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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.

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


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


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


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


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


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


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).


Beach Picnic with Twelve Apostles in Cape Town


By: Courtney W. May

Twelve Apostles Hotel and SpaIt's summer in South Africa and the perfect time to visit the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town. Not just because the views are amazing and the weather is awesome, but because the fantastic golden sand beaches are just minutes away. They are also perfect locations to enjoy a picnic lunch. Guests who visit the Twelve Apostles making reservations through Five Star Alliance will receive an extensive "Fynbos Picnic Hamper" with food, treats, and drinks once during their stay. Whether you are traveling with a significant other, family, pet, or friends - Twelve Apostles can accommodate everyone and is barely ten minutes from the bustling heart of Cape Town, with nearby attractions including prime diving spots, nature trails, and seals, dolphins, whales and penguins.


The Westcliff: Where to Stay in Johannesburg, South Africa


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The WestcliffJust 10 minutes from the city center, but worlds apart... The Westcliff basks in the sun on a hilltop in the city's posh northern suburbs, its cascading gardens and cobbled pathways reminiscent of Mediterranean hillside village. Soak in the heated infinity pool and check out the bird's eye view of the Johannesburg Zoological Gardens below; ogle the elephants during this unique "safari swim"! Play a match of tennis a mile high (literally- as Joburg is located some 6,000 feet above sea level) or hit the gym with a personal trainer. Mountain bikes are also available for guests to explore The Westcliff's historic surroundings. After a day in the city, return to this sumptuous sanctuary for a spa treatment at the Botanica Spa Suites (brand spanking new! Ready in mid Feb 2008) or relax in your guest room-- extravagantly sized and unashamedly indulgent. Private balconies and sunny patios showcase more of those sublime views. Book the Diamonds are Forever package and experience Johannesburg's world-renowned diamond industry at work. The two-night package, priced at R 5,700 per Luxury Room (R7,630 per Junior Suite), includes full English breakfast daily, a guided tour of one of Johannesburg's biggest diamond cutting factories - the Wesselton Diamond cutting center, and a 3 course a la carte dinner in the hotel's highly acclaimed La Belle Terrasse Restaurant.


O.A.R.S Catalog of Luxury Adventure Vacations


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

OARS Alaska WhitewaterThe Chairman of Five Star Alliance (also known as the Cal Simmons of The Informed Traveler) recommends O.A.R.S. which provides Whitewater rafting with experienced professional guides and top notch equipment since 1969. Cal has run rivers with the owner, George Wendt, in Africa, Fiji, Idaho, California and The Grand Canyon. According to Cal their Grand Canyon camping is even better than a luxury hotel.

For almost 40 years, O.A.R.S. (Outdoor Adventure River Specialists) has been a leader in the adventure travel industry. The California-based, eco-conscious organization provides exceptional, award-winning customer service, friendly, experienced and safety-conscious guides, comfortable and clean camping equipment, undeniably delicious and hearty meals and an ideal environment for a traveler to experience the outdoor vacation of his or her dreams. Some vacations include catered camping and rafting excursions through one of six national parks, lodge-based outings with comfortable beds and hot showers, multi-week expeditions, half-day escapes, weekend retreats close to home or private chartered trips specifically and uniquely designed for a given client's needs.

New to O.A.R.S.' vacation menu in 2008 includes rafting on the Apurimac River, the source of the Amazon and lodge-to-lodge trekking to Machu Picchu, 15 or 16 days.

Read More about O.A.R.S and their 2008 schedule here:

http://www.prweb.com//releases/OARS/Adventure_Travel/prweb588702.htm


New Luxury Travel Destinations


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Amanresorts, BhutanA recent article in the Washington Post describes the "destination fatigue-- been there, done that, paid a big bill"-- that affects a growing number of high-end travelers. When you've vacationed in Patagonia, the BVI, and the Greek Islands, and cruised the Nile and Yangtze rivers, what's next? The answer is remote, off-the-map destinations that once only appealed to backpackers. The newest hotspots are places like Bhutan, where Amanresorts has opened a string of luxury lodges that allow travelers to discover this incredible Himalayan kingdom without having to rough it. We'd count China's Yunnan province on the list, as well as luxury safaris in Africa, and hotels in northern India. What's your next luxury travel destination?