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 Your Group On at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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.

BLUE Woolloomooloo Bay Sydney Goes Green

By: K. Clare Johnson

Blue Woolloomooloo Bay SydneyBLUE Woolloomooloo Bay Sydney is getting EARTH-y. As part of the the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces Environment Awareness & Renewal at Taj Hotels (EARTH), BLUE Woolloomooloo Bay Sydney has earned a Green Glober Certification. EARTH reiterates the conscious effort of one of Asia's largest and finest group of hotels to commit to energy conservation and environmental management. EARTH has received certification from Green Globe, the only worldwide environmental certification program for travel and tourism.

Luxury for Less: Abercrombie and Kent Auctions Off Exclusive Luxury Travel Tours

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Abercrombie and KentYou can save big on Thursday, February 19 starting at 9 am CST when world-renowned luxury travel operator, Abercrombie & Kent, begins auctioning off its "Once in a Lifetime Journeys." Prices will drop every 30 minutes until they reach a final savings of 60 percent off the original price. The offer will expire at 3 pm CST, and departures are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Don't miss your chance to experience "the vacation of your dreams... at a once-in-lifetime price!" Journeys are listed below:

Abercrombie and Kent safariOnce in a Lifetime Botswana & Zambia: An Independent Itinerary

Witness the drama of predator and prey — along with one of nature's most glorious spectacles, Victoria Falls — on an independent journey through Southern Africa.

Once in a Lifetime Egypt: An Independent Itinerary

Explore the remnants of one of the world’s greatest civilizations on this independent journey in Egypt. View the Pyramids and the Sphinx, see the treasures of Tutankhamun and savor the unique atmosphere of the Nile on a luxurious four-night river cruise.

Once in a Lifetime Kenya: An Independent Itinerary

Enjoy peerless hospitality and unrivaled wildlife viewing in the land of the Maasai on this independent journey.

Once in a Lifetime Spain: An Independent Itinerary

From the days of Muslim influence to the golden age of empire, Spain's past lives on in its incredible monuments and works of art. Experience centuries of history with private expert guides on this incredible independent journey through Spain.

Once in a Lifetime Voyage to Melanesia

This 'Clipper Odyssey' cruise explores the recent past while celebrating long-held native traditions still practiced today. Visit the sites of epic battles that helped secure victory for the Allies in World War II; delight in a traditional Fijian welcome on the island of Yasawa-i-Rara; and witness the Rom Dance, one of the South Pacific's most famous celebrations. Offer valid for cabin category 5 reservations.

Via Paradizo

Pretty in Pink at Sydney’s Observatory Hotel: A Stay Benefits Breast Cancer Foundation

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Observatory HotelIn need of a girls' getaway? Check into luxury at the acclaimed Observatory Hotel, part of the Orient-Express Hotels Collection, and get pampered in pink, while you'll feel good knowing that the hotel makes a donation to the Breast Cancer/Prostate Cancer Foundation (based on guest preference) for each package booking. The gals will love this elegant 100-room hotel perfectly situated in The Rocks (minutes from the Opera House and Harbour Bridge), modeled after a colonial Australian house filled with antiques and original art. Head to the spa for a rejuvenating treatment featuring La Prairie's luxurious line of products, or a dip in the heated pool which reflects the Southern Hemisphere's constellations. (Guest staying on the "Pretty in Pink" package are entitled to a 20 percent discount on Spa Pink Pamper Package which includes a glass of pink champagne, a one hour pink manicure or pedicure either in the bedroom or the spa area.) Enjoy a delicious Afternoon Tea served with Pink Champagne, and in the evening you can relax in your swanky bedroom wearing your pink slippers and pink eye mask. The package also includes a full Australian breakfast for two in the Galileo restaurant, a "pink indulgent gift pack," complimentary daily newspaper, and a choice of DVDs to watch in your room free of charge. Rates from AUD 552 per night.