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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 Lodge, Verbier: The Latest from Sir Richard Branson

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Lodge, VerbierThe first ski chalet from Virgin Limited Edition will be-- to quote the official lit-- "the most luxurious of its size in the Alps available to rent." Sir Richard Branson has a knack for choosing the most dramatic settings on earth for his hideaways: the Caribbean's Necker Island, the soaring foothills of Morocco's Atlas Mountains, and now, the iconic Swiss ski resort of Verbier, celebrated as much for its world-class terrain as for its legendary après-ski. This mountain retreat opens its doors for the first time in January 2008 and will be open year-round. Just minutes from the ski lifts, The Lodge, Verbier features nine rooms and suites (plus a kids bunk room that sleeps up to 6), private pool, mini ice rink, and indoor and outdoor spa areas. The ultimate alpine escape doesn't come cheap. Rates for exclusive use in winter range from GBP 35,250-59,000 per week for up to 18 guests. Rates in summer start from GBP 555 per person for a three night stay. You also get most meals, all drinks (Champagne too), and 24-hour driver service from Verbier.

The Gordon Ramsay Invasion: New Restaurant at Trianon Palace in Versailles

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Westin Trianon Palace, VersaillesThe celebrity chef is moving in on the French, opening a signature restaurant at the opulent Trianon Palace & Spa in Versailles. Set to open in the spring, the restaurant will be bringing British ingredients (!!!) to the capital of haute cuisine. The ambitious chef just opened his fancy Dublin establishment at the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, and has had his eye on Paris for quite some time. He's creating a global brand and the goal is to achieve three Michelin stars in NY, London, and Paris-- simultaneously. In a recent interview with The Sunday Times, Ramsay explained his "culinary patriotism:"

I've had a bellyful of the French coming over and telling us how s*** our food is. We should f****** shout from the rooftops, with our hand-dived scallops from the west coast of Scotland, and our venison from Balmoral, our wonderful Aberdeen Angus steak, and our f****** mussels and oysters from beds in South Ireland. Why not?

Pure Witchcraft at Claridge’s, London

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Witchcraft at ClaridgesLeave it to Claridge's to think up a fabulous Halloween-themed offer. One of the trio of super-luxury London properties managed by the Maybourne Hotel Group, Claridge's is a glamorous art deco jewel situated within easy reach of Hyde Park, Park Lane, Bond Street and Oxford Street. For All Hallows Eve, luxuriate in hauntingly beautiful overnight accommodations (a Mayfair Suite), then linger over a full English breakfast for two, while your kids enjoy a Halloween sleepover at nearby Hamleys toy store. Available for up to 2 children (aged 6-12 years), the sleepover includes themed costumes, photographs, games, scrumptious party food, an overnight stay in the store's Tented Village with bedtime milk and cookies, and breakfast the following morning. Available the evening of October 27, 2007 only.

The Ultimate Valentine’s Indulgence from Red Carnation Hotels

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

De Beers Diamond30,000 will buy you the Valentine's Day indulgence of a lifetime. (But we're not talking dollars. Nope. British pounds! which means a paltry 60,000 dollars.) Red Carnation Hotels-- the stellar global collection of boutique luxury hotels-- has recently announced the ultimate Valentine's Day experience available for the month of February 2008. And it seems that diamonds trump hearts. You'll get a chauffeur-driven Bentley, a bath filled with pink Champagne, twelve dozen red roses, and a box of handmade chocolates. *Yawn, how humdrum.* But did we mention the makeup and hair session in a top salon for the lady and a haircut at one of London's most celebrated barbers for the gentleman? Plus a bespoke tailored suit for him and a designer evening dress for her? Followed by a 7-course tasting meal with butler service in your suite, with a different wine to complement each dish, served as a harpist plays melodious tunes in the corner? And to top it all off: ten grand's worth of diamonds from De Beer's! Now, that's more like it. The Diamonds Package may be extravagant, but of all the days in the year, this evening is surely worth the splurge. Red Carnation Hotels is offering this package at all six of their London properties: "41" opposite Buckingham Palace, The Milestone by Kensington Gardens, The Egerton House in Knightsbridge, The Montague in Bloomsbury, The Chesterfield Mayfair and The Rubens next door to "41."

Luck of the Irish: Ritz-Carlton Opens its Doors in County Wicklow

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Powerscourt GardensThe brand new Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, Ireland's first, is tucked in the gentle green hills of Country Wicklow, located just 16 miles outside of Dublin on the east coast. The Palladian estate is destined to become a magnificent destination hotel. Here you can enjoy both the tranquility of country living and the city chic of cosmopolitan Dublin. Set in the beautiful formal gardens of the famous Powerscourt Estate, the hotel is the ideal retreat in County Wicklow (aka "The Garden of Ireland"). As to be expected at a Ritz-Carlton, the surroundings are sumptuous: dignified accommodations, an outstanding spa, 36 holes of championship golf, and three exceptional restaurants including Gordon Ramsay at Powerscourt, a signature restaurant from the esteemed chef. Plus, with 10,000 square feet of meeting space, this place is bound to be a meeting planner's dream.

Winter Escape at the Bayerischer Hof, Munich

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bayerischer HofWhen the temperatures dip this autumn, get cozy at Munich's finest hotel, Bayerischer Hof, and enjoy an unforgettable holiday in Bavaria. Jazz enthusiasts will flock to the hotel's Night Club for the New York Concert Series, where famous artists perform musical highlights from soul to jazz. Sunday mornings mean an indulgent Jazz Brunch Buffet at the Palais Keller with savory starters, seasonal salads, and delicacies from the sea. Book the Winter Package at this world-class luxury hotel and enjoy excellent rates and a bunch of extras: Warm up with a hot winter cocktail at the crackling fireplace in the Blue Spa winter garden. Indulge in champagne breakfast in the roof garden. Savor a four-course menu at the Garden Restaurant. Plus two nights of luxurious accommodations, all for EUR 308 per night (double room). Available from October 26, 2007- March 13, 2008.

Explore Provence with Hostellerie Les Frenes, Avignon

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Les Frenes, AvignonIndian Summer reigns supreme in Provence. Why not steal away to the south of France and discover the lovely historic city of Avignon, the former papal stronghold surrounded by vineyards, medieval villages, and Roman ruins? Book a room at the charming Hostellerie Les Frênes, one of the newest members of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Located just five minutes outside the city, the hotel is a lovely Napoleon-style villa with 200-year old gardens dotted with Greco-Roman statues. There are only 20 guest rooms, decorated with period family heirloom furniture, and outfitted with luxurious modern amenities like private Jacuzzis, satellite TV and wireless Internet.

The hotel has put together the perfect package to experience the magical region of Provence. Enjoy a full day's wine tasting with a sommelier from Provence. Take a jaunt to the picturesque village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhone Valley, origin of some of France's greatest wines. Explore the vineyards, taste the wines, and lunch on a delicious picnic prepared by the hotel's chef. You'll also enjoy full breakfast daily plus one dinner at Le Jardin des Frenes, the hotel's excellent restaurant offering contemporary interpretations of traditional Provencal cuisine. Available until November 3, 2007, the Explore Provence package is priced from EUR 900 for two people for three nights.

Trump Launches Luxury Hotel Brand

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Palm JumeirahIn the wake of countless new luxury hotel collections (Crillon, 1 Hotels, Waldorf-Astoria, Baccarat, to name a few), Mr. Trump has decided to launch his own. The flagship for this new brand is the Trump International Hotel & Tower New York. Touted as "raising the bar on top-end travel experiences," the Trump Hotel Collection will showcase the new Spa at Trump with signature Trump-inspired treatments and an exclusive line of skin-care products by Kate Somerville. What else is in store? Customized service that will "go beyond butler service" because of the intrusive detailed record of personal guest preferences. In addition to the NY hotel, the collection will include two forthcoming properties in Chicago and Las Vegas, set to debut within the next few months. There are projects in the works in Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, NY's Soho neighborhood, Waikiki, Toronto, Cap Cana, Mexico's Baja Peninsula, Panama City, Aberdeen, Scotland, and Dubai *of course*. Will this really be "the next generation of luxury hospitality?"

Luxury for Less in Geneva at Jiva Hill Park Hotel

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Jiva Hill Park HotelYou can't beat this rate at the fashionable Jiva Hill Park Hotel. Starting from just EUR 189 per night, the Great Rate offered through Small Luxury Hotels is a steal. (Available until December 31, 2007.) Just two kilometers from the Mont Jura ski resort, this luxurious haven is set within a 70 acre park in the foothills of the Jura Mountains, just opposite the majestic, snow-capped Mont Blanc range. There's a spa, beautiful indoor swimming pool, helipad, Eurolac water-ski nautical base on the lake, endless outdoor activities (like the Riding School and Tennis Club), and innovative cuisine. And with only 34 rooms and lodges, guests are guaranteed a peaceful, discreet hideaway with intimate, personalized service. At the Jiva Hill Park Hotel, it's the attention to detail that makes a difference: the roaring fireplace in the lounge, the unlimited Wifi Internet access, the impressive contemporary art collection found throughout the hotel.

Via Travel and Leisure Hot Deals

InterContinental Concierges Provide “In the Know” Travel Tips

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Hong KongMost folks think of InterContinental Hotels as the first truly international hotel brand in the world. So it's no wonder that InterContinental-- as it continues to define glamorous global travel-- goes the extra mile to provide guests with unique experiences to enrich their lives and broaden their outlook. Case in point: the "In the Know" program that provides online destination videos and Internet communication with the hotel concierges. Today's savvy, worldly guests are pickier about what they expect from hotels, and InterContinental is on hand to point the way to authentic and local destination experiences.

At the InterContinental Grand Stafford in Hong Kong, for example, you'll find maps created by the concierge with suggestions for the best shopping and dining spots in the area. (The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle bus service to the Star Ferry area, to boot.) And at the Athenaeum InterContinental, the best hotel in Athens, the multi-lingual concierge can do a lot more than arrange tours of the Parthenon and the Acropolis. Local insider tips include favorite neighborhoods, new exhibits, and what's new on the city scene. Even suggestions for the best Greek gifts to take home with you. Check out this video from the concierge.