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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.

Skiing in the Morning and Sunbathing in the Afternoon in Dubai

February 20, 2006
By: Guest Writer

Ski Dubai

Since its opening in December, Ski Dubai has captured our imaginations (and wagging tongues). Contributor Alex Rose has the scoop.

You can now go snow skiing in one of the hottest places on earth. Dubai, the city-state in the United Arab Emirates, opened the first of two state-of-the-art indoor snow parks this past December; the second, Dubai Sunny Mountain Ski Dome, is scheduled for 2006. It’s the world’s third largest indoor ski resort and the only one in the Middle East. The 25-storey structure covers an area of about three football fields and can hold up to 1,500 people at a time. The indoor park maintains temperatures between 18F and 28F with real snow including falling snow flakes. It's connected to the billion dollar Mall of the Emirates and resembles a Swiss mountain resort complete with the St Moritz Cafe to warm yourself with a hot drink. The indoor snow park has chairlifts with skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding, and a ski school. It includes five color-coded slopes with varying degrees of difficulty for both enthusiasts and beginners, and the world's first indoor black diamond run. The longest ski run is over 1200 feet. There's even a rumor that Dubai might field a team for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Admission to Ski Dubai is $35 and winter clothing and ski gear are rented as part of the admission fee.


Luxury Travel in New Zealand: Queenstown’s Blanket Bay

February 17, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Blanket Bay

As the New Zealand Herald reports, luxury travel in kiwi territory is booming. Lodges like Kauri Cliffs, Wharekauhau, Blanket Bay and Huka Lodge are glam destination resorts that play host to celebs (laying low), oil tycoons, and the international jet-set. The cat's out of the bag about the remote Pacific islands whose breathtaking scenery played center stage in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings flicks. Our pick? The luxurious hideaway of Blanket Bay, with its magnificent setting next to Lake Wakatipu, beneath snow-capped peaks. Earning top accolades from CNT, Forbes, and the Sunday Times UK, Blanket Bay offers 12 secluded rooms and suites, constructed of timber and stone and filled with sumptuous furnishings. The suites boast exquisite views from large private terraces. Likewise, the mountain and lake vistas are phenomenal from the outdoor heated lap pool. Activities range from the adrenaline-pumping (jetboating and heli-skiing) to the calm and relaxing (excellent health and spa facilities).

Blanket Bay, Official Site

Blanket Bay, Five Star Alliance


Fly-Fishing in Ireland at the Ashford Castle

February 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fly Fishing at Ashford

Dating back to 1228, situated on the shores of Lough Corrib on a private estate of 350 acres, Ashford is one of the most luxurious castle hotels in Ireland. The former estate of the Guinness family, the picturesque castle was the chosen spot for the wedding of Pierce Brosnan (and 007's got the world's pick). For avid anglers, Ashford Castle has recently designed a deluxe fly-fishing package. After all, the castle is strategically located on one of the most famous fisheries in all of Ireland. (The lake is known for its wild brown trout and salmon.) Available from Feb 15-Sep 30, the package includes accommodations, guided fishing (shared guide/boat), all breakfasts, a ghillie's lunch on fishing days, and complimentary use of tennis courts, the 9-hole golf course, and walking trails throughout the 350-acre estate. All fishing gear is provided at no additional cost on fishing days. Prices start at $785 for two nights, and one day fishing. $2,241 for five nights, four days fishing. For the non-anglers in the family, the castle's got all sorts of activities—tennis, golf, equestrian, and even falconry.

Ashford Castle, Official Site

Ashford Castle, Five Star Alliance


Take the Kids to Costa Rica: the Paradisus Playa Conchal in Guanacaste

February 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Paradisus Playa Conchal

Discover the world's top eco-tourism destination with some of the highest biodiversity on the planet. Costa Rica's Guanacaste Peninsula is jam-packed with breathtaking national parks and stunning beaches. (Erupting volcanoes, tropical cloud forest filled with chatty monkeys, orchid-blooming rainforest canopies…) Located in the midst of this lush landscape, on its own pristine paradise of 2,400 acres, the Paradisus Playa Conchal offers a luxurious, family-friendly environment from which to explore all that Costa Rica has to offer. Enjoy Central America's largest free form pool (the spectacular freshwater pool is set in a 1,800 square meter garden and has two jacuzzis), the endless choice of water sports (running the gamut from windsurfing to scuba), play a round of golf on the 18-hole, Robert Trent Jones designed golf course, or indulge in the spa. The kids will be happy at their own paradise (aka Kids Club)—comprised of playgrounds, climbing wall, mini disco, table games, movies, and eco-recreational team.

The Paradisus Playa Conchal, Official Site

The Paradisus Playa Conchal, Five Star Alliance


The Yacht, the Private Island, and Ultimate Caribbean Experience at Peter Island

February 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peter Island

Now you can explore the legendary Caribbean private island resort-- considered the best place to stay the world over—by land as well as sea, by exploring the crystal-clear waters of the British Virgin Islands while onboard the luxurious 41' sailing yacht Silmaril. Peter Island, the largest private island in the BVI and accessible only by boat or helicopter, offers an exquisite Ashore/Afloat package, which includes two nights on the yacht, and two or five nights of resort accommodations. Starting at $5,571 for 4 nights stay, from Jan 4-April 30. This is romance and luxurious seclusion at its finest; the island is a stunning natural paradise of lush mountains and secluded white sand beaches. Offering oodles of watersports, divine dining and a spa—150 feet from the water— with extraordinary specialty treatments... what could get better than this?

Peter Island, Official Site

Peter Island, Five Star Alliance


Brokeback Mountain Boosts Wyoming Tourism

February 2, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Jenny Lake Lodge

Brokeback Mountain was filmed in Canada? (Ang Lee pulled a fast one on us with this Hollywood cost-cutting maneuver.) This fact doesn't seem to deter the hundreds of callers who have contacted the Wyoming tourism office, who want a little piece of that scenery. The phones are ringing off the hook and callers don't seem to give a hoot when they learn the truthful location for the set. The mountains and rugged wilderness of the "cowboy state" are just too tempting. Do you too want a piece of that scenery? The elegantly rustic cabins of the Jenny Lake Lodge, set beneath the glorious Teton range, are a good bet; satisfy your inner cowboy with trail rides, flyfishing and hiking around the Old Western style ranch. Of course you could always take it up a notch at Jackson Hole's Rusty Parrot, which is one of the country's great luxury stand-outs.


The Other Yucatan: Exploring Colonial Campeche, Mexico

February 1, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hacienda Uayamon

Head west from the Cancun airport, away from the glass and glitz of Mexico's cheesy Caribbean resort capital, and colonial Mexico will hit you smack in the face. The less touristed towns of Merida and Campeche—with cobblestone streets lined by palms and colorful pastel facades and ornate wrought-iron lampposts—are just a few hours drive from the more crowded Disney-esque capital of booze, surf and sun. Here you can discover the exquisite culinary delights (tacos al pastor are my absolute fave), rich history and stunning and secluded Mayan ruins of the Estado de Campeche. The ruins at Palenque and the jungle-shrouded Calukmul are empty compared to Chichen-Itza and sea-facing Tulum. Where to stay? The Hacienda Uayamon is a gracious colonial masterpiece, its ten villas and two suites complete with terraces overlooking the lush jungle gardens, stone plunge pools and day-beds for dreamy afternoon siestas.

The Hacienda Uayamon, Official Site

The Hacienda Uayamon, Five Star Alliance


Luxury Lodging in Peru at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

January 26, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Discover the "Lost City of the Incas" and the incredible natural beauty of the Amazon Basin while cocooned in luxurious comfort at this rustic boutique hotel. Located in the heart of Machu Picchu's Historical Sanctuary in the cloud forest (formerly known as Aguas Calientes), the hotel consists of 83 rooms and suites set in whitewash cottages spread over 12 acres of streams, waterfalls and lush forest, reached by stone walkways. The hotel itself is the setting for enormous biodiversity: the world's largest collection of native orchids (372 species) as well as wild hummingbirds and butterflies. Rooms are charming yet sumptuous, decorated with local handcrafted Andean architecture, alpaca bedspreads, and deluxe kits of handmade, organic amenities and aromatherapy products. Likewise, the utterly-divine spa incorporates a mystical Andean approach, with 100% natural botanical products.


Pink Dolphins? Hong Kong?

January 24, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Pink Dolphins

You've got to be kidding me. But as CNN reports, HK is no longer just about glitzy skyscrapers, designer shopping and gourmet eats. Throw ecotourism in the mix; the city is one of the best spots to see Indo Pacific humpback dolphins, which just happen to be totally, completely bubblegum-pink. Sign up with tour operator Hong Kong Dolphinwatch, who normally spots these uncanny creatures 97 percent of the time on tours in the South China Sea.