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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.

Drinks on the House at Sofitel Buenos Aires

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sofitel Buenos AiresRelax with a drink at La Bibliotheque, the cozy lounge at Sofitel Buenos Aires, or tuck into some flavorful Mediterranean cuisine at Le Sud. The Sofitel Buenos Aires hotel is giving away a 50$/50€ hotel credit for guests to spend as they please. Need some drycleaning done? Aching for a massage? Go ahead and indulge. Hit the hammam or indoor pool, then retreat to your elegant guest room, designed with flair by renowned interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. (He just did the redesign of the French Riviera landmark, the Grand Hotel du Cap-Ferrat.) Make sure to book the "Hotel Credit Offer" to get the most out of your Sofitel stay.

An Interview with the GM: Mr. Rui Reis of The St. Regis Mexico City

By: K. Clare Johnson

St. Regis Mexico CityMr. Rui Reis is the General Manager of The St. Regis Mexico City-the first city-centered St. Regis property in all of Mexico and Latin America. He was previously Area Managing Director for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, overseeing The St. Regis Resort Bora Bora, The Luxury Collection's Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa, The Sheraton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa, and The Sheraton Tahiti Hotel. He was also general manager at a number of high-end, luxury resorts including Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa, The El Camarindo Golf Resort, and the El Careyas Beach Resort, both Starwood Luxury Collection resorts in Jalisco, Mexico. Just prior to the opening of the luxury property, Mr. Reis took some time to sit down and answer a few of our questions.

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?

Mr. Rui Reis: I have been with Starwood Hotels & Resorts for a majority of my career and it has been one of the best honors and experiences to oversee properties such as The St. Regis Resort Bora Bora, The Sheraton Tahiti Hotel, and so many others. I have enjoyed working in several countries but have a great appreciation for Mexico, so when the opportunity to oversee this exquisite hotel became available, I knew I had to be a part of it.

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?

Rui Reis: The most distinctive feature of The St. Regis Mexico City is the unique mixture of the rich culture of Mexico City blended with the signature amenities and legendary services of the St. Regis brand such as our white gloved butler service. The personality of the hotel would be described as timeless elegance in the new renaissance of Mexico City.

Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?

Rui Reis: Our customers exist at the intersection of traditional and contemporary luxury. They are industry leaders with an entrepreneurial spirit, contemporary epicureans, enjoy the true "art of living" and travel from all over the world.

Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

Rui Reis: The St. Regis Mexico City is surrounded by the elegant aspects of the famed capital city such as the Fountain of Diana, Polanco, the financial district, The Frida Kahlo Museum and much more. My favorite thing to do is visit the nearby museums. What I love about Mexico City is that it displays a broad range of art- murals, paintings, statues, and performing arts- all over the city as a reflection the culture.

Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?

Rui Reis: We have not yet opened but plan to extend our welcome to all famous celebrities and guests.

Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?

Rui Reis: All of our standard rooms and suites are exquisite and captivating, each with spectacular views of the city.

Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?

Rui Reis: The St. Regis Mexico City is the first city-centered St. Regis property in all of Mexico and Latin America. There have not been any special events yet, but once we open the doors, the hotel will host signature traditions such as the St. Regis champagne toast on a weekly basis.

Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?

Rui Reis: If I were a guest, I would want to prepare for the refined and distinctive experience only offered at the St. Regis. I would also want to know that the signature St. Regis butlers will be a great resource to assist throughout my stay, from any hotel room needs to helping plan a full day of nearby activities.

Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?

Rui Reis: The hardest part about being General Manager is having all of these great amenities and fine dining nearby! I must remember to not indulge too much on a daily basis!

Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?

Rui Reis: The original The St. Regis New York is an exquisite hotel that led the industry in bespoke services that are still appreciated today such as the signature white-gloved butler service. Also, The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort is an extraordinary resort offering an uncompromising escape to the coast of Mexico unlike any of its kind.

Become a Chilean Wine Connoisseur with the San Cristobal Tower

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

San Cristobal Tower, SantiagoLeave it to Santiago's top luxury hotel to come up with a way for its guests to delve into Chilean wine-making. Getting spoiled with a bottle of wine in-room isn't enough. You'll get a private transfer to Concha y Toro Vineyard to learn every detail about the techniques applied in grape-collecting during the harvest. After an inside look behind the scenes at the prestigious winery, you'll taste the fruits of their labor-- sipping glasses of vino during a tasting session. Upon your return to San Cristobal Tower, you'll enjoy breakfast service, admission to Neptuno Pool & Fitness Center, and late check out at 4:00 PM. Also included in the "Chilean Wine Connoisseur" package: private parking and a welcome drink. Priced from $399 in a Grand Deluxe Room.

Up Close: The New JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa, Costa Rica

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort

There's a new luxury resort on the scene in Costa Rica: the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa. Travel expert JohnnyJet was there for the grand opening back in June for what he calls "an incredible resort." (Service= cold towels and water bottles on arrival; rooms=great balconies and lavish bathrooms; restaurants= delish plates served with a smile.) Billed as "one of the most magnificent in Latin America," the ocean-facing resort is outside Tamarindo on the country's west coast.

JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort

If you can manage to pull yourself away from your spacious guest room (and luxurious bathroom), you'll find a slew of activities at your fingertips. Discover one of three beaches, surrounded by beautiful rainforest. Sip cocktails on Mansita beach and take in the sunset. There are four restaurants and bars to whet the appetite, and a world-class spa for rejuvenating treatments. Take a swim in the resort pool or hit the 18-hole championship golf course, designed by golf architect Mike Young with the 15th hole overlooking the blue Pacific.

JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort


Luxury Hotel Trends: Spa Treatments for Teens

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso Spa

A few years ago we noticed a growing trend at five-star hotels in the U.S: spa treatments for teens. Stowe's Topnotch Resort led the pack with spa services like the Total Teen Facial and Teen Massage. Now The Tribune reports that this trend is catching on at luxe hotels around the globe-- from Trump International in Chicago to The InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso Spa, the largest spa in French Polynesia (pictured above). To quote:

The teen spa area at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, designed with Pottery Barn PBTeen, offers young spa goers a chance to play video games or watch DVDs while they wait for their special acne facials, sports massages or skincare lessons.

The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, meanwhile, advertises treatments suitable for several "generations" of your family, while the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort in Costa Rica has a family spa bungalow that a family can use for an entire day, scheduling alternating treatments with dips in the river.

"Teens we see are experienced spa-goers," said Pat Liberto, manager at the Cloister Spa at Sea Island, Georgia. "The younger children who have older spa-goer siblings want to try something too."

A question for our readers: Do you take your teens to spas?

Where to Stay at Iguaçu Falls: Orient-Express Re-opens Hotel Das Cataratas

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Das Cataratas

October is proving to be an exciting month, as far as hot hotel openings are concerned. Come October 1, 2009, Orient-Express will re-open the Hotel das Cataratas next to Iguaçu Falls near the Argentine border. After acquiring the property in 2007, Orient-Express has made some hefty renovations. Of the 193 guest rooms and 15 suites, the 16 Cataratas Deluxe Rooms, Tower and Cataratas Suites have views of the falls. The coolest part of all: This is the only hotel actually in the national park, so guests have access to the falls each morning before the park's daily opening hours. A spa will open at the end of October, featuring products from the Brazilian brand, Natura, which harvests ingredients from the Amazon. This is the second property for Orient-Express in Brazil, along with the iconic Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio.

Welcome to the Jungle: Lapa Rios Rainforest Ecolodge

By: Alison Victor

Intercontinental Real Costa Rica Ecotourism is defined as "responsible travel to natural places, which conserve the environment and sustains the well being of the local people." With today's current trend towards preservation and enviromental protection there is quite a bit of interest in finding hotels that aim for sustainable tourism as well as "green luxury." A great example of this is Lapa Rios, a resort spread over 1,000 acres of Central America's last remaining lowland tropical rain forest in Costa Rica. This private nature reserve goes by the notion that "a standing rain forest is more valuable than one cut down." Some things that Lapa Rios does to make it both luxurious and earth-friendly include decking out the beautiful bungalows with locally made bamboo furniture, assisting the local community by providing basic education and job training for employment at the resort, and using locally caught fish and seasonal organic produce at the gourmet Restaurant Brisa Azul.

Guests can enjoy lots of great rain forest and ocean activities, including whale watching, interpretive hikes, and ocean-mangrove boating trips. Opened since 1993, Lapa Rios has already won many social and environmental awards, and proves to be a top destination for honeymooners looking to experience something intimate and different.

Perhaps the only draw back may be Lapa Rios's location, as getting there can prove to be an experience all its own. Guests fly into San Jose, and then take a 45 minute flight on either Nature Air or Sansa to Puerto Jimenez. At Puerto Jimenez, not only will they find the Lapa Rios office, but also a 4x4 Lapa Rios safari truck that will take them the rest of the way to the property.

If you have plenty of time allotted to visit Lapa Rios, then it may be a good idea to begin and end your trip with a stay at the Intercontinental Real Costa Rica in San Jose, (pictured) where a deluxe room will run you under 200 USD a night. Think of it as your transition from city living to green luxury, a perfect way to get in tune with your natural rhythm before your adventure begins!

Best of Brazil: Ponta dos Ganchos Exclusive Resort, Emerald Coast

By: Mary Winston Nicklin



Ponta dos Ganchos Exclusive Resort


Imagine a place where the lush rainforest touches the surf, where sandy beaches are sheltered by a horseshoe of islands, and 25 swanky bungalows afford dazzling views of the emerald sea. Nearby fishing villages offer a fresh catch and a slice of traditional life. Such a place exists-- south of Sao Paulo near Florianopolis on Brazil's aptly named Emerald Coast. Escape to Ponta dos Ganchos-- a member of Relais & Chateaux-- and you'll experience one of the country's most exclusive beach resorts.


Ponta dos Ganchos Exclusive Resort


Lounge on the beach, take to the high seas by boat, or explore one of the best scuba diving spots in South Brazil: nearby Alvoredo Island. Sun-burned? Retreat to the resort's private cinema for a flick or get a massage at the SPA by Christian Dior. There's also a tennis court, fitness center, and pool. Note: Guests under the age of 18 are not permitted.

What’s Hot in Buenos Aires: The New Cigar Bar at Alvear Palace

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Alvear PalaceThe jetsetting clientele of Alvear Palace have another reason to adore the hotel: its brand new Cigar Bar. Puff on your choice of fine Havana cigars paired with chocolates and liqueurs in a stylish Art-Deco setting. Designed to be a "gourmand's delight," the Cigar Bar adds a new dimension to the hotel's fabulous restaurant offerings (La Bourgogne Aujourd'hui is as adored as traditional afternoon tea).

Paradisus Bring the LUXE to Your Vacation

By: K. Clare Johnson

 Paradisus Punta CanaIndulge in the Paradisus Experience. The four luxury all-inclusive resorts, Paradisus Punta Cana (pictured), Paradisus Riviera Cancun Royal Service, Paradisus Playa Conchal, and Paradisus Punta Cana, offer what they call LUXEclusive service. The resorts, located in Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic, are all-suites, and offer personalized service that caters to guests' every whim, wish, and desire. Whether it's arranging a special evening for your someone special, making sure the kids have a great vacation too (they have their own PoshMom Family Concierge), or indulging at the full-service spa, no request is too great for Paradisus.