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by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | August 20, 2015

certified luxury collectionNot so long ago, "consistency" was the buzzword of most hotel chains' marketing campaigns. The theory at the time was that what a business traveler found in her hotel in Des Moines, she wanted replicated in Detroit. Not anymore — and thank goodness. Today, hotel companies have given their brands licence to promote themselves as the ultimate guest resource for having an authentic local experience. And, hotels have responded in a creative rush, showcasing works by local artists, giving locally sourced farm-to-table products star status on their menus, and even inviting community leaders and local businesspeople to monthly TED-style talks in their lobbies hosted by the general manager, complete with a wine social hour.

The Luxury Collection, Starwood Hotels & Resorts' portfolio of 93 independently owned uber-luxury properties across the globe, has hit on a simple — yet brilliant — marketing idea: Let the concierges do the talking. In a new, glossy book titled Certified Indigenous, concierges dish on their favorite corner bakery in The Hague, a nightclub that offers tango lessons in Buenos Aires, and the hottest new seafood joint in Milan. Not only does this trove offer planners lots of creative itinerary ideas for events, it's enough to make even an armchair traveler catch the next flight out of town.

Here are five of my personal favorites:

• The 53-suite Excelsior Hotel Gallia, Milan, Italy (www.excelsiorhotelgallia.com)
If you love to shop when you travel, and who doesn't, drop into La Rinascente department store for some serious fashion finds at great prices, and then quaff a Campari pertif at the Camparino bar at the end of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a grand shopping arcade and home to many of the city's fashion boutiques. For art lovers and history buffs, don't miss a visit to the church of Santa Maria della Grazie for a viewing of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. But, you'll have to make reservations well in advance because, after all, there's only there's only so much pull a concierge has. On Sept. 1, 2015, the hotel will open its new Terraza Gallia rooftop terrace, which is sure to become a local hotspot.

• The 380-room ITC Maratha, Mumbai, India (www.itchotels.com)
Mumbai may be the most populous city in India, but it's also one of the country's most historic. On the recommended itinerary of the hotel's 24-hour concierge team is a stop at Mani Bhavan, the house where Mahatma Gandhi lived during his visits to the city, which has been turned into a small museum with a photo exhibition curating the major milestones of his life. Another can't-miss is a visit to the Gateway of India, an archway built in 1927 to honor the visit of King George V and Queen Mary. It's also the place the last of the British troops marched out of on Feb. 28, 1948, leaving behind a newly independent India. And, if you have time for only one meal outside the hotel, head to Trishna, a 50-year-old seafood restaurant known for its signature Mumbai speciality: crab in a butter, garlic and pepper sauce.

• The 181-room Park Tower, Buenos Aires, Argentina (www.starwoodhotels.com)
Tango is practically a religion in this cosmopolitan South American city. Visit La Boca, said to be the birthplace of Tango, and then take some private tango lessons at either La Viruta or Salón Canning, two of the most popular nightclubs with locals, before they open. Stay to see the locals hit the floor and maybe try out some moves of your own.

• The 92-room Hotel Des Indes, The Hague, Netherlands (www.hoteldesindesthehague.com)
Concierge Priscilla Overdiek says no visit to this worldly city is a wrap without a stop at Bakkertje, the oldest bakery in The Hague, whose Haagsche Hopjescake, made from coffee and caramel-flavored brandy, is an institution.

• The 160-room The Royal Begonia, Sanya, China (www.starwoodhotels.com)
Head to The First Market, which springs to life in the early morning, recommends Austin Wang, chief concierge. You'll find mounds of exotic fruits and food stalls selling everything from traditional Hainan dessert or fried noodles. Forgo downtown's crowded seafood restaurants and opt instead for a dinner cruise around Coconut Island, a 10-minute drive from the hotel, where you can stop on a sandbank and sample freshly caught seafood.

Copies of the book can be found in the guest rooms of each of The Luxury Collection hotels.