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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.

Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012: Alila Villas Uluwatu

January 30, 2012
By: Christopher Roney

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 work hard to offer you the best in the industry, and we’d like to welcome you to our second blog series where we feature the best and most luxurious resorts in the world. But don’t take our word for it. These resorts have been recognized as the best in the business and have made the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012.

The Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2012 is the eighth of their annual lists, and the hotels chosen by their team of editors and experts are the best for service, food, location, rooms, leisure facilities, ambiance and design.

Featured prominently on the Gold List for ambiance and design, the Alila Villas Uluwatu is everything you could hope for in an secluded all-villa property.  On the very edge of sheer limestone cliffs that overlook the Balinese ocean below, the views from the outdoor pool and gardens seem to look over the edge of the world itself.  Sky and sea meet in an endless ocean of blue that is only ever disrupted by the prismatic diffusion of the sun's rays as it falls below the skyline.  And as darkness drapes itself over the edge of the cliffs, cradling Uluwatu in its embrace, simply step inside to the Sunset Cabana for a nightcap or something more substantial. Its holistic design is minimalistic but never spartan, tranquil but never vacant.  The Alila Villas Uluwatu truly deserves its place on the Conde Nast Gold List for most ambient and well-designed hotels of 2012.


Weekend Trips from Washington D.C.: Middleburg and More

November 28, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Goodstone Inn and Estate, MiddleburgJust an hour west from Washington D.C., the rolling hills of Virginia's Piedmont make for a fantastic day trip or weekend outing from the nation's capital. A number of vineyards offer wine tastings (in Loudoun, Fauquier, and Rappahannock Counties), and for those seeking adventure, excellent hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains abound. This is horse country (read: you should dress the part) so pick up some threads in the charming stores that line Middleburg's main drag, where you'll also find all kinds of organic goodies at the Home Farm Store (Ayrshire Farm's gourmet retail shop). For a sweet treat and an excellent cup of coffee, Warrenton's Red Truck Bakery is *the* place to go.

Looking for a place to stay in the countryside? Folks make pilgrimages to The Inn at Little Washington in Rappahannock County for some of the best food you'll eat in the US of A. Another good bet: The Goodstone Inn and Estate, recently profiled by the good folks at Daily Candy. To quote: "Pretend you’re visiting a rich uncle’s estate at the welcoming Goodstone Inn & Restaurant. Book a room in the carriage house for breathtaking views or gather a weekend party group to rent an entire house (bonus: A chef can make your meals using local ingredients and freshly picked veggies from the garden). Then unwind in the spa or stroll the grounds to visit with farm animals."

For more information about visiting Virginia, check out Virginia is for Lovers, the Official Tourism Website of the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Escape to Bermuda: $129 Rates at Fairmont Southampton

November 23, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Southampton BermudaHere's a deal for all you luxury lovers out there: the swank Fairmont Southampton Bermuda is currently on sale for seven days only with room rates starting at just $129 per night!* What this means: Act fast if you want to score luxury for less on a spring break trip to paradise! A palatial landmark on Bermuda’s gorgeous south shore, the Fairmont Southampton Bermuda is nestled on an 100-acre tropical estate with towering palm trees and has direct access to miles of pink sand beaches. The property is consistently voted one of the top resorts in the region by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine. As for the facilities, the Fairmont Southampton is the crème de la crème. There's an 18-hole par three golf course, a 31,000-square-feet Willow Stream Spa, some of the island’s best restaurants, a sprawling oceanfront beach club with an on site PADI dive center, tennis courts and more. Most of the spacious guest rooms have sweeping views of the Atlantic from private balconies.

*For travel until April 30, 2012; some blackout dates apply. Rooms cost $299 per night when you travel between May 1, 2012 - August 31, 2012.


Get a Golden Glow with the New 24-Karat Gold Facial at Four Seasons Mauritius

November 16, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

gold facial at Four Seasons Resort MauritiusWe've seen our fair share of over-the-top spa treatments (diamond, rubies, oh my!), but this one might just take the cake. The Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita has just announced a lavish spa treatment for the festive season: the new UMO 24 Karat Gold Facial. Apparently gold has natural youth-enhancing properties (who knew?) that helps beautify the skin and defy the natural ageing process. The facial uses 100% natural ingredients to give you a golden glow while you're hanging out in paradise. (Just check out the photos of the island resort.) Here's the skinny on the facial:

Derived from an ancient Japanese soybean health food, the Gamma PGA ingredient used by the UMO facial is ten times more hydrating than the skin’s own natural acids, while also having far more elasticity than collagen. The Gamma PGA absorbs the gold and when applied to the face using UMO’s ultrasonic nano mist technology – several times smaller than water droplets – both the Gamma PGA and the gold are able to pass through the surface of the skin to restore youthful benefits to the deepest layers.

Needless to say, the UMO 24 Karat Gold Facial doesn't come cheap; it costs 250 euros a pop. Available from December 15, 2011.


New Wedding Venues Added to the One and Only Cape Town Resort

November 2, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

Located in the heart of one of the most fascinating cities, the One and Only Cape Town is nestled between the scenic sandstone cliffs. This urban chic waterfront resort is surrounded by beauty and offers incredible views of Table Mountain and private Spa Island. Aside from being in an incredible city with incredible landscapes, this resort has recently added new wedding venues and packages, making it a perfect location to tie the knot.

The One and Only Cape Town is adding a 76-foot motor yacht and a beautiful new Ballroom to its extensive venue list for weddings and engagements. The ivory tones and 6 handmade crystal chandeliers add to the Ballroom’s sophistication and elegance. The Ballroom measures 2,314 square feet and has 648 square feet of outdoor space, making it suitable for a wedding with 50–140 guests.

If a wedding in a grand Ballroom is not quite your cup of tea, consider exploring the option of enjoying intimate moments on the Sherilyn, a luxury motor yacht. This luxurious yacht is available for sunset wedding photographs, wedding ceremonies, and even grand gesture proposals. It can accommodate up to 20 guests, and its qualified team can assist with making arrangements to create the perfect ambiance.

For those unable to choose between the Ballroom and the Sherilyn, the Ballroom Package is available, which provides exclusive access to the yacht for post-ceremony drinks.

We hope this gives you some inspiration and ideas for planning your wedding, and we hope you are able to find the perfect location with the right amenities for your special day.

This article information appeared on our sister website, luxurytraveladvisor.com.


What's Hot: Introductory Rates at Angsana's New Flagship Resort on Phuket

November 2, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Angsana Laguna PhuketCome hell or high water, the Angsana Laguna Phuket will be opening its doors on December 1, 2011. The new flagship for Angsana Hotels and Resorts, the property closed earlier this year for a multi-million dollar overhaul, and promises to dazzle after a dramatic makeover. The guest rooms and public spaces are stylish and contemporary in design, with traditional Thai touches (think steep arched roofs, waterways winding through the grounds, and vividly colored fabrics).

Nestled on Bang Tao Bay in the northwest of Phuket Island in Southern Thailand, Angsana Laguna Phuket is part of Laguna Phuket, Asia’s first integrated resort, which is comprised of five luxury hotels, six palm-fringed lagoons, 600 acres of parkland, three kilometers of pristine beach and a slew of recreational activities and dining options. We like the sound of the 323 metre free-form pool that meanders throughout the Angsana Laguna Phuket and the award-winning Angsana Spa. Did we mention the treehouse-inspired Kids Club? This resort is family friendly (and they even have a special kiddies pool called the toddler's "tub").

Hot rates: The resort is currently offering $199 introductory rates with breakfast included, and they'll throw in a resort credit of $98 when you stay in two nights or more. Stay a minimum of three nights, and you'll get a free 90-minute massage.


Friday Photos: Barefoot Elegance at Old Bahama Bay Resort and Yacht Harbour

October 28, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

Old Bahama Bay Resort

Just 55 miles due east from Palm Beach, Florida, you'll find an all-suite beachfront resort that has an out-island remote feel, but with the convenience of an international airport within easy reach. The Old Bahama Bay Resort is all about barefoot elegance. Its 67 junior suites and 6 two-bedroom suites have balconies or terraces, free Internet, and elegant marble bathrooms with whirlpool soaking tubs. You'll find the finest fishing, snorkeling and boating activities right at your doorstep. Not to mention the 72-slip port of entry marina and brand new Dive Center. Like what you see? Consider booking a late fall or early winter getaway, and you'll get $400 instant savings with a limited time promotional offer. Book by November 21, 2011 for travel through March 4, 2012, and you'll get $400 instant savings on stays of six nights or longer, or a $250 instant savings on stays of three, four or five nights. (Black-out days: December 29 - 31, 2011 and February 16-20, 2012.)

Old Bahama Bay


Explore the Land Down Under

October 28, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

Sydney Harbour Marriott HotelI bet your life (like most of ours) is lacking in kangaroos, surfing, and scuba diving. Take a trip down under and experience first-hand the laid back atmosphere and beauty Sydney, Australia has to offer. Not a big fan of the winter cold? Consider traveling anytime from December-February, Australia’s summer season, and enjoy a cocktail on the beach while your neighbors back home shovel snow.

For those wanting a truly Sydney experience, the newly renovated Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay is the perfect hotel. This downtown Sydney resort overlooks the beautiful Sydney Harbour and the renowned Opera House, providing you with cultural and outdoor activities a few steps away. At Sydney’s premier waterfront hotel, guests are welcomed to indulge in a variety of treatments offered in the day spa and take a dip in the luxurious indoor pool. If an outdoor adventure is more your calling, check out the boating, surfing, and sailing opportunities found in Sydney. After doing it all, retire to your room, complete with picturesque harbour views, and dare to do it all again the next day.


Enter Velas Resorts' Photo Contest to Win $25,000 Dream Wedding

October 27, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand Velas Riviera MayaHurry, it's the last week for newly-engaged couples to enter the Velas Weddings' contest to win a tantalizing, $25,000 dream wedding at Grand Velas Riviera Maya! All you have to do is submit the story of your creative marriage proposal along with a photo (optional) of your best moment together on the on the Velas Weddings, Xcaret, and Xel-Há Facebook pages. Ten finalists will be chosen by Velas Resorts in a random drawing on November 1st. On November 2nd the 10 finalists will be notified, and public voting will take place from November 2nd - 19th on the Velas Weddings Facebook Page. The winners will be notified on November 20th, 2011. To see the winning couple from this past spring's contest tie the knot in paradise at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, tune in to www.velasresorts.com/grandwedding for live coverage on October 30. .

Curious to hear more about the winning prize? Read on to learn the details about this all-expenses paid beach wedding on Mexico's idyllic Riviera Maya...

The winning couple will enjoy a unique Mayan ceremony at Xel-Ha, known to be one of the most beautiful natural aquariums in the world, followed by a symbolic or legal ceremony complemented with flowers and music at Xcaret eco-archeological park, which showcases Mexico's mystical natural wonders, biodiversity and cultural heritage. The prize package includes four days and three nights in a luxury ocean-front Ambassador Pool Suite, a beach-side cocktail hour, a three-course wedding reception, live music, hair and makeup for the bride, decorations, wedding cake, $250 gift certificate courtesy of Diamonds International, event photography by Humberto Castilla, "Trash the dress" photo session by Dream Art and a Ultrafemme gift certificate. The couple and guests will also enjoy a welcome dinner at the resort's exclusive Piaf restaurant, dolphin swim courtesy of Delphinus, special shopping excursions to Luxury Avenue and nature tours courtesy of Rio Secreto.


Ritz-Carlton Opens in Riyadh with 600-Year Old Olive Trees from Lebanon

October 26, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, RiyadhThe first Ritz-Carlton in Saudi Arabia officially opened its doors in Riyadh this week. Situated in the Diplomatic Quarter next to the King Abdul Aziz Convention Centre, The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh is positively palatial in size with 493 guest rooms-- including a whopping 49 two-bedroom Royal Suites and 50 one-bedroom Executive Suites. Looks like they're expecting some high-rollers! The opulent hotel has already become a destination for weddings, even hosting a few before the official opening date, and-- with some 5,800 square meters of conference space-- it's expecting some of the city's largest international summits and gala events. Dotted with fountains, the grounds are beautifully landscaped with native palms and 600-year old olive trees imported from Lebanon. That's not all; the hotel also has an indoor bowling alley and a cigar lounge with one of the largest selections of Cubans in the Kingdom.