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.

Best of the Best: Iguazú Grand Resort Spa & Casino is the Best Luxury Casino Hotel in 2011


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’d like to welcome you to our new blog series, Best of the Best, where we’ll be featuring the best and most luxurious resorts in various categories. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business by the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Awards, so you can relax and stop worrying about your upcoming trip, knowing that it truly will be the best of the best.

The Iguazú Grand Resort Spa & Casino received the Best Luxury Casino Hotel in 2011 title, and it is located 10 minutes away from the Iguazú Falls National Park, straddling the border of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. This resort has 34 gambling tables for Roulette, Black Jack, and Poker, 200 modern slot machines with progressive prizes, video games, video slot machines, electronic roulette, traditional slot machines, 10 electric terminals of traditional Roulette, and much more. Aside from being the best luxury casino hotel, this resort also offers three multilevel outdoor swimming pools, access to exotic gardens, and the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. Don’t forget your lucky socks, and head over to the best luxury casino hotel of 2011.


Frommer's List of Top 10 Destinations for 2012


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le Grey, BeirutNothing whets our appetite for travel more than the annual destination lists by top travel guides. Frommer's recently released their "Top Destinations for 2012" after its editors, authors, and experts spent "months bickering" among themselves. They also reached out to readers to find out their travel plans for the coming year, with Turkey the clear winner at 51% of the vote (Paris, Italy, and Hawaii also got high marks). The USA Today has summarized the list, including explanations about each destination from Frommers.com editorial director David Lytle.

Curacao – This often overlooked Caribbean island has affordable rentals, "as opposed to traditional flop-and-drop all-inclusives."

Chongqing, China – An alternative to the usual Chinese destinations (Beijing, Shanghai), it's a 19th-century town that has undergone rapid modernization, thanks, in part, to its position as the last stop on the Three Gorges river tour.

Fukuoka Japan – This feudal Japanese town on the north shore of Kyushu province is a place to go after you've done Tokyo and Kyoto. Plus, its inclusion on the list is a reminder that not all of Japan was affected by the earthquake.

InterContinental ChongqingBeirut – The city has experienced a renaissance in recent years, as many European travelers know. "It's an urban hotspot full of smartly dressed people who have intelligent conversation," Lytle says.

Ghana – Unlike some other African nations, this country has enjoyed long-time stability. As a former center of the slave trade, it's also on the heritage trail for African Americans.

London's Greenwich neighborhood – Just 20 minutes from Central London, this Thames-side town has undergone a renaissance. And post-Olympics is a good time to visit London, since it's bound to be gussied up for the event, with bargains after the party's over.

Girona, Spain – This Costa Brava town is popular among Brits, but is largely undiscovered by Americans. It's also an easy-to-get-to beach getaway from Barcelona.

Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia – It's a quiet, charming area, perfect for recharging your batteries.

Kansas City, Mo. – Its food and music scenes are lively. It sports a number of really good museums. Plus, it's central locale makes it relatively close to a lot of Americans.

Yucatan Peninsula – There's more to this region than Cancun. Moreover, it's been relatively free of drug-related violence that has touched border towns and the some of the Mexico's western reaches.


Top 10 Spas All Over the World


By: Oksana Balytsky

What do you get when you combine luxury, serenity, and incredibly gifted hands? The best spa resorts, of course! Check out our list of the top 10 luxury spas all over the world, make your reservation for that much needed vacation, and step into a relaxing paradise of mineral baths, facials, saunas, mud masks, massages, and much more.

10. The Wickaninnish Inn, Canada

This peaceful spa is surrounded by forest on the Pacific Ocean, creating the perfect, natural environment with the sound of splashing waves and the smell of the ocean permeating the atmosphere. This spa offers high-quality spa products and its estheticians focus on providing a truly relaxing and rejuvenating experience.

9. Auberge de Soleil, United States

Located in the wine country of San Francisco, this spa is surrounded by private gardens and breathtaking views of Napa Valley. This spa offers the opportunity to partake in relaxing activities for romantic couples or friends of four with access to a private outdoor garden and hot spring. Embrace this spa’s philosophy of nurturing the body and mind while sinking into a peaceful state of relaxation.

 

8. Banyan Tree, Thailand

This one is considered to be one of Asia’s most spectacular spa resorts. All of this resort’s 123 villas have access to their own garden and an open air sunken bathtub, 52 of its villas have their own Jacuzzi, and 46 have their own private swimming pool. For the ultimate getaway, consider one of 13 villas with access to a private pool, Jacuzzi, private steam, and sauna room, and be sure to sign up for this hotel’s renowned ‘Intimate Moments’ partner massage.

7. The Grove, United Kingdom

The Grove is London’s cosmopolitan country estate, and it offers spa treatments that sooth and stimulate all of your senses. This spa prides itself on offering a total caring experience and ensuring that you escape, relax, and re-energize during your stay. Breathe in the tranquility, breath out the stress, and leave with a little more balance in your life.

6. Enchantment Resort and Mii Amo Spa, United States

This spa is located in a private red rock canyon in Sedona, Arizona-- in what is considered to be one of the most sacred healing places on Earth. World class spa therapists create unique and memorable experiences and offer a variety of specially tailored services, aiming to provide a sense of harmony and health.

5. The Setai, United States

This Miami Beach luxury spa embraces ancient traditions and offers a complete experience with access to three private, sparkling swimming pools. This spa is dedicated to absolute privacy and relaxation, and its treatments will leave you feeling fresh and revitalized.

4. Four Seasons Hualalai Kona, United States

This exotic, Hawaiian themed spa integrates tropical gardens and exudes serenity. Its complimentary, pre-spa services include access to the lap pool, whirlpools, steam rooms, saunas, and cold plunges. The treatment massages can be performed outside amidst beautiful nature and bamboo that naturally bring about a sense of calm.

3. Le Sirenuse, Italy

This spa embraces the ancient philosophy of individualized treatments to reach harmony from the inside out.  Be sure to take advantage of their unique treatment options and enjoy various services made especially for your needs.

2. Four Seasons Bali Jimbaran Bay, Indonesia

Inspired by the surrounding ocean, this resort has eight magnificent treatment rooms and offers suites equipped with outdoor soaking tubs. The spa treatments utilize essences of plants, aromas of healing flowers, and herbs and spices, all blended together to create soothing and rejuvenating recipes for an enhanced experience.

1. Little Dix Bay, British Virgin Islands

Dramatically located on a cliff’s edge, this spa overlooks the resort and the beautiful Sir Francis Drake Channel below. The indigenous botanical resources along with therapeutic practices make for the most relaxing spa experience. The best part, however, is that this spa is willing to accommodate you in their Cliff Spa Suite, in your room, on the beach, or even under the stars!

Try as we might, we just couldn’t pick one favorite, so we encourage you to share your favorite luxury spa experiences with us on Facebook. Is your favorite spa on our list? Let us know! We love hearing from you.


Give the Gift of Intellect from the Neiman Marcus Holiday Catalogue


By: Oksana Balytsky

With the winter holidays just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about gifts for your family members and friends. This year, however, we bet you want something different, something special, something extravagant, something over the top. Did we just read your mind? For the luxury seekers, the best gift givers, and the folks who always go above and beyond what is expected, the Neiman Marcus Holiday Catalogue may be just for you.

For an intellectual and mind-opening gift, consider the custom library, with its shelves filled with 250 books for $125,000. This atypical gift comes from the publishing house Assouline, and the library can be added anywhere you’d like. From a house to a boat to an airplane, the sky is the limit. This gift includes a full redesign of the space of your choice by adding custom carpets, art objects, and exquisitely framed prints. After the space redesign, 250 contemporary and vintage volumes are added to the beautiful shelves in the genre of your choice. Line the bookshelves with masterpieces from renowned writers, artists, photographers, architects, designers, and culinary and fashion virtuosos. This is a gift that keeps on giving because aside from an incredible library, Neiman Marcus will also donate $2,500 to First Book, a non-profit organization that provides children in need access to new books. For details, call 1-877-9NM-GIFT, or visit neimanmarcus.com

The Neiman Marcus Holiday Catalogue is for the thoughtful gift-givers, and while it offers truly lavish gifts, about half are under $250, so whatever your price range, the Neiman Marcus Holiday Catalogue has something to offer you.  Looking for something a little different?  Consider booking a trip for your family and friends and spending the holidays somewhere exotic, snowy, sunny, or simply somewhere relaxing

(Photo via Neiman Marcus)


The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong Voted "Best Hotel in the World"


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong

The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong set the bar high when it opened on June 21, 2010. Literally, the hotel caps off Cesar Pelli’s IFC Shanghai building with an incredible rooftop bar on the 58th floor that's the tallest in Shanghai. Gadling buzzed about the hotel as "luxury in a modern Mandarin-style shell." Travel + Leisure said: "The 285-room hotel places you in a cloud-level fantasy." And now the readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine (U.S. edition)-- besotted with all the hotel's superlatives-- have voted it the 'Best Hotel In The World' in the magazine's 24th annual Readers Choice Awards. Two top awards were bestowed upon the hotel in one evening, Best Hotel in Asia Pacific, and then Overall Best Hotel in the World. Collecting the award on behalf of the hotel was The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company President, Herve Humler.


Adventurous Skiers, Check Out the Inn at Lost Creek


By: Oksana Balytsky

Are you tired of skiing/snowboarding down your town’s proclaimed black diamonds and looking for a real mountain this winter? Then explore our list of the best ski resorts and get ready for not only some of the most incredible slopes and breath-taking views, but also luxurious accommodations that will revitalize your adventurous spirit, leaving you ready to fly down the mountain and do it all again the next day!

Consider checking into the Inn at Lost Creek in Telluride, Colorado, one of the most unique and personal luxury resorts. We truly believe that you’ve never stayed at a place this charming and genuine. The Inn at Lost Creek is located in the Mountain Village, and it provides access to some of the most beautiful mountains. This resort offers fully equipped suites and provides all the comforts of home such as a balcony, kitchen, fireplace, in-suite laundry, jetted tub, and steam shower. Aside from these comforts, guests have the opportunity to unwind and relax in two roof top hot tubs and indulge at the Inn’s Southwest inspired restaurant and bar. And with only 32 rooms, this small, luxurious hotel has some of the best folks on staff who are truly dedicated and delighted to ensure you have a magnificent stay. From finishing your laundy to pre-stocking your fridge with groceries, they happily do it all. With ski season fast approaching, make your reservation today and be well on your way to an incredible ski resort!


Best of the Best: King George Palace has the Best Scenic View in 2011


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’d like to welcome you to our new blog series, Best of the Best, where we’ll be featuring the best and most luxurious resorts in various categories. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business by the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Awards, so you can relax and stop worrying about your upcoming trip, knowing that it truly will be the best of the best.

Today’s featured luxury hotel is the King George Palace, recipient of the Best Scenic View award in 2011. Located on Constitution Square, just steps from the Greek Parliament, this luxurious resort offers the best of Athens. Not only has the King George Palace received the prestigious award for hotel offering the best scenic view by the World Luxury Hotel Awards, but it has also been distinguished as one of the best hotels in Greece. This luxury boutique hotel has been home to Kings, Princes, and Presidents since the 1930s, and it will surely be your best home away from home. Be sure to visit the Acropolis, see the Parthenon, and stroll through the Agora, Athens’ central market. As your day draws to an end and as the sun is setting, dine at the rooftop restaurant of the King George Palace, and prepare to have your breath taken away by the incredible view of this phenomenal city.


Best of the Best: Solis Lough Eske Castle is the Best Luxury Countryside Hotel in 2011


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'd like to welcome you to our new blog series, Best of the Best, where we’ll be featuring the best and most luxurious resorts in various categories. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business by the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Awards, so you can relax and stop worrying about your upcoming trip, knowing that it truly will be the best of the best.

Today’s featured locale is the Solis Lough Eske, recipient of the Best Luxury Countryside Hotel award in 2011, or should we say "best castle"? Located just outside of Donegal Town, Ireland, the Solis Lough Eske Castle is on the water’s edge of Lough Eske and surrounded by the incredible Blue Stack Mountains. Like escaping into a fairytale, the Solis Lough Eske Castle has its spa facility located in the castle garden, providing you with every opportunity to relax and take in the natural beauty of Ireland. Looking for a thrill? The Solis Lough Eske Castle offers some of the best hiking, mountain biking, and surfing in all of Ireland. Whether you’re looking for some peace and quiet or an adventure, the Solis Lough Eske Castle is the perfect and best destination for an escape into the magnificent countryside of Ireland.


World Luxury Hotel Awards Declare Best Luxury Hotels of 2011


By: Christopher Roney

The 2011 World Luxury Hotel Awards have announced their Global Winners across a variety of categories, and we’re confident that each of these hotels represents the finest in luxury accommodations. We'll be spotlighting many of these individually in the coming weeks and offering our critical commentary, but for now, take a look at the winners such as the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, winning Best Luxury Hotel overall, and the Sandals Royal Plantation, the Best Luxury Island Resort.

Click here to check out the full list of best hotels, listed alphabetically by location so you can find the names of the top hotels in your vacation spot of choice, and search here if you're interested in booking any of the top hotels of 2011.


Fantasy Meets Reality: I'm Dreaming of Paris


By: Christopher Roney

We return now to our series of fantastical destinations as well known for their stories as their reality. [For previous installments, read about New Zealand and Crete.] Today, we visit another kind of fantasy: Paris, the city of love and home to the dreams of many.

Part 3 - Paris

So famous for being the romantic capital of the world that an entire movie was made about it as a setting for love stories, Paris is a city of wine and of cafes. But love is not all that happens in the cafes of Paris. Two locations stand out today as sites of some of the most famous movie scenes of our time.

The Café des Deux Moulins is famous for its art deco style and fine food, but it’s even more well-known for the fantasy character who once worked there. Located in Montmartre, the small café played home to Amélie, and it was here that she dreamt of happiness and set out to find it for others.  The Crème Brulée is now named for this sweet girl who helped so many, and many flock to the Café to see her .

The Café Debussy, on the other hand, doesn’t exist either in real life or in the fantasy world where it featured prominently. Actually a deli called Da Stuzzi that was repurposed for the Christopher Nolan film, the Café Debussy explodes in a shower of rubble as Inception’s dream-world destabilizes around it. This quiet deli located on a side street hasn’t been overwhelmed by the crowds of Inception-lovers, and it is a lovely place for lunch, run by a true local who only wants her shop to do well. In that sense, Da Stuzzi is the perfect fantasy location. The humble reality of the spot is almost bigger in your mind than the stars who once sat there.

So next time you’re in Paris, it’s worth making a trip out of your way to see these gems.