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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.

Deadline Today: Win a Five-night Stay at One of Seven Raffles Hotels Worldwide


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Raffles DubaiIn conjunction with the launch of the new Raffles.com, Raffles Hotels and Resorts is running a contest whereby the grand prize winner gets five nights in a Presidential Suite at any of the seven properties world-wide-- from Dubai (pictured) to the Grenadines. Five runners-up get a two-nights stay. What's required on your part? Share your story-- either your most enchanting experience at a Raffles hotel, or the dream experience you'd love to have. Hop to it! Deadline is today. You may just win your dream stay at any Raffles worldwide.


Mega Sale on InterContinental Hotels in Japan: 50 Percent Savings


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ana InterContinental Hotel TokyoThis just in. InterContinental Hotels is having a blow-out sale on its rooms in Japan. We're talking 50 percent off their best flexible rates! You must snag a stay during a three-day period, starting 11 a.m. on April 1st and ending 11 a.m. on April 4th. But the deal applies to stays from April 2nd-June 30 at 16 participating hotels including the InterContinental Tokyo Bay and the InterContinental The Grand Yokohama-- an architectural icon constructed in the shape of a yacht under sail. You can check into the perfectly-located ANA InterContinental in Tokyo and appreciate the urban swimming pool oasis (pictured). Note: Black-out dates are May 1-7.


Jia Boutique Hotel: Affordable Luxury in Hong Kong


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Jia Boutique Hotel Hong KongAs we reported back in mid-2007, cutting-edge boutique hotels have taken Hong Kong by storm. The coolest of the bunch, and the catalyst for the trend, is Jia-- the sexy hideaway designed by Philippe Starck. The hotel's racked up the awards since its debut, landed on Conde Nast Traveler's Hot List, and gotten called out in various design awards worldwide. The 25-storey tower has 54 rooms-- the height of chic-- featuring contemporary all-marbled kitchens and bathrooms, plus custom-designed furniture by Starck himself. The best part of all? The wholly affordable room rates.


A Room with a View: Turkey’s Marmara Antalya, World’s First Revolving Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Marmara AntalyaWhen you're vacationing in a setting this grand-- on southern Turkey's Falez cliffs overlooking the Med on one side and distant mountains on the other-- you want to experience it all. Leave it to the Marmara Antalya Hotel to come up with a way for you to drink it all in. Billed as the world's first revolving hotel, the hotel has a 24-room revolving loft that rotates 360 degrees every seven hours. Lucky guests can gape at the ever-changing panorama of turquoise sea against the rugged Antalya coastline, then-- voila!-- the snow-capped Taurus Mountains. Talk about a memorable stay in one of the world's most sought-after playgrounds. The design hotel also features 208 stationary rooms, a private beach with water sports, an artificial river, and a beautiful outdoor pools to catch some rays where the sun shines some 300 days out of the year.


Seasonal Diversion with Sofitel Hotels: Free Night, Chocolate Box, and Late Check-Out


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sofitel FirenzeAt last, spring has arrived. Feeling frisky? Plan an escape for two (or a family outing) and celebrate the season with a generous offer from Sofitel Hotels. With sophisticated lodgings around the globe, Sofitel charms guests with distinctive French style, savoir-faire, and refinement (and good eats, of course). Available until May 25th, 2009, the Sofitel "Seasonal Diversion" provides 1 night free when you stay 4 nights, a chocolate box and a guaranteed late check-out until 4 pm. Assuage spring fever by browsing through these swanky properties:

Sofitel MelbourneSofitel Melbourne:Stylish accommodations aren't the only thing you'll find here at this well-situated Melbourne hotel. Guests and all hotel visitors are treated to a stimulating range of exhibitions at Sofitel Melbourne, as the hotel-- a huge supporter of the city's arts community-- is famous for its temporary art exhibitions.

Sofitel Venezia:Located on the canal, this Venice hotel features luxurious accommodations furnished in XVIII century Venetian style. The "Golden Key" concierge service can organize gondola trips, book tickets for Fenice Theatre, and ensure an unforgettable stay.

Sofitel RomaSofitel Firenze:You'll find all the modern conveniences within this charming 17th century building. The hotel is ideally located opposite Via Tornabuoni's shopping thoroughfare, within a stone's throw of the major sites in the historic center, and close to the railway station.

Sofitel Brussels Europe:Elegant Brussels hotel just a short walk from the European institutions. Situated on Jourdan Place, this hotel-- known for gracious hospitality--is at the doorstep of Leopold Park, near the museums of Cinquantenaire Park and the Félix Hap garden.

Sofitel Roma Villa Borghese:Overlooking the magnificent Villa Borghese gardens, the hotel has a bar on the rooftop terrace with panoramic views of Rome. Legend has it that the Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese was the secret refuge of the Hollywood stars who thronged Rome during the years of the "Dolce Vita."

Sofitel Wanda Beijing:The new flagship Sofitel in Asia Pacific boasts striking design, elegant French cuisine, and the indulgent LeSpa. High-tech amenities abound.

Sofitel Royal AngkorSofitel Royal Angkor: Consistently rated as one of the best Siem Reap hotels, this is the place to stay when visiting Angkor Wat, the UNESCO World Heritage site in Cambodia. The large free form swimming pool is magnificent.

Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando:A palace turned luxury hotel complete with swimming pool and fitness center in the 16th century colonial quarter of Santo Domingo. The hotel's remarkable buildings include the original home of the town's founder, Governor Nicolas de Ovando.

Sofitel Rio de Janeiro:Sprawling resort complex with pools in front of the famous Copacabana Beach.


Third Night on the House at W Hotels


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Hotel IstanbulThis just in. Starwood's sexy brand of W Hotels is giving away a third night free when you book two nights. Embrace the cutting-edge and cool at W Hotels across the country and around the world (and now in Doha, to boot). You'll dig the hip Living Room Lounges-- the W Wonderland-- and Whatever/Whenever service (translation: your wish is their command). Some of our fave W properties include the W New York Union Square, the W San Francisco, and the W in Seoul.

Pictured: The Turkish delight known as W Hotel Istanbul.


Awesome Cultural Excursions Await in Siem Reap, Cambodia


By: Christina Vasquez

La Residence d'AngkorLa Residence d'Angkor Siem Reap not only provides its guests with luxury accommodations at their beautiful Khmer-style property, they also offer fantastic supplemental excursion packages that will ensure guests have wonderful lasting impressions of Siem Reap and Cambodia. These guided tours and excursions can be added onto the room reservation with a supplemental fee, and include privately guided excursions with a knowledgeable and trained local guide who will lead guests through the more well known sites of Angkor. Excursions to remote markets, temples, and scenic destinations not often visited by tourists are also available for those looking for a more unique opportunity. Observe the true day-to-day life and culture beautiful and exotic Cambodian city, and take advantage of the wonderful add-on tour packages offered by La Residence d'Angkor.


Cruises to the Summer Palace and Lux Spa Treatments with the Shangri-La Beijing


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La BeijingLooking for a quiet oasis in the Chinese capital? Look no further than the Shangri-La Hotel Beijing, a serene garden retreat in the western part of the city, not far from the Summer Palace and Beijing Exhibition Hall. With beautifully-appointed guest rooms and a spa that oozes luxury, this award-winning hotel has become the choice of both business and leisure travelers in Beijing. Choose a room in the deluxe Valley Wing and you'll bliss out in the expansive space (no less than 50 square meters) with floor-to-ceiling bay windows, a separate walk-in wardrobe, an extended lounge area, and multiple LCD-display televisions. One of the hotel highlights is a cruise on the River Dragon-- the 38-person touring boat moored at the Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing-- to the imperial Summer Palace, including a guided tour. (From April to November, the boat offers four cruises daily.) This exclusive boat trip mirrors the route enjoyed by past Chinese Emperors and showcases a unique slice of life in modern Beijing, as you float by temples and traditional courtyard houses on the riverbanks.


The Maldives: Vacation Paradise to Become the First Carbon Neutral Country


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

One and Only Maldives at Reethi RahIn recent years, the dreamy tropical islands of the Maldives have emerged as one of the hottest destinations for A-listers and honeymooners. The setting-- crystal clear waters lapping coral atolls fringed with sandy beaches-- is almost impossibly beautiful, and luxury hotels with overwater bungalows abound. Now The New York Times' Dot Earth blog gleefully reports that this island nation has pledged to become the world's first carbon neutral country, welcome news for the world's citizens who are increasingly concerned about global warming. For a country that is about six feet above sea level, the issue of rising seas (due to global warming) is crucially important. The goal is to switch from oil to 100 percent renewable energy production within a decade, so that the Maldives will no longer be a net contributor to greenhouse gas emissions:

The proposal recommended a mix of wind turbines, rooftop photovoltaic panels and a backup power plant that burns coconut husks (coconut is a substantial export), among other steps. The estimated cost: about $1.1 billion over 10 years. But the new energy options could pay off in the long run by greatly reducing the country’s reliance on imported oil, the report concluded.


Bargains in Beijing: Pampering at InterContinental Beijing Financial Street


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Beijing Financial StreetReduced trips to Walmart and Target= less American consumption= less business travelers checking out goods in Chinese factories= empty planes and empty hotels. Now is certainly the time to check out the wonders of China, broadcast on the world's stage during the Summer Olympic Games in 2008. Speaking of which, Beijing went nuts on the hotel building while prepping for the Olympics. Translation: There are now five-star hotels for the taking. As highlighted in a recent Portfolio.com article:

Alone among U.S. carriers, Continental Airlines launches a new nonstop service to Shanghai (from its Newark hub) later this month, and its introductory pricing set off a fare war. Flights to China can now be scored for as little as $800 roundtrip with a modest advance purchase. With overall hotel occupancy rates hovering around 50 percent in Beijing and Shanghai, bargains are everywhere. Room rates as low as $100 a night in newly built, four- and five-star properties with familiar Western brand names are common.

If we had our druthers, we'd check in to the InterContinental Beijing Financial Street to gawk at the 18-storey atrium and cool contemporary design. The spa is pretty fab, too. Ask the concierge about Tea Time; you can get a taste of Beijing culture on a visit to the Lao She Teahouse. The hotel can also arrange personal walking tours of Beijing with your very own private guide: the InterContinental's chief concierge.