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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.

Banish the Winter Blues with The Peninsula Hotels

November 27, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

The PeninsulaThis winter, The Peninsula Hotels invites you to a luxurious retreat with special offers to make your stay even more pleasurable. Winter Escapes helps guests to personalize their stays with a customized selection of benefits at each hotel. From 15 December 2007 through 31 March 2008 inclusive, each Peninsula hotel offers a menu of three enticing options. Guests booking rooms or suites can select one to tailor their stay to their personal taste and preferences, making a stay at any of the Peninsula hotels worldwide even more memorable. Highlights include:

As the mantle of winter descends and cooler months arrive, thoughts turn to escaping daily routines and indulging in some truly luxurious personal pampering, either by basking in the warm tropical climes of Asia or by maximizing a well-earned city break in the US at one of the Peninsula properties - an ideal way to banish those cool weather blues.


Suite Luxury: Casa Montana at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain

October 10, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Surrounded by a lush oasis of flowers and trees on Camelback Mountain, the Sanctuary on Camelback is truly a legendary hideaway. Enjoy their highest level of luxury in Casa Montana, one of their homes with the most breathtaking panoramic views on the north slope of Camelback Mountain.

Casa MontanaCasa Montana

Size: 3,500 square feet - four spacious bedrooms, and six full baths.

Features: Private pool, whirlpool spa and scenic patio for entertaining, three wood-burning fireplaces, and a billiard room.

Casa MontanaRooms feature a master bedroom and adjacent private study, a king size bedroom and two rooms with double beds. The billiard room features a spacious bar area and pool table for entertaining your guests. Casa Montana's warm Old World Spanish inspired decor greets you with a comforting welcome and a view like no other.

Make your reservations for Casa Montana at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain >>


An Interview with the General Manager: Scott VandenBerg of Grand Hyatt Atlanta

August 10, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Scott Vandenberg Headshot Currently, Mr. Scott VandenBerg oversees the operation of Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead, a sub-city of Atlanta Georgia. In his role as General Manager, he manages 46 managers and 235 employees at the 4-diamond property. He grew up in western Michigan and started his hotel career at the age of 16 working for Holiday Inn in the Stewarding department. He has been at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta for three years and took some time to answer our questions.

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: Grand Hyatt Atlanta is a sophisticated retreat with the largest guest rooms in Buckhead. Our Buckhead Atlanta luxury hotel combines relaxation with the conveniences and excitement of the city.

Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the Grand Hyatt Atlanta's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hotel’s location at the intersection of Peachtree and Piedmonth allows access to some of the best shopping and dining in the Southeast.

Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The Grand Hyatt is host to many celebrities that visit the Atlanta area that include Bono from U2, Madonna, P-Diddy, Whitney Houston and Eric Clapton. It has also hosted Presidents George H. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hotel has one of the most successful kosher kitchens in the Atlanta area and is led by Chef Billy Skiber. The hotel is host to many of the city’s most profile events including the Susan b. Komen Pink Tie Ball, Childhood Autism Foundation Candlelight Ball and National Kidney Foundation Gift of Life Gala.

Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: All of the guest rooms in the hotel are wonderful; however, the Presidential Suite is a home away from home. It features a dining area with an eight-person table, a sitting area with sofas and chairs and a full kitchen. The living rooms is outfitted with such luxury items as an iPod with docking station, home theater system with DVD library and multiple flat panel plasma televisions.

Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: I would want to know all of the amenities that the hotel offers and what type of entertainment options are available in the area.

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: I knew from the moment I joined Hyatt in 1979 that I would like to climb the corporate structure and one day become a General Manager. I joined the company as a corporate management trainee. After working at 15 different Hyatts in many different positions, I was able to obtain my first GM job at Hyatt Westlake in Westlake Village California. After 4 years there, I became GM at Hyatt Regency Islandia in San Diego, California. I was successful at that property and after 4 years there, I was offered a chance to become GM at Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. The entire process took a lot of hard work, dedication and a drive to continue to succeed.

Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hotel customers are 50% group and 50% transient and come from all over the U.S. and some international as well.

Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hardest part of being a GM is trying to fit all of your obligations to community, staff, owners, guests and corporate office into a daily schedule. You are always "on the run" and meeting different people with needs for your time. If I could change one part of the hotel, it would be to add more public function space to the property. We are a very popular upscale venue and we must turn down some events due to previous bookings

Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: Favorite other hotels - Peninsula Hotel Beverly Hills is a classy hotel with a great clientele and a wonderful location, Grand Hyatt Kauai is a beautiful property that is very relaxing, Park Hyatt Paris is known for their excellent service and top of the world reputation.

Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?

Mr. Scott VandenBerg: Grand Hyatt Atlanta is located on the prime corner of Buckhead and is a leader in Atlanta's hotel industry. The hotel ranks among the top 20 hotels in Hyatt's North American portfolio on customer service, facility design and services. The location lends itself to convenience when shopping or dining at the city's finest stores and restaurants. The staff is seasoned and will take care of guests needs with ease. We welcome you to experience the Hyatt touch at this magnificent facility.

Mr. Scott VandenBerg grew up in western Michigan and graduated from Holland High School in his hometown of Holland Michigan. He started in the hospitality industry at the age of 16 working for Holiday Inn in the Stewarding department. After performing several different jobs at this Inn, he decided that he liked the hotel business and wanted to go to Michigan State University to pursue a career in the hospitality industry. He graduated from Michigan State University with honors obtaining his B/A degree in business specializing in hotel/restaurant and institutional management. After graduation, he joined Hyatt's Management training program in 1979 and relocated to San Diego California. His career has taken him all over the United States, Canada, Caribbean and Hawaii. As a 27-year veteran of Hyatt, Scott has worked at 15 different Hyatt Hotels of which 5 were new openings. Additionally, he assisted in the opening of two other Hyatt Hotels. Scott's hobbies include skiing, hiking, gardening and outdoor activities. He also enjoys his two Corvettes and loves to ride his Harley around Georgia’s back roads on weekends.


Suite Dreams: The Presidential Suite at InterContinental Hong Kong

August 7, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Hong Kong, Presidential Suite There's a lot to love at the InterContinental Hong Kong: the large outdoor heated swimming pool and unique trio of infinity spa pools, the luxurious I-Spa (with its feng shui inspired ambiance), prime waterfront location in Kowloon, unparalleled dining, not to mention the spectacular views. But one of the best things about the hotel is the stunning Presidential Suite, one of the most beautiful in Asia, and the city's priciest and largest. The price tag is $10,000 a night for 7,000 square feet of pure luxury. The 2,500 square ft terrace boasts its own infinity pool overlooking the sparkling lights of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island. The wrap-around terrace can easily seat 50 folks for dinner, and 24-hour room service from Alain Ducaisse's Spoon Restaurant is a perk enjoyed only by guests of the Presidential Suite. Of course this five-room facility has made the roster of Forbes' most expensive hotel rooms in the world.


Royal Suite at the Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris: The World’s Super Suites

July 19, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Royal Suite at the Hotel Plaza Athenee We thought the Eiffel Suite was luxe. The Hotel Plaza Athénée is also home to the lavish Royal Suite, 4840 square feet of serious opulence. The four-bedroom suite is situated on the 5th floor, overlooking the Avenue Montaigne and the courtyard. Furnished with splendid antiques, drapes embroidered with three different gold threads, and the finest silks and fabrics, the Royal Suite is like an elegant Parisian home-- a truly exceptional one at that. Bathrooms are decked out in Italian marble, with steam showers and Jacuzzis. To be expected, the suite offers the utmost in state-of-the-art technology: plasma TV screen in each room, glass video projecting screen in the master bedroom, WiFi Internet access, telephone with eight lines, fax, music library with 5,000 titles, and incredible security (digital finger print entry on each door of the Suite, four electronic safes...)

Of course you don't have to be a member of the royal family to stay at the legendary Plaza Athénée. Make like Carrie Bradshaw and book a room at the most famous hotel in the City of Light (with our without the "lovah" in tow). Recently renovated and scented with a unique amber fragrance, the hotel's spacious guest rooms showcase French style at its best.


Designer Suites at St. Regis Hotel, New York

July 17, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

St. Regis New York We're a little star-struck over the Bottega Veneta suite which debuted last fall in the St. Regis New York. The swanky seventh-floor suite, dolled up with pieces from Bottega Veneta's furniture line, goes for $6,500 a night. (Guests have become so taken with the woven-leather pillows, fragrances, and cashmere throws, they've been known to head out to Bottega Veneta's store, right next door.) But Bottega Veneta's not the only designer checking in to the St. Regis. Christian Dior and Tiffany have likewise outfitted designer suites in Manhattan's fashionable establishment. Pictured above right: the view of Central Park from the Orient Designer Suite.


An Interview with the General Manager: Laurence Bloch of Hotel Plaza Athenee

July 12, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Laurence BlochLaurence Bloch is the Director of Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris and holds a master's degree in Hotel Management from the Parisian Hotel College Maxims, as well as a solid hotel management background. Her previous hotel experiences include the Mas d'Artigny on the French Riviera, Prince de Galles in Paris, Park Avenue Hotel, Hotel du Parc and others.

In her previous position as Rooms Division Manager at Plaza Athenee, she actively participated in the relaunch of the five star property and helped to undertake the redecoration of the hotels' bedrooms and major investment projects.

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?

Laurence Bloch: Via quite a classic route; 20 years of varied experience in the business after Hotel School, I became Rooms Division Manager at the Plaza Athenee and was then promoted to Deputy General Manager.

Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?

Laurence Bloch: I would choose the top floor of the building, the 8th floor, for its Art Deco style and its natural light and its airy atmosphere. You are woken by birds singing on the top floor which is quite a unique experience in a city centre hotel!

Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Any special events that have taken place on property?

Laurence Bloch: Filming of the final episodes of the epic American TV series "Sex and the City" was quite an excitement for everyone, guests and staff included!

Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?

Laurence Bloch: We are lucky to have a very equal nationality market mix: 1/3 Americas, 1/3 europe, 1/3 Asia and Middle east.

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?

Laurence Bloch: I feel that the Plaza Athenee is quite simply the most Parisian of the city's 5 star luxury hotels. As a Parisian myself, I have always believed that the Plaza Athenee has been emblematic of a chic Parisian way of life. The hotel’s distinctive and unique location on the very fashionable avenue Montaigne has definitely added to the essence of this Parisian atmosphere. Privileged with a separate street entrance to the hotel’s Brasserie, the Relais Plaza has been witness to celebrity visits from all ranks of the fashion, cinema and political world. The famous English Bar that existed on the lower ground floor since the opening of the hotel, was always a popular meeting place both for hotel guests and Parisians alike. This tradition continues with our innovative Le Bar which mixes a traditional and modern decor. This is the main ingredient of the Plaza Athenee's personality today: the ability to combine and respect tradition with innovation. For example, the symbolic red geraniums of our façade are now offered as spring gifts as mini plants or as jams or candies. Another very important and distinctive exclusive feature of the Plaza Athenee today is the excellency of our cuisine with the privileged, Michelin star partnership with Alain Ducasse.

Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

Laurence Bloch: As previously mentioned the greatest attribute to the hotel’s location is the local luxury shopping on offer; on the avenue alone there are 50 haute couture and fashion houses. Added to this wealth of choice are fabulous restaurants and bars in neighboring streets. The area is duly known as the "Golden Triangle" for a reason!

Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?

Laurence Bloch: Sorry, this information is confidential!

Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?

Laurence Bloch: I'd definitely want to know what the hotel had to offer in terms of F&B, in a gastronomic city such as Paris, why go further a-field, when the hotel has 5 different outlets under 1 roof. Also I would want to know which specialties were on offer; for example our Pastry Chef won the title of World Champion Pastry Chef, again it would be a huge shame to have missed sampling his fare.

Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?

Laurence Bloch: The risks involved are one of the hardest things of being the major decision taker; being an innovative leader in one's field of expertise, can be a lonely road.

Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?

Laurence Bloch: The Beverly Hills Hotel is one of the greatest hotels in the world, it is truly the champion for first class service and attention to detail; when once I left a book open at the page I was reading, a thoughtful book marker was placed inside inscribed with "to save your page..." The Imperial Hotel in New Delhi is another unique property. The essence of comfort and history is omnipresent but yet astonishing touches of modernism bring you back to reality, combined with perfect discreet service.

Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?

Laurence Bloch: I feel it important that readers should know how important our staff are. To be a true 5 star Luxury “Palace” hotel the personal touch is essential and this is achieved thanks to our 550 dedicated staff members for 188 rooms. We are proud of their loyalty and experience, often a lifetime’s dedication - 49 years in the case of our Head Concierge. Also, it is important that our guests are aware that we take seriously the privileged, exclusive title of being a Luxury “Palace” hotel which bears the responsibility of regular financial investments, an engagement we proudly maintain. Finally, I believe it important to underline to our guests and readers that we are where we are today thanks to the Plaza Athenee's rich and glorious past, based on much experience and effort, a total team effort.

Learn more about the Hotel Plaza Athenee >>


Give Peace A Chance at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, Montreal

July 10, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth San Francisco's been abuzz with the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love, and other North American cities have followed suit. Montreal's grandest and most gracious hotel, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, reached international fame when John Lennon and Yoko staged their Bed-In during May 1969 and composed the song "Give Peace a Chance" in Suite 1742. The commemorate the anniversary, the award-winning hotel is offering the "Give Peace a Chance" package, so lucky guests can stay in the legendary suite and bring a piece of history home with them. Enjoy one night's accommodation, souvenir Bed-In pajamas similar to John and Yoko's, a bouquet of White Flowers and souvenir white flower petals, a signature tea box with English jam, personalized souvenir menus, full breakfast and dinner as ordered by John and Yoko, a bottle of wine, calligraphied keepsake lyrics to ''Give Peace A Chance'', two souvenir CDs of the Bed-In, framed souvenir picture of the Bed-In, and a limousine transfer from the airport. Available until December 31, 2007. Rates start from CAD 1,969 (how clever).

Via LA Times Daily Deal Blog


Suite Dreams: La Residenza Napoleone III in Rome

May 24, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

La Residenza Imagine: a hotel that consists of one luxurious private apartment, the three-room suite where Emperor Napoleon III lived in Rome in the 19th century. Stunning, opulent, impossibly romantic, the Residenza is situated in a 16th century palazzo just off Via Condotti. Ascend the marble staircase and step straight into the Old World; the dining room, bedroom, and drawing room are appointed with antique furnishings and rare Gobelin tapestries. Check out the bed (pictured). A magnificent oil painting serves as the headboard. (Plasma TV screens are likewise hidden by canvases. And the exquisite marble bathroom is hidden by another Old Master.) A private butler attends to all your needs, and the owner, Princess Letizia Ruspoli, is an excellent hostess/concierge.


Sutton Suite at the Loews Regency Hotel New York

May 9, 2007
By: Courtney W. May

Sutton Suite Loews RegencyI recently spent a long weekend in New York City and had the pleasure of staying at the Loews Regency Hotel on the Upper East Side (61st and Park Avenue to be specific) in their Sutton Suite - suite number 2126. My pictures didn't come out nearly as nicely as their promotional photo (see right), but I can attest to the fact that the photo is an accurate representation of the Master Bedroom.

The Sutton Suite is a two-bedroom suite located on the 21st/Penthouse floor of the hotel. Both bedrooms provide King size beds - one bedroom with a view West towards Central Park, and the other with a terrace and views of Park Avenue. A total of 2.5 baths, full sauna, kitchenette, 2 terraces, dining area, and separate den round out the Sutton Suite. The feel is much more of a private apartment then a hotel room, but with all of the amazing amenities of the concierge and in-room services.

What is even more amazing about the two-bedroom suites at the Regency are the costs. A standard Superior King room at the Loews Regency is $489 per night with 225 square feet and a courtyard view. The lowest standard rate for a two-bedroom suite is $1129 and provides 1300 square feet. That's a little more then twice the cost for more then 5 times the space - plus views of Park Avenue and kitchenettes, dens, additional beds and bath ... It's amazing how much more you get for not much more price. And trust me, the additional amenities, space, views, and more are really worth the extra cost.

So if you are going to the Regency and plan on booking two rooms, it makes much more sense to book the two-bedroom suite then to request 2 connecting rooms.

Sutton Suite Loews Regency ViewThe weekend was rainy, and the pictures didn't turn out nearly as well as they could have to do the room justice, but you can see copies of the photos I took on Flickr and in The Informed Traveler photo group.

PS - During my visit, Donny Osmond was the featured show at Feinstein's and the upcoming performers for May are Linda Eder and Harvey Granat so check out all the details here.