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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.

Musee du Quai Branly Opens in Paris

July 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Musee du Quai Branly

It took eleven years, and EUR 232 million, but at the June 20 inauguration of the new Musée du Quai Branly, the world's gaze settled on the hottest new museum in Paris. After all, the Musée du Quai Branly represents the crowning cultural achievement of Chirac's reign, who has sought to create a space honoring "the world's forgotten civilizations." Jean Nouvel's architectural masterpiece now houses the 270,000 items from the African, Oceanic and Asian artworks from the Musée de l'Homme and the Musée des Arts Africains et Océaniens (only 3,500 are on display.)

The building itself is extraordinary: a piece of contemporary art beneath the Eiffel Tower, situated on 19 acres of green, sprawling along the Seine. It is disjointed: a colorful mass of metal, with curved glass walls and no sense of symmetry. It is distinctly modern. Standing within the gardens, or in the ticket line beneath the building's metal overhang, you catch glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, which seems to rise directly from the museum itself.

And though the lines of tourists assemble outside the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay in the summertime, the Musée du Quai Branly is a breeze. Upon entrance, visitors follow a long white ramp where a kaleidoscope of images is projected. Once you enter the Collections area, the light is dim, and the museum experience is an interactive one. You walk through a corridor lined with soft walls that are meant to be touched, called La Riviere, where indigenous stories and folklore are narrated for handicapped visitors. The museum is meant to be a place of ongoing exploration of anthropology and non-Western civilizations.

Hours: 10 am-6:30 pm, closed on Mondays. Tickets are EUR 8.50.

Related Articles,

New York Times, For a New Paris Museum, Jean Nouvel Creates His Own Rules


Check Out Monet’s Waterlilies at the Musee de l’Orangerie, Paris

July 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Waterlilies

After an impressive six-year renovation, and a $36 million investment, the Musee de l'Orangerie has reopened at long last. Monet's series of waterlilies are perhaps the most monumental work of his lifetime: the artist spent 30 years captivated by the light on the waterlily pond at his home in Giverny, and managed to capture this mysterious light, and the changing seasons, in his large Abstract canvases that wrap around the walls of the museum. These eight paintings are enormous: over six feet high and one is over 50 feet long. The artist donated them to France, and they were hung at l'Orangerie in 1927, a year after his death. In the 1960's, the government attempted a renovation of the museum that holds the paintings, which failed miserably, and so for years, the nymphéas (as they are called) sat forgotten and neglected.

No longer. The museum re-opened in mid-May, and presents the paintings as Monet initially intended them to be viewed. Natural light floods through the ceiling; the white walls curve and bend to accommodate the canvases. The architecture is as stunning as the paintings. The water lilies are housed on the ground floor, while the downstairs showcases the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works, including a corridor of Renoir, Matisse, Derain, and Modigliani.

Tickets are EUR 6.50, and individuals are only allowed in the museum from 12:30-7 pm, as groups tour the museum in the mornings. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. A warning: the lines assembled outside can snake around the building. Reserve your tickets ahead, and you'll skip the wait entirely. Though there are worse things than standing in the sunshine in the Jardin des Tuileries.

Related Articles,

New York Times, Paris's Jewel-like Orangerie, Home to Monet's Waterlilies, Reopens, Polished and Renovated


The Grand Reopening of the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

June 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

National Portrait Gallery

After an extensive renovation, the National Portrait Gallery celebrates its grand reopening July 1 with fourteen new exhibitions. The National Landmark Historic Building that houses the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum now has 30 percent more exhibition space, redesigned galleries, a conservation lab, and an enclosed courtyard. The gallery's 20,000 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings portray the individuals who have made signature contributions to the history and culture of the US. All exhibitions will open July 1, and include "Americans Now," which showcases individuals prominent in sports, entertainment and other fields in the last 25 years, and "Eye Contact," which will feature masterpieces of 20th century portraiture from the National Portrait Gallery's drawing collections. Folks can even "Adopt-A-Portrait" in celebration of the reopening.

Where to stay in Washington DC? The Hay Adams, of course! Enter our luxury hotel Giveaway for a chance to win two free nights in a Junior Suite in this fabulous DC establishment.


Fine Arts in Boston: Degas to Picasso at the MFA

June 8, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Degas to Picasso

On exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Degas to Picasso: Modern Masters. This survey of European art from 1900 to 1960 is ambitious and fascinating, showcasing 280 paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolors, prints, and photographs. From the late works of Degas, Gauguin, Munch and Rodin through Giacometti and Picasso, this exhibition explores the major masters in 20th century Europe on an individual artistic basis, while also highlighting the rise of new artistic movements, from late impressionism and symbolism to mid-century modernism. Don't miss this one. Through July 23.


Michelangelo Drawings at the British Museum, London

June 2, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Michelangelo

Now showing at the legendary British Museum in London: "Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master." The exhibit showcases 90 works created over the 60 years of Michelangelo's life. These drawings-- from only 600 surviving works-- are extremely rare. As explained by the IHT:

Of Michelangelo (1475-1564), the 16th century art historian Giorgio Vasari wrote: "Just before his death, he burned a large number of his drawings, sketches and cartoons to prevent anyone from seeing the labors he endured… for fear that he might seem less than perfect." For Michelangelo, drawings were simple tools that could only be seen by his pupils.

Thus the importance of this exhibit. Museum open daily. Exhibit runs until June 25.


Manhattan and MoMA: Free VIP Access from the Warldorf Towers, A Conrad Hotel

April 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Waldorf Towers

For those in the know, this boutique hotel occupies the 28th-42nd floors of the landmark Waldorf-Astoria, just steps from Park Avenue in Midtown. It's a luxurious space with a comfortable residential ambience, with excellent personalized service and amenities for the business traveler. This spot is all about convenience: with a superb location and access to the Astoria Lounge, full-service business center and Plus One Fitness Center. The Waldorf Towers is now offering VIP access to MoMA, so that you can skip the lines and get admission to the museum at any time. The MoMA VIP Ticket package starts at $419 per night, and includes accommodations, two VIP tickets (children under 16 are free), and discount vouchers for the Midtown bistro Brasserie. Valid until Dec. 31, 2006.


What’s Hot: The 21C Museum Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky

March 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

21C Museum Hotel

The media is abuzz: Louisville's 21C is the hottest thing this side of the Mississippi. The newly-opened boutique hotel-- listed on the National Register of Historic Places-- is part of what the New York Times calls Louisville's "downtown renaissance." The 90 rooms (including six premier suites) are elegantly decorated and are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including 42' flat-screen televisions and WiFi. But this masterpiece is not merely a luxury boutique hotel; 21C is also a museum of contemporary art, housing pieces from the owner's mind-blowing $10 million art collection. (Philanthropists Steve Wilson and Laura Brown, a husband and wife team, are the co-developers.)


Franco-American Relations Redeemed: the Reconstruction of La Fayette’s Ship in Rochefort, France

February 9, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hermione ship

The French are supersizing it. In the small, historic seaside port of Rochefort, near La Rochelle on the country's Atlantic coast, expert craftsmen have undertaken an enorme project: the reconstruction of the 65 meter ship that carried the legendary General La Fayette to join General Washington and the American leaders in their fight for independence in 1780. When it was first constructed, the Hermione required 11 months of work by hundreds of skilled workers; its reconstruction will take 10 years, and cost $10 million. This is the ultimate symbol of Franco-American fraternity, and an emblem of France's past naval strength. And a brilliant museum to visit, off the beaten path in France.


Say Hello to the New Getty Villa Malibu

January 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Getty Villa

At long last, the new, fabulously improved Getty Villa Malibu opens on Saturday. After extensive renovations—this was the original home of the Getty Museum—the Villa will reopen as an educational center and museum dedicated to ancient Greek and Roman art and culture. How to score tix? The process for free admission is the same as the stupendous Getty Center that we know and love (I admit it: I've lured friends and family to the top of that hill just to walk the grounds and gape at the architecture, gardens and view. Forget the art, this is the best vista in all of LA!) Advance, timed tickets are required for each individual and can be obtained online or by calling (310) 440-7300. Parking is 7 dollars a car. (Take note: the Villa is closed on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays.)


It’s a Museum, a Gallery, a Hotel(!): Madrid’s Marvelous Hotel Puerta America

January 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Puerta America

Imagine this. An all-star team of 19 architects comes together to create a sophisticated hotel masterpiece, each designing his/her own floor. This vision becomes a reality at the Hotel Puerta America, easily one of the top hotels in Madrid. Seductive, diverse, luxurious, this is a hotel with personality. Lots of them. It may be a little outside the city center, but who cares—the hotel itself is a destination. Opened since mid-last year, the hotel has great rates for standard rooms, starting at $250.