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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.

A Luxury Traveler’s Bucket List: Prague, Czech Republic

January 4, 2012
By: Oksana Balytsky

We’ve all made New Year’s resolutions and managed to stop going to the gym or taking those cooking classes come February. This year, make a commitment to a simpler, more fulfilling resolution: travel more. Take in what the world has to offer, and do it in style. Be sure to keep up with our new blog series where we’ll be featuring an incredible destination everyone should visit in his/her lifetime. Consider this list a tool to give you a few ideas and inspiration on exciting places to go, where to stay, and what to see!

Our first feature destination today is Prague, Czech Republic.

About Prague:

Prague, the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic has a rich history and culture running through its narrow, cobblestone streets. Prague is a city of resilience, persevering through floods, fires, and invasions, making it extremely unique and captivating. This city’s breathtaking churches, Gothic-style architecture, the castle, and the Charles Bridge all make this one of the most incredible cities in Europe.

Must-See Attractions:

The most famous landmark is the Prague Castle, which is the largest castle complex in the world. It is open daily and is home to the Czech Crown Jewels. Witness the changing of the guard at the top of every hour and opt in for a guided tour to take in the history and beauty of the castle. Another must-see attraction is the Charles Bridge, which is the oldest bridge in Prague. Both ends of the bridge are reinforced by towers, and the entrance gate is beautifully adorned with Gothic sculptures.  For other must-see attractions, we encourage you to explore the list of the Top 10 Prague Monuments, put together by PragueWelcome.com

Local Cuisine:

Be sure to try the pork or beef dumplings called ‘Knedliky,’ fried cheese, and their onion and garlic soup. And of course, be sure to try traditional, Czech beer as well!

Luxurious Accommodations:

Prague has 26 luxurious hotels. A few worth checking out are the Augustine and the Boscolo Carlo IV. The Augstine has been created from several buildings, including the 13th century Augustinian St. Thomas Monastery. The hotel’s beautiful rooms all have stunning views of the courtyards, the monastery chapel, or Prague Castle. The Boscolo Carlo IV is another incredible hotel, and it offers unique amenities such as a Cigar Bar and an indoor pool with a striking Mosaic floor. This hotel encompasses a magical blend of the past and future in its architectural design and room décor.

Have you been to Prague? Where did you stay? We encourage you to get involved and tell us about your excursions on our Facebook or Twitter page!


Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012: The Cape Lodge Western Australia

January 3, 2012
By: Oksana Balytsky

We understand that no one aims to come in second place; there is no recognition for mediocrity. We at Five Star Alliance understand better than anyone the importance of offering the most luxurious resorts in the world, so we notice what’s going on in the industry, and it matters to us, because it matters to you. We work hard to offer you the best in the industry, and we’d like to welcome you to our second blog series where we feature the best and most luxurious resorts in the world. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business and have made the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012.

The Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012 is the eighth of their annual lists, and the hotels chosen by their team of editors and experts are the best for service, food, location, rooms, leisure facilities, ambiance and design.

The Cape Lodge Western Australia in Yallingup, Australia is featured on the Gold List 2012: Best for food. This luxury hotel is one of Australia’s finest small luxury hotels located 3 hours south of Perth. It is located on its own vineyard and is in an area surrounded by beautiful forests and incredible beaches. There are 22 secluded rooms and suites as well as a Private Residence which sits on its own private 3 acres. The acclaimed Cape Lodge Lakeside Restaurant features a 14,000 bottle cellar stocked with premium aged Margaret River wines. Be sure to check out this luxurious, secluded hotel, and get ready to rock your taste-buds with amazing Australian cuisine paired with the perfect wine.


The Top 20 Hotels in 2011: #1 Villa d'Este

December 31, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

In the final days of 2011, Five Star Alliance is counting down the Top 20 Luxury Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, as decided by our guests.

Our countdown has come to an end, and it is time to announce the number one hotel as chosen by our discerning travelers and determined by sophisticated algorithms and more than a little bit of voodoo magic.  Five Star Alliance's #1 hotel for 2011 is

 Villa d'Este!


Quick facts about Villa d'Este:

- On the shore of Lake Como, one of the most secluded and breathtaking lakes in Italy, the Villa d'Este was originally the summer residence of Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio and is just a short trip north of Milan, one of Italy's most romantic cities.

- Its 152 rooms, divided between two palatial residences, each offer a unique feel, a result of the meticulously maintained renaissance decor of the original residences built in 1568.  Live in true luxury, in rooms once occupied by the royal guests of the Cardinal and preserved in their original glory.

- The Villa is perfectly self-sufficient:  included in its amenities are eight tennis courts, several dining options, including sushi and classical Italian, a Turkish bath and sauna, winery tours by chaffeur, and one of the most challenging par 69s in Europe only seven miles away.

- If you want a change of scenery from your grand room, simply head outdoors to enjoy the 25-acre park, which is perfectly designed and continuously manicured in its original Renaissance style:  the entire park molds nature into a work of art.

- Its hotel pool was featured in our Ten Best Hotel Pools in the World for its floating pool, literally on the lake, not to mention an additional kids pool to keep them away from your relaxation:

"The pool at Villa d’Este on Lake Como would make Archimedes blush. Floating above the very lake that the Villa rests against, the pool features a built-in Jacuzzi and fantastic view of the surrounding mountains. It’s like swimming in the lake just inches below your feet, but it’s always the perfect temperature."

- Four reception rooms hold up to 400 people alongside another 250 in nine different meeting rooms, all to the same standards of luxury as rest of the classical Renaissance hotel.

- As if that weren't enough, it's also a Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure Award Winner.

View photos, learn more about the hotel, and check availability at Villa d'Este > >

Be sure to keep up with our countdown! See below for the full list of Top Hotels for 2011!

#20 – The St. Regis Resort Aspen  
#19 – The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore  
#18 – The Peninsula Chicago  
#17 - The Tower Club at Lebua  
#16 - Auberge du Soleil  
#15 - The Mount Nelson Hotel  
#14 - The One and Only Maldives at Reethi Rah  
#13 - The Hotel de Crillon  
#12 - Peninsula Hong Kong  
#11 - Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi  
#10 - Majestic Hotel and Spa Barcelona 
#9 - Jumeirah Essex House
#8 - Atlantis the Palm Dubai
#7 - Hotel Le St. James  
#6 - Half Moon, a Rock Resort
#5 - Charleston Place
#4 - King George Palace
#3 - La Tremoille
#2 - Don Cesar Beach Hotel
#1 - Villa d'Este


The Top 20 Hotels in 2011: #2 The Don CeSar Beach Resort

December 30, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

In the final days of 2011, Five Star Alliance is counting down the Top 20 Luxury Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, as decided by our guests.

In the #2 spot we have the Don Cesar Beach Resorta beach front resort located on the island of St. Pete Beach, on the Gulf of Mexico.

Quick (or in this case, not so quick) facts about The Don CeSar:

Loews Don CeSar Beach Resort- Known as Florida's Legendary Pink Palace since 1928, the owner named it after Don Caesar DeBazan, the hero of William Vincent Wallace's opera Maritana

- The hotel quickly became a favorite romping ground for the rich and famous of the Jazz Age including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Clarence Darrow, Al Capone, Lou Gehrig, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Pink Palace continued to attract the rich and famous throughout the Great Depression, thanks in part to a deal made with New York Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert to house his team during spring training for three years.

- After the sudden death of Rowe without a will, "The Don" was left to his estranged wife and began to fall into desrepair until the United States entered into World War II and the hotel was bought out by the Army for $450,000. It was converted into a military hospital and reopened in December 1942. In February 1944 the Don Ce-Sar became a U.S. Air Force convalescent center. In June 1945 it was ordered closed and was vacant by September. It was converted into a Veterans Administration Regional Office by the end of 1945.

Don CeSar Beach Resort- In November 1967 the Veterans Administration began moving out of the Don Ce-Sar. By spring 1969, the once grand hotel was vacant. The General Services Administration planned to raze the graffiti-covered hotel, but this was met with fierce opposition from local residents. In March 1972 the Don Ce-Sar was sold to Holiday Inn. The Don CeSar (now spelled without the hyphen) reopened on November 23, 1973. Multiple renovations from 1985 to 2001 have updated and added on to the hotel, including a 4,000-square-foot (370 m2) spa, a signature restaurant, and a second outdoor swimming pool. After the addition of the full-service beach club and spa, the official name of the hotel was changed to The Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa.

- References in popular culture include: The Don Cesar is featured in a full-color two-page spread in a 1982 issue of National Geographic. Parts of the 1984 crime film Once Upon a Time in America are filmed at the Don Cesar. Comedian Ron White talks about his stay at the Don Cesar in the movie Blue Collar Comedy Tour: One for the Road. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers filmed a music video at the Don Cesar in 1985. Robert Altman's film Health was largely filmed in the hotel.

- The second, fifth and sixth floors of the hotel are said to be haunted by the ghost of Thomas Rowe. His apparition has been spotted overseeing the daily operations in the hotel, smiling at incoming guests and then disappearing, and walking along the beach front, dressed in a white suit. You can read more here >>

Don CeSar Beach Resort- Lowes Loves Kids and Loews Loves Teens programs offering unique and extensive services dedicated to the principle: "the family that stays together plays together".

- Lowes Loves Pets program featuring: Gourmet room service menus for cats and dogs, prepared by an award-winning Master Chef. Creature comforts like specialized bedding, leashes, collars, litter boxes (and litter), pooper scoopers and more. Tail-wagging amenities such as dog-walking routes, pet placemats, water bowls, treats, doggie poop bags and more. Purr-fect indulgences like rawhide bones, catnip and scratch poles. Pet-walking and pet-sitting services. Dog massages by a professional canine massage therapist, who works closely with you in the comfort of your room to design personalized treatment for your special "family member."

- The Don CeSar was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and became a founding member of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America in 1989.

View photos, learn more about the hotel, and check availability at The Don CeSar Beach Resort >>

Be sure to keep up with our countdown! In case you missed it, here are our previously featured hotels:

#20 – The St. Regis Resort Aspen  
#19 – The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore  
#18 – The Peninsula Chicago  
#17 - The Tower Club at Lebua  
#16 - Auberge du Soleil  
#15 - The Mount Nelson Hotel  
#14 - The One and Only Maldives at Reethi Rah  
#13 - The Hotel de Crillon  
#12 - Peninsula Hong Kong  
#11 - Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi  
#10 - Majestic Hotel and Spa Barcelona 
#9 - Jumeirah Essex House
#8 - Atlantis the Palm Dubai
#7 - Hotel Le St. James  
#6 - Half Moon, a Rock Resort
#5 - Charleston Place
#4 - King George Palace
#3 - La Tremoille

Check-in tomorrow to find out which hotel got the coveted #1 spot in our countdown.


The Top 20 Hotels in 2011: #3 La Tremoille

December 29, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

In the final days of 2011, Five Star Alliance is counting down the Top 20 Luxury Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, as decided by our guests.

In the #3 spot we have La Tremoille, located near the center of Paris's Golden Triangle.

La TremoilleQuick facts about La Tremoille:

- The 93 rooms and suites are decorated in 30 different patterns and color schemes, accenting the personalized and unique stay of every guest.

- Renovated for 15 months in 2002, La Tremoille leapfrogged much of its competition as one of the traditional deluxe Paris hotels.

- Rooms feature a special "Hatch" foyer that offers ultimate privacy by separating guest rooms further from the hallway and allowing wait staff to bring room service and amenities without actually entering your room.

- Not only the hotel has been upgraded, the restaurant has been renovated even more recently than the hotel and has reopened under a new name, Le Louis2, offering wonderful French cuisine.

Charleston Place Pool

- The suites give a panoramic view of Paris rooftops and offer both living rooms and armchairs so comfortable, you find it hard to get yourself back out of them.

- The spa includes a sauna, hydro-jet shower, two private massage rooms, and beauty care rooms, not to mention the much-coveted jet-lag recovery therapy.

View photos, learn more about the hotel, and check availability at La Tremoille > >

Be sure to keep up with our countdown! Check back to see our top two hotels for the year!


The Top 20 Hotels in 2011: #4 King George Palace

December 28, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

In the final days of 2011, Five Star Alliance is counting down the Top 20 Luxury Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, as decided by our guests.

In the #4 spot we have King George Palace, one of the most famous landmarks in Athens, Greece, ideally located on Constitution Square.

Quick facts about King George Palace:

- Distinguished as the best hotel in Greece, and is ranked among the top 20 best hotels in the Overseas Leisure Hotel Section for Europe.

- Unique, luxury boutique hotel has been home to Kings, Princes, and Presidents since the early 1930s.

- Located steps away from the Greek Parliament, near the historical center.

- Combines the exquisiteness of a historic landmark with modern amenities and personal attention.

- Certain rooms have a breathtaking view of the Acropolis, and the Royal Presidential suite has a private outdoor pool.

- The Tudor Restaurant features an impressive view of Athens and the Acropolis.

View photos, learn more about the hotel, and check availability at the King George Palace.


The Top 20 Hotels in 2011: #5 Charleston Place

December 27, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

In the final days of 2011, Five Star Alliance is counting down the Top 20 Luxury Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, as decided by our guests.

In the #5 spot we have Charleston Place, located in the heart of Charleston's historic downtown.

Charleston Place ExteriorQuick facts about Charleston Place:

- Club room occupy the two 2 floors of the hotel and offer private concierge services and enhanced amenities, food and services.

- Located on the 7th and 8th floor, on the private Club Level, the Presidential Suites measure approximately 1,200 square feet and offers a 6 person dining table walk-in closet and dressing area, integrated sound system throughout, butlers pantry and huge bathroom with separate shower and soaking tub.

- Charleston Place originally opened as an Omni Hotel on September 2nd, 1986 before becoming an Orient-Express Hotel in 1995.

Charleston Place Pool- The horizon-edged saltwater mineral swimming pool is heated to allow year-round enjoyment. When the South Carolina weather allows, the glass roof retracts for fresh-air “outdoor” sunbathing in indoor comfort.

- Guests have included Prince Charles, members of Fortune 500 companies, Governors and prime ministers from around the world. Even visiting celebs such as Mel Gibson, Ted Turner, Bruce Willis, Jessica Lange, Barbra Streisand, Melanie Griffith, Richard Gere, Jeff Bridges, Julia Roberts and many more prefer to stay here instead of at one of the more intimate B&Bs you find in Charleston.

- The Spa menu includes treatments for children ruch as the Lollipop Manicure & Pedicure, The Cinderella 25-minute facial, Boys About Face 25-minute facial and the Fit Kids fun program for 3-5 year olds that combines engaging games and exercises designed to help develop motor skills.

View photos, learn more about the hotel, and check availability at Charleston Place >>

Be sure to keep up with our countdown! In case you missed it, here are our previously featured hotels:

#20 – The St. Regis Resort Aspen  
#19 – The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore  
#18 – The Peninsula Chicago  
#17 - The Tower Club at Lebua  
#16 - Auberge du Soleil  
#15 - The Mount Nelson Hotel  
#14 - The One and Only Maldives at Reethi Rah  
#13 - The Hotel de Crillon  
#12 - Peninsula Hong Kong  
#11 - Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi  
#10 - Majestic Hotel and Spa Barcelona 
#9 - Jumeirah Essex House
#8 - Atlantis the Palm Dubai
#7 - Hotel Le St. James  
#6 - Half Moon, a Rock Resort


The Top 20 Hotels in 2011: #6 Half Moon, a RockResort

December 26, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

In the final days of 2011, Five Star Alliance is counting down the Top 20 Luxury Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, as decided by our guests.

In the #6 spot we have the Half Moon, a RockResort located in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Quick facts about the Half Moon:

- Stretches across 400 landscaped acres, with 33 incredible 4 to 7 bedroom villas, each with its own personal staff and pool.

- 152 luxurious suites and 46 breathtaking rooms.

- Offers a 72-par golf course, 18-hole putting green, 13 lit tennis courts, a full range of water sports, and a natural Dolphin lagoon.

- Offers both all-inclusive and room only rates.

- Over 26,000 square feet of meeting space with state of the art audio/visual equipment and internet access.

- 51 swimming pools, including an Olympic size lap pool and swim-up pool bar.

- Children activity center, Hype Zone teen center, and babysitting services available.

- Recipient of the 2009 Virtuoso Best Family Program Award. 

View photos, learn more about the hotel, and check availability at the Half Moon, a RockResort.


The Top 20 Hotels in 2011: #7 Hotel Le St. James

December 25, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

In the final days of 2011, Five Star Alliance is counting down the Top 20 Luxury Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, as decided by our guests.

In the #7 spot we have the Hotel Le St. James in Montreal, Canada.

Quick facts about the Hotel Le St. James:

- This historic building is ideally situated in lively Old Montreal with easy access to shopping areas, restaurants, and the financial center.

- Located less than a mile from Central Station and just 12 miles from Dorval International Airport.

- Each room and suite has its own character and personal charm.

- The hotel’s restaurant, XO Le, is Montreal’s highest rated restaurant in 2009 by the Gazette.

- Le Spa, the hotels luxurious spa served as the Merchant’s Bank vault in the late 1800s.

- Pet friendly, allowing pets less than 30 lbs.

- Mobil Travel’s highest rated property in Quebec since 2003.

- The hotel’s original architecture dates back to 1870, with design features that have remained intact over the centuries.

View photos, learn more about the hotel, and check availability at the Hotel Le St. James.


The Top 20 Hotels in 2011: #8 Atlantis the Palm Dubai

December 24, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

In the final days of 2011, Five Star Alliance is counting down the Top 20 Luxury Hotels & Resorts Atlantis the Palm DubaiWorldwide, as decided by our guests.

In the #8 spot, we have the Atlantis the Palm Dubai, an aquatic Dubai resort.

Quick facts about the Atlantis the Palm Dubai:

- The entire Atlantis is built around an oceanic tribute to a mythological age where sharks and dolphins roam the seas and Poseidon invites guests to enter his realm of aquatic beauty.

- On the coastline of the largest man-made island in the world, Atlantis the Palm is surrounded by the sea of the Arabian Gulf at the very tip of the palm island crescent.

- With over 1,500 rooms and suites available and 16 restaurants, the sprawling Atlantis never lacks for entertainment, fueled by 15 million gallons of salt and freshwater attractions.

Atlantis the Palm Dubai- Aquaventure, the waterpark, includes a 30-meter ziggurat that sends swimmers down waterslides that pass through shark-infested waters (with glass safely in between, don't worry).  

- Its pool/aquatic experience came up #2 on our list of the Ten Best Hotel Pools in the World, and here's what we had to say about it:

'Atlantis the Palm Dubai may just be the best thing ever. If you got all the things together in one place, and made me pick, I’d say, “I want that thing. It looks like the best thing.” So what is this thing I’m so excited about? Well, it just might be a standard luxurious hotel pool, only it’s attached to a full water park! I don’t bandy about with exclamation points lightly, but this seems to be worth one. If you, like me, have ever thought, “wow, this vacation is really relaxing, but what I’d really like is to go launching out of a ziggurat at high speeds into a pool of water,” then this is the destination for you. And even more than that, much of the hotel is themed around this aquatic experience. There are underwater mazes, a four-and-a-half hectare dolphin habitat, and something they just call Aquaventure.'

- Atlantis the Palm even includes a specialized kids program through the Atlantis Kids Club and Club Rush, where your children can go to enjoy the aquatics either with their parents or supervised by specialized Atlantis staff, so you can enjoy some more adult vacation time.

View photos, learn more about the hotel, and check availability at the Atlantis the Palm Dubai >>

Be sure to keep up with our countdown as we spotlight a new hotel every day until the New Year!