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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.

Go Next: Mystique, Santorini, Greece


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

MystiqueLuxury seekers looking for an unparalleled experience in the Greek Isles will swoon over Mystique. Built on Oia's famous cliffs overlooking the dazzling blue Aegean sea and volcano, Mystique is a member of Starwood's Luxury Collection. The resort offers 18 stylish rooms and villas handcrafted from wood, local stone, and glass. Relax in a sun bed by the outdoor infinity-edge pool surrounded by some of the world's most beautiful scenery. Take off on mountain bikes to explore Oia at your own pace, then enjoy a massage in the privacy of your own suite. Sip a sunset cocktail or Secret wine cave, then sup at the Charisma gourmet restaurant-- the best kind of al fresco dining experience with panoramic views over the sea. Mystique is located only 18 kilometers from Santorini airport and 20 kilometers from Athinios Port.


Last Minute Getaway to Belize at Cayo Espanto, Private Island Resort


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cayo Espanto, BelizeDesperate for some sun? Steal away to the private island of Cayo Espanto, located three miles offshore from San Pedro in the calm Caribbean waters of Belize. This private piece of paradise, a favorite retreat for the discriminating few, is offering serious savings-- up to 57 percent off-- until March 15, 2008. Usually priced from $1,895 to $2,295 per night, the villas (3 of the island's 6) are going for $995 per couple. This includes a personal butler and all your meals, drinks, and transfers, so this is a real deal. Three-night minimum stay required.

Via Washington Post


E-Scape to South Africa with Twelve Apostles Hotel and Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Retreat


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Twelve Apostles Hotel and SpaNow is the time to get a dose of some African sunshine. The award-winning Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Cape Town's finest, has partnered with the legendary Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve to create the perfect South African adventure of a lifetime. Enjoy the gorgeous sea-scape of Cape Town, the wine-scapes of the Bouchard Finlayson vineyard, and the remote land-scapes surrounding the luxurious wilderness retreat of Bushmans Kloof. The five-star journey begins at the very tip of South Africa with three nights of indulgence at The Twelve Apostles. In addition to the lavish accommodations and renowned service, you'll experience a special chef's tasting Fynbos menu at Azure Restaurant, a specialized spa treatment using indigenous healing aromatherapy, a trip to the top of Cape Town's famed Table Mountain, a visit to District 6, one of the most famous segregated areas under apartheid and now a museum, and a visit to a local arts and crafts village market managed by underprivileged women.

Before heading to the magical wilderness area at Bushmans Kloof, you'll take a day-trip by chauffeur-driven car to the Bouchard Finlayson Vineyard for a tour and tasting of the complete range of wines. When you stop for lunch at one of the town's best seafood restaurants, you'll enjoy a bottle of Bouchard Finlayson white wine.

Next stop: the luxurious eco-resort at Bushmans Kloof, a member of Relais & Chateaux, situated 270 kilometers from Cape Town in an extraordinary Natural Heritage Site. Surrounded by the grandeur of this dramatic landscape, you'll enjoy 3 nights in a deluxe room, 4 meals a day, including High Tea, dinner in a unique location each night (even outdoors under the stars in a natural sandstone amphitheater), early morning Rock Art excursions, evening nature drive with drinks and snacks at sundown, and 1 specialized spa treatment per person. Also includes all lodge activities, like canoeing and archery. The E-Scape package is valid until December 19, 2008.


Luxury Hiking and Biking Tours in South America with AuroraEco


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Resort CarmeloDiscover the scenic destinations of South America-- Uruguay's colonial cities on the banks of La Plata River and upscale Punta Del Este, Mendoza wine country, Patagonia, Brazil's Bahia beaches, the glacial lakes of Argentina-- with top-tier trips offered by AuroraEco. Distinguished by the quality and attention of their expert guides (one guide for every four people), AuroraEco chooses only the very finest restaurants and accommodations for each meticulously-researched tour. Luxury accommodations include the breathtaking Hotel Llao Llao in spectacular northwest Patagonia, the Four Seasons Carmelo on the Rio de la Plata, and Relais & Chateaux properties. Trips average 16 miles a day (biking) and 6 miles a day (walking).


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.


The Colony Villas at Half Moon Bay


By: Madelyn Giblin

Colony Villas at Half MoonLocated in the exclusive Rose Hall area in Jamaica, the Colony at Half Moon, scheduled to open in 2010, offers unparalleled views overlooking beachfront property near Montego Bay. Located within the Half Moon Resort, the Colony will feature 30 luxurious villas offering a choice of three, four, or five bedroom villas, all with personal pool, dining area, gardens, terraces and verandas. The Colony at Half Moon is an experience unlike any other in the Caribbean. Each bedroom will have a private bathroom, and each villa is provided with its own personal cook, gardener, housekeeper, butler and laundress. In addition to the wealth of activities to do at your personal villa, the Colony at Half Moon also offers a variety of services and facilities including a spectacular golf course, the Spa at Half Moon, multiple bars and restaurants, a dolphin lagoon, equestrian centre and a shopping village. Enjoy a unique Jamaican vacation in style.

Publisher Update: I just received the following note from the hotel with updates:

Much in the spirit of the founding families of Half Moon, The Colony is a singular opportunity for visitors to our treasured resort to become a part of the Half Moon heritage through ownership of a luxurious villa at The Colony at Half Moon.

These opulent, spacious three-, four- and five-bedroom villas will offer both villa owners and guests an unparalleled level of comfort, service and amenities. Planned for 14 acres of Half Moon's 400-acre estate, visitors to The Colony at Half Moon will enjoy an even deeper sense of home with the attentive care of a butler, cook, housekeeper, laundress and gardener in surroundings designed to offer the very best of gracious Caribbean living.

The Colony at Half Moon signals the final phase of a vision that began in 2003 to bring about a renaissance at Half Moon that would see our beloved resort being a part of the legacy for another generation of guests. Step by step with your unwavering support, we have renovated, refurbished and upgraded the facilities, services and amenities offered at Half Moon. The feedback from you and your clients have been invaluable in helping to shape and guide the direction we have taken over the years. With this new offering and all that The Colony villas promise, we are confident that we will have a product to which you will be even more proud to send your clients.

Equally, we are mindful of the treasured clients you will continue to send to Half Moon while The Colony is being erected. Let me assure you that every measure is being planned to ensure that any work relating to The Colony will have minimal impact on the comfort, enjoyment and experience you and your clients have come to expect of Half Moon. Thanks to the vast space and layout of Half Moon, The Colony has been planned for a small area of our 400 acres that is away from guest accommodations. We are confident that our mutual clients will continue to have memorable experiences at Half Moon and will enjoy even more the experience The Colony will offer.

For your information, please find attached aerial views of the resort that outline the space designated for The Colony at Half Moon. Also attached are renderings of the aesthetic hoardings and pathways planned for the site. We have also included for your interest architectural renderings of The Colony villas. While work is scheduled to begin within the next 16 months, much of that is contingent on the success of the project's pre-sale efforts. The response to this offer has been very positive and we believe the project should remain on schedule with an estimated completion in late 2010.


Maxim Bungalows in the Dominican Republic


By: Madelyn Giblin

Despite several delays due to ongoing construction, the highly anticipated Maxim Bungalows will be opening this year. March 15 marks the debut of Maxim Bungalows, Cofresi Beach, while its sibling resort at Juan Dolio will open in September. Maxim Bungalows is designed to give singles and couples alike an exotic stay in one of the Dominican Republic's finest resorts. Maxim Bungalows boasts 108 one and two bedroom bungalows complete with 24 hour service, Jacuzzi tub and flat screen TV. The resort includes a large, relaxing spa, and pool area, and most notably, a 54 foot yacht, which guests have the ability to charter for day trips and evening cruises.

Maxim Bungalows also offers a variety of activities for its active guests including jungle trips, scuba diving, a lively nightlife at various bars, cabanas, and night clubs in the area. The spa also offers guests a place to relax and rejuvenate in an exotic exciting environment. Maxim Bungalows stands out as the place to go for trendy singles searching for a place to enjoy a magnificent resort. And yes, it is related to Maxim Magazine. Visit www.maximbungalows.com.


Bliss Out on Sardinina at L’Ea Bianca Luxury Resort


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

L'Ea Bianca ResortThis summer, think Sardinia. The second largest island in the Mediterranean boasts beautiful, unspoiled coastlines and some of the best scenery in all of Italy. The new L'Ea Bianca resort, meaning literally "white water," sprawls over a gentle hillside overlooking the turquoise and emerald sea. Opposite the islands of the La Maddalena archipelago, the resort is framed by a lovely beach and groves of green juniper trees. There are only 31 bedrooms at the resort, meaning the ultimate privacy for guests. Each offers a spacious balcony, elegant furnishings, and bathrooms with both showers and whirlpool tubs. Lounge on the beach, where attendants will provide sun umbrellas and sun beds, or by the lovely pool. Not far from the Porto Cervo harbor (which houses some of the Med's most elegant yachts), L'Ea Bianca is located on one of the most prestigious areas of Sardinia's Emerald coast. Note: The spa will open this year, an excellent addition to the health and beauty center.


Sail the Seychelles with Banyan Tree’s Lagoon I Catamaran


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Banyan Tree SeychellesSet sail on the sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean and discover some of the most stunning scenery on the planet: remote islands of talcum powder beaches and lush tropical forests, and underwater life equally as beautiful. The 47-foot twin-hulled catamaran Banyan Tree Lagoon I will take to the seas of the Seychelles starting in March 2008. Staffed by a personal host and skipper and stocked with all the luxurious amenities one expects of Banyan Tree, the ship will accommodate six guests for overnight cruises from the resort. Wood-paneled bedrooms are spacious, and the air-conditioned main salon provides panoramic views.