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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.

Hotel Credit at the Newly-Opened Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons St. LouisThe swankiest hotel to hit St. Louis is open and ready for business. The 19-storey tower of luxury on the banks of the Mississippi has a great location and unrivaled views of the iconic Gateway Arch. You'll enjoy signature Four Seasons service, 24-hour service at the business center, and the city's most comprehensive menu of treatments at the spa. Enjoy a stay at this strikingly modern Four Seasons hotel with a special package that offers a $100 credit per room per stay to be used towards accommodations or incidentals. The two-night package starts from just $245 per night and is available until December 31, 2008.


Great Price with Free Amenities Included at Hotel Claris, Barcelona


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Claris, BarcelonaA stay at one of the prettiest boutique hotels in Barcelona, complete with a rooftop swimming pool and a museum-quality art collection, can be yours starting from just EUR 219. Hotel Claris has a fantastic location on Paseo de Gracia smack dab in the middle of the city. The two-night "Enjoy Barcelona" package includes all sorts of free add-ons-- like daily buffet breakfast, a bottle of Spanish red wine, use of a Mercedes Smart car for 1/2 day to enjoy Barcelona at your own pace, daily newspaper, parking, late-check out, and tickets to the Barcelona Egyptian Museum with the possibility of a guided tour with an Egyptologist. And that's not all. Lucky guests will also enjoy a themed guided tour in the city center accompanied by a team of professionals passionate about Barcelona. Choose either the Modernist Tour (admire the master works of the modernist architects like Antoni Gaudí at the Eixample), Picasso Tour (follow in the footsteps of Picasso), Gothic Tour (discover the city's history as you stroll through one of the best preserved medieval districts in the world) or Gourmet Tour (enjoy a flavor-filled journey through the old town and discover Barcelona's gastronomic culture).


Anantara Resort Golden Triangle, Thailand: King’s Cup Elephant Polo, Elephant Trekking and the Elephant Camp


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Anantara Resort Golden TriangleOverlooking the rugged hills of Laos and Burma and the winding Mekong River in Thailand's mystical Golden Triangle region, Anantara Resort is a luxury nature retreat set on 160 acres of tropical jungle. The resort is just as evocative as its surroundings. From your private balcony with a built-in sofa, you can check out the views of three different countries! The 58 guest rooms feature traditional Thai art, hardwood floors, and open bathrooms with oversized tubs for two. Go elephant trekking, learn exotic Thai flavors at the resort's own cooking school, take a guided excursion to Burma's colorful markets. The resort offers myriad conservation activities, and the luxurious facilities include a hilltop infinity pool overlooking the Mekong valley, pampering Anantara Spa, and signature restaurants.

Elephant Polo at AnantaraAs we've been eagerly anticipating for months, Anantara Resort Golden Triangle recently hosted the 7th King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament on a new polo pitch set just feet from the Ruak River dividing Thailand from Burma. From March 31-April 6, 2008, 12 elite teams battled it out. (There was even an all-female London-Irish team!) After some exciting matches, the Mercedes team clinched the title in a close finish against Chivas Regal of Scotland. But the real winners? The elephants themselves, as the tournaments raise money for the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. Over $200,000 has been raised to help provide protection for the threatened Thai elephant. In fact, Anantara Resort is praised for its on-site Elephant Camp where some 27 elephants are in residence. Funds have been used for a custom-built elephant ambulance and a (powder) milk bank for baby elephants.


Vacation at Pablo Escobar’s Retreat: Casa Magna in Tulum, Mexico


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Casa Magna, Amansala, TulumThe Colombian cocaine kingpin sure did pick a nice spot. Tulum and the Riviera Maya have become Mexico's hottest destination in the last decade, and it's little wonder why. The picture-perfect setting of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, coupled with the easy proximity to the U.S. East Coast, continues to lure vacationers seeking a little piece of paradise. On the secluded coast near Tulum, south of Cancun, a new eco-chic resort called Casa Magna has been making waves. Legend has it that Escobar himself camped out here (and there are the bullet-proof walls, a secret tunnel, and "look-out turrets" to prove it). After the drug lord's death, the place was abandoned and deteriorated into a mess of concrete... At least until Amansala took on a massive renovation project and created this eco-friendly hideaway touting "rustic luxury." On this pristine stretch of beach, you'll find spacious rooms, yoga classes, fitness training, and a restaurant serving the freshest fish and tasty mango margaritas.


Your Own Private Boat on the Seine: Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Plaza Athenee, private boatLeave it to the Hotel Plaza Athénée, that prestigious bastion of luxury on the Avenue Montaigne, Carrie Bradshaw's favorite haunt, to come up with this exclusive Parisian experience. Discover the thrilling sights of Paris while aboard your own private motorboat with Champagne and hand-made Macaroons. Glide under the romantic bridges of the Seine, watch the Louvre and Eiffel Tower slide by, while sipping flutes of Champagne served by your Hostess. The package also includes delightfully-appointed accommodations at the Plaza Athénée, full American breakfast for two people, flowers on arrival, and a personalized welcome. Starting from EUR 1,525 in a Junior Suite based on a two-night minimum stay. Available until August 15, 2008.


Glamorous Girlfriend Getaway at the Willard


By: Madelyn Giblin

Willard Hotel BathroomExperience elegance at the Willard InterContinental in Washington, D.C. with their Glamorous Girlfriend Getaway package. Enjoy a stay in one of the Willard's fabulous suites for you and up to three of your best girlfriends. The suite comes with complimentary delicious tea sandwiches and cocktails upon your arrival, and guests are also treated to an in-suite thirty minute aromatherapy massage, finished off with a dusting of 24-karat gold powder. The package includes a visit from a representative of Washington's The Tiny Jewel Box with a selection of real jewelry for you and your friends for your exciting night out. Guests also enjoy a nighttime limousine tour of the monuments and picnic dinner basket along with champagne. And finally, join the A-list at Washington's hottest night spot The Park at Fourteenth, with limousine drop off and pick up and VIP entrance into the club. Rates start at $1,244 for a two person suite.


Caribbean Deals: Discover Nevis with the Four Seasons Resort


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons NevisImagine: a guava wrap (or rum tonic body treatment) in the luxurious haven of the Four Seasons spa. Golf and tennis by the crystal-clear sea. Beaches of silky-soft sand stretching as far as the eye can see. Sunset dining at the water's edge. Four Seasons Nevis offers all that, and more; the resort has also distinguished itself as a fun and elegant Caribbean hideaway perfect for families. Starting April 19, 2008, you can score a $100/night resort credit with the "Discover Nevis" package. So the longer you stay, the more value you get at Four Seasons Nevis-- with no maximum limit! You can also combine this promotion with the "Family Plan" which allows you to get a second room at 50 percent off. Prices start at $335 per night on May 31, 2008. (The rate is $449 from April 19-May 30, 2008).


Spring Savings at The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The HomesteadGet your springtime groove on with special savings from The Homestead. Until April 30, 2008, the storied Virginia resort has room rates starting from $199. From championship golf and horseback riding to fly fishing, shooting, biking and hiking, there's no better way to enjoy the Allegheny Mountains. A National Historic Landmark, The Homestead is also celebrated for its spa and spring-fed indoor pool. After all, these thermal hot springs have been luring travelers since the 1700s! Ranked among the top family resorts in the country, The Homestead has a great children's program, including the fun-filled KidsClub offering nonstop games and activities.


Surf’s Up in San Diego, Music in Nashville: Teen Edu-cation Packages with Loews Hotels


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

NashvilleTraveling with a troubled teen? Parents will be thrilled about exclusive packages from Loews Hotels combining vacation time with educational experiences. Designed to please the tricky adolescent set, these one- and two-night packages are both fun and instructional. Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville offers a "Music and Lyrics by Loews" package that's perfect for the budding music star. Your teen(s) will enjoy a song-writing session with award-winning songwriter, Thom Shepherd, a one-hour guitar lesson, plus a voucher for an acoustic guitar. The whole fam can attend a performance at the famed Bluebird Café, where Garth Brooks, Kathy Mattea and Vince Gill got their starts. Priced at $1,200, the package includes luxurious accommodations for up to two adults and two teens.

Les ados also get psyched about "My Super Suite Vacation" at Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, where they get private surfing lessons on INT surfboards custom-designed for each teen to take home. (Followed by spa treatments in the resort's Teen Spa Room, no joke.) Or perhaps your teen is already on their way to Wall Street? Loews Regency Hotel in New York offers "Inside Financial Markets" to provide the inside scoop on this exciting, complex industry. Priced at $900, the one-night package includes Power Breakfast for two, with rotating speakers from the financial world, viewing of the Nasdaq Opening Bell and tour of NASDAQ's Marketsite, photo of the teen's image on the Nasdaq Tower, and a special turn-down amenity. Or head to South Beach to learn the secrets of party-planning! The two-night "Culinary Arts Experience" at Loews Miami Beach Hotel includes a one-on-one South Beach exclusive "food arts" lesson with Barton G. Wiess, dining experience for teen and parents at the Barton G. Restaurant, and a customized apron personalized by Barton.


Shangri-La Hotel, Xian: Check In to Luxury and Check Out China’s Terracotta Warriors


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La Hotel, XianWith all the Olympic buzz, the world's gaze has shifted to China. You may not be heading to the games in Beijing this summer, but a trip to China, ranked one of the top international destinations by the World Tourism Organization, may be on the horizon. An absolute must is a visit to Xian, an ancient capital of China and the terminus of the legendary Silk Road, home to the Terracotta Warriors, one of China's most renowned archaeological discoveries. Described as a "Natural History Museum," Xian is simply brimming with relics and sites. The city is also an important part of the economic revival of interior China, a bustling modern city. The place to stay is the Shangri-La Hotel, Xian, situated within easy reach of the top tourist attractions and the city's business and entertainment districts. The only luxury hotel located in the Gaoxin hi-tech development zone, The Shangri-La has choice guest quarters and an impressive service team including IT butlers. Also on site: four trendy designer restaurants, the largest meeting and banqueting facilities in Xian, and a fully-equipped health club with heated pool.