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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.

Christmas at Plaza Athénée, Paris: Plant Your Own Tree at the Palace of Versailles

November 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Plaza Athenee, ParisHere's your chance to "plant your roots in French History" at the Château de Versailles. Talk about cool Christmas gifts! The Hotel Plaza Athénée, the luxurious Parisian palace hotel, is offering you a special limited-time special offer to buy a Christmas tree and plant it at the legendary Château, where you'll have your name engraved, and get free access to the Château de Versailles for one year. Not only that, you'll also receive your very own ownership certificate to show off to friends back home. The sprawling palace-- a symbol of royal opulence-- is surrounded by an important forest, currently being replanted by local governmental organizations. To be part of the legend, you must act fast! The Plaza Athénée's "My Private Tree" offer is limited to 10 available trees. Here's what's included in the package, priced from 1428 euros in a Deluxe Room (with guaranteed upgrade to a Junior Suite):

* At Château de Versailles: Your own Tree (Value 1000 euros) only 10 trees available; Ownership certificate; Your name engraved at the Château de Versailles; Free access to the Château de Versailles for one year

* At the Plaza Athénée: Daily Continental breakfast for two and a bottle of organic Champagne with your luxurious accommodations

Rates are per night for a two nights stay minimum. Available until December 28, 2011.


Sponsored Article: Winter Wonderland in Canada with Fairmont Hotels

November 7, 2011
By: Five Star Alliance

Skiing in Whistler, Fairmont HotelsLet it snow! November means it’s time to take advantage of some early-season ski deals so you can hit the powder fast. Without a doubt, the best place to embrace the winter is our neighbor to the north. Canada’s pristine wilderness is home to the number one ski resort in North America (Whistler), and Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a storybook winter setting in the Canadian Rockies. Here, the wide-open wilderness makes for some epic skiing on what feels like your very own private pistes.

Fairmont offers three legendary resorts where skiers and non-skiers alike revel in luxury while soaking up the surrounding natural beauty. Styled after a Scottish Baronial Castle, the Fairmont Banff Springs resort is located in the heart of the park with three pristine ski resorts at your doorstep. With the “Couples Holiday Getaway,” you get a third night for free when you stay for the festive Christmas season between December 17th and December 30th, 2011. Another hot offer: With “Extend Your Stay,” you’ll get discounts until February 10, 2012. Stay two nights and save 25% off each night when you stay two nights; 30% off each night when you stay three nights; 35% off each night when you stay four or more nights.

Fairmont Chateau Lake LouiseAlso located in Banff National Park, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the ultimate winter playground. Oft described as Canada’s most scenic ski resort, the Lake Louise Ski Resort has 139 marked ski runs and back bowls on four mountain faces. Beyond skiing, the snow adventures are endless-- from dog sledding the Great Divide to horse-drawn sleigh rides through the glacial shadows. Take advantage of the resort’s “Ski & Play for Free” and you’re guaranteed the ski trip of a lifetime. Included in the package: luxury accommodations, two adult Lake Louise Ski Resort passes per room per night OR a $100 Fairmont Chateau lake Louise resort credit (in place of each ski day), plus transportation to the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Valid from November 15th, 2011 until May 1st, 2012, starting from $299 CAD per night.

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler-- nestled at the base of Blackcomb Mountain-- offers ski-in/ski-out access, amenities for pets, and a lavish spa. The “Ski for Free” package means you get Whistler Blackcomb lift tickets included with your low room rates (from $269 CAD per night) until November 23, 2011. Or book the “Everyone's An Original Winter Offer “ for double airline reward miles.


Costa Rican Resort Introduces New Shangri-La Gardens

November 1, 2011
By: Oksana Balytsky

The Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort in Costa Rica has just introduced its newest luxury hideaway, the private Shangri-La Gardens. These adult-only gardens are located in a secluded area of the minerals springs complex, and they provide guests with a serene area to unwind while enjoying cocktails and refreshments served by the garden butler. The Shangri-La Gardens are surrounded by lush greens and offer six thermal mineral spring water pools, heated naturally by the Arenal Volcano, providing a relaxing experience unlike any other. Be sure to also experience the natural hot springs and waterfalls located throughout the resort, and take advantage of the unique treatments available, including volcanic mud wraps, exfoliations with coffee or coconut, and outdoor Watsu underwater massages. Take relaxation to the next level by checking in to the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort and checking out the new Shangri-La Gardens.


A Fresh Redesign: Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles Reopens

October 13, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

Now this is the story all about how

my life got flipped, turned upside down

And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there

I’ll tell you how I went on vacation to a hotel called Bel-Air.

Now here’s news: The Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles is reopening this month, and the property has turned things upside-down with its renovation. With a fresh new look, they’re positioning themselves to be the prince of spa services. The revitalized property offers a 4,000 sq. ft. spa by La Prairie and is the first US hotel to launch a line of in-room amenities by the same luxury Swiss company. The familiar swans still glide across the serene lake they call home, and their habitat is now maintained by an updated circulation system that saves over 1.5 million gallons of water. It’s great to see more and more hotels incorporate green engineering into their modernized design plans. Alongside the familiar Grace Kelly suite, the new presidential suite even offers a private courtyard and private pool where can guests can relax after enjoying dinner for up to ten people from their private chef’s kitchen. The main buildings preserve some of the original colonial Spanish aesthetic, while also being ‘modernized’ to include retro themes from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. This is hotel the Dorchester Collection is clearly proud to be reopening, and as well they should be.

Not only does the Hotel Bel-Air feel completely renewed, until December 29th, Hotel Bel Air will include a $100 dining credit with your reservation, so you can enjoy fresh cuisine imagined by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck the next time you stay at this lovely hotel.


InterContinental Hotels Celebrates Responsible Business Week with National Geographic

October 5, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Presidente InterContinental Cozumel ResortFrom supporting local craftsmen in Romania to clean-ups of the reefs in Cozumel, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts knows responsible business. In fact, they've partnered with National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations to celebrate Responsible Business Week. Hotels around the world are "taking part in activities that ensure their location remains an appealing place to visit for future generations"- to quote the official press release. The protection and preservation of local environments is key. Examples of these geotourism initiatives include: InterContinental Boston's rooftop beehives that pollinate the flora in surrounding parks and provide local honey for the kitchen; InterContinental Bora Bora Resort's salt water air-conditioning system, the first in the world; Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort's environmental work to protect the reefs and marine life, teaching guests how to scuba dive responsibly. More details can be found here.


Eco-Friendly Travel to London: Organic Meals and a "Green" Butler with The Savoy Hotel

September 30, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Savoy, LondonWhen The Savoy opened its gilded gates in London last year after a staggering £220 million restoration project, London couldn't stop talking about it. (And when we dropped by for a visit earlier this year, there was an impressive line of visitors gawking at the famous bars and lobby.) A lot of ink has been spilled about the "most ambitious hotel restoration in British history"-- but did you know that it was also an eco-friendly one? (Fairmont-- who manages the hotel-- gets serious props for its green programs.) The Savoy is all about sustainable luxury, having installed the latest in green technology in the hotel, and having launched various sustainable initiatives. To show guests the green side of London, the hotel has launched "The Savoy Elements Package." Here's what it includes:

* Overnight accommodation

* Return transfers in a luxury hybrid vehicle from a London airport or station

* A “Savoy Green Butler” to assist with requests such as packing and making travel arrangements as well as advising on green initiatives within the hotel and places of interest around London

* Welcome green gift on arrival

* Choice of inspirational 3-hour walking green tour of London

* Complimentary valet car parking if arriving by hybrid vehicle

* Complimentary use of a BMW bicycle with helmet provided

* An organic, 3-course dinner in either the River Restaurant with a pre-dinner, biodynamic cocktail

* Organic breakfast with selected organic juices

* A one-day travelcard allowing free use of London's public transport network

* A donation of £10 to London charity Thames 21, on behalf of the guest

* An organic, gourmet picnic hamper and blanket can be arranged at an additional cost

* Details of outdoor activities, including heritage sites, nature walks, cycle and jogging routes, wildlife centres, conservation programmes and community projects for volunteering are available through the Concierge

Rates from £825 per night, based on double occupancy and subject to availability.


The Buzz in Paris: Rooftop Beehives at the Westin-Paris Vendôme

August 25, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Westin Paris VendomeIn the very heart of the City of Light, the buzzing of urban bees makes for a particularly magical sight. The Westin-Paris Vendôme has installed six beehives on its rooftop, from where bees dart over to the nearby Jardin des Tuileries and pollinate the trees and flowers. With no pesticides and a diverse flora, Paris sets the perfect scene for bees and honey production. Executive Chef Gilles Grasteau uses the honey produced at the hotel for his own culinary creations; plus, guests get a local alternative when it comes to choosing a little souvenir from Paris to take home. Rich in minerals and vitamins, honey is a natural antibiotic also known for its therapeutic and food values, and is the ideal ingredient for a healthy pause in the heart of buzzing paris. The Westin Paris-Vendôme offers a honey menu at the restaurant Le First, as well a honey facial treatment in its Six Senses Spa. Check out the video of the first honey harvest!


10th Annual Kings Cup Elephant Polo Tournament at Anantara Hua Hin Resort

August 3, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

King's Cup Elephant Polo, Anantara resortThe highly popular Kings Cup Elephant Polo Tournament is celebrating 10 years this year. The charitable event-- always a smashing success-- is a major event on the Thai tourism calendar, raising money for the country's National Elephant Institute in Lampang. 2011's event is extra special, marking a decade of polo excitement on and off the pitch. Save the date! The 10th anniversary event takes place from September 4 - 11 on grounds adjacent to Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa, a Thai village-style resort located on 14 acres of beachfront gardens and lagoon pools facing the Gulf of Thailand.

A 3,000 seat stadium is being built for the occasion, and entrance is free for everyone. New editions include Chang Noi Children’s Day, an opening parade with army brass bands, Thailand’s last elephant spirit men, and traditional dancers to entertain the crowds. Anantara has currently launched a contest for the "Roving Elephant Reporter," aged between 7 - 15 years, who will become the star of the elephant polo circuit as they deliver news coverage from a VIP seat!

Fun fact: All the elephants playing have been rescued off the streets and enjoy a week-long holiday with free veterinary check-ups and sumptuous elephant feasts.


Snorkeling the Lagoon Sanctuary at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

August 1, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Four Seasons Resort Bora BoraThe Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora isn't just about plush, over-water bungalows. Sure, they've got those, perched on stilts over the turquoise lagoon, some even equipped with private pools. It's a spectacular snorkeling location with over 100 colorful species in the Lagoon including the octopus, eagle ray, lizardfish, Picasso trumpetfish, soldierfish, firefish, unicorn fish, spotted pufferfish, parrotfish, peacock damselfish, clownfish and butterfly fish. But more than that, the Lagoon Sanctuary is also a research facility for studying and protecting the marine eco-system. Directed by marine biologist Oliver Martin, the Lagoon Sanctuary offers activities for guests of all ages, including snorkelling, coral grafting discovery, discussions on Polynesian ecology, fish and octopus feeding and more. The Lagoon Sanctuary is maintained in partnership with the Pacific Eco-World Initiative, a non-profit organization committed to learning more about the changing marine environment and working to conserve it.


Green Hotels: Mandarin Oriental Miami Volunteers in the Everglades

July 6, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mandarin Oriental MiamiIts sister hotel may be hogging the spotlight in Paris (talk about a wow-worthy debut!), but the Mandarin Oriental Miami has also been making headlines. Recently the staff of the five-star spa took a volunteer trip to Everglades National Park to work in the "Hole-in-the-Donut" Restoration area-- a 6,600-acre portion of the park that's been overrun by exotic, invasive plants. Previously farmland, the area was planted with Brazilian Pepper in order to aerate the soil around tomato plants and green beans. Alas, the Brazilian Pepper samba-ed its way across the land, quickly taking over the habitat and disrupting the natural ecosystem. The Mandarin Oriental Miami to the rescue. The spa staff-- clad in long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect against sun, insects, and poison ivy-- pulled up the weeds and replanted the landscape with native trees. Next time you hit up the spa, book the Thai Herbal Compress Ritual, and the Mandarin will donate a native tree to the Everglades.