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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.

What’s Up With the Ducks at the Peabody Hotels?


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Peabody Memphis

After late nights pondering the question, I've finally found the answer. Novelist Jay McInerney-- with his sarcastic wit and true command of the South and all things Southern-- describes the Peabody Memphis in his book The Last of the Savages:

I think it was Faulkner—usually a safe bet in these matters—who said the Mississippi Delta originated in the lobby of the Peabody. Certainly no one would have mistaken this for the Boston Ritz-Carlton, or for the Plaza in New York. That curious and beguiling southern blend of ease and formality were in the air—that rhythm oscillating between languor and hysteria. The lobby was thronged with revelers in evening dress... Young women in ball gowns wafted about the two-story lobby, while their male counterparts lurked in corners, conspiring and breaking out into sudden fits of suppressed hilarity. These young swains applauded as a tiny man in livery marched the ducks from the fountain in the center of the lobby across the floor and into the elevator en route to a pen on the hotel roof. The ducks were the descendants of a batch of live decoys—or so Cordell Savage once told me—which had been dumped into the fountain one afternoon by a band of liquored-up hunters fresh from the duck blind who wanted to continue drinking at the hotel bar.

So much for the ducks' noble origins.

The Peabody Memphis, Official Site

The Peabody Memphis, Five Star Alliance


Suite Escapes: the Mandarin Oriental New York Celebrates its Taipan Suite


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Mandarin Oriental exterior

Imagine a luxurious home-away-from-home in the heart of Manhattan, featuring designer furnishings by rock-star designers Robert Kuo, Martha Sturdy, Barbara Berry and Bill Sofield. The two-bedroom Taipan Suite is a dreamy 1,210 sq feet, with floor-to-ceiling views overlooking Central Park, the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline from the 54th floor of the Mandarin Oriental. The decor? The best of urban chic, with Asian and Art Deco influence. The bathrooms—equipped with heavenly bath products by FRESH—are unique and luxurious: an oversized marble bath with LCD flat panel TV and separate shower, and the other featuring a soaking tub with picture window overlooking Central Park. Take care of some business—your suite converts easily to an office with three multi-line telephones, high-speed internet access, laptop connections to LCD TV, and printer and fax machine upon request. Or relax with a drink from the wet bar with Bisazza tiles, and enjoy a flick from the home theater set-up.

Mandarin Oriental New York, Official Site

Mandarin Oriental New York, Five Star Alliance


Beach Breaks: Fifth Night Free at Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Casa de Campo

When the grey and dreary February days drag on (could this really be the shortest month of the year?), it's easy to dream of greener pastures. And with spectacular special packages like this one, it's easy to act and make those dreams happen. At the sun-drenched resort of Casa de Campo, the days are long, lively, or languorous, rooms are luxurious, the spa is heaven-on-earth, and the activities are plentiful. Horseback riding, tennis, water sports, golf, fishing, sailing… whatever your little heart desires. Truly. Now through April 16th, guests who book four nights, receive the fifth night free. Starting at $1,476 per person, all-inclusive. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner; unlimited drinks in resort restaurants and bars; horseback riding; tennis; non-motorized water sports; one round of skeet-shooting; one four-passenger touring cart for duration of stay. Now that's a deal.

Via National Geographic Traveler A List Deals

Casa De Campo, Official Site

Casa De Campo, Five Star Alliance


Now Open: Private Beach Bungalows at The Breakers Palm Beach


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

The Breakers Beachfront Cabana

Private luxurious beach bungalows are now available for daytime rental at The Breakers. Enjoy a secluded day retreat on the ocean with loads of ultra-luxurious conveniences. Situated next to the Ocean Grill across from the new Active Pool, the five cabanas are 300 square feet in size with outside patio surrounded by lush tropical landscaping. The Breakers has done it right with its new $15 million beachfront makeover. Along with the casual dining at the new Ocean Grill overlooking the Atlantic and the expansive Active Fun Pool (free-form zero entry pool on the beach, designed for families), 15 more Beach Bungalows will be available for some lucky folks come end-of-March. These cabanas will be situated next to the new luxury relaxation pool designated quiet area (more chill-out zone than people-watching hub).

The Breakers, Official Site

The Breakers, Five Star Alliance


Skiing in the Morning and Sunbathing in the Afternoon in Dubai


By: Guest Writer

Ski Dubai

Since its opening in December, Ski Dubai has captured our imaginations (and wagging tongues). Contributor Alex Rose has the scoop.

You can now go snow skiing in one of the hottest places on earth. Dubai, the city-state in the United Arab Emirates, opened the first of two state-of-the-art indoor snow parks this past December; the second, Dubai Sunny Mountain Ski Dome, is scheduled for 2006. It’s the world’s third largest indoor ski resort and the only one in the Middle East. The 25-storey structure covers an area of about three football fields and can hold up to 1,500 people at a time. The indoor park maintains temperatures between 18F and 28F with real snow including falling snow flakes. It's connected to the billion dollar Mall of the Emirates and resembles a Swiss mountain resort complete with the St Moritz Cafe to warm yourself with a hot drink. The indoor snow park has chairlifts with skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding, and a ski school. It includes five color-coded slopes with varying degrees of difficulty for both enthusiasts and beginners, and the world's first indoor black diamond run. The longest ski run is over 1200 feet. There's even a rumor that Dubai might field a team for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Admission to Ski Dubai is $35 and winter clothing and ski gear are rented as part of the admission fee.


Luxury Travel in New Zealand: Queenstown’s Blanket Bay


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Blanket Bay

As the New Zealand Herald reports, luxury travel in kiwi territory is booming. Lodges like Kauri Cliffs, Wharekauhau, Blanket Bay and Huka Lodge are glam destination resorts that play host to celebs (laying low), oil tycoons, and the international jet-set. The cat's out of the bag about the remote Pacific islands whose breathtaking scenery played center stage in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings flicks. Our pick? The luxurious hideaway of Blanket Bay, with its magnificent setting next to Lake Wakatipu, beneath snow-capped peaks. Earning top accolades from CNT, Forbes, and the Sunday Times UK, Blanket Bay offers 12 secluded rooms and suites, constructed of timber and stone and filled with sumptuous furnishings. The suites boast exquisite views from large private terraces. Likewise, the mountain and lake vistas are phenomenal from the outdoor heated lap pool. Activities range from the adrenaline-pumping (jetboating and heli-skiing) to the calm and relaxing (excellent health and spa facilities).

Blanket Bay, Official Site

Blanket Bay, Five Star Alliance


Gadget on the Go: Pure Digital Disposable Videocam


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Videocam

On vaca and you forgot the video camera? Don't fret. The newly- and greatly-improved US Airways mag has found the answer. A disposable videocam. I kid you not. $30, weighs a mere five ounces, and on sale at the ubiquitous CVS pharmacy. The little thing captures up to 20 minutes of video and sound, which the CVS photo lab will happily put on DVD for you. ($13 processing fee)


Ritz-Carlton Rose Island to Debut in the Bahamas


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Bahamas

It's music to our ears. A 230-acre private island, Ritz-Carlton's deluxe spot in the Bahamas, is scheduled to open in 2009. Just four miles off Nassau and Paradise Island, Rose Island will be accessible by boat or helicopter. Guest rooms are planned to average 550 square feet with large balconies overlooking the beach.


Fly-Fishing in Ireland at the Ashford Castle


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Fly Fishing at Ashford

Dating back to 1228, situated on the shores of Lough Corrib on a private estate of 350 acres, Ashford is one of the most luxurious castle hotels in Ireland. The former estate of the Guinness family, the picturesque castle was the chosen spot for the wedding of Pierce Brosnan (and 007's got the world's pick). For avid anglers, Ashford Castle has recently designed a deluxe fly-fishing package. After all, the castle is strategically located on one of the most famous fisheries in all of Ireland. (The lake is known for its wild brown trout and salmon.) Available from Feb 15-Sep 30, the package includes accommodations, guided fishing (shared guide/boat), all breakfasts, a ghillie's lunch on fishing days, and complimentary use of tennis courts, the 9-hole golf course, and walking trails throughout the 350-acre estate. All fishing gear is provided at no additional cost on fishing days. Prices start at $785 for two nights, and one day fishing. $2,241 for five nights, four days fishing. For the non-anglers in the family, the castle's got all sorts of activities—tennis, golf, equestrian, and even falconry.

Ashford Castle, Official Site

Ashford Castle, Five Star Alliance