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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.

Announcing the New Four Seasons Koh Samui, Thailand

October 20, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Koh Samui

Set amidst swaying coconut palms overlooking the beaches of the Gulf of Thailand, Four Season's newest resort is a stunning hilltop oasis. The spacious Thai villas and residences are surrounded by tropical gardens and coconut groves, and each boast private infinity pools, sundecks, and al fresco living spaces with incredible panoramas of the white sand beaches and turquoise sea. The Spa—deeply rooted in Thailand's rich healing tradition-- is housed in five salas, each equipped with two indoor and two outdoor massage beds, two outdoor showers, an outdoor bathtub and either a steam sauna or an indoor rain shower. And there are tennis courts, a yoga pavilion, and an excellent fitness center. This is the ultimate tropical idyll. Now accepting reservations for arrivals starting February 1, 2007.


Cathay Pacific Announces Seat Upgrades

October 13, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cathay Pacific

Starting in January, Cathay Pacific will unveil some swanky cabin upgrades. First class-fliers will go gaga over the new seat that can be transformed from armchair, to chaise lounge, to bed (and an extra-long and wide one at that!) Business class passengers will appreciate the seats that recline to fully flat beds. And even the economy folks will enjoy a new seat, designed to let passengers recline without intruding on those seated behind them. (Plus economy fliers will get video and audio on-demand.) This is hot on the heels of Virgin Atlantic's announcement—reported by the folks at Mobissimo—of the airline's $25 million investment for newly-designed seats.


Business Travel to Kazakhstan: The Regent Almaty Acquired by InterContinental

October 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Almaty

Business taking you to Kazakhstan? (Rich oil, gas, and mineral reserves means rapid development for the country, and Almaty is now the economic heart of it all.) The city's finest hotel—the Regent—has recently been acquired by InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, and will morph into the brand spanking new InterContinental Almaty this month. The 290-room hotel has long been a city landmark, situated across from the presidential palace, with beautiful mountain views. After a substantial refurbishment, the hotel will feature nine executive and two Presidential suites, oodles of dining options, a Spa and Turkish baths, and fully-equipped fitness center. Notably, the new hotel will boast the most extensive meeting and conference facilities in the city, including a ballroom with a capacity of 400.


Autumn Happenings in Hong Kong; The Peninsula Spa Escape

October 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peninsula Hong Kong

Now is the time to visit Hong Kong. The city is simply hopping with festivals and good times. From October 20-November 19, 2006, the New Vision Arts Festival-- highlighting the connections between East and West-- is a month-long cultural extravaganza of art, modern dance, Chinese opera, theater and ballet. And starting October 25, Hong Kong Winterfest will transform the city into a winter wonderland. A must-see is the newly-renovated Peak Tower. Hong Kong's iconic landmark has undergone a multi-million dollar makeover and is now welcoming visitors to take in the dramatic city views. The entire rooftop has been turned into a viewing platform, high-end restaurants have opened in addition to the fast food joints, and the rooftop Sky Gallery now showcases the work of local artists.

Be pampered in style at the legendary Peninsula Hong Kong, long hailed as one of the finest hotels in the world. Even if an overnight stay's not in the works, you can now enjoy a luxurious Weekday Spa Escape at the hotel. Escape from the hectic pace of city life for the ultimate in rejuvenation. The 'Weekday Spa Escape' includes full use of the Peninsula Spa facilities (including harbor view sauna and crystal steam room, relaxation areas, Asian Tea Lounge and the hotel's Greco-Roman-style swimming pool), an ESPA salt and oil full-body exfoliation (30 minutes), ESPA aromatherapy body massage (1hr 20 minutes), plus a light lunch by the pool, featuring 'Naturally Peninsula' light and healthy cuisine. All for just HK$1,800 per person.


New SLH Hotels in the Middle East & Asia

October 10, 2006
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard

by Courtney W. May, Editorial Advisory Board SLH Logo There are 4 new additions to the Small Luxury Hotels collection, including the first members in the Middle East, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Evason Hideaway & Six Senses Spa at Zighy Bay, Oman Tucked away in a quiet fishing village on the northern tip of the Oman peninsula and backed by mountains which wrap around a secluded 1.6 kilometre sandy beach, the location of Evason Hideaway at Zighy Bay is nothing less than dramatic. When this hotel of uncompromising luxury opens in 2007 it will boast a private marina, as well as 85 pool villas and pool villa suites complete with personal butlers. The hotel will also offer its guests a rather unique mode of arrival – as a companion passenger of a professional paraglider. Definitely not for the faint-hearted! For something a little more sedate, guests will also have the option of a 10-minute speed boat transfer or a scenic drive from the top of the hill overlooking the bay. Desert Palm Retreat, Dubai When Desert Palm Retreat opens in October 2006 it will be Dubai’s first boutique resort and also SLH’s first hotel in the United Arab Emirates. Set in 150 acres of unexpectedly lush, green countryside on a private polo estate, the hotel will set a benchmark for hospitality in Dubai. Accommodation will comprise 13 beautifully appointed Polo Rooms with balcony views over the main polo fields, four one-bedroom pool villas, six three-bedroom Pool Residences and a Presidential Suite. Guests of Desert Palm Retreat will also have the opportunity to admire the owner’s collection of priceless art and antiques. The hotel will have a choice of three restaurants offering unsurpassed culinary delights, while an innovative Aquum Spa will complete the experience. Lanson Place, Hong Kong The doors of this discreet urban hotel first swung open in December 2005 to reveal beautifully executed contemporary décor throughout every one of the 194 guest rooms, which include six residences and 12 suites. Lanson Place is located on a discreet side street within easy walking distance of three of Hong Kong’s most lively neighbourhoods; Central, Wanchai and Causeway Bay providing a welcome and intimate haven away from the hustle and bustle of this vibrant city. First impressions are everything, a philosophy that resonates through the intricate wall sconces and chandeliers commissioned from glassmakers in Murano, Italy located in the lobby. An elegant collection of over 300 individual pieces of original artwork feature throughout this luxurious property. Discovery Shores, Boracay Island, the Philippines On the unspoilt shores of Boracay Island in the Philippines, Discovery Shores will be the island’s first true luxury resort of international standards when it opens in December 2006. Consistently rated within the top 20 beach destinations in the world, this pristine escape known for its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters is the ideal getaway for marine enthusiasts. Discovery Shores will showcase its breathtaking location with 67 metres of beach front and 88 units sloping upward from the beach to capture the spectacular ocean views. Guests at Discovery Shores will marvel at a 14 metre waterfall, several cascading pools, and a swim up pool bar, whilst having access to a fitness centre and world-class Mandala Spa. Small Luxury Hotels of the World Collection


Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Takes the World by Storm

October 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La Hong Kong

Look out, Four Seasons. Shangri-La, the largest operator in Asia of deluxe hotels (raking in revenue of about $1 billion a year) is coming to Europe. According to a recent IHT article, the Hong Kong-based company is "on a major expansion spree, with 44 new hotels to be developed over the next four years, and the company is still seeking more sites." Indeed, the chief executive, Giovanni Angelini, personally scouted the ideal spot in Paris for Shangri-La's first luxury hotel in Europe: the historic palace of Prince Roland Bonaparte near the Trocadero. The hotel group is also looking at major American cities and European capitals. Significantly, Shangri-La is the largest operator of luxury hotels in China and is planning to double its current 20 hotels by 2010. To quote Angelini:

"By the year 2020, it is expected there will be more than 100 million Chinese travelers," he said. "Can you imagine the impact? Japan has made a tremendous impact in the industry and it never reached more than 17 million travelers.


Announcing the W Retreat and Spa Maldives

September 29, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Maldives

The W hotel chain— adored by American urbanites for its sleek city hotels— has opened its first resort in the Maldives. Billed as a "sophisticated luxury playground," this Retreat and Spa is the first of its kind for W. Situated on the private tropical island of Fesdu, in the North Ari Atoll, the W Retreat and Spa combines indulgent all-villa accommodations with the Maldives first real nightlife: a subterranean grotto bar aptly called 15 BELOW because it's fifteen feet below the island's surface. This is the ultimate indulgence and exclusivity in the Maldives. In your private over-water villa, enjoy your own plunge pool, sundeck, and beach. Or marvel at the lagoon's colorful fish through the glass-paneled floor (the roof is likewise glass-paneled). The villas are all outfitted with outdoor lounging areas with individual barbeque stations for private dining, circular daybeds, and outdoor tropical showers. As to be expected from W Hotels, the accommodations are equipped with all the latest technology and conveniences: deluxe Bose sound systems, 42 inch plasma televisions, and wine refrigerators. Indulge in a spa treatment at the over-water AWAY spa. Lounge on the white-sand beaches, take a dip in the turquoise lagoon, and snorkel along the breathtaking reefs. The WAVE water sports facility is fully equipped with top-quality scuba diving gear, along with kite surfing, water skiing, wind surfing, kayaking, sailing, and endless other options. In the evening, dine at one of the six gourmet restaurants followed by a cocktail at the hip underground bar, which offers the largest selection of vodka in the Maldives. The W Retreat and Spa Maldives promises to be the ultimate private island paradise.


Cambodian Royal Ballet at Angkor Wat : Experience Les Nuits d’Angkor with Amanresorts

September 22, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Angkor Wat

From December 15-18, 2006, the Cambodian Royal Ballet will perform in front of the majestic temples of Angkor Wat, the UNESCO-protected world heritage that is the most important archaeological site in Southeast Asia. Spread out over 400 square kilometers, Angkor's Archaeological Park includes hundreds of mythological temples of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th century. Performed as the sun sets over the magnificent domes, Les Nuits d'Angkor promises to be an epic experience, billed as an elegant embodiment of the history of the Cambodian people, a culture nearly lost on so many occasions throughout its history. The audience is restricted to only 1,300 seats so book fast! Amanresorts is offering a package to enjoy the ballet performance while savoring the romantic tranquility of Amansara, the former guest villa of King Norodom Sihanouk now converted into a 24-suite retreat. Set within beautiful gardens, Amansara features a spa, two pools, roof terrace, library, bar, and exquisitely designed dining room with walk-in wine cellar. Starting from $675 per night in a Suite, with a minimum three-night stay required.


The Highest Hotel in the World: Grand Hyatt Shanghai

September 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Grand Hyatt Shanghai

The dynamic, vibrant city of Shanghai is a city of superlatives: it has the fastest train on the planet (the Maglev train linking its two airports) and is also home to the highest hotel in the world, The Grand Hyatt. Situated in the 53rd to 87th floors of the Jin Mao Tower in the heart of Pudong, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai is easily the best hotel in the city. Nota Bene, the exclusive destination review, raves about the Grand Hyatt in its latest issue on Shanghai, recommending it over most of the city's other luxury hotels (which are mostly big Western chains, like Four Seasons, Westin, JW Marriott):

The Grand Hyatt's height, its floor-to-ceiling windows, its 87th-floor bar, the swiftness of its lifts, its views of the Bund; all are largely unbeatable.

Hipsters flock to Cloud 9, the hotel's sexy bar/lounge located on the 87th floor, the highest point of the hotel. The 360 degree city views are sensational. The spacious guest rooms and suites epitomize luxury, with modern amenities guaranteed to mesmerize even the most discerning travelers.


Say Hello to the New Le Royal Meridien Shanghai

September 18, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le Royal Meridien Shanghai

66 storeys of sleek, sophisticated luxury right smack in the center of Shanghai on People's Square. The new Le Royal Meridien Shanghai is a sight to behold, a new landmark on the city's quickly-changing skyline. This is the heart of the city, just a quick walk to the Bund, Huaihai Road, Xintiandi, the old town, and the numerous shops along the buzzing Nanjing Road. The 770-room hotel has a staff of 1,200 to ensure the highest level of service for its pampered clientele. Views from the guest rooms are exquisite, overlooking the Bund, Huang Pu River, and dramatic Shanghai skyline. Rooms are outfitted with 42" plasma TV, DVD/CD player, rain shower, wireless and High Speed Internet Access, and wall-to-wall windows. Not too shabby. And with 10 restaurants and bars, a luxury spa, and 2,000 square meters of meeting space, Le Royal Meridien Shanghai is the place to stay in the city. Now accepting reservations for September 25, 2006 arrivals.