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LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER

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The 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.

| By: Rachael Weir

Love wine? In this edition of Featured Journeys we're going on a multi-destination trip to some of Europe's finest vineyards. We begin in Porto, Portugal home of the country's famous port wines, then we venture to Spain's Basque Country for Spanish wines and a Frank Gehry designed luxury hotel in the heart of the vineyards, and finally we end our journey in Bordeaux, one of the wine capitals of the world and home to the Cite du Vin, a museum experience dedicated to wine. 

1. Porto, Portugal

Portugal's second city, Porto is a working city offering timeless charm. It's the major commercial center and hub of the industrious northern region. On one side of the river, oak barrels hold slowly maturing port wine in the wine lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia. While on the other side of the river in the riverside Ribeira district, windows overlook narrow streets where residents hang wash out to dry, and restaurants serve heaping plates of beans and tripe. 

Recently the city has expanded its airport with direct flights from North America, and Porto has become a center for arts, fashion, and nightlife. The modern architectural landmark, Serralves Art Center is the permanent home of a collection of art by Spanish surrealist Joan Miro. While foodies will want to visit the newly-opened gourmet market in the 100-year-old São Bento railway station, and the first Western European Branch of the super-chic Vogue Cafe.

The Yeatman

Suite at The Yeatman Hotel

Perched above the city overlooking the Duoro River, The Yeatman is a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux collection of hotels. Each of the individually furnished rooms and suites is discreetly infused with wine-themed artifacts and photos by well-known Portuguese wine producers, including details about their vineyards and wines. The hotel's restaurant is the only restaurant in the city awarded with two Michelin Stars, there's an outdoor pool with city views, and the Caudalie's Vinotherapie Spa blends the hotel's focus on wine with signature treatments drawing from the vineyard environment. 

FIVE STAR ALLIANCE PERK: Guests booking the "5 Star Signature Package" rate will receive a $100 USD equivalent spa credit per room/per stay and a welcome amenity.

Book a stay at The Yeatman

Explore more Porto, Portugal luxury hotels

 

2. Bilbao, Spain

Spain's biggest port and the country's sixth-largest city, Bilbao serves as the rail hub for travelers seeking to explore Basque Country. Resembling an enormous sculpture, the $100-million Guggenheim Museum, designed by American architect Frank Gehry is a major tourist attraction, and serves as a symbol of the city's economic revival. There's also a new airport terminal and a new Metro system, making it the transit hub for exploring the region. 

One of the Basque Country's destinations is the town of Elciego. Dating back to 1067, this village in La Rioja is set in the foothills of the Pyrenees close to the border of France. The region has been producing millions of gallons of wine since the regime of the ancient Romans, and today it is home to a variety of vineyards and Spanish Bodegas. 

Hotel Marques De Riscal

Dining at Marques De Riscal

Designed by famed architect Frank O. Gehry, Hotel Marques De Riscal is located in the heart of Spain's Rioja wine region. The rooms and suites overlook the surrounding vineyards and the town of Elciego, "The City of Wine". The property's two restaurants, 1860 Tradición and Marqués de Riscal Restaurant offer local cuisine and fine wines overseen by Michelin-starred Chef Francis Paniego. While the Vinothérapie® SPA Caudalie Marqués de Riscal provides treatments highlighting the beauty benefits of the grape. 

FIVE STAR ALLIANCE PERK:  Guests booking the "5 Star Signature Package" rate or "Best Available Rate" will also receive full breakfast for each guest daily in The Restaurant Tradition 1860, a $100 USD spa treatment credit once per stay (cannot be used on products), complimentary WiFi, complimentary parking, a welcome bottle of wine, and a visit to the Herederos del Marqués de Riscal Centenary Winery.

Book a stay at Hotel Marques De Riscal

Explore more Bilbao, Spain luxury hotels

3. Bordeaux, France

One of France's most vibrant cities, Bordeaux has a historic city center with 18th century architecture and a streetcar system. As travelers venture from the city center, elegant streets transform into narrow cobbled streets and ancient churches. As one of the wine capitals of the world, Bordeaux is an ideal base for exploring thousands of wine estates. One of the top attractions is the Cite du Vin. Opened in 2016, this wine museum blends a cultural space with a gallery, theme park, and exhibits showcasing wine. There are regular tastings, cafes, a restaurant, and a panoramic bar to provide guests with a full experience, along with a wine shop with wines from over 80 countries. 

Chateau des Vigiers

Chateau des Vigiers

Situated in the Dordogne Périgord region of South West France, Chateau des Vigiers is a 16th century villa amidst picturesque vineyards. Internationally renowned as a luxury hotel, the "Petit Versailles" offers golf, the intimate spa by Sothys, and a seasonal outdoor pool. Popular with lovers of gastronomy and fine wines, Les Fresques offers Michelin Star dining within the hotel, and Le Chai Brasserie is located within the old wine making building with some of the best views in the Dordogne. 

FIVE STAR ALLIANCE PERK:  Guests that book through Five Star Alliance receive a bottle of Bergerac Red wine made on the property. Additionally, subject to availability at the time of check-in/departure, a room upgrade, early check-in, and late check-out.

Book a stay at Chateau des Vigiers

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Posted in: Bordeaux, Porto, Bilbao

| By: Rachael Weir

Featured Journey: Luxury Vineyard Tour Through France Travel Blog

In this edition of Featured Journeys, we'd like to raise a toast to French wines!  As the fall season begins in the Northern Hemisphere, the harvest season starts in France, when the finest grapes are picked and the wine making process begins. We start our journey with a glass of bubbly, in France's Champagne Region. From there, we make our way to the Loire Valley, onto Bordeaux, and complete our experience in the Burgundy or Bourgogne Region. From castles to chateaux, boutique properties and former monasteries, we've pulled together an itinerary featuring the best luxury hotels in each region, which make excellent destinations in their own right, or can be perfectly paired for a grand tour through the wine regions of France -- à votre santé!


Champagne
Loire Valley
Bordeaux
Burgundy

Champagne

Famous for the sparkling wine that bears its name, the Champagne Region is located in the northeast of France. Long associated with French monarchs, this historic area's terroir is ideal for growing three types of grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier. The champagne houses have different philosophies and formulas for mixing the various grapes and the aging process, resulting in distinctively unique flavors. Resilient through World War I, parts of the region, including some champagne houses and cellars were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015.

Domaine Les Crayeres

Domaine Les Crayeres

Guests can discover more than 600 champagne labels while dining at Chef Phillippe Mille's gourmet restaurant, situated within Domaine Les Crayeres. This Relais & Chateaux property is nestled amidst seven acres of lush vegetation. Formerly the home of the de Polignac family, the property provides reminagined chateau style accommodations with classical French style. Ideal for exploring the Champagne region, the elegant property is located in the heart of Reims. 

Check rates and availability at Domaine Les Crayeres

 

Chateau De Fere

Chateau De Fere

Situated about one hour and 15 minutes from Paris, Chateau De Fere offers a historically rich setting in the village of Fere-en-Tardenois. Combining contemporary styling with Old World charm, guest rooms and suites are housed within a 16th century castle and feature wood floors, intricate woodwork, exposed beams, and old stones. The restaurant is divided into three private rooms and furnished with representations of the Fables of Jean de la Fontaine. There's the ruins of a Chateau de Fere-en-Tardenois on-site, as well as an outdoor swimming pool, tennis, ping pong, and bicycles. 
 

 

Loire Valley

Following the Loire River, this region is widely known for its white wines, but also offers premium reds. Divided into three regions: Upper Loire which is just south of Paris and known for Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume wines that showcase the area's Sauvignon Blanc grapes, the Central Loire Valley is recognized for both white and red wines including the dry Chenin Blanc, the Coulée de Serrant dessert wine, and Vouvray wines, and Pays Nantais which is located close to the Atlantic Ocean and recognized for Muscadet wines that pair well with clams, oysters, mussels, and seafood. In addition to wines, the Loire Valley is known for its castles, as well as Monet's Home and the village of Giverny. 

 

Domaine des Hauts de Loire

Domaine des Hauts de Loire

Built in 1860 by Panckoucke, the famous publisher, Domaine des Hauts de Loire is located in the heart of the castles of Loire Valley, about two hours from Paris. The former hunting lodge has been transformed into a luxury Relais & Chateaux destination with a cooking school, outdoor pool, tennis, and pétanque play area. Set along the Loire Valley Wine Route, guests can explore the area's vineyards by car, foot, or bicycle, and the property's gourmet restaurant is a two Michelin Star recipient. 

Learn more about Domaine des Hauts de Loire

 

Chateau D'Artigny
Chateau D'Artigny

In the heart of the Loire Valley, about 15 km (9 miles) outside of Tours, Chateau D'Artigny was built by the famous perfumer F. Coty. Completed in 1929, the castle hotel offers the L'Origan restaurant, serving chef-prepared French cuisine made with local ingredients in a sophisticated setting with high windows, woodwork reliefs accented with gold-leaf gilding, and fluted columns. There's also a spa with an indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna, Duo Cabin, meditation room, and a fitness center. 

Check rates and availability at Chateau D'Artigny

 

 

Bordeaux

Known around the world for the finest red wines, the Bordeaux Region is located in the southern part of France along the Atlantic Coast. The Dordogne and Garonne Rivers run through the region, with most of the  wine estates set along the Gironde or one of the river's tributaries. Bordeaux is the country's fourth largest city, and is located in the center of the region. Most of the area is flat, which combined with the landscape, unique soil and maritime climate, make the region an ideal area for wine production. The native Bordelais have been producing wine for about 2,000 years, and the historic town of St.-Emilion is an idyllic stop while visiting Bordeaux.

Chateau des Vigiers

Chateau des Vigiers

Nestled amidst world-famous vineyards, Chateau des Vigiers is located within a 16th century chateau in Dordogne, between Bordeaux and Saint-Emilion. Known as the "Petit Versailles" the luxury property offers Michelin Star dining at Les Fresques, and accommodations accented by authentic period furniture, hand-woven tapestries, and carved marble fireplaces. There's a 27-hole golf course on-site, as well as the Maria Galland Beauty Spa. Five Star Alliance Perk: Guests that book through Five Star Alliance receive a bottle of the property's Bergerac Red Wine, as well as a wine tasting with the hotel's sommelier in the wine cellar. 

Learn more about Chateau des Vigiers

 

Les Sources de Caudalie

Le Sources de Caudalie

Nestled amidst the vineyards of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Les Sources de Caudalie was inspired by the French Paradox, a study from 20 years ago that proved the diet and lifestyle in the Southwest France is conducive to good health. Amidst vineyards and forests, the architect crafted the retreat from recycled local materials that are in tune with the surroundings. The hotel has 40 guest rooms, 21 suites, and five cottages, each with antiques and elements inspired by the region's heritage. For dining, the hotel's La Grand'Vigne Restaurant is located withing a former orangery, and offers chef-created cuisine prepared using local ingredients. 

Check rates and availability at Les Sources de Caudalie

 

Burgundy

Our vineyard tour of France wraps up in Burgundy. Southeast of Paris, the Burgundy (Bourgogne in France) Wine Region is recognized around the world for its fine red wines. Somewhat fragmented,  the area consists of four contiguous districts: Chablis, Côte d’Or, Côte Chalonnaise, and Mâconnais, and the disconnected Beaujolais Region about 70 miles south. Some of the region's cities include Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, as well as Beaune, Cluny, Macon, and Vézelay. Burgundy's vineyards tend to be smaller than those in Bordeaux, resulting in a limited production of a particular wine causing higher prices, and multiple brands of any one wine. This area is best known for Pinot Noir due to the climate and soil, as well as Chardonnay wines that can age for decades. 

 

Chateau De Gilly

Guest Room at Chateau De Gilly

Transformed into a luxury hotel in 1988, the Chateau De Gilly was originally built at a castle for relaxation in the 16th century. Specializing in French cuisine, the chateau's Clos Prieur restaurant is nestled within a rib-vaulted room that was once the cellar for the Cistercian monks of Gilly. Midway between Dijon and Beune, the property is opposite the prestigious Clos Vougeot Castle vineyard, and about 25 km (15.5 miles) from the Beaune Hospices wine cellar and vineyard. 

Check rates and availability at Chateau De Gilly 

 

Hotel Le Cep

Hotel Le Cep Exterior

Originally built as a private residence in 1442, Hotel Le Cep is located in Beaune's town center, close to the Basilique Notre Dame church and the famous Hospices de Beaune. Guest rooms and suites are set within two historic mansions with traditional French courtyards, and each room is named after a Burgundian village or Grand Cru wine. The hotel's Michelin-starred Loiseau des Vignes restaurant offers a gastronomic experience, and there is the Spa Marie de Bourgogne with 14 sensorial experiences. 

Learn more about Hotel Le Cep

 

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| By: Five Star Alliance

Famed for its superb gastronomy, the Bergerac and the Dordogne regions produce some of the world's finest food including Foie Gras and Truffles as well as red, white and rose A.O.C. Bergerac wines. Located just 20 minutes from the historic town of Bergerac, the restaurants at Chateau des Vigiers serve fresh, seasonal, and local delicacies that will excite and tempt your palate.

Chateau des Vigiers

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| By: Five Star Alliance

Set in an old wine making building at Chateau des Vigiers, Brasserie le Cha imparts the cordiality
and conviviality of its origins. It serves famous regional specialities such as Magret de Canard, Confit
and home-made Foie Gras as well as lighter lunches, all in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

Inside, the restaurant’s vast vaulted ceiling and warm open fire portray rural charm. Outside, the
elevated terrace is perfect for dining in peace and tranquillity under an ancient walnut tree, surrounded
by views of the lake, parkland, and Chateau.

Chateau de Vigiers

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| By: Five Star Alliance

Les Sources de Caudalie, located among the vineyards of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, a Graves great growth, was established in 1999. The concept behind Les Sources de Caudalie is inspired by the French Paradox, discovered over 20 years ago. It refers to a study proving that the French diet and lifestyle, particularly in Southwest France, is conducive to good health. Between vineyards and forests, at only 20 minutes from Bordeaux center, the architect Yves Collet created from scratch contemporary buildings from recycled local materials in tune with the surroundings.

View rates, details, and more images of Les Sources de Caudalie >> 


| By: K. Clare Johnson

Grand Hotel Bordeaux


Are you a lobster fan? If you'd like a real lobster treat, head to Bordeaux. Luxury hotel Grand Hotel Bordeaux is home to Pressoir d'Argent, a Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurant. The Michelin-starred restaurant takes its name from a unique piece of kitchen equipment, a lobster press. The lobster press, one of only five in the world, reportedly cost 30,000 Euros, and weighs 90 pounds. 

The lobster press is used for Breton blue lobster dishes, one with a bearnaise sauce and one served with sweetbreads and summer vegetables.The "Brittany Blue Lobster" is presented alive to the diner then fried in the kitchen. It is then halved and the shell is removed. Then the lobster press comes in to play. The press is wheeled table side and the the legs and lobster coral (roe) are run through the press twice to get all the juice out of the lobster. The juice is then made into a bearnaise sauce. No word on the cost of this culinary experience

View rates, details, and more photos of Grand Hotel Bordeaux >>

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