March 27, 2012
By: Christopher Roney
I have a special place in my heart for tiny boutique hotels. It may be a little smaller than some of the other chambers, and there aren't enough spots for everybody, but that just makes the few who do make their way into my good graces all the more special. I can give each and every one the loving care and attention they deserve. And thus began my new segment on boutique hotels that I just adore.
South Africa had a major revitilization following their hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and it continues to be one of the major getaway destinations for someone looking for something a little different from the stereotypical Caribbean island vacation. And in the spirit of looking out for something different, the Saxon Boutique Hotel & Spa is even a little different from the standard fare in South Africa. With only 24 suites on the property, I would say the entire resort could practically fit in the palm of your hand if it werent for the fact that for those 24 rooms, it has all the facilities of a hotel ten times its size. Especially of note is the architectural emphasis on aquatics. The hotel's crowning jewel is its gorgeous infinity pool, which you can be assured is never too crowded and actually plays underwater music. The hotel's spa makes use of the innovative treatments, including the Rasul Chamber, which you'll just have to experience for yourself. The Saxon makes an effort not to be just another cookie-cutter luxury destination, and if you stay on your next trip to Africa, you'll feel the difference that makes.
March 13, 2012
By: Oksana Balytsky
We understand that no one aims to come in second place; there is no recognition for mediocrity. We at Five Star Alliance understand better than anyone the importance of offering the most luxurious resorts in the world, so we notice what’s going on in the industry, and it matters to us, because it matters to you. We work hard to offer you the best in the industry, and we’d like to welcome you to our second blog series where we feature the best and most luxurious resorts in the world. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business and have made the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012.
The Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012 is the eighth of their annual lists, and the hotels chosen by their team of editors and experts are the best for service, food, location, rooms, leisure facilities, ambiance and design.
The Mena House Oberoi in Cairo, Egypt is featured on the Gold List 2012: Best for location. This luxury hotel is phenomenally located in the shadows of the Great Pyramids of Giza. It is surrounded by 40 acres of beautiful gardens, and it is only 700 meters from the Pyramid of Cheops. This hotel was built in 1869 and has been drawing visitors in to experience the traditional and modern aspects of Cairo. The Mena House Oberoi is furnished with original art and antiques resembling a royal residence set among palms and jasmine. Be sure to check out the Mena House Oberoi and visit this luxurious oasis set in the most phenomenal spot!
January 24, 2012
By: Christopher Roney
The Red Carnation Hotel collection is widely regarded as one of the best international collections of independent and boutique hotels. From the currently hotly-contested 41 Hotel to the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town, expect to see big things from these hotels this year. The Twelve Apostles is opening up their newly redesigned spa alongside a series of deluxe beauty products fashioned from African plant extracts such as avocado butter and Ximenia kernel oil. Look forward to being treated with crystal-infused body oils or a fynbos sugar scrub or other highlights of the B|Africa series at any of Red Carnation's African locations, from the Twelve Apostles to Bushman's Kloof or Durban's The Oyster Box. The Oyster Box was itself named the Best Luxury Wellness Spa South Africa at the World Luxury Hotel Awards 2011. Capped by an iconic lighthouse and heaping helpings of colonial charm, the Oyster Box is one of South Africa's very best luxury hotels.
As for the Twelve Apostles, you can enjoy its 55 rooms and 14 suites in any of four secluded wings, connected by open walkways and featuring gorgeous mountain and sea views. Rooms especially for the business traveler help pull you away from the astounding vistas by offering special lighting in a generous work space and, as it almost goes without saying these days, high speed internet access. Regardless of what brings you to Cape Town, Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is certainly a great place to stay. And you keep on the lookout for more from Red Carnation Hotels; I know I'm excited to see what they come up with next.
December 17, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky
In the final days of 2011, Five Star Alliance is counting down the Top 20 Luxury Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, as decided by our guests.
Quick facts about the Mount Nelson Hotel:
- The most iconic luxury hotel situated within a beautiful garden estate in the heart of Cape Town.
- Located in an urban sanctuary with a romantic heritage, distinctive style, and a commitment to excellent service.
- Small meeting rooms which can accommodate 15, 45, and 60 people.
- Nine acres of enclosed gardens, babysitting services, and various child-friendly tours.
- Located in the midst of wine country, providing guests with ample opportunities to partake in wine tours.
View photos, learn more about the hotel, and check availability at the Mount Nelson Hotel.
Be sure to keep up with our countdown! In case you missed it, here is our #16 featured hotel, the Auberge du Soleil.
November 2, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky
Located in the heart of one of the most fascinating cities, the One and Only Cape Town is nestled between the scenic sandstone cliffs. This urban chic waterfront resort is surrounded by beauty and offers incredible views of Table Mountain and private Spa Island. Aside from being in an incredible city with incredible landscapes, this resort has recently added new wedding venues and packages, making it a perfect location to tie the knot.
The One and Only Cape Town is adding a 76-foot motor yacht and a beautiful new Ballroom to its extensive venue list for weddings and engagements. The ivory tones and 6 handmade crystal chandeliers add to the Ballroom’s sophistication and elegance. The Ballroom measures 2,314 square feet and has 648 square feet of outdoor space, making it suitable for a wedding with 50–140 guests.
If a wedding in a grand Ballroom is not quite your cup of tea, consider exploring the option of enjoying intimate moments on the Sherilyn, a luxury motor yacht. This luxurious yacht is available for sunset wedding photographs, wedding ceremonies, and even grand gesture proposals. It can accommodate up to 20 guests, and its qualified team can assist with making arrangements to create the perfect ambiance.
For those unable to choose between the Ballroom and the Sherilyn, the Ballroom Package is available, which provides exclusive access to the yacht for post-ceremony drinks.
We hope this gives you some inspiration and ideas for planning your wedding, and we hope you are able to find the perfect location with the right amenities for your special day.
October 31, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Nothing whets our appetite for travel more than the annual destination lists by top travel guides. Frommer's recently released their "Top Destinations for 2012" after its editors, authors, and experts spent "months bickering" among themselves. They also reached out to readers to find out their travel plans for the coming year, with Turkey the clear winner at 51% of the vote (Paris, Italy, and Hawaii also got high marks). The USA Today has summarized the list, including explanations about each destination from Frommers.com editorial director David Lytle.
Curacao – This often overlooked Caribbean island has affordable rentals, "as opposed to traditional flop-and-drop all-inclusives."
Chongqing, China – An alternative to the usual Chinese destinations (Beijing, Shanghai), it's a 19th-century town that has undergone rapid modernization, thanks, in part, to its position as the last stop on the Three Gorges river tour.
Fukuoka Japan – This feudal Japanese town on the north shore of Kyushu province is a place to go after you've done Tokyo and Kyoto. Plus, its inclusion on the list is a reminder that not all of Japan was affected by the earthquake.
Beirut – The city has experienced a renaissance in recent years, as many European travelers know. "It's an urban hotspot full of smartly dressed people who have intelligent conversation," Lytle says.
Ghana – Unlike some other African nations, this country has enjoyed long-time stability. As a former center of the slave trade, it's also on the heritage trail for African Americans.
London's Greenwich neighborhood – Just 20 minutes from Central London, this Thames-side town has undergone a renaissance. And post-Olympics is a good time to visit London, since it's bound to be gussied up for the event, with bargains after the party's over.
Girona, Spain – This Costa Brava town is popular among Brits, but is largely undiscovered by Americans. It's also an easy-to-get-to beach getaway from Barcelona.
Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia – It's a quiet, charming area, perfect for recharging your batteries.
Kansas City, Mo. – Its food and music scenes are lively. It sports a number of really good museums. Plus, it's central locale makes it relatively close to a lot of Americans.
Yucatan Peninsula – There's more to this region than Cancun. Moreover, it's been relatively free of drug-related violence that has touched border towns and the some of the Mexico's western reaches.
September 28, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
The 2011 World Luxury Hotel Awards have announced their Global Winners across a variety of categories, and we’re confident that each of these hotels represents the finest in luxury accommodations. We'll be spotlighting many of these individually in the coming weeks and offering our critical commentary, but for now, take a look at the winners such as the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, winning Best Luxury Hotel overall, and the Sandals Royal Plantation, the Best Luxury Island Resort.
Click here to check out the full list of best hotels, listed alphabetically by location so you can find the names of the top hotels in your vacation spot of choice, and search here if you're interested in booking any of the top hotels of 2011.
September 26, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky
Qatar Airways hosted a media reception at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, September 21, 2011. With the opportunity to attend the event, I thought you, our luxurious travelers might like an inside look into this luxury hotel in the sky!
Qatar Airways has earned the reputation of offering a luxurious experience the moment you set foot on the plane, but for us, the special treatment began the moment we arrived. Our evening started with champagne and hors d’oeuvres being served at Qatar Airway’s downtown office. Afterwards, we proceeded to Dulles Airport, aboard a Reston’s Limo Bus, giving everyone on board a flashback to senior prom. Upon arrival, we were taken on a tour of the airport and got a quick rundown of how the control tower manages incoming and outgoing flights.
We then proceeded to the best part of the evening, an on-the-ground tour of a Boeing 777. The sheer size of the plane was breathtaking, and it made you wonder for a second how a machine of that magnitude can fly. Our tour continued onto the aircraft, which had two business classes, accommodating 42 seats total. The plush, crimson chairs recline fully, and the pristine flight attendants pride themselves on providing five-star service. Qatar Airways prides itself on delivering individual service and catering to every passenger on board. There is no designated meal time; at any point during your flight you can enjoy anything off the unlimited menu that offers indulgences such as zucchini soup, salmon, and even ice cream. And by unlimited, they really mean unlimited. If you want eight servings of ice cream, you are more than welcome to it.
Our evening ended with an incredible dinner, and at that point it was quite clear why Skytrax voted Quatar Airways Airline of the Year in 2011. Qatar Airways flies to over 100 destinations, and since it is at the forefront of the luxury travel industry, it’s bound to meet and exceed your expectations.
(Photo via Qatar Airways)