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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.

QE2 to Become Dubai’s First Floating Luxury Hotel

July 11, 2012
By: Oksana Balytsky

The Queen Elizabeth 2, an ocean liner previously operating as a cruise ship is in development to become Dubai’s first floating hotel. Although the design of the hotel will differ from its original plan, we certainly have high hopes that it will be nothing short of fabulous. The cruiser made its last trip from New York City to Dubai in 2008, and it has been docked in Port Rashid harbor since. The Telegraph reports that the original plan was to have the QE2 feature 1,000 lavish and luxurious rooms, but now the plan is to have 300 rooms which will maintain many of its original features. We certainly can’t wait to see this floating luxury hotel’s development as it progresses. If you get seasick or like a little more room for exploration, then check out the 61 luxury hotels that are fully grounded and stationary in Dubai!


Sail Lake Geneva Aboard a 100-Year-Old Steamboat

July 28, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Beau-Rivage Palace, cruise Lake GenevaThe Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne is offering guests a unique way to experience Lake Geneva this summer. Hop aboard La Suisse, an 100-year-old steamboat that's been plying the lake's idyllic waters since 1910, for an unforgettable sunset sail. Renovated to modern standards, the boat affords splendid views of Lausanne's vineyards and mountains. (What a setting!) While staying at the illustrious palace, make sure to dine at Anne-Sophie Pic's talked-about restaurant (and hit the Cinq Mondes spa). Book the "Sunset Cruise" package at the Beau-Rivage Palace, and you'll enjoy:

* Two nights' accommodation in a superior or deluxe room with a view of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps, or a comfort room with a garden view

* Glass of champagne upon arrival

* Daily full buffet breakfast or in-room continental breakfast

* Complimentary in-room flowers and fruit basket upon arrival

* Dinner cruise aboard La Suisse steamboat

* Complimentary access to the hotel's Cinq Mondes Spa, the fitness center and tennis courts

Based on double occupancy, the offer is priced from CHF590 (approx. US$735) per person, and is available through August 27, 2011.


50 Essential Experiences: The Travel Bucket List from Princess Cruises

October 14, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Copacabana Palace, Rio de JaneiroCalling all travel addicts. Check out the new blog from Princess Cruises-- a bucket list of experiences that are "personal journeys of discovery" from the Princess line's Destination Experts, the longest-serving shipboard and shore-side employees who've traveled thousands of sea and air miles. Get a load of their "must-see travel spots" around the globe. Some of the experiences highlighted on the blog include "dog mushing on a sunlit glacier in Alaska" and a visit to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. (All showcased destinations can be visited during a Princess cruise.) What's more- readers can share their own experiences- with one story chosen to be published each week on the blog.


Girfriend Getaway: Miami

August 2, 2010
By: Ruthanne Terrero

You’ll be BFFs forever after a day at one of these sizzling spas.

We say the spa at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami is worth a visit for the VIP suites alone; there are six of them, all with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Biscayne Bay. (Tip: If you book a treatment toward evening, you’ll witness some splendid sunsets over the water.)

The signature treatment is the Oriental Essence massage, which includes a consultation with the therapist and a full-body customized treatment. An interesting half-day program, drawing on Miami’s heritage, is the Latin Rhythms spa package, which includes a private Samba class followed by an exfoliation of lime, mint and sugar, and a hot stone massage. A Spa Mojito cocktail and a Latin-Asian bento box lunch are then served poolside. Detox-Retox, we’re all over that!

Spa Director Osa Mallo suggests reserving treatments a week in advance for weekends and holidays, though last-minute requests are usually accommodated. E-mail her at omallo@mohg.com or call her at 305-913-8331 for insider tips.

Considering a bridal shower or other special event for you and your BFFs? Consult Spa Sales Manager Stephanie Menendez (smenendez@mohg.com; 305-913-3806), who is an expert at setting up suite and spa buyouts for bachelorette parties and other smaller groups. Note: If your client is traveling with children, there are yoga programs for those aged 5-11 and teen treatments that include manicures, pedicures and facials, as well as belly dancing and salsa classes.

Staying at the hotel? If you want your room to have an inviting and peaceful spa vibe, opt for the one-bedroom Mandarin Suite, which has a living room, formal dining room, gourmet kitchen and a large private balcony accessible from every room. There’s also a spa serenity room with fabulous views of Biscayne Bay. If that’s taken, insiders tell us the Deluxe Veranda guest rooms are the hotel’s best-kept secret. They’re a step up from Deluxe Bay View rooms and have oversized terraces with views of the bay and the Miami skyline—perfect for entertaining the girls. Note: All rooms at the hotel have private balconies; the most popular are the Biscayne suites with stunning views of the bay and the bridge.

Chief Concierge Guillerme DeMelo (gdemelo@mohg.com; 305-913-3794) can procure a Vespa scooter for your Girlfriend Group to tool around Miami; he’s also known to have arranged for a private jet to fly a guest and his date to Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys for a romantic dinner. His most famous feat, however, was shipping 100 palm trees to a guest’s home in the Middle East.

After our stay, we say that the cozy Ritz-Carlton, Coconut Grove is a gem of a boutique hotel. It’s a best bet for women traveling solo as the service is attentive and it’s close to one of Miami’s most interesting dining and shopping districts. We’re talking walking distance.

The spa may be petite (just 6,000 square feet) but houses separate men’s and women’s lounges, saunas and steam rooms and six treatment rooms.

If you go, try the time-saving Tandem Treatment, which, for 50 minutes, employs two therapists who work together to serve up a signature facial and pedicure that includes a foot and leg massage, as well as a shoulder, neck, arm and scalp massage. Be sure to request appointments at least six hours prior to each service.

Spa Director Laura Kain (laura.kain@ritzcarlton.com; 305-644-4684) can recommend the top therapist, including Danilo Toledo, who is most requested for the Signature or Hot Stone Massage.

The size of the spa makes it ideal for buyouts for a wedding party or other group event. Know a bride considering a wedding in South Florida? Contact Jeysa Plana (jeysa.plana@ritzcarlton.com; 786-470-1202), who can detail the nuptial venues on site.

After the pampering, you and your BFFs will want to retire to the top digs in the house, The Ritz-Carlton Suite (a.k.a. the Presidential Suite). It has two bedrooms, private balconies, a living and dining room, an office, private butler service and great views of Biscayne Bay and Coconut Grove.

We found our Executive Suite to be a fine place to crash for several days (request No. 529, 629, 729 or 829 for the top vistas), courtesy of its large living and dining area. Note: The hotel was modeled after the nearby Villa Vizcaya (the posh former estate of magnate John Deering), so rooms and public spaces have an elegant and regal ambiance. If clients must book a standard guest room, they’ll take heart in knowing that a private balcony awaits.

Note: If you’re sailing in or out of the Miami cruise port, a 15-minute drive away, the hotel has a Sail Away package that covers accommodations, breakfast for two and transportation to or from the port.

Those arriving via private chopper or jet can land at Kendall-Tamiami Executive General Airport; contact Airport Manager Michael J. Handrahan (mhandrahan@miami-airport.com) for details. Another option is Opa-Locka Executive Airport; contact Chris McArthur (CMcArthur@miami-airport.com).


Taking a Cruise from London? Special Package with the Egerton House Hotel

July 8, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Egerton House HotelDeparting from London on a cruise? Make it a breeze with a special package with the Egerton House Hotel-- the luxury townhouse hotel located in the heart of fashionable Knightsbridge. The hotel will take the hassle out of the journey, arranging transfers from the airport to your cruise liner, while also spoiling you for a few days in London on either your outward or return journey. Take a few days to enjoy all that the vibrant capital has to offer, while luxuriating at the hideaway known for its attentive service (starting with a glass of Champagne or a pot of tea when you arrive). Available until December 31, 2010, the "Pre and Post Cruise" package includes two nights in the room or suite of your choice, English Breakfast on both mornings, and luxury car transfers between London Heathrow and your cruise liner on the outward and return journeys, including the transfers to and from the Egerton House Hotel in between. Prices start from £311 for Tower Bridge and £415 for Dover or Southampton. This price is per room per night and based on two adults sharing a Classic Double room. Minimum two-night stay required.


The Way of the Future: The New Aircruise Design Concept is a Floating Hotel

February 4, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Aircruise

Continuing our quest to bring you deets on the newest (and often weirdest) hotel accommodation options out there... CNN is reporting that "floating hotels" may be the way of the future. We're not talking floating hotels like the pyramid bobbing in the currents off Cancun, or permanently anchored luxury cruise ships... No, this floating hotel is an airship powered by natural energy:

The Aircruise is a radical new design that promises to accommodate guests in a 265-meter tall hotel that could float above city skylines or over dramatic landscapes according to its designers at Seymourpowell.

The experience is described as like taking a cruise, but high above the earth, so that the 100 lucky passengers can take in vistas of the Serengeti, or the tallest skyscraper in the world, in a serene environment. The beauty of this luxury airship? The head of transportation at Seymourpowell says it best: "The Aircruise concept questions whether the future of luxury travel should be based around space-constrained, resource hungry, and all too often stressful airline travel."

Via Gridskipper


Buzzworthy: The Ice Bar on Norwegian Cruise Line’s New Epic Ship

January 26, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ice BarCruise lines are going all out with new enhancements and over-the-top facilities. And we thought botox onboard was something to talk about! Norwegian Cruise Line's new ship, called Epic, will feature an Ice Bar, where guests can slurp cocktails while braving the chilly 17 degrees, outfitted in faux fur coats, gloves, and a hat. As the Los Angeles Times reports, "Stand by for the first reported case of frostbite ever reported aboard a cruise ship sailing the Caribbean." Likewise remarkable: The Epic will also have NCL's first water park, the first squash court at sea, and-- drum roll please-- the Blue Man Group and Cirque Dreams & Dinner for top-notch entertainment. In fact, all across the seas, cruise lines are upping the luxury quotient: Royal Caribbean's Carnival Dream will have a two-level mini golf course plus The Waterworks Park featuring the largest water slide at sea, while Disney's Dream will have an Aquaduck that combines a water slide and a roller coaster.


Buy a Cabin on The Utopia, the $1.1 Billion Cruise Ship

January 12, 2010
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Utopia cruise shipGet in on the action and buy a share of the new 1,000-foot, 105,000-ton luxury ocean liner called The Utopia. Set to launch in 2013 from South Korea, the $1.1 billion ship will hit up key destinations and events around the globe. To quote the Los Angeles Times:

During the Cannes Film Festival, the ship is slated to drop anchor near the south of France in the Mediterranean sea. During the carnival celebration in Rio de Janeiro, the ship plans to dock off the coast of the Brazilian city. On New Year's Eve, cruise ship operators hope to take passengers to Sydney Harbor in Australia to enjoy the fireworks display.

Also on the agenda? The Tour de France bicycle race, Monaco Grand Prix, and the America's Cup. Half the posh cabins on board the ship will be for sale as floating homes, with prices ranging from $3.7 million for a 1,400-square-foot residence with two bedrooms and two baths to $26 million for a 6,600-square-foot cabin with four bedrooms and three baths. Facilities on the ship include three swimming pools and a "lazy river," tennis courts, an outdoor movie theater, mini golf, shops, and restaurants.

Image Via Luxist


2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa: Stay on a Luxury Cruise Ship with One Ocean Club

October 14, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

One Ocean Club, cruise ships for FIFA World CupHeading to South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, arguably the biggest sporting event of the century? We just got wind about some unique accommodations for the tournament's spectators. This is the first time in history that the World Cup is hosted by an African nation, and over a billion people will be tuning in. Stay with One Ocean Club and you'll bed down in a Holland America luxury cruise liner playing host to guests from all over the world. Chartered by One Ocean Club (which managed the Official German Ship AIDAaura moored in Piraeus harbour during the 2004 Olympic Summer Games), the ships will act as floating hotels and hubs for business, entertainment, and recreation. Parked in prime locations close to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa venues in Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth, the ships will also offer transfers to all the other venues. Choose from a slew of different room types-- from Penthouse Suites to Inside Cabins-- and enjoy a lavish buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus, you'll get a late-night dinner on all match days. Additional perks include a state-of-the-art high performance center, fitness facilities, full-service spa and hydropool, the Lido Pool with sliding roof, and extensive meeting/events areas for private functions. And like a fine five-star hotel, the ships will have 24/7 concierge service to arrange excursions to local attractions and take care of all your needs.


Cooking Classes on Cruises: Le Cordon Bleu on Regent Seven Seas

March 24, 2009
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Le Cordon Bleu

Guests aboard thee luxurious Regent Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner are delighted to discover Signatures, the only permanent Le Cordon Bleu restaurant on a cruise ship. Making the most of local and seasonal ingredients at every port of call, the menu offers a droolworthy collection of traditional French dishes. Best of all: Guests can participate in culinary workshops called Le Cordon Bleu at Sea ("Classes Culinaires des Croisières") on select voyages, like May's Ft Lauderdale- Reykjavik sailing. The gourmet classes have themes based on various ports of call. Under the supervision of Le Cordon Bleu chefs, passengers attend short demonstrations followed by hands-on practical classes. At the end of the three-day program, the participants will receive a Le Cordon Bleu Certificate of Attendance during an awards ceremony. The graduation culminates in a dinner at Signatures prepared by one of the many talented Le Cordon Bleu Chefs.

Pssst. For most 2009 voyages, Regent is offering free unlimited shore excursions. (Offer expires on May 31, 2009.)