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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.

Win a Botswana Zebra Migration Safari: National Geographic’s Great Migrations Sweepstakes

November 10, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Did you see Great Migrations, the new series on the National Geographic Channel? The first episode of this seven-part TV event aired on Sunday, revealing to viewers the incredible journeys that millions of animals undertake to ensure species survival. This Sunday, November 14 you can watch Botswana's zebra migration, one of Africa's largest mass-animal movements which takes place every spring. Talk about action-packed armchair traveling!

Approximately 25,000 zebras leave the lush Okavango Delta (pictured) to make an imperative voyage into the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Family by family, the stallions lead their mares out of the Delta’s Eden, to make the 150-mile trek into the Pans so their bodies can take in much needed minerals. Their journey includes hundreds of stops at water holes, eventually bringing the zebras back to where they began their pilgrimage in the Okavango Delta.

Visitors to Botswana can check out this incredible spectacle on a luxury safari experience with properties like the award-winning Khwai River Lodge, overlooking the vast Khwai River floodplains and beyond into the Moremi Wildlife Reserve.

Buzz: National Geographic is currently running the "Migration of a Lifetime" sweepstakes with some incredible prizes. For a chance to win a Botswana Zebra Migration safari, register online November 14 – 20.


Fly Over the Maldives by Seaplane with the Four Seasons at Kuda Huraa

November 8, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda HuraaTalk about a Maldives adventure! Located on a private coral island a short speedboat ride away from Malé, the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa is a luxurious haven of palm-thatched bungalows on the sand overlooking the crystal-clear turquoise water. Unwind at the spa, or explore the untouched atolls surrounding the island in the Four Seasons Explorer catamaran. But perhaps the most spectacular views of the Maldives can be experienced from the air. The resort can arrange 20-minute seaplane rides so you can check out schools of dolphins and manta rays as you fly low over the ocean, taking in the views of coral reefs and beautiful lagoons. Now that's an experience to write home about.


Where to Stay in Chiang Mai, Top 10 City of the Year

November 3, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Chedi Chiang MaiLonely Planet just released a list of the "Top 10 Cities of 2011"-- featuring Tangier, Tel Aviv, New York, Wellington, and more. The venerable guidebook company had flattering words for Chiang Mai, Thailand's culture capital, which may just inspire us to visit soon:

If Chiang Mai were a person, it would be Bob Dylan. With a history dating back further than anyone can remember, its influence remains enormous. And despite its great age, there’s still a bohemian chic that makes it as relevant and hip as ever. Culture capital of Thailand, Chiang Mai was once the heart of the Lanna kingdom. Today those wanting to flee the bustle of Bangkok visit to lounge in coffee shops and drink in the city’s artisanal atmosphere. With a friendly, cosmopolitan feel, this is one easy, safe and pleasant place to explore. There are dozens of well-preserved temples here, too. Many new ecotours and adventure trips are appearing, and with a choice of river rafting, elephant rides, trekking and off-road cycling, even the biggest adrenaline junkie will be sated.

Looking for accommodations in town? Five Star Alliance has some choice Chiang Mai recommendations-- from The Chedi (ooh la la) to the Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental. In addition, Five Star Alliance offers some four-star properties in Chiang Mai. Browse away!


Buzz: The Boating Butler and Island Hopper Experience at Westin St. John Resort

October 8, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Westin St. John ResortKeen to frolic between all the tropical Caribbean isles that make up the US Virgin Islands? The Westin St. John Resort has just launched a unique new service that lets you do exactly that. Coordinated by a Boating Butler, the "Island Hopper Experience" lets adventurous guests explore the open waters with personalized boating adventures-- from St. John to St. Thomas to St. Croix and back. Book a five-night "Island Hopper Experience" and you'll receive a resort credit of $150 that can be applied at time of checkout towards boat rentals. Stays of six nights or greater receive a $200 resort credit. Choose between the following:

* For the whimsical wanderluster : Catamaran Island Spirit

"Island Spirit" is a brand new custom built sailing catamaran, the first of its kind in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the vessel can accommodate up to 70 passengers. The cabin features a large U shaped bar for beverage and food service, upholstered seating in both sun or shaded areas, and stereo throughout the vessel.

* For the family frolicker: Dinghy boat rental

Be your own captain aboard a 12 foot dinghy powered by a 15 hp Yamaha outboard. Take a picnic lunch and cruise the U.S. Virgin Islands at your own pace. Visit stunning beaches like, Honeymoon, Caneel, Hawksnest and Trunk Bay.

Westin St. John Resort* For the adventurous explorer: Powerboat Rentals with Nauti Nymph

Fountain Powerboats offer simplified elegance teamed up with the highest quality and best performance. The vessel makes for one of the smoothest riding, best handling and safest boats in its class.

* For the sophisticated traveler: Luxury Excursion with Magic Moments

Magic Moments Luxury Excursions caters to guests who want to discover the heights of luxury at sea level. Offering first class service and gourmet food and drink aboard a luxury yacht, guests are pampered with breathtaking destinations in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

* For the underwater voyager: Cruz Bay Watersports Diving Experience

Scuba diving around St. John is best described as fantastic, safe, easy and fun. Divers can discover more than 25 under water sites within a 15 minute boat ride. Shallow coral gardens, shear rock faces, and fringing coal reefs have an outstanding variety of hard and soft corals, sea fans and sponges of every hue. Visibility ranges from 50-100 feet, and water temperature between 78-84 degrees.

The offer is available for stays booked now through December 30, 2010, and is subject to availability. An "Island Hopper Experience" of at least five nights includes one free night, and also a complimentary upgrade based on availability.


Last-Minute Weekend Escape to Costa Rica at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort

September 29, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

JW Marriott Guanacaste ResortBack to the grind after a perfect summer filled with weekend beach getaways... Maybe you're lusting for an exotic tropical escape to recharge the batteries- close to home, that won't break the bank. How about Costa Rica in the off-season? JW Marriott Guanacaste-- situated on Mansita beach near Tamarindo and home to a world-class spa and golf course-- has some last-minute weekend deals in October. Take in the sunset over the Pacific while sipping a cool cocktail by the pool, then tuck into a delicious dinner at one of four restaurants. Retire to your spacious bedroom, equipped with a furnished private balcony or terrace, to luxuriate in style. Nightly rates are available from $195 for a two-night stay on October 15-17 and October 22-24, 2010. Limited availability so act fast!

Related Article:

Family Escape to Costa Rica: Special at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort


A Luxury Value in Koh Samui: Breakfast and Dinner Included at Napasai Resort

September 16, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

NapasaiSo you're looking for a little luxury on the Thai island of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Siam. Paradise found at the secluded beach resort of Napasai, set in a grove of cashew trees and tropical gardens beside the white sand on Koh Samui's north coast. You'd expect no less from a luxury property operated by Orient-Express. Listen to this: "A family of buffalo roam the grounds: brought here to work, they were soon too relaxed to do anything but graze. Likewise, guests quickly acclimatise to the indulgent atmosphere which comes from a mix of traditional local delights and innovative contemporary accents." You can spend all day beside the infinity pool, explore the island by hiking or elephant trekking, snorkel from the beach, or indulge with a Thai massage at the spa. And with the "Great Affordable Escape," you can enjoy a taste of paradise with all kinds of free inclusions. Priced from THB 7740, the package includes roundtrip airport transfers, a daily breakfast buffet for two, daily bottled water and free wireless Internet, and a special dinner with beautiful views over Koh Samui. Subject to availability.


Hotel Discounts with Voluntourism: Give & Getaway with RockResorts

September 9, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Landings St LuciaAcross the globe, voluntourism projects are taking off. Hotels from Texas to the Maldives are giving discounts on accommodations when guests sign up for volunteering projects. Another example: the Give & Getaway program with RockResorts. They'll arrange an environmental conservation project for you-- such as light trail maintenance or working on an area community farm-- and you'll get a reduced rate on your stay plus complimentary swag like hydration packs. Give back to the environment and get rewarded for your efforts! Participating hotels in the RockResorts portfolio include:

The Arrabelle at Vail Square & The Lodge at Vail - Vail, Colorado

Guests have the option of two different dates doing trail restoration work in the Vail area.

Snake River Lodge & Spa - Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Snake River Lodge & Spa is partnering with Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation to remove miles of old buck and rail fence surrounding Grand Teton National Park.

The Landings St. Lucia – Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Spend the day harvesting locally grown fruits with St. Lucians on a working warm and end the day sampling locally caught seafood at the Anse La Ray Friday Fish Fry!


Sail Lake St. Moritz, Switzerland with Badrutt’s Palace’s New Sailboat

August 20, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Badrutts Palace sailingAnother way to take in the alpine majesty of the Swiss Alps? Sailing! Badrutt's Palace-- the historic hotel famous for its celebrity-studded guest list and après-ski scene-- recently acquired a sailboat for guest use. Sail Late St. Moritz aboard a sleek 26-ft Blu26 called (what else?) The Badrutt's Palace-- and take in the Swiss mountain panorama with or without your own personal skipper. We've just learned about a special package that combines the thrill of sailing with some downtime at the hotel's new Palace Wellness luxury spa. Details for the 3-night package (Superior Room) are below:

Including: Upgrade to next room category upon availability at time of check-in; sweet welcome gift from our patisserie upon arrival; extensive buffet breakfast; free use of refreshment bar, movie channels, WiFi Internet access in all areas and free newspaper; two set dinners in cosy “Chesa Veglia” or in one of the Palace restaurants (each excluding beverages); 2 hours of sailing on the Badrutt’s Palace with skipper; full body massage per person (50 minutes); tickets for all mountain railways and public transport in St. Moritz and surrounding area; transfer to/from Corveglia mountain railway and Sailing Club St. Moritz.

Superior single room from CHF 1,320

Superior double room from CHF 2,010


Buzzworthy: Australia’s Hayman Island Resort to Open New Beachfront Villas

August 17, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hayman Island ResortOne of the dreamiest spots on earth? Hayman Island, the private island resort located in Australia's Whitsunday Islands, nestled between the Queensland coast and the Great Barrier Reef and surrounded by coral fringed beaches. In addition to offering an abundance of Great Barrier Reef adventures (think jaunts by helicopter and seaplane), this exclusive resort is home to one of the largest swimming pools in the Southern Hemisphere. The news down under: Hayman Island will be opening new luxury beachfront villas in December. According to Conde Nast Traveller magazine, the villas will be designed by acclaimed architect Kerry Hill, each with its own private pool: "Located on the white-sand shores of Hayman Beach, the villas will offer uninterrupted views of the beautiful Coral Sea and make the most of the stunning location with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and pretty patios facing the sea." What a way to celebrate 60 years as one of the world's leading resorts!

Related Article:

The World's Best Hotels with a View


Fly Fishing in Utah with the Waldorf Astoria Park City

August 13, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Waldorf Astoria Park CityAlways wanted to learn the tips and tricks behind fly fishing? Here's your ticket to live out your "A River Runs Through It" fantasies: a casting clinic on the edge of the Provo River courtesy of the Waldorf Astoria Park City-- the newest addition to the Waldorf Astoria family and a luxurious one at that. (Think guest rooms decked out with sumptuous signature linens, gas fireplaces, decks, and 42" high definition TVs.) Over the weekend of August 20-22, the resort is offering a casting clinic with expert guide and instructor Jan "Coach" Peterson. Spend three nights luxuriating at the resort while attending the two-day clinic with all equipment included. The package also includes lunch on Friday and Saturday and a $100 resort credit! Rates start at $198/quad per night on a two-bedroom suite with full kitchen and living space.