LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
The Luxury Hotel Insider
: Exclusive luxury hotel deals, features and special rates from the luxury hotel experts at Five Star Alliance.
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, 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.
Small Luxury Hotels of the World-- the exclusive brand of more than 440 independent properties in 70 countries-- recently launched its inaugural worldwide photography competition with some incredible prizes. The idea is for travelers to share their most inspired moments and experiences "caught on film" during their trips-- whether biking through the Tuscan hills or watching the sunset over a beach in the Indian Ocean. The possibilities are limitless! Running from March 17, 2008 through July 31, 2008, the contest will take place completely online via a dedicated competition website. You can register with the site and then upload up to 10 of your favorite photos that capture a sense of place and experience. All submitted photos will be viewable in an online gallery. Four overall winning photographs will be chosen by a panel of judges including celebrity photographer Andy Earl (who shot Madonna, Prince and Pink Floyd for their album covers). And get this: anybody who registers and submits at least one photo will be automatically entered into a prize draw for a five-night stay at any of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties.
The top prize winners will all receive a brand new Nikon D80 SLR 10.2 Camera with an 18-135mm zoom lens, plus, choose one of four incredible prize getaways including two round-trip tickets on American Airlines. The available prize packages are:
* A six-night Costa Rican Adventure spent at both Hotel Punta Islita and Gaia Hotel and Reserve
* A five-night English Town and Country Experience spent at both The Capital Hotel in London and Luton Hoo Country Estate
* A four-night Mexican Escape at Esencia on the Riviera Maya
* A three night Big Apple Experience in New York City at The Iroquois New York
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Flying across the pond on business? The Metropolitan Hotel in London understands your red-eye pain. (Unless, of course, you're traveling with Eos Airlines, pampered in a private suite with lie-flat bed-- then we have less sympathy.) The chic, contemporary hotel, located on Park Lane, understands that "time is more valuable than money" and has designed the ultimate business package for road warriors seeking a sleek and efficient experience with more time to relax. A guaranteed early check-in at 10 a.m. means your room is ready with fresh seasonal fruit. So you can be up and running immediately, complimentary Wifi smooths the transition. At the end of the day, relax with a work-out in the COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, and when you're ready to put your feet up, The Metropolitan will deliver a Nobu Bento Box and bottle of Isake Sake Premium to your room. In the morning, you'll get a nutritional 'Brekkie-to-Go'. Now that's service. Available from GBP 279 per night, based on singled occupancy.
The Villa Aminta on Lake Maggiore in Italy is excited to announce the opening of their Palazzo Aminta Beauty and Spa, opening in May 2008. Under the direction of Professor Nicola Sorrentino, the Spa offers the ultimate in personal pampering. Enjoy a variety of treatments from massages to facials to a range of rejuvenating skin treatments that uses a range of natural ingredients designed to help you feel your very best. The facility also offers a full cardio fitness center and heated pool open year round.
Don't forget, Five Star Alliance guests staying at the Villa Aminta will receive a bottle of wine in the room upon arrival.
The fairytale city of Bruges, with its medieval buildings, cobbled alleys, and winding canals, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We're big fans of this charming "Venice of the North"-- not far from the European capital of Brussels. Coming in April 2008: the deluxe Kempinski Hotel Dukes' Palace. When the hotel opens its doors in a prime location in the historic city center, it will be the first 5-star hotel in Bruges. The building itself is astonishing: the former Prinsenhof from the 15th century, built on the occasion of the wedding between Philip the Good and Isabelle of Portugal. The restored palace offers 93 luxury rooms and suites with many original features and unique historic touches, all outfitted with the latest technology. Noteworthy: the Prinsenhof Suite features a terrace built into the tower for a romantic rooftop view, and the historic-listed Marie Bourgougne Suite houses a collection of 15th century paintings. The hotel also offers an indoor pool, boutique spa with hammam and sauna, fully-equipped fitness room, and gourmet restaurant.
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.
Five 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.