I am a hotel nerd. At the start of each year, I scan the next 12 months for openings to obsess over. Here, five newcomers that have me at the edge of my seat.
I’ve found a new way to play out my Wild West fantasy. Set on 1,600 acres deep in the Colorado Rockies, Cresto Ranch (pictured) opens in June with a main lodge in a restored 19th-century farmhouse and eight safari-style tents, all with en-suite bathrooms, gas stoves, enormous beds, and—color me happy—private porches where you can daydream while gazing out at the vast wilderness. The retreat is four miles down the Dolores River from sister property Dunton Hot Springs, a luxury pioneer in the Rockies. (And yes! Cresto guests can pop over to Dunton for a dip).
There’s a lot to get excited about in Europe this year. Asian hotel group Shangri-La is opening in London’s towering Shard building this spring, while in June, Israeli hotelier Ori Kafri debuts his boutique JK Place in Rome. But here’s the one I’m swooning over: Peninsula Paris, the European debut of the esteemed Hong Kong-based hotel group, which opens in December in a Beaux-Arts building on the Champs Elysées. To my dismay, they’re keeping the delicious details under wraps, but if it’s anything like the Pen’s other nine properties, expect unparalleled service, cool proprietary tech amenities, and enormous rooms with stay-in-bed-all-day appeal.
True: the Galapagos Islands haven’t seen the level of luxury that Pikaia Lodge will bring when it opens in October. Set in the highlands in a giant tortoise reserve, the 14-room property pulls out all the stops: floor-to-ceiling windows, private terraces, enormous bathrooms, and a Japanese Zen-style wellness center. But the clincher for me is this luxury resort’s commitment to being carbon-neutral in this fragile landscape, from the sustainably grown teak wood in the guest rooms to a state-of-the-art water treatment plant.
Ready to be transported? A rusty sandstone landscape of etched gorges marked with ancient rock art in the Northern Territory, about 200 miles south of Darwin, is the setting of the 18-room Cicada Lodge. Run by the indigenous Jawoyn people, Cicada opens in April on a ridge facing the emerald-hued (and crocodile-filled!) Katherine River, which you’ll experience either from your room’s picture windows, or on day hikes through the otherworldly terrain.
They had me at “hot air balloon ride.” Gangtey Goenpa Lodge, a 12-room retreat opening in May on a ridge in Bhutan's lush Phobijkha Valley near Gangtey monastery, will offer morning flights in the spring and fall, when the region’s rare black-necked cranes aren’t in residence. While this remote corner is no stranger to luxury—ultra-exclusive Amankora is nearby, and Uma by COMO Punakha opened last year in a neighboring valley—this newcomer, inspired by traditional Bhutanese architecture, is without a doubt an alluring addition.
Jennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.