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.

Why Rocks

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

You’ve got last minute airfare specials, from your specified city of origin, delivered straight to your inbox. What could be better than this? Instead of hunting around on the internet looking for weekend deals, someone else does the work for you! Furthermore, highlights the internet’s overall best travel deals. With this week’s editor’s pick, you can hop down to the recently featured Sivory Punta Canta Hotel for a song. Dominican Republic winter sale fares on Spirit from $98 R/T. Check it out!

HotelChatter Reviews Zagat’s 2006 Hotel Guide

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

HotelChatter is hilarious. (A guaranteed crack-up if you check this out.) Their latest critique of Zagat’s 2006 Hotel Guide (as also reported by Gadling) is genuinely side-splittingly entertaining. The Zagat lingo sure can grate. And HotelChatter sure gets it right in “Zagat’s 2006 Hotel Guide Gets It Wrong.”

A Feast for Foodies: The New Gourmet Restaurant Scene in New Delhi

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

This week’s International Herald Tribune applauded the new restaurant revolution in New Delhi. In a city where the restaurants traditionally failed to do justice to the national cuisine, restaurant culture has been revived. Say hello to Veda, the uber-glamorous nouvelle cuisine curry house, where the sophisticated Indian food is only matched by the fashionable ambience. (After all, the place was created by one of India’s top designers—Rohit Bal.)

Frommer’s Holiday Calendar of the Best Days to Fly

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

When the flights to St. Barts are overcrowded (and overpriced) during the winter holidays, the whole of Manhattan seemingly transferred to the waiting lounge, we’ll all wish we heeded this helpful advice from the sages over at Frommer’s.

Gadgets on the Go: Roadie Amplifiers from Traveler Guitar

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

For those fools crazy enough to travel (recreationally) with their guitars: Outside Magazine (Oct. issue) recently reported about the Fliptone V.25, a new nine-pound, laptop-size amplifier from Traveler Guitar. Battery-powered speakers, 25 watts for six hours, inputs for two guitars or your iPod. $699.

New Over-the-Top Perks at Luxury Hotels

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Jumping on the blog bandwagon, I’d like to highlight the interesting NYT piece about the ultra-lux perks recently employed by luxury hotels, in order to distinguish themselves and entice repeat customers. Notable extravagant examples include the Four Seasons Manhattan (where a $400,000 Maybach 62 and a $325,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom are parked out front for clients’ use), the Conrad Istanbul (which provides CD players and discs for guests to learn useful Turkish phrases) and the Loews Annapolis Hotel (where guest can “borrow” the hotel’s Labrador retriever, Luke.) Experienced any hotel perk that can top this list?!

Announcing Eos and Maxjet Airlines: New Luxury Airlines for the Business Traveler

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Eos Airlines

The Economist recently announced that two new niche carriers have started flying the London-New York route. We’ve watched the low-cost model (thank you, Southwest!) catch on in Europe and Asia, but these two new transatlantic airlines are uniquely (and notably) devoted to luxury business class. Eos has enhanced planes originally built to carry 250 passengers. Now catering to only 48 business travelers, the Eos planes provide an experience more closely akin to corporate jets than business class cabins. Flights commenced October 18, leaving London in the AM, with return fares of $6,500. The other new kid on the block is Maxjet, targeting a different part of the business market: the more budget conscious business travelers. Maxjet planes carry half their original capacity, so 102 passengers enjoy double the space per seat. Return fares are the same as full economy fares, at $1,600. (Both airlines fly from London’s Stansted to New York JFK.)

WiFi Added to Atlanta International Airport

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Need I say more? Traveling through the world’s busiest passenger airport just got a little easier, with the introduction of wireless internet access throughout.

Travel to San Salvador (El Salvador, NOT Brazil)

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

San Salvador Historical Center

Let’s say you’re stuck on business in San Salvador—one of those alarmingly large, sprawling, polluted Central American capitals. Whatever to do?! And where on earth to eat? (Besides the prolific Burger King and stinking Pollo Campero?) First stop, the English language bookstore, Bookmarks, to wile away those hours with a quality paperback. (Centro Comercial Basilea, Col San Benito) Next door, in the trendy Zona Rosa neighborhood, is fantastic al fresco dining, the white tablecloths overlooking fountains and plenty of pretty people. Zona Rosa is hopping on weekends, with lots of bars and trendy clubs. If your stomach turns at street food (though the local pupusas—cornmeal patties stuffed with rice and beans—are excellent), you can also try La Ventana (Calle San Antonio Abad at Av San Jose, near Boulevard de los Heroes), which serves German and European fare along with Salvadoran tipica, in a convivial atmosphere. To sleep? The Real Intercontinental will suffice (It’ll have to—it’s the best in town.) Is there anything redeeming about this city? Anyone, anyone?

Defining Luxury: Articulating the Intangible

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Luxury Hotel So you're given the altogether grueling, Herculean task of evaluating the world's best hotels. Fragile orchids float through lobbies, delicacies tease the tongue at Michelin-anointed restaurants, infinity pools evaporate into the blue horizon, spas dazzle both body and spirit. Webster defines luxury as "something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary." How to possibly measure the immeasurable? Ultimately, luxury is an experience of the senses. Hotel guests are immersed in the radiant colors of furnishings, the perfect aesthetics of architectural design, the softness of fabrics, the sensations of comfort and warmth, the fragrances that infuse the air. But beyond this, the true luxury hotels are distinguished by their service, and their uncanny eye for detail. There are many places that boast sumptuous surroundings, but true luxury hotels cater to your every (perhaps childish) whim and desire: particular desires and even some you haven't even thought of yet. And they fulfill those requests with savvy and graceful style. But beyond this, how can one assess this luxury experience? Five Star Alliance travel agency has established a concrete framework by which they examine new hotel properties to add to their comprehensive, handpicked directory. Hotels are assessed by the following tangible criteria: 1. The industry awards (a.k.a. let the other guys work for you). Conde Nast Traveler's Gold List, Travel and Leisure's Top 500, Mobil 5 star, AAA 5 diamonds. 2. Hotels that are part of renowned brands, like Ritz-Carlton, Rocco Forte, Four Seasons, Shangri-La, Fairmont, Mandarin-Oriental, Oberoi, Peninsula, Relais and Chateau. 3. Other categories or brands: Small Luxury Hotels, Luxury Collection, Leading Hotels of the World, American Express Guide, Robb Report, Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report. 4. Significant references: in the press, word-of-mouth, and personal experience. 5. Facts and figures. Sometimes the rates say it all. If a hotel charges less than $150 per night, one can safely assume that it is not of a certain caliber. These criteria provide the matrix, but not the automatic or guaranteed endorsement. For example, Leading Hotels of the World boasts a collection of many superior properties, but a hotel's affiliation with LHW does not signify obligatory inclusion on the Five Star site. So, readers, help us define, like Webster, the meaning of "luxury"; let us know about luxury properties you recommend. Even the sharp eyes of Five Star Alliance editors may have missed something! In the future, Five Star Alliance hopes to provide a feedback tool directly on the website, where travelers can share their own perceptions about a luxury property. For luxury, like beauty, must ultimately be in the eye of the beholder.