In this new World’s Best category, glittering beach retreats and remote desert sanctuaries vied for the top slots.
When it comes to resort hotels in North Africa and the Middle East, lavish spreads in the United Arab Emirates rated highly with our readers. The Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, for example, sits on 14 acres of beachfront property. The 237-room resort (No. 2) features 10 eateries and lounges — including the popular Sea Fu restaurant (order the blue shrimp with a ponzu dressing) — and a 2-to-1 staff-to-guest ratio.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Hotels were classified as City or Resort based on their locations and amenities.
One&Only scored with two hotels in the top-five list. One&Only The Palm, also in Dubai, stole the fifth slot thanks to a location that is completely private and has unparalleled views of the Persian Gulf and the city skyline. Restaurants range from Spanish tapas to haute French cuisine, and the four villas and 90 rooms — among the largest in Dubai — are relaxing havens of contemporary Moorish design. Across the water, the One&Only Royal Mirage captures the young city’s spirit with arabesque rooms detailed in soothing cream colors, plush velvet, and silk accents.
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal was the sole property in that city to make the list. And what a retreat it is: the glittering waterfront complex has 532 rooms, all of which have views of the water, lush bougainvillea-filled gardens, or the city’s Grand Mosque. The resort’s eight restaurants span global cuisines, and the beachfront, 21,500-square-foot Espa is the place to indulge in a restorative hammam ritual or four-hands massage.
Despite the U.A.E.’s strong showing, this year’s categorical winner is Kasbah Tamadot, Richard Branson’s palatial resort in the foothills of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. Read on to see why it resonated with our readers.