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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 Colony Villas at Half Moon Bay


By: Madelyn Giblin

Colony Villas at Half MoonLocated in the exclusive Rose Hall area in Jamaica, the Colony at Half Moon, scheduled to open in 2010, offers unparalleled views overlooking beachfront property near Montego Bay. Located within the Half Moon Resort, the Colony will feature 30 luxurious villas offering a choice of three, four, or five bedroom villas, all with personal pool, dining area, gardens, terraces and verandas. The Colony at Half Moon is an experience unlike any other in the Caribbean. Each bedroom will have a private bathroom, and each villa is provided with its own personal cook, gardener, housekeeper, butler and laundress. In addition to the wealth of activities to do at your personal villa, the Colony at Half Moon also offers a variety of services and facilities including a spectacular golf course, the Spa at Half Moon, multiple bars and restaurants, a dolphin lagoon, equestrian centre and a shopping village. Enjoy a unique Jamaican vacation in style.

Publisher Update: I just received the following note from the hotel with updates:

Much in the spirit of the founding families of Half Moon, The Colony is a singular opportunity for visitors to our treasured resort to become a part of the Half Moon heritage through ownership of a luxurious villa at The Colony at Half Moon.

These opulent, spacious three-, four- and five-bedroom villas will offer both villa owners and guests an unparalleled level of comfort, service and amenities. Planned for 14 acres of Half Moon's 400-acre estate, visitors to The Colony at Half Moon will enjoy an even deeper sense of home with the attentive care of a butler, cook, housekeeper, laundress and gardener in surroundings designed to offer the very best of gracious Caribbean living.

The Colony at Half Moon signals the final phase of a vision that began in 2003 to bring about a renaissance at Half Moon that would see our beloved resort being a part of the legacy for another generation of guests. Step by step with your unwavering support, we have renovated, refurbished and upgraded the facilities, services and amenities offered at Half Moon. The feedback from you and your clients have been invaluable in helping to shape and guide the direction we have taken over the years. With this new offering and all that The Colony villas promise, we are confident that we will have a product to which you will be even more proud to send your clients.

Equally, we are mindful of the treasured clients you will continue to send to Half Moon while The Colony is being erected. Let me assure you that every measure is being planned to ensure that any work relating to The Colony will have minimal impact on the comfort, enjoyment and experience you and your clients have come to expect of Half Moon. Thanks to the vast space and layout of Half Moon, The Colony has been planned for a small area of our 400 acres that is away from guest accommodations. We are confident that our mutual clients will continue to have memorable experiences at Half Moon and will enjoy even more the experience The Colony will offer.

For your information, please find attached aerial views of the resort that outline the space designated for The Colony at Half Moon. Also attached are renderings of the aesthetic hoardings and pathways planned for the site. We have also included for your interest architectural renderings of The Colony villas. While work is scheduled to begin within the next 16 months, much of that is contingent on the success of the project's pre-sale efforts. The response to this offer has been very positive and we believe the project should remain on schedule with an estimated completion in late 2010.


Leapend Weekend at Omni Hotels in Texas


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Omni Hotels New Romance PackageThis Friday marks leap day. What's the big deal? This extra calendar day doesn't come around too often! To celebrate, the Texas properties in Omni's hotel collection are pampering guests with a "Leapend Package." Each moment of the weekend stay is highlighted by a special indulgence. A chocolate surprise and champagne upon arrival. A complimentary in-room movie each night. Breakfast in bed. Plus, signature robes to take home. Omni Hotels in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are offering "Leapend Weekend" at special rates from $129 to $329. Plus, get this! For those wishing to take a "Lovers' Leap," Omni will provide a complimentary weekend stay to any couple who becomes engaged on hotel grounds during their "Leapend" stay. (The proposal must be witnessed by an Omni associate.) The complimentary weekend provides couples the opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of their engagement with welcome wedding cake martinis for two, a petite cake and 29 roses at the issuing hotel property during February 2009.

Leapend Weekend is available at nine Texas locations from February 28 to March 2, 2008.


Turkish Delight: Announcing the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Istanbul at the BosphorusSoak up the exotic atmosphere of Istanbul at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Now accepting reservations from July 1, 2008, the new Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus promises an alluring mix of old and new-- just like the vibrant city itself. On the European bank of the fabled Bosphorus Strait, a 19th century Ottoman Palace got a facelift and now houses the 166-room luxury hotel. Facilities are chic, fresh: a beautiful 22,605-square-foot urban spa, state-of-the-art fitness room, fine restaurants and pools at the water's edge. Guest rooms are bright and spacious, appointed with both Ottoman and contemporary furnishings and art. Almost a quarter of the rooms offer views across the Strait to the hills of Asia. Beyond the hotel, discover the treasures of the only city in the world to exist on two continents.


Fairmont Mara Safari Club: The Ultimate Tented Luxury in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont Mara Safari ClubFollowing an extensive renovation, the Fairmont Mara Safari Club has re-opened on the edge of the Masai Mara, Kenya's world-famous wildlife refuge which is home to an astounding array of animals including zebras, cheetahs, wildebeests, gazelles and of course the "Big Five." The 50 tents are the farthest thing from "roughing it"... Outfitted with four poster, pillow-top beds and spacious verandas, the tents offer all the creature comforts overlooking the Mara River full of hippos and crocodiles. Each of the beautifully-furnished tents has its own three-piece bathroom, and many have outdoor showers. Guests are spoiled with complimentary welcome drinks, private massage tents, poolside attendants at the heated, free-form swimming pool, and excellent entertainment like Masai dances. At the main lodge you'll find an indoor restaurant, bar, and library with Internet access. There are a wide range of activities available. For the ultimate indulgence, choose a balloon safari over the Mara plains capped with a champagne breakfast on the savannah. Coming soon: The Norfolk and Mount Kenya Safari Club will soon join the Fairmont Mara Safari Club bringing the grand total to three Fairmont properties in Kenya.


Indulge in Hong Kong at the Luxe Manor


By: Madelyn Giblin

DSC_2682Indulge your quirky side with the delightfully unique Luxe Manor, located in the bustling city of Hong Kong. Surrounded by a variety of shops, museums and stores, the Luxe Manor offers a variety of activities outside the hotel to choose from, while also providing a unique place to stay. Furnished with a combination of Oriental, European and post modern decorations, each suite offers a different experience artistically enticing, yet comforting and luxurious. The Luxe Manor Hong Kong is also home to the extraordinary restaurant Aspasia, complete with bar and sit down dining area. Aspasia benefits from the talents of Chef Rolland Schuller, winner of multiple Michelin Stars, and presents a fine variety of Italian cuisine, among other delicious dishes. Each room includes an LCD television, marble bathroom, internet access, and room service. The Luxe Manor also offers a gymnasium, Business Centre, wireless internet throughout the hotel, and various childcare and car services.


Maxim Bungalows in the Dominican Republic


By: Madelyn Giblin

Despite several delays due to ongoing construction, the highly anticipated Maxim Bungalows will be opening this year. March 15 marks the debut of Maxim Bungalows, Cofresi Beach, while its sibling resort at Juan Dolio will open in September. Maxim Bungalows is designed to give singles and couples alike an exotic stay in one of the Dominican Republic's finest resorts. Maxim Bungalows boasts 108 one and two bedroom bungalows complete with 24 hour service, Jacuzzi tub and flat screen TV. The resort includes a large, relaxing spa, and pool area, and most notably, a 54 foot yacht, which guests have the ability to charter for day trips and evening cruises.

Maxim Bungalows also offers a variety of activities for its active guests including jungle trips, scuba diving, a lively nightlife at various bars, cabanas, and night clubs in the area. The spa also offers guests a place to relax and rejuvenate in an exotic exciting environment. Maxim Bungalows stands out as the place to go for trendy singles searching for a place to enjoy a magnificent resort. And yes, it is related to Maxim Magazine. Visit www.maximbungalows.com.


An Interview with the General Manager: Andrea Luri of Castello del Nero


By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

Castello del Nero StaffCastello del Nero is a 12th century castle outside Florence, restructured and opened as a 5 star deluxe hotel in June 2006. Andrea Luri is the General Manager.

Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the Castello del Nero?

Andrea Luri: Following previous experiences as General Manager of 5 star properties in Italy and abroad, I took on this assignment with much enthusiasm and passion as I believed in the value of this project as well as finding in our President and CEO a person of integrity and broad vision and who made the opening of the hotel possible.

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?

Andrea Luri: The historic atmosphere and location combined with modern features and comforts. The estate of Castello del Nero collects the essence of Tuscan heritage in the unique location with views on the rolling hills as far as eyes can see. The hotel was brilliantly restored conserving the features of the XII century castle it is, such as frescoes and vault ceilings as well as adding services such as tennis courts, swimming pool, gym with state of the art equipment and most of all a 100 sqm spa with 10 treatment rooms. What really does set Castello del Nero apart, however, is our staff. A team completely devoted in creating an unforgettable experience for all our Guests.

Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?

Andrea Luri: A high percentage of our guests come from U.S and Canada, which are followed closely by UK and Italy and other European countries.

Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?

Andrea Luri: The Italian law on privacy doesn’t allow me to actually share the names, however our Guests include famous movie stars, film directors, Italian and American politicians, pop stars and fashion designers. Many of whom come back to enjoy the privacy of the estate allowing them to relax in a safe and cocooned environment.

Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

Andrea Luri: The location in the countryside assures relaxing peace and incredible views on every side which change constantly with the light and time of day. At the same time we are at short distance from all major cities of interest in Tuscany such as Siena, San Gimignano and Florence which our Guests can easily reach through a complimentary shuttle bus. Guests can also enjoy a hot air balloon ride which we actually operate on property. Being blessed with a fantastic location which is Tuscany, the wine and gastronomy sector offers unparalleled experiences such as wine tastings in Chianti wineries or even Tuscan cooking classes held by our chef on property which start with picking vegetables in our organically grown vegetable patch and follow by cooking along the chef's side in our kitchens.

Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?

Andrea Luri: I would say that all frescoed suites and our Galway suite are simply incredible, thanks to the fact that you aren’t simply sleeping in a hotel room, but Guests actually undergo the experience of living in a castle like a king or queen surrounded by frescoes which date back centuries ago, or having a private dinner on a 100 sqm private terrace overlooking the Tuscan countryside. The historical charm which these rooms exude is magnificently combined with state of the art in room entertainment and high speed connectivity. Regarding our double rooms, they are all different and it is difficult to actually pin point one as I would be narrowing down to a single choice a multitude of experiences that the different rooms can offer. They are all large and comfortable and unique in layout or furnishing or view or simply in character.

Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?

Andrea Luri: Of course, being a private noble residence since the XII century, close to the road that connects Florence to Rome, you can imagine that great men such as Michelangelo or Leonardo could pass by Castello del Nero . The last private owner was the noble Torrigiani family. One of the descendents, Carlo Torrigiani in the early 1900’s married a red cross nurse from Philadelphia, Anna Frey. This American lady was so affectionate with Castello del Nero that she requested her burial to be in the castle’s chapel where she rests ever since. Since the hotel opened we have had special events such as Sir James Galway perform with his golden flute and also the famous Jazz Saxophonist Scott Hamilton Quartet. Also one of the weddings which took place last season had reserved the hotel exclusively with a grand gala and fireworks – truly something that you will remember for ever.

Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?

Andrea Luri: A guest would certainly appreciate to know that we have a courtesy shuttle to/from the center of Florence at scheduled times, this avoids having to worry about driving and parking in the city and makes visiting much more pleasant. For all other excursions our Front Office is at disposal for organizing all sorts of activities. At the hotel you have access to the state of the art gym, two tennis courts, the swimmingpool in the summer season. Our ESPA at Castello del Nero welcomes you in the relaxing atmosphere to enjoy the many holistic spa treatments.

Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?

Andrea Luri: I have the same difficulty as most people do today: lack of time! Though, whatever happens, my first priority is taking the time to meet every Guest and get to know them. This job is incredible as it actually gives you the possibility of enjoying the company of extremely interesting people. If I had to change something about Castello del Nero it would probably be converting it from a hotel into my own home!

Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?

Andrea Luri: Villa d'Este is certainly at the top of my list. I was fortunate enough to start my career there and believe it to be THE great hotel. It has history, location beauty and an atmosphere of absolute magic. Another wonderful hotel is the Amansara in Siem Reap, Cambodia. A stunning property with wonderful service in a beautiful country. In my top three I also have to include the Faena hotel and Universe in Buenos Aires - staying there is a fascinating experience.

Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property

Andrea Luri: We are now restructuring the various Villas which are located on the same estate as the hotel which will certainly turn out to be a great addendum to the property as they will also have access to the facilities of the hotel, other than having their own private pool and gardens.

Pictured From Left to Right: Restaurant Manager Giuliano Piscina, Spa Reception Maria Fanfani, Sales & PR Nathalie Beaugonin, Sales & PR Christina Ruettimann, General Manager Andrea Luri, Housekeeping Manager Sabrina Tonelli, Front Office Manager Alessio Nuzzi.


Hot Dates at La Quinta Resort and Club, PGA West, Palm Springs


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

La Quinta Resort and ClubNow's your chance to enjoy unbelievable rates at the legendary California resort, featuring 90 holes of some of the country's best golf, including the Stadium Golf Course at PGA WEST. For select dates, La Quinta Resort & Club, The Waldorf=Astoria Collection, has rates starting at just $95 a night. And golf's not the only thing on offer. The Spanish-style resort has 23 tennis courts, 41 pools, 53 hot spas, and 7 restaurants. See below for a full list of hot dates:

Apr 3 - Apr 6, 2008 Starting from $275

Apr 13 - Apr 18, 2008 Starting from $195

May 15 - May 18, 2008 Starting from $185

Jun 1 - Jun 6, 2008 Starting from $125

Jun 8 - Jun 13, 2008 Starting from $115

Jul 10 - Jul 13, 2008 Starting from $105

Aug 11 - Aug 15, 2008 Starting from $95

Oct 5 - Oct 10, 2008 Starting from $175

Oct 16 - Oct 19, 2008 Starting from $205

Oct 30 - Nov 2, 2008 Starting from $190

Dec 1 - Dec 4, 2008 Starting from $165

Jan 4 - Jan 9, 2009 Starting from $155


Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris: The Horse-drawn Carriage is Back for Easter!


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Plaza Athenee, ParisLocated on the prestigious Avenue Montaigne, the Hôtel Plaza Athénée is world-famous, a Paris landmark of individuality, prestige and comfort. Entirely redecorated, the Plaza Athénée has preserved its classical French style while adding an innovative touch. Chef Alain Ducasse oversees the entire dining operations of the Plaza Athénée and has also his own award-winning restaurant inside the hotel. For Easter-- from March 22-26, 2008-- the Hotel Plaza Athénée will offer its guests an elegant, horse-drawn carriage for those who wish to discover Paris in a different, more relaxed manner. Guests will enjoy a 30-minute complimentary tour and will be able to admire the famous Champs-Elysées, the avenue Montaigne and the Place de la Concorde. The itinerary can be modified upon request and the driver will be pleased to steer either Pride or Lucky, one of his magnificent horses, in that direction. Guests can stay snug and warm under cozy blankets and steaming hot chocolate will be provided for younger guests. Reservations can be made with the concierge.


Aveda Spa Spring Awakening at Mar Hall, Glasgow


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mar Hall, GlasgowEscape to one of the premier luxury hotels in Scotland and "spring ahead" with some serious r 'n r. Steeped in history, the magnificent Mar Hall has 53 individually-designed rooms and suites with breathtaking views of the Kilpatrick Hills. And Mar Hall boasts an Aveda Concept Spa, the only one of its kind in the UK, with 11 treatment rooms including a Rasul mud chamber, couples' room, and area devoted to heat and water experiences. With the Spring Awakening package, you can renew your body and mind with a stimulating and nurturing spa experience. Your treatment begins with a
foot bath
and personal wellbeing consultation, followed by a dry body exfoliation.
Then awaken your senses with the essences of an Aveda Rosemary & Peppermint
total body lotion application.
While you are cocooned in a wrap of fluffy towels and a heat preserving blanket, experience a relaxing scalp and foot massage.
Finish your Spring Awakening with a
pure focus facial. Your Spring Awakening experience includes a Soup & Sandwich Lunch served in the Spa,
use of the facilities and the use of a bathrobe and "take-home" slippers.
Total treatment time 1 hour and 30 minutes, priced at GBP110 Monday to Friday and GBP130 Saturday and Sunday.
Valid from March 1- May 31, 2008.