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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 Ultimate Eco-Retreat: Hosteria Rincon del Socorro, Corrientes Province, Argentina


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Corrientes wildlife

The former owner of North Face, Doug Tomkins, has created a 30,000 acre wildlife refuge and eco-retreat in Argentina's Corrientes province. The Conservation Land Trust has attracted a slew of nature lovers in pursuit of discovering the beauty of Argentina's vast northeast. The place to stay? Estancia Rincon del Socorro is a 12,000-hectare former cattle ranch on the edge of the Ibera wetlands that is now a nature reserve. Doug and his wife Kris restored a beautiful property, originally built in 1896, including three bungalows and the main house, El Casco, which offers spacious rooms with high ceilings, a screened verandah, well-stocked library, and terraced dining area where beautiful organic meals are served, with fruit and vegetables plucked from the kitchen garden and delicious Argentine barbecue (free range meats). Relax by the pool or take to the savannah on horseback, riding with a gaucho on one of the native horses.


Go Green at the New Gaia Hotel and Reserve, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gaia Hotel

As featured in the April 2006 Travel and Leisure, Gaia Hotel and Reserve, located near Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park, is Costa Rica's newest luxury hotel. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels, this tropical boutique property is situated among the lush coastal rainforests of the Pacific coast. The terraced suites and villas overlook these incredible natural surroundings, a pristine nature reserve packed with exotic wildlife and chattering white-faced monkeys. This is a luxurious retreat, appointed with modern amenities, spa, gym, pool, and private butler service to attend to guests' every need. Gaia presents eco-tourism at its best, a project designed for the preservation of the natural reserve and protection of local flora and fauna for future generations. For a limited time, the resort is offering the "Soft Open Special" during the construction of their new Clubhouse, which will house the spa, gym, conference room, business center and game room. Take advantage of rates up to 20 percent off, starting at $240 per night (studio for two people), minimum three night stay, valid until April 30.


Travel Trends: “Grandtravel” to Europe and on Luxury Cruises


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ashford Castle

These days, more and more grandparents are traveling with grandchildren. The statistics indicate that Grand-pere and Mamie have more discretionary income and the free time to spend it in, thus one in every five trips taken with children is with Gramps. Where are these families going? Family cruises of the Galapagos with Ocean Adventures, operator of the luxurious small ship The Eclipse, and luxurious European castles such as the Crillon in Paris, Ashford Castle in Ireland, and Beau Rivage Palace in Switzerland-- all offering plenty of fun activities for kids, and specialized amenities like children's bathrobes and delightful kid's menus.

Via Cullen International


Malbec in Mendoza: Argentina’s Cavas Wine Lodge


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cavas Wine Lodge

Wine-lovers rejoice; the seasonal grape harvest in the Southern Hemisphere is only just beginning. In Mendoza, Argentina, where the rolling fields of vines are set against a magnificent backdrop of the snow-capped Andes, the award-winning malbec and torrontes varietals are divine. Indulge in copious quantities at the wine-cellar at Cavas Wine Lodge, the region's hottest new hotel. The 14 free-standing guest rooms are spacious, with fireplace, private terrace, plunge pool and al fresco shower. Top-of-the-line technology includes entertainment centers, two-line phones and high-speed internet access. Soak up the breathtaking views by the outdoor pool, indulge in the restaurant's gastronomic delights, or relax with a superb spa treatment. And of course there are (lots of) glasses to be savored, overlooking the surrounding vineyards.

Related Articles:

The New York Times, "Peel Me a Grape"

Frommer's, "Embrace the Cold Shoulder Season in Chile and Argentina"


Going to Buenos Aires: the Grand Alvear Palace Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Alvear Palace Hotel

Welcome to the most elegant hotel in Latin America. The awards are numerous--Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report ("Among the World's 20 Best"), Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler (Top Hotels in the World)-- and the service, impeccable. Among the wide avenues, magnificent architecture, and splendid boutiques of the elegant Recoleta neighborhood in the "Paris of South America," the Belle Epoque Alvear Palace is a city historical monument. Furnished in the style of Luis XV, the rooms and suites are adorned with antiques and crystal chandeliers. Amenities include Hermes de Paris bath products, personal butler service, 500 thread Egyptian cotton sheets, telephone with intelligent screen to regulate AC, Wifi, and DVD players. Bathrooms are nothing short of magnificent, often equipped with jacuzzi and sauna. Guests are treated to the best buffet breakfast in the city, at Orangerie Restaurant, and the fine-dining restaurant-- La Bourgogne—is considered the best in the city, awarded "Latin America's Best Restaurant" by Wine Spectator. Indeed, the Alvear Palace Hotel is itself a symbol of Buenos Aires.

Alvear Palace Hotel, Official Site

Alvear Palace Hotel, Five Star Alliance


Take the Kids to Costa Rica: the Paradisus Playa Conchal in Guanacaste


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Paradisus Playa Conchal

Discover the world's top eco-tourism destination with some of the highest biodiversity on the planet. Costa Rica's Guanacaste Peninsula is jam-packed with breathtaking national parks and stunning beaches. (Erupting volcanoes, tropical cloud forest filled with chatty monkeys, orchid-blooming rainforest canopies…) Located in the midst of this lush landscape, on its own pristine paradise of 2,400 acres, the Paradisus Playa Conchal offers a luxurious, family-friendly environment from which to explore all that Costa Rica has to offer. Enjoy Central America's largest free form pool (the spectacular freshwater pool is set in a 1,800 square meter garden and has two jacuzzis), the endless choice of water sports (running the gamut from windsurfing to scuba), play a round of golf on the 18-hole, Robert Trent Jones designed golf course, or indulge in the spa. The kids will be happy at their own paradise (aka Kids Club)—comprised of playgrounds, climbing wall, mini disco, table games, movies, and eco-recreational team.

The Paradisus Playa Conchal, Official Site

The Paradisus Playa Conchal, Five Star Alliance


Luxury Lodging in Peru at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Discover the "Lost City of the Incas" and the incredible natural beauty of the Amazon Basin while cocooned in luxurious comfort at this rustic boutique hotel. Located in the heart of Machu Picchu's Historical Sanctuary in the cloud forest (formerly known as Aguas Calientes), the hotel consists of 83 rooms and suites set in whitewash cottages spread over 12 acres of streams, waterfalls and lush forest, reached by stone walkways. The hotel itself is the setting for enormous biodiversity: the world's largest collection of native orchids (372 species) as well as wild hummingbirds and butterflies. Rooms are charming yet sumptuous, decorated with local handcrafted Andean architecture, alpaca bedspreads, and deluxe kits of handmade, organic amenities and aromatherapy products. Likewise, the utterly-divine spa incorporates a mystical Andean approach, with 100% natural botanical products.


Where Not To Eat in Antigua, Guatemala


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Panza Verde

Ringed by volcanoes, brimming with colonial charm, Antigua has become a hotspot for savvy travelers, who are enchanted by the pastel facades of churches and large Spanish houses, cobblestone streets lit by antique street lamps and Mayan markets. This town is the essence of romance. But finding a decent restaurant may prove difficult. Clinton may have dined at La Fonda de la Calle Real, but forget it— this place has gone to the dogs. Avoid Frida's at all costs, where overpriced Mexican fare is bland and mediocre. Near the Parque Central, Monoloco serves ghastly American-style bar food to a crowd of eager Norteamericano youth and Guatemaltecans from the capital who trek to scope Antigua's bar scene on the weekends. So what's a hungry gal to do? Head to the exquisite, romantic Panza Verde, set in a graceful colonial building with candle-lit walkways, garden courtyards with fountains, and a menu that includes such delightful dishes as tenderloin slathered in mushrooms and escargot.


Go Green in Costa Rica: the Luxurious Lapa Rios Ecolodge


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Lapa Rios

The Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica is the site of some of Central America's last remaining lowland tropical rainforest. It is also the site of the 1,000 acre private nature preserve of the Lapa Rios resort. The rainforest resort is not only a model Ecotourism Project, it is also a fixture on CN Traveler's Gold List and winner of Andrew Harper's Hideaway Award. This isn't exactly roughing it. The main lodge and bungalows are built 350 feet above the sea, with breathtaking ocean vistas, the structures designed in complete harmony with the surrounding landscape. Enjoy rainforest wilderness adventures in Corcovado National Park, appreciate the incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica, while indulging in gourmet dining, superb spa services, plush accommodations and a sparkling pool…


Luxury Eco-Tours in South America: Yachting the Galapagos


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Yacht in Galagagos

The marvelous Galapagos Islands, the inspiration for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, are home to the greatest diversity of creatures on the planet. What better way to experience this rich biodiversity than by private yacht tour? Blue Parallel is the specialist for private luxury travel to the wondrous natural wonders of South America, including customizable yacht packages to the equatorial islands of the Galapagos. Boats range in size from small (one to four passengers) to larger cruise ships for up to 40 peeps. The price range? From between $6,000 to $7,000 per person for an 11 day trip. Amenities include a superb staff (onboard personal chefs, expert naturalists, dive instructors, masseuse, and butler) and five-star accommodations.

Via Business Week