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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 Story of The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC

July 12, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

The Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa, recently acquired by Omni Hotels, set atop Sunset Mountain features guestrooms with spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and its lush Donald Ross–designed golf course and is is one of the South's best-loved resorts. Celebrating its Centennial today, the luxurious Grove Park Inn opened on July 12, 1913. Here's the story of how it all began: 

The Grove Park Inn - Then and Now"Edwin Wiley Grove, known as the "Father of Modern Asheville" was born in 1850 on a small farm in Tennessee. After serving in the Civil War he had a very definite plan for his life and career – the pharmaceutical business and the determination to rise from his early poverty to great wealth and success.

He purchased a pharmacy in Paris, Tennessee in his mid-twenties. He put all of his energy into formulating a tasteless quinine to prevent malaria, a life-threatening disease that permeated the South in the 19th century (he suspended quinine in liquid form). After experimenting for several years, Grove introduced Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic and experienced immediate success. In the late 1890's Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic, which had become a household staple, sold more bottles than Coca-Cola. After 20 years on the market, Grove had sold over 1.5 million bottles of his Tonic and surpassed his dreams by making millions of dollars. 

Grove himself was often ill, afflicted with periods of bronchitis and exhaustion and his doctors recommended the clean mountain air of Asheville, NC to relax and recover. He spent time in Asheville throughout the year and that is where he would realize his next big dream.

While still pursuing new pharmaceutical inventions, Grove met Fred Seely in Detroit, who was making a name for himself in the pharmaceutical business. While working together in Detroit, the two sparked a friendship and mutual admiration. Grove invited Seely to his summer home in Asheville. One week later he left his position in Detroit to work for Grove and his Paris Medicine Company. But business was not the only thing that interested Seely. When Grove introduced his daughter, Evelyn, to the bachelor, within 24 hours Grove had given Seely permission to wed her.

Grove Park Inn and SpaSeely began working for the Paris Medicine Company in June 1898 and in October of that year married Evelyn. Both men ventured into other businesses including real estate. In Asheville Grove began purchasing property, he had successfully developed residential neighborhoods in Atlanta and was considering doing the same in prospering Asheville. With the expansion of the railroad and publicity surrounding the opening of George Vanderbilt's Biltmore House, Grove was positioning himself as a serious investor in the future of Asheville. In 1909 Grove purchased 408 acres in north Asheville, including what would become The Grove Park Inn. But he would concentrate on residential neighborhoods before ever considering building a hotel.

Two years later Grove began to plan the building of a hotel on Sunset Mountain. In 1911 Seely became involved with the plans. After reviewing the plans of several prominent architects, Grove did not find any of them satisfactory. The consummate visionary, Seely presented a sketch of the proposed hotel to Grove and he not only accepted the plan but gave Seely the enormous task of building the hotel.

Four-hundred men worked 10-hour shifts six days a week. With only the use of mules, wagons and ropes, granite boulders, some weighing as much as 10,000 pounds, were hauled from Sunset Mountain to build the hotel. Seely kept his promise to be open for business in less than one year from the ground breaking.

Just three days shy of one year, The Grove Park Inn opened on July 12, 1913. Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, delivered the keynote address to four hundred of the most distinguished men of the South, gathered for the opening banquet. 

Another version of this story is available at http://www.groveparkinn.com/the-grove-park-inn-story

View more photos and check rates and availability for The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa >>


Did You Know? Vidago Palace

July 11, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

Commissioned by King Carlos of Portugal in 1908, Vidago Palace was originally conceived as an opulent holiday residence for His Majesty and his entourage, who, since the late 1800s, had been regular visitors to the region in order to enjoy the therapeutic effects of Vidago's famed mineral waters. Assassinated later that year, King Carlos never saw his project completed. Nor, in an ironic twist of fate, did his son and successor, King Manuel II, who was deposed in the republican revolution that swept across Portugal on October 5th 1910 – the day before Vidago Palace was meant to open. Although it would never host its intended royal residents, Vidago Palace became a favoured destination among Portuguese and European aristocracy and was considered to be the most luxurious hotel on the Iberian Peninsula.

Vidago Palace 

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The Arizona Biltmore - Then and Now

July 8, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

The Arizona Biltmore Resort in PhoenixBuilt as one of Phoenix's first resorts in 1929, the Arizona Biltmore was constructed in grand form by brothers Albert, Charles and Warren McArthur. Frank Lloyd Wright served as the consulting architect, and the Arizona Biltmore remains one of the only existing hotels in the world to benefit from his influence. The Arizona Biltmore has been an Arizona landmark since its opening on Feb. 23, 1929 when it was crowned "The Jewel of the Desert."

In 1930, when the estimated $1 million construction cost doubled, Chicago chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., one of the original investors in the project, became the sole owner. Over the next 44 years, the Wrigley family owned and operated the Arizona Biltmore and it became world renowned as the preferred luxury oasis for celebrities, heads of state, captains of industry and other famous travelers.

Arizona Biltmore Hotel Pool DiverDid you know that the famed song composer Irving Berlin penned many tunes, including "White Christmas" while sitting poolside at the Arizona Biltmore? Or that the pool was first built by the Wrigleys in 1930 and was host to diving competitions as well as fashion shows? Marilyn Monroe called this her favorite pool. A Who's Who of rockers have vacationed at the Arizona Biltmore – Elton John, Eric Clapton, U2, Steely Dan, Neil Diamond and Bruce Springsteen, to name a few. 

Today, the luxury hotel features 740 hotel guest accommodations; 78 one-and two-bedroom villas; eight swimming pools; seven tennis courts; a full-service resort spa, salon and fitness center; and five dining options across 39 acres. The adjacent Arizona Biltmore Country Club boasts two of the best 18-hole PGA golf courses in Phoenix: The Links and The Adobe.

The Arizona Biltmore offers 1.5 hour long History Tours three times per week - free to registered guests or $10 for the general public.

More archival photos available here: Arizona Biltmore Archive Photos

Learn more about the hotel and check rates and availability here: Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona


Image of the Day: Patios de Cafayete

July 2, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

Patios de Cafayate Hotel and Spa embraces its spectacular views of the Calchaqui Valley vineyards.
Patios de Cafayate Hotel and Spa

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Image of the Day: The Ritz Carlton Sharq Village and Spa

July 1, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

The Ritz Carlton Sharq Hotel and Spa has a Six Senses Spa with over 71, 500 square feet, fully equipped exercise facilities, 23 treatment rooms, a hair and beauty salon complete with hairdressing, manicure/ pedicure, and intricate henna treatments. Entire villas within the Six Senses Spa may be rented out for private party treatment experiences.

Ritz Carlton Sharq Hotel and Spa

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Image of the Day: Canouan Resort

June 30, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

Canouan Resort showcases 30 one and two bedroom luxuriously appointed pool or beachfront locations suites, hidden coves, beautiful white sand beaches, tennis, water sports, signature restaurants and bars, a large freshwater swimming pool, Sugar Palms Kids Club, and the magnificent Canouan Resort Spa.

Canouan

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Long Term Rentals in Las Vegas - Vdara Hotel & Spa

June 11, 2013
By: Five Star Alliance

Vdara Hotel SpaLocated within Las Vegas' CityCenter, the all-suite, non-gaming, smoke-free and eco-friendly Vdara Hotel & Spa features long-term leasing or rental options within all of their room types. 

With a minimum 30 day stay, rates begin at $3,250 - that's only $109 per night. What's included? Weekly housekeeping service, daily fitness center access, access to pool, in-room and wireless internet, valet parking, as well as washer and dryer available in Vdara Suites and above. 

Other onsite amenities include: Market Café Vdara, Pool Café, Bar Vdara, In-Suite Dining, Spa & Salon Vdara, Pool & Lounge Vdara, and Cabana & Daybed Rentals Available at the pool. Vdara is located within CityCenter which offers easy access to ARIA, Bellagio and Crystals. Additionally, there are many dining options available within walking distance at ARIA and Crystals.

All room types and rates:

  • Deluxe Suites starting at $3,250 monthly
  • Vdara Suites starting at $5,000 monthly
  • Panoramic Suites starting at $6,250 monthly
  • Penthouses starting at $7,500 monthly

But don't worry poker players, you'll still have easy access to ARIA & Bellagio Poker Rooms and you'll only be 1.5 miles from Tournament Headquarters. 

View rates, details, and more photos of Vdara Hotel and Spa >>

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The Homestead Plans for Canyon Ranch

June 5, 2013
By: K. Clare Johnson

 

The HomesteadGood news for East Coast fans of Canyon Ranch. The Homestead, located in Virginia's Allegheny Mountains, has just announced that they will open a Canyon Ranch SpaClub this month. 

Canyon Ranch SpaClub at The Homestead will offer a variety of opportunities to explore the rewards of living a healthier, longer, more vibrant life. Signature services will include the Canyon Stone Massage and Mineral Euphoria Body Treatment, along with Target Heart-Rate Determination and Nutrition for Wellness. The luxury spa will also offer healing and restorative massages, skin care and body therapies, and a fitness area with cardio/weight room and movement therapy rooms for Pilates, yoga, cycling and other classes. Canyon Ranch is known for being the gold standard in healthy vacations, starting with their flagship property in  Canyon Ranch destination resort spa in Tucson, Arizona.

The Canyon Ranch SpaClub will provide a delightful accompaniement to the luxury resort's Hot Springs. Two major springs from the Allegheny Mountains flow onto The Homestead property, naturally heated and requiring no chemical treatment, so you can enjoy what many consider to be the best hot springs in Virginia straight from the source. Soak in the natural mineral waters of thelegendary Jefferson Pools (named after the former President) or play year-round in our two-acre outdoor pool area, Allegheny Springs.

View rates, details, and more photos of The Homestead >>


Dine at The Dining Room And Terrace at El Encanto

May 6, 2013
By: Elaine Lee

 El Encanto

With breath-taking ocean views of the Riviera, El Encanto captures the beauty glamour and charm of Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is a city rich in local culinary fare, and has all the comforts of fresh and locally grown produce, freshly caught seafood, locally raised beef and poultry, complete with a robust wine industry. An ideal place for foodies, El Encanto's The Dining Room And Terrace restaurant extends the same "locavore" sentiment with everything they serve. El Encanto not only roasts its own coffee, they brew their own unpasteurized beer, have an on-site garden to get fresh produce complete with an aeroponic tower to grow Japanese herbs, and even has its own dairy cow named Ellie who provides the dairy for the kitchen's homemade cheese program! The amazing view of the Santa Barbara Riviera from The Dining Room and Terrace, is just an added bonus. The artisanal innovative menu offerings of coastal Californian cuisine with Japanese and Parisian flairs at The Dining Room And Terrace at El Encanto is an all around treat and what gastronomic dreams are made of.

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Two Of Our Favorite Spas in City Center Las Vegas

May 3, 2013
By: Meagan Drillinger

Up and down the Strip, and throughout the downtown area, spas are serious business in Las Vegas. Two of our favorites are located within City Center, Las Vegas' newest complex nestled between Monte Carlo and Bellagio - The Sahra Spa & Hammam at The Cosmopolitan and Spa & Salon Vdara. Our sister publication, Luxury Travel Advisor, recently spelled out their perks.

Spa Cosmopolitan Las Vegas"The Sahra Spa & Hammam at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas covers 43,000 square feet and has an impressive range of spaces: Think 16 massage rooms, four body treatment rooms—each with private steam showers—six skincare treatment rooms, two hydrotherapy rooms and a series of specialty suites designed for group treatments.

The Hammam has proven to be a popular spot to unwind in for an afternoon. The 1,200-square-foot space can be used individually or by up to four guests, and has separate alcoves for steam and cold water plunge pools. Guests can also relax on the heated stone loungers or get a scrub massage to complete the treatment.

The signature Hammam treatment, the Sahra Journey, incorporates several cleansing, purifying, and exfoliating methods into a 2.5-hour package that also includes the Red Flower Hammam Experience. This unique therapy uses 11 flower oils and fruit essences, including Red Flower Lemon Coffee Blossom Olive Stone Scrub for varied scents and healing properties. A "vigorous scrub" is followed by a purifying clay wrap with essences of cardamom; all the while guests relax on warm stones.

Tops for girlfriends: The Sahra Suite has a living and entertaining area and private spa accommodations. (Perks include a flat-screen TV with DVD player, wet bar, whirlpool tubs, steam room, shower, changing and vanity areas.) Beyond massages and facials, girls can get nail treatments, hair and makeup, and can even order room service for dinner and champagne.

Good to know: Try to book at least a week in advance. Some services are only scheduled once per hour, so the farther out the booking, the better the likelihood of getting the dream treatment.

When staying at the hotel, ask to be booked into Terrace One Bedroom Suites, which have private terraces and deep Japanese soaking tubs (great for continuing the relaxation after spa treatments, we say).

 

Spa at VdaraAt CityCenter, the three-year-old multifunction city within a city, Vdara has an 18,000-square-foot, two-story spa, salon and fitness center.

The Naturopathica French Lavender Soothing Massage is a specialty treatment offered by the spa, but we hear the signature Bamboo Fusion Massage is tops. This signature treatment uses bamboo for Balinese ritual techniques, such as compression, tapotement, ringing, and skin rolling.

Good for kids: A children's manicure/pedicure is available for anyone under 14 years old. This children's service features a strawberries-and-creme (not "cream") pedicure, which we hear uses "farm fresh products."

Bridal parties are also in luck: Brides should try the "Head Over Heels" pedicure treatment, "Body & Soul" massage package, and Day-of Hair and Make-Up services. Grooms, meanwhile, can get a Men's Cut & Style and MAN-icure. Bonus: After the ceremonies, the couple can join up for a "Happily Ever After" couples massage package.

And at Vdara Pool & Lounge, book one of the six specially designated Spa Cabanas, which have a media unit for television and music, ceiling fans, safety deposit boxes, hand sinks, as well as a refrigerator stocked with mineral water and fresh fruit. Spa treatments can also be booked at the cabanas, including the Cabana Purifying Body Treatment & Massage.

Top Tip: At the hotel, book the Two Bedroom Penthouse Suite, which has two full master bedrooms, spa-style bathrooms and a full kitchen and living room. (Guests staying in the suite get four one-time use Spa Facility passes, so this is an especially good pick for spa-focused vacations.)"

Learn more about all the luxury hotels in Las Vegas >>