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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.

Far-Flung Journeys with International Expeditions

February 28, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

International Expeditions Announcing new, exciting destinations with International Expeditions, the world leader in nature travel tours and environmentally responsible expeditions. Listed on Travel and Leisure magazine's 2006 list of "World's Best" tour operators, International Expeditions plans small-ship voyages and enriching land expeditions with exceptional naturalist guides. The Far-Flung Adventures take you to all corners of the world-- remarkable, less-traveled places like the Sahara, Falkland Islands, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, Croatia and Bhutan. You stay in top-rate accommodations, from stylish riverboats on the Amazon to romantic tented camps in Africa. Samplings of upcoming adventures include: Bhutan-- learn about the cultures of this remote Himalayan kingdom, and explore its pristine environment (June 19, 2007, 14 days from $4,298), Mongolia-- explore the Gobi Desert, Lake Hovsgol, Hustain Nuruu National Reserve and the rich nomadic cultures of Mongolia (June 22, 2007, 14 days from $3,998), Papua New Guinea-- take in one of the last of the great highland "sing-sings," and visit the most interesting river villages (August 15, 2007, 19 days from $7,698), and Cape to Cairo-- journey to the most compelling places on the entire African continent on the expedition to see the "Best of Africa" (October 22, 2007, 18 days from $14,498).


What’s Hot: Gaia Hotel and Reserve, Quepos, Costa Rica

February 22, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Gaia Hotel and ReserveCongratulations to Gaia Hotel and Reserve, Costa Rica's luxurious hideaway, for winning a prestigious award from Conde Nast Johansens. The international luxury travel guide recently named Gaia "Most Excellent Hotel" for the entire Central America and Mexico region. This fabulous, eco-friendly hotel deserves some serious props. Nestled in the gorgeous coastal forests near Manuel Antonio National Park, the hotel's beautiful suites feature wrap-around views of the lush tropical surroundings. (You can even appreciate the sensational vistas while soaking in your own Jacuzzi.) This is an exotic setting without compare. Dedicated to the preservation of the pristine nature preserve surrounding the property, Gaia offers sublime luxury and a chic ambience. Conveniences include full-service spa, al fresco dining room, three-tiered infinity-edge pool, gym, restaurant, private butler service, and 24/7 room service.


Serious Savings at Cayo Espanto, Ambergris Cay, Belize

January 29, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cayo Espanto

This is almost too good to be true. The exclusive private island of Cayo Espanto, located just eight minutes by boat from Ambergris Cay, Belize, has discounted its rates more than 40 percent for five night stays. For a limited time, take advantage of rates starting from $995 per couple, per night (compared to the usual $1,695 per night), including meals and transportation from the San Pedro Airport. The ultra-luxurious Cayo Espanto pampers guests with spa services, private plunge pools, personalized gourmet meals, and 24-hour butler service. From your own oceanfront villa, enjoy 180 degree wrap-around views of the crystal clear Caribbean Sea. Or contemplate the blue deep from your private dock, or al fresco shower. Activities are plentiful: fly-fishing, sailing, boating, conching, and scuba diving and snorkeling the second largest barrier reef in the world. But hurry, you must book this offer by February 14, 2007.

Via Washington Post "What's the Deal?"

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Buzzworthy: Villa Camilla, Azuero Peninsula, Panama

January 4, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Villa Camilla

Renowned French architect Gilles Saint-Gilles has transformed his bold vision into sublime reality with the beautiful Villa Camilla, which opened on Panama's idyllic Pacific coast in December 2005. "I want to live a refined lifestyle that doesn't compromise my childrens' future,” so says the architect, who has created a luxurious, exclusive retreat in harmony with the spectacular natural surroundings of lush green hills and sparkling Pacific. With a team of European craftsmen, Gilles built on-site workshops to train local artisans who have designed virtually every component of the guesthouse and private homes on-site: teak doors and shutters, bamboo ceilings, terra cotta brick floors, Chiriqui stone walls, and parquet floors patterned from purpleheart wood mixed with French oak wine caskets-- the ultimate mix of the Old World and New. This attention to detail has also been focused on the natural environment, as Gilles' team has restored the Tropical Dry Forest eco-system that originally existed in the province, providing wildlife habitat for the future. Villa Camilla (and its aesthetically magnificent guest rooms) is just one aspect of this elegant oceanside community; it is possible to purchase one of 71 lots and Saint-Gilles will custom-design the home to build on it.


Buzzworthy: Fasano Hotel, Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro

November 21, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Rio de Janeiro

The legendary Fasano Hotel of São Paulo-- site of one of the best Italian restaurants in the world-- is coming to Rio de Janeiro. Destined to wow both trendsetting locals and savvy travelers alike, the elegant new hotel will be situated in the heart of Ipanema Beach. Rogerio Fasano commissioned Philippe Starck in its design, which exudes understated sophistication, with decor from the 1950's and 60's. From the rooftop (guests only), the views are absolutely spectacular. In addition to the happening Lobby Lounge, Londra, the hotel features the Fasano Al Mare, Rogerio Fasano's gastronomic restaurant (serving traditional Italian seafood), beautiful pool, fitness center, sauna, massage and coffee shop for light meals.

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Explore the Amazon in Peru with International Expeditions

November 7, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Amazon Expedition

For 25 years, International Expeditions travelers have been observing the natural wonders of the Amazon on riverboat expeditions in Peru. The Amazon is the mightiest river in the world, surrounded by pristine rainforest which shelters the most diverse ecosystem on the planet. On the 10-day expedition, travelers voyage along the Amazon's tributaries and see incredible wildlife: monkeys, birds, sloths, pink and gray dolphins, and more. The expedition travels deep into the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, the largest wetland reserve in the world. Expert local naturalist guides accompany each expedition. Despite the remote rainforest locale, guests enjoy fine accommodations-- state rooms are elegant, the bathrooms, spacious-- and delicious cuisine. For a limited time, take advantage of a special offer and enjoy savings of $500 per person. Explore the Peruvian Amazon on a 10-day journey with International Expeditions departing January 5, 2007 and get a real deal (It's often hard to persuade people to travel anywhere the first week of January, and thus there are still some spots remaining for this voyage. IE is rolling back the prices as a special inducement to fill the spots.) Lower deck cabins are priced at $2,398, and upper deck cabins for $2,498. Hurry! Just a few spots left. Call 1-800-633-4734 for reservations.


Cycling and Walking Trips in Europe with Duvine Adventures

October 31, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Duvine Adventures

Recently the French Tourist Office recognized Duvine Adventures with a grand award (Best Special Interest Product in France) for its deluxe, personalized bicycle trips through the unspoiled villages of Europe. The French aren't the only ones who love Duvine. Time, Bicycling, and Outside have all raved about the tours, where lucky cyclists experience stunning landscapes, charming inns and chateaux, and gourmet cuisine and fine wines. It's one of the best ways to encounter the off-the-beaten-path joys of European destinations. And now Duvine has grown to include other destinations (with year round availability), including tours in New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and Napa and Sonoma counties in California. Beginning in 2007, Duvine will also offer walking tours in France, Italy, and Ireland. Check out their new movie.


Spotlight On: Llao Llao Hotel and Resort, Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina

October 27, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Llao Llao

This could be the most dramatic setting on earth: amidst deep blue lakes, snow-capped mountains, and the rivers and forests of Nauel Huapi National Park in Northwest Patagonia. Welcome to the Llao Llao Hotel and Resort, where the spectacular surroundings are only enhanced by extraordinary facilities. Recently recognized as one of the top three resorts in Central/South America by Conde Nast Traveler's 19th annual Readers' Choice Awards, Llao Llao is a luxurious mountain lodge, designed in the style of Canada's greatest ski lodges, with exposed timbers and grand stone fireplaces. No matter what season, Llao Llao's a picture-perfect destination, with numerous recreational activities: 18-hole golf course, state-of-the-art spa, spectacular heated swimming pool with mountain views, mountain biking, skiing, fishing, horse back riding, sailing. (And awesome skiing in the off-season, come next May/June.)


Luxury Eco-Resorts: Warapuru, Itacaré, Brazil

October 16, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Itacare

The secret's out about Itacaré. The favorite destination of Gisele and Sean Penn—a tropical paradise of white sand, lush palms, waterfalls, mangrove swamps and turquoise waters-- will witness the hottest luxury hotel opening in 2007, with the debut of the gorgeous eco-resort Warapuru. Wallpaper* hails it as a "Bond-style hideaway" that is "set to become the country's most exclusive retreat." And to quote the Fall issue of the New York Times Style Magazine:

While progressively more luxurious eco-resorts have been opening in early-adopting regions, the boom is currently spreading to more surprising destinations — like megapolluting Brazil. "Anyone with any feeling for the world is going green," says the cult interior designer Anouska Hempel, who is at work on Warapuru, a lavish eco-resort set to open next year on Brazil's north coast; made entirely of locally sourced materials, it will have customized spa treatments using native plants.

Anouska Hempel (who did Blakes in London and The Hempel in Amsterdam) has created a modern visual masterpiece, nestled within the rainforest canopy on a unique coastline. Warapuru will have 40 pavilions, beach club, restaurants, and exclusive spa. Opening set for early 2007.


The Fasano Hotel, Sao Paulo, Brazil

October 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fasano

Recently featured in an excellent Financial Times article about luxury travel, The Fasano in Sao Paulo is indeed one of the world's best hotels.

The rooms so chic, chocolate and cosseting, you will find yourself revising your low opinion of so-called design hotels. Bathrooms are simply vast, the location spot-on and service conspicuously good for capricious South America.

Most importantly, this is the spot of one of the best Italian restaurants in the world. The Fasano family name is well known in São Paulo: their signature restaurant has dignified the grand avenue (Rua Vittorio Fasano) since 1990, the recipes for its grand cuisine brought from Milan a century ago. The hotel's facilities are nothing short of decadent: rooftop health club with pool, baths, sauna (and stunning views), a fleet of limousines for airport pick-ups and transfers, hip jazz bar, and swank guest rooms. A truly glamorous address with exceptional service.