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20 to Watch: 2010's Best Up-and-Coming Hotels

Four Seasons Hotel Beirut

Courtesy of Paul Thuysbaert/The Four Seasons

Take the pedigree of the Four Seasons brand, add in the design sensibility of Pierre-Yves Rochon (the man behind the hotel group’s George V Paris), and add a dash of the Middle East’s of-the-moment style quotient, and you have the new Four Seasons Hotel Beirut, one of this year’s top up-and-coming hotels.

Every year, Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards survey highlights the hotels, cruises, airlines, and more as voted on by T+L readers. But creating the “20 to Watch” list—the hotels we think will become World’s Best Award winners—is a job for the editors. So we scanned the globe to pick out this year’s new and refurbished, expanding, or otherwise evolving hotels.

In 2010, almost a third of the top 100 properties in the World’s Best Awards are located in the United States and Canada, which tells us that domestic hotels are raising the bar. The Pierre, one of Manhattan’s most iconic properties, recently underwent a $100-million renovation, so it’s ready to compete with other Big Apple standouts including the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park and St. Regis New York.

Over in the Windy City, you might find that the James Hotel Chicago, with 297 rooms and David Burke’s Primehouse, will make its T+L World’s Best debut next year. The hotel is offering programs to keep guests “intellectually engaged,” a term that’s part of the current zeitgeist in the hospitality industry. As an example, this past spring the hotel partnered with a local gallery for a seasonal art series.

If a sandy beach getaway is more your scene, there’s Rosewood’s Jumby Bay resort on Antigua, which fell off the World’s Best list this year but will surely rise again thanks to its recent renovation, which added 28 suites, an open-air spa, and an oceanfront infinity pool. And plenty of airlines, including American Airlines, Continental, Delta, and US Airways, fly to the island’s V. C. Bird International Airport.

Unfortunately, airline surcharges are on the rise (Bestfares.com has reported that surcharges on flights to Europe have increased year-over-year), but you can find great hotel values across the Atlantic. A low price and Eiffel views is what grabbed our attention at the new Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan Hotel. And check out the hotel’s Greatest Holiday in the World competition; contest winners are awarded 365 free nights at any of the brand’s hotels. Although we haven’t found any other hotels offering rooms gratis, Town Hall Hotel & Apartments, in London’s East End, has 98 rooms starting at $294—a great deal in the U.K. now.

We know, however, that sometimes a hotel is only right if you can bring the entire entourage along. The new Veranda by Grace Bay Club is a great place to take the kids this summer. One- to four-bedroom villas are set near the beach and three pools, and the all-inclusive rates and youngster-friendly attitude differentiates this spot from the other hotels in Turks and Caicos.

Read on for more up-and-comers, plus an airline, cruise line, and destination spa that we have our eyes on this year. —Sarah Spagnolo

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