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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.

Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012: The Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

December 23, 2011
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 Shangri-La Hotel Sydney in Sydney, Australia is featured on the Gold List 2012: Best for food. This luxury hotel is perfectly located in between the Sydney Opera House and the Harbor Bridge in the center of the historic rock district. Its guest rooms are some of the most spacious in all of Sydney, and the hotel offers 80 Horizontal Club rooms for business travelers which offer upgraded amenities, complimentary refreshments, a private lounge, and free suit press. The Shangri-La Hotel Sydney has a world-class selection of restaurants and bars to satisfy every appetite. The Altitude Restaurant has an incredible chef, Steve Krasicki, who’s sure to dazzle you with his incredible dishes.


Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012: The Henry Jones Art Hotel

December 15, 2011
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 Henry Jones Art Hotel in Tasmania, Australia is featured on the Gold List 2012: Best for ambiance and design. This luxury hotel is the first and only dedicated art hotel in Australia. It presents an atmosphere that allows guests to enjoy art in a unique manner. The public areas in the hotel have 300 paintings and sculptures, many of which are for sale. There are beautiful works of art in every guest room, exposing guests to sophisticated art all the while providing them with a luxurious experience.


Oh My Darling Momofuku: The Darling Hotel Opens in Australia

November 15, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

Here’s one for the food aficionados. A new hotel, The Darling, is opening within walking distance of the Sydney Opera house, and it’s got quite the in-house cuisine. The Seiobo restaurant at The Darling is the very first international location for Momofuku outside of New York. Pioneered by David Chang, Momofuku Seiobo offers a unique and ever-changing tasting menu utilizing only the finest in fresh Australian ingredients and inspired by centuries of Japanese tradition. And who doesn’t enjoy some grilled trumpeter belly ever now and again?

Sleekly designed to evoke an ultra-modern feel, the architecture makes liberal use of glass paning to keep the hotel open to the surrounding Sydney skyline. And it’s only a few kilometers from Bondi, the internationally renowned beach that’s perfect for surfing. And since the hotel features an adults-only pool itself, you don’t need to make an excursion to enjoy some more leisurely time in the water. So next time you’re looking to travel down-under, stay at this peach of a hotel, The Darling in Sydney.


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


Explore the Land Down Under

October 28, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

Sydney Harbour Marriott HotelI bet your life (like most of ours) is lacking in kangaroos, surfing, and scuba diving. Take a trip down under and experience first-hand the laid back atmosphere and beauty Sydney, Australia has to offer. Not a big fan of the winter cold? Consider traveling anytime from December-February, Australia’s summer season, and enjoy a cocktail on the beach while your neighbors back home shovel snow.

For those wanting a truly Sydney experience, the newly renovated Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay is the perfect hotel. This downtown Sydney resort overlooks the beautiful Sydney Harbour and the renowned Opera House, providing you with cultural and outdoor activities a few steps away. At Sydney’s premier waterfront hotel, guests are welcomed to indulge in a variety of treatments offered in the day spa and take a dip in the luxurious indoor pool. If an outdoor adventure is more your calling, check out the boating, surfing, and sailing opportunities found in Sydney. After doing it all, retire to your room, complete with picturesque harbour views, and dare to do it all again the next day.


Flavors from Spice Market New York Available in Bora Bora

October 17, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

Experience the best of both worlds: incredible beach accommodations along with delectable, Southeast Asian cuisine. The St. Regis Resort in Bora Bora offers 100 elegantly designed guest rooms, many of which feature an incredible lagoon view and a private terrace with a gazebo. For further relaxation, check out the main pool, equipped with a swim-up bar and the romantic adult pool with private day beds. Aside from impeccable accommodations, the St. Regis Resort in Bora Bora is also offering quite the treat for your taste-buds. For a limited time, experience the delectable Southeast Asian cuisine of Spice Market New York restaurant at the St. Regis Bora Bora Lagoon restaurant. The special menu is by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and besides delicious Southeast Asian dishes, guests can indulge in specialty cocktails like the Spice Market sangria or the Lychee Raspberry Bellini. The menu is available until November 13th, so don’t postpone your much needed and deserved vacation any longer; make your reservation at the St. Regis Resort Bora Bora today!


InterContinental Hotels Celebrates Responsible Business Week with National Geographic

October 5, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Presidente InterContinental Cozumel ResortFrom supporting local craftsmen in Romania to clean-ups of the reefs in Cozumel, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts knows responsible business. In fact, they've partnered with National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations to celebrate Responsible Business Week. Hotels around the world are "taking part in activities that ensure their location remains an appealing place to visit for future generations"- to quote the official press release. The protection and preservation of local environments is key. Examples of these geotourism initiatives include: InterContinental Boston's rooftop beehives that pollinate the flora in surrounding parks and provide local honey for the kitchen; InterContinental Bora Bora Resort's salt water air-conditioning system, the first in the world; Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort's environmental work to protect the reefs and marine life, teaching guests how to scuba dive responsibly. More details can be found here.


Escape to Oz: Experience the Newly-Renovated Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay

October 4, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular QuayWhen the temperatures start to cool off in this hemisphere, things are only heating up in Australia. How about a Christmas or NYE break in OZ? Bask in the Australian sun and learn the ins and outs of one of the coolest cities on the planet. (The Clefs d'Or Head Concierge at the Sydney Harbour Marriott will hook you up with local insight on the city's premier attractions.) For your stay in Sydney, experience the newly refurbished Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay. Just minutes from the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Sydney Aquarium, Observatory and historic Rocks district, this stylish waterfront hotel recently completed a $20 million refurbishment. New features include large 42” flat screen LCD televisions in every room, as well as high speed wireless internet and an iPod docking station - not to mention the famous Marriott "Revive" bedding (300-thread-count linens, fluffier pillow & down duvets). Most guest rooms have killer views of the harbour, to boot. Start off the day with a full breakfast buffet in Icons restaurant, and after exploring Sydney, return for a swim in the indoor pool or for a massage in the day spa.


World Luxury Hotel Awards Declare Best Luxury Hotels of 2011

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.


Fantasy Meets Reality: Heaven on (Middle) Earth

September 15, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

Lake Okareka Lodge, Rotorua, New Zealand

 Vacations and movies have a lot in common – both are an effective means of transporting ourselves to a far-away place to escape from the world we know and live in another for a while.  But while books and movies are only bounded by our imagination, we think vacations are limited to exploring this planet Earth we have come to know so well.  That’s a silly notion, and one I intend to dispel.  Vacations, too, can be a vehicle for the imagination, and many of the destinations here on Earth inspired the great authors and directors who bring us these fantasy worlds.  And whether you’re showing your kids the magic of the world or broadening your own horizons, there’s more than a few destinations that are guaranteed to instill wonder in you.  So turn on your flashlight and have a seat in my pillow fort, and join me on a multipart adventure as I share with you some of the best destinations our legs, and our minds, can take us. 

Part 1 - New Zealand

The first stop on our journey can be none other than the most iconic of fantasy and film landscapes:  Middle-Earth.  Or as we know it a little better – New Zealand.  All three parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy were filmed on site in New Zealand, and there could not be a more stunning and diverse location.  While you’re unlikely to be beset by Ringwraiths or seek refuge in the land of the elves, you might form a strong bond of fellowship with your companions as you explore the rolling hills, mountains and forests where Peter Jackson brought the world of Tolkein alive.  New Zealand is a perfect destination for nature-lovers, and your children (inner or actual) are sure to fall in love with the vibrant landscapes and the stories embodied there. 

Nearly all of New Zealand was used in the filming of the trilogy, so it’s hard to go wrong with any location.  Or plan to travel along the island, stopping to see everything of note.  The north, near Auckland, is the home of the Shire, and it’s only a short distance south to Mordor and the spot of the battle that marked the end of the Second Age.

For the second leg of the journey, the Intercontinental Wellington would be a great base of operations to foray to Mt. Victoria and the refuge of Rivendell.  It is also within reach of the Putanguria Pinnacles, one of the most eerie and impressive rock formations on earth and home of the dead army from the third film.  The cast and crew stayed on location for three years and have left their mark in the town itself, so you will never be short on star-studded locations, including the local vineyards that continue to be an attraction in their own right.

The city of Queenstown, famous in part for its fine hotels, Eichardts Private Hotel and The Spire, lies among such locations as Amon Hen, Isengard, and the Fangorn Forest, as well as the lakes that formed the centerpiece of the finale of the first film.  Just a short trip from so many different ecosystems, Queenstown is the perfect place to stay to experience all that New Zealand has to offer.

Just as with Frodo and Sam, this trip will remove the weight of the world from your shoulders.  But unlike them, you can sleep in a King-size bed in luxurious accommodations where they’re guaranteed to know about second breakfast and have the finest leaf in the South Farthing.