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It List 2008

<center>It List 2008</center>

Courtesy of JK Capri

J.K. Place Capri
Italy

Beach Hotel. Surely the new J.K. Place Capri is one of Europe’s most stylish recent openings. And that it can be found on Capri—which, despite its reputation, still has some unspoiled corners—is music to our hotel-obsessed ears. This charming spot is sing-out-loud gorgeous, and in its mellow atmosphere, we felt like we were staying at a chic friend’s house. The design is nautical with a twist: round porthole-style interior windows, sea-blue walls, crisp white sofas, bronze imitation Greek statues, and houndstooth-print stools. Guests have complete run of the house; we loved picking fresh chilies from the garden to sprinkle on pasta at lunch, and drinking Bellinis on the terrace while watching the bathers on the beach below.


It List 2008
<center>It List 2008</center>

Thomas Loof

Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya
Mexico

Beach Hotel. If ever you had any doubt about the arrival of the Riviera Maya, a once-sleepy stretch of sand 40 miles south of Cancún, then try booking a room at the new Mandarin Oriental, one of the most anticipated hotel openings this year (we had to put our name on two waiting lists to get in). Hassle aside, it’s easy to see why the property is red-hot. The winning Mandarin formula—exemplary service, forward-reaching design, a first-rate spa—has taken root in a pristine Mexican coastal environment. Acres of mangrove forest, including an on-site cenote, surround a lovely—albeit small—stretch of powdery sand. The 128 boxy white villas give beach chic new meaning, with polished stone floors, rough limestone walls, spare four-poster beds, and sculptures by prominent Mexican artists. We’ll admit, we did experience a bit of sticker shock at checkout. But it’s worth it. This is the most sophisticated resort on Mexico’s eastern coast.


It List 2008
<center>It List 2008</center>

Kiattipong Panchee

Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi
Thailand

Beach Hotel. This is Asia at its best—all the beauty of a remote destination without the hassle of being entirely off the grid. On the island of Yao Noi, only 45 minutes by boat from Phuket, lucky guests are surrounded by lush jungle, tiny fishing villages, and untouched beaches. Six Senses is known for its luxe-castaway formula, and this resort of 56 villas, with untreated-wood–paneled interiors and private plunge pools, perfectly melds location and design. And though the property mirrors sister outposts in the Maldives and Vietnam, we didn’t mind. In this pristine environment, Six Senses has been able to realize the brand’s signature style—and then some.


It List 2008
<center>It List 2008</center>

Courtesy of Qualia

Qualia
Hamilton Island, Australia

Beach Hotel. Billing itself as Australia’s first seven-star hotel, Qualia has the requisite luxury trappings (personal infinity pools, a 1,000-bottle wine cellar). But the real stars here are architect Chris Beckingham and chef Stephane Rio, who have modernized the notion of an Australian reef resort. The airy one-bedroom pavilions combine native styles (corrugated-iron roofs, wide eaves) and materials (plantation hoop pine, Bowen granite) with restraint; each pared-down space is both contemporary and authentic. At the restaurant, Rio uses indigenous ingredients in unexpected ways—even for breakfast, when waffles are served with sweet and nutty wattle-seed and Kaffir-lime syrups.


It List 2008
<center>It List 2008</center>

Courtesy of Haymarket Hotel

Haymarket Hotel
London

City Hotel. “Why not have some fun!” may well have been what Kit Kemp said as she released her arsenal of bold colors and supergraphic effects on the public spaces of the former American Express London headquarters in the heart of the theater district. Masters of the clubby/cozy/contemporary (e.g., London’s Soho Hotel, Knightsbridge Hotel, and one of our all-time favorites, Charlotte Street Hotel), the designer and her husband and business partner Tim Kemp know how to create properties that strike a perfect balance between a classic English manor and a buzzy film– and art-world haunt.


It List 2008
<center>It List 2008</center>

David Nicolas

Regent Bal Harbour
Florida

City Hotel. Make no mistake: Regent’s first property in the United States wants nothing to do with South Beach. While it’s got the beautiful beachfront and plenty of headline-grabbing features (the country’s first Guerlain Spa, a $4 million art collection), there’s no Euro-lounge sound track pumping into the lobby. This is a place for adults—which is appropriate, given that the Regent is also the first major hotel to open in the old-line Bal Harbour Village in 52 years. Here, it’s all about the signifiers of luxury: Anichini bedding, plasma television screens embedded in bathroom mirrors, and a dazzling crystal chandelier. At times, it might seem over the top, especially when coupled with service that’s a tad overbearing (resolutely solicitous restaurant waiters actually thanked us for enjoying our dish), but the hotel is a welcome alternative for those in search of Miami’s more grown-up side.


It List 2008
<center>It List 2008</center>

Courtesy of Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro

Hotel Fasano
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

City Hotel. Restaurateur Rogério Fasano established himself as a tastemaker par excellence with his flagship Fasano hotel in São Paulo. And now, the opening of the second Fasano, in Rio’s perennially chic Ipanema, sees his talent for infusing environments with social cachet reach critical mass. To design the 91 rooms, Fasano made an unexpected choice: Philippe Starck, whose penchant for provocation (not to mention plastic) doesn’t intuitively jibe with laid-back Carioca chic. But it works. Fasano’s own preference for warm, natural palettes seems to have toned Starck down. Rooms and suites are spare and breezy, with white walls, leather-upholstered Mies daybeds, Amazonian wood side tables, and at least two burnished Sergio Rodrigues chairs.


It List 2008
<center>It List 2008</center>

Courtesy of JIA Shanghai

JIA Shanghai
China

City Hotel. Ensconced in a 1920’s building on fashionable West Nanjing Road, the 55-room JIA brings a much-needed dose of boutique intimacy to the city’s booming hotel scene. Its eclectic Asian-contemporary interiors were parceled out among a trio of up-and-coming designers—Andre Fu, BURO Architects, and Darryl Goveas. They crafted a well-choreographed hideaway of dark wood floors, richly embroidered fabrics, and elegant birdcages, which sit alongside Knoll and Moroso furniture. Jia means “home” in Mandarin, and given how frenetic Shanghai is, we loved the property’s host of cozy amenities: well-stocked marble kitchenettes, in-room board games, and help-yourself (complementary) tea and bottled water. There’s even free Wi-Fi—still a luxury among upscale properties.


It List 2008
<center>It List 2008</center>

Member of Kiwi Collection

Onguma Plains, The Fort on Fisher’s Pan
Etosha, Namibia

Rustic Hotel. Northern Namibia is Africa’s Next Great Safari Frontier—in part owing to its incredible plethora of wildlife, but also because of its wealth of high-quality luxury lodges, like this camp on a private 50,000-acre game reserve, five minutes from Etosha National Park. While the design of most southern African lodges skews toward either safari chic or super-Modernist (Singita), Onguma takes the bush lodge in a bold new direction. All carved antique doors, billowy curtains, and reflecting pools, it’s as if a casbah were relocated to the continent’s south. The main lodge features brushed-metal sconces, Middle Eastern lanterns, and long mirrors in distressed wooden frames. Two of each guest room’s walls are made of canvas; they can be opened to reveal a mesh window that makes the plains look like an Impressionist painting. At night, the resort requires that you zip yourself snugly into your room (which can feel claustrophobic). But it’s a safety precaution, since lions roam nearby.


It List 2008
<center>It List 2008</center>

Courtesy of El Silencio Lodge & Spa

El Silencio Lodge & Spa
Bajos Del Toro, Costa Rica

Rustic Hotel. Costa Rica has long had the rugged eco-travel niche sewn up. But until now, well-heeled travelers who wanted total solitude without sacrificing luxury had few options. So we took note when the owners of the top-notch Hotel Punta Islita decided to open this upscale-granola retreat on 500 acres 90 minutes north of San José. The 16 cottages are plush enough (gas fireplaces, L’Occitane amenities). It’s all about being out of touch here—there are no computers, in-room TV’s, or even cell-phone reception, which might not work for some type-A travelers. But when you’re sitting on a lookout deck with a whirlpool, perched high above the forest, it’s a blissful reminder of how precious el silencio can be.


It List 2008

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