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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.

Small Luxury Hotels Announces Photo Competition: Win Cool Trips and Prizes!


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hostellerie Les Frenes, ProvenceSmall Luxury Hotels of the World-- the exclusive brand of more than 440 independent properties in 70 countries-- recently launched its inaugural worldwide photography competition with some incredible prizes. The idea is for travelers to share their most inspired moments and experiences "caught on film" during their trips-- whether biking through the Tuscan hills or watching the sunset over a beach in the Indian Ocean. The possibilities are limitless! Running from March 17, 2008 through July 31, 2008, the contest will take place completely online via a dedicated competition website. You can register with the site and then upload up to 10 of your favorite photos that capture a sense of place and experience. All submitted photos will be viewable in an online gallery. Four overall winning photographs will be chosen by a panel of judges including celebrity photographer Andy Earl (who shot Madonna, Prince and Pink Floyd for their album covers). And get this: anybody who registers and submits at least one photo will be automatically entered into a prize draw for a five-night stay at any of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties.

The top prize winners will all receive a brand new Nikon D80 SLR 10.2 Camera with an 18-135mm zoom lens, plus, choose one of four incredible prize getaways including two round-trip tickets on American Airlines. The available prize packages are:

* A six-night Costa Rican Adventure spent at both Hotel Punta Islita and Gaia Hotel and Reserve

* A five-night English Town and Country Experience spent at both The Capital Hotel in London and Luton Hoo Country Estate

* A four-night Mexican Escape at Esencia on the Riviera Maya

* A three night Big Apple Experience in New York City at The Iroquois New York


Alluring Argentina at the Caesar Park Buenos Aires


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Caesar Park Buenos AiresAs the dollar continues to slide, the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires still offers bang for the buck for those looking to travel outside the U.S. Marvelous steak dinners can be had for a fraction of the price of a comparable meal in NYC, and luxury hotels continue to offer good value. An excellent choice is The Caesar Park Buenos Aires. Well-heeled guests are delighted by the elegant ambiance in the grand lobby: columns, marble staircase, the giant chandelier and mezzanine balcony. All works in the impressive art collection, displayed in the lobby and mezzanine, are for sale. Situated in the Recoleta district opposite from Patio Bullrich, the city's most exclusive shopping mall, The Caesar Park offers 175 tastefully-appointed guest rooms, including the top-floor Imperial Suite with amazing views over the city, the Rio de la Plata, and all the way to Montevideo, Uruguay. All rooms feature separate tubs and showers, and large entertainment systems.


Business Travel to London: “Time for Business” at The Metropolitan


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Metropolitan LondonFlying across the pond on business? The Metropolitan Hotel in London understands your red-eye pain. (Unless, of course, you're traveling with Eos Airlines, pampered in a private suite with lie-flat bed-- then we have less sympathy.) The chic, contemporary hotel, located on Park Lane, understands that "time is more valuable than money" and has designed the ultimate business package for road warriors seeking a sleek and efficient experience with more time to relax. A guaranteed early check-in at 10 a.m. means your room is ready with fresh seasonal fruit. So you can be up and running immediately, complimentary Wifi smooths the transition. At the end of the day, relax with a work-out in the COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, and when you're ready to put your feet up, The Metropolitan will deliver a Nobu Bento Box and bottle of Isake Sake Premium to your room. In the morning, you'll get a nutritional 'Brekkie-to-Go'. Now that's service. Available from GBP 279 per night, based on singled occupancy.


The Newly-Renovated Agua Spa at The Delano, South Beach


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Agua at The DelanoThe Delano has long symbolized South Beach cool. Sitting directly on the ocean, the urban resort is a trend-setting icon. It all started with that fabulous Indoor/Outdoor Lobby. Then Lenny Kravitz opened the Florida Room, the "modern-day piano lounge inspired by a classic period of South Floridian glamour." And now Morgans Hotel Group has just announced the expansion of the rooftop spa, Agua. With the renovation by Tim Andreas of BANJO Architects, the spa was expanded to 3,500 square feet and includes a 500 square foot solarium with tropical landscaping. The private terrace-- decked out in pristine white-- has infinite 360 degree views of the ocean. Custom-designed white terrazzo floors are complemented by a mosaic of hand-cut Brazilian glass tiles-- all in white. And white glass chandeliers from Murano are suspended above. There are 8 private treatment rooms, and cabana-inspired lounges for relaxing before and after the spa treatments. Try the signature Milk and Honey Treatment, which uses a blend of honey and organic sesame oil, or go for the medical-grade oxygen facial. New on the treatment menu: special facials and skin treatments designed just for men.


Villa Aminta’s New Palazzo Aminta Beauty and Spa


By: Madelyn Giblin

Villa AmintaThe Villa Aminta on Lake Maggiore in Italy is excited to announce the opening of their Palazzo Aminta Beauty and Spa, opening in May 2008. Under the direction of Professor Nicola Sorrentino, the Spa offers the ultimate in personal pampering. Enjoy a variety of treatments from massages to facials to a range of rejuvenating skin treatments that uses a range of natural ingredients designed to help you feel your very best. The facility also offers a full cardio fitness center and heated pool open year round.

Don't forget, Five Star Alliance guests staying at the Villa Aminta will receive a bottle of wine in the room upon arrival.


Go Next: Sofitel Metropole Hanoi, Vietnam


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sofitel Metropole HanoiHanoi's most storied hotel, the French Colonial-style Sofitel Metropole, has welcomed ambassadors, heads-of-state and, yes, Graham Greene since its opening in 1901. There's an unmistakable air of romance to the place: ceiling fans and large wooden shutters and lush plants and lovely white linens and... (we could go on and on) Step off the sultry, steamy city streets (buzzing with motorbikes) and you'll slip into an oasis of calm. Both French cuisine and Hanoi Specialties await at the hotel's fine restaurants. After exploring the vibrant city, retire to a chamber that radiates historical grandeur with all the modern comforts like Internet, LCD TVs and DVD players.


Southern Ocean Lodge: Eco-Chic on Kangaroo Island, Australia


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Kangaroo IslandAustralia's third largest island is a paradise of spectacular natural attractions, home to an abundance of native wildlife such as New Zealand fur seals, koalas, kangaroos, Australian sea lions, ospreys, echidnas and much more. Perched on top of a secluded cliff on this rugged coast, the Southern Ocean Lodge offers an eco-friendly luxury travel experience against a peerless natural backdrop. With incredible views of the pristine wilderness of "Australia's Galapagos," the Southern Ocean Lodge is a sophisticated sanctuary like no other. Distinguished by a contemporary environmental design and commitment to locally-sourced food and beverages, the lodge has a nifty clifftop spa that uses the acclaimed Australian-made Li'Tya range of spa products. Gaze out over the Southern Ocean while chowing down on fresh seafood and tasting some of the best wines of South Australia. Retire to your luxe suite-- there are only 21 of them at the lodge-- and continue to gape at the views from your dramatic glass-walled bathroom and outdoor terrace with daybed. You'll appreciate the signature design elements: sandblasted limestone floors, recycled spotted gum feature walls, contemporary bespoke furnishings and artwork commissioned from local Kangaroo Island artisans.


Sex and the City Celebration Package from Mandarin Oriental New York


By: Madelyn Giblin

Mandarin Oriental New YorkIn anticipation of the release of the "Sex and the City" Movie, the extravagant Mandarin Oriental New York announces a corresponding Sex and the City Celebration Package starting April 15th. Guests who book under the package can stay in one of the hotels exquisitely decorated guestrooms or suites, some of which have a view of Central Park. At the hotel guests receive a complimentary Sex and the City Trivia game, and are treated to two Sex and the City themed drinks at the hotel's super chic Lobby Lounge.

Practically become Carrie on the Sex and the City tour around New York, visiting various filming spots from the show including the brownstone used for Carrie's apartment, and enjoy listening to stories from guides with behind the scenes secrets from the show. The tour features a stop at the famous Henri Bendel department store, where guests are given a complimentary $200 gift card, and specialty gift from designer Cosabella. Finally the trip also includes a stop at Carrie favorite the Jimmy Choo store. Mandarin Oriental New York package room rates start at $2000 per night.


Spago at Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch: Hot Eats in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Spago at Ritz-Carlton Bachelor GulchThe start of ski season (Dec. 2007) brought the opening of superstar chef Wolfgang Puck's Spago restaurant in the Colorado mountains at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch. From its Beverly Hills roots, Spago has become a nation-wide phenomenon with locations in Vegas, Maui, and Beaver Creek. As to be expected, the Ritz-Carlton's Spago created quite the buzz. Housed in a sleek renovated space (designed by Tony Chi), the restaurant still manages to embrace the "rustic luxury" and "pioneering spirit of the American West" for which the resort is famous. You'll find "seasonal American cuisine with Asian Influences and Rocky Mountain sensibilities." Starters include spicy tuna tartare in sesame-miso tuile cones, and hand-made autumn pumpkin and mascarpone agnolotti. Scrumptious main dishes include Chinois style Colorado lamb chops, grilled Japanese Kobe New York Steak, and the pan-roasted buffalo filet. The gorgeous Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is a year-round resort destination, offering the very best activities in Colorado's vast surrounding wilderness, so you can check out the restaurant in any season.


What’s Hot: Kempinski Opens Dukes’ Palace Hotel in Bruges, Belgium


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Kempinski Hotel Dukes PalaceThe fairytale city of Bruges, with its medieval buildings, cobbled alleys, and winding canals, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We're big fans of this charming "Venice of the North"-- not far from the European capital of Brussels. Coming in April 2008: the deluxe Kempinski Hotel Dukes' Palace. When the hotel opens its doors in a prime location in the historic city center, it will be the first 5-star hotel in Bruges. The building itself is astonishing: the former Prinsenhof from the 15th century, built on the occasion of the wedding between Philip the Good and Isabelle of Portugal. The restored palace offers 93 luxury rooms and suites with many original features and unique historic touches, all outfitted with the latest technology. Noteworthy: the Prinsenhof Suite features a terrace built into the tower for a romantic rooftop view, and the historic-listed Marie Bourgougne Suite houses a collection of 15th century paintings. The hotel also offers an indoor pool, boutique spa with hammam and sauna, fully-equipped fitness room, and gourmet restaurant.