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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 Leela Hotel Group Awarded for Environmental Initiatives


By: Alison Victor

Leela GoaThe Leela Palaces, Hotels, and Resorts is India's most renowned luxury hotel group, seamlessly merging business hotels with luxury resorts at five beautiful locations. Each hotel manages to capture the essence of modern day India. But how many people were also aware that Leela is also at the forefront of environmental awareness and sustainability? Earlier this month, Krishnan Nair, the chairman of Leela Palaces, Hotels, and Resorts, was the first person to be honored by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences for his contribution to environmental causes and his hotel's group social responsibility. A visionary hotelier, Krishnan's environmental initiatives can be seen at each property. At The Leela Goa, for example, Nair's imprint can be seen in the 75 acres of lush gardens and foliage planted along the property. In all, there have been a total of 3,556,633 trees planted on the Leela Properties.


Affordable Luxury at the Trendy Jia Shanghai


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Jia ShanghaiFollowing the successful debut of JIA in Hong Kong, the luxury boutique hotel brand moved on to Shanghai, opening a designer-led boutique residence that's been turning heads in the fashionable city. Since "JIA" takes its name from the Mandarin word meaning "home," it's only fitting that the collection of hip boutique hotels should cocoon its guests in comfort and style. JIA Shanghai is a cross between a home and a hotel, so you'll find fully-equipped kitchenettes in addition to the swank Bisazza-tiled bathrooms in-room. Infused with contemporary design, rooms are decked out with cool, modern furniture and have entertainment centers and free wireless Internet. Book a suite and you'll get the services of a personal bartender to man your Chinoiserie cocktail cabinet. The best part of all? You can snag rates of just RMB 1095 (about $160) including continental breakfast, afternoon cakes, and evening wine.


Bali Escapes: Indulge with Warwick Ibah’s Luxury Villas & Spa


By: K. Clare Johnson

Warwick IbahEscape to glamorous Bali, even if it's just for three nights, with Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas & Spa's Indulgence package. This prestigious resort, steeped in royal heritage, consists of 15 uniquely designed luxury villas and suites in a spectacular location on the gently sloping valley of the Campuhan River. Starting from $996, you will enjoy:

* Three Nights in Luxurious Accommodation

* Daily American Breakfast

* Welcome Foot Massage

* One 3 Course Dinner during your stay

* Ibah Spa Mountain Ritual

* A Dance Performance in the Royal Palace

* A Flower arrangement in your room

* A Complimentary Cocktail in the Bar

* Daily Tropical fruit basket in your room

* Complimentary use of resort's Mountain Bikes

* Free Shuttle Service in the Ubud area

* 20 percent Gift Shop discount and 10 percent Spa Gift Shop discount

* Return shuttle transfers anywhere in Bali

All prices are based on two persons, and the offer is subject to availability and certain other terms and restrictions.


Learn About Chinese Culture with The Peninsula Beijing


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Peninsula Palace BeijingLeave it to the super-lux Peninsula Beijing to create special programs for its guests to get insights into Chinese culture and traditions while staying in sumptuous style. Just a short stroll away from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, The Peninsula offers the crème de la crème of Beijing's room accommodations, showcasing sprawling marble bathrooms, supremely comfortable beds, and room controls at your fingertips. It's a delightfully decadent hotel experience, but The Peninsula understands that its guests want to take advantage of the hotel's proximity to the capital's key business and leisure landmarks. So they've designed The Peninsula Academy Programme so you can immerse yourself in Chinese culture and glean insights into this ancient civilization. With this personalized program, you can learn about Chinese antiques or furniture restoration, the Wild Great Wall, or Beijing's old embassy area. A range of exclusive cultural activities-- from culinary experiences to lifestyle and nature immersion-- are led by experts for one or two people.


Big Promotion from Starwood: Get a Free Weekend For Every 2 Hotel Stays


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Royal HawaiianThis just in. Starwood Hotels and Resorts has announced a rewarding new promotion for new and existing members of the Starwood Preferred Guest program (SPG). When you stay two times at any of Starwood's hotels between May 1 and July 31, 2009, you can earn one free weekend night (Friday, Saturday or Sunday). There are no limits to the number of free weekend nights that can be earned, and earned nights can be combined to make a longer weekend stay. The best part? No blackout dates (!) and the nights are redeemable through the end of September. Starwood encompasses 875 hotels around the world within nine different brands (like St. Regis, Westin, The Luxury Collection, Aloft and Sheraton), including the likes of the Royal Hawaiian (pictured) and the opulent Hotel Gritti Palace in Venice. Talk about a travel stimulus program!


Free Fourth Night in Hanoi at the Sofitel Metropole


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sofitel MetropoleStep off the steamy, (slightly) chaotic city streets into an oasis of calm at the Sofitel Metropole Hanoi, the city's French-Colonial style landmark and celebrated hotel-- that's played host to heads of state and playwrights since 1901. The hotel's a marvelous mix of Vietnamese and European style, reflected also in the cuisine served up in its restaurants: superb French dishes at Le Beaulieu and Hanoi specialties at Spices Garden. In such a sultry climate, the Sofitel Metropole's pool is especially inviting. Coming soon: a full-service, luxury spa. Until May 25th, you can take advantage of the "Seasonal Diversion" package and get a fourth night free when you stay for three nights. You'll also receive a box of delectable chocolates and a late check-out of 4 p.m.


50 Percent Off Rooms at the Newly-Renovated Banyan Tree Lijiang


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Banyan Tree LijiangThis just in. Banyan Tree Lijiang-- surrounded by extraordinary snow-capped peaks in China's southern province of Yunnan-- is celebrating its new makeover in a big way. They're doling out promotional rates of 50 percent off for online bookings made between April 8th and 11th for stays until the end of 2009. Experience the cultural and aesthetic marvels of a town named a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Lijiang is a picturesque maze of cobble-stone streets, canals, bridges, and distinctive Naxi architecture. The resort just opened 34 swanky new deluxe and spa suites on its extensive Naxi-styled resort grounds, each with views of towering Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. This is the Banyan Tree Group's flagship resort in China, offering a luxury pool villa experience that's unrivaled in the Yunnan region.


The Newly-Opened Shangri-La Tokyo Makes a Splash in the Land of the Rising Sun


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La Tokyo

Check into Tokyo's newest luxury hotel, the Shangri-La which opened last month, and discover the hotspot everyone's been talking about. Showcasing some 2,000 pieces of art and 50 handmade chandeliers (including glass carved into ginkgo leaves, Tokyo's symbol), the Shangri-La is shaking things up in the vibrant capital known for its luxury offerings. Perhaps it's because the chain's indulgent CHI spa is making its Japan debut. Though the guest rooms are luxury incarnate. We're talking pillow menus, sleek design, and killer views from the top 11 floors of Marunouchi Trust Tower Main building. If you stay before April 12, you'll get a commemorative gift, free breakfast, access to the Hotel’s Health Club and Pool, and complimentary Internet along with your swanky accommodations. The "Discover Shangri-La" package goes for JPY 110,000 per night (about $1000).


Now Open: Capella Singapore on Sentosa Island


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Capella SingaporeWe've been waiting with bated breath, and now the day has finally arrived. Capella Hotels and Resorts has opened its first hotel in Asia-- its flagship in Singapore on Sentosa Island, a bucolic setting of white sandy beaches and lush rainforest. Singapore's recreational resort, Sentosa Island is connected to the dynamic urban center by a causeway. The crème de la crème of the island's luxury lodgings is the new Capella, an architectural masterpiece with the largest guest rooms in Singapore. Nice perk: Many of the one- and two-bedroom garden villas overlook the South China Sea and feature private plunge pools and outdoor bathing facilities. Deals: For a limited time, you can stay for three nights while only paying for two.


Going to Singapore: New Arts Hub in Asia


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fullerton Hotel, SingaporeThe arts are blossoming in Singapore, reports the Wall Street Journal, as the city works hard to continue to lure international tourists and foreign expatriates to a happening cultural scene. To "claim status as a global performing arts city on a par with London or New York," Singapore is relaxing some long-held taboos:

Hollywood actor Ethan Hawke stars in a production of Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale," staged here this week by British director Sam Mendes. Meanwhile, across town, the curtain is rising on Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," with an all-male, all-gay cast. These are the latest marquee productions...Theaters here increasingly are allowed to take on risqué social and political themes, a sign this tightly controlled Southeast Asian city-state is starting to loosen up.

Indeed Singapore is making a big effort to foster the arts; the state-run Singapore Arts Festival in May and June brings in 700,000 visitors to performances of theater, music and dance by local and international artists. Where to stay in this increasingly-vibrant Asian capital? The Fullerton Hotel, of course, which the Wall Street Journal puts at the top of its list. Housed in an old colonial-era post office on the Singapore River, the hotel offers five-star digs in an unbeatable location: "In April, it has special room rates of $200 (299 Singapore dollars) weekends, $215 (328 Singapore dollars) weekdays."