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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 World’s Best Hotels with a View


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

AmanganiWe're constantly scouring the earth for the best luxury hotels. When we stumble across hotels with views this breathtaking, this heartstoppingly beautiful, we can't help but get lyrical about them.

Amangani, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Ranked among the top après-ski destinations in the world and also consistently voted the nation's best spa by readers of Conde Nast Traveler, the ultra-luxurious Amangani is set atop East Gros Ventre Butte, offering panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks around Grand Teton National Park.

Hotel Caruso

Hotel Caruso, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Soaring 350 meters above the sea, hugging the cliffside over the Mediterranean, the Hotel Caruso commands the ultimate location. White stucco houses draped with brilliant bougainvillea, this is sun-kissed Italy at its most charming. With views like this, the infinity pool is easily among the most beautiful in the world.

Oberoi Udaivilas

Oberoi Udaivilas, Rajasthan, India

Sitting high above Udaipur's fabled lake, the Oberoi Udaivilas looks across to the floating City Palace, gleaming white in the sunshine, and Aravalli Hills beyond. Named the best hotel in the world in Travel and Leisure's 2007 reader's poll, the Oberoi Udavilas has rooms fit for a maharajah in India's romantic desert city.

Ritz-Carlton TokyoThe Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, Japan

Occupying the top nine floors and the first three levels of the 53-story Midtown Tower, the tallest building in Tokyo, The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo features 360-degree panoramic vistas of the city and Mount Fuji. When it debuted in April 2007, the hotel dazzled Tokyo with its over-the-top service and amenities (like the $16,000 Diamonds-Are-Forever Martini with its very own Bulgari diamond).

Post Ranch Inn

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California

Along the stretch of mythic California Highway 1, Big Sur enchants visitors with its awe-inspiring landscapes. Smack dab in the middle of this dramatic coastline, the Post Ranch Inn offers rustic elegance and incredible views. Dine above the Pacific at the award-winning Sierra Mar restaurant, guaranteed to be one of the most romantic dining experiences of your life.

Hayman Island Resort

Hayman Island Resort, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Located on the southwestern side of Hayman Island just beside the Great Barrier Reef, Hayman Island Resort boasts an idyllic setting surrounded by coral fringed beaches and the lapping waters of the Coral Sea. The resort has a style as special as its setting, and boasts the largest swimming pool in the southern hemisphere.

Jumeirah Essex House

Jumeirah Essex House, New York

The Grande Dame of New York is uniquely situated at the southern base of Central Park, just across the street from 843 acres of parkland. An internationally renowned urban oasis, the Jumeirah Essex House has an excellent location right in the heart of midtown Manhattan.The 515 guest rooms and suites-- fresh from a $70 million renovation-- boast breathtaking views of Central Park. Plus, the hotel has a camera on the roof which scans the city and broadcasts live to a channel in the guest rooms.

Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles, Cape Town, South Africa

Situated where earth, sea, and sky meet, Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is poised above the Atlantic, flanked by Table Mountain and the majestic Twelve Apostles range, just minutes from the glorious oceanfront city of Cape Town.

Copacabana Palace, Rio

Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro

Looming over the world-famous Copacabana beach, the Copacabana Palace is legendary, a glamorous piece of Rio's history. Like a sumptuous white wedding cake on the sand, the hotel has hosted royalty, film stars, and world leaders.

Cap Estel

Cap Estel, Eze-Bord-de-Mer, French Riviera

Located between Nice and Monaco in the charming clifftop village of Eze-Bord-de-Mer, Cap Estel is situated on its own four acre peninsula overlooking the Mediterranean with a 180 degree view of the coastline. All the guest rooms at this renowned 19th century hotel have a balcony or terrace with a sea view.

Four Seasons Hong Kong

Four Seasons Hong Kong

Heralded as the "first major hotel to open in Hong Kong in 15 years," the sleek Four Seasons opened in September 2005. Easily the top location on Hong Kong Island, the hotel is located on the waterfront of the Central neighborhood, with the Star Ferry just steps away. Its 399 spacious guestrooms have wall-to-wall windows offering views of the Harbour, Kowloon and the Peak. From the outdoor infinity pools, heated in winter, guests enjoy sweeping Harbour views.

Hotel Hassler

Hotel Hassler, Rome

The Eternal City's most luxurious and romantic hideaway, the Hotel Hassler is perched above the Spanish Steps in an unbeatable location. Hands down the best views over Rome (while working out at the health club, you can check out St Peter’s Cathedral!)

Machu Picchu

The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, Peru

The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge is the only hotel located adjacent to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, one of the world's major heritage sites. Managed by Orient-Express, the luxurious Sanctuary Lodge can arrange visits to Machu Picchu with experienced guides.


Solitaire Lodge, Rotorua, North Island: New Zealand’s Favorite Getaway


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Solitaire Lodge, New ZealandExperience one of New Zealand's most exclusive and private lodges. Aptly named, Solitaire Lodge is situated on its own private peninsula, gazing out over Lake Tarawera and onto Mount Tarawera's peak. And with only 10 suites, this five-star lodge offers the ultimate in privacy, with personal service that's been recognized worldwide as virtuoso. From every luxury suite, you'll enjoy supernatural views from floor-to-ceiling windows. The Lodge provides an exciting base for those wishing to explore the area's natural beauty. You'll find a slew of activities: float plane tours, jetty access to luxury charter boats, trout-fishing, bush walking, and thermal bathing. It's here, in blissful seclusion, where you can experience the Ultimate Indulgence Package. Imagine: a 40-minute helicopter flight where you'll stop on Mount Tarawera for a glass of champagne. A three-hour cruise aboard Clearwater Pride with lunch served. A four-course gourmet dinner (the finest in New Zealand cuisine prepared by Chef Ervin Garde), daily cocktail hour, and full breakfast each day. The two-night retreat at Solitaire Lodge also includes a bottle of Methode Champenoise and one dozen red roses. Priced from NZD 2,250 per room, per stay. Minimum two-night stay.


The Historic First Flight of the Airbus 380: Swooning over Singapore Airlines Suites


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Singapore Airlines SuitesThe world's biggest jumbo jet landed in Sydney today. The first commercial flight for the A380, operated by Singapore Airlines, was a resounding success, as the tickets for the inaugural flight were sold as part of a charity auction. (Folks paid between $560 and $100,380 for seats.) Word from the lucky passengers who took part on the maiden voyage? The plane is an engineering marvel, with a cabin that's practically silent. The cabin products are dreamy. Case in point: the Singapore Airlines Suites (pictured)-- a class beyond first. Modeled on luxury yacht interiors, the suites feature real beds with Givenchy-designed bedding. It's like your very own personal cabin, where you dine off fine china and drink from crystal glasses. The plane will be introduced on long-haul routes to London, Tokyo, and San Francisco in early 2008.


A Mirage in the Outback: Sails in the Desert Hotel at Uluru (Ayers Rock)


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sails in the Desert HotelIt's hard to believe that there's a five-star oasis in the middle of the harsh Australian Outback, perched in the shadow of Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia's famous natural icon. Sails in the Desert is just what its name indicates: a sumptuous hotel that appears like sails rising from the landscape. At this award-winning hotel, beautiful rooms are decorated with Aboriginal Art and outfitted with private balconies. Sip cocktails by the pool (or in your Jacuzzi), or try your hand at a game of tennis on one of two courts. The restaurant serves up elegant plates with an Aboriginal twist. Indeed, the hotel celebrates Aboriginal heritage and culture in all of its decor; the lobby gallery even features the works of artists in residence.


What’s Hot: Wild Bush Luxury at Bamurru Plains, Northern Territory, Australia


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bamurru PlainsFor the ultimate safari experience "down under," head to Bamurru Plains, named one of the hottest new hotels on the planet by Conde Nast Traveller UK. Located just to the west of Kakadu National Park on the Mary River floodplains, just two and a half hours from Darwin, Bamurru Plains exudes understated luxury in a breathtaking setting. With a host of birds and wildlife right at its doorstep, this remote camp brings a touch of decadent style to the beautiful Australian wilderness. Here guests can experience excellent safaris, crocodile cruises, and airboat trips into the surrounding savannah woodland teeming with wildlife. With no TVs or phones, each individual safari suite is designed to blend with the environment, exposing guests to incredible sights and sounds: the haunting call of a Whistling Kite, the sound of a full grown buffalo splashing its way through the floodplains, the morning chorus of tens of thousands of Magpie Geese. Raised on timber platforms, these nine free-standing rooms are filled with creature comforts: blissful beds, 100 percent cotton linens, extra-large, soft bath towels, and high pressure showers. Guests gather for excellent meals in the main lodge, where the small number of guests ensures a superior level of attention. Rates start from AUD $850 per person, per night (double occupancy), including meals, beverages, and scheduled activities. The camp is closed from November 1- January 31.


InterContinental Moorea: The Best of the South Pacific


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Moorea No honeymoon or Polynesian vacation on the horizon? No matter. Try this for a little Friday diversion. Discover the digital postcards of the gorgeous InterContinental Moorea, set on two acres of lush gardens backed by mountains on the island's north coast. Click away, and share with your buddies. French Polynesia conjures images of brilliant deep water lagoons edged by stunning white sand beaches; over-water bungalows from where you can slip into the crystal clear waters. And the InterContinental does not disappoint. You'll find a spa, plenty of water sports, tennis courts, outdoor pool, Kids Club, a turtle sanctuary, and a large Lagoonarium for snorkeling. You can even swim with dolphins at the on-site Dolphin Centre. Tempted? Splurge on a romantic getaway at the InterContinental Moorea.


Coming to Bali: W Retreat and Spa


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bali Beach Here's some good news to cure the post-summer blues. Starwood recently announced that it will open a new W Retreat & Spa in Bali in 2009. This will be the fourth such Retreat for the brand, after the successful launch of the Maldives property which opened in September 2006. The atoll had never before seen such pampering and indulgence-- a luxury playground like no other. (The W Retreat will also open in Vieques next year, followed by the Koh Samui retreat in 2009.) Bali is one of the top-rated resort destinations in the world, and the new W Retreat will no doubt make a splash for honeymooners seeking something unique. Situated in the Seminyak area of the island, the 152-room resort will be surrounded by rustic villages, rice terraces, and beaches. 80 villas will be designed with traditional Balinese courtyards and private pools. Of course the W Retreat experience wouldn't be complete without a poolside destination bar and the signature Whatever/Whenever concierge service.


Suite Dreams in Sydney at BLUE Woolloomooloo Bay


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

BLUE Sydney Summer is fast approaching in sunshine-soaked Sydney. Stake your claim to some stylish digs on the Wharf at Woolloomooloo, where BLUE Sydney showcases fun and modern accommodations, including 36 stunning Loft Rooms. Managed by Taj Hotels, BLUE enjoys beautiful views of the Sydney Central Business and Shopping District, the harbour and Royal Botanical Gardens. Housed in a historic wharf building, the boutique hotel retains all the charm and authenticity while offering all the latest in luxurious comfort and cutting-edge technology. The Ultra Loft Suite boasts a spacious lounge with sofa downstairs with a deluxe bathroom and King bed upstairs. Located on the 5th floor, the two Ultra Loft Suites have unimpeded Bay and City views.


Major U.S. Airlines Play Catch Up with Luxury Airlines


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

United lie-flat seats Looks like United and American are still in the running. Luxury airline favorites like Eos and Maxjet have been getting a lot of press (read: a lot of business), and the major U.S. carriers are taking notice. High-paying customers have flocked to the new all-business class airlines, where spacious seats, cutting edge technology, and truly decadent meals are run of the mill. Now United and American Airlines, the nation's largest air carriers, are preparing to enter the fray with costly makeovers to get a piece of the pie. On international flights, first-class and business travelers can soon expect big lie-flat seats, ample leg room, elaborate in-flight entertainment systems, and lots of pampering and perks. These changes to business and fist-class seats will start to take place late this year and early next year.


Balinese Cooking Classes, Plus $250 Resort Credit, at Four Seasons Resort at Sayan, Bali


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan Beneath a lotus pool floating above treetops, high above Bali's sacred Ayung River, discover a luxurious paradise nestled in the jungle. At Four Seasons Resort at Sayan, cooking classes offer a hands-on approach to the exotic world of Balinese cooking. During an escorted excursion to the local market, lucky guests marvel at the abundant selection of fresh fruits, vegetables and spices. After the chef conducts a tour of the gardens to show the herbs grown on-site, participants partake in an informative class in the Ayung Terrace kitchen. But the cooking class isn't the only thing delighting visitors to Bali's Four Seasons at Sayan. Enormous suites and private villas offer a tropical haven with Indonesian furnishings and local handmade fabrics. The two-level swimming pool, designed to follow the river's natural contours, is surrounded by a wooden deck from where guests gape at the views. With hot and cold plunge pools, outdoor bathing pavilions, and courtyard gardens, the spa is infused with elegant Balinese architecture throughout. Treatments focus on the rejuvenating elements found in nature: earthen clays, mountain botanicals and warming spices.

To discover the extraordinary diversity of Bali, pair your visit with a stay at Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay. From now until September 30, 2007, enjoy a $250 resort credit at both resorts (with a minimum four-night stay).