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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.

What’s Hot: Mardan Palace Debuts on the Turkish Riviera

May 14, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mardan Palace

The Mediterranean coast around Antalya has long lured visitors to Turkey's "Riviera." Sun-worshippers and history buffs alike flock to this ancient coast, dotted with Roman and Ottoman sites. Needless to say, this shore is brimming with luxury resorts, and the new Mardan Palace promises to outdo them all with over-the-top luxury and facilities fit for a king.

Mardan Palace

Think four aquariums, a 900-seat amphitheater, an artificial "Swim Reef" packed with fish, and one of the biggest swimming pools in the world. Did we mention the nighttime laser show in front of the waterfront lagoon pool? The spa has it all-- from Hot Stone Massages to Thalasso Treatments. We hear you can even get botox treatments. Rooms are decadently designed with gold leaf and exclusive Hermès amenities. Each guest of the Mardan Palace will be pampered with personal butler service.


Hot Spots: The Sultanate of Oman and the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, Muscat

May 5, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La

The latest "it" spot for travelers on the planet? The Sultanate of Oman-- where fjords, peaks, and beautiful beaches lure folks to the Arabian Peninsula. But this is not just a paradise for adventure travelers. Oman has seen a slew of luxury hotel openings, like the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa in the capital of Muscat. We've been keeping our eye on this beautiful oasis since it opened in 2006. Designed as a three-hotel resort village, Shangri-La's property boasts a dramatic desert setting next to the  sparkling bay of Al Jissah.

Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort, Oman

You'll find a scuba diving center, marina, a wide range of dining outlets, three expansive pools, a luxurious spa, and private beaches with butler service. Special Offers: When you stay three consecutive nights, you'll get a fourth night on the house. Book with Five Star Alliance, and you'll receive a complimentary upgrade to the next room category upon check-in, subject to availability.


Get a Free Night with InterContinental: 5 Million Nights Up for Grabs at 4,000 Hotels

April 28, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Hotel Beijing Financial StreetInterContinental Hotels Group-- the world's largest hotel company-- has just announced a big promotion. Earn a free night by registering at getafreenight.com and then staying two nights at any Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites or Candlewood Suites around the world between May 4th and July 3rd, 2009. Voila! A free night is yours for the taking at any IHG hotel-- like the luxurious InterContinental Beijing Financial Street (pictured at right)-- until December 26th, 2009.


Big Promotion from Starwood: Get a Free Weekend For Every 2 Hotel Stays

April 14, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Royal HawaiianThis just in. Starwood Hotels and Resorts has announced a rewarding new promotion for new and existing members of the Starwood Preferred Guest program (SPG). When you stay two times at any of Starwood's hotels between May 1 and July 31, 2009, you can earn one free weekend night (Friday, Saturday or Sunday). There are no limits to the number of free weekend nights that can be earned, and earned nights can be combined to make a longer weekend stay. The best part? No blackout dates (!) and the nights are redeemable through the end of September. Starwood encompasses 875 hotels around the world within nine different brands (like St. Regis, Westin, The Luxury Collection, Aloft and Sheraton), including the likes of the Royal Hawaiian (pictured) and the opulent Hotel Gritti Palace in Venice. Talk about a travel stimulus program!


Desert Adventures Await in Dubai

April 9, 2009
By: Christina Vasquez

Desert Palm DubaiSky diving, 4x4 desert safaris, hot air balloon adventures, aerial desert tours, camel and horse racing, a kid friendly water park, and excursions to an indoor ski resort await at the Desert Palm Dubai. Guests who stay at this ultra-luxurious "Arabian avant-garde" desert hotel have the opportunity to embark on thrilling adventures, and for those who prefer something that won't get the heart pumping too loud, there toned-down activities as well, like polo matches, horse riding, cooking tutorials, wine tasting, and rare bird watching at the Desert Palm Dubai.

Special Offer from Five Star Alliance:Five Star Alliance guests with a confirmed stay of 3 or more nights at Desert Palm Dubai will receive one 30 minute "Jet Lag" massage for 2.


Third Night on the House at W Hotels

March 18, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Hotel IstanbulThis just in. Starwood's sexy brand of W Hotels is giving away a third night free when you book two nights. Embrace the cutting-edge and cool at W Hotels across the country and around the world (and now in Doha, to boot). You'll dig the hip Living Room Lounges-- the W Wonderland-- and Whatever/Whenever service (translation: your wish is their command). Some of our fave W properties include the W New York Union Square, the W San Francisco, and the W in Seoul.

Pictured: The Turkish delight known as W Hotel Istanbul.


Israel’s Spring Migration Festivals

March 13, 2009
By: Mackenzie Allison

IsraelThose who love nature, art and crave the allure of the Middle East should head to Israel this month. March is the month to observe the spring migration of birds as well as visit the International Spring Migration Festival held March 20-23 in southern Israel. Visitors can partake in free guided daily tours to the prime birding hotspots in southern Arava just north of Eilat, a hands-on ringing demonstration and bird-identification workshops in the field. The second annual Artists for Nature Festival is also taking place until March 16 in Israel's Hula Valley and will offer nature tours, lectures, workshops and a painting demonstration by Israeli wildlife artists.

For more festival info, visit www.artistsfornature.com


Secretary Clinton Checks In to Jerusalem’s King David

March 6, 2009
By: K. Clare Johnson

King David HotelAfter a tough day of negotiating peace in the Middle East, where does Hillary Clinton lay her golden locks down to sleep? At the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, of course. The former First Lady and Senator turned Secretary of State stayed at the luxury hotel on her first official visit to Israel. King David Hotel has played host to many a celeb, and made headlines of a different sort in 1946, when it was bombed by a Zionist group. The rest of her sizable entourage could give some rappers a run for their street cred. The Clinton group took up a whopping 154 of the 203 rooms. No word on whether she took advantage of the poolside dining or why Clinton stayed in the Royal Suite, not the Presidential Suite.


Designer Bathrooms that are Better than Hotel Rooms

March 5, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peninsula TokyoWe've been known to drool over the swanky bathrooms at The Peninsula Hotel Tokyo (can we- like- sleep here?) In fact, hotel bathrooms have emerged in recent years as lavish, even crucially important, spaces. Sometimes-- as recently described by Hotels Magazine-- "becoming the very centerpiece of the guestroom." According to the article, entitled "Drawing the Baths Out":  "Baths are no longer an afterthought in the guestroom design process... thanks in large part to the emergence of the spa as a featured hotel amenity." Hence the spa bathroom, found in hotels around the world.

Regent Bal HarbourRegent Bal Harbour: Boasting floor to ceiling views of the Atlantic Ocean, the fabulous showers also have custom "toe testers." Each shower has a faucet groove for guests to dip their toes in to test the temperature of the water before turning on the head to enjoy a relaxing shower.

Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya:  One of the hottest hotels in the world has some pretty fabulous bath facilities. Nestled on 36 acres of beaches and tropical mangrove forests on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the Mandarin Oriental has garnered abundant praise and accolades since its debut. One of the coolest features? Baths placed in open-air private gardens, called "bath patios."

St Regis Resort BaliSt. Regis Resort Bali: Notice the exotic materials in the pic? The bathrooms are all about the sense of ritual (and luxury, of course.) You can bathe in a deep soaking tub built for two while gazing out the window. Floors are made from locally-sourced beige marble, and the decorative white limestone and Bangkerai timber are also locally harvested.

Raffles Dubai bathroomRaffles Dubai: A landmark on the city's skyline, the pyramid-shaped hotel is known for its opulent suites with private butler service. The Fire Suite has a Jacuzzi tub situated at the top of marble steps-- facing a window overlooking glitzy Dubai. The over-the-top bathroom was designed with 24-karat gold in a sprawling space measuring 50 square meters.


Things to See and Do in Israel

March 5, 2009
By: Mackenzie Allison

For a different take on the dining experience, those heading to Israel this year can enjoy a meal with friends in, of all places, a crane plunging out into the sky. No joke. The Dinner in the Sky attraction allows thrill-seekers the opportunity to book private parties for the adrenaline rush of being lifted 164 feet in the air by a large crane. What's on the Menu: A gourmet meal of foie gras rolls, lamb ribs and cherry pie prepared by Israeli chef Frank Azulay. Art-lovers might enjoy the modern ceramics display at the Haaretz Museum in Tel Aviv. The Fifth Israeli Ceramics Biennale presents the works of 57 ceramic artists influenced by new-age Israeli ceramics. The exhibition will be open to the public throughout May.