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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.

The Best of Key West Dining: Cafe Marquesa

May 31, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cafe Marquesa

The award-winning Marquesa Hotel-- Key West's finest small hotel, a luxurious gem with lush gardens just steps from Duvall Street in Old Town--is home to one of the best dining experiences on the island. The 50-seat restaurant offers Contemporary American Cuisine, with specialties including Seared Brioche Dusted Yellowfin Tuna, Goat Cheese and Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb and Grilled Marinated Key West Shrimp, along with fresh baked breads and desserts. Awards include the AAA four-diamond and the DiRona Award. And Zagat has distinguished the restaurant as one of the best hotel restaurants in the country, identifying its "sophisticated" Key West style, "beautiful" presentations, and "relaxing ambiance" as what "makes her a queen."


One of the World’s Best Hideaways: Huka Lodge, New Zealand

May 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Huka Lodge

There's a lot of buzz about New Zealand-- above and beyond the publicity generated by the Lord of the Rings flicks. Everyone's talking about this little island nation on the far south end of the Pacific. (Indeed, Conde Nast readers rated the country the #1 holiday destination in the world.) No matter what the season, New Zealand has it all: breathtaking scenery, recreational activities galore, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality. Easily the best place to stay on this gorgeous island nation is Huka Lodge, located in Taupo, in the central North Island, and considered one of the world's top retreats. This 20 suite lodge has racked up the awards: Travel and Leisure Top 500 list (the only property in New Zealand with this distinction), Conde Nast Traveler "Best Hotel Rooms in Australasia and South Pacific," Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report "Top 20 International Resort Hotels." And if the awards list seems impressive, you should see the famous guest-list. The guestbook reads like the party of the century.

The setting is magical. Situated in a beautifully landscaped park on the banks of the Waikato River, Huka Lodge is just a short walk from the spectacular cascades of Huka Falls. As can be expected, activities run the gamut from tennis to petanque, hiking to trout fishing, mountain biking to relaxing in the hot pools and outdoor spa. Spacious, light guestrooms are complemented by outdoor terraces and bathrooms with under-floor heating and sunken baths.

As described recently in Stuff NZ:

Huka Lodge is New Zealand's quintessential super-lodge for the globe-trotting rich, royal and famous… Since 2001, all the guest rooms and the Owner's Cottage - the super suite perched on a rise overlooking the first set of rapids - have been rebuilt or refurbished with the difficult aim of combining the comfort of a five-star hotel with a boysy ruggedness befitting its fishing hut origins.

And the dining is exquisite. Hotel rates include pre-dinner cocktails, a five course dinner and breakfast. All meals are communal seating with some private dinning available.


Hot Dining in Sin City: Alex at the Wynn Las Vegas

May 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Wynn Las Vegas

If Wynn's signature restaurant is identified by a first name, the chef must be pretty darn good. Indeed, Zagat describes Alex Stratta as one of the "very best chefs" in Las Vegas, having learned his cosmopolitan gastronomic savvy while working under Alain Ducasse. The luxurious four-course prix fixe menu ($120) is a hedonistic delight-- perhaps the dining experience of a lifetime. His artistic French cuisine combines the freshest seasonal ingredients and includes dishes such as foie gras ravioli in truffle bouillon with duck confit salad. The entrance is dramatic-- descending a grand, hourglass-shaped staircase to arrive in the elegant and romantic dining room, designed in a European style with inlaid wood and crystal chandeliers. Zagat raves:

the staff "goes out of its way to ensure a wonderful evening", and "perfect touches" like "the seat-side purse ottoman" for a clientele "who actually remembers to dress" guarantee a reprieve from "the shorts-and–flip-flops" "Vegas culture."

But don't bring the kiddies (children under five are banned from the premises).

Wynn Las Vegas, Five Star Alliance


Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver Announces Executive Chef Rafael Gonzalez

May 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Chartwell at the Four Seasons

In a city with a superb culinary scene, Four Season's Chartwell Restaurant shines at the forefront. Recognized as one of Vancouver's finest restaurants, Chartwell has received numerous accolades including the 2006 AAA Four Diamond Award, 2006 DiRoNA Award, 2006 Vancouver Magazine, 17th Annual Restaurant Awards "Bronze - Best Hotel Dining", and 2005 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for its "Outstanding Restaurant Wine List."

Four Seasons Vancouver has recently appointed Miami's Rafael Gonzalez as executive chef. He has worked in some of the country's most revered kitchens, starting off in Miami at Le Pavillon, then moving on to New York where he was mentored by David Bouley, chef of the famed four-star Bouley Bakery, Chef Eric Rupert at Le Bernardin, and Chef Jean-George Vongerichten at Jean George Restaurant. His last stint was at The Pierre, where he was Executive Sous Chef. Gonzalez is an outstanding chef, and can also handle a large kitchen; at Chartwell he will be overseeing 1,200 to 2,000 meals a day and managing four sous chefs and 33 employees.


Hot Tables: Thierry Marx’s Chateau Cordeillan-Bages, Pauillac, France

May 23, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Thierry Marx's Chateau

Surrounded by the finest wine-making chateaux in the world, this converted 17th century monastery is now home to a small hotel and Thierry Marx's inspired restaurant. (Of course the star chef's creative cuisine is paired with the best Bordeaux grand crus from the Medoc region.) Named "Chef of the Year" by GaultMillau, Thierry Marx is one of the finest, cutting-edge chefs of the day. A recent review in the International Herald Tribune describes his food as intensely creative, and thus "not for everyone":

Look at the titles of some of his dishes and you simply may want to run the other way. Liquid quiche Lorraine? Virtual sausage? Bean sprout risotto? Sweetbread spaghetti? Wacky, yes. But Marx is not taking food to another level of perfection or enjoyment, but to a different level. Food such as his makes us look at taste in a new way.

In my book, none of this would be any good if the food did not offer pleasure as well as amusement, shock as well as satisfaction. And it does. Most of the time.

For me, the most satisfying, surprising and enjoyable dish of some 15 little tastes was his smoked Aquitaine beef. Marx sears the filet quickly, slices it, then sets the beef on a miniature hibachi set above burning Merlot vine clippings. All of that is wrapped in clear thick plastic, tied with ribbon and paraded to the table. As the wait staff unwraps your dinner gift, light, delicate, pleasing smoky aromas waft through the room. The end result is a meat that is juicy, delicate, sweet and oh-so-gently smoked, a dish created with a stroke of genius.

Bring it on.


Hotel Bel-Air Summer New Zealand BBQ

May 18, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Bel Air

Announcing yet another tantalizing culinary event at the discriminating Los Angeles hot spot. The Mobil five-star award winner celebrates a five year tradition of culinary events and special wine-maker dinners, featuring exquisite multi-course meals paired with rare wine tastings. On Thursday, June 8 Hotel Bel-Air welcomes Meadowbank Estates for a New Zealand BBQ featuring 27 different wine varieties. Each winemaker (representing Clearview Estate, Foxes Island, Voss, Escarpment, and more) will have a tasting table with selections. Food stations are served on the front lawn and include such delicious dishes as Roasted New Zealand Lamb and Rock Lobster Tails. 6:30 pm, $115 per person.


Bacchus at the Wedgewood Hotel and Spa, Vancouver Wins Double Gold

May 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Wedgewood Hotel

Vancouver's delightful boutique hotel already has plenty of gold in its collection. A fixture on Travel and Leisure's Top 500 list and considered the best hotel in Canada by Conde Nast Traveler readers, the Wedgewood is a delightful European style hotel situated in the city center on Robson Square. The 83 luxurious rooms and suites all feature private balconies and beautiful, plush furnishings. The four Penthouse Suites are currently undergoing a $1 million renovation, and will reopen at the end of May. At 700 sq. ft. each, the Penthouse Suites will feature large private garden terraces and balconies with views of the Robson Square gardens and waterfalls, luxurious Spa bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, walk-in showers and heated limestone floors, living rooms with fireplaces and marble wetbars, and bedrooms with French doors and LCD flatscreen TVs. A truly blissful spot in this cosmopolitan city.

And to add to the awards at the Wedgewood, Vancouver Magazine recently gave top honors to Bacchus Restaurant and Lounge at the 17th Annual Vancouver Restaurant Awards. The restaurant received Gold for Best Bar/Lounge, Gold for Best Hotel Dining and Bronze for Best Formal French in Vancouver. In addition, Bacchus was awarded the title of Best Bar and Lounge in the City, for the seventh consecutive year.


Introducing Wolfgang Puck’s Cut and Sidebar at The Regent Beverly Wilshire, Los Angeles

May 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Regent Beverly Wilshire

At the world-famous intersection of Rodeo and Wilshire Boulevards, The Regent Beverly Wilshire wows with its signature suites, superb Spa, and unrivaled service. And this legendary address has now been enhanced by a renovation of luxurious refurbishments and newly designed Spa and Pool. The exciting makeover includes the June 1st opening of celebrated Chef Wolfgang Puck's new restaurant and lounge, called Cut and Sidebar. The contemporary steakhouse was designed by architect Richard Meier, boasting a stunning modern look.


Festival of Food and Wine at Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid

May 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Festival of Food and Wine

It's not too late. Take a break from the Big Apple and head for the hills: the elegant Adirondack hideaway, Mirror Lake Inn, on the shores of Lake Placid. The award-winning hotel (Travel and Leisure loves this spot) is hosting its first annual Festival of Food and Wine in just a few days time. From May 17- May 19, culinary masters and guest chefs will delight guests with their techniques and tasty dishes. What's in store over the three day event? Cooking demos, tastings, wine seminars, and high-profile dinners. The hotel is offering a special package for the event, which includes the following: luxurious accommodations for three nights in a Noonmark room, welcome champagne reception, a wine reception followed by a seven course Tasting menu presented by the members of the 1988 New England Culinary Team on the second evening, and a farewell dinner prepared by the Mirror Lake Inn culinary team the last night. $785 per person or $1240 per couple.

(Plus, after feasting on all that yummy grub, rest assured that there are work-out facilities aplenty at this lakeshore resort, along with plenty of fun in the sun: natural private beach, outdoor heated pool with panoramic views, tennis, Spa, indoor pool, Jacuzzi and sauna.)


The Most Exclusive Parties in the World

May 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Courtesy of Forbes.com. Vanity Fair's Oscar Party? Been there, done that. But what about Le Bal Des Debutantes, at the smashing Hotel de Crillon in Paris? Or the Monte Carlo Red Cross gala? Or Playboy's Midsummer Night's Dream Party? (The full list of high-rollers hang-outs is here.) Hurry up and score an invite! You're so there.