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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.

Luxury Eco-Resorts from AOL Founder, Steve Case

August 6, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Costa Rica First stop: Costa Rica. Steve Case is launching a new luxury resort company, Revolution Places, with an eye on environmental and cultural preservation. Only natural for a guy who grew up in Hawaii and feels passionately about not paving over paradise. The first environmentally-friendly project is an $800 million, 650-acre development in Cacique, Costa Rica, on the northwest Pacific coast. What's in store? A 120-villa One&Only resort by Sol Kerzner, who developed Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas; a 180-unit Miraval: Life in Balance-branded destination spa resort; a Tom Doak-designed golf course; and a tennis and fitness center designed by Andre Agassi and his wife, Steffi Graf. Expected to open in 2010, the resort will be designed to reduce water and energy waste, with renewable energy sources and on-site treatment facilities to reuse waste water.

Photo Via Washington Post


Boar’s Head Inn, Charlottesville: Virginia Hospitality in the Heart of the Blue Ridge Foothills

July 31, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Boar's Head Inn Most visitors to the Boar's Head Inn (myself included), find themselves drawn to the Old Mill Room, quickly enchanted with the impressive wood beams lining the ceiling, the large fireplace and cozy ambience of the fine dining restaurant. The Inn has a long and impressive history, and the Old Mill Room is the heart of it all.

The Boar's Head Inn was built from the timbers of an abandoned gristmill, formerly located along the banks of the Hardware River. Dating back to 1834, the mill had survived burning despite the orders of Generals Grant and Custer during their Civil War march. The old mill, a treasured Virginian artifact, was carefully dismantled and reconstructed on the Inn's site. The original fieldstones, pine beams and planks, and massive grist stones are displayed throughout the Inn, prominent reminders of the past.

For 19 years running, the Old Mill Room has earned the AAA Four-Diamond Award for culinary excellence. The menu spotlights heirloom vegetables, wild game, Chesapeake Bay fish and seafood, and wines from the region's finest vineyards and wineries, as well as from around the world.

From the property's early days as the site of Terrell's Ordinary in the 1730's to its development in the 1960's as a quintessential Virginia inn, Boar's Head Inn has enjoyed a reputation as a welcoming place to stop (anything but ordinary!) Indeed, the Boar's Head Tradition has endured since Shakespeare's day, when London's Boar's Head Inn was synonymous with good food and warm hospitality, a tradition maintained in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains.

Nestled in the gently rolling hills of a 573-acre estate just outside Charlottesville, Boar's Head Inn combines the grace and hospitality of a country inn, with the luxurious amenities of a full-service resort. There's championship golf, top-rated tennis, a luxury spa, sports club, swimming pools, and four restaurants. The meeting facilities-- newly revamped-- are unrivaled in the region. When I recently attended a conference sponsored by Whole Foods Market (regional summits encourage local growers to get their products on the stores' shelves), I was impressed by both the venue (beautiful ballroom) and the delicious lunch.


Family Fun Discount at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, South Carolina

July 30, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Get a $200 resort activity credit and complimentary breakfast for two when you book three nights or more at The Sanctuary, the beautiful seaside mansion within Kiawah Resort. Awarded five diamonds by AAA, the exquisite luxury hotel is located just thirty minutes from downtown Charleston, and embodies all of the grandeur and warm hospitality of the American South. Kids adore the range of activities on offer at Kiawah (unspoiled beaches, tennis, bike riding), while their parents enjoy luxurious spa indulgence and championship golf outings. The Family Fun Offer also applies to villa stays; book two or more nights in a villa and receive 20 percent off the nightly rate. Offer available from August 12- September 30, 2007.


Luxury Values at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Pennsylvania

July 12, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Nemacolin Woodlands A wildly-popular spot for East Coasters, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is situated on 3,000 scenic acres outside Pittsburgh. The Mobil Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond resort has a plethora of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Really, there's nothing the resort doesn't offer. Equestrian Center, Kids Club, Shooting Academy, you name it. An integral part of the Nemacolin experience is the game of golf, as the resort boasts 36 holes on its championship course against the backdrop of some of the most breathtaking scenery Pennsylvania has to offer. Due to guest demand, the Stay and Play Golf Package is back exclusively for the month of July. Play the PGA-tested Mystic Rock course for the lowest rates of the season when you book an overnight stay at Nemacolin: choose between the luxury-defining, AAA Five-Diamond Falling Rock or The Lodge, the resort's classic English country inn.


Summer Escape in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains: Keswick Hall, Charlottesville

July 6, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Keswick Hall Discover what Thomas Jefferson called Utopia, one of the most beautiful places on earth. Just minutes from Jefferson's historic Monticello in the heart of Virginia hunt country, Keswick Hall is an intimate luxury hotel that recreates the grace and style of the Old World. Overlooking the Arnold Palmer designed golf course, rolling green hills of the Piedmont, and the spectacular mountain ridges in the distance, Keswick Hall's 48 guest rooms are the pinnacle of comfort and luxury, designed with overstuffed ottomans, antique club chairs, beautiful armoires, and beds piled high with comforters and feather pillows. Unwind by the horizon infinity pool and enjoy decadent poolside service. Improve your game on the resort's clay and hard tennis courts, or with private and group instruction. Play a round on the world-class golf course, its lush grounds dotted with beautiful old growth trees. And of course the delights of Charlottesville-- vineyards, elegant antique stores, Jefferson's University of Virginia, and Monticello itself-- abound. Dine at Fossett's Restaurant, where floor-to-ceiling windows showcase a magnificent panorama, and sample the sumptuous afternoon tea in the Villa Crawford. (In the evenings, relax with a single malt scotch and a fine cigar in this after-dinner gathering place.) With the Summer Escape package, enjoy a welcoming seasonal beverage and cookies upon arrival at Keswick Hall, delight in an award-winning three-course dinner for two, and then wake up with a continental breakfast. Rates start at $415 per night in a Signature Room.


Beach Bargains in Mexico: Fairmont Pierre Marques, Acapulco

July 3, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Pierre Marques, Acapulco Go coastal this summer and head south of the border to Acapulco, the oft-overlooked Pacific Coast retreat nestled between the soaring mountains of the Sierra Madre on one side and the crystal blue bay on the other. Book a stay at the premier resort in the area, the Fairmont Pierre Marques, once the private getaway of J. Paul Getty, and enjoy fantastic savings with "Only One Way" summer rates, starting at just $149 through early September. With refreshing infinity pools overlooking the ocean, a state-of-the-art fitness center, tennis, golf, and aquatic sports galore, this landmark hotel offers endless fun in the sun for a real steal. (The hotel's sister property, Fairmont Acapulco Princess, has likewise reduced its summer rates.)


Stay and Play at Mount Juliet Conrad Hotel, Kilkenny County, Ireland

July 2, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mount Juliet Set within 1,500 acres of lush gardens and woodlands in picturesque Kilkenny county, Mount Juliet Conrad is easily the finest sporting estate around. Just an hour from Dublin, the award-winning hotel epitomizes the gracious living of the countryside. Spend a weekend at this country house hotel and sample a slew of activities and sports in a spectacular natural setting: horseback riding, clay shooting, fishing, archery, tennis, and golf on the challenging links. (Mount Juliet Conrad played host to the 2002 and 2004 WGC-American Express Championship.) The Stay and Play package starts from EUR 250 per night and includes overnight accommodation in the Hunters Yard, breakfast and dinner at Kendals (excluding beverages) and your choice of one of the featured activities per adult, per day.


Fourth of July Celebration at the Tides Inn, a Chesapeake Bay Tradition

June 26, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Tides Inn I was fortunate enough to tour the Tides Inn during a glorious afternoon. Allow me to sing its praises. For sixty years, discriminating travelers and yachtsmen sailing the Eastern seaboard have flocked to the Tides Inn, a well-guarded secret. Today, the AAA four-diamond resort is a member of Leading Hotels of the World, and visitors enjoy the sparkling pool, spa, boating excursions, tennis, and world-class golf on the Golden Eagle course.

As I walked towards the Inn's entrance, I was greeted by a valet and bellhop who offered lemonade and freshly baked cookies, along with a smile. How's that for Southern hospitality? This gracious hospitality is standard at an Inn long celebrated for its genuine Southern charm. Perched over Carters Creek with an unobstructed view to the sparkling waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the Tides Inn commands a setting like no other. Under a clear blue sky, I strolled out in the flowering gardens to gape at the view. Next to the manicured croquet lawn, guests sipped drinks beneath the shade of a tall cedar, watching the boats dock in the marina. Everywhere I turned, the staff beamed smiles and greetings.

Though the Inn has a long history as the premier hotel in the Mid-Atlantic, there is nothing faded about this place. After extensive refurbishments in 2001, the Tides Inn emerged in all of its contemporary splendor, but with all its traditions intact. Guest rooms are elegant and comfortable, outfitted in British colonial style with dark wood trim and custom fitted marble for the wet bars. You'll still find the wooden lockers in the Chesapeake Club, the resort's fine dining restaurant, where guests during the "dry" years stored their bottles after a whiskey run to nearby Urbanna (a "wet county") aboard the Miss Ann. And you'll still find an impressive attention to detail: guests are pampered with complimentary bottles of champagne and hand-written cards when celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.

The Fourth of July week at the Tides Inn promises to be a fabulous celebration, packed with festive activities and events. Plus, if you stay three or more nights during the week, you'll qualify for a special rate of $295 per evening. Here's a taste of what's in store: a phenomenal fireworks display right on Carters Creek, night golf, a boat building competition on the Windsor Lawn, kayaking tours on Carters Creek, Irvington's Main Street Parade complete with Antique Cars, family scavenger hunts, garden tours, and movie nights in the Bryant Garden, the Inn's own natural amphitheater.


Wedding Travel Trends: New Cruise Packages at Half Moon, Montego Bay, Jamaica

June 25, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Half Moon Now you can tie the knot in style with the best of both worlds: a Caribbean cruise and a destination wedding in paradise at Half Moon. The prestigious resort has just introduced Cruise Day Wedding Packages, so that cruise passengers arriving at Jamaica's Montego Bay Cruise Ship Pier can be whisked away to Half Moon for a luxurious and memorable wedding. The Shore Romance package, priced at $3,900, includes all the amenities needed for the perfect wedding: marriage officer, professional videographer and photographer, two chilled bottles of champagne, chef's selection of hot and cold d'oeuvres for up to ten persons, wedding cake, two witnesses, plus the services of a June Wedding Incorporated certified wedding planner. Valid until December 14, 2007, includes a day use room at the resort. You can really go all out with the Shore Paradise package, which includes all the amenities of the Shore Romance package, plus professional make-up for the bride, lavish floral arrangements, Swedish massage for the bride and groom, a flautist or violinist, all for $6,200. Rest assured-- there's an army of event staff on-site (including a romance specialist) to handle all the planning logistics.


Fourth Free Night in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at Casa Velas

June 22, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Casa Velas Follow your bliss to the soft sands and roaring surf of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where Casa Velas provides a peaceful, secluded oasis. Tucked away on the beautiful Marina Vallarta golf course, Casa Velas is an adults-only boutique hotel. Relax in your private plunge pool or hit the sand at the beach club. Retreat to the spa for an indulgent massage overlooking the ocean. In the evening, enjoy live music and a fabulous meal at the gourmet restaurant, Emiliano. This is the ultimate romantic hideaway. With the One More Night promotion, stay for three nights and get the fourth for free! And since this hotel is all-inclusive, you get all your meals, premium beverages, and round-trip airport transfers for free. Rates are for a Master Suite, and start at $540 per couple per night. (Rate is pro-rated to reflect savings for the four-night stay.) Available until December 20, 2007.