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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.

Angkor What? The Allure of Cambodia’s Khmer World Heritage Site

December 5, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Angkor

Monkeys giggle above in the trees. The sun is scorching hot overhead. From the road, the jungle overgrowth suddenly parts to reveal the majestic domes of ancient Angkor Wat. Fragrant orange blossoms hang from the trees, matching the brilliant robes of the Buddhist monks who are seated around the temples. Welcome to the most important archaeological site in Southeast Asia. Spread out over 400 square kilometers, Angkor's Archaeological Park includes hundreds of temples of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th century. Watch the sun set (or rise) over the magnificent Angkor Wat (the largest and most celebrated of the temples), gaze at the huge stone heads at Bayon, and walk through the mysterious calm of Ta Prohm, where trees' gnarled root systems are slowly overtaking the temples. (And after all, this was where Angelina Jolie's Laura Croft toted those big-- um-- guns on the set for Tomb Raider!!! Sweet.) Where to stay? Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, of course. With 60,000 sq meters of tranquil gardens, Cambodian art and architecture, and superb restaurants and spa.

Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, Official Site

Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor, Five Star Alliance


Jamaica Hangs the (Half) Moon

December 3, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Half Moon Suite

Half Moon, Montego Bay is celebrating the big 5-0 and has thus come up with some pretty sweet packages. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and space is available for the winter holidays, so why not book the "Take Me To The Moon" package? From $589 a night, includes swank accommodations, sumptuous food and—could it be?—unlimited beverage, unlimited use of the fitness center and tennis courts, a welcome gift with champagne, and round trip airport transfers. Chill on the palm-dotted beaches or in your choice of 50 freshwater pools, unwind at the spa, partake in the water sports, or challenge yourself on the world-class tennis courts and golf course. The dining options? For a self-contained little paradise, the restaurant choices are almost (surprisingly) limitless.

Half Moon, Official Site

Half Moon, Five Star Alliance


The Bar and Living Room at the Little Nell, Aspen

November 30, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Little Nell Living Room

After a recent redesign, the legendary apres-ski scene at the Little Nell is hotter than ever. Savor the delicacies from the fresh seafood bar, followed by some fondue, and of course there's drinks all night at the Bar. Thaw by a roaring fire in the Living Room, or "ski-watch" the day away.

The Little Nell, Official Site

The Little Nell, Five Star Alliance


Alternative Holiday Escapes: Golf at La Jolla’s Lodge at Torrey Pines

November 29, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Bask in San Diego's perfect year-round climate at this AAA five diamond winner that sits near the 18th green of the legendary championship course. The details? Rooms with custom-designed furniture and high-tech details, overlooking the Pacific. The signature restaurant, A.R. Valentien, with award-winning Chef who hails from Shutters on the Beach. A 9,500 square foot spa, with 14 specialized treatment rooms, that's all about the ocean: signature treatments themed around the seacoast, and a spa menu that uses coastal, botanical and marine based extracts. Miles of trails in the Torrey Pines reserve with unspoiled lagoons and beaches.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Official Site

The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Five Star Alliance


Tune in to Talk of the Nation: Travel Misadventures

November 28, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Lonely Planet Global Travel Director Don George and travel writer Rolf Potts talk travel today on NPR's Talk of the Nation. Lots of stories from LP's humor anthology By the Seat of My Pants will have you cracking up. Via Vagablogging


Finding a Hotel in the Caribbean for the Holidays

November 28, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

St Lucia

Attempting the impossible task of booking a luxury hotel in the Caribbean for the holidays? Most luxury hotels have been booked solid for months. But don't be discouraged in your quest for a well-deserved (albeit last-minute) Caribbean respite! I've found a few delightful gems that still have availability:

Casa Colonial in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: Long stretches of white sand beaches. Elegantly furnished all-suites hotel. World-class spa. Conde Nast Traveler's 2005 Hot List. Impeccable service. Enough said.

Casa Colonial, Official Site

Casa Colonial, Five Star Alliance

Anse Chastanet Resort, in the lush mountain paradise of St. Lucia. With 600 acres of tropical foliage, the soaring peaks of Petit Pitons, and extraordinary beaches, this is paradise on earth. Romantic and secluded. Scuba, spa, waters sports and mountain biking.

Anse Chastanet, Official Site

Anse Chastanet, Five Star Alliance

Petit St. Vincent Resort is available for the Christmas week, though not the post-Christmas week. Individual cottages set on a 113 acre privately-owned island of exquisite white sand beaches.

Petit St. Vincent, Official Site

Petit St. Vincent, Five Star Alliance

Martineau Bay Resort and Spa (which I've blogged about recently) in the idyllic, secluded island of Vieques, near Puerto Rico.

Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, Official Site

Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, Five Star Alliance


Hot Destinations: Charleston, South Carolina

November 24, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Charleston, SC

Looking for a winter respite close to home? Charleston, SC will lure you with its sub-tropical climate, history, charm and beautiful architecture. Tour the antebellum homes, play a round of golf at more than 20 courses in the area (including Kiawah, Wild Dunes and the new Arnold Palmer signature course at Rivertowne), or relax on the white sand beaches just 15 minutes from the city center. And this time of year, there are countless special offers at hotels in the area. My pick? The romantic Charleston Place (an Orient Express hotel), with its two great restaurants, elegant rooms, and Spa with horizon edged pool with retractable glass roof. The staff is all about Southern hospitality. Rates as low as $189 are available from November 27-30, and December 18-December 22. Other great deals? Try Kiawah Island Golf Resort, with its zillion activities and trails through nature preserves. For the end of November, rates are a steal at $117.

Charleston Place, Official Site

Charleston Place, Five Star Alliance

Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Official Site

Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Five Star Alliance

Read about Charleston in The Washington Post’s Vagablog


Special Offers: Martineau Bay Resort and Spa in Vieques, Puerto Rico

November 24, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Martineau Bay Resort and Spa

Vieques has been declared by travel guides to be among the world's best-kept vacation secrets. I guess if the secret's out-- now would be a pretty good time to jump on this special offer at the Martineau Bay Resort and Spa. (Before the hordes descend.) Situated eight miles off Puerto Rico's east coast, the island of Vieques is quiet, secluded, and breathtakingly beautiful. The Martineau's got it all, with tennis courts, pristine beaches, water sports and a world-class spa. Through December 18, rates are $139 a night (double room). Combined with Jet Blue's ridiculously low fares to San Juan, how could you pass this up?

Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, Official Site

Martineau Bay Resort and Spa, Five Star Alliance


All About Belize: Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn

November 23, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Turtle Inn

I know, I know --I just wrote about this man's marvelous digs in the Belize jungle. But having witnessed the Turtle Inn by moonlight, I'm dazzled enough to blog again. The deets? Luxury ecotourism at its finest. Situated on a sweeping bay of white sand, in the tiny fishing village of Placencia, the 11 cabanas and 6 villas are serenely situated amongst carefully landscaped gardens-- the coconut palms outlined at night by artfully placed lights. At the Turtle Inn, it's all about the details: the entrance-boardwalk over a turtle-filled pool, handsome waiters in sarongs, a display of sand and shells over the t.p. dispenser, and of course Coppola wines stocked in the mini-bars. The best part? A conch shell phone! to communicate with the front desk. The cabanas are absurdly big, designed in a Balinese theme with all imported hardwoods and thatched roofs. The outdoor showers are exquisite-- set in their own private tropical gardens. And as the jolly gardener proudly informed me, "No AC, No TV." When the director's not in residence, his villa is up for grabs, complete with private entrance, huge pool, and attentive butler service.


Living Large at Lajitas, The Ultimate Hideout

November 22, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cowboys at Lajitas

In the rugged wilderness of West Texas, between Big Bend National Park and the Mexico border, lies a unique destination resort situated on a 25,000-acre private estate. Lajitas is surrounded by the awesome scenery that—as Architectural Digest explains—inspired Franklin Delano Roosevelt to sign into law the creation of Big Bend National Park. This exquisite landscape is etched with the history of the infamous characters from the Old West. The lodging? This ain’t tents around the campfire. Along with the resort’s endless array of activities, Lajitas offers luxurious cowboy chic. Of the 92 rooms, no two are alike—each outfitted with plush robes and lavish Agave amenities. (Suites and private haciendas also available.) The resort has designed a host of fun and clever packages. The “Ultimate Golf Package”—with unlimited golf and lunch on the course—is $250 a night. With the optional 19th hole in Mexico, Ambush at Lajitas is the world’s only international course. Unlimited rounds of golf are complemented by unlimited carts, balls, and beverages. My fave is the “So You Wanna Be A Cowboy” package, where guests participate in a slew of activities, starting with a custom-fitting of cowboy boots. Next on the agenda? Learn how to use a gun of the Old West at Greasewood Flats, Lajitas’ very own cowboy action shooting range. After breakfast on Day 2, head out on a trail ride to the Buena Suerte Mine and Ghost Town, then star-gaze by a roaring campfire while enjoying a gourmet feast. Starting at $400 per person.

Lajitas, The Ultimate Hideout, Official Site

Lajitas, The Ultimate Hideout, Five Star Alliance