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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.

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.


W Hotel Doha: Jean-Georges Takes Market to the Middle East

March 3, 2009
By: Dave Eisen

Is the Middle East market ripe for Market? Chef Jean-Georges Vongericthen sure hopes so. The acclaimed culinary maestro has opened Market by Jean-Georges and Spice Market at the new W Hotel Doha. This is Jean-Georges' first foray into the Middle East; let's hope it's a success. Chef Jean-Georges says he will bring many of the restaurant's signature dishes to the restaurants, but looks forward to infusing the varied ingredients found in the Middle East into the dishes. Here's what we know: Décor at market is reminiscent of a traditional souk, which we hope doesn't mean that the waiters will constantly badger you to buy their wares. We kid! The space is divided into a series of raised perimeter seating areas and there will be an open kitchen. Meanwhile, Spice Market is perched at the top of the mosque-like living room at the hotel and has great views of the Persian Gulf. W Doha opened for business at the beginning of the month.


Culinary Delights Await You at the Raffles Dubai

March 2, 2009
By: Christina Vasquez

Raffles DubaiA delectable dining experience awaits you in one of Dubai's most visually stunning hotels. The Raffles Dubai , renowned for enticing visitors with eleven distinct restaurants and bars, is now offering a Raffles Gourmet package. Sure to please the gourmet connoisseur, the Raffles Gourmet package includes a five course Degustation Menu Dinner from one of the hotels' two award-winning restaurants; Fire & Ice and The Noble House. A daily complimentary breakfast for two and nightly "gourmet delights" turndown service completes this offer of culinary gratification. Package rates vary according to availability and certain terms and restrictions apply.

Special Offer from Five Star Alliance: Five Star Alliance guests at the Raffles Dubai will receive a VIP amenity as well as complimentary wireless internet throughout the hotel.


Scuba Diving in Dubai: Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s Pavilion Dive Centre Gets Top Rating from PADI

February 26, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Jumeirah Beach Hotel Pavilion Dive Centre

The Jumeirah Beach Hotel-- designed in the shape of an enormous wave on the beaches of the Arabian Gulf-- has just scored top marks from PADI (the Professional Association of Diving Instructors) for its Pavilion Dive Centre. Recognized as a 5 Star Career Development Centre, PADI's highest rating for Dive Centres, the Pavilion Dive Centre stands alone in the Middle East as the only one of its kind. This means that non-diving professionals can now get training and certification as PADI instructors-- with the first Instructor Development course of 2009 starting on Friday, April 3rd.

Whether a seasoned diver or beginner, guests of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel will love checking out the purpose-built coral reef just 2 kilometers offshore, an amazing world of shipwrecks and exotic marine life. The Pavilion Dive Centre provides everything you need to make the very most of your underwater adventure. They even take trips to Oman.


Oman’s Al Bustan Palace Stages a Mouth-watering Re-opening

February 18, 2009
By: K. Clare Johnson

Al Bustan PalaceThe wait is over. Al Bustan Palace Hotel has re-opened to the public after a year-long renovation. The multi-million dollar renovation of the luxury Oman property means that guests can once again stay in comfort as they tour the must-see sights like Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Bait Al Zubair Museum and Al Alam Palace. And trust us, you won't go hungry. Al Bustan Palace Hotel has a whopping five restaurants to choose from. VUE by Shannon Bennett showcases the contemporary French cuisine of Chef Shannon Bennett. Chef Bennett has been voted Best Chef, and his restaurant, Vue de Monde, Best Restaurant in Australia. Dine in true outdoor Omani Bedouin Village style at Seblat Al Bustan. Dine on fish, stews and meats perfectly seasoned with a combination of Indian and African spices. The Beach Pavilion restaurant bar and lounge offers lighter fare like fresh grilled fish to those enjoying the sun and surf. China Mood offers a variety of Chinese cuisine prepared by our Chinese kitchen brigade. Or dine in Al Khiran Terrace and choose from an extensive buffet of Asian, French and Italian dishes. Bon Appetit!


Trouble in Paradise: Debtors’ Prison in Dubai, Lay-offs at the Atlantis, The Palm

February 17, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Atlantis The Palm, DubaiJust when we finished waxing poetic about the acclaimed Nobu outpost at Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai, we get word that the $1.5 billion resort, constructed on Dubai's palm-tree shaped island, is laying off workers. 70 staff members were let go just five months after the celebratory opening. In fact, an eye-opening article in The New York Times recently highlighted the scary reality of en economy in free fall in what was once a fast-growing paradisical playground in the Arabian Gulf. Foreign workers riddled with debt (living in fear of debtors' prison), 3,000 cars abandoned in the Dubai Airport's parking lot, falling real estate prices... After reading this, travel guru Arthur Frommer was left wondering about Dubai as a vacation destination, and reflected on his blog about Dubai's "true colors."