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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.

Around the World Culinary Experiences at Viceroy Santa Monica


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Viceroy Santa Monica Foodies flock to Whist at Viceroy Santa Monica, ranked in the top hotel restaurants in the U.S. for its fabulous Modern American cuisine. In this stylish hot spot, Executive Chef Warren Schwartz serves up highly addictive bites using fresh local provisions. This summer, Taste of Tuesday transforms Viceroy Santa Monica's famed poolside into a gourmand's mecca; guests can relax by the pool while indulging in tasty treats every Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. Servers circulate small plates to accompany classy cocktails like the Bartinis-- a low carb/low calorie selection of martinis with flavors like blue raspberry, cranberry cosmo, and dessert key lime. In addition, guests at Viceroy Santa Monica can enjoy "Warren's Culinary Journal," a new menu at Whist showcasing recipes from the globe-trotting Executive Chef that he's collected on his extensive travels. Taste your way around the world without leaving the luxurious comfort of the Viceroy.

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August Opening for the Venetian Resort in Macau


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Venetian Macao Resort Hotel Rumor has it that Las Vegas Sands Corp. is bringing its Vegas-style pool parties to the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau. The 3,000-room Venetian Resort-Hotel, "large enough to hold ninety Boeing 747 jumbo jets," will open at the end of August in the world's gambling capital. The centerpiece of Las Vegas Sands' $11 billion complex of casinos and shops, the Venetian will bring over-the-top luxury to the Cotai Strip. Suites are enormous, decked out with lavish Italian marble bathrooms and sunken living rooms. There will be a V Spa, V Gym fitness center, myriad dining experiences, and of course multiple swimming pools, including the exclusive adults-only pool. Book now and get special introductory rates from HK $1,088.


Jewel in the Jungle: Tides Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Tides Riviera Maya Hidden in the tropical forest on the white sands of the Riviera Maya, the Tides is a 30-villa property that epitomizes barefoot luxury. Located just outside Playa del Carmen, this seaside refuge has been touted as "a sexy, eco-conscious hideaway in the jungle" by Travel and Leisure magazine. Taste the award-winning "Yucatecan Cuisine," take a yoga class overlooking coastal splendor, discover nearby ancient Mayan cities, frolic on the seven miles of white sand beach. Here in paradise, the Tides provides unique services and facilities: Temazcal, the stunning Maya-style sauna right on the beach, a "tropical butler" to deliver iced face towels poolside, and a "dine anywhere, anytime" policy. Leave your cell phones behind (they're not allowed here!) and get ready for some serious relaxation, both in your palapa-roofed villa (decorated with sophisticated simplicity) and the full-service holistic spa. If you book the Barefoot Luxury package, you can enjoy four nights at the Tides Riviera Maya along with a private Mayan cooking class or Tequila and Ceviche tasting. Priced at $2,740, includes a departure amenity.


Summer Resort Credit at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Maldives Since its reopening at the end of 2006, the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa has generated quite a buzz. (In a setting this magical-- private coral island surrounded by the turquoise sea-- it's no wonder visitors are swooning.) The resort's palm-thatched pavilions and bungalows rise above the water, or line the white sand, and boast private plunge pools, over-water decks, and outdoor showers. From the infinity edge pool, one of the largest in the Maldives, you can take in the memorable sunsets, when the sky is painted in brilliant shades of color. Aboard the resort's yacht, The Explorer, you can cruise untouched atolls and discover some of the best scuba diving spots in the world. Until September 30, 2007, book a four-night stay and you'll receive a $250 resort credit for use in the fabulous spa and restaurants.


Next Stop: Movenpick Resort at the Dead Sea, Amman, Jordan


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Movenpick Dead Sea At the lowest point on earth, where the lapping waters of the Dead Sea are sought out for their curative powers, you'll find an elegant resort with one of the most advanced spa operations in the Middle East. Located at 400 meters below sea level, beside the northern shores of the saltiest sea in the world, Movenpick Dead Sea is a luxurious hideaway designed as a traditional stone village. Where else can you float in the sea while reading your newspaper? Indulge in the legendary therapeutic secrets of the Dead Sea at the ZARA Spa, with its wide range of health and beauty therapies and several saline pools including an indoor Dead Sea flotation pool. The facilities are superb: beach, heated pool, summer beach pool, children's pool and playground, solariums, tennis court, and large fitness room. The Dead Sea is an exciting place to visit, not only because of this blissful spa experience, but also because of the spectacular surrounding landscape and ancient historical sites.


Raffles to Open Resort on Tortola, British Virgin Islands


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

British Virgin Islands Hot on the heels of the debut of its new St. Lucia hotel, Raffles will open a third Caribbean property in 2010: set on 50 pristine beachfront acres on the northeastern end of Tortola in the BVI. Raffles luxury hotels have distinguished themselves as landmarks in their respective cities around the globe (the flagship in Singapore is world-renowned), so the new Tortola hotel will no doubt bring a high standard of luxury to the secluded white sand beaches of the "sailing capital of the Caribbean." The 100-room resort will feature four restaurants and bars, three swimming pools, a fitness center, two beach clubs, and the signature RafflesAmrita Spa, occupying 15,000 square feet. Cool fact: the resort, though managed by Raffles, is 100 percent owned by British Virgin Islanders.


Surf into Relaxation at Loews Coronado Bay Resort and Spa, San Diego


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Loews Coronado Bay Resort Ahhh, summer in San Diego, where the surf's up, the breeze is balmy, and the temperatures are just right. Take the whole family (including your doggie) to Loews Coronado Bay Resort for some fun in the sun. The recreational facilities are remarkable: tennis courts, Sea Spa, fitness center, beach and three outdoor swimming pools, private marina, gondola rides on the nearby canals, bicycling, rollerblading, whatever your little heart desires. Your family's teenage jetsetter will dig the Super Suite Vacation package-- replete with surfing lessons, custom-designed INT surfboard, and two spa treatments in the resort's Teen Spa Room designed by Pottery Barn's PBteen. This taste of the suite life, a perfect blend of sun and surf, goes for $2,000 for a two-night stay. Prior to arrival, your teen can select the color and graphics for the surf board. Loews also offers a Su'ruff Camp, where your doggie can get a surfing lesson with Coronado Surfing Academy at Coronado's Dog Beach. The package also includes a Surf & turf room service meal for your pet, board shorts or a surfing bandana for your pup, and a copy of The Dog's Guide to Surfing.


Fourth of July Celebration at the Tides Inn, a Chesapeake Bay Tradition


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Tides Inn I was fortunate enough to tour the Tides Inn during a glorious afternoon. Allow me to sing its praises. For sixty years, discriminating travelers and yachtsmen sailing the Eastern seaboard have flocked to the Tides Inn, a well-guarded secret. Today, the AAA four-diamond resort is a member of Leading Hotels of the World, and visitors enjoy the sparkling pool, spa, boating excursions, tennis, and world-class golf on the Golden Eagle course.

As I walked towards the Inn's entrance, I was greeted by a valet and bellhop who offered lemonade and freshly baked cookies, along with a smile. How's that for Southern hospitality? This gracious hospitality is standard at an Inn long celebrated for its genuine Southern charm. Perched over Carters Creek with an unobstructed view to the sparkling waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the Tides Inn commands a setting like no other. Under a clear blue sky, I strolled out in the flowering gardens to gape at the view. Next to the manicured croquet lawn, guests sipped drinks beneath the shade of a tall cedar, watching the boats dock in the marina. Everywhere I turned, the staff beamed smiles and greetings.

Though the Inn has a long history as the premier hotel in the Mid-Atlantic, there is nothing faded about this place. After extensive refurbishments in 2001, the Tides Inn emerged in all of its contemporary splendor, but with all its traditions intact. Guest rooms are elegant and comfortable, outfitted in British colonial style with dark wood trim and custom fitted marble for the wet bars. You'll still find the wooden lockers in the Chesapeake Club, the resort's fine dining restaurant, where guests during the "dry" years stored their bottles after a whiskey run to nearby Urbanna (a "wet county") aboard the Miss Ann. And you'll still find an impressive attention to detail: guests are pampered with complimentary bottles of champagne and hand-written cards when celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.

The Fourth of July week at the Tides Inn promises to be a fabulous celebration, packed with festive activities and events. Plus, if you stay three or more nights during the week, you'll qualify for a special rate of $295 per evening. Here's a taste of what's in store: a phenomenal fireworks display right on Carters Creek, night golf, a boat building competition on the Windsor Lawn, kayaking tours on Carters Creek, Irvington's Main Street Parade complete with Antique Cars, family scavenger hunts, garden tours, and movie nights in the Bryant Garden, the Inn's own natural amphitheater.


Wedding Travel Trends: New Cruise Packages at Half Moon, Montego Bay, Jamaica


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Half Moon Now you can tie the knot in style with the best of both worlds: a Caribbean cruise and a destination wedding in paradise at Half Moon. The prestigious resort has just introduced Cruise Day Wedding Packages, so that cruise passengers arriving at Jamaica's Montego Bay Cruise Ship Pier can be whisked away to Half Moon for a luxurious and memorable wedding. The Shore Romance package, priced at $3,900, includes all the amenities needed for the perfect wedding: marriage officer, professional videographer and photographer, two chilled bottles of champagne, chef's selection of hot and cold d'oeuvres for up to ten persons, wedding cake, two witnesses, plus the services of a June Wedding Incorporated certified wedding planner. Valid until December 14, 2007, includes a day use room at the resort. You can really go all out with the Shore Paradise package, which includes all the amenities of the Shore Romance package, plus professional make-up for the bride, lavish floral arrangements, Swedish massage for the bride and groom, a flautist or violinist, all for $6,200. Rest assured-- there's an army of event staff on-site (including a romance specialist) to handle all the planning logistics.


Buzzworthy: Bauer Il Palladio Opens its Spa in Venice, Italy


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bauer Il Palladio As recently featured on Travel and Leisure's "It List," Bauer Il Palladio is the hottest new hotel in Venice. Though the hotel is housed in a former convent, there is nothing austere about this place-- decked out in Murano-glass lanterns and the finest tapestries and paintings. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece of original 16th century brick walls and terrazzo floors, complemented by antique furnishings. The hotel is aptly called a "rare jewel in Venice," as its location on the exclusive island of Giudecca ensures stupendous views of the city. A cool perk: guests are transported by solar-powered boat to and from Venice's other islands. This summer, the five-star hotel welcomes its luxurious spa, which will offer a slew of first-class wellness therapies along with a Turkish hammam and saunas.

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