Courtesy of the Pikaia Lodge

Eco-Pioneer: Pikaia Lodge, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

5 of 45

Luxury in the Galápagos Islands took an evolutionary leap with the debut of Pikaia Lodge, the archipelago’s first carbon-neutral five-star resort. The setting is spectacular: set along a plateau on Santa Cruz Island, its 14 rooms put the entire lush valley and Pacific coastline on display through floor-to-ceiling windows. But what’s most remarkable is that it exists at all. For decades, tourism in the Galápagos has been ruled by boats with rigid itineraries, but Pikaia lets you see the islands by both land and sea (the property owns and operates a private 100-foot yacht), a combination that allows guests to explore with fewer emissions and greater flexibility, whether snorkeling with sea lions or visiting an organic coffee farm. pikaialodge.com. $$$$$

Pikaia Lodge

It List 2015: the Best New Hotels on the Planet

Eco-Pioneer: Pikaia Lodge, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Luxury in the Galápagos Islands took an evolutionary leap with the debut of Pikaia Lodge, the archipelago’s first carbon-neutral five-star resort. The setting is spectacular: set along a plateau on Santa Cruz Island, its 14 rooms put the entire lush valley and Pacific coastline on display through floor-to-ceiling windows. But what’s most remarkable is that it exists at all. For decades, tourism in the Galápagos has been ruled by boats with rigid itineraries, but Pikaia lets you see the islands by both land and sea (the property owns and operates a private 100-foot yacht), a combination that allows guests to explore with fewer emissions and greater flexibility, whether snorkeling with sea lions or visiting an organic coffee farm. pikaialodge.com. $$$$$

Courtesy of the Pikaia Lodge

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

Explore More