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.

Designer Eric Raisina Creates Christmas Tree for Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor

December 17, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, Christmas treeMove over, John Galliano. Another fashion designer has worked his magic on a yuletide surprise, this time in the lobby of Siem Reap's most elegant hotel, the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor. You may have seen his fashion on the runways of Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix and New York Fashion week, but now Madagascar-born, Cambodian-based designer Eric Raisina has crafted a Christmas tree that's sure to get tongues wagging. Inspired by traditional life on the Mekong River, Raisina designed a non-traditional tree out of fishing equipment used by local Cambodians. Adorned with hand-woven fishing nets and bamboo fishing rods and baskets, the tree takes center stage in the lobby of the glamorous hotel. The recent Christmas Tree lighting ceremony heralded the start of festivities throughout the hotel which will culminate in the highly-anticipated New Year's Eve Gala celebration by the pool, with fireworks ringing in 2011.

John Galliano Returns to Claridge’s in London with a Specially-Designed Christmas Tree

November 22, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

John Galliano Christmas Tree at Claridge'sAfter the success of last year's fashionable Christmas tree, John Galliano has returned to Claridge's in London to deck the Art Deco lobby for the yuletide season. The 2009 Christmas tree by John Galliano for Dior was designed to be glittering white, as if frozen in time; the new couture tree for 2010 evokes the underwater world: “I have mixed pink corals, seahorses, anemones and jellyfish, all glinting like gem stones, swimming amidst the silver leaves. I hope we create something as sumptuous as its setting and inspire a truly luxurious escape and a very festive season at Claridge’s," the designer told Harper's Bazaar. "Under the Sea" will be unveiled this week at Claridge's.

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Shopping in Beverly Hills: The Peninsula Girls Getaway with Tory Burch

October 29, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Peninsula Beverly HillsPlanning a girls getaway in the glam shopping mecca of Beverly Hills? The Peninsula Hotel-- an exclusive urban hideaway nestled in lush gardens-- has teamed up with iconic fashion designer Tory Burch to create a perfect experience for girlfriends, mothers and daughters. Share some down time together while shopping, spa-ing, and sipping bubbly in the luxurious environs of The Peninsula. You'll experience private after-hours shopping at the Tory Burch boutiques in LA or Santa Monica, or a private in-room consultation and mini trunk-show with a Tory Burch stylist. Here's what else is included in the package: two $100 Tory Burch promotional cards, two $50 spa credits for any facial or body treatment, overnight valet parking for one car, daily Continental breakfast for two, and a complimentary bottle of Champagne. Priced from $665, available until December 15, 2010.

Dispatch from Paris: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Le Royal Monceau

October 26, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le Royal Monceau, ParisThe talk of the town in Paris is the re-opening of Le Royal Monceau, the legendary palace hotel that recently emerged from a dramatic renovation by designer Philippe Starck. The Informed Traveler went behind the scenes before the official opening date to check out the property, now operated by Raffles. And we're totally smitten. This could easily be one of the hottest hotel openings around the globe this year. Here's what we loved:

Le Royal Monceau, ParisA thoughtful and eclectic design scheme. Inspired by the working studio of André Malraux, each spacious guest room is equipped with a guitar, haute couture walk-in closet, and a map highlighting Starck's favorite Paris addresses.

Desserts by Pierre Hermé. Enough said.

Le Royal Monceau, ParisA movie theater that puts iMax to shame. Built for major film premieres and private screenings, the 100-seat cinema has divine leather seats, high-tech projection equipment, and a decadent snack menu, including gourmet popcorn recipes dreamed up by Hermé himself. Can we say celeb central?

Le Royal Monceau, ParisAn impressive contemporary art collection in the hotel's public spaces. The on-site contemporary art bookstore boasts screens which broadcast live feeds of international art auctions. There's even an Art Concierge on staff.

The cigar lounge, painted in bright red, with 50 private cigar boxes outside, reserved for cigar-lovers to store their favorite cigars for the next visit.

Restaurants which are destined to become top addresses in the French capital. Both La Cuisine and Il Carpaccio boast talked-about decor (a chandelier made from shells in the Italian resto, a colorful ceiling painting called "Le Jardin de Paris" adorns La Cuisine).

Le Royal Monceau, ParisA central garden with a giant tea-pot sculpture designed by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. This garden is a magical space available for al fresco meals in the summer months. It's also got a neat pond with views- through sheer glass- of the spa swimming pool below. In another part of the hotel, there's an organic garden where the chefs grow herbs and produce for the restaurants.

Coming soon: an outpost of the trendy L'Eclaireur concept store. *Swoon*

Note: The spa-- My Blend by Clarins-- won't be open til next year.

Special at St. Regis Hotel Washington DC: First Ladies, American Style at the White House

August 27, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

St Regis Washington DCA new package at the posh St. Regis Hotel in Washington D.C. has tongues wagging. Where better to and "play First Lady" than at this elegant icon, located on K Street just two blocks north of the White House? (With the Alain Ducasse-helmed Adour Restaurant and personalized service through the St. Regis butler program, this hotel is totally "presidential.") Here's the skinny from HotelChatter on the offer, available on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights:

Forget the Real Housewives! We want to live it up like a First Lady. So if we can rustle up the $509 a night necessary, here's what we'd choose to do over being tacky and crashing a White House party... If we booked this offer, we would:

· Sleep in the posh Caroline Astor Suite at the St. Regis

· Nosh on breakfast in bed -- on dishes inspired by First Ladies (We'd probably opt for Lady Bird Johnson’s beef tenderloin and eggs over Laura Bush’s favorite carrot muffins)

· Throw back complimentary cocktails for two at The Bar at The St. Regis

· Take a private guided tour of the First Ladies at the Smithsonian exhibition over at the National Museum of American History

· Ooh and ahh at the sight of Michelle's Jason Wu dress and anything Jackie Kennedy ever touched

· Take home our welcome amenity/memento from The National Museum of American History

· Realize that we were not cut out to be a First Lady or political wife of any kind ...

The Girl in the Camel Coat: Cocktails for London Fashion Week at The Trafalgar

August 26, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Trafalgar, LondonJust in time for London Fashion Week, The Trafalgar Hotel-- smack dab in the heart of the capital-- is launching a limited edition range of cocktails and desserts inspired by the latest catwalk trends. Long a favorite of the fashion in-crowd, The Trafalgar is a stone's throw from Somerset House where LFW takes place. Available September 1 - September 30, 2010, this fashion-led menu of stylish cocktails and sweet treats can be savored at the hotel's Rockwell Bar. Cocktails are £10 each, while the dessert-- the Autumn Winter Assiette (a chic trio of chocolate, hazelnut and coconut desserts perfect for sharing)-- is £7.50. Paying tribute to the season's biggest trends, the cocktail selection is as follows:

Nude Lace: Indulge in the sexy allure of the romantic lace trend - this cocktail seduces with a smooth blend of creamy Mozart white chocolate liqueur with a devilishly decadent kick of Sauza tequila and the suggestion of coffee to finish.

Pretty Poetess: Strong, classic and sensual, this cocktail is all woman - with a hint of romantic bohemian, which is a big trend for this season. Golden rum is stirred over ice with a hint of warming spice from our own green cardamom syrup and a slight herbaceous character from Angostura bitters.

The Girl in the Camel Coat: They say Camel is the new black for this season - get a taste for the trend with this wonderfully warming cocktail. Grand Marnier is used to deliver a citrus compliment to the chocolate dusting on this little sipper. A sweet nature but a hidden tequila temper.

Luxury Shopping in Shanghai at The Peninsula Arcade

August 10, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Peninsula ShanghaiIn Shanghai for the World Expo 2010? (Hopefully you booked the EXPO-rience package at the Art Deco-inspired Peninsula Hotel, the new property on the Bund that offers breathtaking views over the city.) Shopaholics won't want to miss the exclusive shopping opportunities at the Peninsula Arcade, boasting a slew of luxury boutiques-- from Giorgio Armani and Prada to Chopard and Piaget. Billed as the most exclusive shopping destination in Shanghai, the two-storey arcade even has a Peninsula Boutique along with 24 leading luxury brands.

What’s Happening in Beverly Hills

July 29, 2010
By: Guest Writer

Shopping, bungalows and foody delights: We bring you the latest intel from this posh Hollywood playground.

By Meagan Drillinger and Ruthanne Terrero

Whats Happening in Beverly HillsWho doesn't want a little taste of  SoCal luxury? Beverly Hills, is giving travelers the opportunity to sample its culinary scene. The "Taste of Beverly Hills," presented by Food & Wine, is being held September 2 (or 9.02.10...get it?) through September 5 next to the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The event will call together the region's celebrated chefs and restaurateurs. Think Wolfgang Puck, Ted Allen, Scott Conant and more. A select group of chefs have been handpicked to showcase their skills and talents in a 120,000-square-foot epicurean paradise. The whole event kicks off with a special "9.02.10 City of Beverly Hill Celebration," which will include a picnic under the stars with guests such as Larry King and live musical performances. Festival highlights include lessons on concocting cocktails, featuring the city's top mixologists and DJs, insider secrets from chefs and master sommeliers, and a special brunch that even includes a pie-eating contest. We say, bring it on!


Hotel Choices: We know; hanging out at The Beverly Hills Hotel (pool shown above) is one of your favorite pastimes, but we say that sport will get a bit more exciting when the big Pink Palace hotel opens its two new Presidential Bungalows next January.

The hotel has given up its tennis courts to create space for the two private residences, which will both be more than 5,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space. Each will have three bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths. They’ll also boast a chef’s kitchen (with a wine cooler and private entrance for staff), a great room and study, plus a dining area. Bang and Olufsen high-definition TV’s are promised for virtually every room.

The outdoors will have a private pool with underwater speakers, a garden shower, a fitness area and a fireplace. We say that’s a pretty swell way to soak up that glorious year-round California sun. The architectural style all around will be Mediterranean (as in vaulted ceilings, tile roofs and pretty little gardens), to match the hotel.

If you’re a privacy freak (and we know you are), this is the place to hide away. With full inward-facing courtyards, an abundance of tall tropical landscaping, and full security cameras and an alarm system, we say these butler-serviced bungalows will make you feel safe as could be.

If you go, ask Concierge Abbas Golestani (310-276-2251, ext. 7788) to arrange for you to attend any of the L.A. award shows, including the Emmy’s, Grammy’s and the Golden Globes. He can also arrange for front row seats at major movie premieres and for a “VIP Behind the Scenes Tour” of Universal Studios.Montage Beverly Hills

Want another option? Montage Beverly Hills, a Forbes Five Star-rated resort is just steps from Rodeo Drive and is offering a nifty “Overnight Spa Escape.” For $775 a night, a guest receives two 60-minute spa treatments of their choice at Spa Montage and daily continental breakfast for two. Not staying at the resort? You can still pamper yourself silly with “A Day of Indulgence,” which includes a 60-minute massage or facial, a personalized fitness class in a private movement studio and access to the rooftop pool and a poolside lunch at The Conservatory Grill.

Shopping News: Once you’ve enjoyed the spa, you can, of course, head over to Rodeo Drive, where the fashionistas go to worship. We hear Badgley Mischka is soon to set up shop at this Mecca of haute couture. The new two-level, 2,700-square-foot flagship on Rodeo Drive and Little Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills will reflect Badgley Mischka's aesthetic of modern and historic elements. Think chandeliers juxtaposed against reclaimed wood floors.

Brides-to-be meander upstairs to peer at the bridal collection, while the first floor will include the Mark & James contemporary collection, handbags, eyewear, footwear, jewelry, etc. The store is slated to open some time after August when Badgley Mischka's Shanghai store opens at Hong Kong Plaza. For more information visit

Paris Where to Stay, Shop and Pamper Yourself Silly

July 27, 2010
By: Guest Writer

We serve up insider information on the City of Light...

By Jena Tesse Fox and Mary Winston Nicklin

Paris Where to Stay Shop and Pamper Yourself SillyIf you’ve been to the Hotel San Régis, you’ll be surprised upon your return. The popular Parisian hotel, located between the Champs-Elysées and Avenue Montaigne in the 8th arrondissement, has just revealed a new look. The Classic Room category has undergone a complete renovation by star designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, with all 10 rooms undergoing a top-to-bottom overhaul.

We love the fresh new fabrics and swell headboards and armchairs but we must say the new bathrooms really do it for us: they’re decked out in black-and-white marble, with separate tubs and Italian-style showers. How posh.

Travel agents voted this hotel tops in the Small Luxury Hotels chain last year, so we say how can it be bad?  If you haven’t been, it’s housed in a 19th-century private mansion.

Insider Secret: Jean-François Chauvin, the "Clefs d'Or" Concierge, is known for handling all manner of requests: limousine transfers, river cruises on private boat, reservations to the hottest restaurants in town, tickets for museum exhibitions or the theater, personal shoppers to discover the city’s secret boutiques.


Did you know that Uniqlo has opened its store on rue Scribe in the Opéra district? Needless to say, the Paris press has been buzzing about this global phenomenon, explaining that "it's impossible to leave the store with your hands in your pockets." Chances are, you'll leave with shirts, jeans, leggings, maybe even a puffy jacket. Indeed, a recent article in Hemispheres Magazine describes how "irresistably low prices and an uncanny sense for how the world wants to dress have made Uniqlo's owner the richest man in Japan." At 2,150 square meters, the Parisian flagship store is the third largest for Uniqlo worldwide-- after the New York and London locations. What's the brand's appeal? Perhaps it's the range of colors as plentiful as the Pantone shades, muses A Nous Paris: 35 different options for cashmere sweaters, 60 tints of colorful socks, from cerulean blue to mimosa... And now available: Jil Sander's +J Line at Uniqlo.



 The Ritz Paris is launching a luxury four-day detox program (not that kind, the well-being and slimness kind!) that includes innovative body treatments, fitness activities supervised by trainers and healthy menus created by a nutritionist and especially prepared by Michelin-starred Chef Michel Roth. (Getting healthy was never this much fun!)

Upon arrival, the Ritz Health Club specialists will give each guest a personalized fitness check-up, and then help them select treatments, massages and body conditioning sessions fitted to their exclusive needs.

As a real therapy program combines healthy eating, the Ritz Paris suggests detoxifying menus especially made by a nutritionist and Chef Michel Roth. Guests can enjoy well-balanced dishes adapted to their fitness activities in the swanky settings of the Pool Bar and the Bar Vendôme. Delicious touch: Every day at tea time, a snack of fruits and green tea is served by the pool.

The Luxury Detox program by Ritz Paris includes:

Accommodation in a Superior room during four nights (Available in every type of rooms and Suites with supplement)

  Healthy menus made by a nutritionist and Chef Michel Roth (Breakfasts, lunches and dinners – beverages are not included)

  Personalized fitness check-up with Ritz Health Club trainers

  A program including Pilates, aqua gym, stretching and Cellu M6 sessions

  Slimming Detox treatments, draining massages at the Spa

The Detox program as from $7,685 for two people including full board, and is valid until December 20.

 Can’t get a reservation at The Ritz? Hôtel Le Bristol Paris is has its own "Well-Being & Beauty" program. offering guests a full-body personalized health program.

This is the real deal, it begins with a workout plan, tailored to your specific needs by Le Bristol's personal trainer, Bruno Fuscien-Trasan, and ends with a visit to the Anne Sémonin Spa for a skin diagnosis and customized facial.

This package is available for $368 and must be booked 10 days in advance. Offer Dates: May 06, 2010 - May 06, 2011


Side Trips

When touring the opulent Chateau de Versailles, 12 miles outside of Paris, you may feel the urge to check into your very own castle (we get that way, too). A royal guest experience is to be had at the Trianon Palace Versailles, part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection. Just a stone’s throw from Louis XIV's world famous chateau, this luxury hotel is nestled in gardens recently enhanced by acclaimed landscape designer Louis Benech. The palace hotel is home to a heated indoor pool, Guerlain Spa, and a restaurant by Gordon Ramsay. (It’s only fitting that the gastronomically gifted Trianon Palace was the setting for the finale of Top Chef, a smash hit after its first season on the French tube.)

News: The Trianon Palace is feting 100 years in 2010 with a special Anniversary Dinner inspired by an original menu from 1910. Available at Gordon Ramsay au Trianon for €160 per person, the feast features the following dishes: canapés and champagne, chicken velouté à la royale, foie gras in aspic, ham knuckle in jelly, filet of sole Casanova, and lamb à la Bordelaise. The best part of all is the 100th anniversary dessert, "Dôme rouge infidèle façon chocolat." This decadent dessert is also available to all guests celebrating a birthday at the hotel, and to those who indulge in the Anniversary Afternoon Tea.

The party doesn’t stop there. The hotel’s Sports Club Bar is also in the birthday spirit. “100 Minutes of Happy Hour” takes place every weeknight from 6:30 pm- 8:10 pm, and features drink specials and complimentary tapas specially prepared by the chefs.

In addition, the luxury hotel is offering a special package in honor of its 100th anniversary which can be booked through December 31, 2010. The “Anniversary Package” can be tailored to fit individual preferences, as guests can choose two lavish amenities for an additional €100 per room. The list of amenities includes Afternoon Tea and Cocktails, Guerlain Harmony Foot Bath & Reflexology, Special Children's Welcome, Romantic Experience (champagne, chocolate, and the purchase of a star in the galaxy), The Queen's Treasures (“capture the decadence of Marie-Antoinette with a red rose, delectable macarons, and an exclusive bottle of perfume”), and Secrets of Louis XIV (“live like a king with a bottle of red Cuvée Royale Prestige, a box of macarons, and a copy of the book Women in the Life of Louis XIV.”)






Bed, Breakfast, and Marc Jacobs at the Elysian Hotel Chicago

June 30, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Elysian Hotel, ChicagoNow fashionistas can "get in bed with Marc Jacobs" with a special package offered by the Elysian Hotel, the luxurious new hotel in Chicago that landed a spot on Conde Nast Traveler's "Hot List" just after opening. Back in February, the Marc Jacobs Collection store launched in the hotel's street-level retail space causing quite the stir in Chitown (and nationally!) The "Bed, Breakfast, and Marc Jacobs" package, available through Labor Day, includes accommodations in an Elysian guestroom or suite, complimentary breakfast in bed, a Marc Jacobs beach tote, and a limited edition Marc Jacobs towel. Rates start at $415. As BagBunch puts it, "These Marc Jacobs accessories are just the thing for looking the part when sunning yourself near the Elysian pool."

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