Miami has something new to buzz about thanks to rocker Lenny Kravitz, nightlife guru Sam Nazarian, chef José Andrés, and starchitect Philippe Starck, the celebrity dream team behind SLS South Beach—one of 2012’s biggest hotel openings.
Every year Travel + Leisure readers vote on their favorite hotels in the World’s Best Awards survey. Now it’s the editors’ turn. We’ve opened up our little black book to reveal up-and-coming properties like SLS South Beach that we suspect will become future survey winners. From recent openings to groundbreaking renovations, these are the hotels that savvy travelers should book now.
The T+L 2012 World’s Best Awards give us some clues to what is resonating with travelers. For the second year in a row, Tanzania safari camp Singita Grumeti Reserves took the No. 1 spot. Now it has a worthy new competitor: the Lamai Serengeti, Grumeti’s neighbor to the north, with a covetable front-row seat to the great wildebeest migration.
Tierra Patagonia, an eco-lodge set between Chile’s wild pampas and the glacial waters of Lake Sarmiento, is another stylish nature escape on our radar, especially since travel to South America is proving more popular than ever.
With the current Olympic fever, we’d be remiss not to spotlight the Corinthia Hotel London, an extravagant escape that emerged after hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into a Victorian government building south of Trafalgar Square. Across the channel, the Hotel Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom is a dynamic addition to the Austrian hotel scene, complete with glittering glass on the Jean Nouvel–designed exterior and, inside, kaleidoscopic Pipilotti Rist art installations.
Plenty of other big-name hotel brands are branching out: more than 4,000 hotels opened in 2011 alone. The Park Hyatt brand made a splash, literally, with its new overwater property in the Maldives. The Viceroy redid a Riviera Maya resort to give it a boho, beach-chic sensibility, and St. Petersburg’s W Hotel is luring Russia’s fashion-centric new guard.
But you don’t have to cross continents to find a hot new hotel: the flagship Four Seasons Toronto is slated to open this fall, and the new Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch delivers cowboy charm on a 15,000-acre, century-old Wyoming ranch. Check out our complete list of the 15 hotels to watch in 2012.