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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.

Top 10 Spas All Over the World

October 28, 2011
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

October 20, 2011
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"

October 12, 2011
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

October 12, 2011
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

October 4, 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

September 28, 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

September 28, 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

September 23, 2011
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.


The Great Test of Penmanship: September 26 is National Love Note Day

September 20, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

Six Senses Hideaway, Vietnam

I’m about to depart from my normal articles to give you an important notice. So sit up straight, get out your quill and inkwell, and start taking notes. Are you listening? Good. Because September 26, a week from now, is National Love Note Day. Largely created so your significant other has an opportunity to critique your writing skills, this important landmark in a relationship is a chance to really step up the romance. So get ready to tell her how you really feel, using the liberal application of glitter.

One of the hallmarks of a good card (hah!) is its presentation, so don’t just give it to them in your kitchen over Chinese takeout (although major bonus points if you hide it in a fortune cookie). Instead take them to your favorite destination, spend a night away in a wonderful hotel, and give them the royal treatment. Some hotels, like the Four Seasons Boston, are even offering to help you out if you don’t fancy yourself clever enough to match the words of Keats or Longfellow. Using some famous expressions of love to liken your relationship to the great romances in history, the Four Seasons will craft a card with whatever turn of phrase you desire. Need some ideas for locale? Check out the Reuters top ten romantic hotels.  Honestly, I can’t think of a better time for a romantic getaway.


Pooling our Resources: The 10 Best Hotel Pools in the World

September 19, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

 After reading CNN’s own list of great hotel pools, we decided to put our heads together and write up our thoughts on the matter. Who has the 10 best hotel pools in the world? To truly know, you’ll have to visit yourself and see. But these are certainly our favorites.

10. The Banyan Tree Seychelles

With the simple application of basic mathematics, the Banyan Tree has figured out how to improve upon the tried and true concept of the private pool: By giving its two-bedroom suites two private pools – and what a sight they are. That’s the kind of thinking I can get behind.

Banyan Tree Seychelles

9. Le Palais de la Mediterranee, France

Le Palais de la Mediterranee in Nice rolls in at number 9 with its incredible 3rd floor indoor/outdoor pool. Just feet from a sun terrace with a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean, this is a pool that was tailor-made for lounging. If to you a vacation means leaning back, lowering your sunglasses over your eyes and relaxing the afternoon away, then this is the hotel for you.

Palais de la Mediterranee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. The Berkeley, London

While some other pools may be more spectacular, as you’ll see in a moment, none offer the same level of comfort year-round as The Berkeley rooftop pool in London. The heated pool features a wonderful open-air swimming experience in the summer, but unlike most hotels, when it gets a bit colder, you don’t have to take the party inside. The Berkeley instead rolls out its retractable roof, and you can now enjoy the comfort of a perfectly climate-controlled rooftop pool in winter.

The Berkeley London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Villa d’Este, Italy

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.

Villa d'Este

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Blue Palace Resort and Spa, Crete

The Blue Palace Resort and Spa is truly deserving of its sixth place finish, and really if we were fair it’d be on this list twice. The aptly-named Blue Palace is renowned for the private pools that come standard with most of their rooms and suites. With pools up to 40 sq. meters in size for just you and your companion(s), there couldn’t be a more private or luxurious swimming experience. And if that weren’t enough, the Blue Palace is famous for its unique Grecian Thalassotherapy, which combines the relaxing powers of a world-class massage with water-cleansing rituals guaranteed to revitalize your body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. The Library Koh Samui, Thailand

In this case, the picture speaks for itself. The Library Koh Samui is built around the innovative concept that a vacation is about relaxation and people should be allowed to free their minds from stress by engaging in the simple pleasures of cracking open a book and enjoying the company of their family or friends. They’ve also turned their pool red - which is both surreal and strangely captivating, like green ketchup or a fish riding a bicycle.

The Library Koh Samui

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Rawi Warin Resort and Spa, Thailand

The 1000 sq. meter infinity edge pool at Rawi Warin looks as if the water is fading into the ocean, with only little beach umbrellas poking above the water line to let you know that it doesn’t go on forever. The illusion is compelling and gorgeous. As if that weren’t enough, Rawi Warin also has Asia’s first ocean swimming pool, extending 100 meters into the water and allowing you to swim with the fishes in an entirely literal way.

Rawi Warin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Palazzo Sasso, Italy

The Palazzo Sasso has one of the more innovative designs for a hotel pool we’ve ever seen. Situated on the edge of a cliff 1000 feet above sea level, the pool at Palazzo Sasso offers underwater windows with a view of the sea below, thus discovering the heretofore unknown condition of subaqueous vertigo. But seriously, it is the single most impressive thing I’ve seen at the bottom of a pool.

Palazzo Sasso

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Atlantis the Palm Dubai

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Marina Bay Sands Singapore

Occasionally, a feat of engineering comes along that’s so remarkable, you have to doff your hat to the architects of its design. The Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool in Singapore is more like what would result if Leonardo da Vinci were in the hotel business. Resting 200 meters above the ground in the Sands SkyPark, the Infinity Pool is as breathtaking as it is surreal – the edge of the pool seems to fade into the horizon itself. Swimmers are greeted with a panoramic vista unequaled anywhere. Without a doubt, the Infinity is the coolest hotel pool we’ve ever seen and not just for the breeze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So throw on your swim trunks and book a room at any of these amazing hotels (maybe in the other order), and soon you'll be enjoying the sun by some of the most amazing pools in the world.