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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.

What’s Up With the Ducks at the Peabody Hotels?

February 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peabody Memphis

After late nights pondering the question, I've finally found the answer. Novelist Jay McInerney-- with his sarcastic wit and true command of the South and all things Southern-- describes the Peabody Memphis in his book The Last of the Savages:

I think it was Faulkner—usually a safe bet in these matters—who said the Mississippi Delta originated in the lobby of the Peabody. Certainly no one would have mistaken this for the Boston Ritz-Carlton, or for the Plaza in New York. That curious and beguiling southern blend of ease and formality were in the air—that rhythm oscillating between languor and hysteria. The lobby was thronged with revelers in evening dress... Young women in ball gowns wafted about the two-story lobby, while their male counterparts lurked in corners, conspiring and breaking out into sudden fits of suppressed hilarity. These young swains applauded as a tiny man in livery marched the ducks from the fountain in the center of the lobby across the floor and into the elevator en route to a pen on the hotel roof. The ducks were the descendants of a batch of live decoys—or so Cordell Savage once told me—which had been dumped into the fountain one afternoon by a band of liquored-up hunters fresh from the duck blind who wanted to continue drinking at the hotel bar.

So much for the ducks' noble origins.

The Peabody Memphis, Official Site

The Peabody Memphis, Five Star Alliance


Suite Escapes: the Mandarin Oriental New York Celebrates its Taipan Suite

February 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mandarin Oriental exterior

Imagine a luxurious home-away-from-home in the heart of Manhattan, featuring designer furnishings by rock-star designers Robert Kuo, Martha Sturdy, Barbara Berry and Bill Sofield. The two-bedroom Taipan Suite is a dreamy 1,210 sq feet, with floor-to-ceiling views overlooking Central Park, the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline from the 54th floor of the Mandarin Oriental. The decor? The best of urban chic, with Asian and Art Deco influence. The bathrooms—equipped with heavenly bath products by FRESH—are unique and luxurious: an oversized marble bath with LCD flat panel TV and separate shower, and the other featuring a soaking tub with picture window overlooking Central Park. Take care of some business—your suite converts easily to an office with three multi-line telephones, high-speed internet access, laptop connections to LCD TV, and printer and fax machine upon request. Or relax with a drink from the wet bar with Bisazza tiles, and enjoy a flick from the home theater set-up.

Mandarin Oriental New York, Official Site

Mandarin Oriental New York, Five Star Alliance


Beach Breaks: Fifth Night Free at Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

February 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Casa de Campo

When the grey and dreary February days drag on (could this really be the shortest month of the year?), it's easy to dream of greener pastures. And with spectacular special packages like this one, it's easy to act and make those dreams happen. At the sun-drenched resort of Casa de Campo, the days are long, lively, or languorous, rooms are luxurious, the spa is heaven-on-earth, and the activities are plentiful. Horseback riding, tennis, water sports, golf, fishing, sailing… whatever your little heart desires. Truly. Now through April 16th, guests who book four nights, receive the fifth night free. Starting at $1,476 per person, all-inclusive. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner; unlimited drinks in resort restaurants and bars; horseback riding; tennis; non-motorized water sports; one round of skeet-shooting; one four-passenger touring cart for duration of stay. Now that's a deal.

Via National Geographic Traveler A List Deals

Casa De Campo, Official Site

Casa De Campo, Five Star Alliance


Special Offers: Spring Indulgence at Kingsbrae Arms Relais and Chateaux, New Brunswick, Canada

February 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Kingsbrae Arms

Think Spring. Flowers blooming, birds chirping, and the ultimate country house inn from which to witness nature's reawakening. Named one of the Top 50 Romantic Spots in the World by Travel and Leisure, Kingsbrae Arms is Relais and Chateaux's only Eastern Canada property. And though this country inn is a perfect hideaway, it’s not much of a secret—this spot is a two-time Andrew Harper Hideaway Grand Award winner, Mobil Four-Star, and listed in Fodor's Top Twenty Hotels in the World. Overlooking the sea, harbor and the historic seaside resort of St. Andrews, Kingsbrae Arms is surrounded by historic, salt-air gardens. Sumptuously appointed suites are the essence of romance. But the best part of a stay at the inn is the unforgettable evening dinner party, where gorgeous organic cuisine is paired with selections from the Wine Spectator Award winning cellar. These evenings are legendary. Available throughout the month of May, the Spring Indulgence Package includes two nights luxurious accommodations with spring flower bouquet, full country breakfasts each morning, and four-course dinner for two with Champagne cocktail reception. Starting at $750 per couple, standard guestroom.

Kingsbrae Arms, Official Site

Kingsbrae Arms, Five Star Alliance


Now Open: Private Beach Bungalows at The Breakers Palm Beach

February 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Breakers Beachfront Cabana

Private luxurious beach bungalows are now available for daytime rental at The Breakers. Enjoy a secluded day retreat on the ocean with loads of ultra-luxurious conveniences. Situated next to the Ocean Grill across from the new Active Pool, the five cabanas are 300 square feet in size with outside patio surrounded by lush tropical landscaping. The Breakers has done it right with its new $15 million beachfront makeover. Along with the casual dining at the new Ocean Grill overlooking the Atlantic and the expansive Active Fun Pool (free-form zero entry pool on the beach, designed for families), 15 more Beach Bungalows will be available for some lucky folks come end-of-March. These cabanas will be situated next to the new luxury relaxation pool designated quiet area (more chill-out zone than people-watching hub).

The Breakers, Official Site

The Breakers, Five Star Alliance


Announcing the Five Star Alliance Editorial Advisory Board

February 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Loyal reader, You may have noticed some superb new content posted here on the Informed Traveler. We've recently launched our Editorial Advisory Board, comprised of influential leaders of the luxury hotel industry, including Presidents, General Managers and top executives at the world's best hotels who have formed close connections with Five Star Alliance. The aim of our Board is to build a connection between the world's best hotels and the thousands of luxury travelers who visit Five Star Alliance each day. These folks are the experts, and they're now bringing their expertise (travel tips for solo women travelers, recipes, hotel news and specials, restaurant recommendations) to the Informed Traveler. Check out the Editorial Advisory Board category for their cool contributions...


Skiing in the Morning and Sunbathing in the Afternoon in Dubai

February 20, 2006
By: Guest Writer

Ski Dubai

Since its opening in December, Ski Dubai has captured our imaginations (and wagging tongues). Contributor Alex Rose has the scoop.

You can now go snow skiing in one of the hottest places on earth. Dubai, the city-state in the United Arab Emirates, opened the first of two state-of-the-art indoor snow parks this past December; the second, Dubai Sunny Mountain Ski Dome, is scheduled for 2006. It’s the world’s third largest indoor ski resort and the only one in the Middle East. The 25-storey structure covers an area of about three football fields and can hold up to 1,500 people at a time. The indoor park maintains temperatures between 18F and 28F with real snow including falling snow flakes. It's connected to the billion dollar Mall of the Emirates and resembles a Swiss mountain resort complete with the St Moritz Cafe to warm yourself with a hot drink. The indoor snow park has chairlifts with skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding, and a ski school. It includes five color-coded slopes with varying degrees of difficulty for both enthusiasts and beginners, and the world's first indoor black diamond run. The longest ski run is over 1200 feet. There's even a rumor that Dubai might field a team for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Admission to Ski Dubai is $35 and winter clothing and ski gear are rented as part of the admission fee.


Recipes from The Regency, A Loews Hotel New York

February 20, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

From Gary Stram, Director of Sales and Marketing, The Regency, A Loews Hotel

You have three choices when dining at The Regency, A Loews Hotel in New York City. Whether it is a power breakfast, light lunch, afternoon wine and hors d'oeuvres, pre-theater dinner, or late night candy - you can indulge in it all without leaving The Regency.

First. Feinstein's at The Regency - Yes, it's that Feinstein. The world-famous, Grammy-nominated, pop vocalist, songwriter, and music archivist, Michael Feinstein. He is the owner of the restaurant which brinds fine dining together with cabaret. Second. The Library. It's a place packed with literary legends - well, in spirit, at least. Shelves of books and comfy banquettes grace The Library where menus and wine lists make for some of the best reading around. Lastly, 540 Park which has long been regarded as the home of the power breakfast. 540 Park is also a serious contender when it comes to memorable dinners. The entrees, environment, and service are always exquisite. In fact, all that's missing is the pretention.

Mr. Stram at the hotel was nice enough to share with us three recipes that are just screaming to be recreated. See the first of the three after the jump ...

Pasta Leaf

Penne with Vodka Sauce

Equipment Needed

1 - 10 quart stock pot

2 - 8 quart sauce pot

1 colander

1 - 10" saute pan

1 - cutting board

1 - 10" chef knife

1 wooden spoon

Ingredients Needed

2 lbs of Penne Pasta (Either Penne Spinach Rigate or Penne Rigate)

1 - 32oz can of whole peeled tomatoes with basil

1 - 32oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 head of garlic, thinly sliced

1 Spanish Onion

1 bunch of fresh basil, julienne

1 bunch of fresh thyme, chopped fine

1 bunch of fresh, oregano, chopped fine

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Unsalted Butter

Kosher Salt

White Pepper

6 oz of a Premium Brand of Vodka (Grey Goose or Absolute)

4 oz of Burgundy Wine

1 quart of heavy cream

Preparing the Sauce and the Pasta

1. Boil 1 gallon of water in the Stock pot and add 3 oz of kosher salt, and 3 oz of olive oil.

2. While the water comes to a boil, preheat the sauce pot and oil and butter.

3. Add the diced onion, and sweat, than add the sliced garlic.

3. Add the herbs and add the Burgundy Wine and reduce by half.

4. Add the canned tomato product and allow to simmer for 45 minutes

5. Allow to rest.

6. Add the 2lbs of pasta and stir constantly

7. Allow to cook about 8 minutes which is a little under al dente.

8. Pour into the colander

9. Toss with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil

10. In the other sauce pot put on a low heat, take the pot off the heat, add the 4oz vodka.

11. Add the Heavy Cream and reduce by half and add the tomato sauce.

12. Combine the Pasta with the Vodka Sauce and portion into your favorite dish.

Enjoy.

The Regency, A Loews Hotel, Official Site

The Regency, A Loews Hotel, Five Star Alliance


The Carlyle Hotel in New York City (Re)Opens The Royal Suite

February 17, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

From James McBride, General Manager, The Carlyle

The Carlyle Royal Suite

In case you missed it, the Carlyle Hotel in New York City just announced the reopening of the Royal Suite after a redesign by Alexandra Champalimaud from Champalimaud & Associates (ACA) in Manhattan. The suite (seen at right) is inspired by the legendary and long list of celebrity and regal guests who have stayed at the hotel. The suite has been completely refurbished, but still retains the feel of the private residence it emulates. As the Carlyle says, they attract "the highest echelon of clientele and the Royal Suite exceeds their every expectation as a space truly at the pinnacle of luxury." Want to reserve it for a day or a month? You can't do it online so contact the Carlyle reservations to make it your own.

More information and pictures below

NEW YORK - The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel is thrilled to announce the opening of the Royal Suite. These luxurious quarters, in name inspired by the long list of rock n' roll and regal guests who have stayed at the legendary property, has been completely refurbished; freshness and modernity have been added to the decor yet it still conjures the intimate feel of a private residence.

A space of grand proportions and fabulous history, the Royal Suite is an example of urbane luxury combined with intimacy of design. Set on the 22nd floor of the legendary Carlyle, the duplex suite boasts extensive spaces - two full bedrooms, two full baths, a sizable dining room and kitchen and an expansive traditional living room with lofty ceilings and two-story views of the Manhattan skyline.

The Carlyle Royal Suite Living Room

An impressive fireplace with faux quartz logs towers the living room, adding to the drama and the modernization of the suite, while resonating with the hotel's renowned Thierry Despont-designed lobby. Royal Suite guests can admire the antique books, sunburst clocks and Lars Bolanger orange lacquered boxes or read from beautiful glossy paged books on Harley Davidson, Tom Ford and other cultural icons.

The living room includes a sage velvet seating group at the fireplace, an elegant English secretary for jotting notes, comfortable armchairs by the windows, an expansive desk and finally - for the occasional musician in residence - a Steinway piano. Wall-mounted plasma -screen televisions and state-of-the-art acoustics are also present. To be noted are the draperies by Dedar, the Nina Campbell trims on the draperies and furniture and the Stark carpeting.

The Royal Suite has always been, and will continue to be considered, a legendary New York suite. The renovations have maintained the integrity of a historical New York space while elevating sophisticated design to an experience of unique refinement and style. The Carlyle attracts the highest echelon of clientele and the Royal Suite exceeds their every expectation as a space truly at the pinnacle of luxury.

The redesigning of the suite was handled by Alexandra Champalimaud from Champalimaud & Associates (ACA). ACA is a full service interior design and interior architecture firm that specializes in high-end hospitality design. The company has built its reputation through its work with a discerning international clientele including Four Seasons, The Maybourne Group and The Savoy Group amongst others. ACA maintains a staff of approximately twenty-five, with central offices in Manhattan and supporting offices in Montreal and Los Angeles.

Standing at the corner of 76th Street and Madison Avenue, The Carlyle has been an enduring landmark for East Side social life since 1930. The internationally-acclaimed hotel has always been ranked amongst the best in the world and was recently named one of the top 20 U.S City Hotels by Harper's Hideaway's 2005 Reader Survey. The Carlyle is a 35-story, 179-room hotel that has long understood the aesthetic sensibilities of its clientele and is surrounded by galleries, designer boutiques, and the city’s most popular art museums. Embracing a passion for the arts, pianos grace 23 of the suites, and most rooms have views of Central Park.

The Carlyle, Official Site

The Carlyle, Five Star Alliance


Luxury Travel in New Zealand: Queenstown’s Blanket Bay

February 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Blanket Bay

As the New Zealand Herald reports, luxury travel in kiwi territory is booming. Lodges like Kauri Cliffs, Wharekauhau, Blanket Bay and Huka Lodge are glam destination resorts that play host to celebs (laying low), oil tycoons, and the international jet-set. The cat's out of the bag about the remote Pacific islands whose breathtaking scenery played center stage in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings flicks. Our pick? The luxurious hideaway of Blanket Bay, with its magnificent setting next to Lake Wakatipu, beneath snow-capped peaks. Earning top accolades from CNT, Forbes, and the Sunday Times UK, Blanket Bay offers 12 secluded rooms and suites, constructed of timber and stone and filled with sumptuous furnishings. The suites boast exquisite views from large private terraces. Likewise, the mountain and lake vistas are phenomenal from the outdoor heated lap pool. Activities range from the adrenaline-pumping (jetboating and heli-skiing) to the calm and relaxing (excellent health and spa facilities).

Blanket Bay, Official Site

Blanket Bay, Five Star Alliance