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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.

Get a Free Night with InterContinental: 5 Million Nights Up for Grabs at 4,000 Hotels

April 28, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Hotel Beijing Financial StreetInterContinental Hotels Group-- the world's largest hotel company-- has just announced a big promotion. Earn a free night by registering at getafreenight.com and then staying two nights at any Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites or Candlewood Suites around the world between May 4th and July 3rd, 2009. Voila! A free night is yours for the taking at any IHG hotel-- like the luxurious InterContinental Beijing Financial Street (pictured at right)-- until December 26th, 2009.


Helicopter Tours of New Zealand’s Bay of Islands with The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs

April 22, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Kauri Cliffs

Experience the dramatic coastline around Matauri Bay by air, and capture the beauty of the Bay of Islands, Ninety Mile Beach and Tane Mahuta (New Zealand's largest Kauri Tree) by private helicopter. The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs has its own six seater Eurocopter 130 - B4 so you can tailor a flight to suit your own requirements. Set on 6,000 acres near Matauri Bay, Northland, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs is a luxury lodge favored by the international jetset laying low in New Zealand. With spectacular 180-degree panoramas over the Pacific, The Lodge boasts three secluded beaches, two Astroturf tennis courts, an infinity swimming pool, and a spa with a fully equipped fitness center. The par 72 championship golf course has an unparalleled clifftop setting. From The Lodge's scenic setting, guests can take boat excursions to the Cavalli Islands, go snorkeling or deep-sea fishing, and even hunt for wild boar. (The Lodge can arrange hunting with a gun, bow, or, in true Kiwi fashion, mano-a-mano with a knife.)


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

April 14, 2009
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!


Get Your Group On at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

March 26, 2009
By: K. Clare Johnson

Farm at Cape KidnappersLooking to plan your next family get together or golf outing with the gang? Or a spa retreat with your nearest and dearest? Consider The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. This 6,000 acre retreat offers golf, spa, the ocean, and even hot-air ballooning. Best of all: You can all stay together in the Owner's Cottage. Ideal for a family or group of friends, it can be rented as a 2 or 4-bedroom house. The 4 deluxe bedrooms have fireplaces, large bathrooms, walk-in closets, mini-bars and private balconies. There is a large living room with stone fireplace, open kitchen and dining are, 2 small sitting rooms with fireplaces, TVs and comfortable seating, a stone terrace and an outdoor jacuzzi.


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

March 20, 2009
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.


Vote for The Caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef!

March 12, 2009
By: K. Clare Johnson

Bloomfield Lodge The global economic crisis has encouraged many a person to reinvent themselves. Or chuck it all and head to a remote island. Along those lines, Tourism Queensland has created a new post of The Caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef. The Island Caretaker will be based on Hamilton Island – the largest inhabited island in the region. It's located just off the coast of Queensland with a wide range of restaurants, activities, shops and tours. The temperature is warm all year round and the combination of blue skies, crystal water and pure sands forms the backdrop to an ideal island life. Responsibilities include writing a weekly blog post, keeping a video diary and a photo gallery. Other duties could include sampling a new luxury spa treatment at qualia on Hamilton Island, trying out new snorkelling gear on Heron Island, or bushwalking on Hinchinbrook Island. Nice work if you can get it.

Queensland Australia is picking 10 finalists for The Best Job in the World, along with 50 wild-card finalists from 22 countries, including a charity fundraiser, dance instructor, physiotherapist, chef, radio DJ, scientist, actor, interpreter, adventurer, student, television journalist and photographer. Vote to see which wild card finalist scores an interview for this dream job.


Laugh of the Day: Costa Brava Tourism Board Caught in the Act

March 9, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Costa Brava ad campaign

Too much doom and gloom to handle? (The bleak outlook for the world economy-- shrinking for the first time since World War II-- too much to stomach?) Here's a good laugh: The Costa Brava tourism department has been caught trying to pass off a photo of Perth, Australia as a Spanish beach. As if the scenic coastline extending north from Barcelona to the French border needed any help in the beauy department! Dotted with medieval mountain towns and fishing villages, and punctuated with sandy beaches lapped by the crystal clear sea, the Costa Brava is perfectly picturesque, and above all-- authentically Spanish. The photo-- picturing a man and boy standing on an Australian beach for an ad celebrating the 100th anniversary of the coastline-- was actually manipulated so that the sand looked Spanish, and Catalan t-shirt logos were added. The worst part of all? This photo mix-up comes just after the Costa Brava Tourism Department apologized for "passing off a Caribbean beach as the Costa Brava and the Himalayas as the Pyrenees." Oops, they did it again. Seems the ad slogan-- "Congratulations Costa Brava on 100 Years. You really are great."-- has an ironic ring to it.

Pictured above: Spain or Australia? You be the judge.


Designer Bathrooms that are Better than Hotel Rooms

March 5, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peninsula TokyoWe've been known to drool over the swanky bathrooms at The Peninsula Hotel Tokyo (can we- like- sleep here?) In fact, hotel bathrooms have emerged in recent years as lavish, even crucially important, spaces. Sometimes-- as recently described by Hotels Magazine-- "becoming the very centerpiece of the guestroom." According to the article, entitled "Drawing the Baths Out":  "Baths are no longer an afterthought in the guestroom design process... thanks in large part to the emergence of the spa as a featured hotel amenity." Hence the spa bathroom, found in hotels around the world.

Regent Bal HarbourRegent Bal Harbour: Boasting floor to ceiling views of the Atlantic Ocean, the fabulous showers also have custom "toe testers." Each shower has a faucet groove for guests to dip their toes in to test the temperature of the water before turning on the head to enjoy a relaxing shower.

Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya:  One of the hottest hotels in the world has some pretty fabulous bath facilities. Nestled on 36 acres of beaches and tropical mangrove forests on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the Mandarin Oriental has garnered abundant praise and accolades since its debut. One of the coolest features? Baths placed in open-air private gardens, called "bath patios."

St Regis Resort BaliSt. Regis Resort Bali: Notice the exotic materials in the pic? The bathrooms are all about the sense of ritual (and luxury, of course.) You can bathe in a deep soaking tub built for two while gazing out the window. Floors are made from locally-sourced beige marble, and the decorative white limestone and Bangkerai timber are also locally harvested.

Raffles Dubai bathroomRaffles Dubai: A landmark on the city's skyline, the pyramid-shaped hotel is known for its opulent suites with private butler service. The Fire Suite has a Jacuzzi tub situated at the top of marble steps-- facing a window overlooking glitzy Dubai. The over-the-top bathroom was designed with 24-karat gold in a sprawling space measuring 50 square meters.


Fairmont Goes Dark for Earth Hour, A Global Environmental Awareness Event

February 26, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Observatory Hotel, SydneyOn March 28 at 8:30 pm, a billion people in 1,000 cities will turn off the lights for Earth Hour to show their commitment to reducing global warming. Tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Cape Town's Table Mountain, and the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro will also go dark. Last year, we reported on Sydney's five-star Observatory Hotel, which offered a "Dine in the Dark" degustation menu with matching wines-- seven courses all served by candlelight. This year The Observatory is not alone, as hundreds of hotels, most especially the 56 properties comprising the environmentally-conscious hospitality company, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, will dim the lights.


Bali’s Best: Stay 4, Pay 3 at the Stunning Anantara Seminyak Resort

February 23, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort

Dive into Bali's rich culture and charm with Anantara's beautiful Bali resort. Just a stone's throw from the rolling Indian Ocean and the upscale Seminyak Village, the luxury retreat is the ideal base to explore the tropical paradise and spiritual heartland of the island of Bali. Get up close and personal with marine life while diving the reefs, marvel at the sun setting over a temple, or hike in the island's volcanic interior. This resort is nestled on Bali's most sought-after beach.

Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort

Anantara Seminyak Resort has 59 suites with free-flowing living spaces and floor-to-ceiling glass doors. You'll fall in love with the balconies overlooking the sparkling ocean, featuring terrazzo tubs for two. There's an infinity pool facing the Indian Ocean, a destination restaurant, a fabulous rooftop terrace bar, and a world-renowned Anantara Spa, where you can indulge with a Thai massage, Ayurvedic spa therapy or a floral bath.

Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort

From now until June 30, 2009, you can take advantage of the "Stay 4, Pay 3" offer and get a fourth night complimentary when you book a suite for three nights. Starting from $365, the offer includes gourmet buffet breakfast.