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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.

The Royal Treatment in Marrakech at L Mansion

July 1, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

L Mansion MarrakechLooking for an opulent, exotic getaway? Though Morocco is very much a travel hot spot these days, L Mansion is off-the-beaten path: 15 minutes outside Marrakech nestled at the base of the Atlas Mountains in a gorgeous park of citrus and olive trees, fragrant with rose, jasmine and orange blossoms. With only seven suites and one 2-bedroom villa, L Mansion offers the utmost in privacy and attentive service. You'll find a hotel fit for a king; the country's best craftsmen created an exquisite palace modeled after the Alhambra in Andalusia, distinguished by zellige mosaics, hand-painted wainscoting, and intricate tile work. Travelers on TripAdvisor can't stop raving about the personal welcome and genuinely warm Moroccan hospitality at L Mansion.


Buzzworthy: Four Seasons Opens Resort on Mauritius

June 5, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons MauritiusEast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, you'll find an island paradise fringed by the green Bambou mountains and impossibly blue waters. Here on Mauritius, Four Seasons is opening a new resort with an Ernie Els golf course and over-water spa. Nestled in a wilderness preserve, this private sanctuary is the essence of romance, with 123 spacious villas and residences with seamless indoor-outdoor living, plunge pools, and inspiring views in all directions. In fact, the Lagoon Pool Villas and Presidential Suite are located on a private, 11-acre island, Ile aux Chats! But this resort won't be limited to couples seeking romance. There is an extensive children's program at the Hobbit Club, so your kids will be occupied (and having a blast) while you relax on the serene lagoon beaches or indulge with a Mauritian lomi lomi massage at the spa, hovering over the waters of the lagoon. Now confirming reservations for arrival from October 1, 2008.


Summer Oasis in Marrakech: Room Upgrades at Amanjena

June 5, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

AmanjenaMorocco has moved onto travelers' radar screens recently, and Marrakech is one of the year's hottest destinations. With its alluring souks, mystical gardens, ancient buildings, and heart-stopping views of the High Atlas Mountains, the fabled city makes for an exciting (and exotic) getaway. The place to stay is Amanjena, the ultra-luxury property from Amanresorts set in an oasis of palm and olive trees. Decorated with Berber carpets and the most sumptuous of furnishings, the 32 rose-colored pavilions have outdoor soaking tubs and private courtyards. There's a gorgeous swimming pool, tennis courts, a gym, spa, and two hammams. It doesn't get much better than this. That is-- unless you snag a deal like this one. From June 15- September 15, 2008, bookings of five nights or more in a Pavilion Bassin at Amanjena will be upgraded to a Pavilion Piscine (with private pool). The Pavilion Bassin goes for $1,000 a night, and the Pavilion Piscine for $1,600-- so this upgrade means some serious savings at Amanjena.


What’s Hot: Onguma Tented and Plains Camp, Namibia

June 2, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Onguma Tented Camp, NamibiaLong before Namibia made headlines as the secret hideaway for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, the country was a favorite for in-the-know travelers. The dramatic landscapes, including the red-dune Namib desert, are luring more and more folks to southern Africa, who are delighted by the incredible design hotels on offer. Case in point: the new Onguma Plains Camp, which has been getting a lot of press as one of the hottest hotels of the year. There are only 13 rooms in this fort-like hotel, all with private viewing decks over looking Etosha National Park. The rugged setting of the private 50,000 acre game reserve will take your breath away. To quote the Travel + Leisure "It List":

While the design of most southern African lodges skews toward either safari chic or super-Modernist (Singita), Onguma takes the bush lodge in a bold new direction. All carved antique doors, billowy curtains, and reflecting pools, it's as if a casbah were relocated to the continent's south. The main lodge features brushed-metal sconces, Middle Eastern lanterns, and long mirrors in distressed wooden frames. Two of each guest room's walls are made of canvas; they can be opened to reveal a mesh window that makes the plains look like an Impressionist painting. At night, the resort requires that you zip yourself snugly into your room (which can feel claustrophobic). But it's a safety precaution, since lions roam nearby.


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.