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.

Buzz: ATM-Style Gold Vending Machine at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Emirates Palace, Abu DhabiNews of an over-the-top amenity at Emirates Palace is making the Internet rounds. Abu Dhabi's "seven-star" hotel is now home to an "ATM with a golden touch." The brain child of Thomas Geissler, a German entrepreneur, the vending machine is called "Gold to Go" and dispenses customized coins or small bars up to 10 grams. The AP reports that the machine's unveiling was well-timed because gold hit a record high on Wednesday: "Geissler says he picked Abu Dhabi because of its high-rolling atmosphere and the region's traditional ties to gold in commerce." And the Emirates Palace, we'd like to add, has a reputation as one of the world's costliest hotels, built for $3 billion (or $10 million a room). Oh, and their spa has a "Diamond Experience" treatment that uses real diamond dust...

The World’s Hottest New Hotels: Travel + Leisure’s New “It List 2010″

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

BardessonoIt's our favorite time of year. Travel + Leisure has released their "It List 2010" of the 45 best new hotels in the world. The mag's esteemed editors have hand-picked the year's most exciting hotel debuts, to be revealed in the June issue which hits newsstands this month. What's especially cool to see: ten of the properties have room rates of less than $300 per night. Can't wait til May 21st to see the list? We've got the skinny:


Andaz Wall Street+ Bardessono, Yountville, California

+ St. Regis Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii

+ Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Montana

+ Andaz Wall Street, New York, New York*

+ Crosby Street Hotel, New York, New York

+ Amangiri, Canyon Point, Utah

+ Waldorf Astoria, Park City, Utah


+ Viceroy Anguilla, Barnes Bay, Anguilla

+ Gansevoort, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

+ W Santiago, Santiago, Chile*

+ Tcherassi Hotel & Spa, Cartagena, Colombia

+ Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués, Acapulco, Mexico

+ Hotel Boca Chica, Acapulco, Mexico*

+ Las Alcobas, Mexico City, Mexico


+ Lime Wood, Hampshire, England*

+ Dean Street Townhouse, London, England*

+ InterContinental Paris Avenue Marceau, Paris, France

+ La Réserve Ramatuelle, Ramatuelle, France

+ Heidelberg Suites, Heidelberg, Germany

+ Il Salviatino, Fiesole, Italy

+ Maison Moschino, Milan, Italy

+ Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sciacca, Italy

+ Palazzina Grassi, Venice, Italy

+ Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona, Spain

+ Hotel Consolaciόn, Teruel, Spain*

+ Argos in Cappadocia, Uchisar, Turkey*


+ Amanfayun, Hangzhou, China

+ Upper House, Hong Kong, China

+ Peninsula Shanghai, Shanghai, China*

+ PuLi Hotel & Spa, Shanghai, China

+ Serai Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer, India

+ Raas, Jodhpur, India*

+ Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia

+ Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa, Boracay, Philippines

+ Capella Singapore, Sentosa Island, Singapore

+ Langham Place Samui at Lamai Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand*

+ Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Krabi, Thailand


+ Mamilla Hotel, Jerusalem, Israel

+ Evason Ma’In Hot Springs & Six Senses Spa, Ma’in, Jordan

+ Le Gray, Beirut, Lebanon

+ Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, Mahé, Seychelles

+ One&Only Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

+ Taj Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

+ Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

+ Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Lithgow, Australia

*Property has starting room rates of $300/night, double, or less.

Luxury Hotel News: Jumeirah Launches New Brand Called VENU Hotels

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Burj Al Arab, DubaiThis week's buzz: A new "contemporary lifestyle" hotel brand from Dubai-based Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts. Currently Jumeirah's portfolio is comprised of 11 high-profile hotels including the Burj Al Arab (the sail-shaped seven-star property in Dubai) and the Jumeirah Essex House (New York's historic landmark that recently completed a $90 million renovation). To be launched later this year, VENU hotels will be "five-star hotels with strong local roots, designed for those who seek a sophisticated immersion in the destination." The new brand is an effort at diversification for Jumeirah, following in the footsteps of other hospitality companies like Starwood and Hyatt. Jumeirah expects to have 30 hotels worldwide by 2013.

Armani Hotel Opens in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa; New Hotel Planned for Milan

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Armani Hotel DubaiAt long last, the Armani Hotel has opened in Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. After years of hype and anticipation, the designer's first hotel is welcoming guests to floors 0-8 (along with 38 & 39) of the soaring, 2,717 foot building. (The Burj Al Khalifa is also home to the world's highest mosque and swimming pool.) To quote the Telegraph UK: "Not content with letting his many collections be a feast for the eyes, the Italian fashion maestro seems determined his hotel should be a feast in every sense of the word. The Armani Hotel Dubai boasts not one, not two, not even three or four - but EIGHT restauarants, ranging from Italian (certo!) and Indian to Japanese and Mediterranean." And Armani himself designed these restos.

The Huffington Post quotes Armani at this week's opening: "Yesterday when I arrived and saw the hotel, I felt really emotional. After five years of working on this project, I finally saw how it all came to life. Working with me is not always easy, I think everyone here would agree because my standards are very high." The hotel features 160 guest rooms, a spa, the Armani Prive nightclub with $800 table reservations, and various shops (including an Armani boutique, Armani Dolci (sweets) and Armani Fiori (flowers). Price tag? Suites cost as much as 40,000 dirhams ($11,000) a night. Next up for Armani? A second hotel in Milan- to be built with partner Emaar Properties PJSC.

Photo Via HotelChatter

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Service Fit for a Sheikh and the Best Private Beach in the UAE at Kempinski Hotel Ajman

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Kempinski Hotel AjmanSavvy travelers familiar with Dubai-- a city of superlatives and over-the-top excess-- are checking out Ajman, the smallest of the UAE's seven emirates, known as the Sheikdom of Eastern Arabia. Not far from Dubai, Ajman entices visitors with its white sandy beaches on the Arabian Gulf, seaside Corniche packed with cafes, and exhilarating desert safaris. Ajman also has some of the finest Arabian horses in the world. The place to stay is the Kempinski Hotel Ajman because of its attentive service-- fit for a Sheikh. In fact, the resort dares guests to find something they can't do. "Ride a camel or hot-air ballooning over the Arabian Desert? Maybe you want to explore the excitement of the colors of the underwater world? It's as simple as calling our concierge, master of detail." Within the realm of possibility: private beach dinners, luxury yacht charters, luxury sports car rentals, and more. No detail is too small.

Kempinski Hotel AjmanWith tennis, a putting green, and numerous water sports, the Kempinski Ajman offers every imaginable resort facility. What's more-- the stretch of fine white sand is touted as the best private beach in the United Arab Emirates. Itching to go on a shopping spree? Courtesy shuttle buses leave from the hotel four times every day so guests can go shopping for designer clothes or exotic spices in the souks.

A New St. Regis Hotel for Abu Dhabi

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Nation Towers, Abu DhabiHot off the press. A new St. Regis is coming to town! Abu Dhabi will welcome its second St. Regis Hotel to the waterfront, directly on the Corniche, within a short drive to the recently opened F1 circuit, Ferrari museum, and planned Louvre and Guggenheim museums. Offering endless views of the azure Gulf, The St. Regis Abu Dhabi will be located on the top of one of the two Nation Towers-- a prominent new mixed-use development situated downtown. What's in store? 281 guest rooms attended to by the St. Regis private butler squad (your wish is their command), signature restaurants and a destination bar (including the sky bridge restaurant), a massive healh club and outdoor pool, and an adjacent beach club also operated by Starwood. This new luxury property will join another St. Regis in the works in Abu Dhabi, located on Saadiyat Island.

Shangri-La Hotels Moves to Turkey: A New 7-Star Hotel for Istanbul?

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La Hotel in IstanbulWe're hearing reports that Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts is entering the fray in Istanbul. And they're not doing so quietly. Word on the street is that Shangri-La-- the Hong-Kong based group known for its 66 lavish properties in Asia Pacific, North America and the Middle East-- will be building a 7-star hotel on the banks of the Bosphorus. Due to open in 2012, the 200-room, $250 million hotel will be located in the Beşiktaş district on the site of an old tobacco factory. If all goes according to plan, this luxury hotel will be joining an elite group of the globe's "seven-star" hotels: the Town House Galleria in Milan, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, and the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.

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The World’s Hottest Hotels: Where to Stay Now

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

AmangiriConde Nast Traveler has released their annual Hot List 2010 "of the newest and most innovative hotels worldwide" and a quick browse is guaranteed to inspire wanderlust. Best of all: 42 hotels that made the cut have rooms costing under $250 a night. We were pleased to see a few of our faves make the list. In North America, for example: the Capella Pedregal, Crosby Street Hotel, The Allison, St. Regis Mexico City, Amangiri, The Jefferson, The Betsy, The Elysian, W South Beach, and Viceroy Snowmass...

20% Off Best Available Rate at the Raffles Dubai

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Raffles DubaiHeading to Dubai? When you book the Raffles Dubai 14 days in advance, you get 20% off the "Best Available Rate." Since it opened at the end of 2007, the glitzy pyramid-shaped hotel has become a landmark on the city skyline. Inspired by the great pyramids of Egypt, the opulent hotel has it all: 11 restaurants and bars, the divine RafflesAmrita Spa, and the one-hectare "Raffles Botanical Garden," depicting the four "Elements of Life" (earth, wind, fire and water).

Destination Jordan: Insider Tips for the Lost City of Petra

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Lost City of Petra, JordanEver dreamed of playing Indiana Jones and galloping off to the rose-red city of Petra? Is a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site on your bucket list? A year-round destination and a safe haven in the Middle East, Jordan offers a diversity of landscapes and historic sites, including the archeological wonders of Petra. When making your vacation plans, don't limit yourself to a few days exploring the "Lost City." What else should be on your Jordan agenda? A float in the Dead Sea (nominated as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World) combined with spa pampering at Movenpick's sprawling Zara Spa, camping with bedouins under the stars in the Wadi Rum desert, snorkeling in the Red Sea, and exploring religious sites like Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where Jesus was baptized, and Mount Nebo, where Moses looked out over the Promised Land.

Petra By NightBut Petra is certainly the crown jewel in the country's archeological riches. Carved from sandstone canyons hidden deep within the mountains, Petra was "lost" to the western world for centuries. Mysterious and inspiring, this ancient city was built by the Nabateans in the 4th century BC, and flourished from profits made by controlling the region's caravan routes. Archeologically, the incredible ruins show the architectural influences of Assyria, Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Some tips:

--Many visitors falsely assume that Petra's highlight is the Treasury (pictured), the setting for Indiana Jones' discovery of the Holy Grail in the film. Not so. Petra sprawls over miles and miles of trails to follow through the sites. Don't miss a hike up to the Monastery. After climbing up hundreds of stone steps carved into the mountainside, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views across to Israel.

--Plan your trip to include "Petra by Night", an experience offered by the tourism office which leads visitors along a candle-lit path to the Treasury, lit by hundreds of flickering candles. You'll be served hot tea while listening to bedouin music.

--New maps are available at the visitor center, as are interpretative signs marking sites along the trails.

--Not far from Petra, enjoy another less touristed site called "Little Petra."