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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.

The Fabulous Five-Year Makeover of Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda

May 19, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Little Dix Bay

Little Dix Bay is a Caribbean gem on Virgin Gorda beloved by its discerning clientele for its elegant villas nestled among lush gardens, delicious dining venues, and other-worldly Spa. The award-winning beachfront resort just got a little more enticing when it unveiled new renovations and additions, including eight new junior suites and three new hilltop villas. These renovations--including all 100 guest rooms-- are part of a five-year makeover that will be completed in December just in time for high season. Each of the new suites is distinguished by patio and porch with gorgeous sea views and sunsets, and extraordinary outdoor bathrooms that are completely hidden from the water. The interiors are luxuriously appointed with indigenous woods, local stones, and handcrafted furniture and fabrics. The three new villas feature three or four bedrooms, oversized living areas, outdoor showers, private pool and dining pavilion/barbeque area. The magical makeover began in 2000 with the addition of the 3,000 sq ft Children's Grove, where children enjoy creative activities with a professional and fun staff. In 2001, the resort opened The Spa at Little Dix Bay, in its unparalleled cliffside setting, along with two beachfront villas. Eight Rosewood Junior suites were added in 2004, and in 2005, the resort redesigned its restaurants and renovated two-thirds of all guestrooms with completely new bathrooms and outdoor showers. With these extensive renovations, the tranquil and sophisticated Caribbean resort just got a whole lot more luxurious.


The Development Boom in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

May 18, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

beach The cat's out of the bag about Playa del Carmen. The cool and classy beach destination on Mexico's gorgeous less-traveled Yucatan peninsula (away from the high-rises, Senor Frog's, and wet t-shirt contests of Cancun) is growing at a staggering pace. Quickly fleeting are the days of uncrowded stretches of white sand beach and evenings at hip beach bars. Among the new hotels popping up as quickly as sand-castles: The new Riu Palace Riviera Maya is the fourth all-inclusive Riu Palace to open in Playa in recent months. And Kor has jumped on the development bandwagon, with the Viceroy Riviera Maya and The Tides Playa del Carmen Resorts and Residences (both slated for 2008), and the recent acquisition of two existing upscale resorts: the 46-room Mosquito Blue and the newly built, 33-room Mosquito Beach. (And the accommodations all promise to be sinfully luxurious...) Flights to Cancun are at a record low right now-- we're talking $129 Chicago-Cancun on United's brand new route-- so best get down there now to see a piece of paradise vanishing fast...


Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas Closes August 15 for Renovations

May 16, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ritz Carlton St. Thomas

The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas offers a heavenly escape surrounded by sparkling turquoise waters and lush tropical forests. From the resort's dazzling white beaches, guests windsurf, parasail, and venture out on scuba diving and snorkeling expeditions. The elegant 152-room resort is about to get even classier, with a new $35 million renovation project. The changes planned include the addition of 24 luxury suites, six spa treatment rooms and a 20,000 sq ft lounge, and overhauls of all three restaurants. The hotel will reopen again on November 1, ready to charm guests for the holiday season. But hurry! There is still some availability for the peak holiday season...


Travel Planning Resources: Florida, Hurricane Season, and Trip Insurance

May 16, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Florida Keys Last year's hurricane season was shocking in scale and scope. And this year, the storms could escalate in strength. As quoted in Travel Weekly:

"The 2006 season will be an active one, with 17 named storms, of which nine will reach hurricane strength, and of those, five will be between Category 3 and Category 5 storms," said William Gray, head of the Dept. of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.
Hurricane season (at its strongest from August-October) is thus a big deterrent for tourists to South Florida, on both business trips and leisure vacations. As reported today by CNN, meeting planners are reluctant to book their conferences at this time of year, and thus "Visit Florida last year began offering event insurance up to $200,000 to defray marketing and rescheduling costs if there is a hurricane disruption." Similarly, "to sweeten the deal for leisure travelers, several businesses in the area are offering two-for one packages on diving, sailing and spas." Thus, leisure travelers can take advantage of some excellent bargains promoted by the area's luxury hotels. Many resorts offer guarantees, and hurricane protection, so check ahead. Resources: The Monroe County Tourism Development Council has upgraded its Web site with lots of Hurricane info, including health and welfare issues for travelers, the science of hurricanes, tracking maps, and local emergency plans. Key West Magazine has scheduled an important hurricane feature for their June 2006 issue.


Surf’s Up: Southern California and the Newly Renovated Fairmont Newport Beach

May 15, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Newport Beach

As CNN reports, the legal battle over designation of "Surf City USA" has officially ended, as Huntington Beach edged out rival Santa Cruz with a federal agency's decision "to grant the town exclusive trademark rights." Easy, dudes! Both spots are world-renowned for their awesome waves. But if you're craving the warmer waters, better head south to Huntington Beach. The town's got an easy-going vibe and quiet elegance, and plenty of opportunities to watch the locals ride the waves in surf competitions.

Looking for lux accommodations? Just a short hop from Huntington Beach in the sun-drenched magnificence of the OC, Newport Beach lures with its recently renovated Fairmont Hotel. It's actually in the final stages of the $30 million renovation, which involves the outdoor area, driveway, and landscaping-- all slated for completion by August 31. The rest of the place is dazzling and new, including the heated sky pool and deck which opens any day now. The Fairmont Gold Lounge and Gold Floor guest rooms-- a "hotel within a hotel" with private check-in and complimentary breakfast and evening hors' d'oeuvres-- will be completed at the beginning of June. The new 8,000 sq ft Spa will open in January.

Take advantage of Only One Way Summer Rates. Rooms are a steal starting at $199 a night.

The Fairmont Newport Beach, Five Star Alliance

Related Articles:

Outside Magazine, Surf Guide 2006


Destinations: Santa Catalina, the Quick LA Getaway

May 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ray off Channel Islands

A fast ride on a hydrofoil and you feel a million miles away from the big city. The island's landscape could almost be the flower-studded hills of a Mediterranean isle, surrounded by the deep blue of sea and sky. Welcome to Santa Catalina (here feel free to break into song: Twenty- six miles across the sea; Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me; Santa Catalina, the island of romance, romance, romance.) Even a day-trip from LA can be a rejuvenating escape. Explore the beautiful coast by mountain bike, kayak, or by foot, stroll through the village, or hit the beach and soak up the sun. This month, Islands Magazine features Santa Catalina as one of four American islands to visit this summer.


Luxury Cruises: Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas

May 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Freedom of the Seas

It's big, it's bad…Royal Caribbean's new boat eclipses them all. Freedom of the Seas is set to sail, and the media is abuzz. At 208 feet tall, weighing 160,000 tons, and with a capacity for 4,000 passengers, this baby dwarfs Cunard's Queen Mary 2-- and grabs the title of world's biggest passenger ship. The mother of them all sports some pretty nifty "firsts" in the cruising world: rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink with (Good God) Willy Bietak's Ice Skating Musical Extravaganza, mini-golf, boxing ring, water park, and top-deck surfing pool called "Flow Rider." And as recommended by Fodor's, the perfect family cruise experience. Look out, Caribbean.

Related Articles:

Fodor's Travel Wire, "Royal Caribbean's Big New Boat"

A Luxury Travel Blog, "Freedom of the Seas in Hamburg"

Yahoo! News, "Freedom of the Seas Is Largest Ship Ever"

CNN.com, "World's Largest Passenger Ship Arrives in New Jersey"


Buzzworthy: Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa Accepting Reservations

May 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Maldives

Imagine: your own private coral atoll fringed by sand and crystal clear water. Thatched-roof villas with spacious rooms, outdoor showers, private plunge pools and decks over the turquoise. Some of the best diving and water activities in the Maldives. Welcome to the recently re-opened Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, a luxurious private getaway in paradise. Guests are invited to discover this unique and beautiful island with reservations beginning November 1, 2006. On a nearby coral atoll of its own, Four Seasons is opening a sister property called Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, with an authentic Ayurvedic Spa. Combine the best of sand and sea at both resorts with The Explorer, a 39-meter, 11-cabin, 3-deck catamaran. Go island-hopping in style, explore rarely-visited snorkeling spots, and sail untouched waters with this extraordinary private cruise experience.


Prep like a Celeb with Baby Week at Peter Island

May 9, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

by Courtney W. May for Peter Island Resort, the British Virgin Islands

These days it seems all the celebs are popping out the little ones, and if you are part of the trend, then you might be interested in this awesome pampering package for mommy and daddys-to-be at Peter Island Resort -- where you can de-stress in paradise.

Peter Island Resort is the largest private island in the British Virgin Islands and developed the special program "Baby Week" for expectant parents. It includes a course given by Charlene L. Stokamer, MPH, MSN entitled "How to Relax and Have Your Baby." (We just hope she isnt advocating a 'silent birth' as 'relaxed').

Peter Island Resort Spa

The Baby Week program is offered in small intimate groups and includes:

- Five (5) two-hour sessions,

- A pre-natal massage for mommy-to-be,

- A deep tissue massage for daddy-to-be,

- Nightly themed turndowns,

- and proven relaxation practices for the couple.

Also included are three meals daily and assorted activities. Optional classes for couples are available: lactation management (!), breast-feeding and baby care. If you are like the celebs and have your c-section planned for August or later, then this could be the perfect Mother's Day gift - the program runs from July 15-20, 2006 and starts at around $3,300 for five-days of perfection.

Full details after the jump ...

Oftentimes, the joy of pregnancy can also bring with it a number of stress-inducing issues: what to name the baby, decorating the nursery, over-zealous grandparents, anxiety and mood swings, to name a few! Why not take a break from all of these worries and escape to an island paradise while learning helpful "preparing for baby' tips at the same time?

Peter Island Resort, the largest private island in the British Virgin Islands, has developed a special program for expectant parents called Prepare for Baby Week, which includes a "How to Relax and Have Your Baby," course given by Charlene L. Stokamer, MPH, MSN.

Stokamer has over 30 years of experience in the health industry and specializes in teaching tailored childbirth preparation, breastfeeding preparation and relaxation classes. She is not only a certified health education specialist, but she has also facilitated numerous health education fairs and other events to promote general health.

Wayne Kafcsak, managing director adds, "This week was developed for those couples seeking a way to relieve some of the stress leading up to having a baby by offering the opportunity for a world-class vacation that is seamlessly combined with prenatal education. Peter Island's beauty and charm will only heighten the couple's experience, better preparing them for the journey that lies ahead."

The program, which is offered as a small intimate group and includes five (5) two-hour sessions, a pre-natal massage for mommy-to-be, a deep tissue massage for daddy-to-be, nightly themed turndowns and proven relaxation practices for the couple. Also included are three meals daily as well as assorted activities. Optional classes for couples are available in lactation management, breast-feeding and baby care as well. This program runs July 15-20, 2006 and rates start at $3,306 for the five-day program.

Whether you're an expectant mother or a supportive daddy-to-be, Peter Island's Prepare for Baby Week is sure to add something extra special to your vacation in paradise.


Girls Getaway Package at The Bentley Beach Hotel, Miami

May 8, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Bentley Beach Hotel

On the southern tip of Ocean Drive in South Beach, new to the scene in the hot district South of Fifth ("SoFi"), The Bentley Beach Hotel offers sophisticated suites in a stunning architectural masterpiece engineered by the award-winning architectural design firm, Arquitectonica. This is a chill scene, yet full of the decadent touches one expects in South Beach luxury hotels. The suites are elegantly furnished with European kitchens, spacious terraces overlooking the ocean or city skyline, lavish oversized marble bathrooms, flat screen TVs, Sony CD/DVD Home Theater System, and wireless internet. Additionally, the hotel features the Caroli Health Club, swimming pool and Jacuzzi, Fitness Center with sauna and steam room, and luxury car and yacht rentals.

The Bentley Beach Hotel is the perfect spot for a fun and rejuvenating weekend for the girls, with everything your little heart desires: pampering, luxurious accommodations, designer shopping sprees, nights on the town, and sun-filled beach days. With this in mind, The Bentley Beach Hotel has put together the ultimate Girls Getaway Package. Book a minimum of 2 nights in a One or Two Bedroom Suite and receive the following: two 60-minute in-room massages. spa manicure, pedicure and hair style at Rocco Donna hair and beauty art, Bal Harbour shops spree complete with a $200 Bal Harbour shops gift certificate and private car roundtrip transfer, limo transfer to a South Beach restaurant or club to get the party started, daily breakfast in bed including mimosas, champagne and chocolate indulgences upon arrival, and complimentary private beach club services. From $899 per room, per stay, exclusive of tax. Minimum 2 nights stay. Valid through December 31, subject to availability.