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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.

Buzzworthy: Villa Camilla, Azuero Peninsula, Panama

January 4, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Villa Camilla

Renowned French architect Gilles Saint-Gilles has transformed his bold vision into sublime reality with the beautiful Villa Camilla, which opened on Panama's idyllic Pacific coast in December 2005. "I want to live a refined lifestyle that doesn't compromise my childrens' future,” so says the architect, who has created a luxurious, exclusive retreat in harmony with the spectacular natural surroundings of lush green hills and sparkling Pacific. With a team of European craftsmen, Gilles built on-site workshops to train local artisans who have designed virtually every component of the guesthouse and private homes on-site: teak doors and shutters, bamboo ceilings, terra cotta brick floors, Chiriqui stone walls, and parquet floors patterned from purpleheart wood mixed with French oak wine caskets-- the ultimate mix of the Old World and New. This attention to detail has also been focused on the natural environment, as Gilles' team has restored the Tropical Dry Forest eco-system that originally existed in the province, providing wildlife habitat for the future. Villa Camilla (and its aesthetically magnificent guest rooms) is just one aspect of this elegant oceanside community; it is possible to purchase one of 71 lots and Saint-Gilles will custom-design the home to build on it.


Luxury Eco-Tourism: The Fairmont Green Partnership and World Heritage Alliance

December 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Mayakoba

These days (and it's about time), it's become trendy for hotels to go green. But Fairmont's been at it since 1990. With its award-winning Green Partnership program, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts have led the pack in their dedication to protecting the environment and minimizing the impact of hotel operations. Each of Fairmont's luxury hotels focuses on waste management, water and energy conservation, habitat protection, and community outreach. Fairmont is all about developing sustainable practices for the hospitality industry.

In 2005 Fairmont introduced Eco-Innovations, hotel-based environmental initiatives that encourage partnerships, learning, and guest experiences while addressing a universal environmental issue in a way that hits close to home. For example, Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu-- located within a World Biosphere Reserve-- has created the Adopt-A-Beluga Program, to help the threatened St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population.

Recently, Fairmont created a partnership with the World Heritage Alliance, a joint initiative of the United Nations Foundation and Expedia, to promote conservation, sustainable tourism, and economic development for communities located in and around World Heritage sites. This is really good news for threatened sites like Cambodia's Angkor Wat temples. Leading the new partnership will be the Fairmont Mayakoba, a luxurious, eco-friendly resort located on Mexico's Mayan Riviera, which will work with an award-winning local tourism network from the nearby Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. This reserve comprises 1.3 million acres of tropical ecosystems and is home to 23 different archaeological sites of pre-Columbian Mayan culture. Guests of Fairmont Mayakoba will experience this marvelous World Heritage Site with tours that guarantee minimal environmental impact. Sustainable tourism is the way to ensure that sites are protected for the enjoyment of all travelers now and in the future.


Bora Bora Lagoon Resort and Spa: Jewel of the South Pacific

December 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bora Bora Lagoon Resort and Spa

Clear blue water, lush green hills, magnificent coral reefs... The legendary Polynesian island of Bora Bora has inspired countless artists with its otherworldly beauty. In this paradise, in the midst of Bora Bora's majestic lagoon-- what James Michener called "the most beautiful lagoon in the world"-- Bora Bora Lagoon Resort and Spa is your tropical fantasy come true. Escape the cares of the everyday world in your overwater bungalow, where you can admire colorful underwater marine life through the illuminated glass-topped coffee table. From your private deck, slip gently into the picture-perfect lagoon. Or experience the only treetop spa in French Polynesia, high in the branches of two giant Banyan trees, overlooking the lagoon and Mount Pahia. (Marù Spa specializes in signature treatments based on local plants, flowers and fruits.) Delight in exquisite Polynesian specialties like poisson cru (fresh fish marinated in coconut milk) at the Otemanu Restaurant. Enjoy the entertaining Theme Night Buffets, where guests dine under the stars and watch spectacular local dances and entertainment. Here in paradise, there's scuba diving, cruises, endless watersports, the gorgeous freshwater free-form pool, and two floodlit tennis courts. The possibilities are endless. And with the Stay Another Day in Paradise Promotion at the award-winning Bora Bora Lagoon Resort, stay four nights and receive the fifth night for free! This perfect five night stay includes welcome drinks upon arrival, one three-course table d'hote dinner for two, motorboat shuttle service between the Resort and Vaitape, Bora Bora (the village), and use of tennis courts, fitness center and all non-motorized watersports. Rates in 2007 start at EUR 1,880 in a Motu Bungalow.


What’s Hot: The Sarojin, Khao Lak, Thailand

December 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Sarojin

The west coast of Thailand-- including the tourist-adored islands of Phuket and Khao Lak-- took a beating after the disastrous tsunami of December 2004. At the time, The Sarojin was just about to open its doors: a luxury boutique hotel planted on ten acres of gorgeous beachfront. Now, after extensive repairs of the damage sustained by the tsunami's aftermath, The Sarojin has opened as one of the hottest properties of the year. (It's already racking up the awards, including "Asia's Leading Boutique Hotel" from the World Travel Awards 2006, and Conde Nast Traveler 2006 Hot List.) The Sarojin is located an hour north of Phuket, situated inside the Khao Lak National Park, where beaches, cascading waterfalls, wildlife, and spectacular primary forest lure visitors. Just steps from the breathtaking beach and turquoise Andaman Sea, The Sarojin consists of 56 guest residences nestled within expansive garden grounds with winding walkways and lotus pools. If you can tear yourself away from your residence (which boast private sundecks with intimate couples' baths, rainfall showers, and plunge pools), there are recreational activities aplenty: scuba and snorkeling cruises, sea kayaking, sailing, fitness center, infinity pool, Thai cooking classes, and farther afield: elephant trekking and bamboo rafting. Not to mention the beautiful spa.

Related Articles:

Let's Visit Asia, "World Travel Awards Winners (Asia Category)"


Destination: Turks and Caicos Islands

December 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Amanyara

The cat's out of the bag about the white sand beaches and immense coral reef of the Turks and Caicos islands. As described by Outside Traveler:

Word of mouth helped establish TCI as a jet-set retreat. It started in 1998, when renowned hotelier Christina Ong built a private island resort on Parrot Cay... Now, with new nonstops from Boston and Fort Lauderdale, as well as flights from other hubs, TCI is no secret... and last February a new Carnival cruise-ship terminal opened on the southern end of Grand Turk.

But on the more isolated stretches of the archipelago, elite luxury hotels have staked their claim, dedicated to ecotourism, energy conservation, and preservation of the pristine natural environment. The stunning Amanyara resort opened in March 2006, nestled on the tip of a 5,000 acre nature reserve on the secluded western shore of Providenciales. Coming in 2008: the $300 million Ritz-Carlton Molasses Reef, a unique eco-conscious residential community and boutique resort situated on the unspoiled, uninhabited island of West Caicos. And in 2009, eco-friendly Fairmont Hotels is slated to open a 150-room luxury hotel on North Caicos.

Related Articles:

TripAdvisor, Turks and Caicos


Midway Atoll: The New Pacific Destination

December 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Midway Atoll

According to the International Herald Tribune, the isolated Midway Atoll-- located in the North Pacific Ocean one third of the way between Honolulu and Tokyo-- could be opened to visitors next year. An important naval base during WWII, the Midway Atoll is impossibly remote: just three small volcanic islands surrounded by coral reef and the vast turquoise Pacific. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is drafting a plan to bring tourists to this paradise as early as mid-2007 (probably 30 visitors at a time). As a National Wildlife Refuge, the islands provide habitat for thousands of seabirds. TravelWeekly points out that Princess Cruises will be sailing the 1,590-passenger Regal Princess to Midway in June 2007, for the 66th anniversary of the Battle of Midway (June 4).

Image Via Wikipedia


Coming Soon: Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya, Mexico

December 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya

In recent years, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula-- aka Riviera Maya-- has emerged as one of the hottest destinations on the planet. Upscale design hotels and dazzling eco-friendly resort communities such as Mayakoba are situated just south of Cancun on the stunning Caribbean coast surrounded by lush forest canopies, mangrove-lined waterways, and the azure of the Caribbean sea. Beyond the obvious tropical paradise (and the second largest coral reef in the world teeming with underwater life), there is a wealth of history to explore: the ancient cities and architectural wonders of the Mayan civilization. The Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya is the latest luxury addition, slated to open in 2007 just 30 minutes south of Cancun International Airport and 10 minutes north of Playa del Carmen. Situated among 36 acres of white sand beaches and tropical forests, the resort consists of 128 villas overlooking the Caribbean and the Cenote (sacred Mayan freshwater lake). Villas are spacious, private havens, accessible by winding paths and waterways; guests will be escorted to their villas by golf cart or water taxi. Designed with bamboo flooring, indigenous stone, outdoor bathtubs, rainforest showers, and natural furnishings, the villas are further enhanced with art from highly reputed Mexican artists. The Grand Villas have private pools, and the Villa Presidencial boasts private butler and chef service. Mandarin Oriental's latest hideaway also features a 25,000 square foot spa with treatments drawing from ancient Mayan and Asian traditions.


What’s Hot: Angsana Resort and Spa Ihuru Maldives

November 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Angsana Maldives

The best kept secret of the Indian Ocean-- the 26 atolls and 1,190 tropical islands of the Maldives-- has become one of the hottest destinations on the planet. Rated the number one islands in the world by the Conde Nast Traveler 19th annual Reader's Choice Awards, the Maldives are a natural wonder with unparalleled biodiversity (over 900 species of fish) and some of the most breathtaking dive sites in the world. Located on one of the most picturesque islands of the Maldives (lush and beautiful Ihuru), the Angsana Resort is surrounded by unspoiled natural beauty: pristine reefs, palm-dotted beaches, and turquoise waters. The island is encircled by a shallow lagoon and technicolor reef, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. Angsana Resort and Spa Ihuru offers the hedonistic pleasures of a spa retreat and the perfect holiday paradise. The 45 private villas feature thatched roofs, private gardens and verandas with dining and sitting areas. The resort has recently revamped its spa offerings with an extensive list of treatments, including Asian Spa therapies and special men's treatments. The new highlights include Duet, tailored for couples to enjoy together (the spa experience begins with a Tropical Fruit Wash for him and an Almond Milk Aglow body polish for her, followed by body massages and the Milk Orange Bath), Soothing Sun Relief (which includes Cucumber Soother and a calming facial soother), and Ayurvedic Delights.

PS. Noteworthy: The Angsana Resort and Spa has won awards for its environmentally friendly focus, including several outstanding marine biology research initiatives.


Pacific Northwest Thanksgiving at Rosario Resort, Puget Sound, Washington

November 8, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Rosario Resort

Situated on Orcas Island in Puget Sound, Rosario Resort and Spa is blessed with a privileged location to experience the unparalleled beauty of the Pacific Northwest. The waterfront resort is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, its centerpiece the 1906 Moran Mansion, which houses the restaurant, spa, lounge, music room, library and museum. The 116 guest rooms are spread out on the hill overlooking Cascade Bay and the lush evergreen forest of Orcas Island. (Some feature gas fireplaces, sunken Jacuzzi tubs, and private balconies.) There is an abundance of activities on the island and Puget Sound (whale watching charters, kayak tours), though some guests prefer to relax at the Avanyu Spa, with its two pools, fitness room, sauna, Jacuzzi, and host of pampering and rejuvenating spa treatments. Celebrate Thanksgiving with a traditional feast and some pampering at Rosario Resort and Spa. The all-inclusive Thanksgiving package includes two nights accommodations, breakfast, Thanksgiving dinner for two, welcome amenity, and complimentary use of Avanyu Spa facilities. Starting at $359 in a Gardenside room, based on double occupancy. Two-night minimum stay required. Available for travel November 22-24, 2006. Package prices include all taxes, resort fees and gratuities.


Explore the Amazon in Peru with International Expeditions

November 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Amazon Expedition

For 25 years, International Expeditions travelers have been observing the natural wonders of the Amazon on riverboat expeditions in Peru. The Amazon is the mightiest river in the world, surrounded by pristine rainforest which shelters the most diverse ecosystem on the planet. On the 10-day expedition, travelers voyage along the Amazon's tributaries and see incredible wildlife: monkeys, birds, sloths, pink and gray dolphins, and more. The expedition travels deep into the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, the largest wetland reserve in the world. Expert local naturalist guides accompany each expedition. Despite the remote rainforest locale, guests enjoy fine accommodations-- state rooms are elegant, the bathrooms, spacious-- and delicious cuisine. For a limited time, take advantage of a special offer and enjoy savings of $500 per person. Explore the Peruvian Amazon on a 10-day journey with International Expeditions departing January 5, 2007 and get a real deal (It's often hard to persuade people to travel anywhere the first week of January, and thus there are still some spots remaining for this voyage. IE is rolling back the prices as a special inducement to fill the spots.) Lower deck cabins are priced at $2,398, and upper deck cabins for $2,498. Hurry! Just a few spots left. Call 1-800-633-4734 for reservations.