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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.

Following the Da Vinci Code in France

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Da Vinci Code

It's official. The Da Vinci Code fever has swept across the Atlantic, infecting citizens on both sides of the pond. Translations, with that distinctive paperback cover, peek from purses and under raincoat-covered arms, in the French capital. And the commercialism has inevitably followed (not at all isolated to American borders); even French coffee bags are stamped with promotional contests with free tix to the May 19 movie opening. Day-um. I've written before about the Da Vinci Code Package at the Hotel Meurice, and now--with the official countdown begun before Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou sweep the silver screen--Da Vinci Code tours are taking off. Now's your chance to become a maniacal sleuth on your summer holiday in France, exploring the churches, Parisian sidewalks, and chateaus so scintillatingly depicted in Dan Brown's mammoth bestseller. Forget the Mona Lisa; the new Da Vinci Code themed tours at the Louvre will have you experiencing the world's richest cultural heritage in a whole new way. Below-- some travel planning resources:

Fodor's Travel Wire, "The Da Vinci Code: Scenes of the Crime"

Fodor's Guide to the Da Vinci Code

Fodor's Travel Wire, "The Da Vinci Code: Facts Behind the Fiction"

Frommer's, "Where's Johnny Jet: In Paris Cracking the Da Vinci Code"

Escape with World Cup 2006 Packages at Banyan Tree

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

World Cup 2006

So you missed your chance to get tickets to this year's matches in Germany, not to mention the impossible task of booking a hotel room in any of the hosting cities. But you-- a diehard and devoted football fan-- are not about to miss the games on telly. Enter Banyan Tree, with their creative packages designed for fans who want to watch the games in peace (tranquil surroundings with nary a beer-guzzling heckler in sight!) and their partners/spouses who may have escaped infection with that football fevered frenzy. For a limited period from June 1 to July 31, Banyan Tree is offering exclusive World Cup 2006 Escape packages at its resorts worldwide. All packages are inclusive of daily bountiful breakfasts and a surprise gift from Banyan Tree Gallery.

At Banyan Tree Bangkok, the World Cup 2006 Escape package rates begin from US$270 per night for a Deluxe View Suite (minimum two-night stay). The package includes a Banyan Tree Spa Back Reviver session per person as well as a Shopping Companion Service for hunting out the city's treasures.

At Banyan Tree Bintan, package rates start at US$465 in the Valley Villa (minimum two nights stay). All guests taking this package will receive a choice of a two-hour Renewal or Rejuvenation spa session, as well as a welcome drink and fruit platter on arrival.

At Banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru, guests can enjoy the World Cup Escape Package with rates starting from US$680 per night for an Oceanview Villa. This package includes daily breakfast and dinner, a choice of a two-hour Renewal or Rejuvenation spa session, and an unforgettable private sunset sail on a catamaran, complete with a guide.

At Banyan Tree Phuket, the package is priced from US$495 per night in a Deluxe Villa, with a minimum stay of three nights; includes a body massage per person, an intimate High Tea session for two, and cooking lessons with lunch for two.

Lastly, at Banyan Tree Seychelles, the World Cup Escape package rates start from EUR 855 per night (four night minimum), including a Renewal or Rejuvenation Spa session for two, as well as a one-day tour of Mahe with a beach picnic lunch included.

A Las Vegas Record? 500 Feet of All-You-Can-Eat

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The title says it all. As CNN reports:

Even in this over-the-top town famed for all-you-can-eat spreads, nobody had ever seen one quite like this: Forty soups, 100 salads and 150 desserts perched upon a 500-foot maze of tables.
Las Vegas Hilton Executive Chef George Bargisen put together a whopping 510 different dishes to grab the title for new record buffet on Tuesday, qualifying for a Guiness record for-- drum roll please-- World's Largest Buffet. Day-um.

Malbec in Mendoza: Argentina’s Cavas Wine Lodge

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cavas Wine Lodge

Wine-lovers rejoice; the seasonal grape harvest in the Southern Hemisphere is only just beginning. In Mendoza, Argentina, where the rolling fields of vines are set against a magnificent backdrop of the snow-capped Andes, the award-winning malbec and torrontes varietals are divine. Indulge in copious quantities at the wine-cellar at Cavas Wine Lodge, the region's hottest new hotel. The 14 free-standing guest rooms are spacious, with fireplace, private terrace, plunge pool and al fresco shower. Top-of-the-line technology includes entertainment centers, two-line phones and high-speed internet access. Soak up the breathtaking views by the outdoor pool, indulge in the restaurant's gastronomic delights, or relax with a superb spa treatment. And of course there are (lots of) glasses to be savored, overlooking the surrounding vineyards.

Related Articles:

The New York Times, "Peel Me a Grape"

Frommer's, "Embrace the Cold Shoulder Season in Chile and Argentina"

The World’s Tele-Skiers Unite! The Live Free Heel Fest in Livigno, Italy

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Snow in the Alps

The globe's biggest tele-marking festival is a rip-roaring good time, a week packed full of races, treks through the Alps, a film festival, equipment expos, open-air barbecue, and lots of grub and wine. So toss those bindings and jet to Italy! Formerly known as La Skieda, the festival runs from April 1-8. $170 gets you lift tickets and entrance to all events.

What’s Hot: The 21C Museum Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

21C Museum Hotel

The media is abuzz: Louisville's 21C is the hottest thing this side of the Mississippi. The newly-opened boutique hotel-- listed on the National Register of Historic Places-- is part of what the New York Times calls Louisville's "downtown renaissance." The 90 rooms (including six premier suites) are elegantly decorated and are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including 42' flat-screen televisions and WiFi. But this masterpiece is not merely a luxury boutique hotel; 21C is also a museum of contemporary art, housing pieces from the owner's mind-blowing $10 million art collection. (Philanthropists Steve Wilson and Laura Brown, a husband and wife team, are the co-developers.)

The Intercontinental Nanjing: The World’s Tallest Hotel?

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Intercontinental Nanjing

When it opens in 2010, the 450-room luxury hotel will be the tallest in the world. Intercontinental recently signed a deal with Shanghai Greenland Group, one of the leading real estate and property management companies in China, which will add more hotel rooms in Shanghai and Xian, as well as the hot Intercontinental Nanjing. To be located within the Nanjing International Financial Center, the world's tallest hotel will boast pool, spa, dining, and excellent conference and business facilities. Take that, Dubai.

MotorCity Mania: the Dubai Autodrome and Business Park

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Dubai Autodrome

Dubai's got it all. But the mouth-dropping reflex still hasn't been tempered with each new juicy detail I learn about Dubai's growth. (With the progression of developments from the initial underwater restaurant, the globe's unique seven-star hotel, the private manmade islands of The World, and indoor skiing facility at the SnowDome.) Instead, I marvel at the UAE's new craze for speed: the Ferrari theme park slated for Abu Dhabi and the MotorCity Autodrome and Business Park in Dubai. MotorCity is a fully-integrated auto/motor sports facility with racing track, humongous grandstand, surrounding office park with conference facilities, entertainment, dining and retail complex, and-- get this!-- a "destination development" for upscale villas in a residential community called UPTOWN MotorCity. How rad.

Bicycle in Italy with Lance Armstrong and Trek Travel

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Lance Armstrong

That's right: experience the 2006 Giro d'Italia and ride with Lance Armstrong! Trek Travel-- offering cycling vacations of a lifetime on grand tours through Europe-- designs fantastic Italian cycling adventures. From May 9-May 15, savor the best of the Italian countryside, delightful cuisine, scenic cycling, and quality time with badass champion Lance. The trip details for "Giro d'Italia with Lance Armstrong": 7 days, 6 nights, starting in Piacenza and ending in Forli, moderate (40-70 miles per day), $8500 (double occupancy).

MGM Mirage Plans $800 Million Upgrades

By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mandalay Bay

It's that time of year again. MGM Mirage-- which now owns over half of the hotel rooms on the Strip-- is spending a whole lot of cash on its Vegas spring cleaning. $800 million on upgrades, in addition to the $7 billion they're shelling out for the Project CityCenter development, expected to open in 2010. After all, you've got to spend money to make money, as the Las Vegas Sun explains: "the idea is to continue to attract big spenders." Last year they spent big bucks on upgrading a wing of MGM Grand, building high-end Skylofts, adding two restaurants from Chef Joel Robuchon, and serious upgrades at Mandalay Bay. What's in store with this year's spring cleaning? Renovation of the outdoor pool and beach area at Mandalay Bay to add a bunch of new deck space and cabanas. Remodeling of the Rumjungle bar and revamping of the 3950 restaurant, with the addition of a celebrity chef. A new nightclub at Luxor. A new restaurant and bar at Excalibur. A new Japanese restaurant at Mirage. And the biggest upgrade of all: a Cirque du Soleil show inspired by the music of the Beatles, to debut in May at the Mirage.