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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.

Good Stuff at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Thyssen gallery

Through January 8, 2006, check out the exhibit: Mimesis. Modern Realism. 1918- 45 at the Thyssen-Bornemisza. It focuses on the spread of realism between the World Wars. The whole museum is pretty mind-blowing; a stroll through the permanent collections is like a walk through the best kind of art history class. (Hint: Start on the second floor with the oldest paintings, and work your way down to the 20th century on the ground floor.)


Salud! Cocktails of Latin America


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Since Belize counts as both Lonely Planet's and my personal destination of the month, thought I'd raise a glass to Placencia's classic cocktail: the Panty Ripper. Concocted with coconut rum and pineapple juice. Belize's One Barrel is arguably the best rum in the Caribbean. Or maybe Cuban reigns supreme? What’s your vote? Bored of mojitos, and care to share your choices of exotic Latin cocktails? Travel and Leisure sings the praises of Guaro (Costa Rica’s spirit of choice, fast becoming the fave of music and entertainment highrollers) in the November issue.


Thanksgiving Tales from Abroad


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Can't find a turkey in Japan? How 'bout cooking up a Cornish hen with wasabi? Feasting in Amsterdam? Let your host invite every single guest in the hotel (the more the merrier, right?) No supermarket in El Salvador? Chase down the turkey (and chop off that head) yourself! Our stories pale next to yours. Send 'em in! We’d love to hear about your adventures gobbling down turkey in foreign lands.


Finding a Room in Torino for the Winter Olympic Games


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Check out this fabulous, very informative article on Torino. Though hotel rooms for the Winter Olympic Games may be slim pickin’ at this point, the Chicago Sun-Times directs us to the swanky boutique Hotel Boston. Another good option? Le Meridien’s Turin Art + Tech—designed by a renowned architect to embody cutting edge technology and contemporary design.


Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas at Sea Island Resorts, Georgia


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sea Islands Christmas

Sea Island Resorts is absolutely brimming with good cheer and merriment this holiday season. They’ve put together a bunch of events sure to delight the whole family. Activities include: ballroom dancing, nightly elf tuck-in for the kiddies, crafts workshops, holiday bingo, and a Stables Christmas Party-- complete with horses parading in their holiday best, games, and a bonfire for roasting s’mores. The best part of the deal is the guaranteed White Christmas, with a special delivery of blown snow at the Beach Club. Take advantage of the 12 Days of Christmas Package, which includes room, breakfast for the family, welcome gift, Reindog parade, Family Holiday Show, elf tuck-ins, and lots more events. Rates: Ocean House Nature View and Deluxe Ocean View - $350. Ocean House Ocean View - $425. Lodge - $525. Two night minimum required, available December 18 through December 30 (excludes NYE).

Cloister at Sea Island, Official Site

Cloister at Sea Island, Five Star Alliance

The Lodge at Sea Island, Official Site

The Lodge at Sea Island, Five Star Alliance


Explore Germany’s Christmas Markets with Discounts at Sofitel Hotels


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Christmas in Munich

In December, the country is hopping with some 2,500 traditional Christmas markets held every year. Dating back to Medieval times, the markets showcase local cuisine (sausages and mulled wine, anyone?) and booths of artisan’s gifts. Sofitel is offering fantastic rates at Dorint Sofitel Gendarmenmarkt Berlin, Dorint Sofitel Bayerpost Munich and at Dorint Sofitel Quellenhof Aachen with offers up to 40% off rack rates, seven days a week, until December 31st 2005.


Spotlight On: Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C.


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mandarin Oriental Washington

From now until February 28, 2006, check out an exclusive exhibit at The Gallery at Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C. Renowned French painter Jean Marc Huss explores themes that span thousands of years; his works of oil on canvas depict Buddha images dating back to the Khmer Empire. How cool. After you check out the exhibition, check into the hotel’s Presidential Suite, voted one of the best in the world by both USA Today and Elite Traveler. After all, the three-bedroom suite is the choice of heads of state when visiting the nation’s capital-- the very height of luxury. Details include: panoramic views from the floor-to-ceiling windows, two balconies, living room with grand piano, chess table and telescope, a kitchenette, exercise area, and a truly spectacular bedroom. Get this: the master bedroom features a TV above a windowed, infinity-edge SOK tub that fills from a ceiling height nozzle. Wow.

Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C., Official Site

Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C., Five Star Alliance


Heli-Skiing in Alaska and Switzerland


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Alaska Heli-Skiing

I admit it; I’ve never done it. But after a few beers the other night with a couple who lead springtime Heli-skiing tours in Alaska, I was well on my way out the door. Who needs the tropics when I could ski snow-capped peaks and glacier-carved mountains all by my lonesome?! (And I’m no ski junkie.) Up in Alaska, the winter season runs from late February until May. Heli-skiing operations like Points North Heli-Adventures (utilizing over 1,000 sq miles of skiable terrain in the Chugach mountains) provide an average of 20-25,000 feet of vertical per day. (Excursions average 6-10 heli runs and $850-900 a day.) I checked out a feature in Outside Traveler’s Winter issue, which was equally as convincing about heli-ski tours in the central Alps. Apparently heli-skiing trips in Switzerland used to be rather boring—a daytrip appended to a traditional lift-skiing vaca at the big resorts. But this season, adrenaline hounds can experience SwisSkiSafari’s Ultimate Journey, as described by the Outside author:

“a four-day, five-night, fine-wine-and-slide luxury tour that zips skiers around the country’s top resorts in privately chartered B3’s and Bell 407’s. You start in Verbier (about 1,000 miles east of Geneva), then fly east to Zermatt and Saas Fee, making backcountry drops in between—wherever the snow is best. Doing 5,000- to 7,000-vertical-foot runs in a single push can hurt, but returning every evening to top-notch digs and massages blunts the pain.”

Bring it on! Can anyone advise me-- additionally-- about good operators in the Rockies?


Travel in Rajasthan, India: Camel Trekking Near Jaisalmer


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Camel

Last Stop: Hope You’ve Enjoyed Today’s Ride

The city of Jaisalmer is like a fairy-tale castle out of “Arabian Nights.” Dating from 1156, its amber-colored walls blend with the surrounding elements and seem to emerge from the desert sand. Located at the edge of the Thar Desert, near the border of Pakistan, Jaisalmer was founded on the historic crossroads of lucrative trade routes. The “Golden City” was an important gateway for the camel caravans from Central Asia and grew prosperous from this trade. Thus within the scorching heat of the desert, this remote frontier settlement developed a beautiful and isolated cultural tradition. For years the city was unscathed by outside influences, its rulers the last to succumb to British rule.

The 800-year old Jaisalmer Fort looms 30 meters over the city. Enclosed within its ramparts is an entire living city, the narrow lanes lined with shops and beautiful Jain temples dating from the 12 century. The citadel preserves a medieval way of life, its resident craftsmen weaving traditional rugs and designing silver jewelry. Stroll through the cobblestone streets of the old city and see the havelis, the mansions of the rich and powerful Jain merchants. These businessmen hired stonemasons to design their sandstone mansions, the facades delicately carved like intricate sculptures. Patwon ki Haveli is the most elaborate and magnificent of all the Jaisalmer havelis.

Where to Stay?

From Jaisalmer, visitors can venture on overnight camel expeditions into the Thar Desert. The ride? Blankets are piled high across the camel’s hump, the reins in hand elaborately decorated with leather tassles. The vistas? An endless sea of sand stretching in all directions, the dunes shifting and changing in the wind. But a word of warning: camels can be full of personality, and lots of gas. I mean, so flatulent—LAWD!-- they stink to high heaven.


Travel in Rajasthan, India: The Tigers of Ranthambore National Park


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Tiger

Third Stop: Tracking the Tigers

This former hunting ground of the Maharaja of Jaipur was declared a national park in 1980. Set between the Aravalli and Vindhya ranges, the park occupies 1,334 sq km of rugged, hilly terrain and deciduous forests. Ranthambore is most famous for its tigers, as the park began a conservation program in 1972 and has now stabilized the tiger population. The park offers opportunities for sighting these elusive predators on expeditions. At the lakes and water holes, visitors can also spot antelopes, sloth bears, wild boars, jackals, leopards and marsh crocodiles.

Where to stay?

Amanresorts has newly opened a wilderness retreat, Aman-i-khas, on the edge of Ranthambore. The 10 luxury tents are set in a quiet rural area, and are decorated in a rich, Mughal style, with king beds and spacious bathrooms (and soaking tubs!) The camp operates from October until the end of April-- the best period for wildlife spotting.

(Aman has a second resort in Rajasthan, called Amanbagh. Opened in February 2005, the resort’s 24 havelis and 16 pool pavilions are set within a walled oasis, within the Aravalli Hills near Alwar. Not far from Jaipur, the resort echoes the region’s Moghul architecture. Swimming pools, gardens, a decadent spa, and a Roof Terrace for dining beneath the stars.)

Aman-i-khas, Official Site

Aman-i-khas, Five Star Alliance