The World's Best New Hotels & Resorts
Top-tier brands remain on our travel experts' radar, but boutique properties and South American and Vietnamese destinations are also garnering rave reviews
From the Print Edition:
Tom Selleck, Nov/Dec 2007
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Notable: Park Hyatt, Hyatt International's top-tier brand, is growing faster overseas than at home, and many recent properties won over our critics, especially the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow, which Travelocity Editor Amy Ziff called "the best Moscow has to offer." The venerable Four Seasons also fared well, especially its new city hotels in Budapest and Hong Kong, the latter of which enjoys a one-of-a-kind location on Victoria Harbour.
Hotel Gansevoort, New York City
The Big Apple is awash in new boutique hotels, many of which received nods from our panel, but the Gansevoort, in the trendy Meatpacking District, stood out. Travel journalist Steve Jermanok says he "loved the ultra-hip Gansevoort, from the new G Spa that turns into a celebrity-studded lounge after 10 p.m. to the rooftop pool [with] its underwater music." Terrero notes that the hotel was already "a proven favorite of top luxury suppliers; it represents the new pulse of New York. Service is swell despite its hip vibe." In a city notorious for cramped spaces, the hotel has a fabulous open-air rooftop bar set in a landscaped garden where cigar smokers are welcome, and is home to Ono, one of the nation's only Japanese restaurants offering authentic robatayaki cuisine.
Notable: Other new hip New York hotels that caught our eye were The Mercer in Soho, the Gramercy Park Hotel, which was the favorite of Tara Mandy, travel editor of New York magazine, and the Hotel Bowery, which Elle Decor travel editor Vicky Lowry calls "the place to stay if you want cutting-edge cool."
Dylan Hotel, Dublin
The Dylan has made every best new and hot list, and was named Ireland's best new hotel by the country's hospitality association. Careful attention to design, gorgeous fixtures and linens, and personal touches such as cordless Bang & Olufsen phones and heated bathroom floors make it extremely comfortable. Lowry loves the Dylan, calling it "small, stylish and a great reason to visit one of Europe's coolest new-old cities."
BEST NEW BEACH RESORTS
With so many beautiful oceanside resorts being erected around the world, our panelists had the difficult task of narrowing down their selections to one choice per region.
Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Another runaway winner, this star of Ritz's resort portfolio garnered about the same number of votes as the other contenders combined. It even received votes in the best golf resort category, despite having just a nine-hole course. In short, the new resort on Cayman's Seven Mile Beach delivers on all fronts, from its two Eric Ripert restaurants, Blue and Periwinkle, to its Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy and its ocean discovery center run by Jacques Cousteau's son, Jean-Michel. Terrero says, "The service [is] amazing throughout, but if you reserve condo accommodations, the butler service is the real deal." Travel agent Scully says that the resort "has something to offer everybody."
Notable: The only other property in the region with multiple votes was Amanyara, the Caribbean's first venture from well-known Asian luxury hotel group Aman Resorts. Hotelier Stephen Brandman, co-owner of Thompson Hotels, says that "service is over the top from the moment you arrive, and in their compound you feel as if you are in heaven. The architecture is phenomenal. Rooms sit directly atop the pristine blue water, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, making for immaculate views right from your bed."
One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico
Palmilla was a popular resort for decades, but it was only after One&Only took control, shuttered it for a massive renovation and expansion, and reopened the property less than three years ago that it joined the elite ranks of its ultra-luxe neighbors Las Ventanas and Esperanza. Additions included a new wing of huge, butler-serviced suites and the only restaurant outside of Chicago by star chef Charlie Trotter. It is also the sole resort in Cabo with its own golf course, a 27-hole Signature effort by Jack Nicklaus that even boasts air-conditioned carts. Gary Mansour of Mansour Travel says, "The outstanding service—butlers, staff and food—are all fantastic and the location is unbeatable." Hotel owner George Ruff declares the resort "a one-of-a-kind experience."
Notable: Mexico has had an explosion of new big-name resorts, from Mandarin Oriental to Fairmont, but the runner-up to Palmilla in this category was another revamp of a classic: Maroma Resort and Spa, an Orient-Express property on the Mayan Riviera that reopened last year after a massive face-lift, adding a new all-suite wing, the Casa del Mar. Brandman says, "Within my beachfront suite, I had my own private gym, pool, garden and indoor and outdoor showers. My suite also had a private palapa with toe massage beds. It was just idyllic."
Nam Hai Hotel, Vietnam
One of many Vietnamese luxury hotels and resorts exploding onto the global scene, the resort is more of a village, with guest rooms contained entirely in decadent freestanding villas, 40 of which have private pools, built around a pristine lagoon and stunning complex of three pools cascading into the ocean. Paul McManus, president and chief executive officer of Leading Hotels of the World, describes Nam Hai as "a resort of distinctive serenity and style located on China Beach with outstanding spa facilities."
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