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.

Opening This Month: The W Retreat & Spa Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Retreat & Spa Vieques Island

The opening date keeps getting pushed back, but we're hearing official reports that the W Retreat & Spa Vieques Island will *finally* open on March 25. Situated on the unspoiled island of Vieques, eight miles off the coast of Puerto Rico, the exclusive retreat promises luxurious villa living and indulgent island life. As if the wide empty beaches weren't enough to fulfill your vacation fantasy. R&R, W-style= a happening poolside scene next to the ocean, yoga on the terrace, rejuvenating body treatments at Spa Chakra, W signatures like the SWEAT fitness room and loungy Living Room, and Whatever/Whenever service taking care of all the details. Perhaps the most hyped of all: cuisine by Alain Ducasse at miX on the beach, the celebrity chef's first outpost in the Caribbean. Be the first to experience to experience the resort-- billed as "the latest worldwide wow"-- with insider rates starting from $249 per night.

Last-Minute Winter Escapes

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Royal Hideaway Playacar, MexicoIn case you missed it, The New York Times had a terrific round-up of last-minute winter getaways in Sunday's Travel section. Craving a little warmth to get you through the final days of winter? Here are some sample deals:

Beach bash in Mexico's Yucatan. After an $80 million sand restoration project, the beaches south of Cancun are sitting pretty. Stay at the Gran Melia Cancun and score a 35% discount on rates plus a room upgrade and resort credit. Book the Royal Hideaway Playacar and get a 30% discount.

Puerto Rico sunshine: Take advantage of the "Winter Escapes" package at the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza, where room rates start at $199, and get breakfast for two plus a $50 room credit, which you can use at "the homegrown celebrity chef Wilo Benet’s Pikayo, which recently relocated to the hotel and has been luring diners to its communal table for lobster empanadas and bay scallop ceviche."

Barbados Bound: Friday Photos of the Glam Fairmont Royal Pavilion

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Royal Pavilion

As the winter drags on, we've decided to bring the beach to you... Specifically: the white and pink sands in front of the Fairmont Royal Pavilion, perched on the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea. At 'The Jewel in the Crown of Barbados," every room is an oceanview room, every guest a pampered VIP. Play tennis, snorkel, sail, water ski or just soak up the sun from the prime stretch of beach. The resort is currently running a special winter offer including accommodations and double miles for $469 per night. The "Everyone's An Original Winter Offer" is available til April 15, 2010.

Fairmont Royal Pavilion

The Great Winter Thaw at Jamaica’s Half Moon Resort

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Half Moon Resort, JamaicaEscape the winter freeze on Half Moon's 400 sun-kissed acres and two-mile white sand beach. Did we mention the 68,000 square foot spa oasis called Fern Tree? (Half Moon's indoor/outdoor spa was voted "Top 10 in the Caribbean" by Travel + Leisure magazine. Inspired by Jamaica's centuries-old healing traditions, Fern Tree fuses modern spa techniques with ancient remedies of native herbs, fruits and botanicals.) Whether you're desperate for a spa retreat or just some fun in the sun, Half Moon is the place to thaw out. Half Moon Resort, JamaicaThe exclusive Montego Bay resort is currently offering a "Great Winter Thaw" package which is guaranteed to warm you up. Available til April 15, 2010, the package doles out a 7th night free when you pay for six nights. You'll also get 10 percent off spa services and sun activities (like horseback riding and dolphin encounters). Book before February 28, 2010. Valid in all room categories, for new bookings only. Blackout Dates: February 13 – 20, 2010 and March 27 – April 3, 2010

Top 10 Lists: Family-Friendly Luxury Hotels and Resorts

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

ice skating at Hotel Plaza Athenee

From mini ice-skating rinks (pictured) to cookies & milk in the evenings, luxury hotels definitely get creative when taking care of their pint-sized guests. The world's finest hotels go to extraordinary lengths in the pampering department- whether their clients are 8 or 80 years old. A recent article in Forbes highlights some of the top family-friendly luxury hotels in the world. Who made the cut? The Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris, The Athenaeum in London, the Porto Elounda De Luxe Resort in Crete, the Commune by the Great Wall outside Beijing, Edinburgh's Balmoral Hotel, Caneel Bay in St. John, The Ritz-Carlton Cancun, the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Four Seasons Resort Bali, One & Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives, Cape Grace in Cape Town, and The Oriental in Bangkok. We'd add Le Meurice to the list (for their Parisian treasure hunt), and Loews Hotels across the U.S. for their innovative kids programs (think dive-in movies in the summer months). Any hotels you'd recommend as note-worthy? Who'd we miss?

Beach Break in Turks and Caicos: Winter Getaway at Seven Stars Resort

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Seven Stars Resort, Turks and CaicosGive in to temptation and spoil yourself with a tropical getaway. Seven Stars Resort-- one of the newest properties to open on the white sands of Grace Bay Beach in the Turks and Caicos-- makes it easy with an offer (or two) that you can't refuse. Try free upgrades, free nights, and lots of savings. Need some more inspiration? Here's what's in store at Seven Stars:

Seven Stars Resort, Turks and Caicos--sensational snorkeling in the marine preserve of Princess Alexandra National Park

--sailing into the sunset aboard one of the resort's complimentary Hobie Cats

--beachside massage services (or a whole range of indulgences at the spa itself)

--distinguished accommodations with every possible modern amenity (DVD players, complimentary Internet...)

Here's the round-up of special offers available:

The Winter Special Getaway Offer gives discounts of 40 percent when you stay for a minimum of three nights. Starting at $390 per night for the Garden View Junior Suite; available til March 31, 2010.

Fantastic Savings and Upgrades for the Winter: Receive 25 percent off the normal daily rate and receive a free upgrade to the next room category.

The March is Special Offer: Stay seven nights and the last two nights are free, including complimentary Continental breakfast and airport transfers.

Spring Break in Barbados: Free Stuff at Sandy Lane Resort

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sandy Lane Resort, BarbadosCabin fever? Think ahead to a spring fling in Barbados. The exclusive Sandy Lane Resort is enticing visitors for some fun in the sun with a special "Spring Break" offer that includes a free night, full breakfast, Bentley luxury airport transfers, and unlimited non-motorized water sports. What's to love about this swanky hideaway on Barbados' Gold Coast? Rooms that average 900 square feet, eight restaurants and bars, two Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole golf courses, a sprawling spa, and oodles of activities for kids at the Treehouse Club. Book a six-night spring vacation for the whole family and get a free night with the Spring Break package. Available between March 1 and 26, 2010, the package is priced from $1400 in an Orchid Room.

First a Tourist Spaceship, Now an Underwater Plane: The Latest from Richard Branson

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Virgin Aero Submarine, Necker NymphBack in December, we reported on Virgin Galactic's tourist spaceship, a pet project of Sir Richard Branson's. Come 2011, travelers will be able to zoom through outer space for $200K. Next up for the business mogul? "A first-of-its-kind underwater plane." Virgin Limited Edition made the announcement about Branson's big purchase this week. An engineering marvel, the vessel can undertake underseas flights, moving through the water as if it were air. Here's the word from ABC News:

The "aero submarine" -- Branson's is named the Necker Nymph -- can dive to a depth of about 130 feet below the water's surface, carrying two passengers and a pilot. The three-person submersible will be delivered later this month to Branson's private Caribbean resort, Necker Island, and will be anchored to the deck of Branson's luxury catamaran, the Necker Belle. For guests who spend $88,000 to rent the high-end yacht for one week, the Necker Nymph can be hired out for an equally princely sum -- $25,000 per week.

Live the Luxury in Turks and Caicos: 25% Savings at The Regent Palms

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Regent Palms, Turks and CaicosToday is Groundhog Day 2010 and it looks like Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, heading back to his hole for six more weeks of winter. Depressed by the prediction from this "famous rodent meteorologist"? Here's a more uplifting thought: The Regent Palms is currently running an offer called "Great Savings in Turks and Caicos"- giving guests 25% off, or the equivalent of a free night when you stay four nights. Treat yourself to a dose of sunshine and ditch those winter blues. Nestled on the powder fine sands of Grace Bay Beach, this luxury Caribbean resort has it all: a 25,000 square foot spa, two signature restaurants, a gorgeous infinity pool, tennis, a Fitness Center and children's club activities. Smiling again? The offer is available with a minimum four-night stay and includes: * Welcome amenity * Daily continental breakfast * Complimentary use of all non-motorized water sport equipment * Complimentary high-speed, wireless Internet

Free-Dive in the Turks and Caicos with the World Record Holder at Amanyara

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Amanyara, Turks and CaicosHow do we love Amanyara? Let us count the ways. True to Amanresorts' philosophy, the resort is defined by a sensual, contemporary design created in harmony with its setting: the tropical island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos. 40 luxurious pavilions edge the fine sandy beach. There's a drop-dead gorgeous pool that offers uninterrupted views of the sea. Plus: a serene spa, yoga, tennis. And the turquoise Atlantic with unrivaled diving opportunities. In fact, Amanyara has a special program for February; the resort has invited free-diver and world-record holder Tanya Streeter to host private lessons for guests. (Now a reporter on underwater experiences for BBC, Tanya can hold her breath for six and a half minutes.) She will join guests scuba diving and in underwater photography courses. In the evenings, she'll host screenings of her documentary Diving with Whales, about the migration of humpback whales.