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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.

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).


Five Star Alliance Selects World’s Best Luxury Hotels 2007


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peter Island It's official. Five Star Alliance, the leading online travel agency for luxury hotels, has released the annual "World's Best Luxury Hotels" lists. Our crew of somewhat obsessive luxury hotel fans gives recs so often, we decided it's important to share that info with the world. Along with the company's expertise, the criteria used to select the World's Best Luxury Hotels includes honest feedback from Five Star Alliance clients and the popularity of hotels. Since Five Star Alliance only focuses only luxury hotels, these picks are truly la crème de la crème.

The world's most luxurious hotels are selected for eight categories, including Luxury Beach Resorts, Business Hotels, Luxury Honeymoon Resorts, Luxury Golf Resorts, Luxury Spa Resorts, Luxury Ski Resorts, Luxury Resorts for Families, and Romantic Resorts.

Do you have a favorite that didn't make our lists? After checking them out, come back and discuss your favorites with us! (You'll find a link for comments at the bottom of each list.)