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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 Umstead Hotel to Open in Raleigh, North Carolina


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Umstead Hotel

Unparalleled luxury is coming to North Carolina's Triangle area. Located just fifteen minutes from downtown Raleigh (and only six minutes from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport), adjacent to the William B. Umstead State Park, the brand new Umstead Hotel is central to all the attractions in the Triangle. Embracing the natural beauty of the surrounding region, the 150-room hotel is nestled alongside a three-acre lake surrounded by 12 acres of gardens and woodland. The luxurious hotel also expresses a profound appreciation for the arts with its vast collection of original art and sculpture, commissioned by Ann Goodnight. The elegant guestrooms feature 42-inch plasma TVs, pillow-top beds, Rivolta Italian linens, writing desks, wired and wireless Internet access, stocked refrigerators, and marble bathrooms with separate shower and deep soaking tub.

Herons, the signature restaurant, will offer modern American cuisine with a Southern flair; the open kitchen and Chef's Table provide a unique culinary theater experience. Here, it's all about regional, organic ingredients from the agriculturally rich Triangle area. The finest local products are incorporated into time-honored Southern dishes. And the exquisite meals will be complemented by carefully selected wines from the 2,500-bottle wine cellar. The outdoor terrace, flanked by a fireplace, features beautiful views overlooking the butterfly and hummingbird gardens. In addition, there's a heated outdoor pool, 8,000 square feet of meeting and event space, fitness studio, and a world-class Spa-- filled with natural light-- complete with 10 treatment rooms, meditation courtyard, sauna, steam room, whirl pools, and relaxation lounges. Get ready for sheer indulgence; the hotel is set to open on January 15, 2007 and is now accepting reservations. Special introductory rates are being offered between the dates of January 15 and March 31, 2007.


Travel Weekly Announces 2006 Readers Choice Award Winners


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Travel Weekly Readers Awards

The 4th annual Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards winners were revealed at a black-tie gala dinner at the luxurious Pierre Hotel in Manhattan on December 14, 2006. Four Seasons rocked the luxury hotel chain category, with Travel Weekly readers awarding it both the best "luxury chain" and the best "upscale chain." Starwood Hotels and Resorts led the rankings for both Europe and South Pacific regional hotel brand of the year. And Mandarin Oriental grabbed top honors for Asia's top hotel chain. (Domestic chain? None other than Marriott managed to snag that award.) The top resort worldwide was awarded to St. Regis Resort, Bora Bora.


LA Happenings: The Modern West, American Landscapes at LACMA


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Georgia O'Keefe, Evening Star

Coming March 4, 2007: The first major exhibition to explore the role of the American West in the development of modernism in the United States. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Modern West will be at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art until June 3. View one hundred paintings, watercolors, and photographs from such influential artists as Frederic Remington, Georgia O'Keefe, Jackson Pollack and Ansel Adams. This extraordinary exhibition demonstrates the enormous impact of the Western landscape on American modernism-- a conceit which has long been underestimated.


Announcing The Ivy Hotel, San Diego


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Ivy Hotel

After an $85 million upgrade, The Ivy Hotel will open in February 2007 as a "new luxury urban resort" in San Diego. A member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, The Ivy is being billed as a "posh, adult playground...focused on luxury, pleasure, and decadent surprises." Located next to the Gaslamp Quarter at 6th Avenue and F Street, the hotel strives for an unique aesthetic, seeking to combine "New York style and chic, Las Vegas vibe and energy and L.A.'s casual elegance." The original building, once the crown jewel of downtown San Diego, has experienced a makeover; the interior spaces are all about contemporary luxury, with the most up-to-date technology. There will be 159 rooms including two presidential suites and one signature suite (boasting two levels and a spiral staircase leading to a private poolside cabana). Other facilities include the 17,000 square foot rooftop with pool, sundeck, and sultry Eden bar, Envy nightclub, Quartier Kitchen fine dining restaurant, and 10,000 square feet of meeting and function space.

Related Articles:

HotelChatter, "The Ivy Hotel Gets Its 'Adult Playground' Ready"

TripAdvisor, The Ivy Hotel


The Best Restaurants in Jackson Hole, Wyoming: GameFish at Snake River Lodge


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

GameFish

In the midst of Wyoming's rugged grandeur, situated slopeside at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the Snake River Lodge and Spa exudes informal elegance. Guests enjoy spectacular views of the Gros Ventre Mountain Range, recently-renovated guest rooms, and the 17,000 square foot Avanyu Spa, complete with indoor/outdoor pool, hot tubs, sauna, and treatment rooms. At the hotel's AAA four-diamond award-winning GameFish restaurant, discover distinctive Western cuisine and a comprehensive wine list. GameFish is renowned for its regional specialties like Wyoming Angus steaks, native fish, and grilled and smoked game. Savor the Porcini-dusted Wild Salmon and taste the Wild West.

Recipe for Porcini-dusted Wild Salmon

Florentine Orzo

1 lb orzo pasta

1 lb spinach

6 Roma tomatoes

4 sprigs thyme

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup heavy cream

2 T grated Parmesan

Kosher salt and white pepper to taste

Blanch spinach in boiling salted water for 10 seconds and place immediately in ice bath. Drain well and chop finely. Cook orzo in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, rinse and reserve. In a small saucepan, sweat spinach in dash of olive oil. Add cream, reduce by 1/3;

add Parmesan. Just before plating, heat orzo in the cream with chopped spinach; season with salt and pepper.

Balsamic Brown Butter Emulsion

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 lb unsalted butter

Reduce the balsamic vinegar by half. While vinegar is reducing, brown the butter over high heat until it gives off nutty aroma. When vinegar has reduced, using an immersion blender combine the brown butter to the vinegar in a slow steady stream. Reserve keeping warm.

King Salmon

4 each 7 oz salmon fillets

2 T porcini powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup olive oil

Combine the flour and porcini powder. Season and dredge the salmon in the flour mixture. If porcini powder is not available, grind dried porcinis in a spice grinder to achieve same results. In a large saute pan, heat 2 T of olive oil. Place the salmon in the pan and brown. When one side is browned, flip and place into a 375 degree oven for 5 minutes. (Depends on thickness of fillets and preferred temperature of salmon.) To plate, place equal parts of Florentine orzo on 4 plates, arrange salmon, then spoon balsamic emulsion around the salmon.

Serves 4.


New Year’s Eve in Washington DC: Celebrate at The Jefferson


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Jefferson

Just four blocks from the White House, the AAA four-diamond Jefferson Hotel is a premier DC address. The historic Beaux Arts-inspired hotel is a distinguished boutique property with 100 lavish rooms with marble bathrooms (suites feature canopy beds and wood-burning fireplaces). The hotel's original owner was an admirer of Thomas Jefferson, and thus the hotel now showcases an exquisite collection of rare documents written by the Founding Father. The Zagat award-winning dining room, a favorite of Washingtonians and visiting heads of state, charms the most discriminating palates with its excellent New American cuisine. Adjoining the restaurant, The Lounge is a sophisticated hot spot where guests enjoy specialty cocktails, the superb wine list, and a selection of fine cigars by the warmth of a crackling fire. Original caricature prints, dating back to the 1700's, adorn the walls.

This New Year's Eve, indulge in an extravagant eight-course tasting menu, specially crafted by Executive Chef Charlie Hansji, and then cap off 2006 with The Jefferson's New Year's party. This exclusive NYE celebration is themed the "smoke out," in honor of the smoking ban scheduled to take effect January 1, 2007 (say goodbye to the era of public smoking in the Jefferson's historic Lounge.) The menu's haute cuisine is beyond tempting: chervil custard, Osetra caviar; salsify and miso soup, crunchy frog legs; croustillant of langoustine; potato crusted turbotini; blanquette of wild Scottish pheasant; double lamb rib chop (sweet bread, Porcini and Burgundian black truffle Chartreuse); bitter French greens (Arbequina olive oil and 150-year-old Balsamico); followed by dessert and the cheese trolley. Each course is complimented with a wine pairing. The dining room will remain smoke free, but smokers will gather in the Lounge for a last hurrah: cigar, hookah and cigarettes all night long.

The dinner begins at 7:30 pm, and is priced at $200 per person, which also includes champagne, cognac tasting, smoking sessions, and NYE commemorative cigar/cutter giveaway. The hotel is offering a special Couples Celebration package, starting from $599 in a deluxe room, including dinner and party entrance fee.


Loews Hotels Jumps on the Anti Trans-Fat Bandwagon


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Madison, A Loews Hotel

Hot on the heels of New York City's decision to ban all artificial trans-fat in restaurant cooking, Loews Hotels has announced its own ban on trans-fat at its 18 hotels and restaurants. Loews has become the first hotel brand to do so, in an effort to create healthier kitchens and lifestyles. The full ban on artificial trans-fat will be implemented by June 1, 2007, and applies to all restaurants, room service, and snack service (bye bye, late-night-snack-binging at the mini-bar!) Forget pastries made with shortening (and all that partially hydrogenated badness); real butter will resume its important role in the kitchen as an all-natural ingredient.

Related Articles:

New York Times, "In City's Trans Fat Ban, a Challenge Fit for a Chef"

TravelWeekly, "Loews Hotels to trim the (trans) fat from foods by June 2007"


Ring in the New Year at the Peninsula Hotel New York


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peninsula New York

Welcome the New Year at the elegant Fives Restaurant at The Peninsula New York. Executive Chef Gordon Maybury has devised a tempting five-course dinner menu for the New Year's Eve Gala Dinner. (The prix fixe dinner includes party hats, noisemakers, and one bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne per couple.) Dance the night away to the upbeat sounds of a five-piece band. And take your chances with the special grand prize drawing-- for a two night stay in the Peninsula Suite, valued at $30,000. Black-tie, $400 per person. On New Year's Day, indulge in the sumptuous Champagne buffet brunch at Fives. Start the year off right with divine selections from the Sushi Bar, Carving Station, baked goods, Risotto Station, seafood, and decadent dessert bar. Brunch is served from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, and is $95 per person, inclusive of Champagne.


Last-Minute Caribbean Getaways for the Holidays


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Villa BAJ BAJ Turks & Caicos

Looking for a last minute getaway trip for the holidays? At this point, just about all of the hotels and resorts in the Caribbean are sold out for the holidays. Any luxury hotels or resorts that do still have availablity, such as the Jamaica Inn, require longer minumum stays (Jamaica Inn has a 10 night min.) There are a few luxury hotels and resorts in Mexico City and South America where you can still find availability.

Seagrape - Little Thatch Island

But don't worry - luxury villas are still available for a last minute holiday getaway in the Caribbean. Luxury caribbean villas are the perfect solution for a last minute luxury getaway with the whole family or with friends.

Luxury Carribean Villas for the Holidays
Grand Cayman: 4 Bedroom beach villa with private boat dock and cabana
Virgin Gorda, BVI: New 3 Bedroom villa with tennis, just steps from the beach
Tortola, BVI: 1 Bedroom beachfront villa on private island off Tortola
Mustique: 9 Bedroom Japanese style villa with pitch & putt
Provo, Turks & Caicos: 5 Bedroom Palace Resort with boat
See all of our Luxury Villas in the Carribean for Christmas and New Years

Not planning on traveling to the Caribbean? Check out what last minute packages are still available in other parts of the world:
Luxury Hotels & Resorts in Miami, FL
The 12 Best Ski Resorts Worldwide
Los Angeles Area Luxury Hotels
Luxury Family Friendly Hotels in Paris

View More of our Recommended Luxury Hotels & Resorts for last minute trips


Don’t Cook - Let the Conrad Chicago


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Conrad Chicago Cerise During the holiday season, keep your kitchen clean by dining at the Conrad Chicago instead. The Conrad Hotel is located at the heart of Chicago's financial district on Michigan Avenue, also known as "the Magnificent Mile", connected to Nordstrom and Westfield North Bridge shopping centers. Make your reservations for Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day brunch, or New Years Eve dinner now to avoid being turned away. Plus, if you make overnight room reservations with Five Star Alliance at the Conrad, you'll also get a welcome amenity, continental breakfast for two (2) daily, and a possible upgrade upon check-in based upon availability. Christmas Eve (December 24, 2006) 3 Course prix-fixes Menu $55 Adult + Wine pairing additional $24 Christmas Brunch (December 25, 2006) Hours: 11:30a-3:00p $65.00 Adult / $25.00 under 12 New Years Eve Dinner (December 31, 2006) 7 Course dinner Hours: 7:00p-12:00a $90 per adult, optional wine pairings $56