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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.

A Family Affair at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Retreat, South Africa

May 22, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bushmans KloofWe're big fans of Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Retreat, an extraordinary property located within the Cederberg Wilderness Area in a World Heritage Site about 270 kilometers from Cape Town. The setting is stunning (where else can you dine in a natural sandstone amphitheater of giant boulders overlooking ancient cliffs and deep ravines?) and the amenities are luxurious. A world-class eco-luxury retreat that's won countless awards, the resort offers a unique wilderness experience. Bushmans Kloof has just put together a fabulous Family Affair package that's bound to please every member of your family. Activities are tailor-made for kids between the ages of 6 and 12 years. (Older siblings are welcome, too, and there are babysitting services available, as well.) Children learn all about animals, plants, birds and the Bushmen -- their rock art, hunting techniques and animal tracking. Other child-friendly activities include canoeing, swimming in rock pools, fishing, creating 'rock art', as well as camping out with experienced guides. Early children's supper is served daily, after which guides entertain the kids with night walks, game drives or movies, while parents enjoy leisurely gourmet dinners served in glorious locations around the resort. Mom and Dad will have ample free time to enjoy the five-star facilities, swimming pools, and soothing spa treatments, or they may want to take off and explore the surrounding area-- a sanctuary for many indigenous plants, animals and birds, including the endangered Cape Mountain zebra.

Bushmans KloofThe three-night / four-day Bushmans Kloof Family Affair packages are offered on the following dates:

June 29- July 2, 2008

July 4- July 7, 2008

July 10- July 13, 2008

December 7- December 10, 2008

December 11- December 14, 2008

Family Affair package prices (in South African Rands) are inclusive of three nights' luxury accommodation, all meals, evening nature drives, early morning guided rock-art excursions, lodge activities and children's activities. Adults R4800 (per person sharing); Children 6-12 years R3550; Children 3-5 years R1950; Children under 2 years of age stay free.


Wellbeing in Morocco at the Sofitel Palais Jamai

May 14, 2008
By: Madelyn Giblin

Sofitel Palais JamaiExperience the rich culture of Morocco, and relax with the Sofitel Palais Jamai's Wellbeing Offer. Guests will enjoy a well-balanced and varied breakfast featuring traditional Moroccan cuisine, a personal massage at the hotel's spa, free access to the fitness center, and a local fruit or vegetable cocktail. Located in the spiritual and cultural capital of Morocco, Sofitel Palais Jamai was built in 1879 and is exquisitely decorated in traditional Moorish style with keen attention to detail. While enjoying the soothing accommodations and a wealth of things to do in the surrounding city, guests staying at Sofitel Palais Jamai will experience the vacation of a lifetime.


Sheraton Addis: A Taste of Real Luxury in Africa

April 10, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sheraton AddisBy far the best hotel in Ethiopia, if not the entire continent, the Sheraton Addis was the first hotel in Africa to join Starwood's Luxury Collection. It's the hotel of choice for business travelers, with an impressive 1,500 square meters of meeting space, the largest banquet and conference facilities in the country. There's a state-of-the-art business center and a professional staff on-hand to help with even the most menial of requests. Computer rental, translation services-- no sweat. And the Sheraton Addis is centrally located: opposite the National Palace on a hilltop overlooking the city.

Sheraton AddisLeisure travelers are likewise thrilled with the facilities at the Sheraton Addis: the Aqva Club with massage services, sauna and jacuzzi, outdoor swimming pools with underwater music, and an array of dining establishments serving International, Italian and French cuisine. Guests can take advantage of great rates on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, starting from just $200 per night with a hearty buffet breakfast and late 4 p.m. check-out included.


Small Luxury Hotels Announces Photo Competition: Win Cool Trips and Prizes!

March 24, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hostellerie Les Frenes, ProvenceSmall Luxury Hotels of the World-- the exclusive brand of more than 440 independent properties in 70 countries-- recently launched its inaugural worldwide photography competition with some incredible prizes. The idea is for travelers to share their most inspired moments and experiences "caught on film" during their trips-- whether biking through the Tuscan hills or watching the sunset over a beach in the Indian Ocean. The possibilities are limitless! Running from March 17, 2008 through July 31, 2008, the contest will take place completely online via a dedicated competition website. You can register with the site and then upload up to 10 of your favorite photos that capture a sense of place and experience. All submitted photos will be viewable in an online gallery. Four overall winning photographs will be chosen by a panel of judges including celebrity photographer Andy Earl (who shot Madonna, Prince and Pink Floyd for their album covers). And get this: anybody who registers and submits at least one photo will be automatically entered into a prize draw for a five-night stay at any of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties.

The top prize winners will all receive a brand new Nikon D80 SLR 10.2 Camera with an 18-135mm zoom lens, plus, choose one of four incredible prize getaways including two round-trip tickets on American Airlines. The available prize packages are:

* A six-night Costa Rican Adventure spent at both Hotel Punta Islita and Gaia Hotel and Reserve

* A five-night English Town and Country Experience spent at both The Capital Hotel in London and Luton Hoo Country Estate

* A four-night Mexican Escape at Esencia on the Riviera Maya

* A three night Big Apple Experience in New York City at The Iroquois New York


Buzzworthy: Sun International’s Palace at Port Ghalib, Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera

March 18, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sun International, Palace at Port GhalibBilled as the premier resort destination on Egypt's Red Sea coast, the new Port Ghalib development, just 2.5 hours from the Valley of the Kings, is home to Sun International's 5-star citadel of indulgence. The Palace at Port Ghalib has made quite the stir since its debut last November 2007. Surrounded by fountains, terraced gardens and a kilometer-long swimming lagoon (the second largest saltwater lagoon ever made!), The Palace is truly spectacular. Each of the 309 premier rooms has butler service and a private balcony and terrace overlooking the Red Sea. For the ultimate indulgence, the 13 Royal Suites pamper guests with spa-like bathrooms and elegant surroundings (intricate architectural details and luxurious furnishings). In addition to the Palace, there are two other hotels on-site at Port Ghalib: the Sahara Sun Oasis and the Sahara Sun Sands. From here, try your hand at any number of activities-- from scuba diving and fishing to jeep treks and camel rides.


Royal Malewane, South Africa: Luxury Safari Lodge of Choice for Sarkozy and Carla Bruni

March 12, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Royal MalewaneOur spies on the ground in South Africa couldn't help but notice the crew of Secret Service henchmen who recently took over the Royal Malewane, named "Best Safari Lodge" by Tatler (UK) in 2006. Located on the western edge of Kruger National Park in the heart of South Africa's "Big Five" territory, the Royal Malewane is as posh as they come. After arriving by private helicopter, Sarko and his muse stayed hidden away in their swanky Royal Villa. Though they missed out on the incredible meals served in the lodge (Persian carpets, crystal, silver, fine china and all the plush offerings of a bygone era), we hear they had a private chef on call and some of the best game trackers in South Africa for their exclusive game drives. The Royal Malewane accommodates only 20 guests, so anyone who stays there will feel as spoiled as the French royal president. Plus, the luxurious lodge is situated on its own private reserve, so don't be surprised to see elephants drinking out of your private plunge pool in the morning.

PS. There's a swanky spa, too.


E-Scape to South Africa with Twelve Apostles Hotel and Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Retreat

March 3, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Twelve Apostles Hotel and SpaNow is the time to get a dose of some African sunshine. The award-winning Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Cape Town's finest, has partnered with the legendary Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve to create the perfect South African adventure of a lifetime. Enjoy the gorgeous sea-scape of Cape Town, the wine-scapes of the Bouchard Finlayson vineyard, and the remote land-scapes surrounding the luxurious wilderness retreat of Bushmans Kloof. The five-star journey begins at the very tip of South Africa with three nights of indulgence at The Twelve Apostles. In addition to the lavish accommodations and renowned service, you'll experience a special chef's tasting Fynbos menu at Azure Restaurant, a specialized spa treatment using indigenous healing aromatherapy, a trip to the top of Cape Town's famed Table Mountain, a visit to District 6, one of the most famous segregated areas under apartheid and now a museum, and a visit to a local arts and crafts village market managed by underprivileged women.

Before heading to the magical wilderness area at Bushmans Kloof, you'll take a day-trip by chauffeur-driven car to the Bouchard Finlayson Vineyard for a tour and tasting of the complete range of wines. When you stop for lunch at one of the town's best seafood restaurants, you'll enjoy a bottle of Bouchard Finlayson white wine.

Next stop: the luxurious eco-resort at Bushmans Kloof, a member of Relais & Chateaux, situated 270 kilometers from Cape Town in an extraordinary Natural Heritage Site. Surrounded by the grandeur of this dramatic landscape, you'll enjoy 3 nights in a deluxe room, 4 meals a day, including High Tea, dinner in a unique location each night (even outdoors under the stars in a natural sandstone amphitheater), early morning Rock Art excursions, evening nature drive with drinks and snacks at sundown, and 1 specialized spa treatment per person. Also includes all lodge activities, like canoeing and archery. The E-Scape package is valid until December 19, 2008.


Fairmont Mara Safari Club: The Ultimate Tented Luxury in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

February 26, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Mara Safari ClubFollowing an extensive renovation, the Fairmont Mara Safari Club has re-opened on the edge of the Masai Mara, Kenya's world-famous wildlife refuge which is home to an astounding array of animals including zebras, cheetahs, wildebeests, gazelles and of course the "Big Five." The 50 tents are the farthest thing from "roughing it"... Outfitted with four poster, pillow-top beds and spacious verandas, the tents offer all the creature comforts overlooking the Mara River full of hippos and crocodiles. Each of the beautifully-furnished tents has its own three-piece bathroom, and many have outdoor showers. Guests are spoiled with complimentary welcome drinks, private massage tents, poolside attendants at the heated, free-form swimming pool, and excellent entertainment like Masai dances. At the main lodge you'll find an indoor restaurant, bar, and library with Internet access. There are a wide range of activities available. For the ultimate indulgence, choose a balloon safari over the Mara plains capped with a champagne breakfast on the savannah. Coming soon: The Norfolk and Mount Kenya Safari Club will soon join the Fairmont Mara Safari Club bringing the grand total to three Fairmont properties in Kenya.


Sail the Seychelles with Banyan Tree’s Lagoon I Catamaran

February 22, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Banyan Tree SeychellesSet sail on the sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean and discover some of the most stunning scenery on the planet: remote islands of talcum powder beaches and lush tropical forests, and underwater life equally as beautiful. The 47-foot twin-hulled catamaran Banyan Tree Lagoon I will take to the seas of the Seychelles starting in March 2008. Staffed by a personal host and skipper and stocked with all the luxurious amenities one expects of Banyan Tree, the ship will accommodate six guests for overnight cruises from the resort. Wood-paneled bedrooms are spacious, and the air-conditioned main salon provides panoramic views.


Announcing the New W Hotel Marrakech

February 20, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Kasbah TamadotW Hotels is on a quest to bring its swanky Living Room experience and Whatever/Whenever service to every corner of the globe. This past year saw openings in exciting worldwide destinations and now Starwood's global lifestyle brand has just announced plans for its entry into Morocco with the W Marrakech. Scheduled to open in mid 2010 just minutes from the Medina (the city's historical center), the property will include a 150-room hotel and 68 whole-ownership villa residences as part of a luxurious, mixed-use development overlooking an 18-hole championship golf course. The W Marrakech will feature all of the W's signature comforts, like WOW suites, W beds with feather-top mattresses and 350 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets, destination bar, and luxury spa. W has become the fastest growing luxury hotel brand in the world, with hotels slated for North America (including Austin, Downtown Atlanta, Philly, and Scottsdale), Europe (Athens, Barcelona, Istanbul, Milan and St. Petersburg), Asia (Bangkok, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macao-Studio City, Shanghai and Yokohama) and in the Middle East (Amman, Doha, Dubai-Festival City and Dubai-The Palm).