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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.

World Luxury Hotel Awards Declare Best Luxury Hotels of 2011


By: Christopher Roney

The 2011 World Luxury Hotel Awards have announced their Global Winners across a variety of categories, and we’re confident that each of these hotels represents the finest in luxury accommodations. We'll be spotlighting many of these individually in the coming weeks and offering our critical commentary, but for now, take a look at the winners such as the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, winning Best Luxury Hotel overall, and the Sandals Royal Plantation, the Best Luxury Island Resort.

Click here to check out the full list of best hotels, listed alphabetically by location so you can find the names of the top hotels in your vacation spot of choice, and search here if you're interested in booking any of the top hotels of 2011.


Wild, Wild West: Blacktomato Offers Luxury Frontier Package


By: Christopher Roney

Tanque Verde Ranch

Think back to childhood. Picture yourself chasing after your friends, finger cocked into the shape of a pistol. “Bang, bang. I got you! You’re dead!” you’d yell, but your friends would never just fall down. They’d have a million reasons why not: “You missed me!” or “I’ve got armor!” or “I’m superman – bullets don’t hurt me!” or “Nuh uh!” You probably wrestled a bit until Mom told you to come inside and have your dinner already, it was getting cold.

Remember that? Now you get a chance to bring those childhood afternoons spent playing "Cowboys and Indians" to life. Blacktomato has created a 12-night luxury tour to showcase the modern Wild West adventure. Travel the edge of the Grand Canyon, wrangle cattle, and visit the most awe-inspiring of desert oases. It’s so authentic you might forget when you’re out in the wilds that you’re not spending your nights in a small, sweltering tent, but instead getting refreshed and rejuvenated at some of the world’s most prestigious hotels. They suggest, as we do, that you spend at least part of your stay at the Amangiri, a secluded resort so built to blend into the landscape that you’ll think it’s a mirage. Unlike most vacation packages, which offer you a set itinerary, Blacktomato recognizes that you want to take control of your own destiny, and their 12-night package is nothing more than a suggestion for things to see and do as you explore the western frontier:

  •  • Begin at Las Vegas and experience the strip in all its neon-bathed glory.
  •  • Leave the city to explore the rugged, scenic vistas of the Grand Canyon.
  •  • Continue on to the hidden desert oasis of Amangiri.
  •  • Experience the majestic red rock formations at the Enchantment Resort.
  •  • Live the life of a cowboy at the Tanque Verde Ranch.

Blacktomato will work with you to craft the perfect journey through America’s wildest of regions, and trust us; you can’t go wrong.


The Emperor's New Groove: Caesars Palace Opens New Tower


By: Christopher Roney

Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV

As TravelAgentCentral reports, Caesars Palace is beginning to take reservations for its new 668-room tower, and its accommodations are certainly befitting an imperial residence.  The Octavius Tower, named after the given name of the Emperor Caesar Augustus, keeps with the Roman theme with elegant, austere marble floors made warm and inviting by extensive traditionally patterned carpets.

As with any good Roman palace, the rooms feature flat-screen tvs and plush velvet sofas.  In lieu of the more period-accurate public baths, however, private bathrooms feature whirlpool bathtubs and glass-enclosed showers.  

For a public space, the Tower expansion offers the appropriately understated Garden of the Gods, a pool and garden area perfect for lounging around as you munch on a bit of ambrosia.

So next time you’re looking to go to Vegas, go check out the new addition to Caesars Palace (laurel wreath not included).


Say Hello to Chef Michel Richard's 24-Hour Restaurant at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Caesars PalaceDiners in Sin City will soon be able to chow down on chef Michel Richard's celebrated cuisine 24 hours a day. Based in Washington D.C., the renowned French chef will be opening Central Las Vegas inside the Caesars Palace hotel. The Vegas outpost of his famous D.C. brasserie will have an outdoor patio and a cigar bar. And in the biggest news of all, Richard is planning to keep Central Las Vegas open 24 hours a day, seven days a week-- in what The USA Today says is a "first among the Strip's many celebrity chef restaurants." After all, no-one sleeps in Las Vegas; folks "eat and they play!"

Richard is also behind D.C.'s famous Citronelle restaurant. Here's how Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate describes him: "A great chef, who is cooking at a level that far exceeds any Michelin three-star chef in France."


'Sandsational' Summer in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Marina Bay Sands, SingaporeYou've heard about Marina Bay Sands and it's sky-high infinity pool and plant-filled Sky Park... Now here's your chance to see it with your very own eyes, and tell all your friends back home about one of the sexiest new hotels on the planet. Located along the Marina Bay waterfront, Marina Bay Sands opened in 2010 and has already become a premier entertainment destination in Singapore. It has a lotus-inspired Museum, countless retail stores, trendy restaurants by celebrity chefs, theaters and happening night clubs, and a Las Vegas-style casino. Stay anytime til September 30, 2011 and you can take advantage of the "Sandsational Summer" package which includes:

* Two complimentary drinks from Ku De Ta—in the iconic Sands SkyPark.

* A S$50 nett destination credit per day. (Simply charge to your room and they'll waive the first S$50nett daily.)

* A 10% discount off Disney's musical "The Lion King" for all categories except Platinum

* A 23% discount off admission for two at ArtScience Museum. 

Book now to enjoy this package from $339 per night on weekdays, and $399 on weekends. Does not include daily breakfast nor the 10% service charge and 7% GST.


The Darling: A New Five-Star Hotel for Sydney


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sydney Opera HouseA new luxury hotel will up the luxury quotient in Sydney when it opens this fall, debuting $15,000-a-night penthouse suites complete with their own gambling room and 24-hour butler. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the city's newest five-star hotel, slated to open in mid-October 2011, will have stunning views of the city skyline and Darling Harbour. Part of the renovation of the Star City casino complex at Pyrmont, the new Darling Hotel will have 171 rooms with lavish, custom-designed interiors. The crème de la crème: the afore-mentioned penthouse suites. Occupying the top (12th) floor of the hotel, these four suites are enormous, designed to attract the high-rollers, entertainers, and big gamblers. General Manager Drew Schlesinger told the newspaper:

"They can order food from any of the restaurants, we can get anything for anyone. If they want American bison, we'll get American bison.''

Image by Matthew Field via Wikimedia


VIVA ELVIS at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas


By: Daniel L. Moses

Aria Resort and CasinoHave you ever concerned yourself with someone stepping on your suede shoes, blue or otherwise? Do you often act as if you were nothing but a hound dog? Whilst in the jailhouse, do you ever make sure the place truly rocks? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it's high time you took to the road because Las Vegas has something just for you. The Cirque du Soleil empire has expanded to include the latest incarnation of their award-winning acrobatics and showmanship, VIVA ELVIS! Combining the music of Elvis Presley with the majesty of Cirque du Soleil has been a rollicking success, and the new luxury Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas is the only place to see it.

The good news is that you don't have to be like a fool rushing in to afford the new show, with discounts abounding. In fact, offers of up to 50% off are available for the intrepid travelers. And the best way to enjoy the show is by staying at the Aria.  ou won't get all shook up enjoying Aria's spectacular spa, nor the many incredible restaurant options, including Michael Mina's latest 4-star incarnation.

Don't be caught with a suspicious mind over Cirque's VIVA ELVIS nor the Aria Resort and Casino's fantabulous offering. Go ahead and book your next stay today. And oh yeah, that promo code when buying tickets is ARIA. Better act fast because, well, it's now or never!


Dream Big at the Wynn Las Vegas


By: Daniel L. Moses

The Wynn Las VegasWhat is that you dream about?  I dream a lot about food.  I also dream about sports, and, when I'm ready to make one of my weekend trips to Las Vegas, I dream about a dream.  Specifically, the dazzling show known as Le Reve at the Wynn Las VegasLe Reve, which is French for The Dream, is a magical production based around water.  Combining music, acrobatics, and dancing, Le Reve is one of the most incredible performances currently offered on the Vegas Strip.

Yet for you and yours, VIP tickets to Le Reve can be had for a lark.  Just use promotion code VIP PACK and you'll be paying less for oh-so-much-more.  The VIP indulgence package offers all visitors champagne bottle service, chocolate-covered strawberries, plush seating and behind-the-scenes video monitors.  Not bad if you feel like being blown away by such an incredible production.

In between shows, you might even find time to enjoy Wynn Las Vegas' incredible restaurants, shopping, spa, pools, on-site golf course, and oh yeah, one of the world's largest casinos.  I like to dress in a tux and play baccarat.  And a piece of advice, friends, always bet on the player.  Happy gaming and remember to dream big!


Steve Wynn Decorates His Macau Casino Resort with $12.8 Million Chinese Vases


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Wynn MacauIn 2006 Las Vegas was eclipsed by Macau as the gaming capital of the world. Not far from Hong Kong, the former Portuguese colony of Macau attracts millions of visitors from mainland China keen to wager their bets at legal casinos. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reports that gambling revenue in Macau just hit an all-time record high- at $3 billion in the month of May. Little wonder then that casino mogul Steve Wynn has been investing heavily in his resorts there. (Wynn Macau looks hauntingly similar to its Vegas predecessor.) The latest? Wynn shelled out $12.8 million at a London auction recently for a set of four 18th-century Chinese porcelain vases that will adorn his new Cotai Resort Hotel, scheduled to open in 2015 in Macau. Bloomberg has the skinny on the vases:

The 4-foot (1.2 meter) vases, painted with Buddhist and Taoist emblems and embellished with 19th-century gilded metal mounts, were the most expensive of 50 lots at Christie’s International’s “Exceptional’’ sale in the U.K. capital. Sold by a private collector, the Jiaqing period (1796-1821) vases had formerly been in the collection of the Scottish aristocrats, the Dukes of Buccleuch, and had been estimated at 600,000 pounds to 1 million pounds.


Destination Deauville: Where to Stay in Normandy's Chic Seaside Town


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Royal Barriere, Deauville, FranceJust two hours by train outside of Paris, Deauville is a sublime seaside destination. Since its creation as a resort in the 19th century, Deauville has lured the chic and the fashionable for weekend jaunts on the beach boardwalk. After all, this is the spot where Coco Chanel first opened a boutique in 1913, and fashion designers like Yves Saint Laurent used to come to unwind. (Deauville hits the spotlight each September for the annual American Film Festival, and was the recent host of the G8 Summit, when the world's leaders gathered in Normandy for a few days of meetings in May.) For a town of just 4,000 year-round inhabitants, there's not much Deauville doesn't offer. Horse races at the Hippodrome, gambling at the casino, sun-bathing on the beach, shopping the cornucopia of couture boutiques, sailing the high seas, relaxing at the thalassotherapy spas, and teeing off on the scenic golf courses...

*The* place to stay in town is the Royal Barrière, home to Deauville's only Michelin-starred resto. Smack dab on the seafront, the five-star hotel is a favorite of Hollywood stars and Parisian society. (The walls are lined with autographed photos of A-listers.) Sister hotel, the Normandy Barrière, a masterpiece of Tudor architecture, is another splendid option. Indeed, the Lucien Barrière Hotels Group has been a central part of the Deauville scene since the early 20th century, and is a frequent sponsor of cinema, music and equestrian events.