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.

Travel Trends: Voluntourism, and Give-Back Getaways with Ritz-Carlton Hotels

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand CaymanVolunteer tourism, a.k.a "voluntourism," is a growing trend in travel, and more and more travelers are jumping on the bandwagon and planning to volunteer during their vacations. Forbes Traveler sums it up nicely:

There comes a point — generally when you're on your third margarita, sunburned over 60 percent of your body and the kids are screaming in the infinity pool — when you start to wonder if there is more to the whole vacation concept than lying on a beach getting toasted. A way of showing thanks for your own good fortunes, perhaps. You want a chance to contribute more to a local economy than buying overpriced trinkets that neither you nor your friends back home really need.

Ritz-Carlton has taken notice. They've created the Give Back Getaways program- to offer guests a chance to give back to the community with half-day local community experiences, working alongside Ritz-Carlton Ladies and Gentlemen in a Community Footprints humanitarian or environmental project. All profits from the Give Back Getaways programs are donated to the partner organizations. An example is the Blue Iguana Recovery Program at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, led by naturalist Jean-Michel Cousteau, where guests assist with the breeding program to help a unique species on the brink of extinction.

More Value for Your Dollar in Paris at Sofitel Hotels

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sofitel Trocadero Dokhan'sSavor the last days of summer in the City of Light when the city is empty of Parisians (still on vacay at French beaches and mountain resorts). Americans and Canadians can take advantage of a special offer at Sofitel Hotels. "More Value for Your Dollar" means a 15 percent discount for a three-night minimum stay. Check into the Sofitel Trocadero Dokhan's, reminiscent of a sumptuous private residence situated between Trocadéro and the Champs Elysées, and you'll love the original artwork and neo-classical interiors in this haute couture hotel. You'll also appreciate sipping a glass of bubbly at the French capital's only Champagne bar, housed in the hotel. The offer is also available at the Sofitel Faubourg, boasting an exceptional location near Faubourg Saint-Honore, la Place de la Concorde, and the Louvre.

*The offer is available until the end of August. You must present your passport upon check-in.

Weekend in London: Sale at Brown’s Hotel

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Brown's Hotel, LondonGrab a room* at London's legendary Brown's Hotel, a member of the Rocco Forte Collection of luxury hotels, for just GBP 199 plus VAT, until September 7, 2008. Set in the heart of Mayfair on Albemarle Street, historic Brown's Hotel exudes sophistication and classic English style. The hotel itself is comprised of 11 Georgian townhouses just a short walk from exclusive Bond Street shopping and West End theaters. Though an intimate hotel (only 117 guest rooms), Brown's has three spa treatment rooms, a dedicated kids' program, a fully-equipped gym, fine dining at The Grill, and celebrated Afternoon Tea at the English Tea Room, a London institution.

*Classic King Room

Culture Tour of Switzerland with the Victoria-Jungfrau Hotel Collection

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Palace Hotel LuzernExplore Switzerland's most exciting and attractive destinations with the exclusive Victoria-Jungfrau Hotel Collection. Defined by a luxurious ambiance and century-old tradition of hospitality, these five-star hotels are located in four top spots in a small, but delightfully diverse, country. Indeed, you can create your own itinerary and discover the dramatic Alpine scenery and crystal-clear lakes in Zurich, Lucerne, Berne and Interlaken. The Victoria-Jungfrau Collection has created a special package for guests to discover the scenic cities and cultural treasures of the country. With the "Culture Tour," you can enjoy any combination of 5 overnights at the Eden Au Lac in Zurich (with sweeping views of Lake Zurich); the Palace Luzern (a landmark of old world elegance nestled on the shores of Lake Lucerne); and the Bellevue Palace, the pearl of luxury hotels in Berne (situated directly next to the Swiss Parliament Building). Plus, you get daily buffet breakfast, free use of the Palace Spa facilities, the ZurichCard when staying in Zurich (72 hours worth of free public transport, free and reduced-price admissions), a private escorted city walk through Berne, and a private city walk through Lucerne which includes the Rosengart Collection. Valid until December 21, 2008, the "Culture Tour" is priced at CHF 1790 per person (double occupancy) for 5 nights.

The Best of Interlaken, Switzerland: Spa Cruise and More with the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Lake BrienzA stay at Interlaken's finest hotel, the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa, is itself an unforgettable experience. The panoramic views, over the lakes of Thun and Brienz to the Alps, are breathtaking. With an outstanding spa and wellness center and impeccable service, the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel embodies Old World European grandeur and is beloved by connoisseurs who appreciate the finer things in life. The best hotel in Switzerland's beautiful resort town of Interlaken, the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand is also a fixture on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List, which describes this first-class resort as follows:

Hardwood floors and bright colors create a loftlike feel in rooms, while stained glass windows in the reception area and satin-upholstered chairs pay homage to La Belle Epoque. "The old and new opulence are in great balance." The nineteenth-century lakefront property surveys a park and snowcapped mountains. Dining on Swiss food in the Jungfrau Brasserie is "like eating in an old-fashioned grand ballroom."

The Spa Cruise with Victoria-Jungfrau Grand HotelOver two weekends in September, the Victoria-Jungfrau partners with the Bernese Oberland Shipping Company to offer guests a luxurious spa cruise on the magnificent Lake Brienz (pictured). The MS Jungfrau is transformed into a "floating oasis of pleasure" so that guests can relax and take a deep breath in these majestic surroundings. Awaiting onboard: a variety of wellness and fitness activities, such as massages, masks, foot rituals, taiji, qigong and speeding bikes. Available Saturday and Sunday, September 20th and 21st, and September 27th and 28th.

Photo of Lake Brienz Via Switzerland Traveler

Frank Gehry’s Hotel Marques de Riscal: Relaxing in Spain’s Rioja Wine Region

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Marques de RiscalThe hottest hotel opening of 2006, Hotel Marqués de Riscal is a masterpiece by Frank O. Gehry, nestled in the vineyards of Spain's Rioja wine region. We stopped by for a visit before its official opening, and noted how the architectural elements were similar to Gehry's landmark in nearby Bilbao: the Guggenheim Museum. This was Gehry's first hotel design, and it's pretty cool. A member of Starwood's Luxury Collection, the 43-room hotel offers a discreet locale for savoring the region's flavors. The setting is the best part of all, offering panoramic views over the lush vineyards from eight separate terraces. The on-site Caudalíe Vinothérapie Spa, specializing in "wine therapy" treatments, offers an indoor pool, steam room, fitness center, Jacuzzi, and 14 treatment rooms. Meetings can be arranged in an ancient wine cellar converted into a modern banqueting space. Book the "Summer Experience" package and you'll get daily breakfast included with your room rates, along with double Starpoints for SPG members. Rates from EUR 395 per night.

Will You Marry Me? Hayfield Manor Will Help Her Say ‘Yes’

By: Betsy LeTourneau

Hayfield ManorWhen you propose to the one you love, you want an ultra romantic setting and Hayfield Manor in Cork, Ireland promises just that. Set in 20 acres of nature gardens and on the cusp of city centre, the Manor offers individually styled guest rooms filled with antique furnishings, exquisite fabrics and modern amenities you would expect in Cork's premier 5 star hotel. To help set the stage, Hayfield Manor now offers the "Will You Marry Me?" Package that includes you nights accommodations in a luxurious suite, candlelit gourmet dinner for 2 in the privacy of your suite, your own butler on hand to ensure your every wish becomes a reality, a bottle of chilled champagne to celebrate the moment, and a luxury breakfast for 2 in your suite. Hayfield Manor has even partnered with Keanes Jewellers, Ireland's most renowned jewellers located in the heart of Cork, to offer you a private engagement consultation. Keanes Jewellers is in return offering guests who purchase an engagement ring from them, a free Engagement Portrait Photograph Session with Pineapple Studios. This romantic and truly memorable experience at Hayfield Manor is guaranteed to ensure you get the positive answer you are hoping for!

Most Expensive Hotel Rooms: Hotel President Wilson, Geneva, and Ty Warner Penthouse at the Four Seasons New York

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel President WilsonForget "Staycations." The uber-rich continue to globe-trot on private jets and bunk down in swanky pads-- like the Royal Penthouse Suite at the Hotel President Wilson, the world's most expensive at a whopping $52,000 a night. Elite Traveler recently released their list of the "101 Top Hotel/Resort Suites of the Year" in the July/August 2008 issue. Runners-up for priciest suite include the $50,000/night Royal Villa at the Grand Resort Lagonissi in Attica, Greece, and the $21,000/night Imperial Suite at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome. In the U.S., the Ty Warner Penthouse at the Four Seasons New York has a price tag of $30,000 per night, making it the most expensive suite built in the U.S. Next up? The Chairman Suite at the Palazzo in Vegas ($20,000/night) followed by the Empire Suite at the Carlyle in New York and the Grand Suite at the Grand Wailea Resort (both at $15,000/night). For the full breakdown, click here.

Economic Forecast for Luxury Hotels: Horst Schulze of Capella Hotels Believes in Upscale Demand

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Capella CastlemartyrForget the gloomy economic forecast surrounding the U.S. credit crunch. The global hotel industry will be A-OK, according to Horst Schulze, the former president and CEO of Ritz-Carlton, and founder of the new Capella brand of ultra-luxury hotels. As profiled in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Schulze believes that the boom in luxury hotels will continue worldwide. Proof? He plans to open seven more Capella hotels in the next 10 months. And from the successful booking rates of his Düsseldorf hotel, the Breidenbacher Hof, it looks like all's right in the luxury hotel business.

Pictured at right: the Capella Castlemartyr, the glorious country manor house-hotel in Cork County that sits adjacent to the ruins of a 1000-year-old-castle.

Fourth Night Free at Hayfield Manor, Cork, Ireland

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hayfield ManorSurround yourself in a cocoon of luxury at Hayfield Manor, where guest rooms are designed with beautiful antiques, sumptuous fabrics and all the modern amenities to ensure your greatest comfort. The hotel is an oasis of calm in the middle of the city, nestled in two acres of mature gardens with winding paths. The premier five-star hotel in Cork, Hayfield Manor promises exceptional service and indulgent facilities. For a limited time in August, when you stay three nights, you'll get the fourth night for free-- compliments of Hayfield Manor-- an offer priced from just EUR 220 per night in a Manor Room. Includes a bountiful Irish breakfast each morning, and access to The Beautique Health and Treatment Rooms. Plus, when you make reservations with Five Star Alliance, you'll receive complimentary tea for two, valued at EUR 25 per person.