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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.

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


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


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.


New Fahrenheit Ballroom at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ritz-Carlton GeorgetownThrowing a ball or getting hitched in D.C.? A new ballroom is turning heads in town, located- where else?- in the swank Ritz-Carlton Georgetown. The official press release cited "greater guest demand" as the reason why the hotel is transforming Fahrenheit restaurant into permanent banquet rental space, and the hotel's bar and lounge into a three-meal restaurant and bar called Degrees Bistro. Slated to open in a matter of weeks on November 1, 2011, the Fahrenheit Ballroom has already been picked by Daily Candy D.C. as a prime wedding venue:

Turn up the heat at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown’s new event space, the Fahrenheit Ballroom. Located on the top floor of the brick factory-turned-hotel, the grand dance hall wows with huge windows, steel beams, and a loftlike feel.

Related Article: Ritzy the Nesting Duck Checks in to the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown


Check Out This Exclusive, All-Inclusive Resort in Punta Cana


By: Oksana Balytsky

Some resorts claim to be all-inclusive but only include a few meals and your typical amenities like pool access and free shampoo. Looking for a vacation that actually has it all? Consider staying at the Zoetry Agua Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic!

The Zoetry Agua is an all-suite, all-inclusive resort that offers everything you can imagine, and the price of your stay includes it all, so you don’t have to think or worry about charges or gratuities for the entirety of your stay. At Zoetry Agua, you automatically receive the Endless Privileges experience, and this package offers you limitless access to almost everything Zoetry Agua has to offer. Some of the special perks included in the Endless Privileges experience are a welcome bottle of rum, daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner dining options, complimentary horse-back riding, unlimited cocktails and specialty beverages, a 20 minute spa treatment per stay, and so much more! The Zoetry Agua Punta Cana truly embraces the philosophy of offering a stress-free and relaxing environment, taking care of everything so you can have the time to fully unwind and enjoy yourself. This hotel’s definition of wellness goes beyond the usual and encompasses a full range of activities to stimulate your body and mind. Whether you’re planning your honeymoon, a romantic trip with your significant other, or even a thrilling getaway with a group of friends, the Zoetry Agua is the perfect place for all of the above. So start practicing your bachata dancing and get ready for the time of your life at the Zoetry Agua Punta Cana.


Suite Caribbean Escape: Sunset Cruises and Candlelight Dinners at La Samanna


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

La Samanna ResortExperience a slice of Caribbean paradise at La Samanna, an Orient-Express resort on the isle of St. Martin. Nestled beside the island's finest beach, La Samanna is constantly ranked among the Caribbean’s top ten hotel retreats. It's the ideal spot for al fresco massages, falling asleep in a hammock beside the turquoise sea, and indulging in world-class dining (paired with wines from the enviable cellar). La Samanna knows how to treat guests right; a unique hotel program lets guests customize their stay with special added amenities like sunset cruises, candlelight dinners, Champagne and sweets in-room, private fitness trainers, or a three-hour regatta on one of the authentic America's Cup sailing vessels. (Available at an additional cost.)

For a limited time, until December 21, 2011, La Samanna is inviting guests to experience the luxury of the one-bedroom suites at a discounted rate of 30%. Each suite offers stunning views of the Caribbean Sea, and many boast private balconies and exceptionally large living areas. The "Suite Dreams" package includes accommodation and daily buffet breakfast with rates from $485 per night. Minimum five night stay required. Subject to availability.


Hotel Santa Caterina: Where Kim Kardashian Honeymooned on the Amalfi Coast


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Santa CaterinaWhere to go on a honeymoon when you're Kim Kardashian? Why Italy, of course. The reality TV star and her NBA beau escaped to the Amalfi Coast for some PDA-packed "alone time" after they tied the knot in Montecito, California on August 20th. They bunked down in a "Romeo and Juliet" chalet that costs $3,300 per night. The gorgeous Hotel Santa Caterina-- surrounded by olive groves and fruit orchards next to the Mediterranean sea-- must be counting their lucky stars for this PR opportunity!


Adventures on Egypt's Red Sea Coast at The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh, EgyptWe're drooling over this swank Oberoi hotel on Egypt's secluded Red Sea coast, situated on 48 acres with a sparkling white sand beach. Reflecting the region, The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh is architecturally magnificent with domes, arches, private courtyards, and columns. Offshore, fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving await. This exclusive luxury resort is comprised of suites; the Grand and Royal Suites have private heated swimming pools. After a day of exposure to the sun and the sea, relax with a restorative massage in the Oberoi spa. Also available on site: a gorgeous pool, gym, and tennis court. For some seriously droolworthy pix, check out the photo gallery.


Free $1000 Air Credit from L.A. to Turtle Island Resort, Fiji


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Turtle IslandEscape to a private island resort in the South Pacific for a romantic getaway. Turtle Island, a favorite haunt of celebrities, is giving away an $1,000 air credit when you book a five-night stay. What's more, they'll throw in two extra nights for free. With over 500 acres for just 14 couples at a time, Turtle Island is the ultimate honeymoon hideaway. Discover what Andrew Harper calls "as close to heaven on earth as you’re likely to get." Rates include all meals, drinks, and activities like sport fishing and scuba diving. The Washington Post researched the rates: A seven-night stay is $12,495 in a two-room beachfront cottage. Stay December 1, 2011-April 30, 2012.


Friday Photos: Paradise in the Greek Isles at Porto Zante


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Porto Zante

Turquoise water, crescent-shaped beaches, a perfect Mediterranean climate... Paradise found in the Greek Isles. Porto Zante Villas and Spa is located on the island of Zakynthos, the third largest of the Ionian Islands, just west of the Greek mainland. Its contemporary-style villas-- some equipped with private pools-- all face the sea, and boast dreamy amenities (like Bulgari bath products and Valentino robes). No wonder this place is frequently named one of the "best hideaways" in the Greek isles.

Porto Zante


Friday Photos: Mayan Riviera Magic at Maroma Resort and Spa


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Maroma Resort and Spa

 

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more postcard-perfect setting. White, sandy beaches fringed by verdant jungle... And a spectacular coral reef, just offshore in the lapis-blue Caribbean waters, teeming with colorful underwater life. Maroma Resort and Spa, a Yucatan paradise by Orient-Express, is the spot for pure escapism. Indulge with a spa treatment, based on ancient Mayan healing, at the resort's Kinan Spa. (You can even take a class on Stress & Anxiety Reduction or Insomnia Relief.) Tuck into a ceviche and tequila feast on the beach, or experience a wine tasting in the Wine Cellar. After a day snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, or sailing, unwind in your luxurious guest room, appointed with unique handpainted tiles, soft wool rugs, original art and furniture from the resort's own workshops.

Maroma Resort and Spa