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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.

Room Availability at Luxury Hotels for the South Africa World Cup

February 22, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cape Grace Hotel, Cape TownHeading to Cape Town for the 2010 World Cup? Still haven't booked your accommodations? High-end hotels are filling up fast, but we've got the scoop on what's still available. Though Cape Grace Hotel is reportedly 90 percent booked, there are still a few rooms up for the taking. Situated on its own private quay in the heart of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Cape Grace offers 121 newly refashioned guest rooms and a spa with sweeping views of Table Mountain. You can also still nab a room at the five-star Table Bay Hotel on the V & A Waterfront. (Availability is limited; try 7 free rooms as of last week.) Our last recommendation? The swanky new Taj Cape Town located in the downtown area. But act fast, these rooms will be gone in a flash. Related Articles: Now Open in South Africa: The Taj Hotel Cape Town


Top 10 Lists: Family-Friendly Luxury Hotels and Resorts

February 16, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

ice skating at Hotel Plaza Athenee

From mini ice-skating rinks (pictured) to cookies & milk in the evenings, luxury hotels definitely get creative when taking care of their pint-sized guests. The world's finest hotels go to extraordinary lengths in the pampering department- whether their clients are 8 or 80 years old. A recent article in Forbes highlights some of the top family-friendly luxury hotels in the world. Who made the cut? The Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris, The Athenaeum in London, the Porto Elounda De Luxe Resort in Crete, the Commune by the Great Wall outside Beijing, Edinburgh's Balmoral Hotel, Caneel Bay in St. John, The Ritz-Carlton Cancun, the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Four Seasons Resort Bali, One & Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives, Cape Grace in Cape Town, and The Oriental in Bangkok. We'd add Le Meurice to the list (for their Parisian treasure hunt), and Loews Hotels across the U.S. for their innovative kids programs (think dive-in movies in the summer months). Any hotels you'd recommend as note-worthy? Who'd we miss?


The Pyramids and More: The Conrad Hotel Wants to Show You Around Cairo

February 1, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Conrad CairoGame to explore Cairo? The Conrad Hotel-- smack dab in the heart of town on the banks of the Nile River-- wants to show you the city's hidden treasures. If you can tear yourself away from the views from your guest room (private balconies overlook the river), a tour guide will drive you around town to check out the sights. Return to the hotel and relax with a snack at Felucca Café as you gaze out over the Nile. There's a heated pool and fully-equipped gym for those craving a work-out. And for those feeling lucky: an onsite casino. This special package-- called "Let Us Show You Around Cairo"-- includes two nights accommodation in a classic room with a complimentary upgrade to a deluxe room; meet & greet at the airport with transportation back to the hotel; daily breakfast buffet; tour guide, transportation and sightseeing entrance fees; choice of one of the following sightseeing attractions: Egyptian Museum and Cairo Tower; Pyramides and Sphinx; Old Cairo and Citadel; Islamic Cairo, Khan El Khalily Bazaar and Azhar Park.


Now Open in South Africa: The Taj Hotel Cape Town

January 11, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Taj Cape TownThe world's gaze has turned to South Africa as one of the hottest destinations of 2010. To quote The New York Times: "as host of the 2010 World Cup this summer, South Africa has gotten its game on with a flurry of new stadiums, new hotels and safari lodges." One of the most exciting is the brand spanking new Taj Hotel in Cape Town, housed in two historic buildings in the heart of downtown, a big player in the revitalization of the inner city. From the new glass tower, guest rooms offer sweeping views over Cape Town and Table Mountain. Facilities include state-of-the-art banqueting and meeting rooms, a Jiva Grande Spa, fitness center, and a variety of dining options (Champagne and oysters, anyone?)


Where to Go Now: Hot Destinations for 2010 (Marrakech Included)

December 17, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Rocco Forte Resort in Marrakech

Where are the "It Places" to travel in 2010? Conde Nast Traveler's Ondine Cohane has the answer in her recently compiled "It List" for 2010, "Travel's Comeback Year." Drum roll, please: Colombia, Sri Lanka, Vancouver, Antarctica, Burma, Cuba, Venice, South Africa, Kyrgyzstan, and Marrakech. We're glad to see that Morocco didn't fade fast from the savy traveler's radar. An unprecedented number of luxury hotels will open in Morocco next year-- from Le Royal Mansour (owned by the king) to the Four Seasons to the new resort from the Rocco Forte Collection (pictured)... And you probably already ogled the pretty pictures of all the celebs attending the opening of La Mamounia over Thanksgiving....

What would you add to this list?


Summer in South Africa: Spa Special at The Westcliff, Johannesburg

December 10, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The WestcliffWe're hardly shy in dishing our hotel pick for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. In Johannesburg, it's The Westcliff, hands down. Just 10 minutes from the city center in an exclusive residential suburb, The Westcliff is perched on a hilltop with sculpted gardens and an infinity pool from where you can spy the elephants in the Johannesburg Zoological Gardens below. Part of the Orient-Express Collection of hotels, The Westcliff offers five-star treatment all the way. The hotel has announced a summer spa special (after all, the sun is shining in the southern hemisphere while we grit our teeth against the snow!) Pamper yourself in one of the three spacious Botanica Spa Suites tucked away in the estate's flowering gardens. Indulge in a two-hour treatment: start off with a body polish and exfoliation, followed with a body wrap of your choice, ending with a back, neck, and shoulder massage. Summer sale price? R1000. Valid until the end of February 2010.


A Serengeti Safari at the Bilila Lodge Kempinski in Tanzania

December 4, 2009
By: Daniel L. Moses

Bilila Lodge My first trip to Tanzania was a short one. I walked onto the bridge separating the massive East African country from its neighbor and my then home base, Rwanda, admired the powerful Chutes de Rusumo below, and then took a few steps on the other side just to say I'd been there before scampering back. I didn't have my passport, nor a visa, so a few steps into the green grass on the other side of the bridge was all I could get away with. Two years later, I returned to Tanzania, and did so in style. Safari-style!

Visiting the Serengeti National Park was like stepping into a movie set. Surreal, wonderful, and filled with wild game that walked within a few steps of the Landrover. A once in a lifetime experience!

There are several magnificent places to stay on your next safari, but few exceed the excellence of the Bilila Lodge Kempinski, located in the heart of Serengeti in Tanzania. Luxury oozes from the spacious rooms with views out over the African savanna. It's common to wake up and see antelope and zebra grazing in the tall grasses in front of the property. All from the comfort of your room!

One more thing: This place is beyond beautiful. Take a look for yourself, and indulge yourself with a safari and stay at the Bilila Lodge Kempinski.


Sponsored Article: Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa on South Africa’s Garden Route

December 1, 2009
By: Five Star Alliance

This article is sponsored by the Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa on the banks of the Knysna lagoon in the heart of the Garden Route of South Africa.

Pezula Resort HotelWhatever your dream is – a romantic honeymoon, a family holiday, a quiet weekend break or a week of pampering and relaxation – Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa offers the perfect venue. With superb accommodation, gourmet dining, an award-winning spa and a host of activities, the choice is endless.

Located on the Eastern Head of Knysna on the exquisite Western Cape coast, just a 40-minute flight from Cape Town, Pezula is surrounded by rugged cliffs, ancient forests and sheltered beaches. With sweeping views of Pezula Championship Golf Course, the Indian Ocean and the Knysna Lagoon, it is a haven of privacy and luxury.

Pezula Resort HotelSeventy-eight stylish suites, including two presidential suites, are housed in detached villas and deliver a whole new world of luxury in an elegant African style. Each has its own patio or balcony, individual climate control, satellite television, a DVD player, electronic safe, direct telephone, Wi-Fi connectivity and walk-in wardrobe. A pantry kitchen with delicious deli snacks, a well stocked drinks cabinet and real log fireplaces add unparalleled luxury to the accommodation.

Bathrooms are huge with oval-shaped calabash baths and wet rooms big enough for two. Beds are beautifully dressed with Egyptian cotton linen and guests are supplied with luxurious toweling gowns and slippers.

The main building houses a sumptuous cigar lounge, champagne and whisky bar, library, wine cellar and gourmet restaurant, Zachary’s. Executive chef Geoffrey Murray delights in serving up the freshest local ingredients in his inimitable style. His menu offers a variety of 'modern ethnic' dishes inspired by his worldwide experiences.

The hotel offers a number of other exciting dining options. The Boma is the ideal venue for a meal with an authentic African feel. Sit around the open fire as you watch a spectacular African sunset. As the light begins to fade, allow the sounds of the night to seduce your senses. Then relax at the elegant safari-style table while the staff prepare and serve traditional barbeque fair.

The Montrose Castle on the beach offers hotel guests a stunning beach venue. Recently renovated, the castle, which was built in the 1930s, is on Noetzie Beach, one of the most unspoilt and secluded beaches on the Garden Route coast. Here hotel guests can enjoy a picnic prepared by Zachary’s restaurant while they relax and soak up the sun.

Situated on the lower level of the hotel, the multi-award-winning Pezula Spa is a calm sanctuary that reflects the soul of Africa and provides world-class professionalism in the delivery of a superior health and wellness experience. This year the spa was named Favorite Spa in Africa by the SpaFinder Readers' Choice Awards and Best Overseas Hotel Spa by the Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards.

The extraordinary facilities of the Pezula Spa include a 12m heated indoor pool, state-of-the-art gymnasium, outdoor Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, rainforest shower, nail bar, hair salon and nine therapy rooms, as well as a post-treatment room with heated water beds. It offers a comprehensive range of treatments which combine natural therapies with the most technologically advanced equipment available.

Guests of Pezula also have access to a vast range of activities including horse riding and hiking through the ancient indigenous forests, canoeing up the pristine Noetzie River, birding, nature trails and beach activities at secluded Noetzie Beach. The estate’s Field of Dreams sporting complex offers four world-class tennis courts, a multi-purpose sports oval for soccer, cricket, soft ball and other team sports, facilities for pétanque and archery and a 300m golf practice range.

Younger guests are well catered for with a number of supervised activities. Parents and guardians can be totally confident that their children will be taken care of by trained, experienced child minders. At Pezula the emphasis is on fun in a healthy, natural environment and wherever possible children are encouraged to play outdoors, interact with other children and learn about nature. Babysitters are available in the evenings if parents wish to dine alone.

Pezula Resort GolfPezula Championship Golf Course adjacent to Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa is a sweeping spectacle of fairways and greens rolling through the pristine Southern Cape landscape. The breathtaking, award-winning 18-hole course which was designed by David Dale and Ronald Fream of GolfPlan USA, rates amongst the best and the most scenic golf courses in the world.

Covering 254 ha on the Knysna cliff-tops, the Pezula Championship Course has views of both the Knysna Lagoon and the Indian Ocean. Par for the course is 72. It is designed to include a full range of shots, making it a challenging, rewarding and complete golf experience for players of all levels. Signature holes have been earmarked as the 13th and 14th. The average round takes 4 hours 50 minutes, including a half-way break.

The Clubhouse facilities are in keeping with the overall five-star experience and include a terrace, restaurant, bar, golf shop, short game practice area and putting green. The Shareholders' Lounge houses a library, private lounge, dining area and bar. Golf carts are obligatory and the resort's carts are fully equipped with GPS systems and computerised scoring. Golf lessons are available from the Club's PGA Professionals.

Pezula’s latest offering for the high-end market is Pezula Castle on Noetzie Beach which offers ultra-luxury accommodation for up to 10 guests in the spacious Main Castle and the romantic Honeymoon Castle.

Built into the rugged coastal cliff-face with its ancient milkwood forests the Castle offers panoramic views of the beach and the sea. Guests have every conceivable wish catered for by a team of hand-picked personnel including a resident chef, housekeeper and butler. Menus are selected daily in consultation with the chef according to the freshest available ingredients, and the bar is stocked with guests’ drinks of choice. A fully equipped gymnasium, heated outdoor pool and thatched gazebo complete the extraordinary facilities.

The hotel has a number of exciting packages for 2010 – visit www.pezularesorthotel.com or call +27 (0)44 302 3333 and let your holiday begin ...


The Palace of the Lost City: Top Lodgings in Sun City Near Pilanesberg National Park

November 20, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Palace of the Lost CitySouth Africa on the brain? We can hardly blame you. If you're looking for a little sunshine and scenery before the World Cup kicks off, look into The Palace of the Lost City, the luxury hotel situated in the fantastical resort complex of Sun City, nestled in the rolling hills outside the Pilanesberg, South Africa's third largest game park. Built as a fairytale palace with mosaic frescoes and hand-painted ceilings depicting South Africa's wildlife and culture, the hotel and its surrounding resort have oft been described as "Africa's Kingdom of Pleasure."

The Palace of the Lost CityWith sizzling Vegas-style entertainment, pools, lush gardens, and golf course, Sun City has it all. With a mythical history, to boot. According to legend, this was the site of an ancient civilization destroyed by an earthquake, so The Palace of the Lost City is the resurrected "royal residence" of a lost African civilization. The hotel itself is isolated from the rest of the resort complex against the backdrop of tropical forest and savanna-covered hills, and gets high marks for its five-star service. At The Palace of the Lost City, every guest is a VIP.


The Marvelous Makeover of Cape Town’s Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa

November 13, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Twelve Apostles Hotel and SpaThis just in. The dramatically-situated Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa has revealed a refurbishment of all guest rooms, showcasing a completely-transformed Presidential Suite. From its perch on the top floor of the hotel, the suite boasts sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, Lions Head, and the Twelve Apostles Mountains. The best part? The free-standing marble bath where you can take in the views while you soak. Not to mention the private terrace where you can sup with those swoon-worthy views. Each guest room has been redesigned emphasizing the hotel's glorious surroundings. Local craftsmen designed some pieces like mud chandeliers made from recycled clay and candy stripe wool carpets