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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.

Cancun is Ready

December 9, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mexican Pres. Vicente Fox is even planning a flag-waving ceremony to advertise the resort area's reopening after that nasty hurricane. But, the Washington Post queries, how ready is it? The resorts to the south, in Tulum and Playa del Carmen, are faring better than treeless Cancun, where about half the town's 27,000 available hotel rooms are open, and a lot of resorts are sadly scarred by eroded beaches.


Braving Bikini Boot Camp at Amansala in Mexico’s Yucatan

December 9, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Amansala Bikini Boot Camp

Ready, set, sweat! Head to the beach for an early AM power walk, followed by rock-climbing and then a little yoga. After an afternoon of kayaking, get pampered with a deep tissue massage. Welcome to Bikini Boot Camp, at Amansala, an eco-chic resort near the cliff-hugging Mayan ruins at Tulum, Mexico, overlooking the sparkling Caribbean and white sand beaches of the Yucatan. Boot Camp ain't so bad when it's in such a purty place. After Hurricane Wilma's recent devastation, a few Yucatan hotels are back up and running, Amansala included. Set on the beach, 14 palapas are casually elegant: decorated with mosaic-tiled bathtubs, bohemian details and beds draped with mosquito nets. The dining cabana offers delicious communal-style meals, such as fresh caught grilled fish, mangos, jicima salads and other yummy low calorie selections. One-week camp is $1842, and includes six nights accommodations, all meals, two bike excursions, kayaking, yoga and exercise classes, two massages and one Mayan clay treatment, and all entertainment.


Travel Deals to Mexico and the Caribbean

December 9, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Caribbean beach

Low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines just announced a new version of its Big 'S' Sale with prices starting at $19 each-way for domestic and Caribbean travel. Though serious restrictions apply, and the lowest fares are available for midweek winter travel, Smarter Travel investigated and still found savings of more than $300.

Fly to Mexico on American from $198 R/T. Destinations include Cozumel, Cancun, Los Cabos, Monterrey, Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City. Valid through March 31, book by December 15. This sale is hot!

Via Smarter Travel


What’s Hot: New Year’s Eve at the Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles

December 8, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Bel Air

For over fifty years, the Hotel Bel-Air has been synonymous with Beverly Hills elegance. An urban oasis with 12 acres of gardens and fountain courtyards, just minutes from Century City, Beverly Hills and Westwood, the hotel is prestigious and exquisitely luxurious, while retaining an understated glamour. After all, this is a Mobile five star award winner. 91 guestrooms and suites feature private entrances, fireplaces, French doors, and tiled courtyards with private outdoor spas. Toast 2006 at the event of the year: Hotel Bel Air's New Year's Eve Cabaret Gala Dinner. Enjoy a five-course gourmet dinner with wine pairings, imbibe plenty of champagne, and dance the night away to live music. $375 per person.

Hotel Bel-Air, Official Site

Hotel Bel-Air, Five Star Alliance


Living It Up in Mexico City: the Condesa DF Hotel

December 7, 2005
By: Guest Writer

Condesa DF

By Ellen Whitman

On a quiet and leafy corner of one of Mexico City's trendiest colonias, the Condesa DF hotel manages to satisfy the most unabashed hipsters, design aficionados, discerning foodies, and even bargain shoppers ($150/night for a basic room). Ian Schraeger-like in feel, this four story triangular hotel is geographically and emotionally focused on its central courtyard, home to its impressive Miami Beach meets Soho restaurant and bar. Whether it be a working lunch, a leisurely Sunday brunch or a last call martini, it is always a scene to be seen in. But unlike so many trendy eateries, the cuisine is just as hot as the clientele; the creative sushi and decadent desserts are of particular note. Stick to the wine list however, as the cocktails are pricey and often disappointing. The service can also be a little spotty, but everyone is so eager to please little oversights are easily forgiven. Thursday through Saturday, a subterranean nightclub continues into the wee hours as does the tropical rooftop bar. As such, Condesa DF is not a hotel for the kiddies, nor is it for those seeking a subdued retreat even if the minimalist white guest rooms do all have sumptuous bed linens, flat screen televisions and iPods. Better to enjoy all that luxury after stumbling back from the beautiful circus of Condesa DF's nighttime offerings.


Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival

December 7, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Paso Robles wine

Perfectly located halfway between LA and San Fran, the Paso Robles region is known for its zesty Zinfandel. The wine's celebratory gala is hugely popular, now running for 14 straight years. More than 80 wineries host the three-day festival, packed with events including winemakers dinners, special tastings, food pairings, seminars and live and silent auctions. When? March 17, 18, and 19 of next year, but tix just went on sale, in time for the holidays.


Christmas on the Cape at the Chatham Bars Inn

December 6, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Christmas Lobby

Space available at the inn for Christmas?! Could it be? Indeed, New England's premier oceanfront resort and historic landmark is all spruced up for the holidays, with a few rooms available for a last-minute getaway. In addition to the 205 luxurious guestrooms, there are 34 Cape-style cottages situated around the 25-acres of gardens. Heated pool, full-service spa, heaps of children's activities: this is the perfect spot for a family retreat. The halls are decked, and full of good cheer; enjoy afternoon tea, holiday music, and lots of hot chocolate and cookies by a cozy fire. Christmas day itself is marked by a stunning feast, ice carvings, wine tastings and culinary demonstrations, and pastries from an award-winning French chef.

Chatham Bars Inn, Official Site

Chatham Bars Inn, Five Star Alliance


Benjamin Franklin’s Tercentenary

December 6, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ben Franklin

2006 marks another big birthday; this time on our side of the big pond. January 17, 2006 is the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin—the first founding father to reach this milestone. In honor of this extraordinary man (what career and hobby didn't he pursue?), Philadelphia is hosting year-long celebrations. The most noteworthy is the major international traveling exhibition: Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World, which opens in Philly on December 15, and then travels around to four other museums nationwide, before its final showing in Paris in 2008.


Say Hello to the New Hotel Place d’Armes in Montreal

December 6, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Place d'Armes

Hotel Place d'Armes has recently added 39 new rooms and 48 suites, as well as a chic spa with four treatment rooms. Housed in an historic building, the boutique hotel sits in the heart of Old Montreal. The 83 rooms and 42 suites are the essence of elegance, some with jetted baths, fireplaces, home theater systems, original brick walls and city views. The new full-service Rain Spa—with private atrium and Vichy shower room—boasts Montreal's first hammam. Additionally, the hotel just opened the bar Suite 701, the newest destination for the city's trendsetters.

Hotel Place d'Armes, Official Site

Hotel Place d'Armes, Five Star Alliance


Feast at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, San Francisco

December 5, 2005
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Indulge in another hedonistic eating spree at San Francisco's world-renowned farmer's market. Forget the fruit-shopping, this is a tourist attraction in its own right. Sitting at the foot of Market Street, the views of the downtown cityscape and surrounding Bay are stupendous. Make the rounds sampling succulent fruits with exotic names: pluots, persimmons, pomelos, and also the more traditional strawberries, peaches, and apples. Extraordinary artisans have also set up shop here: Cowgirl Creamery presents delicious aged cheese, like Mt Tam and Red Hawk; Blue Bottle Coffee Co. specializes in organically-grown beans that they roast themselves in six-pound batches; Primavera offers piping hot gourmet Mexican platters. Inside the Ferry Building, more artisans are housed with permanent retail spaces. Thick Greek yogurt, specialty breads, fancy cupcakes; this is heaven on earth.