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.

Cool New Addition: Gran Melia Rome Villa Agrippina

By: K. Clare Johnson

Gran Melia Rome Villa Agrippina is one of the latest addition to Five Star Alliance.

The villa once belonged to the Roman Empress, mother of the Emperor Nero.

A 5-minute walk from the Vatican, the hotel has impressive pools and gardens, a complete YHI Wellness area, a
select range of fine dining options and a Business and Convention Center with 3 meeting rooms.

Cool New Addition: Las Alamandas

By: K. Clare Johnson

Quiet. Secluded. Peaceful.  All these words describe one of the latest hotels to join our collection, Las Alamandas.

This Mexican hideaway is cheerfully quiet. We're guessing the loudest thing here is the sound of the surf.

Now Open: Palacio Nazarenas

By: K. Clare Johnson

On June 15, Orient-Express threw open the doors of Palacio Nazarenas.


Palacio Nazarenas is an all-suite boutique hotel located in a former monastery. It boasts Cuzco's first outdoor
infinity pool, Hypnoze spa, and the gourmet restaurant Senzo.

Located in Cuzco, Peru, Palacio Nazarenas' 55 rooms use state-of-the art oxygenation and have private butlers.

Upgrade for Free at Charleston Place

By: K. Clare Johnson

Charleston Place is one of our favorite and most popular hotels. The elegant South Carolina property is known for its Southern hospitality and bespoke customer service. To show their appreciation for  Five Star Alliance guests, they are sweetening their already great 5 Star Alliance rate deal!  Currently, if you book a stay at Charleston Place with Five Star Alliance using the 5 Star Alliance rate code, you will receive complimentary wine and breakfast. Now, for stays through August 23, 2012 (excluding 8/8-8/12/12), the Southern stars are also adding in a one category upgrade at the time of booking.  If you’ve always wanted to stay in Charleston (or have been wanting to visit again), Charleston Place is located in the heart of downtown in the historic district, and is within walking distance of all the major attractions. While there, enjoy a treatment at The Spa at Charleston Place, dine at the AAA-Four Diamond Charleston Grill.  Additional restrictions may apply, so read and book carefully.  And enjoy your stay!

Special Five Star Alliance Rates at the Viceroy Bali

By: Oksana Balytsky

Aside from providing luxury travelers with an easy way to compare and make hotel reservations, we at Five Star Alliance love offering our clients a little something extra to show our appreciation and commitment to excellence. Check in with our blog series to check out our featured hotels that are offering special packages, rates, or extra amenities for Five Star Alliance clients!

Today’s feature is the Viceroy Bali, located 5 minutes from Ubud, the heart of Bali, famous for its artistic community, traditional dance ceremonies, and rural vistas. This luxury hotel is currently offering special Five Star Alliance rates that are $25 off the Best Available Rates through the end of 2012! All of the villas at Viceroy Bali feature a private pool with spectacular views over the Petanu River gorge and the tropical forest, and all of the villas have a European flair with Balinese furnishings. The incredible French Restaurant, Cascades has an extensive wine cellar and cocktail bar along with breathtaking and unrivaled views of the surrounding area. Don’t pass up these incredible rates and make your reservations today!

Hotel Review Guide: Reviewing the Reviews

By: Christopher Roney

hotel comic strip

Hello friends/acquaintances/internet (wo)men,

Today I want to take some time out of my busy schedule to address an important issue in the hotel world.  Randall Munroe of XKCD has been kind enough to bring to our attention one of the problems plaguing hotels and travelers alike: The bogus hotel review. Who are these evil people who are out to ruin the reputation of perfectly good hotels and steer you wrong in your vacation plans? Are they fun-hating scrooges who kick puppies and steal candy from babies? Maybe. But that doesn’t have much to do with writing reviews. Maybe instead they’re hired guns engaging in intricate plots of corporate espionage, compromising their rivals with claims of bed bugs and sticky-fingered staff. Or maybe they’re just entitled people full of rage at some perceived slight: “Agh, my muffin wasn’t cut in half for me! Worst hotel ever!!!”

We may never know for sure. But what we do know is this: Telling the real reviews from the fake is just as important as any step in the booking process. And it can be really difficult to do so. Here’s a couple of tips I’ve picked up in my time working with online reviews.

1.Don’t base your decision off a single negative review. Look at the aggregate of a hotel’s reputation online and across more than one site.  Some of the biggest review sites are so worried about trustworthiness, they're changing their slogans.  Any mistake can be made once, but the mark of a problem is when more than one person on more than one site points out the same bad service.

2.Go to the experts. If industry staples are reviewing a hotel well, it’s unlikely that poor reviews are anything but an anomaly. And conversely if it’s getting bad reviews, you might want to think twice about booking. This isn’t to say you should ignore customer reviews, however. Professional reviews are great at getting drilling deep into the nitty-gritty of a hotel stay and evaluating across multiple hotels, but customers are more likely to spot the most recent changes in a hotel’s practices. If a hotel has taken a turn for the worse, customers will be the first to know.

3.Pay attention to the language.  According to a study by Cornell researchers, if a reviewer itemizes every experience they had, mentions the name of the hotel, and uses a lot of exclamation points, there’s a chance that it’s been generated by the hotel itself. Plenty of people enjoy their stays and want to gush about them, but very few will take the time to give you an itemized list of everything you can see and do there.

4. Above all, trust your instincts. Ultimately, reading online reviews is about reading the people who wrote them, and even after only a couple of sentences you’ll have a good sense of who is trustworthy. If you think someone sounds like a fake or is completely irrational, don’t let them color your judgment.

Reading reviews is certainly anything but a science, but hopefully with these tips, you can be a little more confident in your next choice to book some of the world’s top hotels.

Comic via XKCD

Now Booking: Five Star Alliance Adds Fab New Four- and Five-Star Hotels

By: Five Star Alliance

Fairmont Heritage Place Ghiradelli SquareEach and every day, the Five Star Alliance team is adding new hotels to our online portfolio. We offer great rates at the web's most comprehensive, hand-picked collection of luxury hotels. Just a sampling of the gorgeous properties that you can now book on our site: the Fairmont Heritage Place Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco, the Buddha Bar Hotel Prague, and Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives. And let's not forget our stellar four-star hotel collection, too. Whether you're looking for a honeymoon splurge or a simple, inexpensive weekend escape, we've got you covered.

Five Star Alliances Announces Winner of Luxury Hotel Giveaway

By: Five Star Alliance

The James New YorkAnd we have a winner! For the last few months, we ran a luxury hotel giveaway contest with a sweet prize: a three-night stay at The James Hotel New York, situated at the corner of Manhattan's Soho and Tribeca neighborhoods. Entry to the contest was easy; folks just had to sign up to receive our exclusive (and free!) monthly newsletter by May 31, 2011. The hotel's rooftop deck and pool is one of the hottest spots in town- with glorious views of the city skyline and river.

Without further ado... drumroll please... Helaine H. from Scottsdale, Arizona nabbed the prize! A Corporate Meeting Planner who greatly enjoys researching and visiting travel destinations, Helaine says "the Five Star Alliance site is an excellent, easy-to-read resource for familarizing myself with the "Best of the Best" properties of the world!" Helaine is excitedly anticipating her trip to NYC's The James Hotel this fall.

Don’t Miss Out: Win a 3-Night Stay at The James New York!

By: Five Star Alliance

The James New YorkHave you heard about the Five Star Alliance giveaway contest? We're giving away a 3-night stay at The James New York, the sexy new hotel already famous for its rooftop pool deck that has 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline. Simply sign up for our free monthly newsletter by May 31, 2011, and you’ll be automatically entered to win! All new subscribers, aged 18 or older, will be eligible for a chance to score a 3-night getaway in a Deluxe Guestroom at the hotel everyone’s talking about.

A Stylish St. Patrick’s Day at Ashford Castle

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ashford CastleHead to the Emerald Isle for St. Patrick's Day and experience the ultimate Irish celebration. Spend the night in your very own castle (the 800-year-old Ashford Castle offers super luxurious digs), try your hand at falconry and other leisurely pursuits, partake in a soda bread cooking class, enjoy a traditional dinner in an Irish family's home, and visit the 5th century church of St. Patrick himself. Here's what's in store when you book either a two- or three-night package at Ashford Castle:

DAY 1 (March 17)

7pm - Depart castle for short stroll to Cullen's at the Cottage, accompanied by Benny the Piper, where guests join the "Irish Céilí" (traditional Irish party) with an Irish-themed menu, music and dance.

DAY 2 (March 18)

Breakfast at leisure in the George V dining room

10:45am: Boat trip to the Island of Inchagoill and visit to the 5th-century Church of St. Patrick and the most precious stone of Lugnad. The story of St. Patrick will be explained on board by Patrick Luskin, historian and ship captain.

7pm: Dinner, using the finest locally sourced ingredients, in the hotel's Connaught Room and accompanied by Ashford Castle's in-house harpist.

9:30pm: Gift of the Gab: Irish storytelling - with all the humor thrown in.

DAY 3 (March 19)

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast, followed by a fond farewell.


Breakfast in the George V dining room

10:30am: Irish soda bread cooking lesson with Ashford Castle's Executive Chef Stefan Matz

11:30am: "The Art of Guinness Pouring" class with Ashford Castle's barman

1:00pm: St. Patrick's Day games available on the estate, including treasure hunt and a "Long Puck" (Puc fada) hurling competition

7:00pm: Traditional dinner in an Irish family's home

10:30pm: Viewing of The Quiet Man, the 1952 romance starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara that was shot entirely on location at Ashford Castle and its environs.

Based on double occupancy, the two-night package is priced from €385 (approximately US$532) per person, and the three-night package is priced from €485 (approximately US$670) per person.