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Hotels and Resorts

Cigar Aficionado's panel of travel experts picks the most luxurious, most outstanding, most exciting range of destinations in the world
Larry Olmsted
From the Print Edition:
Jim Belushi, November/December 2010

(continued from page 11)

One of the best new things to come online since our inaugural poll in 2005 is this fantasy creation of architect owner Nick Troubetzkoy. Untroubled by any rules of the hotel industry, Troubetzkoy indulged his every whim to create a one-of-a-kind property perched on a mountaintop, above a beach he also owns, with some of the world’s greatest views, including St. Lucia’s famed twin peaks, the Pitons, and the stunning sea. “It’s one of the most photographed resorts in the world due to its dramatic architecture and stunning scenery, yet also one of the most exclusive. Everyone dreams of visiting Jade Mountain,” says Jetsetter’s Farryn Wiener. There are just 28 suites, each butler serviced, an incredible array of facilities, dining options and activities, including one of the finest scuba centers in the Caribbean, and each open-air suite is more like a luxury home. My wife’s reaction upon arrival was, “this is all ours?” The suites are called “sanctuaries,” and as Valarie D’Elia, host of the popular “Travel With Val” segment on NY1, puts it, “Each of the ‘sanctuaries’ at Jade Mountain has one missing wall exposed to the elements, facing the fuzzy Piton mountains. I felt like I was watching an IMAX movie, tuned to the same glorious scene.” Every Sanctuary also has an open-air infinity pool and multilevel decks.

Runner-Up: Parrott Cay, Turks & Caicos (a previous winner)

Best Hotel/Resort Mexico

One & Only Palmilla, Los Cabos

Air conditioned golf carts on the Jack Nicklaus Signature course is typical of the spare-no-comfort approach taken at the One & Only Palmilla, especially for guests in the newer butler-served luxury wing. A complete rethinking of a longtime favorite Los Cabos hotel, this won earlier for Best New Beach Resort, Mexico, and was previously a runner-up in this category. The biggest news is that it displaced multiple previous winner Las Ventanas al Paraiso, long regarded by our panelists as the world’s benchmark for luxury tropical resorts. “It boasts the only swimmable beach in Cabo. The attention to detail is impeccable—the light fixtures alone impress, and as the sun sets staffers meticulously set countless candlelit lanterns along paths and flowerbeds, and the property takes on a magical air. More than just a gimmick or glorified housekeeping, butler service here is memorable,” says Elaine Srnka, editor of Virtuoso Life. Anne Scully adds, “Luxurious suites complete with butler service keep the guests coming back year after year. This resort has the best among the best in dining, golf, spa, deep-sea fishing and yacht charters,” as the resort has its own marina.

Runner-Up: Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Los Cabos (a previous winner)

Notable Mention: Two newer resort communities fared very well in our polls, but simply had too much of a good thing, splitting votes between their own multiple luxury hotels. Either Punta Mita, on the West Coast, with its Four Seasons and St. Regis, or Mayakoba, on the East Coast, with its Rosewood and Banyan Tree, would be the top vote-getter if considered a single resort.

Best City Hotel Far East

Peninsula Hong Kong

Don’t call for a bellman until you are ready to leave, because they might be knocking before you hang up, such is the service at this legend. Five years ago we called the Pen the “800-pound gorilla of our survey, no other hotel could touch the Peninsula.” Today, that honor has shifted thousands of miles west to Paris’s George V. After a massive wave of ultra-luxury openings across Asia, especially in Tokyo, Hong Kong and pre-Olympics Beijing, the margin is much, much closer but the venerable Peninsula still wins, with several properties nipping at its heels. Ironically, these include several sister hotels, or as top tier travel agent Jason Miller puts it, “Peninsula Hong Kong, Peninsula Beijing, Peninsula Shanghai, Peninsula Tokyo, Peninsula wins the prize in the Far East!”

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