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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 Perfect Honeymoon

May 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Banyan Tree Seychelles

From the Eternal City to Bali beaches, from the Hawaiian islands to the Seychelles, we've scoured the earth for special honeymoon offers.

But choosing-- (you see Kenyan safari, s/he sees tequila and tanning in Mexico)-- and planning a honeymoon can be more taxing than the actual wedding planning. Just ask The Post. This Sunday, The Washington Post Travel section is devoted to the honeymoon: top 10 destinations; tips on making it a trip to remember; tales from readers (honeymoons worth telling the grandkids about), and the best of all: 5 Couples, 5 Budgets, 5 Honeymoons, a case study of five DC area couples who honeymooned in different ways (Disney World, anyone?)

And now we're looking to our readers for planning tips, packing advice, ideas on memorable locations and luxury hotels worldwide. Just how do you go about picking and planning the perfect honeymoon?


Escape with World Cup 2006 Packages at Banyan Tree

March 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

World Cup 2006

So you missed your chance to get tickets to this year's matches in Germany, not to mention the impossible task of booking a hotel room in any of the hosting cities. But you-- a diehard and devoted football fan-- are not about to miss the games on telly. Enter Banyan Tree, with their creative packages designed for fans who want to watch the games in peace (tranquil surroundings with nary a beer-guzzling heckler in sight!) and their partners/spouses who may have escaped infection with that football fevered frenzy. For a limited period from June 1 to July 31, Banyan Tree is offering exclusive World Cup 2006 Escape packages at its resorts worldwide. All packages are inclusive of daily bountiful breakfasts and a surprise gift from Banyan Tree Gallery.

At Banyan Tree Bangkok, the World Cup 2006 Escape package rates begin from US$270 per night for a Deluxe View Suite (minimum two-night stay). The package includes a Banyan Tree Spa Back Reviver session per person as well as a Shopping Companion Service for hunting out the city's treasures.

At Banyan Tree Bintan, package rates start at US$465 in the Valley Villa (minimum two nights stay). All guests taking this package will receive a choice of a two-hour Renewal or Rejuvenation spa session, as well as a welcome drink and fruit platter on arrival.

At Banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru, guests can enjoy the World Cup Escape Package with rates starting from US$680 per night for an Oceanview Villa. This package includes daily breakfast and dinner, a choice of a two-hour Renewal or Rejuvenation spa session, and an unforgettable private sunset sail on a catamaran, complete with a guide.

At Banyan Tree Phuket, the package is priced from US$495 per night in a Deluxe Villa, with a minimum stay of three nights; includes a body massage per person, an intimate High Tea session for two, and cooking lessons with lunch for two.

Lastly, at Banyan Tree Seychelles, the World Cup Escape package rates start from EUR 855 per night (four night minimum), including a Renewal or Rejuvenation Spa session for two, as well as a one-day tour of Mahe with a beach picnic lunch included.


Hibernate in Style - Cape Town this Winter

March 28, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

From Kim Severini, Red Carnation Hotels

Even though here in the DC area we are celebrating the Cherry Blossoms and first few weeks of spring, the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town, South Africa sent me the friendly reminder that in the Southern Hemisphere they are gearing up for winter and their 'low' temperatures. But low isn't really low when you compare to Northern Hemisphere standards. The cooler winter months have daily highs in the mid 60s F/17-19 C. But you might want to hibernate from the heavy rainfull that does occur in winter when icy northwesterly winds come through in July and August.

Cave Pool, Twelve Apostles Spa

One of the more interesting package deals that Twelve Apostles is offering is the 'Man About Town'. In following with the quest to find the best spas for men worldwide (see the Beer Bath from Sungate Port Royal article), you can find Twelve Apostle's details below:

Men all too often get caught up in the fast-paced city lifestyle and pressures of corporate life. Most take it out at the gym but that leaves muscles tired and bodies weary. Now the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa has the perfect solution – the Man About Town Package. The package offers a spectacular 2 nights and 3 days to indulge in the finest of wining and dining, luxurious accommodation and essential pampering. The lucky man will be treated to a chilled bottle of Bouchard Finlayson wine, on ice, upon arrival as well as dining in Azure for dinner and breakfast, wine tasting and stress relieving spa treatments.

The price? 2465 Rand-2917 Rand per person sharing per night. The current equivalent of $393-$465.

Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Official Site

Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Five Star Alliance


Romantic Honeymoons at the Banyan Tree Seychelles

March 23, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Banyan Tree Seychelles

The ideal honeymoon vacation in luxurious privacy surrounded by the turquoise Indian Ocean, sugar white beaches, and lush tropical foliage. The Banyan Tree Seychelles is paradise on earth, its 47 pool villas offering spacious interiors, sprawling verandahs, open-air pavilions, private pool, Jacuzzi and steam room. Could you get any more romantic than this? Resort facilities include gourmet dining, ocean-view tennis court, water sports, infinity pool and gym, and world-class spa. And exquisite UNESCO World Heritage sites and national parks are close at hand, to be discovered and savored.

The resort has specially designed two honeymoon packages, valid until Jan 10, 2007. Romance in Seychelles is priced from EUR 990 per night per couple, with a minimum stay of three nights in a Hillside Pool Villa. This four-day package includes daily sumptuous Continental breakfasts, an in-villa dinner, a 90-min body massage for two, and an Intimate Moments romantic villa set-up. The Heavenly Honeymoon is priced at EUR 1015 per night per couple, with a minimum of four nights. The package includes an in-villa breakfast, a romantic moonlight dinner, an Intimate Moments set-up, special honeymoon gift, a chilled bottle of champagne and a choice of a two-hour Rejuvenation or a Renewal Spa Treatment per person.

Banyan Tree Seychelles, Official Site

Banyan Tree Seychelles, Five Star Alliance


Mother’s Day Spa Specials at Banyan Tree Angsana Spas

March 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Angsana Spa Cape Town

Brought to us by award-winning luxury hoteliers Banyan Tree, Angsana Spas are renowned for their rejuvenating therapeutic treatments that emphasize natural ingredients such as native flowers, plants, herbs, and spices. Fusing techniques from East and West, Angsana Spas are located worldwide as both resort properties and day spas. This Mother's Day, pamper your mother (and yourself) with packages designed for women at Angsana Spas around the world.

At the Angsana Spa Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, indulge in the Mother's Glow session (RM250)-- a two-hour treat comprised of a massage and body polish of your choice, as well as a special gift from Angsana Gallery. The Angsana Spa Double Bay and Jamison, Sydney is offering a Sweet Mum package: a two-hour beautifying and pampering session comprised of a massage and facial of Mum's choice. Priced at A$148, available from 1 May to 30 June 2006. Likewise, the Angsana Spa El Gouna, Egypt is showcasing the Mother's Spirit package ($110); its three hours of indulgence include a body polish, massage and facial (choose your favorite treatment from each category.) At the Angsana Spa Vineyard Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa, the Mother's Essential package includes an hour massage and an hour-long facial. Get a discount when you join your mother for the same treatment: top up the R704 single package treatment to a R1320 package for two. Valid from 1 May to 30 June 2006. The Angsana Spa Guam is offering the ultimate Mother Dearest package for $160, including a Jasmine Green Tea Revival treatment and hour-long facial. Lastly, the Angsana Spa and Health Club Dubai Marina will feature the Pampering Mum treatment for Dhs520. Includes a reviving massage, facial and hand balm, as well as a special Mother's Day card or sweet bouquet of flowers included in the treatment room.


Going to Cape Town, South Africa: Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa

January 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Twelve Apostles hotel

Situated in perhaps the most stunning city on earth, perched above the Atlantic with dramatic views of the Twelve Apostles mountain range, the hotel and spa is often deemed the best in Africa (sure Leading Hotels may be a teensy bit biased in their choices, but mags like CNT also rave that the Twelve Apostles is pretty darn hot...) Swim in the rock pool overlooking the ocean, enjoy prime diving spots nearby or head out on whale and dolphin watching excursions. In the afternoon, relax in the exceptional Sanctuary Spa (the treatments are beyond lavish), or imbibe a few drinks on the terrace. Though tearing yourself away from the luxury of your room may prove difficult. Further enticements include some sweet special packages, i.e. Stay Four Nights For the Price of Three! Along with the complimentary 4th night, you'll score some fun amenities: welcome drink on arrival, full South African breakfast daily, luxury shuttle transfers within a 13 km radius, and daily wine tastings.

Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Official Site

Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Five Star Alliance


Breaking News: Starwood Hotels and Resorts Acquires Le Meridien

November 25, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Starwood just announced that it acquired the Le Meridien brand of 130 hotels and resorts for $225 million. For the 24 million Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) customers, this means more choice in markets like Paris, Nice, Dubai and London. Additionally, Starwood will gain properties where it doesn't have them currently, in spots like Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Budapest, the Seychelles and Mauritius.


Announcing Four Seasons Ocean Residences (AKA Cruise Ship)

November 23, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Cruise Ship

A permanent address that's an everchanging address… now that's a cool idea. Slated to launch in fall 2007, the ship will include 100 luxury apartments, with all the indulgent amenities for which Four Seasons is famous (spa, steam room, pool and cabanas, jogging track and fitness center, even… golf?) Grab a stake before they sell out. From $400,000 for a one-month timeshare for 50 years.

Via Travel and Leisure (flipping through the November issue)


The Best Hotel in Africa: The Palace in Ethiopia?

November 17, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

I overheard a conversation in the airport the other day, in the waiting lounge for a South African Airways flight. The subject at hand? The best hotel in Africa. Naturally my ears perked up, and I listened with glee to the descriptions of heavenly suites and excessive pampering at The Palace in Ethiopia. But it’s a mystery! My research has turned up… nada! Have you heard of this mysterious, sumptuous hotel in Addis Ababa? Can anyone point me in the right direction (since—alas—Google has failed me)?


Fall’s Spectator Sport

October 11, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Loire Valley Chateau

It’s that time of year again. The hordes rubber-necking along the nation’s Interstates are the most obvious clue. Fall is upon us, and though you may have missed the stein-clunking, beer-guzzling merriment of Munich’s world famous Oktoberfest, it’s not too late to soak up the season’s best pageantry in other spots around the globe. The Fall leaves are only just peaking. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some top world destinations to check out the autumn leaves.

Scotland

This little country is all the rage right now, perhaps because of the filming of the cult classic The Da Vinci Code. Devoted fans have been pursuing the film-makers from pillar to post since they begin filming the thriller in June. But Autumn is the best time to visit: the rolling green landscapes are highlighted with distinctive autumn foliage, the northern lights are on show, the whale-watching is stupendous, and most of the tourists have departed with the end of the Edinburgh Festival. Of course, the icing on the cake is off-season rates.

Where to stay? Check out the world’s best golf at Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa in St. Andrew’s. As can be expected from the home of Golf, the resort’s championship course is spectacular and challenging, offering sweeping views of the coastline and sea.

France

Lucky us-- the Loire Valley is packed with more châteaux than French residents. (Only kidding; my partner-in-crime is French.) In the Autumn, the Valley’s charming villages are blazing with autumn colors, and the vineyards are turning all kinds of crazy colors. It’s also the annual grape-plucking time, and the harvest brings lots of festivals and activities.

Where to stay? Head to the ultimate palace of extravagance: perfume millionaire François Coty’s Château d'Artigny. Like the great historic châteaux of the Loire, the hotel is set in a 65 acre estate with marvelous formal gardens. Hey—if it was permitted—I’d even stake out a room in the cellar-- brimming with 20,000 bottles of delicious Loire Valley wine.

Tuscany

What could be better than wine-tasting in autumn in Tuscany? Now that the summer crowds have thinned, take an autumn stroll through striking Mediterranean scenery. The days are still hot, and the landscapes dotted with olive, cyprus and colorful deciduous groves. As the cultural capital of the region, Florence mesmerizes with historic treasures, artistic masterpieces, and shopping extravaganzas.

Where to stay? Located in the surrounding hills of Florence, Villa San Michele is a magically-restored 15th century monastery, with its façade attributed to Michelangelo. Orient-Express Hotels undertook the massive, comprehensive restoration, with the cooperation of the Florence Fine Arts Society.

Montreal

Can’t make it to Europe? Take a weekend trip to Montreal, a European style city complete with a vibrant café culture and passion for joie de vivre. Starting in September, Fall’s pageant opens and travels down to the Canadian border, leaving a full color spectrum in its wake.

Where to stay? The fashionable Windsor Arms hotel is decidedly hip. Just thirty yards from the Golden Strip, the 28 luxurious suites are tucked away in luxurious calm. Service is exceptional, with personal butlers discreetly in attendance 24 hours a day.

New England

This is where it's at for fantastic fall foliage. It’s hard to predict the peak of the colors, but this year the eager forecasters are calculating that the colors will be at their best until October 23. (For you avid Foliage Fans, they are even some hotlines you can call for precise forecasting.) Most of the region is covered in woodland, so the landscape is utterly transformed by color.

Where to stay? Head to Boston’s classy and eclectic suburb of Cambridge, where you can stroll through the ivied courtyards of Harvard Yard. The Charles Hotel is luxurious and contemporary, and offers the best Sunday brunch in the nation, at its restaurant Henrietta’s Table.

China

Leave it to the Chinese to launch an actual “Red Leaves Project” to beautiful the outskirts of Bejing. In 2000, the government meticulously planned a 230-km swath of red leaves which is just now on show. It gets quite cold in late October, so hurry up and book those flights today. (Avoid the Fragrant Hills, 28 kilometers north of Bejing, because of the crowds and traffic. Likewise, the Badaling stretch of the Great Wall resembles a Disney Land Park with tourists and vendors galore.)

Where to stay? The Peninsula Palace Bejing is ideally located just a short walk from The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and all the tourist treasures of the capital. Following a US$27 million renovation, the hotel is the premier address in Bejing.

Kenya

Forget the leaves. The attraction here is the incredible wildebeest and zebra migration that occurs every October without fail. During the summer months, the herds (made up of millions of animals!) hang out on the savannas of Kenya’s Masai Mara, before returning to Tanzania’s Serengeti plains with the inauguration of the October rains.

Where to stay? To enjoy this spectacle, check in to one of the luxurious camps along the Mara River, like the Mara Serena Safari Lodge. Even the swimming pool and restaurant overlook a watering hole where wildlife congregate to drink.