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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.

Win a Botswana Zebra Migration Safari: National Geographic’s Great Migrations Sweepstakes

November 10, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Did you see Great Migrations, the new series on the National Geographic Channel? The first episode of this seven-part TV event aired on Sunday, revealing to viewers the incredible journeys that millions of animals undertake to ensure species survival. This Sunday, November 14 you can watch Botswana's zebra migration, one of Africa's largest mass-animal movements which takes place every spring. Talk about action-packed armchair traveling!

Approximately 25,000 zebras leave the lush Okavango Delta (pictured) to make an imperative voyage into the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Family by family, the stallions lead their mares out of the Delta’s Eden, to make the 150-mile trek into the Pans so their bodies can take in much needed minerals. Their journey includes hundreds of stops at water holes, eventually bringing the zebras back to where they began their pilgrimage in the Okavango Delta.

Visitors to Botswana can check out this incredible spectacle on a luxury safari experience with properties like the award-winning Khwai River Lodge, overlooking the vast Khwai River floodplains and beyond into the Moremi Wildlife Reserve.

Buzz: National Geographic is currently running the "Migration of a Lifetime" sweepstakes with some incredible prizes. For a chance to win a Botswana Zebra Migration safari, register online November 14 – 20.


A Delicious Special at Sofitel Hotels from Chicago to Paris to Hanoi

November 5, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sofitel Paris Arc de TriompheSofitel Hotels is rolling out the red carpet for families who love chocolate this holiday season. And who doesn't love chocolate? With the "I Love Chocolate" special, you'll score one free night (stay for 3 and pay for only 2), a late check-out at 3 p.m., and a festive chocolate feast the whole family will enjoy. Think chocolate-filled pastries and cups of rich hot chocolate to warm up after a day wandering the city streets, shopping and sightseeing. Available from November 15, 2010 through January 16, 2011 at luxurious Sofitel Hotels around the globe. Here's a sampling of prices:

Sofitel Chicago Water Tower from $117

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi from $157

Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square from $147

Sofitel Philadelphia from $117

Sofitel London St. James from GBP 133

Sofitel Agadir Royal Beach Resort from EUR 117

Sofitel Amsterdam The Grand from EUR 193

Sofitel Paris Arc de Triomphe from EUR 193


Restaurants in Cape Town, South Africa: Reuben’s at One & Only

September 21, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

One and Only Cape TownWhen the One & Only Resort opened in Cape Town last year, it was a star-studded event, packed with celebs (even Nelson Mandela). The highly-anticipated debut was talked about in all corners of the globe. The Times (UK) described the resort as an "excess-all-areas extravaganza — rooms large enough to land a plane in, and not only the first Nobu restaurant in Africa, but also the first Gordon Ramsay." True, the brand known for its over-the-top properties upped the luxury quotient in Cape Town, with a positively glamorous property situated on Victoria & Albert Waterfront facing Table Mountain. But since then, the Gordon Ramsay empire has fallen on hard times, and the buzzed-about Maze Restaurant has closed its doors. In its place a new resto is opening on October 1. Reuben’s at One & Only Cape Town will be helmed by award-winning South African chef Reuben Riffel.


The World’s Best Hotel Views (from the Bathroom)

September 3, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Twelve Apostles Hotel and SpaSure, five-star hotels like The Peninsula Tokyo, The Carlyle in Manhattan, and the French Riviera's Palais de la Mediterranee have some pretty awesome views from their rooms. But their bathrooms often take advantage of these spectacular vistas, too. ABC News Travel has published a round-up of the world's best hotel bathroom views. (And they're not talking about views of your fellow guest through peekaboo baths!) On the list: The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town (pictured), "standing at the very edge of the Atlantic"; the Soneva Kiri by Six Senses in Thailand, featuring "private outdoor bathrooms that have plenty of star-gazing space and outdoor bathing facilities"; The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, whose 80 overwater villas have guest baths with panoramic windows overlooking the lagoon; the Hotel Caesar Augustus in Capri sitting on a cliff 1,000 feet above the sea.


The World’s Best Suites: The Presidential Suite at Twelve Apostles Hotel, Cape Town

September 1, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Twelve Apostles, Presidential Suite

The pictures speak for themselves. Situated in quite possibly the most beautiful setting on earth, the Presidential Suite at Cape Town's Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa has a wrap-around terrace for sipping cocktails and chowing on dinner while soaking in the views that go on forever. These views aren't limited to the terrace, of course. You can ogle the Atlantic, Lions Head, and the Twelve Apostles Mountains from the principal bathroom and bedroom, too. Sprawling across 151 square meters and boasting marble floors, the suite has an 8-seater dining room, a wood-paneled study and private lounge. Recently remodeled, the suite has some cool design features: a free standing antique marble bath, chandeliers imported from Italy, antique mirrors, mosaics on the walls and ceilings, and a collection of South African Masters works of art. Priced at ZAR 38530 per night (inc. VAT) for a maximum of two adults until January 5, 2011.

Twelve Apostles, Presidential Suite


Raffles Praslin: A Sexy New Resort for the Seychelles

August 27, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Raffles Praslin, SeychellesGet ready for a sexy new destination resort that promises to be "paradise reborn." Raffles Hotels & Resorts is gearing up for its Indian Ocean debut with its first ultra-luxury resort in the Seychelles, "synonymous with the world's most beautiful islands and beaches." Located on Praslin, the second largest island and once thought to be the Garden of Eden, the new resort will feature 86 villas, each with a private plunge pool, surrounded by pristine beaches and crystal clear waters. Slated to open in early 2011, the resort is touting an exceptional spa experience in 13 treatment pavilions nestled among natural rock formations with views over the water. Noteworthy: The resort will offer easy access to one of the Seychelles' natural treasures and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vallée de Mai.


New in Cairo: Kempinski Luxury Hotel Now Open on the Nile

August 2, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Kempinski Nile Hotel Garden City CairoKempinski is upping the glam factor in the Egyptian capital. A new luxury hotel has opened on the banks of the Nile in Cairo, which is "undergoing something of a tourism boom"-- according to The Independent. To quote Luxury Travel Advisor: "Billed as the “first luxury boutique hotel in Cairo,” the Kempinski Nile Hotel Garden City has splashy luxury digs designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon. The design guru who redecorated the glamorous Grand Hotel du Cap-Ferrat and Four Seasons Hotel George V is also the man in charge of the redesign of The Savoy in London- currently in the midst of a dramatic overhaul." The hotel has 137 guest rooms and 54 suites with private balconies and marble bathrooms. Most fun of all: "Guests can choose from four restaurants, one of which has no menu - chefs are on hand to cook all dishes to order on request - and four bars, including a rooftop bar and shisha bar."


Mint Juleps in Morocco at the New Royal Mansour Marrakech, King Mohammed’s Hotel

July 15, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Royal Mansour MarrakechJune saw the much anticipated opening of Royal Mansour Marrakech, the opulent luxury hotel owned by Morocco's King Mohammed VI, whose ambitious tourism strategy has aimed to attract 10 million visitors to the country in 2010. His Majesty's Plan Azur is certainly working; Royal Mansour isn't the only new luxury hotel on the scene. The Rocco Forte Collection, Four Seasons, and Monte Carlo SBM have all staked their claim to Marrakech, which has emerged as a major tourism hot spot. In fact, Marrakech has been singled out as one of the "It Places" to travel in 2010 by both Conde Nast Traveler and The New York Times.

Royal Mansour Marrakech is a sight for sore eyes. No expense was spared in the hotel's construction, located directly within the medina walls of old Marrakech. In fact, Royal Mansour has been described as "the only entirely hand-built hotel in the world." 53 individual riads were designed with multicolored ceramic tile, elaborate woodwork, and Moroccan mosaics by top local artisans. Rooftop terraces and private pools offer stunning views of Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains. And the cuisine is by the Michelin three-starred chef (and Parisian sensation) Yannick Alléno. A fascinating Bloomberg News article describes the over-the-top indulgences found at the king's pad: from shoes polished with Champagne to laundered clothes wrapped in silk paper by private butlers to expertly mixed cocktails (even mint juleps). A staff of 400 is on hand to spoil guests rotten: "The hotel staff operates underground, driving golf carts along a maze of passageways, entering the three- and four-story riads through hidden portals. Each riad is serviced -- quietly -- by at least 10 people."


Art of Ethiopia at the Sheraton Addis

July 9, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sheraton AddisThe Sheraton Addis, A Luxury Collection Hotel, will be hosting the third annual Art of Ethiopia 2010 from August 21- 24. The finest hotel in the Ethiopian capital, the Sheraton Addis sits on a hilltop opposite the National Palace overlooking the city. The free exhibition will showcase nearly 400 works of art from 40 of Ethiopia's leading established artists (and exciting new talent) in the Lalibela Grand Ballroom. Long a patron of Ethiopian art, the hotel also boasts a permanent art collection featuring local artists. In fact, sales of the exhibition catalogue-- prepared by the hotel-- will go to the Sheraton Addis Art Endowment Fund to support art initiatives in Ethiopia.

Booking a stay in Addis Ababa? The hotel is currently running some enticing special offers-- including a package that doles out a fourth night free and a family package that gives 50% off the second room and free meals for the kids.


Pezula Resort, South Africa: The Choice of the French Team for the FIFA World Cup

June 7, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Pezula Resort Hotel and Spa, South AfricaA world-class spa? Check. Gourmet eats? Check. A magnificent setting on the coastline of the Western Cape? The Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa has jaw-dropping views of the Indian Ocean, the Knysna Lagoon, and the Outeniqua Mountains from its 1,000-hectare estate. The French soccer team certainly doesn't compromise when it comes to luxury digs for the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa. The 1998 champions may be struggling a bit on the field this year, but they're still planning to enjoy the Word Cup challenge (and Pezula's renowned hospitality) while in South Africa this summer. What else will they find at this sparkling resort? A slew of on-site activities to enjoy during their down-time, like tennis, championship golf, hiking through indigenous forest, canoeing along the Noetzie River to a beautiful secluded beach, even an animal "touch farm." And the 78 suites? They're equipped with private balconies or patios, log fireplaces and sumptuous en-suite bathrooms. If les bleus are victorious, they can party at the Champagne & Whisky Bar.