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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.

Look out, Jakarta: W Hotels is Coming to Town

November 17, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Retreat and Spa BaliWhen W planted its flag in Indonesia earlier this year, the W Retreat & Spa Bali – Seminyak (pictured) immediately became *the* place to see and be seen. (The resort manages to be both a tranquil hideaway and a happening hot spot at the same time.) Now the brand is looking to make a splash in the buzzing capital city of Jakarta, with the opening of a brand new hotel in 2015. Located in Jakarta's Central Business District, the 300-room property will import W's signature Whatever/Whenever service philosophy along with the W Living Room experience. To quote the official press release: "W Jakarta will offer escape, extravaganza and innovative design in the heart of one of the city's most vibrant districts, redefining the contemporary lifestyle and bringing a completely new and distinctive experience to the hotel market in Jakarta." The W Jakarta will be the brand's twelfth property in the Asia Pacific region, following the 2014 openings of W Beijing and W Shanghai.


The World's Best Hotels: Announcing the Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards 2011

November 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Bel-AirLooking to get inspired for your next getaway? The savvy editors at Fodor's have just released their first-ever list of the world's best hotels. After careful deliberation, the team of Fodor's editors and writers curated the "Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards 2011" spanning eight hotel categories. Here's a sampling of some of our favorites that made the cut.

New & Noteworthy- The Year's Best New and Reinvented Hotels: Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, Mondrian Soho in NYC, Hotel Bel-Air & The Redbury in Los Angeles

Grande Dame- Legendary Hotels with Superlative History and Service: The Carlyle in NYC, Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, Hotel du Russie in Rome, The Savoy in London

Casual Chic- Effortlessly Stylish Hotels with Rustic-Modern Appeal: Cavo Tagoo in Mykonos, Bardessono in Napa, The Allison in Oregon

Design- Cutting-Edge Boutique Hotels at All Price Points: Hotel Missoni in Edinburgh, Jia in Hong Kong

Cavo Tagoo, MykonosLocal Flavor- Go-To Hotels for a Truly Authentic Experience: Fairmont Chateau Montebello in Quebec, Evason Ma'in Hot Springs and Six Senses Spa in Jordan

Clubby Atmosphere- Hip Urban Pied-à-Terres: 21C Museum Hotel in Louisville, The Liberty in Boston, The Augustine in Prague

Luxurious Retreat- Top Choices for a Complete Escape: Little Palm Island Resort and Spa in the Florida Keys, Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, Inkaterra Machu Picchu

Trusted Brand- World-Class Examples of International Hotel Chains: Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, The Peninsula Bangkok


What's Hot: Introductory Rates at Angsana's New Flagship Resort on Phuket

November 2, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Angsana Laguna PhuketCome hell or high water, the Angsana Laguna Phuket will be opening its doors on December 1, 2011. The new flagship for Angsana Hotels and Resorts, the property closed earlier this year for a multi-million dollar overhaul, and promises to dazzle after a dramatic makeover. The guest rooms and public spaces are stylish and contemporary in design, with traditional Thai touches (think steep arched roofs, waterways winding through the grounds, and vividly colored fabrics).

Nestled on Bang Tao Bay in the northwest of Phuket Island in Southern Thailand, Angsana Laguna Phuket is part of Laguna Phuket, Asia’s first integrated resort, which is comprised of five luxury hotels, six palm-fringed lagoons, 600 acres of parkland, three kilometers of pristine beach and a slew of recreational activities and dining options. We like the sound of the 323 metre free-form pool that meanders throughout the Angsana Laguna Phuket and the award-winning Angsana Spa. Did we mention the treehouse-inspired Kids Club? This resort is family friendly (and they even have a special kiddies pool called the toddler's "tub").

Hot rates: The resort is currently offering $199 introductory rates with breakfast included, and they'll throw in a resort credit of $98 when you stay in two nights or more. Stay a minimum of three nights, and you'll get a free 90-minute massage.


A Special Place to Stay: Hoshi Ryokan is the World’s Oldest Hotel

November 1, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

There's a certain stature that comes with age. So when I learned that the oldest hotel in the world is approaching its 1300 birthday, I knew it was worth looking into.  Not only is the Hoshi Ryokan in Japan the oldest hotel and spa, it is also the world’s longest continuously operating business. Spanning 46 generations of family ownership and 1291 years of operation, this hotel and spa has been since nearly the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

Anything this historic has to have an origin story, and the Hoshi Ryokan does not disappoint (some details embellished): In the year of 718, when the world was young, a great Buddhist monk, Taicho Daishi, set out on a journey of enlightenment. His travels took him to the top of sacred Mt. Hakusan, an ancient peak that bears the spirit of the god of the mountain. The deity came to him in a dream and offered up his secret: Only a few kilometers away, the village of Awazu houses a subterranean hot spring blessed by The Physician of Souls himself. Yakushi Nyorai, also known as the Nyorai of Emerald Radiance, is the Buddha who offers the gifts of physical and mental wellness to those in need. Daishi returned from the mountainside with his secret and unearthed the wellspring, where the sickened villages of Awazu bathed in its healing waters and were cured. Ever since, his disciple Hoshi’s family has run a spa at that very location, where people from around the world come to bathe in the holy waters.

I invite you to step a little bit outside of your comfort zone and experience the traditional lodgings of the world’s oldest hotel and spa.

Photo and Source: World's Biggest.


Frommer's List of Top 10 Destinations for 2012

October 31, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le Grey, BeirutNothing 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.

InterContinental ChongqingBeirut – 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.


Spa Trends: The Kids Get Pampered at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai

October 27, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Resort Chiang MaiOne of the latest trends in luxury travel? Tykes and teens are getting pampered with specialized spa treatments. We've seen teen acne facials and little princess manicures at hotels like Stowe's Topnotch Resort, Loews Coronado Bay Hotel in San Diego, and The Homestead in Virginia. The latest resort to create a customized menu for its youngest guests? The Four Seasons Resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand's northern culture capital in the beautiful Mae Rim Valley. For "little angels," the resort recently unveiled a menu of new treatments using organic, chemical-free products. Here's the menu:

Angel Bliss Massage – A relaxing, soothing treatment perfect for energetic kids, the Angel Bliss Massage improves the quality of children’s sleep, soothes the nervous system, and helps to strengthen the immune system through a gentle pressure oil massage applied to the scalp, legs and feet.  60 minutes.

Look At Me Facial - Formulated especially to suit young and teenage skin, and to leave a little one looking her very best, this is a very gentle facial incorporating an exhilarating face massage to hydrate and purify the skin.  50 minutes.

Gorgeous Skin Glow – The perfect treatment to bring a glow to young skin, the Skin Glow is a gentle scrub using natural red rice to exfoliate dead skin cells and revitalise the skin.  50 minutes.

Soothing Wrap for Sun-Kissed Skin – The perfect after-sun treatment for those kids who’ve been enjoying the great outdoors, this soothing body wrap uses the healing power of aloe vera to cool, moisturise and heal the skin.  50 minutes.


Hotel News Round-Up: Sleep in Buckingham Palace; Virgin Hotels Heads to Chicago

October 26, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

lebua New DelhiThere's so much fun and excitement happening the hospitality world these days (beer-themed spa treatments? Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh?) that you can't possibly be expected to keep up with it all. So we're helping out with a wrap-up of some of our favorite tidbits (and gossip) this week. First up: Rumor has it that Buckingham Palace might open as a hotel for tourists when when Prince Charles moves his home to Windsor Castle upon taking the throne. If this does indeed come to pass, expect to pay a "princely sum" to sleep there, says The Boston Globe's Melanie Nayer. Another fun news item: Sir Richard Branson has signed the first deal for his highly anticipated Virgin Hotels brand... in Chicago. The 27-storey Dearborn Bank Building at 203 N. Wabash-- just a block off Michigan Avenue and the river-- will get a makeover and open as a hotel in fall 2013.

Pictured: Another newsworthy item, the lebua New Delhi, opening in December.


CNN Names La Residence Phou Vao One of 15 Hotels to Stay in Before You Die

October 26, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

We all have a bucket list, a list of things we want to do before we die. Mine includes climbing Kilimanjaro, learning to scuba dive, and setting foot on every continent at least once.  And CNN recently gave us its own thoughts on the fifteen hotels you just have to see before we're definitely done dancing.  One of their, and our, favorites is the La Residence Phou Vao in Laos.  The unique appeal of this hidden gem lies in its contemplative atmosphere. The secluded, idyllic mountain valley it rests on the edge of allows it to overlook Laos’ second-largest city and home of the golden Buddha, Luang Prabang. The surrounding greenery envelops the hotel, intimately holding in a silent tranquility, as if the wind itself is afraid to take a breath. A stay at Phou Vao is essentially a monastic retreat, a chance to lose oneself in quiet introspection.

Supplementing the peaceful clarity with pure comfort, the accommodations themselves are anything but Spartan. The luxury spa features an emerald infinity-edge pool and fine dining at its patio seating, complete with a breathtaking view of the valley below. So make sure you add this hotel to your list, and just maybe, when you cross it off, you’ll find the moment of personal enlightenment that makes La Residence Phou Vao one of the 15 places to stay before you die.


Book Now: Lebua New Delhi, with $109 Introductory Rates

October 21, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Lebua New DelhiWe're terribly excited about the Lebua New Delhi, the brand spanking new hotel from the folks behind the State Tower in Bangkok and the Lake Okareka Lodge in New Zealand. The Lebua blog explains that "Khun Deepak Ohri, CEO of Lebua Thailand aspires to bring the success of The Dome to the shores of India" with some six restaurants. Big expansion plans are in the works. After the property in New Delhi, the brand aims to set up shop in Mumbai and Punjab as well. From the official press release: "The first property by lebua in India will come with its patent luxury model offering the Indian market an array of restaurants and bars. A spectacular roof top restaurant and bar, a traditional Indian restaurant with a renowned Indian Michelin Star awarded chef, and an open terraced fine dining venue." The best news of all? A special introductory rate of $109 per night!


Shangri-La Hotel Beijing Hosted Top Players for the 2011 China Open Tennis Tournament

October 20, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

Shangri-La BeijingNo surprise to see the Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing selected as the official hotel for the 2011 China Open Tennis Tournament for the eighth year in a row. The staff has been highly trained to attend to the world's top tennis stars-- working with the players' nutritionists on specific dietary needs,* talking with their trainers about customized exercise programs and specialized massages. And of course handling all that extra laundry! A team of personal butlers was on call to make the players feel at home.

The world’s top-seeded tennis stars played the China Open from September 30 to October 9, 2011, and the Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing hosted more than 300 guests who attended the event. The hotel was also the official caterer for VIPs at the VIP lounge.

*Over the 10-day period, the hotel's chefs sourced highly nutritious ingredients in preparing carboydrate- and potassium-rich meals, amounting to at least half a ton of pasta and half a ton of bananas, 3,000 eggs, 500,000 ml of olive oil as well as truckloads of seasonal greens and fresh fruits.

Related Article: Personalized Gourmet Package at Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing