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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 3)

Runners-Up: TIE: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi; Oriental Bangkok, Peninsula Hong Kong. The second place “Pen” was our past grand winner, and along with the venerable Oriental Bangkok, this one-two punch has long been the benchmark for global hotel excellence, while the Metropole Hanoi came out of left field to wow our panelists. “If you’re going to stay at a colonial grand hotel, you have to pull out all the stops. The Metropole does that and has a perfectly central location,” said Abel.

RESORTS

Best Beach Resort, U.S.

TIE: Four Seasons Hualalai, Hawaii; The Breakers, Florida

Our experts went bicoastal on this one, and two states, Hawaii and Florida, utterly dominated with well over 90% of votes cast. A number of hotels were worthy of ballots, but for the 50th State, Hualalai narrowly edged the recently reopened and totally rebuilt Mauna Kea, while the Breakers likewise edged out the much newer and nearby Acqualina. Honeymoon planner Wallace sums up the Four Seasons’ appeal: “Among Hawaii’s many high-rise resorts, this low-rise beauty really stands out. It offers the perfect mix of understated luxury, attentive service, beautiful grounds and world-class facilities.” How many hotels have a saltwater swimming pool cum aquarium carved from black lava and filled with colorful fish and majestic rays? Meanwhile, the family-owned Breakers, which insists on reinvesting ludicrous amounts of money in keeping this grande dame in perfect shape, is no stranger to our poll. Five years ago it swept “Best Large Resort U.S.,” thanks to two golf courses, excellent restaurants and a perfect setting. Well-known travel writer Lynn Seldon repeats what other travelers have said for more than a century: “The location, property, people and food keep me coming back year after year.” Among those in hearty agreement are travel agent Stacy Small and Emmy-award-winning “CBS News” travel editor Peter Greenberg.

Runners Up: Mauna Kea, Hawaii; Acqualina Resort & Spa, Florida. Earthquake damaged Mauna Kea was totally redone, including its famous Robert Trent Jones, Sr. golf course, tweaked into better than ever shape by his son Rees Jones. TheAPosition.com founder Jeff Wallach calls it “recently renovated within an inch of its life.” Acqualina was more of  a surprise, and our experts were wowed by its seaside setting, which travel agent Miller describes as, “The most beautiful beach I’ve seen on the East Coast.”

Best Beach Resort Destination, International

Bali

No destination on earth has more true luxury hotels per square mile than this fantasy island in Indonesia, where they come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny enclaves of over-the-top private villas to boutique hotels and large luxury beach resorts. Simply put, Bali has so many stunning luxury hotels that no one emerged as the clear winner, but our panel’s consensus was Bali, Bali, Bali.

Favorites: Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay; Amankila; Bulgari. The first of two Four Seasons on Bali, Jimbaran Bay famously led the global luxe resort movement away from mere “rooms” and to private compounds with plunge pools. Beloved boutique operator Aman Resorts got its start here on Bali, and according to Carrie Wallace, “Amankila continues to set the standard for what a romantic beach resort should be. Balinese to the core, guests naturally absorb the local culture whether they try to or not.” Bulgari’s Bali property is the luxury-style company’s first resort and features 59 ultra-deluxe villas.


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