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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.

Easter Extravaganza at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Hotel Chicago Tea

Storytelling teas, Easter baskets, premium chocolate candies, Easter Egg Hunt and Roll, and an epic Easter Brunch. The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is positively hopping with merriment this weekend. Of all these festivities, here's a taste of what's in store: On both Friday and Saturday, at 3 pm, children will be delighted with a magical storytelling tea where "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" is brought to life with decorations and delicious delights ($40 per person). The classic Easter Egg Hunt takes place on Sunday morning at 10 am on the 8th floor landing, hosted by the Easter Bunny, and his assistant Chickie. The Egg Roll takes place at the same time in the State Room. While the kids are having the time of their lives, their parents can indulge in chocolate-tasting at ethel's chocolate lounge in the hotel lobby. And even learn the art of premium fondue. The best part of the weekend? The traditional Easter Brunch at Seasons Restaurant, where the award-winning chef and staff devise over 100 specialty brunch items to dazzle the palate. At the six different stations, enjoy dishes like Leg of Spring Lamb with Mint Pesto, Tomato Crusted Filet of Halibut or a Salad of Chilled Green and White Asparagus with Aigrellette Sauce. Seatings begin at 11:00 am and reservations are $85.00 per adult and $20.00 per child 12 and under. Take advantage of the special Easter Weekend rate, with your prepaid purchase of Easter Brunch or the Storytelling Tea. Rates begin at $305 per night, and include lovely children's Easter baskets, stuffed to the brim with goodies.

Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Official Site

Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Five Star Alliance


Introducing the Informed Traveler Flickr Group


By: Guest Writer

By Courtney W. May Following in the footsteps of all the travel blogs we admire, The Informed Traveler has set up a Flickr Group for fans and photographers alike to join in the community: The Informed Traveler Flickr Group Want to start a discussion on the most expensive hotel you've ever been to? This is the place to do it. Or maybe you had a really terrible time at that "luxury" hotel and you have pictures to prove it? We want to see those too. We are a public group and anyone interested in upscale travel and lavish hotels should join us to share stories, pictures, and comments. Plus, if you have some awesome photos to share about luxury destinations, you can post them in the group and maybe even be featured on the Blog as an 'Outstanding Traveler'. We try to use the photos of reader and community members when possible, so get them up there for us to feature with our stories. Don't yet have a Flickr or Yahoo account? You can sign up here.


Martini Madness at Dukes Hotel, London


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Dukes Bar

Shake or stir up the perfect weekend at Dukes Hotel, renowned worldwide for its marvelous Martinis, and of course the best Dry Martini in town. Located in a quiet spot on St. James's Place, Dukes is a charming, privately-owned luxury hotel set in a flowering gas-lit courtyard, just minutes from London's finest restaurants, theaters, galleries and exclusive shops. This luxurious boutique-- with its 89 rooms and suites individually decorated like a private home-- prizes its reputation for its happening Cocktail Bar. Brace yourself for the launch of the new Martini Menu, which will add clever concoctions such as a Filthy Dirty Martini, a Dukes Chocolate Martini, a Balsamic Vinegar Martini, a Saffron Martini, and a Rose Petal Martini, along with the traditional house specialties. In celebration of these libations, Dukes has introduced a special Martini Madness package, for Friday night arrivals throughout 2006. Priced at GBP 920 for three nights (double occupancy), the package includes: luxurious accommodations for two, full English breakfast daily, a private tasting with the bartender, a lesson on making the perfect Martini, and at-home presentation tips, two martinis at the happening bar, dinner for two at Dukes restaurant, and a special Recovery Massage for two. Top that off with a complimentary Dukes Martini set in a beautiful gift box that includes two Martini glasses, a bottle of gin, a miniature bottle of Vermouth, a lemon peeler, and a Dukes Martini leaflet with instructions on how to make a Martini. Cheers to that.

Dukes Hotel, Official Site

Dukes Hotel, Five Star Alliance


The Most Exclusive Credit Cards and their Luxury Rewards Programs


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Forbes.com has the skinny on Luxury Plastic: those select, mythical cards issued to an elite few who spend a mere $250,000 a year and put it all on plastic. Unbeknownst to the masses, invitation-only cards like the American Express Centurion card (aka "the Black AmEx") and the even rarer Coutts & Co. purple card (try 100 card-holders) offer truly luxurious rewards programs. According to Forbes, the purple card is the most prestigious of them all (after all, this is the bank to the Queen we're talking about):

World Card is offered only to Coutts clients, and you have to have millions to qualify for that status to begin with. Aside from all the typical travel upgrades and luxury services, the card comes in handy when you need to go shopping at your favorite department store in the middle of the night. A quick call to a World Card service representative will arrange a private after-hours shopping session anywhere your little heart desires.
Ahhh, the perks of (purple) plastic.


Easter Brunch Package at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hermitage Hotel

While visiting family and friends in Nashville, head to the city's treasured landmark, the Hermitage Hotel, for its famous Easter Brunch set in the historic lobby. Located in the heart of downtown, across the street from the State Capitol and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the luxurious Hermitage has racked up numerous awards, including AAA Five Diamond status and Robb Report's Best of the Best. Take advantage of the Easter Brunch package, starting at $279, and relax in splendor in a richly-furnished guest room, with its sumptuous fine thread count fabrics and all marble bathrooms.

In addition, the hotel is offering a Mother's Day Brunch Package that is sure to delight the most discriminating of guests. Brunch for two in the historic lobby features selections from the Capitol Grille. During mother's overnight stay, she will be spoiled with the hotel's Contemporary Bath Service, prepared by the Bath Concierge, with oversized plush towels, a bottle of fresh spring water, seasonal fruit, candles, rose petals, slippers, a luxurious robe, and a selection of aromatic bath salts and bath gels. Rates start at $349.

The Hermitage, Official Site

The Hermitage, Five Star Alliance


Off the Beaten Path in Portugal


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Algarve Beach

This summer, Spain's Costa del Sol and the French Riviera promise to be packed--the stretches of sand back-to-back (or butt-to-butt?) full of sun-worshippers from colder climes. Why not look further west for a European holiday, far from the traditional (and well-worn) tourist circuit? Portugal, rich in history of mighty ocean navigation and past epochs of sprawling international empires, is an undiscovered delight. Outside of the capital city of Lisbon, the Costa de Lisboa is marked by gleaming white sand beckoning beach lovers and surfers alike. At the town of Sintra, surrounded by lush forests and the geyser-like eruptions of waves breaking at Boca de Inferno, discover the pastel Palacio Nacional da Pena. Or head to the fantastic southern coast; the Algarve is dotted with splendid coastal resorts and quaint fishing villages lined with brightly colored wooden boats.


Luxury Cruises with Pets


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Pampered Pets

Set sail on the world's largest oceanliner-- Cunard's Queen Mary 2-- and bring Fido along for the pampering and indulgence. The "Pets on Deck" program provides a host of services and amenities, including freshly-baked doggie biscuits at turn-down, a choice of beds and fleece blankets, oodles of toys, a premium selection of pet food, and even a QM2 logo coat. Beloved beasts get gift packs with Frisbee, food dish and a complimentary portrait with pet owners. In addition, there is a Kennel Master who reigns over the ship's kennel program, taking care of feeding and walking its pampered pooches. The kennel fees range from $300 to $500.


Private Luxury Airlines for Your Wedding Party


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Jet Interior

Imagine large private rooms with queen beds and luxe bathrooms with showers. No, this isn't your honeymoon nuptial suite we're talking about, but the private luxury airline that will jet your private party to your destination wedding. Instead of flying commercially, think VIP plane. Private Jet Services Group offers full-sized carriers redesigned and reconfigured for your wedding party, ranging in size from two to 109 people. These are first-class only aircraft, packed with luxurious services and amenities. And rest assured-- Private Jet Services Group oversees all the trip details (transportation to the airport, luggage transfers, special gourmet catering requests), with its exclusive Concierge Service, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the party.


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


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.


Growing Pains at Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Atlantis Paradise Island

Could Atlantis get any more mammoth? The kitschy celebration of the Lost Continent of Atlantis has these stats: 2,300 guest accommodations (the Royal Towers, Coral Towers and Beach Tower), 35 restaurants, a goliath casino, the largest ballroom in the Caribbean, and a marina that can hold the biggest and baddest of the private luxury yachts. Not to mention the 11 million gallons of swimming pools with water slides and cascades, and marine exhibits with a whopping 50,000 live animals. Kids go gaga over the replica Atocha (the Spanish galleon with oodles of sunken treasure that a Florida treasure-seeker uncovered) at the Kids Club, and apparently guests consume over 1 ton of lobster tails per week. Just what doesn't this resort have? Enough space (!), of course. Atlantis continues to undergo a massive development, which will include the Residences at Atlantis, an exclusive condominium-hotel for lucky owners to enjoy the casino and water activities galore, all year round. Additional features of the $1 billion development project include 1,450 rooms by next spring (including a luxury all-suite hotel), an expansion to the water park, a new dolphin facility, 100,000 sq ft of additional meeting facilities, and the new Nobu restaurant from world-renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa.