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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.

Dining in San Diego’s Gas Lamp Quarter: Chive


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Chive

SD's Gaslamp Quarter is seeing a renaissance, this historic hood packed with great shops, tasty bistros, elegant galleries and exquisite fine-dining. Stroll past the Victorian buildings and the old-fashioned gaslamps illuminating the sidewalks. Its energy is conspicuously contagious; this place is where it's at! Among all the excellent bars and restaurants, Chive stands out for its sleek, contemporary environment and cutting-edge cuisine. Opened in 1999, this chic urban bistro dubs its grub, "Cuisine Moderne." But I see a global fusion of sorts: mouth-watering dishes like goat cheese crusted Colorado lamb sirloin, and pink pepper crusted mako shark, served alongside more classic American plates like short ribs with a coffee glaze and buttermilk onion rings. Happy Hour, from 5-7 pm daily, runs the gamut of eclectic: Mad Monday (choose from a superb selection of wines by the bottle), Tequila Tuesday (enjoy duck nachos with that margarita), White Wednesday (with Whitehaven sauvignon blanc and a white corn pizzette). You get the idea.


Chicago’s Holiday Happenings


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Trib's Metromix has it covered. From the glogg-saturated St. Lucia Day celebration at the Swedish American Museum Center to the Pre-Kwanzaa Party in the South Shore, the windy city's full of unique cultural happenings this holiday season.


Kayaking the Caribbean in Style with Arawak Expeditions


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Kayaking the Caribbean

No hotel space in the Caribbean this winter? Sleep on the beach! Experience the beauty and blissful Caribbean sunshine of the Virgin Islands from a kayak, with Arawak Expeditions. A small, family-run outfitter based in St. John, Arawak was the first company offering sea-kayaking tours around St. John, and they know their territory. With years of experience, Arawak uses the best technology and equipment in leading environmentally-friendly tours in the Virgin Islands National Park. With gourmet meals—prepared nightly on the deserted beach-- to boot. The snorkeling is remarkable, in secluded, untouristed locations. This is adventure travel at its finest. A sample five-day itinerary starts in Peter Island, then involves gentle paddling from island to island, including: Pelican Island, Norman Island, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Sandy Cay, Lovango Cay, St. John.


Trees of Hope Campaign at The Peninsula Hotels


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Tree of Hope

The holidays are upon us, and for the second consecutive year, The Peninsula Hotels has organized the "Trees of Hope" charity campaign in each of its hotels around the world. They've got gorgeous trees set up in their hotel lobbies, and guests are invited to purchase an ornament to hang on the tree. One hundred percent of the funds are donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses. (You can also sample the "Teas of Hope" or "Tree of Hope" cocktails in each hotel, and support the cause.) Live in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Manila, Beijing, Beverly Hills, Chicago or New York, or planning a visit? Get yourself to the Peninsula and help deck that tree!


Spotted! Eva Longoria at the Hotel Crescent Court Spa


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Eva Longoria

Eva lounged with her man, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, on a recent retreat. What's so keen about the Crescent Court? This Rosewood Hotel is close to all that's cool in Dallas, its boldly colored European style bedrooms the height of luxury, and is home to both a Nobu restaurant and a fabulous spa. Did Eva indulge in a Shea Butter Body Polish or Hotter N' Texas Summer Rock Massage?

Hotel Crescent Court, Official Site

Hotel Crescent Court, Five Star Alliance


Cancun is Ready


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mexican Pres. Vicente Fox is even planning a flag-waving ceremony to advertise the resort area's reopening after that nasty hurricane. But, the Washington Post queries, how ready is it? The resorts to the south, in Tulum and Playa del Carmen, are faring better than treeless Cancun, where about half the town's 27,000 available hotel rooms are open, and a lot of resorts are sadly scarred by eroded beaches.


Top Spa Trends 2006


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Steam Room

Feng Shui'd gyms, McSpa, off-menu spa treatments, lots more traditional water treatments, men-only spas, spa virtual communites (???)… Leave it to SpaFinder to survey the industry and forecast the trends. And some are a little bizarre, to say the least. Massage table in the bedroom, anyone? (The "home-spa integration" thing is going to be BIG.)


What’s Hot: New Year’s Eve at the Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Bel Air

For over fifty years, the Hotel Bel-Air has been synonymous with Beverly Hills elegance. An urban oasis with 12 acres of gardens and fountain courtyards, just minutes from Century City, Beverly Hills and Westwood, the hotel is prestigious and exquisitely luxurious, while retaining an understated glamour. After all, this is a Mobile five star award winner. 91 guestrooms and suites feature private entrances, fireplaces, French doors, and tiled courtyards with private outdoor spas. Toast 2006 at the event of the year: Hotel Bel Air's New Year's Eve Cabaret Gala Dinner. Enjoy a five-course gourmet dinner with wine pairings, imbibe plenty of champagne, and dance the night away to live music. $375 per person.

Hotel Bel-Air, Official Site

Hotel Bel-Air, Five Star Alliance


Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Paso Robles wine

Perfectly located halfway between LA and San Fran, the Paso Robles region is known for its zesty Zinfandel. The wine's celebratory gala is hugely popular, now running for 14 straight years. More than 80 wineries host the three-day festival, packed with events including winemakers dinners, special tastings, food pairings, seminars and live and silent auctions. When? March 17, 18, and 19 of next year, but tix just went on sale, in time for the holidays.


Upscale Shopping in Bangkok: H1


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri La Bangkok

A single street in Bangkok-- previously a non-descript alley off Sukhumvit Road-- is now the capital of chic. At the heart of Thonglor's scene (and its style revolution) is H1, a Modernist glass mini-mall, designed by architect Duangrit Bunnag. Easily accessible by the newly expanded underground system, the H1 complex is home to stylish, locally-owned boutiques and one of Bangkok's hottest tables: To Die For. Owned by designer Bhanu Inkawat, the restaurant has a contemporary menu that includes items like vodka and caviar pasta (a little odd, but the trendy crowd raves....) Another draw is the eclectic lifestyle store Geo, stashed with everything from gardening tools to handmade picture frames. The best time to shop is after sunset, when H1 is illuminated with lots of lights.

Related Reading:

"Great Neighborhoods/Asia," Travel and Leisure November issue

Bangkok's Chic Street, Time Asia

Bangkok's Revolution in Creativity, International Herald Tribune