The World's Hottest Hotel Openings This Winter
When is a hotel more than just a place to rest your head? When it opens access to a new destination, allows you to see it more fully, or offers the perfect respite from action-packed days. Travelers should consider themselves lucky to have so many new and exciting options—it seems like every day a beautiful new resort opens on some far-flung shore. But the options can also be overwhelming.
That’s why Travel + Leisure steps in on a quarterly basis to tell you exactly what’s hot and where—and why it’s worth going. There may not be TripAdvisor reviews yet, and some of these properties have yet to open their doors, but they’re the spots that we—professional hotel obsessives—are clamoring to check out as soon as possible. (And getting in early can come with its perks: not least among them, discounted opening rates and major bragging rights.)
On the list this winter are tons of options for warm-weather escapes, from a design-centric opening in Negril, Jamaica, to a culinary retreat with four rooms and a sprawling organic farm in the Cayman Islands. There are easy domestic getaways, thanks to exciting arrivals in Charleston and Nashville, and far-flung fantasies tucked into the Japanese countryside or the Sri Lankan coast. What they all have in common: a deep sense of place, even when they can pick up and move to a whole new location, as is the case with the hottest new safari lodge in the Serengeti, Roving Bushtops, which can literally be mounted on wheels to follow migratory routes.
Of course, our obsession with the new doesn’t mean you should forget about the classics (there’s a reason why hotels become iconic in their destinations). Instead, think of these openings as T+L’s picks to become the icons, landmarks, and must-stays of tomorrow.
Mahana Villa in New Zealand
Wine enthusiasts who have already crossed Tuscany and Bordeaux off their lists now have another destination to hit: New Zealand’s South Island. This architecturally impressive estate-turned-hotel in winery-rich Nelson, on the island’s northern coast, is perched high on a hill, overlooking the Tasman Bay and the Southern Alps. It’s the cornerstone to the award-winning Mahana Vineyard, known for its organic Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs, but it also serves as a home base for cycling, fly-fishing, kayaking, and heli-picnicking (yes, you read that right).
Grand Ferdinand in Vienna, Austria
If you, like most travelers, associate Vienna with old-world elegance, you’ll find the Grand Ferdinand as refreshing as we do. The hotel gives a wink and nod to traditional aesthetics (see the Baroque-inspired, ornamental headboards in the rooms and the classic cars in the driveway) while layering on funky patterns and fabrics for a fresh effect. Even the hotel’s restaurant puts a modern twist on the traditional, with updated takes on dishes like Kaisersuppe (veal soup) and goulash.
The Restoration in Charleston
Everything that’s old isn’t always new again in Charleston, but as its name would imply, The Restoration sure is. The 54-room property combines five historic buildings on centrally located King Street (four were built in the 19th century), turning them into a thoroughly modern hotel, with custom bath amenities by Beekman 1802, a Toby’s Estate coffee shop in the lobby, and Martone bicycles for guest use.
Four Seasons Lanai in Hawaii
It was already an iconic property on an exclusive island, but the Four Seasons Lanai is reemerging into the spotlight after a top-to-bottom refresh under the watch of its new owner, Larry Ellison. The billionaire—the fifth wealthiest in the world, according to Forbes—invested a pretty penny transforming a Balinese-inspired décor scheme into one that’s streamlined and contemporary. What remains the same: a prime location on a bluff that offers jaw-dropping views of the Pacific and Hulopo’e Bay, along with access to a marine sanctuary filled with dolphins and humpback whales.
Urban Cowboy in Nashville
Brooklyn’s most stylish four-room bed and breakfast now has an equally appealing sibling in East Nashville’s Historic District. And like the original, it’s been a labor of love by owner Lyon Porter, who restored the 1890s Queen Anne Victorian mansion—preserving its five fireplaces with original tile, its 400-pound American chestnut pocket doors, and a turreted bedroom—while adding some serious design cred. The look, says Lyon, is Southwestern Deco, with custom hand-printed wallpaper, floating claw foot tubs in each room, and a music room filled with instruments and Louis XII poufs. As he says, “It’s still Nashville, after all!”
The Watergate in Washington, D.C
It took $125 million and to renovate the iconic Watergate, where the historic scandal of the same name took place in 1972. The goal? Bringing the property back to its original glamour. The 336 rooms are all mid-century sleekness with views of the Potomac River, and the 12,500-square-foot Argentta spa brings new life to the property’s original indoor saltwater pool.
InterContinental Bordeaux – Le Grand Hotel in Bordeaux, France
Jacques Garcia, the famed French designer, has made his mark on this 18th-century building right on the city’s main plaza—its 130 rooms now bear his unmistakable signature with their saturated colors and opulent fabrics. But what really makes the property stand out is its unique wine concierge, who’ll help you get into the toughest tasting rooms in the region.
Atlantis by Giardino in Zurich, Switzerland
It was once a favorite with celebrities (everyone from Steve McQueen to Freddie Mercury have stayed here), but the Atlantis—a modernist architectural icon in the shadow of the Alps—was starting to show its age when Design Hotels took charge. Now, after a total renovation, the property has reclaimed its glitz and glam, with a cool retro vibe in the rooms and a two Michelin star restaurant downstairs. Make plenty of time to explore the digs: the lobby-level cigar lounge and Ayurvedic spa offer different takes on the urban oasis, while the outdoor lap pool is worth a dip for its dramatic mountain views.
Mar Adentro by Encanto in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cabo is in no shortage of luxury resorts, but even amid heavy competition, Mar Adentro Hotel & Residences stands out. Its villas, by acclaimed Mexican architect Miguel Angel Aragones, look like sugar cubes dotting the shore; the rest of its 205 rooms are studies in natural wood and white tones with picture windows overlooking the sea. And in a country known for excellent service standards, Mar Adentro is aiming to raise the bar: amenities include butler service, private chefs upon request, personalized pillow menus, in-room aromatherapy, and loads more.
Finca la Divina in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
Mexican wine country—or Valle de Guadalupe—has been on the rise with oenophiles for years. And now, there’s a new hotel to meet the increased demand. A labor of love by a prominent local chef, Javier Plascencia, the three-room property is an affordable and stylish escape with easy access to the region’s many wineries. The vibe is low-slung and familiar—like a hacienda seen through hipster eyes, with a lush pool deck that’s perfect for sleeping off tasting flights. Don’t miss a meal at Plascencia’s hit restaurant, Finca Altozano, a sort of Spanish-Mexican hybrid with outdoor tables set around a wood-fired grill.
Zemi Beach House Resort & Spa in Anguilla
The first luxury hotel on the east end of Anguilla has arrived, and it’s a stunner: its 69 rooms and suites have expansive oceanfront patios with breakfast tables, hand-carved wood headboards, and deep soaking tubs. But the real draw are the pristine beaches and the serene spa, which occupies a 300-year-old Thai house on stilts that was built in Thailand, taken down, and reconstructed on site. (An all-marble sauna and mud deck, for facials and scrubs, are among the gleaming new spaces in the ancient-feeling building.)
Le Soleil D’Or on the Cayman Islands
It used to be a special spot for villa rentals with access to an organic, on-site farm. Now, Le Soleil D’Or is a bona-fide beach retreat with four rooms and a communal kitchen for cooking classes. Though the property itself is intimate and small, it’s packed full of amenities—there’s a tennis court, pool, and two new restaurants. And did we mention the beach? It’s a gorgeous sliver on Cayman Brac, with limestone bluffs and prime snorkeling.
Amanera in the Dominican Republic
If you thought the Dominican Republic was all about mega-sized all-inclusives with a thumping nightlife scene, think again. Aman has brought its standard-bearing take on luxury to pristine Playa Grande, with 25 minimalist casitas shrouded by lush local flora. It’s a gateway for incredible golf (the resort’s fully integrated course was designed by the legendary Trent Jones St. and renovated by his son) as well as outdoor adventures (guests have a full 2,000 acres of jungle reserve right at their fingertips).
The Cliff in Negril, Jamaica
This 33-suite property stands out for its ability to bridge Jamaica’s famously low-slung culture with five-star luxury. Here, you’ll find all the trappings of a classic Caribbean resort—meticulously landscaped pools, private terraces, and outdoor seating areas galore. But you’ll also find the types of details associated with the Caribbean’s most elite properties: think indoor and outdoor bathrooms, access to a sprawling beach club, and a spa that spotlights indigenous ingredients.
Limalimo in Ethiopia
It’s time to consider Ethiopia a bucket list destination, and this pioneering safari lodge in the Simien Mountains is part of the reason why. Its 14 high-end rooms are designed to blend in to the rugged landscape, made with materials like rammed earth and thatch. But you’re not here to lounge around. Guests can take advantage of spectacular trekking, incredible wildlife (including the world’s largest population of endemic Gelada monkeys), and visits to rural villages to learn about Ethiopian cooking, culture, and crafts—all with the assistance of local guides who have never before been able to share the beauty of their home country.
Roving Bushtops in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Though its six tents have butler service, en-suite bathrooms, massive terraces, and sunken hot tubs, this fully mobile camp will has a zero carbon footprint—an incredible feat for both luxury and sustainability in the bush. The secret is in the construction materials: flexible Italian solar panels, high tensile steel from Sweden, and a lightweight honeycomb design that allows staff to put the entire camp on wheels as wildlife migrates around the Serengeti. That said, you’ll never need to go far to get prime game views. You might just catch glimpses of everything you want to see from the comfort of your king sized bed.
Amanemu in Ise Shima National Park, Japan
The Japanese countryside offers the kind of scenery that dreams are made of. Combine those landscapes with Aman’s hospitality and design, and you’ve got a dream hotel. The property, set along an age-old pilgrimage trail, is themed after the Japanese onsen, or hot springs bath, and each of the its 24 blond wood, minimalist suites have a private one on their deck. They also have views of Ago Bay and access to a garden spa with four treatment rooms and a watsu therapy pool.
Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort in Tangalle, Sri Lanka
The up-and-coming resort area of Tangalle, in the south of Sri Lanka, has a new standard for luxury in the 152-room Anantara, set on a still-functional coconut plantation. The property brims with a real sense of place, from the modern-meets-colonial décor to the locally made crafts and artifacts that are scattered around the rooms and common spaces. But unlike other resort areas, you’re not far from the country’s cultural core: the fortified city of Galle is within easy driving distance, as are many national parks.
QT Bondi Beach in Sydney
Pictures of Bondi Beach are inspiration alone for a trip to Sydney, so it’s no surprise that QT, Australia’s hippest hotel brand, has opened up on the shores of this iconic beach. It’s got all the edge we’ve come to expect from QT (video-based art installations in the lobby, surfer-inspired staff uniforms by local designer Janet Hine), along with surprisingly comfortable quarters for a property whose rooms go for under $300. The rooms, for instance, are all meant to function as studio apartments, with kitchenettes, sitting areas, and a cheery pastel color palette.