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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 1)

What's Not: Hip hotels serving up style over substance are yesterday's news. The experienced concierge who can obtain hard-to-get reservations has proven far more enduring than designer uniforms on valet parking attendants. India, though increasingly an important part of the world's economic and cultural landscape, has failed to ever, in all our polls, put one single luxury vote in the ballot box.

Eastern Europe, once heralded as the next big thing, has been largely ignored by our panelists and the once hot romance of the Greek Isles has shifted quite noticeably to our experts' beloved Italy, and its previously unsung Mediterranean islands, Sicily and Sardinia, which are trending upwards-fast. Celebrity chefs, for a brief time as vital to new hotels as spas, have slipped into the background even as hotel food quality has become more important to guests.

The Caribbean has continued to lose ground to Mexico, where wonderful hotel after wonderful hotel has opened, while in the islands, too-laid-back service standards for the high prices are increasingly being scrutinized by visitors, and in a very rare occurrence, a new Four Seasons in the Bahamas failed and closed quickly. No one heralded hotspot has fallen so far so fast as faddish Dubai, which only yesterday was touted as the "next Las Vegas." Meanwhile, with CityCenter, the Cosmopolitan and new Michelin-starred gastronomic temples, Vegas actually has good news again.

What's the Same: Italy remains the hotel and resort favorite of our experts, and given its tiny size, the nation has a vastly disproportionate number of the word's finest accommodations. Five years ago, in our very first poll, for the category "Best Small Resort, International," all but two lonely votes were cast for properties in Italy. Considering the entire world, our panel was in near-unanimous agreement over one thing: whatever the best was, it was in Italy.

Five years later, we asked them to choose the "Best Hotel or Resort Europe," this time including properties of all sizes and those in cities. It was déjà vu when all but two votes were again cast for Italian properties, large and small, city and country. La dolce vita lives!

Elsewhere, our top vote getters worldwide remained The Four Seasons George V in Paris and the Peninsula Hong Kong, though the latter is facing markedly increased competition. Among boutique urban hotels, New York City has ruled the roost and this is even truer today, with myriad new, upscale small hotels opening in recent years.

URBAN HOTELS

Best Large City Hotel, U.S.

TIE: The Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows, California; Peninsula Chicago, Illinois

The only surprise about these two standout selections is that they are not in New York, which in the past has almost exclusively ruled our domestic hotel categories, large and small. The “Pink Palace,” as the Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows is known (uber-critic Anthony Lassman of Nota Bene insists guests opt for the bungalows), is a perfect addition to our ranks, as the hotel is coming up on a century in the luxury business and has continued to wow Hollywood stars since the 1920s. Owner of a coveted Forbes (formerly Mobil) five-star rating, “The Beverly Hills Hotel is the epitome of glamour and style with true five-star service and attentiveness,” says celebrity travel agent Jason Miller, president of The Accomplished Traveler. New in 2010 are two 3,500-square-foot “ultra-bungalows.”


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