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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.

Mandarin Oriental is Coming to Costa Rica


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Guanacaste, Costa Rica The beloved luxury hotel brand is making waves with a host of new hotel openings in the next few years, and it looks like Costa Rica--the world's premier destination for eco-tourism-- is getting a luxury addition. Mandarin Oriental, Costa Rica will open in 2009 in the Guanacaste province, known for its beautiful Pacific coastline, stunning volcanoes, excellent hiking, and bird (and monkey) watching. Situated just 25 minutes from the Liberia airport, the 130-room beach resort will be the cornerstone of a gated golf and residential development called Rancho Manzanillo. Leisure activities will include an 18-hole Fred Couples Signature Championship golf course, 20,000 square foot spa, multi-level outdoor swimming pools, water sports from the resort's natural beach, and exotic wildlife viewing from the property's 200 acres of protected tropical dry forest. The best part of all? The Tree House Suites, nestled high in the canopy of Guanacaste trees.


Shangri-La Opens CHI, The Spa in Guangzhou and Manila


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La CHI spas Shangri-La continues to raise the bar for Asian luxury hotels with the launch of CHI, The Spa at two additional properties. After successful launches in Bangkok, Beijing and Pudong Shanghai, the spa brand CHI will open in hotels in Guangzhou, China and Manila, The Philippines. Guests go gaga over the signature spa services inspired by Chinese and Himalayan healing philosophies, along with traditions associated with each specific hotel destination. In Manila, for example, the treatment menu features Hilot, a healing massage based on Filipino folk medicine, and Dagdagay, a traditional foot massage using bamboo sticks practiced by indigenous mountain tribes in the Philippines. The spa also offers rejuvenating body scrubs like the Himalayan Goji Red Berry Scrub and Tropical Coconut Scrub. CHI spas are tranquil retreats, modeled on the "spa within a spa concept" so that each private suite is a refuge in and of itself. Each suite offers herbal steam rooms, infinity baths with color therapy, rain showers, and vanity areas. The Lotus Pond is a striking architectural feature unique to CHI spas. As guests are led to their treatment suites they come to a serene pool adorned with dramatic, sculptural flora. (Pictured at right.)


Buzzworthy: Melenos Lindos, Rhodes, Greece


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Melenos Lindos The newly opened Melenos Lindos has already been listed on Travel and Leisure's 2007 "It List." Inspired by 17th century Lindos architecture, this Aegean clifftop hotel is set among picturesque gardens overlooking the sparkling bay. The historical backdrop of small winding streets and the magnificent Lindian Acropolis is just as magical as this lovely gem of a hotel. Described as "a village within a village," the 12 white stucco guest rooms are connected by terraces decorated with pebble mosaics. An abundance of artifacts from Turkey and Greece are found throughout the hotel. There are sea-view terraces from the beautifully furnished suites, an open-air restaurant serving the freshest Mediterranean cuisine, and all the latest luxury amenities.


Special Event Weekend at The Homestead: Southern Accents Showcase


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Homestead The National Historic Landmark of The Homestead, ranked among the world's top Spa and Golf resorts, is a family favorite. Nestled in Virginia's Allegheny mountains, The Homestead boasts historic hot springs and naturally heated pools, in addition to its myriad recreational activities. Enjoy the elegance and style of Southern Accents Magazine and the 2007 Southern Accents Showhouse all wrapped into two special weekends at The Homestead Resort. The Homestead Preserve and The Homestead Resort have teamed up with the magazine to offer two distinctively different weekends that both feature design seminars and tours of the Showhouse. The Showhouse is conveniently located just two miles from The Homestead Resort. The weekend rate starts at $980; September 21-23 and November 2-4, 2007.


The Magic of Maine at the White Barn Inn, Kennebunkport


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

White Barn Inn Tis the season. For holidays on the coast of Maine, that is. Chances are rooms at the award-winning White Barn Inn have been booked solid for months. But a Fall getaway at this "achingly romantic destination" will restore the spirits and-- to quote Zagat-- "stay in your memory forever." The ideal base to explore the breathtaking Maine coastline, The White Barn Inn is built in two restored barns dating from the 1860's. The restaurant is equally as noteworthy as the cottage-style accommodations, simply brimming with accolades. The finest New England cuisine is paired with delicious wines from the impressive 7,000-bottle cellar. An experience at The Inn is distinguished by its level of service-- from the valets to the bath butlers. Luxuriate in a plush bathrobe, indulge in massage therapy by the heated swimming pool, soak in a perfect, butler-drawn bath. The White Barn Inn offers the best of Maine.


Harvest Time in Wine Country at Willows Lodge, Woodinville, Washington


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Willow Lodge The grape harvest is fast upon us in North America-- the perfect time to pay a visit to the romantic vineyards of Washington's Woodinville region. Escape to Willows Lodge, just 20 minutes from Seattle, and indulge in a culinary extravaganza at one of the most highly-rated restaurants in the Northwest, a stroll through award-winning wineries, and all the civilized comforts of a magical luxury lodge. Oenophiles will delight in Western Washington's wine and culinary destination of choice; Woodinville is currently home to nearly two dozen wineries and many are open for daily tasting including Columbia Winery, Silver Lake Winery and Chateau Ste. Michelle. Situated on five exquisitely landscaped acres that border the Sammamish River, Willows Lodge features 84 rooms and suites, a full-service spa with outdoor Jacuzzi, and The Herbfarm Restaurant, rated one of the Top 50 Restaurants in America.

PS. Willows Lodge is pet friendly! The WVIP (Willows Very Important Pet) program means special amenities for four-legged friends including a doggie room service menu specially prepared by Seattle's Three Dog Bakery, map and directions for pet and owner walks, and doggie bed with turn down service (and a night time raw hide bone).


Destination: Tanzania and the Zanzibar Serena Inn


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Zanzibar Serena Inn An African safari wouldn't be complete without a stop-over at the Indian Ocean hot spot of Zanzibar. The archipelago is just a hop from the mainland, and entices visitors with its rich history and aquamarine waters. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of ancient Stone Town is buzzing with bright bazaars, redolent with the scent of cloves. Wander the narrow streets and marvel at the Portuguese, Arab, Dutch, and English cultural influences. The place to stay is the Zanzibar Serena Inn, the perfect base to explore the atmospheric streets of the town. Idyllically situated on the sea front, the hotel is a haven of opulence amidst the bustle of the town. Each guest room is a cool, white enclave, constructed in the traditional design of a Swahili house, adorned with traditionally carved furniture, cool-ceramics, intricate fretwork, and draped beds. Lovely doors open onto wrought-iron balconies overlooking the Persian-bath pool and azure bay beyond.


Pan Pacific Seattle: Personal Stewards for Every Guest


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Pan Pacific Seattle Pan Pacific's first new-build in the U.S. has already made quite a name for itself, voted on to Conde Nast Traveler's 2007 Hot List. Located just minutes from downtown's many attractions, the new Pan Pacific Seattle boasts "eye-of-the-Space-Needle views of the city" from its 160 guest rooms. Part of the exclusive 2200 Development, the hotel is just upstairs from retail and dining outlets all located within a pedestrian-friendly landscaped plaza (think Whole Foods, Starbucks...) Designed by Hirsch Bedner, the sleek hotel is all about "East meets West." Rooms epitomize luxury, outfitted with a Hypnos bed, Egyptian cotton bedding, Herman Miller chairs, four-fixture bathrooms in every room, oversized tubs, HD plasma televisions, and complimentary internet. Not to mention the personal steward service. Whether it's planning a full vacation itinerary, or simply arranging dinner reservations, your personal concierge works with you to customize your stay. How's that for individualized service?

Coming soon: the full-service spa.


Vineyard Fest 2007 at Chateau Elan, Georgia


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Chateau Elan Celebrate Georgia's largest grape harvest featuring national and international wineries, Chef seminars, winery tours, live blues-rock music, grape stomping and good eats! An elegant French-style chateau just 40 minutes from Atlanta, Chateau Elan Winery and Resort is the largest producer of premium wines in Georgia and a favorite weekend getaway spot. The Vineyard Fest will take place on Sunday, August 26th, 2007. (Advance purchase tickets only.) This highly anticipated event includes over 100 different wines being poured by wineries and distributors from around the world, as well as wine tastings, tours, and seminars. Plus, the resort will be rolling out the BBQ smoker this year for seriously slow-cooked southern BBQ prepared by Chef Russell McClendon. It's a day filled with merriment, surrounded by 3,500 acres of vineyards in full gorgeous bloom.


Ca’ Sagredo: The Newest Five Star Hotel in Venice, Italy


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ca Sagredo Say hello to the newest luxury hotel on the block, your own private palazzo in the heart of Venice. Smack dab on the Grand Canal, Ca' Sagredo has a spectacular location just a short walk from the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark's Square. Dating back to the 15th century, classified as a National Monument, the building has retained its magnificent frescoed wall and gracious architecture. Indeed, the hotel is more like a museum, housing precious artwork from the most important Venetian painters of the 17th and 18th century: Giambattista Tiepolo, Pietro Sebastiano Ricci, Pietro Longhi, among others. The restaurant is no less luxurious. Overlooking the Grand Canal from a grand panoramic terrace, L'Alcova serves the finest Mediterranean cuisine in a trendy atmosphere.