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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
Larry Olmsted
From the Print Edition:
Tom Selleck, Nov/Dec 2007

(continued from page 2)

Notable: The St. Regis Resort, Bora Bora had more than a few fans, including Drew Limsky, who says, "The over-water villas, at 1,500 square feet, instantly raised the luxury bar in French Polynesia. Some even have private pools suspended over the most beautiful lagoon in the world, with dead-on views of [Mount] Otemanu—you can't beat this kind of luxury. Most guests never leave their villas." Travel agent Mansour is impressed that "the owner has the clout to stop all fly-over aircraft for total privacy when needed."

At many resorts around the world, golf is king. We give you a selection of the best new places to play the game year-round, from the United States to Ireland to Scotland. The lodgings aren't too bad either.

Sanctuary Hotel, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
This new luxury anchor to one of America's greatest golf resorts has been awash in accolades since it opened, winning AAA Five-Diamond status and countless "best of" awards for its family-friendly atmosphere to its tennis and golf facilities. Our experts agreed, and David Baum, editor of Golf Odyssey, a critical golf newsletter, remarks, "This opulent oceanfront hotel creates a guest experience reminiscent of staying at a grand Southern estate. The quality of materials and craftsmanship are fantastic, and all the details are just right. With five courses headlined by Pete Dye's iconic Ocean Course, a Ryder Cup and now PGA Championship venue, plus exquisite service, endless family programs, 10 miles of wide beach and prolific wildlife, Kiawah Island Golf Resort is the preeminent full-service golf resort in the East."

Notable: The small Inn at Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina has just one very good course, but if it had more it might just give nightmares to much bigger resorts, since it handily beat the other competitors to finish second. Laid out like a Southern village, with rooms in cottages boasting tons of space, steam showers and wonderful porches, this waterfront escape from Auberge Resorts has a first-rate restaurant and spa, and Spanish moss and crumbling plantation ruins for the full Gone With the Wind effect.

Lodge at Doonbeg, Ireland
For more than a decade, PGA star Greg Norman dominated golf with his number one ranking. Now his highly praised design on Ireland's west coast is doing the same to golf travel. No category in our poll had such a clear-cut winner, and everyone who stayed at the property was bowled over by the luxurious elaborate stone townhouses that surround the opulent clubhouse. Golf writer and Ireland guru Michael Patrick Shiels says, "Doonbeg has easily the most impressive course-side lodging in all of Ireland," while Cigar Aficionado contributing golf editor Jeff Williams went a step further: "I've done Pebble Beach, Spanish Bay, Turnberry, Old Course Hotel, Kauri Cliffs and Pinehurst, and I believe [Doonbeg is] the finest single on-site golf accommodation in the world. Not a hotel in the classic sense, but rather a members club open to the public comprised of a substantial manor house and a surrounding village in the vernacular of Ireland. All brand new, but timeless and utterly fascinating. I just can't say enough good things about it, and all of this comes with the finest Irish hospitality."

Notable: While Doonbeg left the field in the dust, it is worth noting that Ireland is getting two more high-profile golf resorts this fall, including the first Ritz-Carlton in the British Isles, Powerscourt, with 36 holes. Competition will heat up when Horst Schulze, formerly the brains behind Ritz-Carlton, launches the first property in his new ultra-luxury brand, Capella, with Castlemartyr, a seventeenth-century Irish castle estate featuring a new 18-hole course by Ron Kirby.

In the everything-old-is-new-again category, the venerable Old Course Hotel, the premier lodging in the birthplace of golf, St Andrews, was sold in 2004 to plumbing giant Kohler, which operates the world-class American Club resort in Wisconsin, and the hotel immediately underwent a complete makeover, including lavish bathrooms and a spa now considered Scotland's best.

Although they don't fit into any of the aforementioned categories, these posh resorts—from ski chalets to ecological inns to outdoor retreats—are sure to excite and entice luxury travel aficionados.

Spa Resort—U.S.
Mayflower Inn, Washington, Connecticut
Proving that older is not necessarily wiser, and bigger not always better, this small newcomer in one of the most competitive and fastest growing categories simply crushed the competition. Last year, just months after it opened, the accolades, including five Mobil Stars and five AAA diamonds, started to mount. This year, the Mayflower won almost every vote cast: Travelocity editor Amy Ziff says the Mayflower "has taken the weekend getaway to new and luxurious heights. They've thought of absolutely every last detail. There's not a place in the world that feels like such a perfect home," while many other experts such as Mary Bemis, editor in chief of Organic Spa Magazine, and Tara Mandy, New York magazine's travel editor, call it their favorite.

Notable: Another northeastern newcomer not only took second place among U.S. spas, but got every vote not cast for the Mayflower. Pennsylvania's The Lodge at Woodloch is "the first proper destination spa to open in over a decade," according to travel and culinary journalist Nicole Alper.

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