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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.

The Development Boom in Playa del Carmen, Mexico


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

beach The cat's out of the bag about Playa del Carmen. The cool and classy beach destination on Mexico's gorgeous less-traveled Yucatan peninsula (away from the high-rises, Senor Frog's, and wet t-shirt contests of Cancun) is growing at a staggering pace. Quickly fleeting are the days of uncrowded stretches of white sand beach and evenings at hip beach bars. Among the new hotels popping up as quickly as sand-castles: The new Riu Palace Riviera Maya is the fourth all-inclusive Riu Palace to open in Playa in recent months. And Kor has jumped on the development bandwagon, with the Viceroy Riviera Maya and The Tides Playa del Carmen Resorts and Residences (both slated for 2008), and the recent acquisition of two existing upscale resorts: the 46-room Mosquito Blue and the newly built, 33-room Mosquito Beach. (And the accommodations all promise to be sinfully luxurious...) Flights to Cancun are at a record low right now-- we're talking $129 Chicago-Cancun on United's brand new route-- so best get down there now to see a piece of paradise vanishing fast...


Travel Planning Resources: Florida, Hurricane Season, and Trip Insurance


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Florida Keys Last year's hurricane season was shocking in scale and scope. And this year, the storms could escalate in strength. As quoted in Travel Weekly:

"The 2006 season will be an active one, with 17 named storms, of which nine will reach hurricane strength, and of those, five will be between Category 3 and Category 5 storms," said William Gray, head of the Dept. of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.
Hurricane season (at its strongest from August-October) is thus a big deterrent for tourists to South Florida, on both business trips and leisure vacations. As reported today by CNN, meeting planners are reluctant to book their conferences at this time of year, and thus "Visit Florida last year began offering event insurance up to $200,000 to defray marketing and rescheduling costs if there is a hurricane disruption." Similarly, "to sweeten the deal for leisure travelers, several businesses in the area are offering two-for one packages on diving, sailing and spas." Thus, leisure travelers can take advantage of some excellent bargains promoted by the area's luxury hotels. Many resorts offer guarantees, and hurricane protection, so check ahead. Resources: The Monroe County Tourism Development Council has upgraded its Web site with lots of Hurricane info, including health and welfare issues for travelers, the science of hurricanes, tracking maps, and local emergency plans. Key West Magazine has scheduled an important hurricane feature for their June 2006 issue.


Abu Dhabi Announces its Newest Five Star Hotel: the Emirates Pearl


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Emirates Pearl

What did I tell you? Abu Dhabi is where it's at. Apparently, the capital of the UAE is aiming for 25,000 hotel rooms by 2015. The latest five-star hotel announcement is the Emirates Pearl, expected to take two years to build and at a cost of $136 million. The coastal hotel's defining feature? A 240 meter high tower (that's 47 storeys) designed by Austria's award-winning architect Dennis Lems:

The tower, which houses 352 spacious rooms and suites and 104 luxuriously furnished apartments all with balconies and Gulf views, sits on a 22 meter high, five-storey podium which features a 20-meter high atrium with five restaurants, service centres, offices, a gym, hair salon, spa, meeting rooms, business centre and shops.

The Emirates Pearl will be constructed with a contemporary twisting glass design. And the hotel's entrance will be marked by a "figurehead sculpture of an Arab hunting scene." How snazzy. And they sure picked a winner of a name for the place.


Surf’s Up: Southern California and the Newly Renovated Fairmont Newport Beach


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Newport Beach

As CNN reports, the legal battle over designation of "Surf City USA" has officially ended, as Huntington Beach edged out rival Santa Cruz with a federal agency's decision "to grant the town exclusive trademark rights." Easy, dudes! Both spots are world-renowned for their awesome waves. But if you're craving the warmer waters, better head south to Huntington Beach. The town's got an easy-going vibe and quiet elegance, and plenty of opportunities to watch the locals ride the waves in surf competitions.

Looking for lux accommodations? Just a short hop from Huntington Beach in the sun-drenched magnificence of the OC, Newport Beach lures with its recently renovated Fairmont Hotel. It's actually in the final stages of the $30 million renovation, which involves the outdoor area, driveway, and landscaping-- all slated for completion by August 31. The rest of the place is dazzling and new, including the heated sky pool and deck which opens any day now. The Fairmont Gold Lounge and Gold Floor guest rooms-- a "hotel within a hotel" with private check-in and complimentary breakfast and evening hors' d'oeuvres-- will be completed at the beginning of June. The new 8,000 sq ft Spa will open in January.

Take advantage of Only One Way Summer Rates. Rooms are a steal starting at $199 a night.

The Fairmont Newport Beach, Five Star Alliance

Related Articles:

Outside Magazine, Surf Guide 2006


Destinations: Santa Catalina, the Quick LA Getaway


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ray off Channel Islands

A fast ride on a hydrofoil and you feel a million miles away from the big city. The island's landscape could almost be the flower-studded hills of a Mediterranean isle, surrounded by the deep blue of sea and sky. Welcome to Santa Catalina (here feel free to break into song: Twenty- six miles across the sea; Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me; Santa Catalina, the island of romance, romance, romance.) Even a day-trip from LA can be a rejuvenating escape. Explore the beautiful coast by mountain bike, kayak, or by foot, stroll through the village, or hit the beach and soak up the sun. This month, Islands Magazine features Santa Catalina as one of four American islands to visit this summer.


The Most Exclusive Parties in the World


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Courtesy of Forbes.com. Vanity Fair's Oscar Party? Been there, done that. But what about Le Bal Des Debutantes, at the smashing Hotel de Crillon in Paris? Or the Monte Carlo Red Cross gala? Or Playboy's Midsummer Night's Dream Party? (The full list of high-rollers hang-outs is here.) Hurry up and score an invite! You're so there.


Going To: Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Balmoral Hotel, Scotland


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Balmoral Hotel

The folks at Daily Candy have scouted the world for their favorite summer festivals, and we can't help but heartily agree with their picks. Especially with the Scottish vote. The Fringe Festival is an outrageously fun and quirky event, full of alternative whimsy and improv energy, billed as "the biggest arts festival in the world." (Last year they hosted a whopping 1,800 shows in 250 venues.) The 60th annual festival, running from August 6-28, promises to be equally as exciting, with theather and comedy shows galore. Where to stay? Do it right and score a room at Rocco Forte's Balmoral, of course. A perfect location, serious Scottish charm, Michelin star rated restaurant, swanky spa, CNT Gold List awarded rooms, and spectacular views of the Edinburgh Castle… what more could you ask for?

Rocco Forte Balmoral Hotel, Five Star Alliance


Dubai To Build the World’s Largest Hotel


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bawadi

Surprise, surprise. On the site of what will become the world's longest hotel strip. The US$27 billion tourism development, called Bawadi, is to cover a measly 139 million square feet smack in the middle of Dubailand, and will alone double the number of hotel rooms available in the UAE:

The project was unveiled by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, and is intended to help Dubai accommodate the 15 million tourists it aims to attract by 2012.

What exactly will the tourists be doing, flocking to Dubai? Checking out the other tourists on the 10 km strip stuffed with 31 hotels?

Via ITPBusiness


The Conrad Brussels Celebrates the Year of Fashion with the ‘Mode Design’ Package


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Conrad Brussels

Who knew that Brussels could be a couture-minded mecca for trendy fashionistas? Apparently 2006 has been dubbed The Year of Fashion and Design in Brussels, and the city's buzzing with exhibitions and fashion shows, including a mobile extravaganza where models tour the city in a tram, with each tram stop serving as a catwalk for a different show. The city is a self-professed "favorite haunt of original and talented designers, who, by being based there, not only enjoy the recognition of their peers, but also find in this exuberant and surrealist capital a fantastic environment in which to live and to experiment." Brussels views itself as "setting the pace in terms of fashion and design." Rock on.

Starting on May 17, the luxurious Conrad Brussels is offering a "Mode Design" package for visitors to discover the history and meaning of design in Brussels. The elegant hotel is easily one of the city's finest, with an excellent health club, fine dining, and the largest and most sophisticated bedrooms in the city. The package is available until December 31, 2006, and includes: accommodations in a Classic room, breakfast daily, and an exclusive free gift for fashion lovers. Starting at EUR 235 per room per night. What a steal.

Conrad Brussels, Five Star Alliance


Jumeirah’s Luxury Hotel Expansion and the Jumeirah Essex House, New York


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Jumeirah Essex House

Jumeirah, the luxury hospitality group and member of Dubai Holding, is growing by leaps and bounds. Perhaps the most significant development for 2005 was Jumeirah's entry into the US market, with the acquisition of one of Manhattan's most prestigious and historic luxury hotels: The Essex House. Renamed the Jumeirah Essex House, the hotel is an elegant city landmark, perfectly located off Central Park. Since its debut in 1931, this luxurious property has been the New York refuge for international leaders, dignitaries, and celebs. Most importantly, the hotel houses the superlative Mobil Five-Star restaurant, Alain Ducasse at Jumeirah Essex House-- easily the best restaurant in New York City.

After the acquisition of this gorgeous property, Jumeirah continues to anticipate awesome growth for 2006. Let us count the ways. Management of Shanghai's most prestigious new hotel development in the Luwan District (HanTang Jumeirah Shanghai will open in 2008). Management of Jumeirah Dubai Towers, a five-star hotel in Doha, Qatar. Management of the luxury hotels and theme park at the beachfront town of Aqaba, Jordan. And in Dubai, Jumeirah will operate Aqua Dunya, a theme park resort in Dubailand that aims to become the world's largest leisure and tourism attraction. (With a whopping 8 million sq. ft.) And let's not forget the management of Jumeirah Al Khor in Dubai Healthcare City, and lastly, the Jumeirah Business Bay Hotel, in Dubai's new business district (Business Bay, Dubailand, Healthcare City.... the names are clever, aren't they?) Whew.

Jumeirah Essex House, Five Star Alliance