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.
Seville, the capital of Andalusia, is a historic city with tiny, winding, bustling streets and a rich culture symbolized by Moorish influence. If you’re in search of an energetic nightlife or a cultural excursion to discover some of the most renowned monuments in all of Europe, consider visiting the heart of Southern Spain.
In the center of Seville lies Hotel Alfonso XIII, named after the king who commissioned it 83 years ago. This luxurious hotel offers rooms with varying themes and styles including Isabelline Baroque, Moorish, and Castillian. Hotel Alfonso XIII is situated downtown, just minutes from the Royal Alcazar Palace and the Plaza de España, making this hotel the perfect, centrally located destination.
Seville has an incredible charm emanating from the streets, and the people have a very relaxed attitude about life. I encourage you to fully embrace the culture and see a flamenco show, or try the pairing of green olives with beer, or sip on a Tinto de Verano, which is a light, refreshing blend of red wine and lemon soda.
Be sure to get your shopping done in the morning or evening, as many store owners close down their shops for a few hours in the afternoons for a siesta. My recommended hotel is currently closed for renovations, but it’ll reopen in March 2012, just in time for the beautiful spring months and Semana Santa, which is one of the most significant, traditional events in Seville. Can’t wait that long? Consider some of the other incredible resorts located all over Spain, and get ready for a fiesta!
September 27, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Leave it to Four Seasons to put together the ultimate globe-trotting adventure: Around the World by Private Jet. Departing from Los Angeles on October 29, 2012, this 22-day adventure will hit up Four Seasons destinations in Hawaii, French Polynesia, Australia, Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Egypt and the UK. Just 78 guest will be whisked away on a specially-outfitted Boeing 757 provided by TCS & Starquest Expeditions. (Jetsetters will feel right at home in the VIP seats, attended to by a Four Seasons concierge, and debriefed on destinations by onboard experts in art history, cuisine, and more.) On the ground, personalized itineraries will include local specialties, behind-the-scenes tours, and off-the-beaten path treasures. Here are a few of the highlights of this three-week trip:
Two of the world’s most active volcanoes in Hawai’i, the vibrant coral gardens of the South Pacific, Sydney’s iconic buildings and scenic gorges, the mystical allure of Ayers Rock, Bali’s Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) and Yeh Pulu temples, Thai cooking classes in Chiang Mai, Agra’s Taj Mahal, Mumbai’s Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum, and a private, lantern-lit dinner amid the pyramids of Gîza.
Pictured: Four Seasons Bali Jimbaran Bay.
September 26, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky
Tired of your typical vacation spots and looking to spice up your plans with a visit away from the norm? Then you’ll love our new blog series, Emerging Destinations! We’ll be featuring an exciting hotspot with every post that’s not your typical resort. So whether you’re looking for an exciting adventure or simply an escape to a new world, we guarantee to awaken your intrepid spirit, encouraging you to take a leap of faith and check out a new location for your next vacation!
Our first featured locale (drumroll please) is Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam! According to Travelagentcentral.com, Vietnam is an emerging destination for high-end travelers, and with tourism on the rise, this once predominantly rural country is becoming a vacation hotspot. The Caravelle Hotel, located in the enchanting and captivating city of Ho Chi Minh, offers traditional refinement in an environment that is both elegant and sophisticated. From floating down the Saigon River in a water taxi to exploring the cultural streets of Lam Son Square, Ho Chi Minh City is sure to be an incredible adventure. After a day of exhausting exploration, unwind at the Saigon Saigon Bar, which offers live music and a breath-taking view of the city, assault your taste buds at Reflections, a restaurant serving fusion cuisine, and get pampered at the recently renovated spa facilities. Where are all of these amenities, you ask? They’re all at the Caravelle Hotel, so the next time you’re debating which country to visit, consider the adventure that awaits you in Vietnam!
September 21, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
Think back to childhood. Picture yourself chasing after your friends, finger cocked into the shape of a pistol. “Bang, bang. I got you! You’re dead!” you’d yell, but your friends would never just fall down. They’d have a million reasons why not: “You missed me!” or “I’ve got armor!” or “I’m superman – bullets don’t hurt me!” or “Nuh uh!” You probably wrestled a bit until Mom told you to come inside and have your dinner already, it was getting cold.
Remember that? Now you get a chance to bring those childhood afternoons spent playing "Cowboys and Indians" to life. Blacktomato has created a 12-night luxury tour to showcase the modern Wild West adventure. Travel the edge of the Grand Canyon, wrangle cattle, and visit the most awe-inspiring of desert oases. It’s so authentic you might forget when you’re out in the wilds that you’re not spending your nights in a small, sweltering tent, but instead getting refreshed and rejuvenated at some of the world’s most prestigious hotels. They suggest, as we do, that you spend at least part of your stay at the Amangiri, a secluded resort so built to blend into the landscape that you’ll think it’s a mirage. Unlike most vacation packages, which offer you a set itinerary, Blacktomato recognizes that you want to take control of your own destiny, and their 12-night package is nothing more than a suggestion for things to see and do as you explore the western frontier:
- • Begin at Las Vegas and experience the strip in all its neon-bathed glory.
- • Leave the city to explore the rugged, scenic vistas of the Grand Canyon.
- • Continue on to the hidden desert oasis of Amangiri.
- • Experience the majestic red rock formations at the Enchantment Resort.
- • Live the life of a cowboy at the Tanque Verde Ranch.
Blacktomato will work with you to craft the perfect journey through America’s wildest of regions, and trust us; you can’t go wrong.
August 31, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
We're drooling over this swank Oberoi hotel on Egypt's secluded Red Sea coast, situated on 48 acres with a sparkling white sand beach. Reflecting the region, The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh is architecturally magnificent with domes, arches, private courtyards, and columns. Offshore, fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving await. This exclusive luxury resort is comprised of suites; the Grand and Royal Suites have private heated swimming pools. After a day of exposure to the sun and the sea, relax with a restorative massage in the Oberoi spa. Also available on site: a gorgeous pool, gym, and tennis court. For some seriously droolworthy pix, check out the photo gallery.
August 30, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Escape to a private island resort in the South Pacific for a romantic getaway. Turtle Island, a favorite haunt of celebrities, is giving away an $1,000 air credit when you book a five-night stay. What's more, they'll throw in two extra nights for free. With over 500 acres for just 14 couples at a time, Turtle Island is the ultimate honeymoon hideaway. Discover what Andrew Harper calls "as close to heaven on earth as you’re likely to get." Rates include all meals, drinks, and activities like sport fishing and scuba diving. The Washington Post researched the rates: A seven-night stay is $12,495 in a two-room beachfront cottage. Stay December 1, 2011-April 30, 2012.
August 26, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Get a taste of the best of Thailand with an exciting new four night package created by Bangkok's Tower Club at lebua in partnership with Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve. You'll experience the exhilaration of Bangkok as well as the pristine beaches of Krabi. Start your adventure with a two night stay in a luxurious one-bedroom Tower Club Riverview suite at Tower Club at lebua, Bangkok, the all-suite hotel recently featured in The Hangover Part II. The swank hotel has some fantastic restos like Sirocco, the world's highest open-air restaurant. Included in the package: an innovative three course chef’s menu at the Mezzaluna, private round trip limousine airport transfers and romantic sunset Champagne at the famous Sky Bar with breathtaking views of the city of Bangkok. You'll then head over to Phulay Bay – a hidden retreat known for top-notch personalized service in an unforgettable setting. The package price is THB 56,450.
August 25, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Grand Velas Resorts in Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Maya are going all out to celebrate Mexico's Independence Day on September 16. Think complimentary tequila aromatherapy massages, authentic Mexican meals and thrilling adventures to teach guests more about Mexico’s vibrant culture and history. What we're most excited about: the ‘Mayan Encounter’ tour that takes adrenaline hounds zip lining through the Mayan jungle and to the top of the Yucatan’s tallest pyramid. Available from September 12-18. The Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit outside Puerto Vallarta is offering guests a third night free, a 25-minute ‘Viva Mexico’ massage, an authentic Mexican dinner complete with mariachi band, and 30% off a round of golf at Vista Vallarta & Marina Vallarta courses. Rates start at $320 USD per person per night in double occupancy in Master or Parlor Ocean View Suite. Children are $87 per child per night.
Sister property Grand Velas Riviera Maya is welcoming guests with the Mayan Heritage Experience which includes a free suite upgrade, the above-mentioned Mayan Encounter tour, and a taste of authentic Mayan fare prepared by local Mayan women. Back at the resort, guests can experience Mexican Independence at Frida Restaurant with a special menu that pays tribute to some of Mexico City’s gastronomy from the past 40 years. Rates for the Mayan Heritage Experience start at $330 per person per night in double occupancy in the Zen Grand Suite. Children up to 12 years old stay free when sharing the suite with their parents and children 13 to 16 years receive a 50% discount in the Ambassador, Ambassador Pool & Grand Class suites.
Note that Grand Velas Resort’s all-inclusive rate includes luxury suite accommodations, a la carte gourmet meals at a variety of specialty restaurants, premium branded beverages, 24-hour in-suite service, fitness center, nightly entertainment and more. Minimum of three nights applies to both packages.
August 24, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Leave it to the Royal Mansour, the opulent Marrakech resort owned by the King of Morocco, to organize the ultimate adventure to the oceanfront city of Essaouira. Long considered one of the best anchorages of the Moroccan coast, Essaouira is an ancient port once settled by the Carthaginians, Romans, and then Portuguese. It's a marvelous mixmash of archeological treasures-- its medina is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site-- in a beautiful setting. The Royal Mansour Marrakech, home to a restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno, will fly you by helicopter to Essaouira where you'll be driven to the town of Ounagha for a wine tasting at "Val d’Argan," a French-owned winery. To cap off a dazzling day, you'll be served an extravagant lobster dinner under a Bedouin tent on the beach at Sidi Kaouki.