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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.

What’s Hot: qualia, Hamilton Island, Great Barrier Reef


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

qualia resortA new resort is making waves in the Whitsundays on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Just a stone's throw off the Queensland coast, qualia, pronounced kwah-lee-ah, is described as a "unique Australian expression of world-class luxury." And the Sydney Morning Herald, present at the resort's launch in late 2007, couldn't agree more, praising qualia as a "coming-of-age for Australian resorts." Situated on the secluded northernmost tip of Hamilton Island, qualia puts the stunning wonders of the Reef at your doorstep. With kayaking, diving, seaplane flights, fishing, and bushwalking, thrill-seekers will find heaven on earth. At this adults-only resort, everything has been meticulously anticipated to provide the ultimate pampering experience. Surrounded by native Eucalyptus, the resort's 60 one-bedroom pavilions were handcrafted from the finest timber and stone. Choose either the Leeward or Seaward pavilions, outfitted with sundecks and private infinity-edge plunge pools, or the exclusive Beach House. What's more: Accommodations include all on-island transfers, meals in both restaurants, non-alcoholic beverages, plus access to your own two-seater electric golf buggy to explore the island. Get ready to get spoiled.


Penang Holiday Play at Shangri-La Rasa Sayang


By: Courtney W. May

Shangri-La Rasa Sayang ResortRecently re-opened after a USD 30 million redevelopment in 2006, the Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa is a luxury resort at Batu Feringgi, one of the most inviting beaches in Malaysia. The Resort offers vacationers an expansive luxury retreat in traditional Malaysian style, nestled beside the emerald waters of world-famous Batu Feringgi Beach in Penang. The resort is also within walking distance of Batu Feringgi's lively night bazaar and some 17 km or 20 minutes' drive from the heritage city of George Town. Until March 31st, the Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa is offering a 3 and 4 night Penang Holiday Plan. Starting at just MYR 2,308 for 3 nights and MYR 3,078 for 4 nights, retreat from the world and enjoy the luxuries of this renovated resort.


Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora: Newest Gem of the South Seas


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Bora BoraNow accepting reservations for October 2008, the new Four Seasons Bora Bora promises the allure of one of the world's most magical destinations with the legendary Four Seasons touch. Situated around a picture-perfect azure lagoon, the resort is comprised of exotic over-water bungalows and beachfront villas with private pools. Here you can explore one of the world's top snorkeling spots, lounge on a powder-white sand beach, swim with a giant sea turtle, take in a sunset over the soaring island peaks, indulge in a spa treatment overlooking the rolling Pacific, and enjoy lagoon-side fire dances under a starry sky. Be one of the first to experience the unmatched luxury of the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora and get a fifth night free when you pay for four nights! Starting at XPF 86,500, the package is available from October 1, 2008- March 31, 2009.


Escape to Nature with Peace and Relaxation at the COMO Shambhala Estate


By: Christina Vasquez

COMO Estate Begawan GiriA tranquil hidden gem in the Bali jungle, the COMO Shambhala Estate at Begawan Giri is a small boutique hotel featuring 40 rooms and 11 suites. Accommodations range from residences with private swimming pools, two and three bedroom standalone villas, as well as retreat villas which feature therapy rooms and swimming pools. Rooms and activities available at the COMO Shambhala Estate at Begawan Giri are designed to evoke physical and cultural activities in a healing and holistic setting.

As this spa retreat prides itself on ensuring a peaceful and relaxing stay for everyone who visits the property, a new policy has been enforced as of February 2008 for guests with children. The hotel suggests booking either retreat or private villas for families, as private pool residences are shared amongst different guests, and are not suitable for guests with children. Exceptions will be made however for guests with children to stay in the residences if they book an entire COMO Shambhala Estate at Begawan Giri residence.


Bali High: Checking into the Club at InterContinental Bali Resort


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental BaliSecluded on the powder-white sands of Jimbaran Bay on Bali's southern coast, the InterContinental Resort sprawls over 14 tropical hectares of ornamental ponds and winding lagoons. The 418-room resort showcases traditional Balinese architecture with modern lifestyle facilities, and is an alluring hideaway for both couples and families. The resort's Club InterContinental is perhaps the island's best kept secret, a real luxury value. Designed as a resort within a resort, the Club InterContinental takes guests on a journey of unprecedented luxury. With prime terrace views, spa-like bathrooms with Aveda toiletries, espresso machines and high-tech amenities, the accommodations were created to anticipate every possible need of the seasoned traveler. Club InterContinental offers guests total privacy and an array of indulging privileges: Airport Lounge with priority Immigration clearance, unobtrusive 24-hour Butler service, a private Club Pool, and exclusive access to the 24-hour Club InterContinental Lounge for breakfast, complimentary refreshments, high tea, sunset cocktails, late night supper and all-day snacks. Other entitlements include late check-out benefits and preferential seating at every restaurant throughout the resort.

InterContinental Bali ResortChoose the Club Dreams package at the InterContinental Bali and you'll get a bunch of cool extras. Upon arrival, you'll be driven to the resort in a top of the line Jaguar. Once in your room, a chilled bottle of Moet Chandon, chocolates and a soothing flower bath await you. Experience a sunset boat tour around Jimbaran Bay in a traditional outrigger. Then enjoy a romantic dinner in a private tent by the sea. Priced at just $1,100, this three-night package also includes all Club InterContinental privileges. Valid until March 31, 2008.


To Dine in Sydney at the Observatory Hotel


By: Lucy LeTourneau

Observatory SydneyIf you travels take you "down under" for a visit to the beautiful city of Sydney, don't miss out on a stay at the classic Observatory Hotel, with its ideal location close to The Rocks and downtown area. Be sure to take advantage of their To Dine For Package with includes a superb seven course dining experience for two at the renowned Galileo Restaurant, a pre-dinner house cocktail the The Globe Bar, a full breakfast for two in Galileo, full use of all health club facilities and of course overnight accommodation. A variety of side trips and city experiences can also be arranged including a visit to the Sydney Observatory where you can name your own star. The Observatory's sister hotel is the gorgeous Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa, less than two hours from Sydney's center.


What’s On at Langham Melbourne: Spa Specials, Ice Cream Afternoon Tea, and the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Langham MelbourneReflecting the spirited essence of Melbourne's cultural life, The Langham is the city's finest five-star hotel, your gateway to all the urban excitement. Situated on the south bank of the Yarra River overlooking central Melbourne, the sophisticated 387-room hotel is renowned for its panoramic views, impeccable service, comprehensive facilities, and award-winning cuisine. Hit the chocolate bar at ARIA for the ultimate chocolate experience. It's summertime down under, so why not indulge in the delicious Ice Cream Tiffin at ARIA, a special twist on the traditional afternoon tea? Each three-tired tea stand features ice cream cookie sandwiches, miniature ice cream cones, chocolate dipped ice cream skewers, scones with jam and cream, and savory finger sandwiches. (Available Monday- Friday, 10:30 a.m- 4:30 p.m., $39 per person). Until March 31, 2008, take advantage of a special offer at the stunning Chuan Spa. Indulge with an exclusive 60 minute treatment (and bring a friend!), and your friend will get their treatment at half price! And on March 1st and 2nd, 2008, The Langham will play host to the Melbourne MasterClass as part of the city's annual Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Celebrated food and wine experts from all over the world will share some of the hottest gastronomy tips over two inspirational days. During the festival, guests will also enjoy Souffle Soirees at The Langham, showcasing delectable canapes and souffles from 6- 9 p.m.


What’s Hot: Hapuku Lodge, New Zealand’s Latest Eco-Resort


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hapuku LodgeSnow-capped peaks loom over olive groves and the crashing surf at the seaside eco-marine town of Kaikoura. Sandwiched between the sea and the mountains, halfway between Christchurch and Picton on the rugged east coast of New Zealand's South Island... Welcome to one of the most spectacular settings on earth. In this majestic spot, a family of designers and architects has created an eco-friendly luxury lodge unlike any place on earth. Hapuku Lodge is a treetrop retreat with solar-heated showers, spacious bathrooms, handcrafted furniture, multiple dining rooms, and even meeting venues. But the best part of all is the gasp-inducing 360 degree views from the hotel's perch 30 feet off the ground in the trees. To quote Outside Magazine, "'I joke with guests that over breakfast you can decide whether you want to go surfing or skiing,' says H. Justin Stafford-Wilson, whose father opened the lodge in 2002."


Buzzworthy: Explora en Rapa Nui, Easter Island


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Easter IslandYour coordinates: 27º09 south latitude and 109º26 west longitude, 3,800 km from the central coast of Chile in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The closest inhabited island is Pitcairn, 1,900 km northwest. Your destination? The mythical Easter Island, home to the gigantic moai sculptures erected by a people whose origins and evolution are still unknown. This beautiful and mysterious place recently welcomed a chic hotel hideaway: explora en Rapa Nui , Posada de Mike Rapu. Located on a hill facing the endless sea (5.6 km from Hanga Roa, the island's only town), the hotel provides the ideal base to explore this incredible destination. Fly from either Santiago, Chile or Tahiti (Papeete) and you will be greeted by explora staff who will whisk you away to this stunning spot. The island's native volcanic rock was used in the hotel's construction. Thirty guest rooms spiral out from the central areas that house reception, the bar, and dining areas. Adjacent to the lounge, Casa de Baños Hare Vai boasts a pool, massage salon and open-air Jacuzzis.


New Luxury Travel Destinations


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Amanresorts, BhutanA recent article in the Washington Post describes the "destination fatigue-- been there, done that, paid a big bill"-- that affects a growing number of high-end travelers. When you've vacationed in Patagonia, the BVI, and the Greek Islands, and cruised the Nile and Yangtze rivers, what's next? The answer is remote, off-the-map destinations that once only appealed to backpackers. The newest hotspots are places like Bhutan, where Amanresorts has opened a string of luxury lodges that allow travelers to discover this incredible Himalayan kingdom without having to rough it. We'd count China's Yunnan province on the list, as well as luxury safaris in Africa, and hotels in northern India. What's your next luxury travel destination?