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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.

Friday Photos in the Fiji Islands: Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa

Dreaming of a South Pacific escape? Shangri-La's Fijian Resort is located on a private island called Yanuca, an 109-acre paradise of sandy beaches, swaying palms, and turquoise lagoons. Committed to protecting its pristine setting, the resort has engaged in conservation programs; its Yanuca Marine Protected Area, a co-operative project, was chosen as a model site for coral reef development by the United Nations Environmental Program. Comprehensive amenities-- including internet access, helicopter transfers, and a business center-- distinguish the luxury resort from others in Fiji. On-site facilities include the new Ratu Makutu Events Centre and the signature CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La, which is the largest and most luxurious private spa in Fiji.

Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa


Eco-Design and Eco-Couture at Fashion Week in Portland Oregon


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Portland Fashion WeekFashion week is on in Portland, and it's gone green for the second year in a row. Featuring eco-couture, urban casual, street- and active-wear from all over North America and the globe, Portland Fashion Week is "the world's only comprehensively eco-sustainable production of a fashion week." Oregon Live reports that "even the venue -- the 14 Square building -- incorporates sustainable materials."  The runway? Made of recyclable materials, of course. Running until October 11, the week features many independent designers whose work was produced with minimal environmenal impact. Along with these hot fashions, the models will be wearing ecological cosmetics.

Looking for a place to shack up in Portland? Five Star Alliance recommends the Hotel Monaco (filled with original art from Pacific Northwest artists), the Heathman Hotel, The Nines from the Starwood Luxury Collection and The Allison in Oregon's wine country.

Image Via Fashion Tribes


Good Karma Abounds at Cambodia’s Amansara Hotel


By: Daniel L. Moses

AmansaraKarma is the word that most often comes up in discussions with the vibrant people of the largely Buddhist country of Cambodia. The notion that doing good deeds has its earthly rewards is a pleasing notion. It is therefore hardly surprising that the guests of the magnificent Amansara can get in on the good karma act too. The luxury hotel is often involved in local charitable projects through its Guest Community Help Program, since staying at the Amansara provides those earthly rewards in abundance. The program links its adventurous guests with organizations in need of a helping hand, and the guests are rewarded with a lifetime of memories. Just outside of the ancient capital of Angkor, and bursting with warmth, luxuriousness, and a generous helping of Khmer Buddhist culture, the Amansara is a bastion of luxury amongst the jungles of the Kingdom of Cambodia. And that certainly is good karma.


The Hydroponic Farm and Organic Gardens at Cuisinart Resort and Spa, Anguilla


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cuisinart Resort and SpaAs if we needed another reason to love this Caribbean resort of whitewashed villas and turquoise infinity pools... Cuisinart Resort and Spa boasts the world's only hydroponic resort farm- saving water through the use of recirculation systems and drip irrigation, recycling the drainage from the greenhouse to feed the outdoor landscape plants. This soil-free growing process produces fresh, quality vegetables and edible flowers that are harvested daily and used in the resort's kitchen by Executive Chef Daniel Orr and his team. What's more-- the plants and flowers also serve as ingredients in treatments at the newly-expanded spa. Guests can tour the farm with the manager on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:00 am. See the greenhouse (built to withstand winds of up to 110 mph), lettuce ponds, and raised beds containing herbs and peppers. The organic garden is likewise brimming with colorful produce all year round-- Caribbean callaloo, black-eyed peas, peppers, pumpkins, okra, soybeans, Chinese long beans, and melons-- while fruit-bearing trees in the orchards produce avocados, guavas, tamarinds, limes, oranges, and star fruit.


Top Green Hotels: Willard InterContinental Gets Props for Being 100% Wind-Powered


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Willard InterContinentalThe icon on Pennsylvania Avenue (no, not *that* one, but just down the street) has received another award for its Sustainable Hospitality program. Washington D.C.'s Willard InterContinental Hotel gets national attention for its environmental stewardship and corporate social responsibility. The stats are impressive: 100 percent wind power, 191 tons of recycling, 37 tons of composting, water well donations to South Africa and South Dakota, contributions to the Anacostia River clean-up, "Adoption" of a local school and park, hosting of proms for disabled youth and the building of a D.C. Habitat for Humanity house. So it's no surprise to see the hotel snag the overall winner in the City Hotel category in Condé Nast Traveler's third annual World Savers Awards, naming Willard InterContinental the overall winner in the City Hotel category:

Condé Nast Traveler's World Saver Award honors travel companies from around the world for their leadership in social responsibility in five key areas: poverty alleviation, cultural and/or environmental preservation, education programmes, wildlife conservation, and health initiatives. The hotel's award-winning program, Willard InterContinental - The Next 100 Years, is a holistic plan comprised of interwoven sustainable projects designed for a luxurious urban hospitality experience in harmony with social and ecological consciousness.


Welcome to the Jungle: Lapa Rios Rainforest Ecolodge


By: Alison Victor

Intercontinental Real Costa Rica Ecotourism is defined as "responsible travel to natural places, which conserve the environment and sustains the well being of the local people." With today's current trend towards preservation and enviromental protection there is quite a bit of interest in finding hotels that aim for sustainable tourism as well as "green luxury." A great example of this is Lapa Rios, a resort spread over 1,000 acres of Central America's last remaining lowland tropical rain forest in Costa Rica. This private nature reserve goes by the notion that "a standing rain forest is more valuable than one cut down." Some things that Lapa Rios does to make it both luxurious and earth-friendly include decking out the beautiful bungalows with locally made bamboo furniture, assisting the local community by providing basic education and job training for employment at the resort, and using locally caught fish and seasonal organic produce at the gourmet Restaurant Brisa Azul.

Guests can enjoy lots of great rain forest and ocean activities, including whale watching, interpretive hikes, and ocean-mangrove boating trips. Opened since 1993, Lapa Rios has already won many social and environmental awards, and proves to be a top destination for honeymooners looking to experience something intimate and different.

Perhaps the only draw back may be Lapa Rios's location, as getting there can prove to be an experience all its own. Guests fly into San Jose, and then take a 45 minute flight on either Nature Air or Sansa to Puerto Jimenez. At Puerto Jimenez, not only will they find the Lapa Rios office, but also a 4x4 Lapa Rios safari truck that will take them the rest of the way to the property.

If you have plenty of time allotted to visit Lapa Rios, then it may be a good idea to begin and end your trip with a stay at the Intercontinental Real Costa Rica in San Jose, (pictured) where a deluxe room will run you under 200 USD a night. Think of it as your transition from city living to green luxury, a perfect way to get in tune with your natural rhythm before your adventure begins!


What’s Hot: Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, New Eco-luxury Resort in Australia’s Blue Mountains


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Wolgan ValleyJust a short drive from Sydney, the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains offer breathtaking scenery of sandstone peaks and gorges known for their distinctive blue colored haze-- a miraculous act of nature as sunlight is filtered through drops of eucalyptus oil emitted from the region's eucalyptus trees. And as The New York Times recently reports, a tree once believed to be extinct- the Wollemi Pine- can now be seen at a new eco-friendly resort opening in October, as the luxurious Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa planted a grove of 60 Wollemi Pines for the enjoyment of guests. Since it was rediscovered in 1994, the prehistoric tree could only be found in the wild by a few scientists and conservationists, "one of Australia's best kept secrets." Set within its own 4,000-acre conservation and wildlife reserve, the resort will be operated by Emirates Hotels and Resorts. Each of the 40 free-standing suites will have their own outside deck and private swimming pool.


Buzzworthy: Crosby Street Hotel, New York’s Greenest, Opens in September


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

New YorkWe've been excitedly anticipating the debut of the new Crosby Street Hotel in Soho. The first foray into the U.S. market for Firmdale Hotels (behind London's Haymarket and Soho hotels), the New York hotel is slated for September 29. The goal is to make it the most eco-friendly hotel in Manhattan by using green construction methods and design. Rooms will have floor-to-ceiling windows and Kit Kemp-designed interiors. Curbed has the skinny on what's inside this 86-room property:

...a pewter bar, 100-seat screening room and leafy courtyard garden. The owners of the Crosby have enlisted artists from far and wide to create works for display on-site. A sunken cafe facing Lafayette Street will be fronted by a hand-forged iron fence and gates created by local sculptor James Garvey. No doubt guests and neighbors alike will be very glad when this one gets off the ground.


Hot Tables: Organic Eats at Voya Restaurant, The Loden Vancouver


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Loden VancouverIt's not just the dishes at Voya that are good for you and good for the planet.* Diners quench their thirst with water from the on-premise filtration system-- not plastic bottles. And the bar serves up tipples made from Prairie Organic Vodka. Since the Loden Vancouver opened last year-- and with it, the Voya Restaurant-- the hotel and its eatery have made quite the stir. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Voya showcases local, organic ingredients that reflect the bounty of the pristine mountains and coasts of British Columbia. Executive Chef Marc André Choquette cooks up internationally-inspired dishes that are always true to the season. Here's a sampling: bison rib eye with walla walla onion tempura, grilled asparagus, smoked paprika aioli, and gnocchi romano; wild salmon with orzo salad, chorizo flavors, baby zucchini, and lovage scent; butternut squash tortellini, cauliflower florets, tomato sauce and roasted eggplant

*Voya is a member of the Green Table and Ocean Wise sustainable programs.


The Brando: Marlon Brando’s Private Island in the South Pacific Gets a Luxury Eco-Resort


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Marlon Brando atollThis dreamy spot in the South Pacific will soon be home to The Brando, a luxury eco-resort that's slated for 2011. Marlon Brando bought the private island in French Polynesia in 1965, a postcard-perfect atoll called Tetiaroa surrounded by a coral reef. Construction has begun on what will be the only resort on the island, following Brando's vision for an eco-friendly hideaway. What's in store? The official website promises "47 deluxe bungalow villas (each with private plunge pools), a spa, fitness center, community pool, as well as various island activities including scuba diving and archaeological tours of royal Tahitian sites." To minimize the resort's environmental footprint, The Brando will use a "sea water air conditioning" system which uses renewable clean energy. This system is also used at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa, as The Brando is being developed by Tahiti Beachcomber SA, whose CEO, Richard Bailey, owns the four InterContinental resorts in the region, all committed to eco-friendly practices: InterContinental Bora Bora Resort, InterContiental Tahiti Resort, InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort, and InterContinental Moorea Resort and Spa.