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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.

Eco-Friendly Luxury Hotels: InterContinental San Francisco Awarded LEED Gold Certification

February 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental San FranciscoA big congratulations to the InterContinental San Francisco for its most recent honor! The luxury hotel-- a tower of translucent blue glass soaring 32 stories above the city skyline-- has just been awarded LEED Gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council. (LEED is USGBC’s rating system for designing, constructing and maintaining the world’s greenest and most energy efficient buildings.) It's rare to achieve this with an existing building; InterContinental San Francisco is the largest in California to get LEED EBOM certification and the third largest in the US. Since it's debut in 2008, the 550-room hotel has shown its dedication to environmental stewardship. It's not just because of the linen and towel re-use program. Here's how:

InterContinental San Francisco• Floor to ceiling windows throughout the entire property that allow for lots of natural light (read: not from light bulbs!)

• Public transportation is used by more than 95% of the hotel’s staff, reducing the carbon dioxide emitted by commuting.

• Retro-commissioning of its energy systems by bringing in a third party to evaluate and upgrade its current systems, making them more efficient.

• A comprehensive recycling and composting program, diverting 80% of the hotel’s generated waste away from landfills and utilizing solar powered compactors.

• Green cleaning methods are used throughout the hotel operations (think hepa filtered vacuums, “Green Seal Certified” chemicals and micro-fiber cleaning cloths).

• Partnering with Renewable Choice Energy to reduce its environmental impact by purchasing renewable energy credits to offset 100% of its electricity and natural gas use, making the hotel’s energy use 100% carbon neutral.


Ireland’s Ashford Castle Celebrates 8 Centuries: Guests Get a Free Night

January 21, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ashford Castle, IrelandAshford Castle-- the luxurious Irish estate in County Mayo that was once the home of the Guinness family-- is celebrating a big birthday. Not 8 years or 80 years, but 800 years. (Read: 8 centuries!) Dating back to 1228, the five-star castle hotel has been welcoming travelers for falconry and sumptuous dining for almost a millennium. Needless to say, this hotel has a pedigree that's hard to rival. To fête this milestone, Ashford Castle is offering the "8th Century Promotion" through December 31, 2011. When you book two nights on a bed & breakfast basis, you'll get a complimentary third night (bed & breakfast). Enjoy a wealth of experiences at the castle-- including a lavish spa, strolls around the pristine gardens and lake, archery, and five-star dining. Ashford Castle won the 2010 Gold Medal from the Green Hospitality Awards and was recently ranked "Best Resort in Ireland" in Condé Nast Traveler's 2011 Gold List.


Book Now: Fairmont Hotels Offer Spectacular Winter Rates

January 14, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Le Chateau MontebelloThis just in. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has launched a winter sale that translates to 20% off or one free night. Whether you're looking for the thrill of urban nightlife (Chitown's calling your name), a spa sanctuary, the challenge of championship golf in Florida, or a fairytale ski destination, Fairmont's got it covered. Hurry, you must book "Everyone's an Original Winter" rates by 12 pm EST on February 5, 2011.

The fine print: Offers are subject to availability at time of reservation at participating hotels for stays until April 30, 2011. Up to 20% discount applies to sell rate of the day. Free night must be a consecutive night stay at one hotel, minimum night stay required.


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.


Buy Fresh, Buy Local: Hotel Chefs Are Planting Gardens

October 22, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Elysian Hotel ChicagoA recent article in The New York Times calls attention to hotels' efforts to buy local produce for their hotel kitchens, if not growing veggies themselves. The new trend has gained steam across the nation, and we've given shout-outs in the past to the InterContinental Harbor Court Baltimore for its urban culinary garden and the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto for its rooftop honeybees. The NYT article singles out Fairmont for its commitment to the "eat local" food movement:

Fairmont’s property in Montreal, the Queen Elizabeth, for example, adopted a goat whose milk is used to make fresh cheese, and the Fairmont in Washington features honey-based drinks. Eleven Fairmont hotels in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Kenya and China keep bees, overseen by local groups or resident beekeepers, and almost half of the brand’s 64 properties worldwide keep gardens.

The article also draws attention to the Elysian Hotel in Chicago for establishing a close relationship with nearby farms, even changing their dinner menu daily depending on what products they get.

PS. Live in the D.C. area and want to support the local food movement? Buy tickets to Farmland Feast 2010, hosted by the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on November 1. This culinary extravaganza will shine the spotlight on Chesapeake Bay farmers with a five-course autumnal dinner.


“Green” Eggs and Ham Breakfast at the LEED Gold-Certified Hotel Palomar, Philadelphia

October 14, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Palomar PhiladelphiaHotel Palomar Philadelphia earned Gold LEED certification this year, not an easy feat. (Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification of a building's eco-friendly construction.) Kimpton is toasting the big win with a special offer at their Philly property. Guests can grab gold at Hotel Palomar with lots of green goodies. Available until December 30, 2010, the "We Got Gold" package includes:

* Rates starting at $329

* Deluxe accommodations

* Receive a reusable Hotel Palomar Philadelphia shopping bag

* A special "green" eggs and ham breakfast for two, made with local, organic ingredients in Square 1682, a LEED-certified, chef-driven Kimpton restaurant, located adjacent to the hotel.

In addition, guests can choose from the following:

* Green Can Be Gorgeous: Sustainable spa products will be waiting in your room, including an organic candle, organic massage oils, and organic bath salts.

* Low Carb(on): Enjoy a healthy, farm-to-table boxed lunch made from locally sourced, fresh ingredients by hotel Executive Chef Guillermo Tellez. Or savor a farm-fresh brunch for two in Square 1682.

* Peace of Mind Massage: Relax with an Earth-friendly, in-room temple massage using organic peppermint oil, followed by a Swedish massage with organic lavender oil.


Halloween in Napa: Trick or Treat Yourself to a Special at Bardessono

October 7, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

BardessonoFlee from the ghouls and ghosts and instead trick or treat yourself to a Halloween night in Yountville at the new luxury hotel everyone's talking about: Bardessono. Get overnight accommodations in a King Spa Suite, a four-course dinner for two with wine pairings, and breakfast for two for $449 per couple. Stay an extra night or two for $299 per night. The only LEED Platinum Certified hotel in California and one of only two in the U.S., Bardessono has won rave reviews for its gorgeous contemporary design that's committed to environmental sustainability. What could be better than sampling the farm-fresh menu and organic wines in the restaurant, lounging by the rooftop pool, or treating yourself to vinotherapy at the gorgeous spa? In-room treatments are pretty awesome, too, as the sleek guest rooms "double as in-room spas."


Polo Fields and Spa Treatments by Dr. Alkaitis: Coworth Park Debuts Today in the UK

September 27, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Coworth ParkWe've been waiting with bated breath and now the moment's arrived: Coworth Park opened its doors today on the border of Windsor Great Park in the English countryside. Just 45 minutes from central London, the 70-room estate is the first luxury country house hotel from the Dorchester Collection. We can barely contain our excitement about the luxe offerings: three restaurants overseen by Michelin-starred Chef John Campbell; a contemporary design that enhances the Georgian charm of the original Coworth Park's manor house; an equestrian center; sunken gardens and polo fields; a carbon neutral spa that's the first in the world to offer treatments by Dr. Alkaitis, renowned for his 100% organic, paraben free ingredients. This is the year to celebrate the yuletide season in Merry Ole England!


Go Ahead and Overpack: InterContinental Hotels Pays for Your Checked Airline Bag

September 13, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Times Square New YorkWe just learned about a cool promotion from IHG brand hotels worldwide. When you stay any weekend at any one of their 4,500 hotels and pay with your visa card, you can say goodbye to luggage fees. Straight from the horse's mouth: "Overpack. There's plenty of room for the maybes and why nots. We're paying." They'll reimburse you for your checked airline bag with an IHG Visa Prepaid Card (up to $50). IHG brands include InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo and Candlewood Suites. One of our favorites is the swank new InterContinental Times Square New York (pictured). We also can't help but fall for The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. Book today! (Promotion is valid until December 30, 2010. Open to residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who have attained the age of majority in the jurisdiction of their residence.)

Related Articles:

Buzz: New LED Lighting Makes a Fab Light Show at InterContinental Dubai Festival City

Green Hotels: The Urban Garden at Baltimore’s InterContinental Harbor Court Hotel


Cooking Classes, Wine Tastings, & Culinary Events with Kimpton Hotels

September 10, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Lorien Hotel and SpaWe just received word about the fall line-up of awesome culinary events hosted by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants across the country. We're talking Bourbon Dinners, Farmer's Market Tours, Cooking Demos, and Classes. All emphasize local flavors. (Viva the 100-mile diet!) For example, Portland's Pazzo Ristorante, located adjacent to Hotel Vintage Plaza, is organizing a tour of the Inner Circle Farmer's Market tomorrow. After all, the Italian restaurant is known to celebrate Mediterranean dishes by showcasing the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. Also coming this fall: The Grand Cafe in San Francisco will be hosting a Regional Dinner Series featuring Bordeaux in October, and Seattle's Library Bistro will be hosting Scotch, Whiskey, and Liquor Tastings. For the full calendar, click here.

Pictured: The Lorien Hotel in Alexandria, whose BRABO restaurant is out of this world.

Related Article:

Kimpton’s Summer Playground: Goodies for Just $10 More at Hotels like Philly’s Palomar