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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.

The Top 20 Hotels in 2011: #14 One and Only Maldives at Reethi Rah

December 18, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

In the final days of 2011, Five Star Alliance is counting down the Top 20 Luxury Hotels & Resorts One & Only Maldives at Reethi RahWorldwide, as decided by our guests.

In the #14 spot we have the One and Only Maldives at Reethi Rah, the perfect tropical beach resort. 

Quick facts about the One and Only Maldives:

- An all-villa property, the personalized experience offered in the 130 villas rivals any other in the world.  Exclusive privacy is at a premium in a world where your blackberry is always on, but the One and Only Maldives transports you to another world where it's just you and the sand between your toes.

- Their KidsOnly program is free for children ages 2-11, offering age-appropriate activities for the younger world traveler.  On top of that, babysitting is available for children under two 24 hours a day.

- The One and Only Spa offers ice fountains to vitalize your body by contrasting with the warmth of the tropical waters as well as their crystal steam rooms.  

One & Only Maldives at Reethi Rah- The resort offers guided snorkeling excursions, deep-sea fishing, parasailing, and Jet Skis.  See the sea in an entirely new way.

- All guests arrive on property after a 75 minute journey from Male International Airport aboard a 55-foot luxury yacht.

- Three restaurants and a bar on-site with diverse offerings:  Reethi Restaurant, Tapasake, Fanditha, and Rah Bar.

- View the floor plans for the Beach Villas (135 m2 including verandah), Water Villas (149 m2 including verandah), and Grand Beach Villa with 1 bedroom and pool (260 m2 including veranda and pool area).

View photos, learn more about the hotel, and check availability at the One and Only Maldives at Reethi Rah >>

Be sure to keep up with our countdown! In case you missed it, here are our previously featured hotels:

#20 – The St. Regis Resort Aspen

#19 – The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore

#18 – The Peninsula Chicago

#17 - The Tower Club at Lebua

#16 - Auberge du Soleil

#15 - The Mount Nelson Hotel


The Cake is Not a Lie: Queen Cake at Hotel Le Meurice

December 14, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

It's cake time! The Hotel Le Meurice in Paris is offering a special cake to bring in 2012 with style.  The Galette des Reines, as the cake is called, is a rich and decadent chocolate cake with a special surprise in it.  Evoking the spirit of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, one of the slices hides a Tiffany & Co charm in the shape of a golden key.  The charm is further incentive to savor ever bite of your dessert, which comes in it an exclusive 14 euros a slice.  Only ten cakes will be made over a 20-day period, so it's worth jumping on this one early, since they could easily run out.  In our mind, it's certainly worth it after a meal by three-star Michelin Chef Yannick Alleno.

And staying in the hotel itself, opposite the Teuleries garden, is an experience in itself.  With a storied history back to 1835, the hotel has been called home by a number of greats, including Salvador Dali, whom the new restaurant, Le Dali, is named for.  If you're looking to stay in Paris this January, the Le Meurice is certainly one to look at, with its signature Queen's Cake and chance at a Tiffany Charm.  

Tip via HotelChatter


Nothing Cheap About It: Cheap Sally's Top Amazing Hotel and Spa Destinations

December 12, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

It's not every day that an infographic so awesome comes around.  Over at Cheap Sally, an online discount site, their travel experts have aggregated a list of some of the wildest hotel and vacation sites in the US, and it features some of our favorite US properties.  For the whole list, check out the infographic below, but I'd like to highlight some of our favorites.

Long at the top of our list of the Best Luxury All-Inclusive Resorts in the world, The Point at Saranac Lake, NY, is so exclusive, you aren't told where exactly on the pristine Adirondack lake it is until you've confirmed your reservation.  Complete with a 3-star Michelin chef and only 11 rooms on the property, you are guaranteed to experience a personalized, secluded stay in one of the world's most elite properties.

In terms of crazy spa treatments, it's hard to top the over 250-gallon Evian bath only available in the penthouse suite of the Hotel Victor on Miami Beach.  This spa treatment costs only slightly less than the suite itself and features a bath of pure Evian water sprinkled with rose petals.

But if you're like me and you like your baths with a little more kick to them, then the Kenwood Inn and Spa vinotherapy treatment is just what you're looking for:  Bathe in wine and grape seed extract to soak your skin in the antioxidant polyphenol which powerfully slows the aging of skin.  You'll come out looking and feeling younger than even a couple glasses of the same wine would make you feel.

There's a just a few of the wonderful and crazy hotels and spas located around the US, and you can some more great examples below.  Make sure to check out Five Star Alliance to book these great destinations or if you're looking for a deal or digital coupon for any of over 11,000 retailers, Cheap Sally is your girl.  

Click for full image.

 

Infographic courtesy of Cheap Sally


Wannabe There: The St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel

December 6, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

It can be somewhat of a rarity in the hotel world to find a hotel that focuses as much on defining an architectural niche for itself as it does the comfort of its patrons. The St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel has certainly managed to do both in striking style, its stark, striking gothic exterior evoking the romanticism of early rail travel. Saved from demolition by a series of protests in the 60s by a Poet Laureate, the architectural wonder of the station has transformed from travel to hospitality, abandoning its railway roots in favor of a fresh redesign that takes advantage of its spacious interior. The red-brick exterior seems to be stretching skyward, following the sharp lines of its gothic spires.

Ever at the forefront of affluent equality, the St. Pancras offered the first Ladies Smoking Room in all of Europe and ushering a formerly sequestered activity into the public eye. And if you’re a stargazer (and I don’t mean those in the sky), it’s worth a trip for its staircase alone which has been featured in films and videos as widely known as the Spice Girls debut single, “Wannabe.”

So next time you’re passing by London, make sure to check out the St. Pancras. Whether you’re a railway enthusiast or a movie buff, or just a weary traveler looking for some extra-fluffed pillows to melt into, you’re going to love the St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel.


Cities You Should See: Munich is More than Beer, But It’s That, Too

December 1, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

I’m not sure there’s a city in the world that gets stereotyped more than Munich. While it’s certainly iconic for the fine German beer that flows freely from its taps, Munich is so much more than gardens of alcohol. Long the seat of Bavarian culture, Munich is the center of German tradition. For a lot of us that means fine beer and maidens donning dirndls, the traditional Bavarian dress you’ve seen in every German tourist brochure since Gutenberg invented the printing press. But as much as Munich has been reduced to stereotype of itself by the outside world, once you get beyond that, there’s a real heart to it. The medieval town is remarkably preserved, down to the clockwork performance of the city hall’s belltower. The English garden the accompanies is the royal residence is glorious to walk around in and even boasts its own outdoor Biergarten around a Chinese tower built in the center of it.

Of course, as much as I’d like to get beyond the stereotypes of the beer maidens handing out liters like it’s nobody’s business, I would be remiss if I didn’t go into just how the beer culture pervades this uniquely German city. Munich has embraced its stereotype, and beer houses like the iconic Hofbrauhaus offer everything that you could want out of a kitschy but simultaneously authentic drinking experience. The waitresses can carry at least eight liters of alcohol at one time, and you would be hard-pressed to find a vegetable on the menu that’s not a potato. In many ways, Munich is the distilled essence of all that is traditional about Germany.

The city itself is not large and almost any hotel will give you great access to all that it has to offer. Most of the big brands have left their mark on the city and some great independent hotels like the Bayerischer Hof join them in offering luxurious beds to sleep off your hangover. Munich is a city that revels in its wholehearted kitschiness, and there’s a certain honesty to that that draws you in the ritual of the city.


A Special Place to Stay: Hoshi Ryokan is the World’s Oldest Hotel

November 1, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

There's a certain stature that comes with age. So when I learned that the oldest hotel in the world is approaching its 1300 birthday, I knew it was worth looking into.  Not only is the Hoshi Ryokan in Japan the oldest hotel and spa, it is also the world’s longest continuously operating business. Spanning 46 generations of family ownership and 1291 years of operation, this hotel and spa has been since nearly the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

Anything this historic has to have an origin story, and the Hoshi Ryokan does not disappoint (some details embellished): In the year of 718, when the world was young, a great Buddhist monk, Taicho Daishi, set out on a journey of enlightenment. His travels took him to the top of sacred Mt. Hakusan, an ancient peak that bears the spirit of the god of the mountain. The deity came to him in a dream and offered up his secret: Only a few kilometers away, the village of Awazu houses a subterranean hot spring blessed by The Physician of Souls himself. Yakushi Nyorai, also known as the Nyorai of Emerald Radiance, is the Buddha who offers the gifts of physical and mental wellness to those in need. Daishi returned from the mountainside with his secret and unearthed the wellspring, where the sickened villages of Awazu bathed in its healing waters and were cured. Ever since, his disciple Hoshi’s family has run a spa at that very location, where people from around the world come to bathe in the holy waters.

I invite you to step a little bit outside of your comfort zone and experience the traditional lodgings of the world’s oldest hotel and spa.

Photo and Source: World's Biggest.


Mandarin Oriental Redesigns, Relaunches YouTube Channel; Still No Cat Videos

October 20, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

This will be a quick one because I like to let the talking pictures speak for themselves. Mandarin Oriental has relaunched its YouTube channel, and it’s gotten a full makeover and is chock full of pretty pictures and promotional interviews, like a piñata filled with the dreams of an overworked marketing executive. Go check out their new content here.


Best of the Best: Solis Lough Eske Castle is the Best Luxury Countryside Hotel in 2011

September 28, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

We understand that no one aims to come in second place; there is no recognition for mediocrity. We at Five Star Alliance understand better than anyone the importance of offering the most luxurious resorts in the world, so we notice what’s going on in the industry, and it matters to us, because it matters to you. We'd like to welcome you to our new blog series, Best of the Best, where we’ll be featuring the best and most luxurious resorts in various categories. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business by the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Awards, so you can relax and stop worrying about your upcoming trip, knowing that it truly will be the best of the best.

Today’s featured locale is the Solis Lough Eske, recipient of the Best Luxury Countryside Hotel award in 2011, or should we say "best castle"? Located just outside of Donegal Town, Ireland, the Solis Lough Eske Castle is on the water’s edge of Lough Eske and surrounded by the incredible Blue Stack Mountains. Like escaping into a fairytale, the Solis Lough Eske Castle has its spa facility located in the castle garden, providing you with every opportunity to relax and take in the natural beauty of Ireland. Looking for a thrill? The Solis Lough Eske Castle offers some of the best hiking, mountain biking, and surfing in all of Ireland. Whether you’re looking for some peace and quiet or an adventure, the Solis Lough Eske Castle is the perfect and best destination for an escape into the magnificent countryside of Ireland.


World Luxury Hotel Awards Declare Best Luxury Hotels of 2011

September 28, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

The 2011 World Luxury Hotel Awards have announced their Global Winners across a variety of categories, and we’re confident that each of these hotels represents the finest in luxury accommodations. We'll be spotlighting many of these individually in the coming weeks and offering our critical commentary, but for now, take a look at the winners such as the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, winning Best Luxury Hotel overall, and the Sandals Royal Plantation, the Best Luxury Island Resort.

Click here to check out the full list of best hotels, listed alphabetically by location so you can find the names of the top hotels in your vacation spot of choice, and search here if you're interested in booking any of the top hotels of 2011.


Blue for the Sky, Yellow for the Grain, Visit Ukraine!

September 27, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

Ukraine (or Ykraina, as it is pronounced in the majority of the world), is a country that has some of the most incredible, lush hills rolling throughout its countryside and beautiful cobblestone roads throughout its cities. Granted, being Ukrainian myself, I’ll admit that I’m slightly biased, but I guarantee you’ll be awestruck by all Ukraine has to offer. Still don’t believe me? I challenge you to visit the Breadbasket of Europe and see for yourself!

Kiev, Ukraine’s capital offers everything and anything from fascinating museums, theaters, and ancient ruins, to contemporary buildings and breathtaking cathedrals. A wonderful hotel to consider for your stay in Ukraine is the Hyatt Regency Kiev. This luxurious hotel is located in the heart of the capital and is surrounded by the culture and history of Kiev’s Old Town. Consider exploring Saint Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery and one of Kiev’s most recognized landmarks, Saint-Sophia’s Cathedral. Both attractions are walking distance from the Hyatt Regency Kiev. After a day of exploring the most beautiful monasteries and cathedrals in the world, consider perusing the diverse boutiques and shops on Kreshchatyk Street, where you’ll find gifts and articles of clothing unique to Ukraine. Hoping to bring your kid(s) on your travels? The Hyatt Regency Kiev offers a phenomenal brunch on Sundays, complete with a children’s playground, paint lessons, magicians, clowns, puzzles, and toys. Speaking of food, be sure to order pierogies (cheese and potato dumplings), and olivye (salad) during your visit, two of Ukraine’s typical dishes that will complete your stay in the best country in the world!