20 to Watch: 2010's Best Up-and-Coming Hotels
T+L predicts the next hottest hotels around the globe. Book your room now, before the secret gets out.
Take the pedigree of the Four Seasons brand, add in the design sensibility of Pierre-Yves Rochon (the man behind the hotel group’s George V Paris), and add a dash of the Middle East’s of-the-moment style quotient, and you have the new Four Seasons Hotel Beirut, one of this year’s top up-and-coming hotels.
Every year, Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards survey highlights the hotels, cruises, airlines, and more as voted on by T+L readers. But creating the “20 to Watch” list—the hotels we think will become World’s Best Award winners—is a job for the editors. So we scanned the globe to pick out this year’s new and refurbished, expanding, or otherwise evolving hotels.
In 2010, almost a third of the top 100 properties in the World’s Best Awards are located in the United States and Canada, which tells us that domestic hotels are raising the bar. The Pierre, one of Manhattan’s most iconic properties, recently underwent a $100-million renovation, so it’s ready to compete with other Big Apple standouts including the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park and St. Regis New York.
Over in the Windy City, you might find that the James Hotel Chicago, with 297 rooms and David Burke’s Primehouse, will make its T+L World’s Best debut next year. The hotel is offering programs to keep guests “intellectually engaged,” a term that’s part of the current zeitgeist in the hospitality industry. As an example, this past spring the hotel partnered with a local gallery for a seasonal art series.
If a sandy beach getaway is more your scene, there’s Rosewood’s Jumby Bay resort on Antigua, which fell off the World’s Best list this year but will surely rise again thanks to its recent renovation, which added 28 suites, an open-air spa, and an oceanfront infinity pool. And plenty of airlines, including American Airlines, Continental, Delta, and US Airways, fly to the island’s V. C. Bird International Airport.
Unfortunately, airline surcharges are on the rise (Bestfares.com has reported that surcharges on flights to Europe have increased year-over-year), but you can find great hotel values across the Atlantic. A low price and Eiffel views is what grabbed our attention at the new Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan Hotel. And check out the hotel’s Greatest Holiday in the World competition; contest winners are awarded 365 free nights at any of the brand’s hotels. Although we haven’t found any other hotels offering rooms gratis, Town Hall Hotel & Apartments, in London’s East End, has 98 rooms starting at $294—a great deal in the U.K. now.
We know, however, that sometimes a hotel is only right if you can bring the entire entourage along. The new Veranda by Grace Bay Club is a great place to take the kids this summer. One- to four-bedroom villas are set near the beach and three pools, and the all-inclusive rates and youngster-friendly attitude differentiates this spot from the other hotels in Turks and Caicos.
Read on for more up-and-comers, plus an airline, cruise line, and destination spa that we have our eyes on this year. —Sarah Spagnolo
Algodon MansionBuenos Aires, Argentina
Algodon Wine Estate’s sister property in B.A. gets our vote for travelers in search of luxury and authentic Argentinean culture. Set in a restored 1912 mansion in the heart of the city’s residential Recoleta neighborhood, the 10 rooms include a swoon-worthy Royale Suite with a grand piano, sitting room with a fireplace, and a steam shower. Also on offer are tango lessons and handmade cigars from the humidor at Frank’s Cognac Bar. Doubles from $800.
Amanresorts is known for delivering superior service, but travelers to the group’s latest stateside hotel are often most impressed with the unconventional architecture: 13 cliffside pavilions with views of the mesas of Canyon Point and the sandstone desert. After a day spent hiking the Grand Canyon or boating on Lake Powell, guests relax on one of two outdoor treatment terraces at the 25,000-square-foot spa and stargaze after dark. Doubles from $950.
Aria Resort & Casino LasVegas
Great Value The biggest news in Las Vegas this year? CityCenter, the $8.5 billion development on the Strip, and its newest hotel, Aria, a 61-story curvilinear glass tower with LEED Gold certification. It houses an impressive art collection (including works by architect Maya Lin and sculptor Henry Moore), 14 restaurants, and 4,004 spacious and affordable rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the bright lights. Doubles from $149.
Four Seasons HotelBeirut, Lebanon
Designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon (whose past projects include the Four Seasons Hotel George V, in Paris), the 26-story tower on the Corniche has 230 rooms with balconies overlooking the Mediterranean and Arabic-style details (golden panels, ornate chandeliers, and fretwork screens). It’s one good reason to head to Beirut now. Doubles from $350.
Five Chicago properties appeared on the World’s Best U.S. and Canada list this year, so we’re paying close attention to the rise of the city’s trendsetting boutique-style property. The 297 streamlined rooms are furnished with plush, pillow-topped beds and display a rotating collection of works by emerging artists. Downstairs, local foodies dine on dry-aged steaks at David Burke’s Primehouse. Doubles from $259.
Jumby Bay, A Rosewood ResortAntigua
After a $28 million renovation, this well-known hideaway (on a private island two miles from Antigua) is ready to compete with other Caribbean heavy-hitters. New to the property: 28 suites, an open-air spa, an oceanfront infinity pool, and three miles of walking trails. Plus, you can expect scented towels and fresh fruit juice upon arrival at the Jumby Bay dock. Doubles from $1,395.
For its new Barcelona outpost, the Hong Kong–based hotel team hired Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola to revamp an old bank building on the bustling Passeig de Gracia. The result is 98 airy guest rooms, all with balconies and cream-on-white interiors that seamlessly integrate Mandarin Oriental’s Asian aesthetic with the property’s surroundings (Gaudí’s Casa Batlló is across the street). Doubles from $400.
The Peninsula Bangkok took top honors on the World’s Best list in Asia this year, and with all the buzz around downtown Shanghai’s historic Bund, the brand’s newest property, set in the riverfront district, will likely be a winner in years to come. Inside, 235 rooms are appointed with Art Deco furnishings and antique ceramics; come afternoon, a full tea service is offered in the grand lobby. Doubles from $470.
PierreNew York, A Taj HotelNewYork
This beloved New York property is poised for a comeback thanks to its owner, Taj Hotels, and the $100 million investment that transformed the Pierre into the company’s domestic flagship. The hotel now has a subtle Indian flair—a massive, second-century Buddha statue presides over the lobby, and rich silk prints are in the 189 guest rooms. Yet the traditional charms remain, including the trademark rotunda with its 1959 murals, the Portuguese mantelpieces in the grand suites, and, of course, its prime location overlooking Central Park. Doubles from $595.
Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan HotelParis
Who wouldn’t love an affordable, stylish hotel with Eiffel Tower views? That’s why we’re betting that this 16th Arrondissement property designed by Parisian interiors guru François Champsaur is sure to be a new favorite for T+L readers. The 38 rooms and 10 suites feature Modernist furnishings; the spacious bathrooms are accented with African granite. Doubles from $306.
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Phulay BayKrabi, Thailand
Set in Krabi, the much quieter neighbor of tourist-heavy Phuket, the Ritz-Carlton’s 54 one-bedroom pavilions and villas have outdoor baths and private plunge pools; guests can take in the tropical garden or ocean views from a lounge bed on their veranda. For those feeling more adventurous, personal butlers are on hand to arrange evening boating excursions or Thai cooking classes. Doubles from $600.
Town Hall Hotel & Apartments London
Singaporean hotelier Peng Loh made his European debut this year by transforming an Edwardian town hall into a fine-dining restaurant, 98 rooms and apartments, and public spaces that exhibit work by up-and-coming East End artists. The room rates—which are, on average, $250 less than those at other pedigreed hotels in London—are cause for celebration, too. Doubles from $437.
Trident, Bandra KurlaMumbai, India
Oberoi’s business-focused Trident brand now has an outpost on a prime spot of real estate in the center of North Mumbai’s financial district. Here, each of the 436 rooms is equipped with the latest technology (LCD televisions; electronic blackout blinds), there’s 6,190 square feet of event space (conference rooms and banquet halls), and O22—an on-site restaurant named for the city’s area code—serves travelers 24 hours a day. Doubles from $340.
Veranda ResortTurks & Caicos
Grace Bay Beach just got more accessible, thanks to the hoteliers behind the exclusive Grace Bay Club. The duo’s second hotel is all-inclusive, with 168 one- to four-bedroom accommodations set around three pools (a great option for families). For the adults, there’s the eight-room Sabai Spa and a beachfront restaurant with more than 120 wines on the menu. $545 per person, all-inclusive.
Verdura Golf & Spa ResortSicily
It’s official: Sicily, the No. 1 island in Italy this year, is on the rise. And for the first true resort property in his collection, Sir Rocco Forte chose the destination’s southwestern shore. To help guests focus on the surroundings (568 acres of rolling hills, olive groves, and private coastline) all 203 rooms have Mediterranean views and the rectilinear sandstone buildings and Kyle Phillips–designed golf course are low-lying and flanked by fig trees. Doubles from $980.
W Retreat & SpaVieques Island
The exclusive Vieques—eight miles from Puerto Rico’s southeast coast—is quickly becoming a sought-after Caribbean destination thanks to W Hotels’ first “Retreat” property in North America (the brand’s answer to sprawling resorts). While there, opt for a game of tennis or an outdoor yoga class, sip a cocktail at the bi-level infinity pool, or dine on short-rib sliders at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant, miX on the Beach. Doubles from $699.
Wolgan Valley Resort & SpaWolgan Valley, Australia
Looking out at the 4,000-acre Greater Blue Mountain World Heritage Area, Wolgan’s 40 villas seem intimate, even though they are at least 900 square feet and outfitted with private decks and both indoor and outdoor pools. The $100 million project is Australia’s first conservation-based luxury resort, and it’s also the award-winning airline Emirates’ first property outside of Dubai. Suites from $1,630, all-inclusive.
Budget airlines now dominate the World’s Best Airlines category, proving that low-priced carriers continue to impress T+L readers. Case in point: U.K.’s easyJet has rolled out 69 flights since February, including London to Bordeaux, Rome to Ibiza, and Edinburgh to Lisbon. We bet plenty of travelers will take advantage of the one-way fares in Europe, which start as low as $35. easyjet.com.
Cruise: Costa Cruises
When it comes to cruising, off-the-beaten-path destinations appeal more now than ever before. In fact, the river cruise industry is growing so rapidly that it warranted a separate World’s Best Awards category this year. So it’s no surprise that Italy-based Costa Cruises is now offering more than 30 trips from China and Singapore, in addition to the familiar Caribbean routes and trips through New England and Quebec. While on board, don’t miss the original artwork and entertainment ranging from a traditional Italian street fair to a Grand Prix simulation. 877/882-6782; costacruises.com; seven-day itineraries from $499 per person.
Destination Spa: The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu [Opening September 2010]Malibu, California
This fall, an intense new destination spa is set to open in southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains. Weeklong fitness programs will combine a strict physical regimen with a vegetarian meal plan limited to 1,500 calories a day, crafted by the Ranch’s “nutritional alchemist” using fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs from the property’s own organic garden. Guests stay in any of the 14 cottages and have access to horse stables, 200 miles of hiking trails, and a spa with four private treatment rooms for massages. $5,600 per person per week, all-inclusive.