky bar, library, wine cellar and gourmet restaurant, Zachary’s. Executive chef Geoffrey Murray delights in serving up the freshest local ingredients in his inimitable style. His menu offers a variety of 'modern ethnic' dishes inspired by his worldwide experiences.

The hotel offers a number of other exciting dining options. The Boma is the ideal venue for a meal with an authentic African feel. Sit around the open fire as you watch a spectacular African sunset. As the light begins to fade, allow the sounds of the night to seduce your senses. Then relax at the elegant safari-style table while the staff prepare and serve traditional barbeque fair.

The Montrose Castle on the beach offers hotel guests a stunning beach venue. Recently renovated, the castle, which was built in the 1930s, is on Noetzie Beach, one of the most unspoilt and secluded beaches on the Garden Route coast. Here hotel guests can enjoy a picnic prepared by Zachary’s restaurant while they relax and soak up the sun.

Situated on the lower level of the hotel, the multi-award-winning Pezula Spa is a calm sanctuary that reflects the soul of Africa and provides world-class professionalism in the delivery of a superior health and wellness experience. This year the spa was named Favorite Spa in Africa by the SpaFinder Readers' Choice Awards and Best Overseas Hotel Spa by the Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards.

The extraordinary facilities of the Pezula Spa include a 12m heated indoor pool, state-of-the-art gymnasium, outdoor Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, rainforest shower, nail bar, hair salon and nine therapy rooms, as well as a post-treatment room with heated water beds. It offers a comprehensive range of treatments which combine natural therapies with the most technologically advanced equipment available.

Guests of Pezula also have access to a vast range of activities including horse riding and hiking through the ancient indigenous forests, canoeing up the pristine Noetzie River, birding, nature trails and beach activities at secluded Noetzie Beach. The estate’s Field of Dreams sporting complex offers four world-class tennis courts, a multi-purpose sports oval for soccer, cricket, soft ball and other team sports, facilities for pétanque and archery and a 300m golf practice range.

Younger guests are well catered for with a number of supervised activities. Parents and guardians can be totally confident that their children will be taken care of by trained, experienced child minders. At Pezula the emphasis is on fun in a healthy, natural environment and wherever possible children are encouraged to play outdoors, interact with other children and learn about nature. Babysitters are available in the evenings if parents wish to dine alone.

Pezula Resort GolfPezula Championship Golf Course adjacent to Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa is a sweeping spectacle of fairways and greens rolling through the pristine Southern Cape landscape. The breathtaking, award-winning 18-hole course which was designed by David Dale and Ronald Fream of GolfPlan USA, rates amongst the best and the most scenic golf courses in the world.

Covering 254 ha on the Knysna cliff-tops, the Pezula Championship Course has views of both the Knysna Lagoon and the Indian Ocean. Par for the course is 72. It is designed to include a full range of shots, making it a challenging, rewarding and complete golf experience for players of all levels. Signature holes have been earmarked as the 13th and 14th. The average round takes 4 hours 50 minutes, including a half-way break.

The Clubhouse facilities are in keeping with the overall five-star experience and include a terrace, restaurant, bar, golf shop, short game practice area and putting green. The Shareholders' Lounge houses a library, private lounge, dining area and bar. Golf carts are obligatory and the resort's carts are fully equipped with GPS systems and computerised scoring. Golf lessons are available from the Club's PGA Professionals.

Pezula’s latest offering for the high-end market is Pezula Castle on Noetzie Beach which offers ultra-luxury accommodation for up to 10 guests in the spacious Main Castle and the romantic Honeymoon Castle.

Built into the rugged coastal cliff-face with its ancient milkwood forests the Castle offers panoramic views of the beach and the sea. Guests have every conceivable wish catered for by a team of hand-picked personnel including a resident chef, housekeeper and butler. Menus are selected daily in consultation with the chef according to the freshest available ingredients, and the bar is stocked with guests’ drinks of choice. A fully equipped gymnasium, heated outdoor pool and thatched gazebo complete the extraordinary facilities.

The hotel has a number of exciting packages for 2010 – visit www.pezularesorthotel.com or call +27 (0)44 302 3333 and let your holiday begin ...


The Best Luxury Resort Recommendation for Families in the Maldives

September 17, 2009
By: Five Star Alliance

Last week, the Five Star Alliance customer service team received the following questions and requests from one of our clients:

Hotel Name or City: Maldives

Number of Nights: 7

Number of Adults: 3 Ages of any Children: 2 children of 5 and 8

Subject: We need your recommendation for a hotel on Maldives

We are looking for a hotel, located close to Male, transfer time from the airport by speed boat should not be longer than 30 min. PADI scuba diving center is required, activities for small children, water sports, fitness center and spa. Accommodations should allow to have 2 seperate bed-rooms for 3 adults and a bed-room for 2 children (or a folding bed in a living room). What would you recommend?

Kurumba Resort MaldivesHere is part of our response to the client:

We think the best property for exactly what you are looking for would be the Kurumba Resort.

http://www.fivestaralliance.com/luxury-hotels/male/kurumba-hotel-maldives

The resort is a private island, and is located 2 km from the airport - a 10 minute speedboat available 24 hours a day. Unlike most luxury hotels in the Maldives, Kurumba allows children and offers them special amenities as well.

Unfortunately, almost none of the hotels that do allow children in the Maldives will offer villas or bungalows that will accommodate 3 adults and 2 children. Instead, at Kurumba, you will need to get 2 of each room, villa or bungalow (which are still spectacular, can be next to each other or centered around one courtyard, etc). Unless you stay in the Royal Kurumba Residence. The residence has 2 winged bedrooms, one sitting/dining area, two bathrooms, two swimming pools and a spacious sundeck over the beach. During one 7 day period that we checked in February, the nightly rate was USD 3280.00, per night. Otherwise, 2 superior rooms, the lowest price category, were at USD 465.00 per night, per room. Kurumba Resort MaldivesSuperior rooms are grouped together in a 2 storey colonial house with a total of 4 rooms - which might work well for a group of 3 adults and 2 children.

At Kurumba, the resort's dive school is run to the exacting standard of PADI, with both Maldivian and foreign diving instructors.

Water sports include a catamaran and wind surf school and offers a range of fun activities - Parasailing with platform boat, Waterskiing, Wakeboarding, Kayaking, Banana Rodeo, Fun Tubes, Sailing Safaris with a skipper and more.

The spa offers 8 Treatment Rooms, Aroma Steam Room, Hydrotherapy Pool, Refreshing Bucket Shower, Gymnasium, Relaxation Lounge, Yoga Pavilion, and Bespoke Spa Packages.

Services and Amenities available at the resort for children include Baby Cots, Child products and toiletries at our Souvenir shop, Snorkeling and Swimming equipment for younger guests, Children's menus in all our restaurants and In-Room Dining, Small play area for Toddlers at the Sports Center, and babysitting services.

You can check rates and availability for this property, as well as see more photos, by clicking here.


New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Starts April 24th

April 3, 2009
By: Alison Victor

Loews New Orleans HotelThe New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is the culmination of years of discussions and efforts by city leaders who wanted to create an event worthy of the city's legacy as the birthplace of jazz. Starting in 1970 with a little over 350 people in attendance, it has grown into an amazing celebration of over 300,000 people yearly who come to pay their respect to a city that has remained resilient in spirit and cultural significance. This year will be no less than amazing, with everyone from Earth, Wind, and Fire to the Dave Matthews Band performing. There will also be an array of food and craft vendors showcasing their local talents. If you are looking for great accommodations, Loews New Orleans Hotel still has rooms available, going for less than $250 a night.


An Interview with the GM: Mr. Martin P. Nicholson of The Langham, Huntington Hotel & Spa

September 9, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Martin P. NicholsonMr. Martin P. Nicholson is the General Manager at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa in Pasadena, California - a AAA Five Diamond hotel and member of Leading Hotels of the World. Mr. Nicholson recently took some time to sit down and answer a few of our questions.

Five Star Alliance: What do you consider to be the best rooms at The Langham, Huntington Hotel & Spa, Pasadena?

Martin P. Nicholson: All the deluxe corner rooms have wonderful views and natural light. Also, the ground floor rooms facing the Horseshoe Garden are excellent because they have lovely patios. I'm also partial to our Spanish-style Clara Vista Cottage and the Tournament of Roses suite atop the hotel.

If I were checking into a standard room in the hotel I would choose a corner room on the ground floor facing Horseshoe Garden or one on the upper floors facing Japanese Garden.

Five Star Alliance: Any interesting trivia or history about the hotel?

Martin P. Nicholson: The hotel was home to California's first Olympic sized swimming pool. At one time it extended beneath the picture bridge, where many guests couldn't resist the urge to jump off the bridge into the pool. In the late 1980's the pool was shortened along with a number of other renovations to meet earthquake code.

Five 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?

Martin P. Nicholson: The hotel is unique in that it sits on 23 acres of land in the middle of an upscale residential neighborhood in Pasadena. The architectural design of the buildings, the lush gardens and beautiful landscape make our guests feel like they are in their own wonderland. The hotel has soul, personality, character and a rich history. It's a landmark hotel and is very much a part of the social fabric of community. Guest have celebrated weddings, graduations, cotillions and other personal celebrations for more than 100 years at this hotel, and it's nice to have such grand stories and strong ties to the community .

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

Martin P. Nicholson: The best thing about the hotel's location is that it's in a restful area. You can come here and feel like you're away from it all, yet you're close enough to Old Town Pasadena and Los Angeles to experience all vibrancy that these places have to offer.

My favorite thing to do in the surrounding area is play golf on the many fine courses in the area. I also like to motorcycle up in the foothills, to Ojai, down the coast, and in both Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks. California offers such diverse areas to explore and I love seeing all of it.

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?

Martin P. Nicholson: I would want to know about the extensive and lush grounds and gardens, about the Michelin Star-awarded Dining Room and The Huntington Spa. I would also want to know about the care and comfort that envelops you when you walk through the doors.

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

Martin P. Nicholson: Approximately 60% of our guests visit from California. The other 40% come from the Tri-state area, the Midwest and Texas.

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

Martin P. Nicholson: The hotel has a number of constituents: guests, owners, the community, employees and its brand. To address all stakeholders' concerns requires stamina and a significant amount of empathy - emotional empathy and also financial empathy. I need to ensure that everyone is "getting their money's worth," whether it be in terms of quality, profitability or wages. That, at times, can be a great challenge!

If I could change one thing about the property I'd add a golf course. Then the hotel would be a true urban resort.

Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, what do you consider among the greatest hotels in the world? Why are they special?

Martin P. Nicholson: Typically, I am impressed with hotels that have a sense of history and place, and I am more at home in smaller hotels that have an incredible amount of charm and quality of service.

The Langham, London, was the first purpose-built grand hotel in Europe and it must be experienced. It is the wellspring of our brand and embodies the spirit of Langham Hotels International.

The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok is a true masterpiece. Timeless elegance in one of the most spectacular settings on the Chao Phraya River.

The Hassler Hotel atop the Spanish Steps in Rome has been owned by the same family for many years and they have beautifully retained its charm. The hotel has a rich sense of history and pays attention to every detail to make your stay special. It must be seen to be believed.

Montpellier Plantation Inn on Nevis Island is an exclusive 17-room English country house hotel on a bluff overlooking the ocean. The views are breathtaking. Admiral Lord Nelson and Fanny Nisbet celebrated their wedding breakfast after their ceremony at Pear Tree Church.

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?

Martin P. Nicholson: My first year at college in Dublin I had a summer job at a hotel called the Russell Hotel. It was a famous, grand hotel at the time but, unfortunately, is no longer there. I liked the job so much that I decided to change majors at college and went on to graduate from Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland and later the Advanced Management Program for the Hospitality Industry (AMPHI) at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

I've been fortunate enough to live and work all over the world, which has provided me with a wealth of cultural and life experiences that I will cherish forever. I started my career at a resort on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, and then spent a few years as a Food & Beverage Director in Toronto, Canada. I moved up to be General Manager of the Delta Ottawa Hotel in Ontario, Canada, and later spent some years as Vice President and General Manager at Caneel Bay in St. John. I also worked at luxurious properties in Ireland and Jamaica but my four years in Carmel introduced me to the beauty of California. I was eager to get back, so when the General Manager position at The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel in Pasadena became available, I was able to seize the opportunity.

I worked as General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel for about two and a half years, and in January 2008, Langham Hotels International acquired the property. Langham is committed to maintain the property as a five diamond hotel and invest significantly in the physical assets and service levels in the years to come.


Luxury Turks & Caicos Resort Offers 25% Off For Opening Season

August 19, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Regent GrandThe Regent Grand Resort and Spa has just opened on Grace Bay in the beautiful Turks & Caicos Islands. The resort is the second luxury condominium resort by the highly regarded Turks & Caicos based HAB Group, who have been developing in the Turks & Caicos and London luxury markets for over 20 years. Their first property, Villa Renaissance, has recently been awarded a Tripadvisor Top 10 Luxury Caribbean Resort, and it is thought that the Regent Grand will be even more successful. The property has 50 oceanfront suites, all with fully fitted kitchens and fantastic ocean view balconies, which ensure that guests enjoy some of the most beautiful sunsets in the Caribbean.

The luxury five star Regent Grand is offering guests 25% off until December 2008 and anyone lucky enough to book in the next few weeks will receive free golf during their stay at the nearby 18 Hole championship course, Provo Golf Club. Guests will also receive a 15% discount at the Spa for reservations up to 30th September, and can have treatments either at the Spa or in room if required.

Special Offer from Five Star Alliance: Guests will also receive a free welcome amenity of a bottle of wine and a fruit basket in their room upon arrival.


An Interview with the General Manager: Marty Wall of The Woodlands Resort & Inn

July 9, 2008
By: Courtney W. May

Marty Wall Woodlands ResortThe Woodlands Resort & Inn is one of only three lodging properties in America to be awarded the Mobil Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond awards for both lodging and dining - in large part to Marty Wall, General Manager and InnKeeper of the property. Mr. Wall took some time to answer our questions below.

Five 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?

Marty Wall: By far the most distinctive characteristic or feature of the Inn is the attitude and desire to serve that exist within the staff. We have blended together personalities from all around the world who enjoy what they do and challenge themselves each day to provide the highest level of service in the most friendly and genuinely sincere manner. The service and facility would be best described as residential versus the typical commercial hotel environment. Our goal is that each guest feels that they have been invited to spend the night with family versus just buying a hotel room. Woodlands is essentially their home away from home.

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

Marty Wall: Because of our membership in Five Star Alliance, Virtuoso, Andrew Harper, and Relais & Chateaux, as well as our many national and international awards, our guests really come from all parts of the world. Also because of our very celebrated culinary team under the direction of Executive Chef Tarver King, many of our guests are here to experience what has been recognized as one of the top dining rooms in the country.

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?

Marty Wall: There have been several movies filmed in the Charleston area and as a result we have had a number of celebrities stay with us. In an effort to protect their privacy and in hopes that we see them regularly, we prefer not to mention specific names.

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

Marty Wall: The Inn is actually located in Summerville, SC which is a charming bedroom community to historic Charleston. The area is rich in history and has also become a very desirable dining destination. Visiting the many historic sights, eating at the many wonderful restaurants and enjoying the numerous outdoor activities provide plenty of options for guests of all ages.

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? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?

Marty Wall: We believe all of our rooms are special and each one offers something a little different or unique. Because the original house was constructed in 1906 a couple of the rooms in the original section offer distinctive features. The most noted being our 3rd floor suite that is often referred to as the "honeymoon suite". It offers a larger living room area, lofted bedroom, beautiful bathroom with a large Jacuzzi tub and the best feature is the spiral staircase leading to the "cupola" which overlooks the entire house and most of the grounds.

Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?

Marty Wall: In that the original home was built in 1906 there is a lot of history within the walls. The original owners used the house for numerous events to entertain the country's military troops during the war. The house was also regularly used to host lavish debutant parties for many of their local friends and families.

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?

Marty Wall: If I were checking in I would definitely want to know just how outstanding the restaurant is.

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of The Woodlands Resort and Inn?

Marty Wall: After spending several years in large luxury hotels, primarily in large urban environments, and after the birth of our third child, I was searching for a place that would provide balance in the business that I love and with my family which is as it should be, the most important thing in my life. I thought a smaller market and a smaller facility would be the answer. I had no idea I would find a place as special as Woodlands in a community as special as Charleston, South Carolina.

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?

Marty Wall: There is nothing hard about my job... I LOVE what I do!!!

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?

Marty Wall: It would be hard for me to choose just 2 or 3 great hotels as there are so many incredible places in the world. Every new luxury hotel being built today is trying to provide something unique or special that you can not find anywhere else. That is what keeps us all on our toes and makes if difficult to pick what is the best... it will change tomorrow.


Disruptions in Yangon for Orient- Express

May 9, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Below is a message from Orient-Express for travelers to Myanmar after the recent tragic events:

    Tuesday 6th May 2008 - In the early hours of Saturday 3rd May 2008, the southern part of Burma was hit by tropical cyclone Nargis, which has caused extensive damage and loss of life. Orient-Express has two operations in Burma: the Road To Mandalay river cruise ship which cruises the Ayeyarwady River, and The Governors Residence, a hotel in Yangon (Rangoon). The Road To Mandalay was closed for the season so there were no guests onboard. The ship was in Yangon for a scheduled dry-docking and was caught in the cyclone and was badly damaged. The Governors Residence also sustained some damage. The hotel had few guests as it is currently the low season; all guests and staff are safe. The Governor's Residence Hotel in Yangon, Myanmar is an imposing teak mansion hotel dating from the 1920s within the elegant Embassy Quarter of Yangon and close to the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda. The airport in Yangon reopened on Monday 5th May and one of our regional Directors was on the scene immediately. He and Orient-Express staff based in the country are currently assessing the damage as well as providing what assistance they can. At present, it is unlikely that either operation will be able to reinstate normal services for at least three months. Any passengers or guests booked to travel before 1st September 2008 are advised to contact their local Orient-Express office or travel agent to rearrange their travel plans.


What Is Your Definition of Luxury? Part 1

May 1, 2008
By: Courtney W. May

Something 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.


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

March 27, 2008
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.


An Interview with the General Manager: Marco Novella of Hotel Gritti Palace

March 19, 2008
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Prior to the Hotel Gritti Palace, Mr. Marco Novella was most recently at the St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome. Before that, he worked at the Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo and the Four Seasons Hotel Milano. He took some time to answer a few of our questions about Venice, the hotel, and what visitors should know.

Marco Novello Gritti PalaceFive Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?

Marco Novella: After a 4 year experience including being involved in the re-opening of the St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome.

Five Star Alliance: What best describes the personality of the Hotel Gritti Palace?

Marco Novella: A residential Palace with a true Venetian feeling to it.

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel?

Marco Novella: The history of its 16th century building and its fine art collection. The hotel’s superb location on the Grand Canal and its beautiful views from the hotel terrace.

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?

Marco Novella: During the opening week of the last three editions of Venice’s Biennale of Art exhibition, Christie's has invited its most important guests to our hotel ballroom for a preview of its most prestigious auction of the year. Hotel Gritti Palace's terrace is the most sought after place to be, to see and be seen both during this prestigious event and during the Venice Film Festival in September.

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?

Marco Novella: Our guests’ favorite rooms are those with the incomparable views of the Grand Canal and the S.M della Salute Church.

Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?

Marco Novella: From the time it was built, the Gritti Palace has been the residence of Doge Andrea Gritti’s family, and of many noble Venetian families and prominent authorities.

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?

Marco Novella: That the hotel fully reflects the atmosphere of the city which I am visiting and that the size of the hotel would make me feel more like I am a guest in a private home (or Palace) rather than in a hotel.

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

Marco Novella: Our guests come from all over the world, in particulare from Europe, USA, Middle East, India and China.

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

Marco Novella: Hotel Gritti Palace faces onto the waters of the Grand Canal, with breathtaking views to S.M. della Salute Church. It is in a very peaceful corner of Venice, with some of the best shopping in the city just a few steps away. Walking in the area is interesting because of the many historical attractions, the numerous museums, and the beautiful views of the Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge. It is a very safe area.

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?

Marco Novella: I am very satisfied with the associates of Hotel Gritti Palace and its guests are among the best I have encountered in my professional life.

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?

Marco Novella: The St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome is special because of its history and of its present state. It was created by the legendary hotelier Cesar Ritz. Today, after its refurbishment completed in 2000, it offers an extremely high level of service and an excellent sense of hospitality.

Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?

Marco Novella: Hotel Gritti Palace is the most sought after hotel for art collectors during the Biennale. Its terrace is the best place in Venice for enjoying a tasteful Venetian meal or a cocktail. It is an excellent place for socializing and encountering interesting people.