Cape Weligama

Far-Flung Fantasy: Cape Weligama, Sri Lanka

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Five years since the end of a decades-long civil war, Sri Lanka is gaining its footing as a leisure destination, and luxury hotels are arriving to meet the demand. The most resplendent among them is Cape Weligama, a cluster of 40 terra-cotta-roofed bungalows, each with its own frangipani-filled private garden, on a secluded stretch of southern coastline. From here, immersive trips to scenic tea plantations, Buddhist ruins, and rain forest leopard habitats are all within easy reach, and the 16th-century fortified city of Galle is just 16 miles away. capeweligama.com. $$$$

Cape Weligama

It List 2015: the Best New Hotels on the Planet

Far-Flung Fantasy: Cape Weligama, Sri Lanka

Five years since the end of a decades-long civil war, Sri Lanka is gaining its footing as a leisure destination, and luxury hotels are arriving to meet the demand. The most resplendent among them is Cape Weligama, a cluster of 40 terra-cotta-roofed bungalows, each with its own frangipani-filled private garden, on a secluded stretch of southern coastline. From here, immersive trips to scenic tea plantations, Buddhist ruins, and rain forest leopard habitats are all within easy reach, and the 16th-century fortified city of Galle is just 16 miles away. capeweligama.com. $$$$

Cape Weligama

It List 2015: the Best New Hotels on the Planet

It looks like a concrete-and-glass spaceship touched down amid the lush hills of Chilean wine country. In fact, it’s Viña Vik, a new retreat that’s thrillingly original and opening up the Millahue Valley to more travelers.

Wine-country hotels the world over tend to follow a few familiar themes—intimate scale, lots of stone and rough-hewn beams, expansive views, good food—and if they often deliver a high degree of comfort, they also rarely offer many surprises.

Viña Vik is the opposite, from its curvilinear winery designed by Smiljan Radic to rooms that pursue an idea (say, an homage to Piero Fornasetti) down to the smallest detail. It’s the kind of hotel that can singlehandedly make a trip memorable.

After all, there are great new hotels, and then there are game changers. For our 10th annual editors’ choice awards, we picked 43 transformative properties—and vetted each one with a hotel stay.

Our search took us from Anguilla to Australia, from India to Italy. In Florida, we followed the cool crowd to the Miami Beach Edition, the latest scene-maker in Mid-Beach. The party begins in the lobby, with its all-white billiards table, and overflows into a nightclub, a bowling alley, a Jean-Georges restaurant, even a skating rink.

In Portugal, the arrival of Sublime Comporta opens up a stretch of coastline that’s been a longtime getaway for Lisbon’s smartest families. The husband-and-wife owners make guests feel like instant insiders, pointing out the best beaches and arranging scenic horseback rides.

These remarkable newcomers are a reminder that a great hotel can be a destination unto itself. They provide not just a place to rest your head but also an entire rationale to get on a plane and explore someplace new.

So check out this year’s It List and get planning.

Hotel Pricing Key
$ Less than $200
$$ $200 to $350
$$$ $350 to $500
$$$$ $500 to $1,000
$$$$$ More than $1,000

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