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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.

World’s Largest Aquarium Opens in Atlanta

June 5, 2006
By: Guest Writer

Atlanta Aquarium

By Nathan Stone

As summer beach season gets underway it's natural to ponder all the amazing creatures that inhabit the oceans. In November 2005, Atlanta opened the doors to the world's largest aquarium, offering a chance to see an amazing array of ocean inhabitants without the scuba gear. Home to over 120,000 aquatic creatures living in over 8 million gallons of water, the massive 200 million dollar aquarium boasts five areas each representing a different ecosystem. The largest exhibit is the Ocean Voyager, which begins with a ride down a curving moving walkway through an acrylic tunnel where stingrays, sharks, and many schools of brightly colored fish appear to fly overhead. The tunnel leads to the main theater, which has a gigantic viewing window.

The aquarium has exceeded all attendance expectations and purchasing time-reserved tickets online is highly recommended. The aquarium is located in Atlanta's Olympic Park near downtown. Both the Four Seasons Atlanta and Ritz Carlton Atlanta are nearby. JavaJive is perhaps the town's hippest brunch spot, offering gingerbread waffles set in an old-style ice cream parlor setting complete with vintage 1950s appliances.

For aquarium lovers, another massive aquarium that will compete in size with Atlanta's is being constructed in The Dubai Mall in Dubai. Other notable aquariums in the U.S. include Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Additional images from my trip can be found in The Informed Traveler Flickr Group.

Enjoy!


Bulgari Resort, Bali to Open in October 2006

May 31, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bali

Bali's island paradise is about to get even more fashionable. Following the successful 2004 debut of the Bulgari Hotel Milan, Bulgari Hotels and Resorts has been designing its second luxury hotel masterpiece, this time perched on a cliff in exclusive isolation overlooking the Indian Ocean. The all-villa retreat will wow guests in October with its traditional Balinese architecture fused with contemporary design. The 59 villas are free standing, luxuriously private, and feature exquisite Balinese antiques, open-air pavilions, terraces, private plunge pools, and of course luxurious Bulgari amenities. For the ultimate in exclusivity, choose the 1,300 sq meter Bulgari Villa, with its two master bedrooms, living room with built-in bar, dining room and home theater, along with the outdoor meditation pavilion, lap pool and extensive terrace. In addition, the Bulgari Resort, Bali will feature a dazzling oceanfront spa, two restaurants, private beach, and a Bulgari store.


One of the World’s Best Hideaways: Huka Lodge, New Zealand

May 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Huka Lodge

There's a lot of buzz about New Zealand-- above and beyond the publicity generated by the Lord of the Rings flicks. Everyone's talking about this little island nation on the far south end of the Pacific. (Indeed, Conde Nast readers rated the country the #1 holiday destination in the world.) No matter what the season, New Zealand has it all: breathtaking scenery, recreational activities galore, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality. Easily the best place to stay on this gorgeous island nation is Huka Lodge, located in Taupo, in the central North Island, and considered one of the world's top retreats. This 20 suite lodge has racked up the awards: Travel and Leisure Top 500 list (the only property in New Zealand with this distinction), Conde Nast Traveler "Best Hotel Rooms in Australasia and South Pacific," Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report "Top 20 International Resort Hotels." And if the awards list seems impressive, you should see the famous guest-list. The guestbook reads like the party of the century.

The setting is magical. Situated in a beautifully landscaped park on the banks of the Waikato River, Huka Lodge is just a short walk from the spectacular cascades of Huka Falls. As can be expected, activities run the gamut from tennis to petanque, hiking to trout fishing, mountain biking to relaxing in the hot pools and outdoor spa. Spacious, light guestrooms are complemented by outdoor terraces and bathrooms with under-floor heating and sunken baths.

As described recently in Stuff NZ:

Huka Lodge is New Zealand's quintessential super-lodge for the globe-trotting rich, royal and famous… Since 2001, all the guest rooms and the Owner's Cottage - the super suite perched on a rise overlooking the first set of rapids - have been rebuilt or refurbished with the difficult aim of combining the comfort of a five-star hotel with a boysy ruggedness befitting its fishing hut origins.

And the dining is exquisite. Hotel rates include pre-dinner cocktails, a five course dinner and breakfast. All meals are communal seating with some private dinning available.


The Ultimate Luxury Resort Experience: Four Seasons Langkawi, Malaysia

May 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Langkawi

Recently Robb Report Luxury Resorts singled out the finest luxury hotels in the world, and among the thousands of resorts reviewed, the Four Seasons Langkawi scored at the top of the best new luxury resorts. (Check out the pic at right and you'll see why everyone's making such a fuss.) First, its location. Langkawi is part of a Malaysian archipelago of 99 islands in the clear emerald waters of the Andaman Sea. The resort's island is one of only two of these islands that is inhabited and offers a dramatic mountainous landscape covered with rainforest, towering granite cliffs, and white sand beaches. Four Seasons Langkawi is set on a one-mile stretch of beach against this magical backdrop. Secondly, the spacious guest pavilions and villas. Soaring ceilings, killer views, traditional Malaysian design elements, wood floors, open verandahs, and outdoor showers. Third, the phenomenal facilities, including the beautifully-designed Spa, new Yoga pavilion (opening July 2006), gorgeous pools with private cabanas, and water sports pavilion on the beach. Lastly, and most importantly, Four Seasons Langkawi is distinguished by its exceptional service. Truly the tropical, luxury beach experience of a lifetime.


Unspoiled Turks and Caicos: West Caicos Reserve and Molasses Reef, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve

May 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Molasses Reef Villa

An unspoiled, uninhabited island at the far west end of The Turks and Caicos Islands is the setting for a unique eco-conscious residential community and boutique resort developed by Ritz-Carlton. West Caicos Reserve-- located 20 minute boat ride from Providenciales-- is dedicated to preserving the island's natural habitat, and has thus preserved 90 percent of it as open space. Construction has just begun for Ritz-Carlton's 125-suite resort, which will be called Molasses Reef, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve. Overlooking a 2,600 ft stretch of secluded beach, the 125 oceanfront suites are billed as representing "barefoot luxury at its best." The property also includes 75 Ritz-Carlton-managed residential villas-- for owners to realize dreams of life on an uncharted tropical island yet pampered with the world-class service expected of Ritz-Carlton. More than 50 percent of the villas have already been sold (so hop to it!) The resort, along with its restaurants and spa, is scheduled to open in early 2008.


Buzzworthy: Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa Accepting Reservations

May 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Maldives

Imagine: your own private coral atoll fringed by sand and crystal clear water. Thatched-roof villas with spacious rooms, outdoor showers, private plunge pools and decks over the turquoise. Some of the best diving and water activities in the Maldives. Welcome to the recently re-opened Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, a luxurious private getaway in paradise. Guests are invited to discover this unique and beautiful island with reservations beginning November 1, 2006. On a nearby coral atoll of its own, Four Seasons is opening a sister property called Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, with an authentic Ayurvedic Spa. Combine the best of sand and sea at both resorts with The Explorer, a 39-meter, 11-cabin, 3-deck catamaran. Go island-hopping in style, explore rarely-visited snorkeling spots, and sail untouched waters with this extraordinary private cruise experience.


The Fairmont Mayakoba Opens its Doors in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

April 28, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Mayakoba

Just south of Cancun on a stunning and isolated Caribbean coast, the Yucatan's prized Riviera Maya, lies a dazzling, eco-friendly resort community. Surrounded by lush forest canopy and beautiful waterways, Mayakoba is a luxury destination with golf, tennis, fine dining, and world-class snorkeling and diving. After the destruction caused by Hurricane Wilma last year, Cancun and the Yucatan peninsula have made a courageous comeback. The Fairmont Mayakoba had to delay its original opening because of hurricane damage, but has finally opened its doors and is welcoming guests to paradise. In addition to its luxurious accommodations overlooking beaches and lagoons, the resort offers a huge free-form pool with swim-up bar, superb Spa, children's programs, excellent dining outlets, and access to Mayakoba's fine golf and tennis facilities. Take advantage of the Only One Way Summer Promotion, starting at an unbelievably low $199 per night (double occupancy). Available from May 15- September 5, 2006.


Luxury Bicycle Trips in Europe with DuVine Adventures

April 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

DuVine Adventures

Imagine experiencing stunning landscapes and unspoiled villages on a deluxe bike trip catered to your every whim and desire. After sun-filled days of discovery, devour gourmet cuisine and the world's best wines at the charming inns and chateaux that serve as your luxurious accommodations. For ten years, DuVine Adventures has led the pack in offering specialized luxury bike trips in France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, and Switzerland. The leading tour operator provides the "insider" perspective to regions such as Tuscany, Burgundy, Provence, Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland. Guests stay in distinctive and unique hotels, ranging from stately 18th century chateaux to intimate country inns-- all equipped with the most luxurious of amenities for some rest and pampering after a day on the road discovering the countryside. Dinners are as pleasurable as the surrounding scenery, often at top-notch Michelin-starred restaurants and chic, but comfortable, bistros. What a way to see Europe.


Get Down and Dirty at the Merrion Hotel, Dublin

April 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Merrion Hotel

Travelers to Ireland can now combine the decadent pampering of Dublin's most luxurious hotel with a trekking adventure in the scenic mountains on the country's East Coast. The award-winning Merrion Hotel (the location of Ireland's only two-star Michelin restaurant) has teamed up with Dirty Boots Treks to offer guests a two-day break to explore these remote mountains, just an hour's drive from the city. Hikers enjoy the day's spectacular landscape at their own pace, stop for a delicious homemade lunch, and finish the trek in a cozy Irish country pub. (All hiking gear is provided.) Return to the hotel for a well-earned spa treatment at the world-class Tethra Spa. Package rates are EUR 770 per couple for a two-night stay, including full Irish breakfast daily, available through November 25.

The Merrion, Five Star Alliance


Go Green at the New Gaia Hotel and Reserve, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

April 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gaia Hotel

As featured in the April 2006 Travel and Leisure, Gaia Hotel and Reserve, located near Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park, is Costa Rica's newest luxury hotel. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels, this tropical boutique property is situated among the lush coastal rainforests of the Pacific coast. The terraced suites and villas overlook these incredible natural surroundings, a pristine nature reserve packed with exotic wildlife and chattering white-faced monkeys. This is a luxurious retreat, appointed with modern amenities, spa, gym, pool, and private butler service to attend to guests' every need. Gaia presents eco-tourism at its best, a project designed for the preservation of the natural reserve and protection of local flora and fauna for future generations. For a limited time, the resort is offering the "Soft Open Special" during the construction of their new Clubhouse, which will house the spa, gym, conference room, business center and game room. Take advantage of rates up to 20 percent off, starting at $240 per night (studio for two people), minimum three night stay, valid until April 30.