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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.

Ski the Canadian Rockies with the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Chateau Lake LouiseThe scenery doesn't get much better than this. Deep within Banff National Park, overlooking a lake with the snow-capped Rocky Mountains as the backdrop, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise provides a lavish retreat of welcoming grandeur. Here you'll find the perfect winter wonderland: Lake Louise's world-renowned skiing, ice skating, dog sledding, sleigh rides, guided snowshoe walks, and cross-country skiing through the wilderness. The adventure starts right outside the Chateau's doors. After a rigorous day outside, treat yourself to an Aveda treatment at the Escape Spa & Salon. This spectacular hideaway is only a two hour drive from Calgary. Choose the Ultimate Ski the Canadian Rockies Package for low rates with ski passes included. Available during ski season (mid November to mid May), the package is priced from just CAD 319 per night, and includes luxurious accommodations, parking, breakfast, one Tri-Area Ski Pass per person (Valid for Ski Louise, Sunshine, and Norquay), and transportation to Ski Louise. Plus, you can earn double airline miles when you book this package.


Explore Angkor Wat in Style with Amansara and the New Khmer Village House


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Amansara, CambodiaHead to the jungle of Cambodia and discover the secrets of an ancient civilization at Angkor, the 12th century capital of Khmer civilization. Housing over 100 stone temples, this magnificent architectural wonder is living testimony to Cambodia's ancestry. The place to stay is Amanresort's graceful contemporary sanctuary: Amansara, the former guest villa of King Norodom Sihanouk now converted into a 24-suite retreat set within beautiful gardens. In addition to its spa, pools, and exquisite roof terrace, Amansara now boasts an additional treasure: the Khmer Village House at the 10th century "royal bathing pool" of Srah Srang, a 15 minute drive from Amansara. Guests can enjoy four excellent excursions at this special place:

A Picnic by the Lake: After you explore the temples of Angkor, relax with a picnic on the front veranda overlooking the lake. Steamed dumplings, fritters, and coconut-based delicacies are laid out in luxury. Take an afternoon siesta, or take off on bikes to discover the countryside.

When Evening Comes: Watch the setting sun from the veranda, drink in hand. Garden flares, flickering candles, and moonlight are the only sources of light, creating an impossibly romantic ambiance. Traditional Khmer dishes are prepared over a charcoal fire while a musician plays. Sip ginger tea on a daybed inside the house after the delicious meal.

Rural Healing: A 90-minute non-oil massage at the Khmer Village House, followed by an additional 90 minutes of rural relaxation. Ginger tea and a selection of Khmer sweets are served.

The Art of Khmer Cooking: A leisurely morning exploring local markets and gathering ingredients for a traditional cooking class. At the Khmer Village House, a small farm garden contains fresh herbs, vegetables and chilies, used in the dishes you will prepare. A Khmer chef will guide you through the recipes in the traditional kitchen.


What’s Hot: Wild Bush Luxury at Bamurru Plains, Northern Territory, Australia


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bamurru PlainsFor the ultimate safari experience "down under," head to Bamurru Plains, named one of the hottest new hotels on the planet by Conde Nast Traveller UK. Located just to the west of Kakadu National Park on the Mary River floodplains, just two and a half hours from Darwin, Bamurru Plains exudes understated luxury in a breathtaking setting. With a host of birds and wildlife right at its doorstep, this remote camp brings a touch of decadent style to the beautiful Australian wilderness. Here guests can experience excellent safaris, crocodile cruises, and airboat trips into the surrounding savannah woodland teeming with wildlife. With no TVs or phones, each individual safari suite is designed to blend with the environment, exposing guests to incredible sights and sounds: the haunting call of a Whistling Kite, the sound of a full grown buffalo splashing its way through the floodplains, the morning chorus of tens of thousands of Magpie Geese. Raised on timber platforms, these nine free-standing rooms are filled with creature comforts: blissful beds, 100 percent cotton linens, extra-large, soft bath towels, and high pressure showers. Guests gather for excellent meals in the main lodge, where the small number of guests ensures a superior level of attention. Rates start from AUD $850 per person, per night (double occupancy), including meals, beverages, and scheduled activities. The camp is closed from November 1- January 31.


Buzzworthy: Luxury Eco-Boutique, Azura, Opens in Mozambique


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Azura, Mozambique Say hello to the first luxury eco-retreat in Mozambique. Built and operated in partnership with the local community, Azura is situated on an unspoiled island within a National Park-- fringed by deserted beaches, sparkling seas, and swaying palms. The 15 villas, each with their own infinity pool, are just steps from the beach. Showcasing traditional artwork beneath a local thatched jekka roof, the villas are stacked with luxurious contemporary amenities. But Azura boasts more than just creature comforts; here you can enjoy the service of your own private butler. If you can tear yourself away from your private deck and beachside Sala, you'll find a sumptuous spa, superb wining and dining (fine vintages are flown direct from the owner's Loire Valley chateau), and a vast range of activities (fishing, sailing, scuba diving, swimming with the dolphins...) Take advantage of a special introductory offer, from now until November 14, 2007, of $300 per person in a Luxury Beach Villa. The Infinity Beach Villa is $375 per person, while the Presidential Villa is yours for just $550 per person.


Next Stop: Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Retreat, South Africa


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bushmans Kloof Escape to South Africa and discover "a world in one country": dramatic landscapes teeming with wildlife, caves etched with ancient rock art, a beautiful, timeless wilderness. Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Retreat is a five-star ecological oasis, a stunning hideaway that happens to be a sanctuary for many endangered species of flora and fauna. (It's hard to contain one's exuberance when writing about a property this extraordinary.) Situated 270 kilometers from Cape Town, Bushmans Kloof is recognized as one of South Africa's Natural Heritage Sites. A proud member of Relais & Chateaux, the resort boasts an impressive list of accolades. Here you'll find luxurious guest rooms, a pampering spa, swimming pools, wilderness excursions and activities aplenty. Plus the dining is out-of-this-world. Pictured: Imagine a breathtaking dining experience under the starlit sky, where a traditional South African barbeque is served in a unique setting: an ancient, natural sandstone amphitheater of giant boulders overlooking time-worn cliffs and valleys.

PS. This time of year is simply magical. After the winter rains, an abundance of wildflowers dots the landscape.


Romance in Mexico at Maroma Resort, Riviera Maya


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Maroma Resort This could be heaven on earth. The best place to stay in the trendy Mayan Riviera (the stretch of perfect beaches sweeping south from Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula) is Maroma Resort. Hands down. Nestled in the secluded jungle of a 200-acre nature preserve next to sugary beaches and lapis blue sea, Maroma dazzles guests with its excellent service and lavish facilities. There's a beautiful spa, three swimming pools, two ocean-facing restaurants and al fresco bar. To the delight of Maroma guests, there are myriad inclusive amenities. Think daily breakfast (and pots of coffee delivered to your room beforehand), welcome cocktails, and snorkeling trips to the colorful coral reefs off-shore. Maroma also receives glowing reports about its cuisine, and the special dinners arranged for couples on the beach. Celebrate a special occasion with an unforgettable dinner on the sand. In selecting your dinner choices, talk with Executive Chef Guilliermo Gomez-- who prepares innovative Mexican cuisine blending flavors of the Yucatan, Maya and Creole cultures-- and choose anything your heart desires. At the appointed time, stroll to the beach and discover a manicured path of sand leading to a magical spot lit by candles.


The Fifth Amanresort Opens in Bhutan


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

AmankoraThe best way to see the magical kingdom of Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon, is with Amanresorts. For centuries the Kingdom was closed to the outside world, and Amanresorts was the first foreign company allowed to open a series of properties throughout the different remarkable regions of Bhutan. Called Amankora, the luxurious lodges are nestled strategically through the pristine landscape, the perfect place to discover the ancient traditions of the mystical Himalayas. Beginning in October 2007, the Amankora experience will be extended east to Bumthang with an additional 16-suite lodge with a dining room, living room, library and spa. Follow the "peaceful pilgrimage" of Amankora and enjoy a circuitous journey from lodge to lodge, experiencing the very best of Bhutan along the way.


Out of Africa: Lupita Island Resort and Spa on Tanzania’s Lake Tanganyika


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Lupita Island Resort and Spa From your own private plunge pool, look out over Lake Tanganyika, sighted by explorers Richard Burton and John Speke in 1858 in their pursuit of the source of the Nile-- surely a sight for sore eyes after their journey. If only the explorers had it this good: the remote resort on Lupita Island offers the finest amenities, beautiful furnishings, and top notch service (private butlers attend to every whim). Built on a hilltop on the 110-acre island, the resort features 14 exquisitely designed villas with spectacular lake and mountain views. After a day spent sailing, kayaking, mountain biking, or hitting the beach, relax with a massage in the fully-equipped spa.

(Pictured: Take a bath under the stars, overlooking the lake.)


Surfs Up in the Maldives at Anantara Resort


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Anantara Surfing Surfing in the Maldives? Who knew?! One of the premier luxury travel destinations in the world, the Maldives is known for its spectacular diving. But now guests of the Anantara Resort, the five-star hideaway spread across five acres of tropical terrain on Dhigufinolhu (island) on the South Male Atoll, can hit the waves as well. As of August 2007, the resort has partnered with award-winning Australian company Tropicsurf-- to offer an exciting range of surfing options including a 4-day coached course. Offshore from the perfect white sandy beaches and tropical lagoons, the aquamarine ocean gives way to perfectly groomed waves, sweeping over curved coral reefs. Both novices and serious thrill-seekers will enjoy the surf breaks of the Maldives. Video analysis is even on hand at the resort to improve each surfer's technique. The Four Day Surfing Course is priced at $695.


Buzzworthy: Fazenda da Lagoa, Una, Brazil


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fazenda da Lagoa Follow your bliss to Brazil, where a stylish eco-retreat on Bahia's Câcao Coast is making waves with its incredible setting and chic rooms. Fourteen bungalows-- outfitted with decks, gauze-netted beds, and sun terraces with open-air showers-- are surrounded by 1,500 isolated acres, overlooking an unspoiled, white sandy beach that stretches as far as the eye can see. Set within a large coconut palm plantation, Fazenda da Lagoa offers mesmerizing sea views or sunset vistas over the mangroves. There's AC, a direct dial phone, and a TV with DVD and CD player, so isolated paradise doesn't mean you have to kiss goodbye technology. Bathrooms have Casa Granado brand soap, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion-- all biodegradable products. Relax with a massage or spa treatment at the Wellbeing Lounge, where mineral-rich rainforest clays are used in special treatments like the Rainforest Mud Mask. Leisure activities include treks on the Maroin river and kayaking the lagoon, but you can always just lounge by the beautiful pool.