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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 Food and Wine Aspen Classic in June

April 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Food and Wine Aspen Classic

Starting Friday June 16, gourmands unite in Aspen for three days of pure hedonistic cooking pleasure: wine tastings, cooking demos, and loads of special events. Food and Wine's Aspen Classic is orchestrated by leading star chefs like Mario Batali, Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Jacques Pepin, and Wolfgang Puck, and oenophile/wine extraordinaires like Steve Olson, Joshua Wesson, and Daniel Johnnes. Cooking demonstrations vary from preparing day-to-day dishes to perfecting culinary masterpieces: "Del Posto Favorites" with Mario Batali, "Sunday Suppers" with Suzanne Goin, "Easy Entertaining" with Jacques and Claudine Pepin, "Spago Classics" with Wolfgang Puck, "Real Creole" with Emeril Lagasse, "Shrimp Master Class" with Ming Tsai, "Rib University" with Steven Raichlen… (drooling, yet?) The wine-tasting seminars are equally as enticing, showcasing wines from Southern Italy to Washington State, New Zealand to Chile.


Martini Madness at Dukes Hotel, London

April 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Dukes Bar

Shake or stir up the perfect weekend at Dukes Hotel, renowned worldwide for its marvelous Martinis, and of course the best Dry Martini in town. Located in a quiet spot on St. James's Place, Dukes is a charming, privately-owned luxury hotel set in a flowering gas-lit courtyard, just minutes from London's finest restaurants, theaters, galleries and exclusive shops. This luxurious boutique-- with its 89 rooms and suites individually decorated like a private home-- prizes its reputation for its happening Cocktail Bar. Brace yourself for the launch of the new Martini Menu, which will add clever concoctions such as a Filthy Dirty Martini, a Dukes Chocolate Martini, a Balsamic Vinegar Martini, a Saffron Martini, and a Rose Petal Martini, along with the traditional house specialties. In celebration of these libations, Dukes has introduced a special Martini Madness package, for Friday night arrivals throughout 2006. Priced at GBP 920 for three nights (double occupancy), the package includes: luxurious accommodations for two, full English breakfast daily, a private tasting with the bartender, a lesson on making the perfect Martini, and at-home presentation tips, two martinis at the happening bar, dinner for two at Dukes restaurant, and a special Recovery Massage for two. Top that off with a complimentary Dukes Martini set in a beautiful gift box that includes two Martini glasses, a bottle of gin, a miniature bottle of Vermouth, a lemon peeler, and a Dukes Martini leaflet with instructions on how to make a Martini. Cheers to that.

Dukes Hotel, Official Site

Dukes Hotel, Five Star Alliance


The Most Exclusive Credit Cards and their Luxury Rewards Programs

April 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Forbes.com has the skinny on Luxury Plastic: those select, mythical cards issued to an elite few who spend a mere $250,000 a year and put it all on plastic. Unbeknownst to the masses, invitation-only cards like the American Express Centurion card (aka "the Black AmEx") and the even rarer Coutts & Co. purple card (try 100 card-holders) offer truly luxurious rewards programs. According to Forbes, the purple card is the most prestigious of them all (after all, this is the bank to the Queen we're talking about):

World Card is offered only to Coutts clients, and you have to have millions to qualify for that status to begin with. Aside from all the typical travel upgrades and luxury services, the card comes in handy when you need to go shopping at your favorite department store in the middle of the night. A quick call to a World Card service representative will arrange a private after-hours shopping session anywhere your little heart desires.
Ahhh, the perks of (purple) plastic.


Look Out, Four Seasons; The Magellan Residential Cruise Ship Set to Sail the Seas

April 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Magellan Residential Cruise Ship

Another luxury ship with permanent ocean residences is a good thing, as rumor has it that the Four Seasons Cruise Ship is almost sold out. The Magellan-- to be completed by the summer of 2008-- will be limited to 200 private homes, including 16 penthouses. The exclusive $650 million ship claims it will "redefine luxury for the discerning traveler":

The facilities and services of the world's finest resorts are part of everyday life aboard the Magellan. On-call housekeeping staff, a world-class spa and marketplace, a 24-hour concierge staff, indoor and outdoor pools, six restaurants, a 450-seat theatre featuring Broadway-quality entertainment, a casino worthy of Monte Carlo and a 8,000 sq.ft greenhouse with onsite horticulturists are just a few of the conveniences that make living aboard the Magellan a unique experience.

Add to that the luxury of visiting 300 unique ports of call as you circumnavigate the globe. Now that ain't too shabby.


The World’s Gambling Capital Shifts East: the Mad Macau Makeover

April 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Sands Macau

That's right. The tiny, former Portuguese colony in China surpassed Las Vegas as the world's biggest gambling city, its casinos raking in $6.8 billion last year. According to the Telegraph:

Hollywood has led me to believe that the really high rollers jet into the casinos of the Bellagio or the Venetian in Las Vegas. But I was wrong. In terms of sheer spending power nowhere comes close to this former Portuguese colony, which now services the immense desire of the growing monied classes of China to gamble. Here, the average take per table per day is $18,000. In the VIP rooms that flank the main hall, $50,000 bets regularly change hands-- and it is on these private tables that nearly three quarters of Macau's gambling revenue is made, compared with just 25 per cent in Las Vegas. The slot machines in Macau largely stand empty, yet in Vegas they make three quarters of the profits.

And Las Vegas-style luxury hotels are on the rise: the $240 million Sands opened in 2004; the Wynn Macau is scheduled for this year, along with the $800 million sister hotel to Las Vegas's Venetian. Apparently, Macau is due for its own $1 billion MGM-Mirage, complete with underwater casino, and luxury hoteliers like Four Seasons, Hilton, InterContinental, Starwood, Park Hyatt and Shangri-La are staking out their territory.

Related Articles:

The Informed Traveler, "What's Up With Macau?"


Travel Trends: “Grandtravel” to Europe and on Luxury Cruises

April 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ashford Castle

These days, more and more grandparents are traveling with grandchildren. The statistics indicate that Grand-pere and Mamie have more discretionary income and the free time to spend it in, thus one in every five trips taken with children is with Gramps. Where are these families going? Family cruises of the Galapagos with Ocean Adventures, operator of the luxurious small ship The Eclipse, and luxurious European castles such as the Crillon in Paris, Ashford Castle in Ireland, and Beau Rivage Palace in Switzerland-- all offering plenty of fun activities for kids, and specialized amenities like children's bathrobes and delightful kid's menus.

Via Cullen International


Following the Da Vinci Code in France

April 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Da Vinci Code

It's official. The Da Vinci Code fever has swept across the Atlantic, infecting citizens on both sides of the pond. Translations, with that distinctive paperback cover, peek from purses and under raincoat-covered arms, in the French capital. And the commercialism has inevitably followed (not at all isolated to American borders); even French coffee bags are stamped with promotional contests with free tix to the May 19 movie opening. Day-um. I've written before about the Da Vinci Code Package at the Hotel Meurice, and now--with the official countdown begun before Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou sweep the silver screen--Da Vinci Code tours are taking off. Now's your chance to become a maniacal sleuth on your summer holiday in France, exploring the churches, Parisian sidewalks, and chateaus so scintillatingly depicted in Dan Brown's mammoth bestseller. Forget the Mona Lisa; the new Da Vinci Code themed tours at the Louvre will have you experiencing the world's richest cultural heritage in a whole new way. Below-- some travel planning resources:

Fodor's Travel Wire, "The Da Vinci Code: Scenes of the Crime"

Fodor's Guide to the Da Vinci Code

Fodor's Travel Wire, "The Da Vinci Code: Facts Behind the Fiction"

Frommer's, "Where's Johnny Jet: In Paris Cracking the Da Vinci Code"


Escape with World Cup 2006 Packages at Banyan Tree

March 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

World Cup 2006

So you missed your chance to get tickets to this year's matches in Germany, not to mention the impossible task of booking a hotel room in any of the hosting cities. But you-- a diehard and devoted football fan-- are not about to miss the games on telly. Enter Banyan Tree, with their creative packages designed for fans who want to watch the games in peace (tranquil surroundings with nary a beer-guzzling heckler in sight!) and their partners/spouses who may have escaped infection with that football fevered frenzy. For a limited period from June 1 to July 31, Banyan Tree is offering exclusive World Cup 2006 Escape packages at its resorts worldwide. All packages are inclusive of daily bountiful breakfasts and a surprise gift from Banyan Tree Gallery.

At Banyan Tree Bangkok, the World Cup 2006 Escape package rates begin from US$270 per night for a Deluxe View Suite (minimum two-night stay). The package includes a Banyan Tree Spa Back Reviver session per person as well as a Shopping Companion Service for hunting out the city's treasures.

At Banyan Tree Bintan, package rates start at US$465 in the Valley Villa (minimum two nights stay). All guests taking this package will receive a choice of a two-hour Renewal or Rejuvenation spa session, as well as a welcome drink and fruit platter on arrival.

At Banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru, guests can enjoy the World Cup Escape Package with rates starting from US$680 per night for an Oceanview Villa. This package includes daily breakfast and dinner, a choice of a two-hour Renewal or Rejuvenation spa session, and an unforgettable private sunset sail on a catamaran, complete with a guide.

At Banyan Tree Phuket, the package is priced from US$495 per night in a Deluxe Villa, with a minimum stay of three nights; includes a body massage per person, an intimate High Tea session for two, and cooking lessons with lunch for two.

Lastly, at Banyan Tree Seychelles, the World Cup Escape package rates start from EUR 855 per night (four night minimum), including a Renewal or Rejuvenation Spa session for two, as well as a one-day tour of Mahe with a beach picnic lunch included.


A Las Vegas Record? 500 Feet of All-You-Can-Eat

March 29, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The title says it all. As CNN reports:

Even in this over-the-top town famed for all-you-can-eat spreads, nobody had ever seen one quite like this: Forty soups, 100 salads and 150 desserts perched upon a 500-foot maze of tables.
Las Vegas Hilton Executive Chef George Bargisen put together a whopping 510 different dishes to grab the title for new record buffet on Tuesday, qualifying for a Guiness record for-- drum roll please-- World's Largest Buffet. Day-um.


Malbec in Mendoza: Argentina’s Cavas Wine Lodge

March 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cavas Wine Lodge

Wine-lovers rejoice; the seasonal grape harvest in the Southern Hemisphere is only just beginning. In Mendoza, Argentina, where the rolling fields of vines are set against a magnificent backdrop of the snow-capped Andes, the award-winning malbec and torrontes varietals are divine. Indulge in copious quantities at the wine-cellar at Cavas Wine Lodge, the region's hottest new hotel. The 14 free-standing guest rooms are spacious, with fireplace, private terrace, plunge pool and al fresco shower. Top-of-the-line technology includes entertainment centers, two-line phones and high-speed internet access. Soak up the breathtaking views by the outdoor pool, indulge in the restaurant's gastronomic delights, or relax with a superb spa treatment. And of course there are (lots of) glasses to be savored, overlooking the surrounding vineyards.

Related Articles:

The New York Times, "Peel Me a Grape"

Frommer's, "Embrace the Cold Shoulder Season in Chile and Argentina"