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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.

Sipping Bordeaux Wine in Saint-Emilion, France: the Grand Barrail Chateau Resort and Spa

May 1, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand Barrail Chateau

How's this for a perfect day. A leisurely lunch savored in the sunshine gazing up at the immense ruins of a 9th century church carved from sheer limestone walls. A stroll through winding cobble-stoned streets with panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards. A tour through a local wine-grower's chateau, its wine cave built deep into the hill's rock cliffs. A late afternoon glass of pink sparkling wine, accompanied with almond flavored macaroons, in the ruins of an ancient monastery. As the afternoon light fades orange against the city's ramparts and Roman stone archways, you can't help but think… This is the life.

Welcome to Saint-Emilion, 30 minutes from Bordeaux in the midst of the world's most famous wine-growing region. The town is steeped in history-- its name derived from the Benedictine monk hermit who resided in a cave here between 750 and 767-- and the luxurious traditions of art de vivre. The vineyards and township of St. Emilion are UNESCO-heritage protected sites because they've endured-- virtually untouched-- since the Roman poets extolled the virtues of the rich wines.

In such an extraordinary setting, the Grand Barrail Chateau Resort and Spa is the gem to choose for its unrivaled accommodations. Just outside the township of Saint-Emilion, the castle's towers and turrets emerge in splendor from the rolling hills of meticulously planted vines. Even the basic accommodations (Superior) are comfortable, spacious, and tastefully appointed. But the suites are extraordinary, with lavish bathrooms, light-filled rooms, and sweeping views over the lawn and countryside; one even boasts an enormous stone balcony and terrace that comprises most of the castle's second floor.

The new full-service Spa features hammam, Scottish bath, steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi, and a tantalizing menu of treatments with Ligne St Barth cosmetics. For example: the St. Barth Softness is a nourishing body peeling massage with coconut oil, fresh papaya and an extra-fine sea sand polish complex. (The sand is imported from the Caribbean island, and the Ligne St Barth cosmetics are enhanced with additional fresh fruit.)

Dining is a gastronomic experience, with plates as beautifully presented as the cuisine is rich and delicious. The chef's got quite a few awards under his belt. Compared to your nightly feast, breakfast isn't half bad. It's served in an elegant breakfast room filled with light through stained glass windows; dainty crossaints are served hot from the oven, accompanied with fine fruit jams and other delights from a generous buffet display.

Here in Saint-Emilion at the Grand Barrail Chateau, it's easy to see how the French have mastered the joie de vivre.


Plaza Athenee New York Penthouse Suite

May 1, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

by Courtney W. May and Karen Goldberg, Director of Sales & Marketing, Hotel Plaza Athenee New York

Hotel Plaza Athenee NY Penthouse Balcony

The Hotel Plaza Athenee is a small, charming European boutique-style hotel located on 64th Street at Madison Avenue. In 2006, Conde Nast Traveler featured the Hotel Plaza Athenee as “One of the Top Hotels in the World” on the Gold List. For those looking for a 'discreet location' in Manhattan, ecspecially on the fashionable Upper East Side, they need look no further then the Hotel Plaza Athenee's Penthouse Suite. Yes, that's right - we are once again writing about a luxury, high-level, freakishly huge and overdone suite at a five-star hotel in New York City.

In Hotel Plaza Athenee's Penthouse, free time not spent in the solarium, on the balcony, or their office alcove, can be spent indulging in the finest shops of the neighborhood. Also nearby is the Whitney, Frick or Museum of Modern Art. Not to mention all of the noteworthy restaurants where our the concierge staff will gladly secure your reservation.

Hotel Plaza Athenee NY Penthouse Atrium

Hotel Plaza Athenee New York Penthouse Suite

Location: The hotel is on the Upper East Side of New York City - on 64th between Madison and Park Avenue, one block from Central Park. The pale yellow decorated suite is a two-story duplex apartment located on the top two floors of the hotel - the 16th & 17th.

Size: 1972 square feet or 184 square meters.

Living Room: On the Suite's first floor, the 16th, the living room includes a decorative marble fireplace. The lower level also contains a pantry, formal dining room that seats 12, a ½ bathroom and an office alcove off the living room and the connecting second bedroom.

Master Bedroom: Spiral staircase leads to the second floor of the penthouse with full master bedroom, full bath and walk in closet, wrap around terrace and atrium.

Balcony & Atrium: Connected to the Master Bedroom, the balcony has a planted private terrace which runs half the length of the hotel. The atrium is a sun-drenched indoor space with rattan furniture.

Rate: Currently, the one-bedroom Penthouse Suite will run you about $3,900 per night, plus tax.

Fun Fact: The hotel's exterior is shaped somewhat like a pyramid - the higher up you go, the less space you have and the less numbers of rooms you get on each floor.

Hotel Plaza Athenee New York, Five Star Alliance

Hotel Plaza Athenee NY Penthouse Master Bedroom

Related Articles: "Park Avenue Suite at The Regency in New York City", "The Carlyle Hotel in New York City (Re)Opens The Royal Suite", "The Triplex Penthouse at the Time", and "Suite Escapes: the Mandarin Oriental New York Celebrates its Taipan Suite".

Don't forget, if you make your reservation with Five Star Alliance for the Hotel Plaza Athenee, you get the "Special Offer from Five Star Alliance: Afternoon Tea for two (2) with pastries and tea sandwiches once during your stay."


For Sale: The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas, Texas

May 1, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mansion on Turtle Creek

The rumors are flying. The sophisticated and palatial Dallas landmark-- stacked with awards and with a devoted international following-- is on the market. And this posh icon shouldn't have any trouble attracting a buyer. The Mobil five-star and AAA five-diamond award winner has been distinguished as the top U.S. hotel by Zagat and the world's best hotel service by Travel and Leisure. Rosewood's Mansion on Turtle Creek is the only five-star hotel in Texas, and the management intends to keep it that way: continuing its role operating the property after the new buyer is found. Besides this stellar service and other-worldly cuisine, the hotel features a world-class spa, fitness center and pool.


Spring Drinks and Cool Cocktails at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

April 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Chicago restaurant

Make a toast to Spring's arrival with some tasty new offerings at the Four Seasons. The brand new Spring Drinks menu-- available until June 30-- mixes up some fresh fruit puree in their enticing new drinks. Shake things up with the English Lemon (2 oz Hendricks Gin, 2 oz Lemon puree, splash of 7-Up), Orange et Mandarine (2 oz Grey Goose Orange, 1 oz Cointreau, splash of Mandarine Puree) or the Spring Margarita (1 oz Don Julio Reposado, 1/2 oz Peach Schnapps, Splash of Sour Mix). How refreshing.

(Want more stylin' recipes from the Four Seaons? Here ya go. The Blue Horizon is 2 oz Bacardi Limon, 1 oz Blue Curacao, Splash of Cranberry Juice. Care for a Caribbean Chat? That's 1 oz Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, 1/2 oz White Creme de Cacao, Splash of Orange Juice, Splash of Club Soda. And the Brazilian Paradise is 2 oz Cachaca, 1 oz Malibu Rum, Splash of Pineapple Juice, Splash of Raspberry Puree. Enjoy.)


The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering and Monterey Classic Car Week at the Quail Lodge, Carmel

April 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Quail Lodge

Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club is a Carmel legend, the beautifully renovated resort property of The Peninsula Hotels, from where guests experience the charm of Carmel-by-the-sea, the magical Monterey Peninsula, and Pebble Beach. Situated on 850 scenic acres, the resort offers spectacular vistas from its guestrooms overlooking the fairways. But beyond the championship golf and luxurious spa, the Lodge further enhances its elegant reputation as the host of The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, celebrating the luxury motorsports lifestyle. The August 16 event showcases the world's rarest automobiles, fine wines and cuisine in a garden party setting. This year's event commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Targa Florio (one of the world's oldest open-road endurance races) and the 50th anniversary of the Laguna Seca Raceway. Additionally, the event honors the Italian car designer Zagato. This is one of the classic events of the Monterey Peninsula's Classic Car Week, where guests can view 100 legendary sports and racing cars, test drive some Bentleys, and head off-road at the Land Rover Experience Driving School. Tickets are $150 per person, including wine tasting, cuisine, a collectible poster, and access to the Bonhams and Butterfields auction of historic cars, fine jewelry and art.


You’re Invited to the Calera Wine Company Dinner at the Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles

April 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Bel-Air Possibly the most prestigious address in Beverly Hills, the Hotel Bel-Air is a 12-acre oasis of gardens and fountain courtyards. The Mobil five star award winner is the pinnacle of luxury, its elegant guestrooms and suites each featuring fireplaces, French doors, and tiled courtyards with private outdoor spas. But perhaps the best things about the Hotel Bel-Air are its culinary events and wine maker dinners. For five years, the hotel has been inviting wine connoisseurs to enjoy lavish multi-course meals paired with rare tastings of exquisite wines. The dinners are intimate affairs, with only 30 guests gathered to taste, learn about, and discuss the featured winery. The next dinner, with the Calera Wine Company and Winemaker Josh Jensen takes place on May 17 at 6:30 pm, $175 per person. What's on the menu? Seared Diver Scallops, Tomato Fondue and Northern Morel Mushrooms paired with 2003 Viognier "Mt. Harlan", Country Pate, Truffles and Cherry Chutney paired with 2002 and 1996 Pinot Noir "Reed", Lavender-Honey Lacquered Duck, Vegetable Bayaldi and Sweet Peas paired with 2002 and 1996 Pinot Noir "Jensen", Grilled California Peach Melba paired with 2005 Dessert Viognier "Mt. Harlan". Delish. Hotel Bel-Air, Five Star Alliance


Be One of the First to Discover the Athenaeum’s Transformation

April 26, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

The Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments, London

Athenaeum Hotel London Guestroom

In case you needed more reasons to visit the Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments in London other then the special £ for $ rate and guaranteed room upgrades we posted about last week, guests visiting this summer will be among the first to discover the Athenaeum's totally new look. The entire ground floor of the Athenaeum will be brilliantly transformed by Martin Hulbert, mastermind behind The Grove’s (the Athenaeum sister-property in Hertfordshire) award-winning "groovy grand" look. Other upgrades include:

- New Lobby, Reception, Bar, Restaurant and Lounge Interiors as of May 2006

- Digital television and entertainment systems by Bang & Olufsen in all guest-rooms

- Refurbished Classic British Collection apartments to include more sofa beds and plasma televisions as well as new soft furnishings.

- Three apartments within the Modern British Collection redesigned in a contemporary style - a family-style apartment, a traditional luxurious apartment and a modern high-tech apartment.

Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments, Five Star Alliance


Tasty Delights at the New Orleans Grill at the Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans

April 25, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

New Orleans Grill

Zagat swoons. This sumptuous hotel oasis is professed a "culinary gift to the city by high-end foodies wowed by its "exquisite" Louisiana-influenced Contemporary American cuisine." And it's true: the New Orleans Grill has long been recognized as one of the country's finest restaurants. The elegant setting surpasses the expectations of even the most exacting of critics; the Windsor Court Hotel is a haven of Old World refinement and gracious Southern hospitality. The restaurant's walls have been transformed by beautiful murals by local artist Auseklis Ozals-- each detailing a different New Orleans scene. The menu is exceptional, with mouth-watering items like ravioli of jumbo lump crab, salad of roast quail and porcini with Boudin Noir, seared Hudson Valley foie gras, and tartare of scallops and cappaccio of tuna. Simply divine.


Announcing the New Frank Gehry Masterpiece: the Hotel Marques De Riscal, Elciego, Spain

April 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Frank Gehry's New Hotel

The world-renowned architect's new landmark is stunning. Following in the footsteps of his extraordinary Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the new hotel incorporates the same materials in its exquisite design, comprised of layered ribbons of colored titanium. As described by the Guggenheim Organization, "his ebullient structure is a response to the unbroken landscape of lush vineyards surrounding the building, while the hues of the colored metal are inspired by the rich tones of the sky and vineyard." The hotel is located in the heart of the Rioja wine region in Basque country, and will debut on July 1. Each of the 43 suites are uniquely designed by the architect, and equipped with luxurious amenities and the latest in technology. Other features to anticipate: the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa (featuring "wine therapy"), rooftop bar and lounge with open fireplace, wine bar, swimming pool, and a large banquet hall converted from an ancient cellar. Starwood's Luxury Collection-- in joint management of the place with the leading wine company Vinos de los Herederos del Marques de Riscal-- touts its signature restaurant as "set to become one of Spain's leading centers for fine gastronomy, combining traditional Rioja cuisine with modern influences by the well-known Echaurren Restaurant (1 Michelin star)." Bring it on.

Book the Hotel


Luxury Bicycle Trips in Europe with DuVine Adventures

April 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

DuVine Adventures

Imagine experiencing stunning landscapes and unspoiled villages on a deluxe bike trip catered to your every whim and desire. After sun-filled days of discovery, devour gourmet cuisine and the world's best wines at the charming inns and chateaux that serve as your luxurious accommodations. For ten years, DuVine Adventures has led the pack in offering specialized luxury bike trips in France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, and Switzerland. The leading tour operator provides the "insider" perspective to regions such as Tuscany, Burgundy, Provence, Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland. Guests stay in distinctive and unique hotels, ranging from stately 18th century chateaux to intimate country inns-- all equipped with the most luxurious of amenities for some rest and pampering after a day on the road discovering the countryside. Dinners are as pleasurable as the surrounding scenery, often at top-notch Michelin-starred restaurants and chic, but comfortable, bistros. What a way to see Europe.