Five Star Alliance
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
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.

Small Luxury Hotels Announces Photo Competition: Win Cool Trips and Prizes!

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hostellerie Les Frenes, ProvenceSmall Luxury Hotels of the World-- the exclusive brand of more than 440 independent properties in 70 countries-- recently launched its inaugural worldwide photography competition with some incredible prizes. The idea is for travelers to share their most inspired moments and experiences "caught on film" during their trips-- whether biking through the Tuscan hills or watching the sunset over a beach in the Indian Ocean. The possibilities are limitless! Running from March 17, 2008 through July 31, 2008, the contest will take place completely online via a dedicated competition website. You can register with the site and then upload up to 10 of your favorite photos that capture a sense of place and experience. All submitted photos will be viewable in an online gallery. Four overall winning photographs will be chosen by a panel of judges including celebrity photographer Andy Earl (who shot Madonna, Prince and Pink Floyd for their album covers). And get this: anybody who registers and submits at least one photo will be automatically entered into a prize draw for a five-night stay at any of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties.

The top prize winners will all receive a brand new Nikon D80 SLR 10.2 Camera with an 18-135mm zoom lens, plus, choose one of four incredible prize getaways including two round-trip tickets on American Airlines. The available prize packages are:

* A six-night Costa Rican Adventure spent at both Hotel Punta Islita and Gaia Hotel and Reserve

* A five-night English Town and Country Experience spent at both The Capital Hotel in London and Luton Hoo Country Estate

* A four-night Mexican Escape at Esencia on the Riviera Maya

* A three night Big Apple Experience in New York City at The Iroquois New York

The Newly-Renovated Agua Spa at The Delano, South Beach

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Agua at The DelanoThe Delano has long symbolized South Beach cool. Sitting directly on the ocean, the urban resort is a trend-setting icon. It all started with that fabulous Indoor/Outdoor Lobby. Then Lenny Kravitz opened the Florida Room, the "modern-day piano lounge inspired by a classic period of South Floridian glamour." And now Morgans Hotel Group has just announced the expansion of the rooftop spa, Agua. With the renovation by Tim Andreas of BANJO Architects, the spa was expanded to 3,500 square feet and includes a 500 square foot solarium with tropical landscaping. The private terrace-- decked out in pristine white-- has infinite 360 degree views of the ocean. Custom-designed white terrazzo floors are complemented by a mosaic of hand-cut Brazilian glass tiles-- all in white. And white glass chandeliers from Murano are suspended above. There are 8 private treatment rooms, and cabana-inspired lounges for relaxing before and after the spa treatments. Try the signature Milk and Honey Treatment, which uses a blend of honey and organic sesame oil, or go for the medical-grade oxygen facial. New on the treatment menu: special facials and skin treatments designed just for men.

Southern Ocean Lodge: Eco-Chic on Kangaroo Island, Australia

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Kangaroo IslandAustralia's third largest island is a paradise of spectacular natural attractions, home to an abundance of native wildlife such as New Zealand fur seals, koalas, kangaroos, Australian sea lions, ospreys, echidnas and much more. Perched on top of a secluded cliff on this rugged coast, the Southern Ocean Lodge offers an eco-friendly luxury travel experience against a peerless natural backdrop. With incredible views of the pristine wilderness of "Australia's Galapagos," the Southern Ocean Lodge is a sophisticated sanctuary like no other. Distinguished by a contemporary environmental design and commitment to locally-sourced food and beverages, the lodge has a nifty clifftop spa that uses the acclaimed Australian-made Li'Tya range of spa products. Gaze out over the Southern Ocean while chowing down on fresh seafood and tasting some of the best wines of South Australia. Retire to your luxe suite-- there are only 21 of them at the lodge-- and continue to gape at the views from your dramatic glass-walled bathroom and outdoor terrace with daybed. You'll appreciate the signature design elements: sandblasted limestone floors, recycled spotted gum feature walls, contemporary bespoke furnishings and artwork commissioned from local Kangaroo Island artisans.

Travel across Chilean Roads and Stay in Style at San Cristobal Tower, Santiago

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

San Cristobal Tower, SantiagoHands down the finest hotel in Santiago, San Cristobal Tower is arguably one of the best hideaways in South America. A member of Starwood's Luxury Collection, San Cristobal Tower is situated just minutes away from the Providencia business district. Guest rooms are outfitted with carved mahogany chairs, elegant drapes and gold-rimmed mirrors, and boast spectacular views of the snow-capped Andes. If you book one of the two Terrace Suites, named after the great Literature Nobel Prize winners from Chile, "Gabriela Mistral" and "Pablo Neruda," you'll enjoy the views from spacious terraces. San Cristobal Tower is offering an exclusive getaway with a car rental included so that you can create your own tour of the world-famous Chilean wineries, beaches at Viña del Mar, and Andes mountains. Priced from $289 per night (3-night minimum required), the package includes complimentary buffet breakfast, a bottle of Chilean wine in-room upon arrival, free admission to Neptuno Spa Pool and Fitness Center, late check-out at 4 p.m, and parking for your rental car!

Buzzworthy: Sun International’s Palace at Port Ghalib, Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sun International, Palace at Port GhalibBilled as the premier resort destination on Egypt's Red Sea coast, the new Port Ghalib development, just 2.5 hours from the Valley of the Kings, is home to Sun International's 5-star citadel of indulgence. The Palace at Port Ghalib has made quite the stir since its debut last November 2007. Surrounded by fountains, terraced gardens and a kilometer-long swimming lagoon (the second largest saltwater lagoon ever made!), The Palace is truly spectacular. Each of the 309 premier rooms has butler service and a private balcony and terrace overlooking the Red Sea. For the ultimate indulgence, the 13 Royal Suites pamper guests with spa-like bathrooms and elegant surroundings (intricate architectural details and luxurious furnishings). In addition to the Palace, there are two other hotels on-site at Port Ghalib: the Sahara Sun Oasis and the Sahara Sun Sands. From here, try your hand at any number of activities-- from scuba diving and fishing to jeep treks and camel rides.

Ubud Hanging Gardens: Tropical Paradise in Bali

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ubud Hanging GardensThe ultimate chill-out spot can be found not far from Bali's cultural capital of Ubud at a luxury resort like no other. Ubud Hanging Gardens, like its name suggests, clings to the steep slopes over the Ayung River gorge and offers sweeping views. Perched over the rice terraces, this gravity-defying hotel has 38 luxury villas surrounded by verdant gardens. Conceived by the landscape architect William Warren together with John Pettigrew, the gardens are spectacular; exotic trees and flowers include cocoa, coffee, durian, bamboo, flame trees and orchids. Each Balinese-style villa has its own private terrace and heated infinity plunge pool. Ubud Hanging Gardens features massages and yoga classes at the Ayung spa, excellent food-with-a-view at the restaurants, and a gorgeous pool with a unique design emphasizing the natural curves of the hillside. The real star of the show? The resort's own private funicular (pictured), built into the hillside, which carries guests from one level of the resort to another.

Ubud Hanging Gardens

Until April 30, 2008, take advantage of an exciting special offer at Ubud Hanging Gardens. When you stay for 5 nights, you'll only pay for 4 of them! Book any villa or suite and stay for a minimum of five consecutive nights.

P.S. Ubud Hanging Gardens is the ideal honeymoon escape, and the resort can tailor your activities, excursions, fine dining, etc. to fit your individual needs.

96 Hour Sale: $96 Rates with Rock Resorts

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Rock ResortsThe big sale is back. Stay at a luxurious RockResort from just $96 per night! From snug mountain hideaways in the Rockies to a blissful beachfront retreat in the Caribbean, Rock Resorts has some dazzling destinations: The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, Aspen's Hotel Jerome, Keystone Lodge and Spa, The Lodge at Vail, La Posada de Santa Fe, and The Landings St. Lucia in the West Indies. Even the swanky new Arrabelle at Vail Square is going for just $136 per night. To take advantage of this exclusive offer, book your stay before Sunday, March 16, 2008, at 11:59 p.m. MDT. This offer is available for travel Sunday through Thursday nights, April 13, 2008 through November 13, 2008. Online bookings only. All bookings must be prepaid and are nonrefundable.

Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa: The Best of Borneo

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort, Sunset BarSet on a peninsula surrounded by the waters of the South China Sea, the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort is a secluded tropical retreat just minutes from the center of Kota Kinabalu. Picture it: inviting beaches, views of sparkling coral islands, incredible natural wonders and local culture on the island of Borneo in the eastern part of Malaysia. Sabah-- the Malaysian state perched on the northern tip of the island of Borneo-- is known for its scenic beauty and natural heritage including such treasures as the Rafflesia (the largest flower in the world), Asian elephant, proboscis monkey, and of course the famous Orang Utan. Just a 2 1/2 hour flight from Singapore, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur, Shangri-La's luxury resort offers 492 recently renovated rooms and suites, seven restaurants and bars, and a wealth of recreational opportunities for families and leisure travelers. Since December 2007, the resort is also home to CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La, which boasts 5 individual Island Villas, 3 Couples' Villas and an open Yoga Pavilion-- all located on Pulau Bayu, the resort's private island.

Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort and SpaDon't miss a spectacular evening at the Sunset Bar, before heading out for a night at Blue Note, the buzzing bar featuring nightly music and generous cocktails. A hot new line-up of well-known international DJs will appear for "Generation Y" every Saturday in March. This is quite the scene- created by DJs renowned the world over for their trendsetting talent.

Tour the Don CeSar Beach Resort in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida

By: Courtney W. May

Don CeSar Beach ResortAnyone who has ever read The Informed Traveler in the past, knows what a big fan I am of the Don CeSar Beach Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida. Located on the Gulf of Mexico Beach, the hotel is wonderful for singles, couples, and families - which is a hard endorsement to get. Click on the link below to get a pop-up window with video, pictures, and tours of the Don CeSar Beach Resort. You can check out the beach, restaurants, pool area, and a bunch of rooms through this link ...

Newsworthy: One and Only Palmilla, Cabo, Mexico, Begins Enhancement in May 2008

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

One and Only PalmillaThe sexy "Jewel of Baja"-- easily one of the best hotels in the world-- will temporarily adjust its room count from 172 to 122 rooms starting in May 2008. Once the favorite hideaway for the likes of Hemingway and Harlow, this elegant, ocean-facing oasis, the One & Only Palmilla, will continue to provide signature special touches which are the hallmark of One & Only hotels. But during this enhancement period, certain areas of the resort will be closed including the Vista Pool (adults-only pool), Breeze Restaurant, and C Restaurant breakfast service. All other areas are fully operational.