Nine Top Hotel Staffers
The Comforts of Home: I love to create memorable experiences for guests. I’ve taught children to ride bikes on the village green, which is the perfect place for a soft landing. There are also always fun events for the holidays. On July 4th we host a carnival; later, in the fall, there’s a 5K Turkey Trot, and in December I organize a Christmas Eve Elf Tuck-In. Santa’s elves visit cottages and read bedtime stories. Doubles from $650.
Water Views: Alakai nalu means “leader of the waves.” My job is to expand our guests’ knowledge of and respect for the ocean by taking them sailing, canoe paddling, windsurfing, and snorkeling. If something goes wrong, that’s my job, too. I once searched for a diamond ring a guest had lost in the ocean and found it three days later. She was ecstatic! Doubles from $775.
Green Team: The housekeeping department doesn’t just make sure that rooms are in perfect order. The 57 acres of the hotel property should be immaculate as well. That’s why I created a program called Conserve to Preserve, which encourages staffers to produce less trash and use less energy; we also offer training courses in being green to the local community. Guests may not be aware of some of the initiatives, but no one overlooks the white-sand beaches. Doubles from $590.
All in the Delivery: I am a master at towel art, and swans are my most impressive design. But I try to do more for the guests than just decorate the room. A newly married couple wanted to dine on cooked lobster while paddling in a dugout canoe. I caught two lobsters, which required a special permit; then I asked a fisherman to modify his small boat to look like a canoe. My work paid off! Doubles from $900.
Ivan M. Frutos
Argentinean Flavor: On Friday nights, the hotel holds tango lessons in one of the hotel’s three restaurants and I serve an Argentinean Malbec. At the end of a stay, we send travelers home with maté and dulce de leche kits, which include handwritten time lines of the products’ history. Doubles from $480.
Going the Distance: The hotel doesn’t have a taxi queue, so over the past four decades I have run thousands of miles to grab taxis for travelers. That’s only one of the ways I try to make visitors feel well cared for. For example, a guest returned to the hotel many years after his last stay. Not only did I welcome him by name but I’d tucked away the gloves he’d left behind on his last visit—he’d moved, and we didn’t have the new address. They were already waiting for him in his room. Doubles from $364.
Server, Miyuki restaurant, Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so
Years on the Job: 6
Cultural Immersion: Throughout the year, Miyuki restaurant offers sushi-making classes. Guests can also borrow kimonos, and I help them put the outfits on in an authentic way. Travelers can then pose for snapshots in our in-house photo studio. Doubles from $458.
Into the Wild: Sometimes we host dinners in a surprise location in the mountains of the Bushmans Kloof reserve, and I tend bar with an edited-down selection—it would be impossible to bring all of our wines to the mountain! Our staff performs gumboot dancing and African drumming while guests mingle before dinner. Doubles from $481.
Planning Ahead: If a guest is headed to Pink Beach or the 800-year-old Kauri Tree, I pack a bag with towels, bottled water, and a two-way radio in case of emergency. I also use the nightly cocktail hour to find out what everyone wants to do the next day: horseback riding? Clay shooting? And I introduce guests to other guests. Many end up having dinner or playing tennis together. Doubles from $842.
Located at the highest point of the island, near the west coast town of Soufrière, Jade Mountain wraps around a hillside, its exterior all curves and rough stone. Inside, each of the 29 suites is unique, but they all share impressive features: infinity pools or jacuzzis, 15-foot ceilings, and loftlike architecture—even the raised bathroom is essentially part of one huge space. Walk into the living room and it seems as if you’ve walked into the Pitons: suites have only three walls, offering open-air, panoramic views. Designed and owned by Russian-Canadian architect Nick Troubetzkoy, the resort has bold and organic architecture that celebrates the natural beauty of St. Lucia.
Palacio Duhau - Park Hyatt Buenos Aires
This Park Hyatt feels like two hotels in one. The original 23-room mansion, built in 1934 by French architect Leon Dourge, defines Belle Époque elegance with elaborate ironwork, glass chandeliers, and Persian rugs. Next door is the 142-room Posadas building, a sleek and minimalist tower that opened in 2006. What links the two spaces—in addition to rotating contemporary art exhibits—is impeccable service that elicits kudos from even the most discerning globetrotters. And while the rooms’ appearances vary according to their era (hardwood floors and silk curtains in the Palacio, a natural palate and contemporary furniture in Posadas), all have the highest-end technology, soaking tubs, and bathrooms bedecked in Travertino marble. At La Vinoteca lounge, a sommelier and maitre fromager pair wines from among 3,500 bottles of Argentine vintages with regional cheeses.
This 69-room family-run hotel deftly balances glitz and English charm. Minutes walk from Buckingham Palace, the century-old pile has long been royally favored: it's where King George VI (and a teen Elizabeth II) came for breakfast to celebrate the end of WWII. Guest rooms layer thoughtful touches with the best of British design. Russell Sage recently revamped four suites using historic silk, some originally commissioned for state carriages of the Royal Mews. In the David Linley-designed Dining Room, guests can feast on British traditional dishes (steak and kidney pie, Lincolnshire rabbit stew) under scintillating Swarovski chandeliers.
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve
Full-service hideaway with a wellness focus and access to original Bushman art sites, 3 hours from Cape Town.
Room to Book: Deluxes in the 1843 Manor House for historic atmosphere and private terraces.
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
“Perfect,” “heaven,” and “the best vacation of my life” are just a few ways guests describe this understatedly gorgeous, isolated resort where most of the 243 rooms, in low-rise bungalows, have ocean views. It’s popular with Hollywood celebrities for good reason: the five-star service is impeccable; the grounds border the dramatic volcanic rock coast with seawater and freshwater swimming pools; an open-air spa teems with tropical vegetation; and yoga, personal training, and a full menu of fitness classes are offered daily. The private, oceanfront Jack Nicklaus signature golf course is carved right into the underlying black lava, which serves as occasional bunkers.
Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort
With Spanish moss dripping from low-lying oak branches and egrets soaring overhead, life at this plantation-style luxury resort seems to move at the pace of a deep-southern drawl. But the many diversions—a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, fly-fishing, spa treatments, naturalist-led alligator “hunts”—sequestered on 20,000 acres of South Carolina coastal marshland leave little time for ennui. Fifty cottages house enormous rooms and suites (1,150- and 1,350- square feet, respectively), with pine floors, gas fireplaces, and private screened porches.
Esperanza, an Auberge Resort
The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs
Set on 6,000 acres of lush, rolling North Island countryside and bushland beside the Pacific, the 22-suite Lodge at Kauri Cliffs is one of three luxe lodges owned by the New York-based Robertson family (the others being the Farm at Cape Kidnappers and Matakauri Lodge). Despite its American proprietors, Kauri Cliffs feels 100 percent Kiwi. While golf is the main draw here, there are also two tennis courts, an infinity pool, and a trio of secluded swimming beaches. In addition to the spacious suites, there’s also a 4,200-square foot two-bedroom Owner’s Cottage (these days de rigueur at top New Zealand lodges), nestled in native forest with views of the golf course. The spa, regarded as one of the best in New Zealand, is set in a native totara rainforest with indoor and outdoor fireplaces for chilly Kiwi days.