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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.

Go Green at the New Gaia Hotel and Reserve, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

April 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gaia Hotel

As featured in the April 2006 Travel and Leisure, Gaia Hotel and Reserve, located near Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park, is Costa Rica's newest luxury hotel. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels, this tropical boutique property is situated among the lush coastal rainforests of the Pacific coast. The terraced suites and villas overlook these incredible natural surroundings, a pristine nature reserve packed with exotic wildlife and chattering white-faced monkeys. This is a luxurious retreat, appointed with modern amenities, spa, gym, pool, and private butler service to attend to guests' every need. Gaia presents eco-tourism at its best, a project designed for the preservation of the natural reserve and protection of local flora and fauna for future generations. For a limited time, the resort is offering the "Soft Open Special" during the construction of their new Clubhouse, which will house the spa, gym, conference room, business center and game room. Take advantage of rates up to 20 percent off, starting at $240 per night (studio for two people), minimum three night stay, valid until April 30.


The World’s Gambling Capital Shifts East: the Mad Macau Makeover

April 6, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Sands Macau

That's right. The tiny, former Portuguese colony in China surpassed Las Vegas as the world's biggest gambling city, its casinos raking in $6.8 billion last year. According to the Telegraph:

Hollywood has led me to believe that the really high rollers jet into the casinos of the Bellagio or the Venetian in Las Vegas. But I was wrong. In terms of sheer spending power nowhere comes close to this former Portuguese colony, which now services the immense desire of the growing monied classes of China to gamble. Here, the average take per table per day is $18,000. In the VIP rooms that flank the main hall, $50,000 bets regularly change hands-- and it is on these private tables that nearly three quarters of Macau's gambling revenue is made, compared with just 25 per cent in Las Vegas. The slot machines in Macau largely stand empty, yet in Vegas they make three quarters of the profits.

And Las Vegas-style luxury hotels are on the rise: the $240 million Sands opened in 2004; the Wynn Macau is scheduled for this year, along with the $800 million sister hotel to Las Vegas's Venetian. Apparently, Macau is due for its own $1 billion MGM-Mirage, complete with underwater casino, and luxury hoteliers like Four Seasons, Hilton, InterContinental, Starwood, Park Hyatt and Shangri-La are staking out their territory.

Related Articles:

The Informed Traveler, "What's Up With Macau?"


Bliss Spa Opens New Location at the W Los Angeles-Westwood

April 5, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bliss Spa the W Los Angeles

The clever folks at Bliss add lots of whimsy and wit to their product line and divine treatments at their Spas dotted across North America and Britain. Take the hangover herbie-- designed to be the "perfect pick for post-reveling recuperation"-- with its purifying essential oil and wrap-up, revitalizing mask, foot massage, anti-migraine massage, skin-saving oxygen spray and Pure Inventions Green Tea Concentrates. I mean, how cool is that? I'd venture to say cutting-edge cool. And the gimmicky stuff-- movie-while-you-manicure nail stations, rhythm and blues tunes and the trademark brownie buffet-- is as fun and innovative as their unique spa language (blissage, def: "a massage performed at Bliss.")

Their newest spa debut: a 7,000 sq ft facility in the W Westwood. Ten treatment rooms, luxurious men's and women's lounges, and an in-spa store. Not to mention the nifty treatments, including the famous Triple Oxygen Treatment (a facial that includes cleansing, exfoliating, a fruit acid peel, oxygen wrap, a calming oxygen and milk mask, and hydrating enzymatic wrap), the double choc pedicure, the firm fiancee, and the whopper of them all: the premarital pore-fection (a series of six monthly Triple Oxygen Treatments). You've got to check these guys out. The spa menu isn't exactly a chore to read.

W Los Angeles-Westwood, Official Site

W Los Angeles-Westwood, Five Star Alliance


Ft. Lauderdale Folly? The New Intracoastal Waterway and Grande Hotel and Yacht Club

April 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ft Lauderdale Grande

Change is afoot in Ft. Lauderdale, where the Intracoastal Waterway will be transformed with a new megayacht marina and five-star hotel. Just when we thought southern Florida couldn't get any more developed (satiric novelist Carl Hiassan is no doubt rolling his eyes at this one), the $100 million project will double the docks in size, adding three-phase power, WiFi and broadband, water, and pump-out stations. The adjacent hotel--the old Marina Marriott-- will get a $50 million infusion to debut as the Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel and Yacht Club. LXR Luxury Resorts aims to create the country's leading marina resort, stocked with 579 guest rooms, 33 yacht slips (for boats up to 300 feet), and 20,000 sq ft of meeting space. Spring specials are as low as $109 a night.


Travel Trends: “Grandtravel” to Europe and on Luxury Cruises

April 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ashford Castle

These days, more and more grandparents are traveling with grandchildren. The statistics indicate that Grand-pere and Mamie have more discretionary income and the free time to spend it in, thus one in every five trips taken with children is with Gramps. Where are these families going? Family cruises of the Galapagos with Ocean Adventures, operator of the luxurious small ship The Eclipse, and luxurious European castles such as the Crillon in Paris, Ashford Castle in Ireland, and Beau Rivage Palace in Switzerland-- all offering plenty of fun activities for kids, and specialized amenities like children's bathrobes and delightful kid's menus.

Via Cullen International


Loews Hotels Assumes Management of The Madison Hotel in Washington

April 4, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Madison Vintage Photo

One of our favorite DC establishments-- the landmark hotel The Madison-- has been acquired by Loews Hotels, and we're excitedly awaiting the refurbishment of the brand new Madison, A Loews Hotel. The Madison has long radiated classic, refined elegance-- its Georgian, Federal and American Empire furnishings and superb service symbols of a bygone era. After all, this is the hotel that has hosted every President since John F. Kennedy, as well as international heads of state and business leaders. And it's got a killer location. The Madison will no doubt be made even more lavish with Loews trademark touches. Plans are in the works for new flat screen TVs, luxurious terry products, and signature suites.

The Madison, A Loews Hotel, Official Site

The Madison, A Loews Hotel, Five Star Alliance


Following the Da Vinci Code in France

April 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Da Vinci Code

It's official. The Da Vinci Code fever has swept across the Atlantic, infecting citizens on both sides of the pond. Translations, with that distinctive paperback cover, peek from purses and under raincoat-covered arms, in the French capital. And the commercialism has inevitably followed (not at all isolated to American borders); even French coffee bags are stamped with promotional contests with free tix to the May 19 movie opening. Day-um. I've written before about the Da Vinci Code Package at the Hotel Meurice, and now--with the official countdown begun before Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou sweep the silver screen--Da Vinci Code tours are taking off. Now's your chance to become a maniacal sleuth on your summer holiday in France, exploring the churches, Parisian sidewalks, and chateaus so scintillatingly depicted in Dan Brown's mammoth bestseller. Forget the Mona Lisa; the new Da Vinci Code themed tours at the Louvre will have you experiencing the world's richest cultural heritage in a whole new way. Below-- some travel planning resources:

Fodor's Travel Wire, "The Da Vinci Code: Scenes of the Crime"

Fodor's Guide to the Da Vinci Code

Fodor's Travel Wire, "The Da Vinci Code: Facts Behind the Fiction"

Frommer's, "Where's Johnny Jet: In Paris Cracking the Da Vinci Code"


The Skinny on Flexjet and Fractional Jet Ownership

April 3, 2006
By: Guest Writer

Lance Armstrong Flexjet

By Courtney W. May

When I first saw the Flexjet advertisement with Lance Armstrong, I was mostly confused because I had no idea what a Bombardier was or what fractional jet ownership would be. (I was also confused because I thought the images of Lance didn't do him justice-- see right-- and wasn't sure what advertiser would want to do such a thing.)

Lance Armstrong Flexjet

I did a little bit of research to figure out what Fractional Ownership was and why someone would want to do it. I got most of my information from the F.A.Q. section on the Flexjet website. So is Fractional Jet Ownership like a timeshare? Yes, although a little different since you get access and availability 24 hours a day, every day. And yes, your pet is welcome to travel with you as a member of your family: "A pet safety belt will be provided for pets weighing over 25 pounds. Pets smaller than 25 pounds may ride in a pet carrier or on your lap."

The part I really wanted to know about was price (not that I could afford it). For Flexjet, there are 4 variables as well as financing options which I won't get into here but you can find on the F.A.Q page I mentioned. And of course they aren't going to tell you outright what it's going to cost you-- they want you to contact their 'experienced sales team.' So instead I found an example within a press release from 2004:

"'Jet Rich Quick' The monthly payment ranges from approximately $4,600 for a 1/16th share of a Learjet 45 over a four-year term, to $12,000 for a 1/16th share of a Challenger 604 over a two-year term."

So is it worth it? I'm not sure, but I would be willing to try a couple complimentary flights to find out...


Luxury Airline Eos Offers Reduced Fare and Money Back Guarantee

March 31, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Eos Airlines

As if you needed (yet) another reason to fly the best transatlantic luxury airline in business (besides complimentary car service from London Stansted, the rad frequent flyer program, boutique catering on a 48-seat aircraft designed to transport 5x that number of passengers....) The folks at Eos are so convinced that you'll agree, they're now offering a money-back guarantee for business class flyers of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Get a load of this:

Maybe you think you're flying the best business class to London. But we're willing to bet you're wrong. Our all-premium class airline is designed to be better. And if after flying with us you disagree, we will give you your money back.

Book by April 12, and as a first-timer, you'll also get a special reduced fare: $3,500 or GBP 2,000. Did I mention that this fare includes free car service and a "refresher room" for London arrivals? And if it doesn't add up, rest easy: you'll get a full refund.