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World's Best Hotels 2011

Singita Grumeti Reserves

Courtesy of Singita Game Reserves

Thousands of miles off the western coast of Chile, you wake up to an expansive view of Easter Island’s grassy meadows, grazing horses, and the pounding Pacific surf, then set off on a half-day trek along a volcano rim toward natural rock pools. Your base camp? The No. 13–ranked hotel in the world, according to the readers of Travel + Leisure: Posada de Mike Rapu, Explora Rapa Nui.

Finding the right hotel is essential to any trip’s success, especially as travelers increasingly seek out adventures in the most far-flung destinations. That makes the results of the World’s Best Hotels survey essential reading. Consider it your global  Rolodex of hotels that can deliver special access, noteworthy amenities, above-and-beyond service, and authenticity of place.

Honing in on the World’s Best Hotels is no easy feat. Each year, T+L readers vote on thousands of hotels based on rooms, location, service, food, and value. The top-ranked properties had impressively high scores. The entire Top 100 received scores above 92.00—a T+L record that’s a testament to how properties around the globe are raising the bar.

This year’s World’s Best Hotels results also reflect a growing preference for the exotic. Six of the year’s Top 10 hotels overall are safari lodges in Africa, while the number of winning hotels in the top 50 located in Mexico and Central and South America has increased fivefold since 2010. Airline patterns also acknowledge the emerging importance of Central and South America as global players: according to the International Air Transport Association, travel on Latin American carriers increased by 25 percent this spring.

And don’t discount Asia. Bangkok—once again voted the No. 1 city in the world—is home to the legendary Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok (rising from No. 57 to No. 23 this year). North of Bangkok in Chiang Mai, the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi surged to No. 7 on the list, up from No. 45 in 2010. This resort was designed to re-create the experience of staying within a historic Thai village; farmers and wood-carvers work on-site. Similarly, a stay at the grand Oberoi Udaivilas (No. 5), a domed palace on the shores of Lake Pichola in Rajasthan, feels like a trip back in time.

Authenticity of place plays a role at another World’s Best perennial favorite, Triple Creek Ranch (No. 6) in the Montana Rockies. You can trace the Lewis and Clark trail on a horseback-riding tour, or channel your inner pioneer during steelhead fly-fishing trips on the Salmon River. Then you’ll unwind in renovated log cabins complete with wood-burning fireplaces and hot tubs.

Read on to find out which hotel is the very best in the world. And be sure to download the first-ever World’s Best Awards digital edition for iPad. —Sarah Spagnolo

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