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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.

The W Retreat Koh Samui Celebrates 1st Birthday with a Special Offer

October 12, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

W Retreat Koh SamuiThe W Retreat Koh Samui is turning 1. Now's the time to surrender to a tropical island escape... W's sexy resort on the Gulf of Thailand made some waves when it opened last year. (One look at the photos and you'll see why.) Situated on a pristine stretch of Koh Samui's coastline, the resort manages both to delight the local party crowd and mesmerize global jetsetters, all while keeping its cool. Secluded villas surrounded by lush foliage make for the ultimate in relaxation after sampling the island's red-hot nightlife. Book the "1st Year Celebration" at W Retreat Koh Samui and you'll reap the rewards:

* A price of THB 11,111 per Retreat/per Night in a Jungle Oasis with free breakfast for two. (That's $358.)

* Only 11 Retreats are available per day for this special offer, so act fast to book.

* 1+1 Thaimazcal Spa Experience (buy 1 get 1 free at THB 2,400)

* Reserve your stay over 11/11 and get a free Thaimazcal Spa Experience for two persons

Book by November 30, 2011 for stays from November 1- 30, 2011.


The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong Voted "Best Hotel in the World"

October 12, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong

The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong set the bar high when it opened on June 21, 2010. Literally, the hotel caps off Cesar Pelli’s IFC Shanghai building with an incredible rooftop bar on the 58th floor that's the tallest in Shanghai. Gadling buzzed about the hotel as "luxury in a modern Mandarin-style shell." Travel + Leisure said: "The 285-room hotel places you in a cloud-level fantasy." And now the readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine (U.S. edition)-- besotted with all the hotel's superlatives-- have voted it the 'Best Hotel In The World' in the magazine's 24th annual Readers Choice Awards. Two top awards were bestowed upon the hotel in one evening, Best Hotel in Asia Pacific, and then Overall Best Hotel in the World. Collecting the award on behalf of the hotel was The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company President, Herve Humler.


New Fahrenheit Ballroom at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

October 11, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ritz-Carlton GeorgetownThrowing a ball or getting hitched in D.C.? A new ballroom is turning heads in town, located- where else?- in the swank Ritz-Carlton Georgetown. The official press release cited "greater guest demand" as the reason why the hotel is transforming Fahrenheit restaurant into permanent banquet rental space, and the hotel's bar and lounge into a three-meal restaurant and bar called Degrees Bistro. Slated to open in a matter of weeks on November 1, 2011, the Fahrenheit Ballroom has already been picked by Daily Candy D.C. as a prime wedding venue:

Turn up the heat at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown’s new event space, the Fahrenheit Ballroom. Located on the top floor of the brick factory-turned-hotel, the grand dance hall wows with huge windows, steel beams, and a loftlike feel.

Related Article: Ritzy the Nesting Duck Checks in to the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown


Caribbean Escapes: The BodyHoliday in St. Lucia Reopens after Renovation

October 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The BodyHoliday, Saint Lucia

News from the postcard-perfect Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. The BodyHoliday-- the all-inclusive resort famous for its promise "Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind"-- has opened its doors after a $20 million makeover. The renovation added a brand new infinity pool; doubled the size of the Watersports Center; and upgraded the resort's public spaces and dining venues. Not to mention the all-new, open-plan Penthouse Suite-- complete with a marble hammam and a soaking tub for two with sea views. What's more- the resort is introducing two new beauty partnerships to guests: THALGO, a high-end marine-based skincare and beauty line available at the wellness center, and REN, a bioactive skincare line available in-room.


Hotel Review Guide: Reviewing the Reviews

October 7, 2011
By: Christopher Roney

hotel comic strip

Hello friends/acquaintances/internet (wo)men,

Today I want to take some time out of my busy schedule to address an important issue in the hotel world.  Randall Munroe of XKCD has been kind enough to bring to our attention one of the problems plaguing hotels and travelers alike: The bogus hotel review. Who are these evil people who are out to ruin the reputation of perfectly good hotels and steer you wrong in your vacation plans? Are they fun-hating scrooges who kick puppies and steal candy from babies? Maybe. But that doesn’t have much to do with writing reviews. Maybe instead they’re hired guns engaging in intricate plots of corporate espionage, compromising their rivals with claims of bed bugs and sticky-fingered staff. Or maybe they’re just entitled people full of rage at some perceived slight: “Agh, my muffin wasn’t cut in half for me! Worst hotel ever!!!”

We may never know for sure. But what we do know is this: Telling the real reviews from the fake is just as important as any step in the booking process. And it can be really difficult to do so. Here’s a couple of tips I’ve picked up in my time working with online reviews.

1. Don’t base your decision off a single negative review. Look at the aggregate of a hotel’s reputation online and across more than one site.  Some of the biggest review sites are so worried about trustworthiness, they're changing their slogans.  Any mistake can be made once, but the mark of a problem is when more than one person on more than one site points out the same bad service.

2. Go to the experts. If industry staples are reviewing a hotel well, it’s unlikely that poor reviews are anything but an anomaly. And conversely if it’s getting bad reviews, you might want to think twice about booking. This isn’t to say you should ignore customer reviews, however. Professional reviews are great at getting drilling deep into the nitty-gritty of a hotel stay and evaluating across multiple hotels, but customers are more likely to spot the most recent changes in a hotel’s practices. If a hotel has taken a turn for the worse, customers will be the first to know.

3. Pay attention to the language.  According to a study by Cornell researchers, if a reviewer itemizes every experience they had, mentions the name of the hotel, and uses a lot of exclamation points, there’s a chance that it’s been generated by the hotel itself. Plenty of people enjoy their stays and want to gush about them, but very few will take the time to give you an itemized list of everything you can see and do there.

4. Above all, trust your instincts. Ultimately, reading online reviews is about reading the people who wrote them, and even after only a couple of sentences you’ll have a good sense of who is trustworthy. If you think someone sounds like a fake or is completely irrational, don’t let them color your judgment.

Reading reviews is certainly anything but a science, but hopefully with these tips, you can be a little more confident in your next choice to book some of the world’s top hotels.

Comic via XKCD


Hotel Buzz: St. Regis Florence Completes 10-Month Restoration

October 6, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

St. Regis FlorenceHot off the press! Starwood has unveiled a dazzling hotel in Florence, Italy. After a 10-month restoration, the property that was formerly called the Grand Hotel Florence has been reborn as a St. Regis- meaning it features the signature St. Regis Butler service and St. Regis Aficionado program, providing guests with insider access to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Talk about historical grandeur! This hotel was originally designed in 1432 by Filippo Brunelleschi, the architect of the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, and is one of the city's most culturally significant buildings. The 81 guest rooms-- including the opulent designer suite by Bottega Veneta-- are decked out with paintings, decorative antiques, frescos and crystal chandeliers-- thus paying homage to local Florentine artisans. Overlooking the Arno River, the hotel also features three Iridium Spa Suites for the ultimate in pampering. What we're most excited about? A stellar restaurant called Etichetta Pinchiorri, opened by the folks behind the Michelin three-star restaurant Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence.

Check out the photos of the St. Regis Florence.


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.


Opening Soon: The Andaz Shanghai Debuts in January

October 5, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Andaz Liverpool Street in LondonAs fans of Hyatt's Andaz brand, we've been keeping our eye on this story for awhile. Come January 1, 2012, Andaz will be arriving in China with a cool new hotel in Shanghai's Xintiandi district. HotelChatter recently got the scoop from a very-excited tipster who claimed the property was originally slated to belong to Jumeirah. From the hotel's official website, there's a lot to be thrilled about. A spa with a swimming pool and juice bar. An all-day patisserie called-- what else?-- Éclair. A fun lounge and restaurant that combines a "French bistro and Shanghainese brasserie." A Glass Pavilion for weddings and red carpet events. Not to mention the rooms with a view, all equipped with an "impressive LED lighting where guests can customise the colour to suit their mood." In Andaz fashion, all non-alcoholic minibar drinks and snacks, local telephone calls, and wireless internet access are free.

Pictured: Andaz Liverpool Street in London.


Travel Trends: Hotel Lounges Exclusively for Teens

October 5, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, TucsonFrom special spa treatments to private guitar lessons for adolescents, hotels are noticing the teenager set. The latest trend in the hospitality world is the teen lounge created exclusively for teenagers at luxury hotels. Read: no adults allowed. At the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa, the Blur Teen Lounge was an instant hit when it opened in April. Traveling with an adolescent can be tricky, but the Teen Lounge provides a separate area for independent-minded teens to hang out and relax, while still on hotel property. Another big attraction? All the technology, like iPads, an Xbox 360, a Playstation 3, a 46-inch LCD HDTV, and a DVD library. Also in Arizona: the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has an exclusive teen lounge called The Hang Out.


Escape to Oz: Experience the Newly-Renovated Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay

October 4, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular QuayWhen the temperatures start to cool off in this hemisphere, things are only heating up in Australia. How about a Christmas or NYE break in OZ? Bask in the Australian sun and learn the ins and outs of one of the coolest cities on the planet. (The Clefs d'Or Head Concierge at the Sydney Harbour Marriott will hook you up with local insight on the city's premier attractions.) For your stay in Sydney, experience the newly refurbished Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay. Just minutes from the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Sydney Aquarium, Observatory and historic Rocks district, this stylish waterfront hotel recently completed a $20 million refurbishment. New features include large 42” flat screen LCD televisions in every room, as well as high speed wireless internet and an iPod docking station - not to mention the famous Marriott "Revive" bedding (300-thread-count linens, fluffier pillow & down duvets). Most guest rooms have killer views of the harbour, to boot. Start off the day with a full breakfast buffet in Icons restaurant, and after exploring Sydney, return for a swim in the indoor pool or for a massage in the day spa.