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.

The World’s Best Up and Coming Hotels

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The James ChicagoIn its August 2010 issue, Travel + Leisure highlights "20 to Watch: 2010's Best Up-and-Coming Hotels," many of which can be found in the Five Star Alliance collection. Predicting "the next hottest hotels around the globe," Travel + Leisure scoured the globe "to pick out this year's new and refurbished, expanding, or otherwise evolving hotels." What the magazine's editors found: domestic hotels are raising the bar, with fantastic luxury hotels in the United States and Canada. So without further ado, here's the list:

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

Algodon Mansion, Buenos Aires

Amangiri, Utah

Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

Four Seasons Beirut

The James Chicago

Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort, Antigua

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

The Peninsula Chicago

The Pierre New York, A Taj Hotel

Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan, Paris

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Phulay Bay, Krabi, Thailand

Town Hall Hotel & Apartments, London

Trident, Bandra Kurla, Mumbai, India

Veranda Resort, Turks & Caicos

Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sicily

W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Australia

Destination Spa: The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu , Malibu, California

Hotel Le Germain Toronto Tosses Plastic Water Bottles, Introduces Filtration System

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Hotel Le Germain TorontoHot on the heels of Ritz-Carlton's decision to ditch plastic water bottles, Toronto's Hotel Le Germain has announced the new eco-installation of OVUPUR water filtration systems on every floor. Guests can stay hydrated with a ready supply of pristine drinking water, eliminating the need for plastic water bottles. The installation of this cutting-edge technology is estimated to save 73,000 water bottles from landfills each year. Moreover, OVUPUR is renowned for its energy efficiency:

The unique porcelain system preserves and revitalizes water without electricity. It relies on gravity to filter imperfections using a special filter designed to reproduce nature’s water cycle. The reusable, multilayer cartridge contains tried and tested filtering materials that have been proven to remove chemicals and organic pollutants from drinking water.

This new eco-friendly amenity is just another example of the thoughtful service found at Hotel Le Germain. With just 118 rooms and suites, the boutique hotel knows how to take care of its guests: complimentary Internet, a rooftop terrace and putting green, a 24-hour fitness room, plus delicious Canadiana cuisine by young culinary talent Chef David Chrystian at Victor Restaurant....

Cool Technology and Spa Rooms at the Park Hyatt Istanbul

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Park Hyatt IstanbulThere's a lot to love at the Park Hyatt Istanbul-Maçka Palas, one of the hottest hotels in town since its November 2008 opening in the fashionable district of Nisantasi. First, there's The Terrace: ideal for sipping fresh lemonade in a cushioned lounge chair by the infinity pool by day, and by night, a buzzing summer hang-out for cocktails and moderately priced fare (think gourmet burgers and lobster rolls). Then there's the in-room technology which makes techies drool: JBL On Time iPod docking stations, DVD players, a Smartbox (hiding multiple adapters) and black-out curtains controlled by a panel at the bed. Of this gadgetry, we most like the nifty water filtration system in the bathrooms. Fill up a gorgeous crystal pitcher instead of tossing back plastic bottles. Did we mention the Spa Rooms? This innovative room category is all about pampering; spa bathrooms have five different bathing experiences: a Dornbracht RainSky shower, steam room, hammam, soaking tub and colored light therapy. Good luck trying to summon the energy to leave your perfect room, a restful haven in the bustling city.

Buzz: New LED Lighting Makes a Fab Light Show at InterContinental Dubai Festival City

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Dubai Festival CityIn a city often criticized for its rampant development, InterContinental Dubai Festival City is taking an eco-friendly stand. The hotel partnered with Phillips to replace 35,000 exterior and interior lights bulbs of the hotel with energy-saving LED lights, cutting carbon emissions by 80%. Phase one-- the exterior facade-- is complete, and pretty soon all the hotel rooms, suites, and public areas will be outfitted with LED technology as well. The coolest part of all? Dazzling nighttime light shows on the hotel's exterior, a marvelous sight on Dubai Creek. Just check out this video on YouTube. The installation of new, energy-efficient lighting isn't the only way that InterContinental Dubai Festival City is going green; the hotel also has an aggressive recycling program and a fleet of Lexus LS600 hybrid cars for guest transfers.

Thai Cooking Classes, Yoga, and Sea Turtle Rehab with Phuket’s Aleenta Resort

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Aleenta Resort, PhuketNow's the time to travel to Thailand. As we've reported recently, luxury hotels in Bangkok and the islands-- faced with lower tourism numbers-- are rolling out the discounts to entice travelers back to Thailand. Score luxury for less and get your sunshine fix in a tropical paradise with the Aleenta Resort, perched on one of Phuket's most pristine and private beaches with staggering views of the Andaman Sea. More than just a spa and beach destination, Aleenta offers some unique activities, including guest participation in the on-site Marine Turtle Foundation, dedicated to the conservation of Thailand's four threatened turtle species. What's more- the resort offers Thai Cooking Classes and a stellar yoga program in addition to the "normal" resort recreational activities of boating, yachting, snorkeling, cycling, and sun-bathing on the sand. Both "early bird" and "last minute" rates are available at Aleenta Resort.

Green Hotels: The Urban Garden at Baltimore’s InterContinental Harbor Court Hotel

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

InterContinental Harbor Court HotelFarm-to-table cuisine is all the rage these days as the "eat local" movement gains momentum across the country. From San Francisco to Atlanta, hotels are participating in this important trend. Some are taking it one step further, not only purchasing produce from local farmers but also planting gardens on their premises. As recently reported by Peter Greenberg, the InterContinental Harbor Court Hotel has created a green space smack dab in the middle of urban Baltimore:

"The hotel planted a 600-square-foot garden with more than 400 plants, vegetables and edible flowers. The neat thing here is that since it was just planted, guests can watch its progress and then return in a few months to see those ingredients used in the menu."

The Harbor Court's restaurant, Brightons, serves flavorful cuisine featuring seasonal produce and local favorites like crab cakes and rockfish. Overlooking the Inner Harbor, the hotel has extensive facilities: a rooftop fitness center with views, an indoor pool, racquetball and tennis courts, and a full-service business center. Tip: The hotel is offering a string of tempting packages this summer including an insider's Baltimore Aquarium experience and a cruise package, which lets guests park a vehicle for up to seven days when embarking from Baltimore on a cruise.

New Culinary Garden with Honey Beehives at the Fairmont San Francisco

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fairmont San Francisco HotelThe buzzz in San Francisco? As part of Fairmont Hotels' commitment to the environment, the Nob Hill hotel has planted a new culinary garden with four honey beehives. The idea? To grow herbs and produce for the kitchen, while also cultivating home-harvested honey, thereby supporting the honeybee population which has seen a dangerous decline of 90% since the 1980's.* In partnership with Marshall's Farm (known for their award-winning organic honey), Executive Chef JW Foster of the Fairmont San Francisco installed the beehives last week, each containing 20,000 bees. When the beehives mature, they will each contain 50,000 bees, producing a total of 250 pounds of honey which will be served in the hotel's dining outlets (which emphasize local, organic cuisine). Think soups, salads, pastries, ice cream, and as an accompaniment to the hotel's tea service.

*To quote the hotel's press release: "The United States Department of Agriculture believes a virus is responsible for the collapse of honey bee colonies. This situation is often called "CCD" or Colony Collapse Disorder. Without honey bees, pollination is not possible. The decrease of the honey bee population is extremely significant since one out of three mouthfuls in the diet is affected by the honey bee population."

Related Articles: The Days are Numbered for the Tonga Room at the Fairmont San Francisco

Travel Buzz: Ritz-Carlton Hotels Ditches Plastic for Eco-Friendly Water Bottles

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ritz-Carlton Hotels, new eco-friendly water bottlesHot off the press. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is paving the way in finding solutions to the plastic water bottle crisis. Committed to environmental sustainability, the company is leading the pack, reducing plastic bottle use in the hospitality industry by introducing a cutting-edge new technology: an all-natural, biodegradable bottle which is making its debut at Ritz-Carlton properties in North America and the Caribbean. Here's the word from the official press release:

Noting the waste that is caused by using an estimated five million, 16oz plastic bottles every year at the properties, Simon F. Cooper, president and chief operating officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, challenged his team responsible for sustainable programs to find a better solution. He noted, “Plastic bottles are made from crude oil, take a significant amount of energy to produce, and less than 20% are sent to recycling facilities. Even when recycled, these bottles cannot be used to make the same quality of plastic,” Cooper said.

After 18 months of research, and working with a variety of vendors, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company developed a partnership with PrimaTM to create a co-branded bottle that is rich with sustainability opportunities. The 16oz bottles are made 100% from plants, are all natural, can decompose in 30 days in a commercial composting facility, or can be reprocessed and remade 100% into new bottles.

Manufacturing the new bottle requires 49% less fossil fuels, 45% less energy, and 75% less greenhouse gases than a PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) classic bottle. In addition, the bottle does not contain BPA (Bisphenol A), the harmful product found in many plastics.

Hotel Trends: Underground Eco-Friendly Pad in the Italian Alps

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Eco-friendly underground hotel in the AlpsHotel design is going underground. Last year we reported on a London project to build a subterranean five-star hotel underneath a golf course. Striving to preserve the Green Belt countryside, the hotel isn't compromising on luxurious amenities: like a spa underneath a green roof. Now we're hearing reports about a new, unobtrusive project in the Italian Alps designed by Italian architect Matteo Thun. Built into the side of a mountain slope, the eco-friendly hotel will be crafted from local materials with a green roof to regulate the inside temperatures year-round. Best part of all? These "hobbit houses" will still boast stellar views of the surrounding mountainscape.

Image via Treehugger

New Baby Elephant at the Anantara Golden Triangle Resort

By: Mary Winston Nicklin



Baby elephant at the Anantara Golden Triangle Resort


Some good news from one of our fave Thai resorts: there's a new addition at the Anantara Elephant Camp. "A 100 kg bundle of joy" to be exact. Baby elephant Nong 'Phil (officially called "Plai Pa Choke," meaning "to bring good luck") was born on May 23, 2010. Congratulations to all the Anantara staff! Overlooking the rugged hills of Laos and Burma in Thailand's mystical Golden Triangle region, the Anantara Resort is famed for its on-site Elephant Camp where pachyderms are rescued and cared for. In fact, the resort's annual King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament raises money for the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. Guests appreciate the opportunity to learn about these noble creatures almost as much as they appreciate the resort's laid-back luxury surrounded by 160 acres of lush tropical jungle.


Photo Via Twitter/@SLHLuxuryHotels

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