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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.

More than Scones and Clotted Cream: Afternoon Tea in Sydney at The Observatory and InterContinental


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Afternoon Tea at The Observatory Hotel

Kudos to Gridskipper for pointing out that the glamorous British institution of High Tea has taken Sydney by storm. Where to partake in this decadent ritual? The Cortile lobby lounge at The InterContinental Hotel Sydney (tiered cake stand spilling with treats, accompanied with a glass of bubbly) and The Observatory Hotel, owned by the Orient Express Group, where afternoon tea is served in the Globe Bar:

Aficionados will delight in teas blended by the hotel's resident tea master and served in silver teapots. For a bit of fun, have your tea leaves read on weekends, or indulge in a glass of Moët & Chandon Rosé anytime. Hunger pangs will be sated with crustless sandwich triangles and mini quiche lorraine. On the sweet side, clotted cream and jam made in-house adorn fresh scones, while delicate crème brûlée is served in ceramic egg cups and dark mousse makes an impact in tall shot glasses.


Pillow Menus at the Pullman, Sydney Olympic Park


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Pullman, Sydney Olympic ParkAs far as business hotels go, this new one from the Accor Hotel Group is pretty sweet. The 212 rooms and suites edge on chic. They've got sweeping city views, all the latest technology, and cutting-edge bathrooms (pictured). This is the first new five-star hotel in Sydney since 2000, situated on Olympic Boulevard, and it was built to be environmentally friendly, featuring solar panels on the roof. To quote the Sydney Morning Herald, "there are some seriously good things to do at the park that have nothing to do with faded sporting glory." And ahhhh, the pillow menus. You've got your choice of eight:

The Pullman's luxe pillow is "silky, smooth and plush", the feather-and-down pillow "sumptuously supple". Others promise to align your hips and spine and enhance leg circulation. My favourite: the square pillow, designed for the five-star veg-out - that is, reading and watching TV in bed...

This hotel is in fact part of a new chain of upscale hotels from Accor called Pullman-- named for the luxury trains of yesterday-- dedicated to business travelers and meetings. Accor's planning on 300 Pullman hotels worldwide by 2015.


Overwater Bungalows and Private Butlers: Luxury for Less in the Off-Season at St Regis Bora Bora


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

St. Regis Bora BoraThe fabled archipelago in the South Pacific is home to an exclusive resort where A-listers flock. But a recent article on MSNBC points out that you can snag the luxurious St. Regis Bora Bora for a steal.

Winter in North America means summer in French Polynesia. It can get a bit hot, with daytime temperatures in the 90s, but who cares when you're surrounded by all that blissful water? An overwater villa will run you about $895 from December to May; they soar to over $1,000 in the high season. Or book the Tahiti Tantalizer package, which starts at $1,383 per night but includes almost $500 in resort credits and your sixth night free.

Here you can lounge on the powdery sand overlooking a turquoise lagoon while staring up at the majestic Mount Otemanu in the distance. Dive into a lagoon to discover all the colorful native fish. (You can also go snorkeling off your private deck.) Get a massage at the glorious Miri Mira spa, located on its own private island. The spa treatments incorporate warmed black pearls and mother-of-pearl, wow. Relax at the swim-up bar, or go off on a shark-feeding adventure. Day-long picnics on private islands can be arranged, of course. The pleasures of paradise are infinite.


Luxurious Langham Hotel Auckland Welcomes Weta (the Native New Zealand Insect)


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Weta at the Langham Hotel AucklandThis fierce-looking insect (pictured at right) is getting a VIP welcome at Auckland's swanky Langham Hotel. As part of its "Guests of the Earth" environmental program, the five-star property recently unveiled a "Wetarium"-- New Zealand's first weta habitat-- for the Auckland Tree Weta. The only New Zealand hotel to have achieved Green Globe certification through its environmental initiatives to reduce energy consumption, save water and increase the recycling of waste, the Langham Auckland is celebrated around the world for combining elegance with environmental sustainability. (Case in point: The hotel's new fleet of hybrid limousines which are the world's first V8 hybrids.) The glass-enclosed "Wetarium" is located outside the hotel where the weta are housed in a in a native New Zealand habitat. Visitors can check out an indigenous insect that predates the dinosaur and learn about the weta's important role in the surrounding ecosystem.

Image Via Mindfood


Honeymoon in Paradise at Bora Bora Lagoon Resort


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bora Bora Lagoon Resort and SpaIt's hard to imagine a more perfect honeymoon locale than Bora Bora. With breathtaking lagoons and coral reefs, this Polynesian island is as inspiring a backdrop for a romantic escape as they come. The luxurious Bora Bora Lagoon Resort has regal accommodations in overwater bungalows, where you can see colorful fish through the illuminated glass coffee-table, and go swimming directly from your own private deck. Here's what's in store if you choose a 5-night honeymoon experience:

Upon arrival, sip a refreshing beverage before checking out your bungalow where a bottle of chilled Champagne awaits you, along with a Tahitian-style "Bed of Flowers" decorating bed. You'll start off each picture-perfect day with daily American buffet breakfast for two in Otemanu Restaurant. On one morning, breakfast will be delivered via canoe. Luxuriate with a 50 minute Traditional Polynesian massage (though this can't be applied to couples massage). One evening, you'll enjoy a romantic 3-course dinner for two in Otemanu Restaurant, including appetizer or salad, entrée and dessert, Mouton Cadet Rothschild wine and a bottle of Evian. The package also includes motorboat shuttle service between the Resort and Vaitape, Bora Bora, and the use of tennis courts, fitness center and all non-motorized watersports. This honeymoon is priced from EUR 2628 for all 5 nights and the above-listed amenities.


Buzz: Langham Hotels Signs First India Property in Pune


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Langham Place, Koregaon Park, Pune, IndiaFrom the legendary London hotel to Hong Kong's stylish establishment, Langham has brought its stimulating hospitality concept to four continents now. Luxury hotel operator, Langham Hotels International, has doubled in size in the last year with 16 hotels open or in the pipeline. We just got word that Langham has signed a contract for Langham Place, Koregaon Park, Pune, India- as Langham expands into what's termed the "new Silk Road of China, India and the Middle East." Slated to open in 2010 in the "Silicon Valley of India," the 180-room hotel will be home to India's first Chuan Spa concept, featuring oriental hot tubs, ice caves, herbal steam rooms, singles and couples treatment suites, and an infinity edge indoor and outdoor pool. The exciting restaurants on offer will include a new hybrid concept called Portal- Work & Play. Here's the scoop from the press release: "By combining a lobby lounge, cocktail bar and business centre, Portal is where work and play seamlessly intertwine to meet the needs of today's multi-tasking world." A DJ will spin in the lobby-atrium, setting the mood.


Around the World in 80 Ways: The Epic $1 Million Journey from Leading Hotels of the World


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

One Aldwych, LondonWe recently spread the word about the incredible deal-- $19.28 room rates!-- offered by Leading Hotels of the World to celebrate its 80th anniversary. And now it's time to highlight another celebratory package from LHW-though this one is a tad more extravagant. Leading Hotels of the World has created an epic voyage, "Around The World in 80 Ways," to pay homage to both the 80th anniversary of the Academy Awards, and their own 80th birthday. The price tag for this amazing, glamorous journey? One million dollars.

Traveling in a private jet all the way, you and a companion will see everything in the world worth seeing and do everything in the world worth doing. Best of all, 10 percent of the USD 1 million price will be donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation for the global fight against AIDS. So, with that in mind, we invite you to open your hearts and wallets and get ready to set off on the adventure of a lifetime.


Bright Lights, Big City: Impressive Harbour Views from the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La Hotel SydneyYou can't beat the views of the glittering city skyline from the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, perfectly situated in the historic Rocks district overlooking the spectacular Sydney Harbour and world-famous Opera House. After a AUD 40 million renovation program, the spacious guest rooms showcase exquisite furnishings. The views are simply extraordinary. It's easy to become mesmerized by the bright city lights at this five-star address. Get pampered in style with the aptly-named "Emerald City" package, starting from AUD 325 per night. The offer is available through December 30, 2008 and includes overnight accommodation, breakfast for two at Café Mix, complimentary use of the Health Club, and complimentary valet parking. Inclusive of 10 percent goods and services tax.


Best Bars in Bali: Sunset on Six (SOS) at Anantara Resort Seminyak


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Anantara Resort Seminyak, Bali, SOS barBali's beautiful new resort, the Anantara Resort and Spa Seminyak, is situated on 3,500 square meters of prime beachfront on Bali's gorgeous Seminyak coast, just steps from the Indian Ocean and elegant Seminyak Village. The 59-suite resort has it all: an Anantara Spa, two infinity-edge swimming pools overlooking the ocean, a destination restaurant, and rooftop terrace bar to take in the world-famous sunsets. The SOS bar (Sunset on Six) has been getting rave reviews as one of the top bars in Bali. In addition to the beautiful sunsets, the bar is appreciated for its good libations and DJs. In Bali's most fashionable beachside district, SOS is the chic place-to-be. Drink in the sunset while sipping a designer drink and listening to chill-out lounge music. Here's the skinny:

Divided into four areas, SOS caters for all manner of pleasurable leisure, day or night – whether guests prefer to soak in the sun, or chill out under a starry night. Zone One features sumptuous daybeds to delight sun-seekers, while Zone Two comprises of an elegant DJ Lounge. The Dining Bar at Zone Three is solely aimed at providing in the form of sugar and spice; delectable eats and treats to do much more than just fill an empty gap. Finally, in Zone Four, The Wine Room and Long Table is the place to select a rare vintage from a state-of-the-art wine cellar to appreciate alongside out-of-this-world cuisine.

And the color scheme? Why this hip hang-out reflects the dazzling reds and crimsons of the sunsets you can ogle from the rooftop.


Buzz: St. Regis Resorts Brings Its Butler Service to Bali


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

St. Regis Resort BaliPersonal butlers for every guest is a hallmark of the St. Regis brand, famed for refined elegance and peerless service. And now St. Regis is importing this unique tradition to the tropical island paradise of Bali, when the St. Regis Resort Bali opens this month. Overlooking the ocean and Bali's premier golf course in the exclusive enclave of Nusa Dua, the beachfront resort has 125 luxurious suites and villas. The St. Regis butlers are known to provide ever-present, unobtrusive service while anticipating guests' needs. It goes beyond preparing coffee or tea and packing/unpacking suitcases; the butlers are more like experienced personal assistants. The St. Regis Bali is the first in the island to have an international Chief Butler, Tony Sharp, and Assistant Chief Butler, Robert Johnson, winner of 'Butler of the Year' award, an international award conferred by the International Butler Association. Trained in wine by the resort's chief sommelier, the butlers are also incredibly technologically savvy, as the resort is the first in Bali to feature Internet Protocol (IP) phones in all suites and villas.