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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.

What’s Hot: Angsana Resort and Spa Ihuru Maldives


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Angsana Maldives

The best kept secret of the Indian Ocean-- the 26 atolls and 1,190 tropical islands of the Maldives-- has become one of the hottest destinations on the planet. Rated the number one islands in the world by the Conde Nast Traveler 19th annual Reader's Choice Awards, the Maldives are a natural wonder with unparalleled biodiversity (over 900 species of fish) and some of the most breathtaking dive sites in the world. Located on one of the most picturesque islands of the Maldives (lush and beautiful Ihuru), the Angsana Resort is surrounded by unspoiled natural beauty: pristine reefs, palm-dotted beaches, and turquoise waters. The island is encircled by a shallow lagoon and technicolor reef, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. Angsana Resort and Spa Ihuru offers the hedonistic pleasures of a spa retreat and the perfect holiday paradise. The 45 private villas feature thatched roofs, private gardens and verandas with dining and sitting areas. The resort has recently revamped its spa offerings with an extensive list of treatments, including Asian Spa therapies and special men's treatments. The new highlights include Duet, tailored for couples to enjoy together (the spa experience begins with a Tropical Fruit Wash for him and an Almond Milk Aglow body polish for her, followed by body massages and the Milk Orange Bath), Soothing Sun Relief (which includes Cucumber Soother and a calming facial soother), and Ayurvedic Delights.

PS. Noteworthy: The Angsana Resort and Spa has won awards for its environmentally friendly focus, including several outstanding marine biology research initiatives.


Sky Bar at lebua at State Tower: Bangkok’s Best Bars


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

lebua at State Tower

Bangkok's newest member of Small Luxury Hotels is an extraordinary all-suite masterpiece in the heart of Bangkok. At lebua at State Tower, each suite boasts a wall of windows with dazzling views of the city skyline and Chao Phraya River. The spacious suites are luxurious and comfortable, stacked with contemporary conveniences (like two flat-screen TVs, DVD players, in-room broadband Internet connectivity, workstations, and fully-equipped kitchens). The Dome at State Tower features myriad dining options with glass balconies, sexy lighting, terraces, and city viewing galleries. Located on the 63rd floor of The Dome at State Tower, Sirocco is the world's highest al fresco restaurant stunning views of Bangkok. The dramatic deck appears to be suspended in the middle of the sky, frozen in space. Descending onto the deck is a beautifully lit stairway leading to one corner where the hip Sky Bar takes center-stage.

With the Sky Night @ Sky Bar package, enjoy the very best that Bangkok has to offer from high atop State Tower. The package includes daily full breakfast, complimentary local calls and high-speed internet access, complimentary use of the fitness center facilities and swimming pool, welcome amenity of flowers and handmade chocolates, one Sky Bar drink per person, and one bottle of wine in-room upon arrival. Starting at $140 per one bedroom suite through December 21, 2006. $150 per one bedroom suite until March 31, 2007. Two night minimum stay required.


The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India: Asia’s Leading Resort


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Oberoi Udaivilas

This lakeside luxury resort grabbed top honors at the 13th annual World Travel Awards, held in Turks and Caicos this year. Named "Asia's Leading Resort," the Oberoi Udaivilas is romantic, glamorous, and utterly enchanting. Resembling one of the grand palaces for which Rajasthan is fabled, the resort boasts stunning views over Lake Pichola to the City Palace and the Aravalli Hills beyond. Set amidst landscaped gardens, courtyards, fountains, and reflection pools, the 87 guest rooms are royal-- featuring large private terraces, private swimming pools, marble bathrooms, walk-in closets, and butler service. In addition, the resort offers a gym, two large pools, fine dining, and a luxury spa offering a range of therapies.


Announcing the New Four Seasons Koh Samui, Thailand


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Koh Samui

Set amidst swaying coconut palms overlooking the beaches of the Gulf of Thailand, Four Season's newest resort is a stunning hilltop oasis. The spacious Thai villas and residences are surrounded by tropical gardens and coconut groves, and each boast private infinity pools, sundecks, and al fresco living spaces with incredible panoramas of the white sand beaches and turquoise sea. The Spa—deeply rooted in Thailand's rich healing tradition-- is housed in five salas, each equipped with two indoor and two outdoor massage beds, two outdoor showers, an outdoor bathtub and either a steam sauna or an indoor rain shower. And there are tennis courts, a yoga pavilion, and an excellent fitness center. This is the ultimate tropical idyll. Now accepting reservations for arrivals starting February 1, 2007.


Cathay Pacific Announces Seat Upgrades


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cathay Pacific

Starting in January, Cathay Pacific will unveil some swanky cabin upgrades. First class-fliers will go gaga over the new seat that can be transformed from armchair, to chaise lounge, to bed (and an extra-long and wide one at that!) Business class passengers will appreciate the seats that recline to fully flat beds. And even the economy folks will enjoy a new seat, designed to let passengers recline without intruding on those seated behind them. (Plus economy fliers will get video and audio on-demand.) This is hot on the heels of Virgin Atlantic's announcement—reported by the folks at Mobissimo—of the airline's $25 million investment for newly-designed seats.


Business Travel to Kazakhstan: The Regent Almaty Acquired by InterContinental


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Almaty

Business taking you to Kazakhstan? (Rich oil, gas, and mineral reserves means rapid development for the country, and Almaty is now the economic heart of it all.) The city's finest hotel—the Regent—has recently been acquired by InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, and will morph into the brand spanking new InterContinental Almaty this month. The 290-room hotel has long been a city landmark, situated across from the presidential palace, with beautiful mountain views. After a substantial refurbishment, the hotel will feature nine executive and two Presidential suites, oodles of dining options, a Spa and Turkish baths, and fully-equipped fitness center. Notably, the new hotel will boast the most extensive meeting and conference facilities in the city, including a ballroom with a capacity of 400.


Autumn Happenings in Hong Kong; The Peninsula Spa Escape


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peninsula Hong Kong

Now is the time to visit Hong Kong. The city is simply hopping with festivals and good times. From October 20-November 19, 2006, the New Vision Arts Festival-- highlighting the connections between East and West-- is a month-long cultural extravaganza of art, modern dance, Chinese opera, theater and ballet. And starting October 25, Hong Kong Winterfest will transform the city into a winter wonderland. A must-see is the newly-renovated Peak Tower. Hong Kong's iconic landmark has undergone a multi-million dollar makeover and is now welcoming visitors to take in the dramatic city views. The entire rooftop has been turned into a viewing platform, high-end restaurants have opened in addition to the fast food joints, and the rooftop Sky Gallery now showcases the work of local artists.

Be pampered in style at the legendary Peninsula Hong Kong, long hailed as one of the finest hotels in the world. Even if an overnight stay's not in the works, you can now enjoy a luxurious Weekday Spa Escape at the hotel. Escape from the hectic pace of city life for the ultimate in rejuvenation. The 'Weekday Spa Escape' includes full use of the Peninsula Spa facilities (including harbor view sauna and crystal steam room, relaxation areas, Asian Tea Lounge and the hotel's Greco-Roman-style swimming pool), an ESPA salt and oil full-body exfoliation (30 minutes), ESPA aromatherapy body massage (1hr 20 minutes), plus a light lunch by the pool, featuring 'Naturally Peninsula' light and healthy cuisine. All for just HK$1,800 per person.


New SLH Hotels in the Middle East & Asia


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

by Courtney W. May, Editorial Advisory Board SLH Logo There are 4 new additions to the Small Luxury Hotels collection, including the first members in the Middle East, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Evason Hideaway & Six Senses Spa at Zighy Bay, Oman Tucked away in a quiet fishing village on the northern tip of the Oman peninsula and backed by mountains which wrap around a secluded 1.6 kilometre sandy beach, the location of Evason Hideaway at Zighy Bay is nothing less than dramatic. When this hotel of uncompromising luxury opens in 2007 it will boast a private marina, as well as 85 pool villas and pool villa suites complete with personal butlers. The hotel will also offer its guests a rather unique mode of arrival – as a companion passenger of a professional paraglider. Definitely not for the faint-hearted! For something a little more sedate, guests will also have the option of a 10-minute speed boat transfer or a scenic drive from the top of the hill overlooking the bay. Desert Palm Retreat, Dubai When Desert Palm Retreat opens in October 2006 it will be Dubai’s first boutique resort and also SLH’s first hotel in the United Arab Emirates. Set in 150 acres of unexpectedly lush, green countryside on a private polo estate, the hotel will set a benchmark for hospitality in Dubai. Accommodation will comprise 13 beautifully appointed Polo Rooms with balcony views over the main polo fields, four one-bedroom pool villas, six three-bedroom Pool Residences and a Presidential Suite. Guests of Desert Palm Retreat will also have the opportunity to admire the owner’s collection of priceless art and antiques. The hotel will have a choice of three restaurants offering unsurpassed culinary delights, while an innovative Aquum Spa will complete the experience. Lanson Place, Hong Kong The doors of this discreet urban hotel first swung open in December 2005 to reveal beautifully executed contemporary décor throughout every one of the 194 guest rooms, which include six residences and 12 suites. Lanson Place is located on a discreet side street within easy walking distance of three of Hong Kong’s most lively neighbourhoods; Central, Wanchai and Causeway Bay providing a welcome and intimate haven away from the hustle and bustle of this vibrant city. First impressions are everything, a philosophy that resonates through the intricate wall sconces and chandeliers commissioned from glassmakers in Murano, Italy located in the lobby. An elegant collection of over 300 individual pieces of original artwork feature throughout this luxurious property. Discovery Shores, Boracay Island, the Philippines On the unspoilt shores of Boracay Island in the Philippines, Discovery Shores will be the island’s first true luxury resort of international standards when it opens in December 2006. Consistently rated within the top 20 beach destinations in the world, this pristine escape known for its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters is the ideal getaway for marine enthusiasts. Discovery Shores will showcase its breathtaking location with 67 metres of beach front and 88 units sloping upward from the beach to capture the spectacular ocean views. Guests at Discovery Shores will marvel at a 14 metre waterfall, several cascading pools, and a swim up pool bar, whilst having access to a fitness centre and world-class Mandala Spa. Small Luxury Hotels of the World Collection


Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Takes the World by Storm


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La Hong Kong

Look out, Four Seasons. Shangri-La, the largest operator in Asia of deluxe hotels (raking in revenue of about $1 billion a year) is coming to Europe. According to a recent IHT article, the Hong Kong-based company is "on a major expansion spree, with 44 new hotels to be developed over the next four years, and the company is still seeking more sites." Indeed, the chief executive, Giovanni Angelini, personally scouted the ideal spot in Paris for Shangri-La's first luxury hotel in Europe: the historic palace of Prince Roland Bonaparte near the Trocadero. The hotel group is also looking at major American cities and European capitals. Significantly, Shangri-La is the largest operator of luxury hotels in China and is planning to double its current 20 hotels by 2010. To quote Angelini:

"By the year 2020, it is expected there will be more than 100 million Chinese travelers," he said. "Can you imagine the impact? Japan has made a tremendous impact in the industry and it never reached more than 17 million travelers.


Announcing the W Retreat and Spa Maldives


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Maldives

The W hotel chain— adored by American urbanites for its sleek city hotels— has opened its first resort in the Maldives. Billed as a "sophisticated luxury playground," this Retreat and Spa is the first of its kind for W. Situated on the private tropical island of Fesdu, in the North Ari Atoll, the W Retreat and Spa combines indulgent all-villa accommodations with the Maldives first real nightlife: a subterranean grotto bar aptly called 15 BELOW because it's fifteen feet below the island's surface. This is the ultimate indulgence and exclusivity in the Maldives. In your private over-water villa, enjoy your own plunge pool, sundeck, and beach. Or marvel at the lagoon's colorful fish through the glass-paneled floor (the roof is likewise glass-paneled). The villas are all outfitted with outdoor lounging areas with individual barbeque stations for private dining, circular daybeds, and outdoor tropical showers. As to be expected from W Hotels, the accommodations are equipped with all the latest technology and conveniences: deluxe Bose sound systems, 42 inch plasma televisions, and wine refrigerators. Indulge in a spa treatment at the over-water AWAY spa. Lounge on the white-sand beaches, take a dip in the turquoise lagoon, and snorkel along the breathtaking reefs. The WAVE water sports facility is fully equipped with top-quality scuba diving gear, along with kite surfing, water skiing, wind surfing, kayaking, sailing, and endless other options. In the evening, dine at one of the six gourmet restaurants followed by a cocktail at the hip underground bar, which offers the largest selection of vodka in the Maldives. The W Retreat and Spa Maldives promises to be the ultimate private island paradise.