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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.

Travel Trends: Voluntourism, and Give-Back Getaways with Ritz-Carlton Hotels

August 21, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand CaymanVolunteer tourism, a.k.a "voluntourism," is a growing trend in travel, and more and more travelers are jumping on the bandwagon and planning to volunteer during their vacations. Forbes Traveler sums it up nicely:

There comes a point — generally when you're on your third margarita, sunburned over 60 percent of your body and the kids are screaming in the infinity pool — when you start to wonder if there is more to the whole vacation concept than lying on a beach getting toasted. A way of showing thanks for your own good fortunes, perhaps. You want a chance to contribute more to a local economy than buying overpriced trinkets that neither you nor your friends back home really need.

Ritz-Carlton has taken notice. They've created the Give Back Getaways program- to offer guests a chance to give back to the community with half-day local community experiences, working alongside Ritz-Carlton Ladies and Gentlemen in a Community Footprints humanitarian or environmental project. All profits from the Give Back Getaways programs are donated to the partner organizations. An example is the Blue Iguana Recovery Program at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, led by naturalist Jean-Michel Cousteau, where guests assist with the breeding program to help a unique species on the brink of extinction.


Dining in Private Suites for Ramadan at the Rosewood Corniche, Jeddah

August 20, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Rosewood Corniche HotelWhen Rosewood opened their third hotel in Saudi Arabia in Jeddah on the Red Sea, we noted the 24-hour butler service and dedicated Ladies Floor created for female travelers, a first in the Kingdom. And now this ultra-luxury hotel has plans to offer private dining suites during Ramadan. Later this month, the Rosewood Corniche will launch VIP suites for breaking the fast in a lavish setting. The suites will offer private dining rooms where guests are served personalized Iftar and Sohour meals, created exclusively for the guest's Ramadan celebration. Guests are seated in the suite's own sumpthous Majlis, opulently appointed with plush cushions and beautiful Arabic lanterns. Plus, pilgrims heading to the Holy City of Mecca (just 50 minutes away) can be escorted in the hotel's collection of BMW limos.


Most Expensive Hotel Rooms: Hotel President Wilson, Geneva, and Ty Warner Penthouse at the Four Seasons New York

August 12, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel President WilsonForget "Staycations." The uber-rich continue to globe-trot on private jets and bunk down in swanky pads-- like the Royal Penthouse Suite at the Hotel President Wilson, the world's most expensive at a whopping $52,000 a night. Elite Traveler recently released their list of the "101 Top Hotel/Resort Suites of the Year" in the July/August 2008 issue. Runners-up for priciest suite include the $50,000/night Royal Villa at the Grand Resort Lagonissi in Attica, Greece, and the $21,000/night Imperial Suite at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome. In the U.S., the Ty Warner Penthouse at the Four Seasons New York has a price tag of $30,000 per night, making it the most expensive suite built in the U.S. Next up? The Chairman Suite at the Palazzo in Vegas ($20,000/night) followed by the Empire Suite at the Carlyle in New York and the Grand Suite at the Grand Wailea Resort (both at $15,000/night). For the full breakdown, click here.


The Qasr Al Sharq: True Arabian Splendor with VIP Arrival at the Jeddah Airport, Penthouse Women’s Spa, and Personal Butlers

July 14, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Qasr Al SharqWe told you this place was swanky. The Qasr Al Sharq, otherwise known as the "Palace of the Orient," was recently written up as a "boutique hotel for the billionaire."

There are 130 pounds of gold leaf applied throughout the hotel, 600-thread-count sheets with gold embroidery on all the beds, and 220 staff – including a butler for each suite.

Situated on the Red Sea in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Qasr Al Sharq hosts both business travelers and guests interested in making pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina. (The hotel can arrange religious guides to escort guests.) Managed by the Waldorf-Astoria Collection, the hotel is known for its extravagant Palace Suite which goes for $13,500 a night, and the breathtaking lobby that houses a Swarovski chandelier with 600,000 crystals hanging over the three-story circular staircase. Considering that many guests are Saudi families who come to Jeddah on royal court business, the facilities and business amenities are second-to-none: laptop computers and personal fax lines supplied to each guest.


St. Regis Hotel Planned for the Rapidly Growing City of Dubai

July 11, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

DubaiThis just in: St. Regis is planning to enter the hotel craze in Dubai with a hotel and branded residences to open in 2012. As if the Middle East's hot spot needed any more uber-luxurious hotels. To quote the official press release:

Following in the tradition of the legendary The St. Regis New York, The St. Regis Dubai will feature the famed hallmarks of St. Regis hotels including the iconic St. Regis Butler Service, bespoke guest experiences and luxury accommodations tailored to global travelers. Trained in the English tradition, the butlers provide ever-present, yet unobtrusive service while anticipating guest and resident needs and customizing each stay according to his or her specific tastes and preferences.

Overlooking Dubai Creek, The St. Regis Dubai and The Residences will feature 220 guest rooms, including 44 Junior Suites, and 80 branded residences as well as three top-notch restaurants, two bars, a fitness center, swimming pool, shops and more than 4,500 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting and banquet space.


The World’s Tallest Skyscrapers: Move Over, Sears Tower and Empire State Building

June 20, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Burj DubaiWe've been following the steady growth of the Burj Dubai as its spire gets higher and higher- its final height planned to be 1,000 feet higher than Taipei 101, the world's current record holder. But tall building construction is not limited to the Burj Dubai, the $1 billion anchor of a $20 billion development in downtown Dubai. There's the Mubarak al-Kabir tower in Kuwait, the Russia Tower in Moscow, and the Incheon Tower in South Korea. As the New York Times recently pointed out, supertalls are "rising at a frenetic pace around the globe," especially in Asia and the Middle East, reflecting the "expanding economies of these regions and their desire to compete for international status and business." The list of the 20 tallest buildings in 2020 will include only 2 properties from the U.S.: the Chicago Spire and the One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) in New York.


Raffles Dubai: Best Hotels in Glitzy Dubai

May 5, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Raffles DubaiLooking for an over-the-top getaway in the heart of Dubai? Look no further than Raffles Dubai, the stunning 19-storey pyramid that has become a landmark on the city's skyline since its debut at the end of 2007. Easily one of the hottest hotel openings of the year, Raffles Dubai has it all: an extraordinary location in Wafi City, Dubai's ultra-exclusive lifestyle complex (read: shopping like you've never experienced), blissful pampering at the RafflesAmrita Spa, the one-hectare 'Raffles Botanical Garden', depicting the four 'Elements of Life' (earth, wind, fire and water). Don't miss Khan Murjan in Wafi City, a recreation of a 14th century souk where artisans and craftsmen display stunning gold products. Luxury abounds at Raffles Dubai, but for the ultimate indulgence, book the Royal Suite, a palatial 650 square meters of sheer opulence. You'll enjoy two separate "his and her" en-suite bathrooms, a huge master bedroom with four-poster bed, an elegant dining room, featuring a separate kitchenette with a discreet access for butlers, and an entertaining room with a gentlemen's bar. The best part of all? A terrace boasting sweeping views over Dubai.


Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Pool Entrance Package, Dubai

May 2, 2008
By: Madelyn Giblin

You'll find tranquility for the whole family with Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Desert Resort Dubai's Pool Entrance Package. Located amongst the impressive sand dunes, guests can enjoy the 250 sunloungers available beside the luxury infinity pool. And don't worry about the kids! With entrance children have full access to the waterfall at the children's pool, complimentary camel rides, a falcon show and access to Sinbad's Kids Club. Parents can sit back and relax, in the sun or the shade and enjoy lunch from one of the hotel's fantastic restaurants, with all-inclusive soft drinks. In addition guests have access to the changing rooms, unlimited towels, and the variety of extra activities available at the pool, including putting green, tennis, volleyball and aqua aerobics classes. Open from 9am to 6pm, children under the age of 6 earn free admission, children 6 to 12 are AED 300, and adults 12 years or older are AED 500. (Rates subject to change on holidays.) The all day price includes: * All day access to the pool and sunloungers * Lunch of your choice from our superb restaurants, Al Forsan restaurant, Masala Indian restaurant and Pizzeria Le Dune, or a la carte service available at the pool-side. * All inclusive of soft drinks during meal time (juices and all other beverages are charged additionally) * Use of the changing rooms, showers and personal secured lockers, and unlimited towels * Cold towels and use of local newspapers and magazines * Camel, pony riding and falcon show available in the late afternoon * Use of Sinbad's Kids Club * A variety of games and fitness activities, including a 9-hole putting green, croquet, petanque, table tennis, volleyball, bicycle tours, aqua aerobics * Amenity services around the pool


Vertical Marathon on May 16th at Jumeirah Emirates Towers Dubai

April 25, 2008
By: Courtney W. May

Jumeirah Emirates TowersClimbing a simple step could change a person's life. Climbing 1,334 steps, 52 floors, 265 meters will help even more.

Put your running shoes on for the sixth Vertical Marathon at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Dubai - hosted in association with The Big Apple and take this challenge in the shortest time. In aid of Medecins Sans Frontieres (also known as Doctors without Borders) and those in need around the world, conquer the Office Tower of Jumeirah Emirates Towers on Friday, 16 May 2008.

To take part in this event - register with MSF along with your pledge of a minimum of AED 500 per person. Individuals and teams of 3 to 4 persons are welcome.

Can you reach the top?


Waldorf-Astoria Luxury Hotel Will Open in Jerusalem

April 21, 2008
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

JerusalemHot off the press. The Waldorf-Astoria Collection, whose spectacular global properties include the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix, the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa on the Isle of Maui, La Quinta Resort and Club in Southern California, New York's legendary Waldorf-Astoria and the sumptuous palace hotel Qasr Al Sharq in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, will introduce its first luxury hotel in Israel. Scheduled for the end of 2010, the historic Customs Building and Palace Hotel will be transformed into a 220-room property dubbed The Palace Jerusalem- The Waldorf-Astoria Collection. Plus, there will be 30 luxurious residences, three restaurants, a spa and fitness center, and extensive meeting and conference facilities. The location is superb, just a short distance from the Old City, at the intersection of King David, Agron and Mamilla Streets. After an estimated $100 million in renovations, the building will still retain its marvelous historic façade with decorative arches and stone carvings.

Photo Via National Geographic