World's Best Family Hotels and Cruises
U.S. + Canada
1. Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, South Carolina
Plantation-style cottages and a Jack Nicklaus golf course at a low-country retreat that’s a popular spot for family reunions. Two-bedroom villas from $1,300.
2. WaterColor Inn & Resort, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
New Urbanist vacation rentals and a David Rockwell–designed inn on the Florida Panhandle, tucked between a dune lake and a stretch of glittering sand. Doubles from $325.
3. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Safari lodge near the theme park on a 33-acre African grasslands–style preserve where zebras, giraffes, and gazelles roam free. Doubles from $375.
4. Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Blue-shingled spread with the feel of a historic hotel, offering direct access to shipwreck-themed Stormalong Bay water park and free transportation to Disney World. Doubles from $465.
5. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Woodsy Arts and Crafts–style compound inside Disney’s Magic Kingdom with a geyser that gushes on Old Faithful’s schedule. Doubles from $375.
6. Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Golf-centric resort (five courses, four with family tees) where activities range from beachcombing to butterfly walks. Doubles from $435.
7. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn & Villas, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Nostalgic take on a seaside village, complete with carnival games, jugglers, and a boardwalk-edged lake. Doubles from $475.
8. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Anaheim, California
Disneyland’s crown jewel has its own entrance to California Adventure, getting you into the park a full hour before the crowds. Doubles from $395.
9. Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Porthole mirrors and crisp striped curtains evoke a nautical mood at this lakeside resort in Disney World. Doubles from $465.
10. Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, Avon, Colorado
Majestically scaled lodge on Beaver Mountain with ski nannies who will shepherd your brood to the slopes while you decompress with a private yoga lesson. Doubles from $779.
11. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Kaupulehu, Big Island, Hawaii
Ocean-view bungalows, plus a tricked-out teen lounge and baby-proofed rooms for guests with infants. Doubles from $655.
12. The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia
Great Value A 1902 white-columned classic in the Allegheny Mountains with an equestrian center, fly-fishing, and a spring-fed indoor pool. Doubles from $185.
13. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, Hawaii
Thrills for all ages, from a 150-foot winding waterslide to a Robert Trent Jones Jr.–designed golf course on an oceanside cliff. Doubles from $540.
14. Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Tiki-themed expanse: a four-story “volcano” feeds the pool and luaus take place nightly. Doubles from $510.
15. Whiteface Lodge, Lake Placid, New York
Nouveau Adirondacks great camp with its own ice-skating rink and bowling alley. Doubles from $477.
16. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Lagoon-side grande dame with windows overlooking Cinderella’s Castle, on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop. Doubles from $575.
17. Four Seasons Resort, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Ski-in, ski-out lodge at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain, with year-round active adventures (from rafting to geocaching). Doubles from $275.
18. Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa, Lost Pines, Texas
Horseback riding, skeet shooting, and hayrides add Texas twang to this compound outside Austin. Doubles from $339.
19. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina
Great Value Five hundred vacation villas that share the same barrier island and amenities as the Sanctuary (No. 6). Villas from $205.
20. Vail Cascade Resort & Spa, Colorado
Right outside downtown Vail, with the area’s biggest fitness facility and a chairlift servicing Vail Mountain. Doubles from $349.
21. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, Florida
Fanciful Italian-themed resort (a waterslide modeled on a Roman aqueduct; arias performed on balconies) that is a quick water-taxi ride from Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Doubles from $304.
22. The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Great Value Dress for dinner at this Georgian beauty in the Allegheny Mountains, home to an off-road driving school and a former top-secret Cold War bunker. Doubles from $249.
23. Cloister at Sea Island, Sea Island, Georgia
Beloved by generations of well-heeled Southerners, a 1928 Mediterranean-style spread with three pools, an ice cream parlor, a tennis club, and a movie theater. Doubles from $395.
24. Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater, Florida
The most sophisticated digs in this part of the Gulf Coast, with citrus-hued rooms and apartment-like suites. Doubles from $379.
25. The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida
A 1926 Italian Renaissance–inspired icon with newly redesigned suites and family-pleasing pool bungalows. Doubles from $499.
26. Hawk’s Cay Resort, Duck Key, Florida
Breezy West Indian–style villas and family rooms, an on-site dolphin program, and a full menu of aquatics for teens, including sailing lessons and reef dives. Doubles from $399.
27. Pelican Hill, Newport Beach, California
On 504 acres, sprawling Pacific-facing bungalows and villas, as well as an indoor-outdoor kids’ club. Doubles from $495.
27. Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas
Gracious peach-colored hotel in a leafy residential neighborhood, plus a driver at the ready to whisk you to area destinations. Doubles from $595.
29. Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, Big Island, Hawaii
Kohala Coast resort with the only children’s golf course in Hawaii. Doubles from $455.
30. Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, Hawaii
Free-form pools and a shallow, sand-bordered lagoon by day; sky-gazing with an on-site astronomer by night. Doubles from $394.
30. Westin La Cantera Resort, San Antonio, Texas
Oasis with a clay-tiled roof on a mesquite- and live oak–covered plateau 30 minutes from the historic downtown. Doubles from $279.
32. La Costa Resort & Spa, Carlsbad, California
Immensely appealing for both kids (playroom, water park, and Guitar Hero–equipped teen center) and parents (43,000-square-foot spa and holistic center founded by Deepak Chopra). Doubles from $429.
33. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Big Island, Hawaii
On one of Hawaii’s best stretches of sand, where Keiki Club members can build sandcastles and go on beach scavenger hunts. Doubles from $450.
34. Four Seasons Resort Whistler, British Columbia
At the base of Blackcomb Mountain, with the biggest rooms in town and ski concierges to wax your boards and warm your boots. Doubles from $385.
35. Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Florida
Calm compound on the Atlantic that’s the perfect pre- or post- Orlando furlough. Doubles from $310.
36. Tides Inn, Irvington, Virginia
Crabbing, croquet, and kayaking at a 1946 resort on its own river-flanked peninsula. Doubles from $320.
37. Grand Wailea, Maui, Hawaii
Mega-resort where everything is outsize—a 20,000-square-foot kids’ club; nine pools on six levels, with the world’s first water elevator. Doubles from $429.
38. Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort, Henderson, Nevada
Great Value Laid-back lakeside spread that’s only 30 minutes (via free shuttle) from the action on the Strip. Doubles from $189.
39. Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui, Hawaii
Spacious suites and villas, and the Hawaiian Canoe Experience—learn to paddle like a pro and sing native chants. Doubles from $399.
40. Samoset Resort, Rockport, Maine
Seasonal hotel on Maine’s mid-coast favored by New England’s old guard for more than a century. Doubles from $299.
41. Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Florida
High-service Gulf Coast getaway—one of Ritz-Carlton’s flagships—with a pioneering marine-biology program for kids. Doubles from $549.
42. Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, San Antonio, Texas
A stone’s throw from SeaWorld, with activities that include Iron Chef–inspired family cook-offs. Doubles from $350.
43. Kahala Hotel & Resort, Oahu, Hawaii
Surfing and paddleboarding lessons are complimentary for all ages, but the iconic blue-tile pool remains the center of the action. Doubles from $515.
44. Montage Laguna Beach, California
On a plateau overlooking the Pacific; a new summer program for teens includes beach volleyball, movies, and plein-air painting. Doubles from $695.
44. Villas of Grand Cypress, Orlando, Florida
Just down the street from Disney World, a golf resort with a summer academy that accommodates kids as young as five. Doubles from $475.
46. Park Hyatt Aviara (formerly Four Seasons Resort Aviara), San Diego
Spanish-colonial getaway with open-air living rooms that make the ideal crash pads after a busy day at nearby Legoland. Doubles from $395.
46. The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs
Rocky Mountain mainstay since 1918, with rock climbing, rafting, and much more for families. Doubles from $300.
48. Hilton Waikoloa Village, Big Island, Hawaii
Navigate this splashy playland on Waiulua Bay via mahogany canal boat or air-conditioned tram. Doubles from $299.
49. Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, Florida
Guests at this South Pacific–inspired property get front-of-the-line access to Universal attractions. Doubles from $274.
50. Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head, South Carolina
Bustling island vacation community with a peppermint-striped lighthouse as its centerpiece. Doubles from $259.
The Caribbean + Bermuda
1. Hotel Guanahani & Spa, St. Bart’s
Creole-style cottages reopening Dec. 15 after a $6 million renovation that will add two family suites. Doubles from $784.
2. Tucker’s Point Hotel & Spa, Bermuda
A favorite of the golf and tennis crowd, on the island’s largest private pink-sand beach. Doubles from $590.
3. Beaches Negril Resort & Spa, Jamaica
All-inclusive island extravaganza where teens can learn to spin vinyl at a DJ academy and Sesame Street characters show up for meet-and-greets. Adults from $469 per person per night, $105 for children ages 2–16.
4. Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa, Providenciales
Four distinctive themed enclaves (including the new all-suite “Italian” village) share a 45,000-square-foot water park and a 21-and-under nightclub. Adults from $518 per person per night, $105 for children ages 2–16.
5. Jamaica Inn, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
The antithesis of the island’s all-inclusive mega-resorts, a 47-suite respite on a private beach. Doubles from $479.
5. Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, Nevis
Wicker-furnished cottages on a palm-fringed 18th-century former sugar plantation. Doubles from $656, including breakfast and dinner.
7. Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
The launchpad for the Ambassadors of the Environment by Jean-Michel Cousteau program, offering everything from underwater photography to moonlit snorkeling. Doubles from $599.
8. Grand Cayman Beach Suites, Cayman Islands
Right on Seven Mile Beach, with diving, snorkeling, catamaran sailing, and a nine-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course for landlubbers. Doubles from $650.
9. Playa Linda Beach Resort, Aruba
Time-share property on a stretch of white sand with apartment-like accommodations for weeklong stays. Studios from $305.
10. Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa—A Wyndham Grand Resort, Puerto Rico
The Atlantic in front; El Yunque rain forest out back; and three pools, two golf courses, and 13 tennis courts in between. Doubles from $529.
1. Esperanza, an Auberge Resort, Los Cabos
On the Sea of Cortés, a luxe Cabo compound (kids are allowed in villas only) with an expanded spa. Doubles from $675.
2. Barceló Maya Beach, Riviera Maya
Five hotels on a white-sand beach, plus more than 37,000 square feet of pools and water-park features. Doubles from $314, all-inclusive.
3. Ritz-Carlton, Cancún
Refined Atlantic-facing rooms, and all-inclusive meals and snacks for the 12-and-under set for just $39 a day. Doubles from $469.
4. Four Seasons Hotel México, Mexico City
Central location and the city’s largest standard rooms; borrow a retro urban cruiser bike by Paul Frank. Doubles from $415.
5. Meliá Cabo Real All-Inclusive Beach & Golf Resort, Los Cabos
For clans looking to laze around a lagoon-like pool but who still want some on-site action (a rock-climbing wall and a zipline across a white-sand beach). Doubles from $400, all-inclusive.
Central + South America
1. Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, Peru
The only hotel adjacent to the ruins, with guided treks to hot springs and hidden jungle temples. Doubles from $1,022.
1. Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt, Buenos Aires
A 1930’s-era palace evoking a bygone Buenos Aires, from chandeliers in guest rooms to tango lessons in a boiserie-paneled salon. Doubles from $505.
3. Llao Llao Hotel & Resort, Golf-Spa, Bariloche, Argentina
Classic lodge in the midst of mountains and lakes in Patagonia’s Nahuel Huapi National Park. Doubles from $396, including breakfast and some activities.
4. Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort, Playa Herradura, Costa Rica
Central America’s largest pool and a kids’ club with a 10-hour itinerary that includes water polo. Doubles from $289.
5. Paradisus Playa Conchal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
All-suite beach hideaway with a golf course on the northern Pacific coast. From $319 per person, all-inclusive.
1. Four Seasons Hotel, Dublin
Great Value Big rooms with views of the Royal Dublin Society showgrounds; kids can try out the on-loan hurling sticks and scooters at nearby Herbert Park. Doubles from $225.
2. Grand Hotel Majestic – Gia Baglioni, Bologna, Italy
Fifteenth-century landmark with Venetian furnishings and frescoed ceilings located near the kid-pleasing Ferrari, Ducati, and Lamborghini museums. Doubles from $549.
2. San Clemente Palace & Resort, Venice
Monastery turned hotel that now has a spa and pitch-and-putt golf—plus a motorboat to whisk you to Piazza San Marco. Doubles from $320, including breakfast.
4. Palazzo Sasso, Ravello, Italy
Dramatic Amalfi Coast villa with two rooftop Jacuzzis and a year-old beach club. Doubles from $515, including breakfast.
5. Mount Juliet Estate, Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland
Elegant country estate where kids can take lessons in horseback riding, fishing, and golf. Doubles from $360.
6. Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa, Marbella, Spain
Former prince’s residence in Andalusia, with a private, sun-bed-dotted beach and a not-to-be missed buffet lunch. Doubles from $550.
7. Hotel Splendido, Portofino, Italy
Board the property’s 36-foot Chris-Craft motorboat for a cruise along the Italian Riviera. Doubles from $941, including breakfast.
8. Olissippo Lapa Palace, Lisbon
Palm-shaded outdoor pool and a bird’s-eye view of the city’s red-tile roofs. Doubles from $472, including breakfast.
9. Regina Hotel Baglioni, Rome
Belle Époque property on the Via Veneto, minutes from the Spanish Steps. Doubles from $820.
10. Domaine des Hauts de Loire, Loire Valley, France
Great Value Families can opt for connecting rooms in this château’s carriage house—then hit the hedge-bordered pool or tour nearby Chaumont-sur-Loire castle. Doubles from $168.
1. Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambhore, India
Daily rides on two resident elephants are one highlight at this luxurious tented compound bordering a tiger reserve. Doubles from $875.
2. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, Bali, Indonesia
Thatched-roof villas with open-air living rooms and plunge pools; for kids, a new infinity pool and lessons in Balinese dance. Doubles from $780.
3. Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur, India
Puppet shows based on Rajasthani folktales keep kids busy while parents pamper themselves with ayurvedic treatments at the spa. Doubles from $655.
4. Rambagh Palace, Jaipur, India
Marble-floored, mosaic-filled former maharajah’s residence surrounded by polo fields and fountain-dotted formal gardens. Doubles from $627, including breakfast.
5. Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India
Views of the Taj Mahal from every room and lots of activities guaranteed to keep the little ones busy (including classes in kite-flying and folk dance). Doubles from $655.
6. Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore
Opulence on 15 acres in the Orchard Road shopping and business district, a quick drive from the new Universal Studios Singapore. Doubles from $330.
7. Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India
Nouveau Indian palace on 30 acres in the regal Rajasthani city, with boat cruises on Lake Pichola. Doubles from $655.
8. Discovery Shores, Boracay, Philippines
On a tiny island known for powder-white-sand beaches; kids learn the Filipino versions of hopscotch and tag and climb up a bamboo pole in a popular local game known as palosebo. Doubles from $400.
9. Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi, Vietnam
Old Quarter hot spot that just emerged last year from a four-year renovation; the entire family can join in cooking classes, which start at the local market and end in the hotel kitchen. Doubles from $265.
10. Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
Sandstone-hued splendor on Lake Pichola with a supervised kids’ buffet and play zone during Sunday brunch. Doubles from $715.
Africa + the Middle East
1. Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Masai Mara, Kenya
Spot river-bathing hippos and crocodiles from one of 50 tents abutting the Masai Mara National Reserve, then jump into a Toyota Land Cruiser for a nighttime game drive. Doubles from $489.
2. Tortilis Camp, Amboseli, Kenya
Snowcapped Kilimanjaro looms over 17 cushy tents and grounds where elephants roam. Doubles from $970, all-inclusive.
3. Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, Cape Town, South Africa
Crisply updated rooms and an edge-of-the-world setting on the rocky Atlantic coast. Doubles from $695, including breakfast.
4. Royal Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Zambia
Colonial-style rooms on the banks of the Zambezi River; guests can take part in socially responsible initiatives, such as helping local women tie-dye textiles for sale. Doubles from $934.
5. Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, Nanyuki, Kenya
Actor William Holden’s manicured mountaintop haven now lures active families for horseback riding, fishing, and morning game walks in the private reserve. Doubles from $299.
6. Singita Kruger National Park, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Two lavish lodges—treetop suites or riverside rooms on stilts, along with twice-daily game drives and kids’ safaris with tracking tutorials. Families with children under 10 must rent out an entire lodge. From $1,423 per person, all-inclusive.
7. Serengeti Sopa Lodge, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Game drives depart twice daily from this friendly, low-key retreat on the plains. Doubles from $450, including meals.
8. Singita Sabi Sand, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
Private outdoor showers and well-stocked wine cellars, plus photography-focused safaris led by renowned wildlife lensman Adrian Steirn and cultural outings to a nearby village to share meals with locals. From $1,500 per person per night, all-inclusive.
9. Bateleur Camp at Kichwa Tembo Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya
All the romance of 1920’s Africa, with Masai storytelling for kids and lessons in tracking wild game. Doubles from $400, including meals and some activities.
10. Royal Malewane, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Twenty guests max at this refined bush camp with pull-out-all-the-stops suites (Persian carpets and claw-foot tubs). Families with children under 12 must rent out the entire spread. Doubles from $1,333, all-inclusive.
Top Cruise Lines for Families
Large-Ship (600 or more passengers)
1. Disney Cruise Line
2. Royal Caribbean International
3. Carnival Cruise Lines
4. Princess Cruises
5. Norwegian Cruise Line
Small-Ship (fewer than 600 passengers)
1. Lindblad Expeditions
2. Cruise West
3. Yachts of Seabourn
4. Windstar Cruises
5. Silversea Cruises
1. Abercrombie & Kent
3. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
4. Avalon Waterways
5. Viking River Cruises
Methodology: Rankings are based on reader evaluations collected in Travel + Leisure’s 2010 World’s Best Awards survey. Respondents rated hotels on how well they cater to families. Scores are indexed averages of responses, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a point; in the event of a true tie, properties share the same ranking. For full survey details, visit TravelandLeisure.com/worldsbest/methodology.
Barceló Maya Beach Resort
Five hotels on a white-sand beach, plus more than 37,000 square feet of pools and water-park features.
Resort at Pelican Hill
Opened in 2008, The Resort at Pelican Hill redefined the upscale Orange County enclave of Newport Beach as a world-class destination. The 504-acre resort includes a classically designed bridge similar to the ones that span the Arno River in Florence, but the centerpiece of the resort is the Coliseum Pool, the largest circular pool in the world. Eighteen draped poolside cabanas come complete with Bose music systems, 30-inch HD TVs, refrigerators, a dining table, and of course, pool attendants. The highly trained, around-the-clock staff includes chefs to cook personal meals, nutritionists on call, and personal trainers. The 332 terraced guest rooms include a “hotel within a hotel” of 128 two-, three-, and four-bedroom villas with ocean-view terraces, dining areas, private garages, wood-beam alder ceilings, limestone fireplaces, marble walk-in showers, deep-soaking tubs, huge gourmet kitchens, and fine table linens and china.
Rosewood Tucker's Point
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
Forty years ago, the island of Grand Cayman was transformed into a world-class financial center—the Switzerland of the Caribbean. Today, the big luxury-hotel chains are betting that the island’s ultra-efficient infrastructure, great sailing and diving, and one-hour flight time from Miami will also make it the next big destination. With its new 365-room beachfront hotel, the Ritz-Carlton has gotten a jump on the competition. The 144-acre high-end playground introduces a who’s who of branded amenities: Jean-Michel Cousteau nature tours, a Greg Norman–designed golf course, Nick Bollettieri tennis pros, a La Prairie spa, and five restaurants, including one run by acclaimed chef Eric Ripert.
The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun
Ritz-Carlton's only Mexican property is a hacienda-style retreat on a 17,000-square-foot beach area—one of the largest in the Hotel Zone. All 365 rooms have private balconies with Caribbean views, and specialized suites—including the Itzy, Bitzy Ritz Kids Rooms (targeted at new parents) and two floors of tony Club Level Rooms (a veritable hotel within the hotel)—allow guests to custom-tailor their experiences. Fantino restaurant is one of the country's top-rated kitchens, and specializes in Mediterranean cuisine; sybarites will love the chef's table—which includes a tasting menu, wine pairings, and even cooking lessons—as well as weekly tequila tastings in the Lobby Bar.
Beaches Turks and Caicos
Beaches Negril Resort & Spa
Good luck getting your kids to leave this veritable amusement park, with its 200-foot waterslides and teen disco on a prime swath of Seven Mile Beach. Thanks to a large coral reef off Negril Bay, the water is placid and perfect for young children. Parents Love: Private candlelit dinners in oceanfront gazebos, where waiters serve up Jamaican snapper and jerk shrimp. Kids Love: The Caribbean Adventure with Sesame Street (who doesn’t want to bake cookies with Cookie Monster?).
Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises invites travelers to experience some of the world’s most historic and exciting places on a relaxing river cruise. The company’s fleet promises the ultimate in comfort and style, with spacious staterooms, verandas, balconies or windows, and cuisine expertly prepared using fresh, local ingredients. Travelers can set sail to destinations around the globe, including Amsterdam and Prague in Europe and Cairo and Luxor in Egypt. Specially designed itineraries ensure that passengers make the most of their time on land, and personalized concierge service assists with reservations, directions and recommendations for excursions.
Villas of Grand Cypress
Situated on 1,500 acres of palm trees, flowers, and golf courses are the Villas of Grand Cypress on North Jacaranda, just down the road from Walt Disney World. The resort hotel has 146 guest rooms, club suites, and villas. The 21-acre Academy of Golf ranks among the best in the country, with PGA-certified instructors teaching all skill levels. Other amenities include the Nine 18 fine-dining restaurant, racquet and health clubs, and pet accommodations. Check the website for golf vacation packages and others such as dining, romance, family, and shopping.
16 eco-friendly tents as well as one private house and one family tent, all facing Mount Kilimanjaro where food is a focus: the chef prepares Italian dishes with herbs, fruits, and vegetables grown in the property’s garden.
WaterColor Inn & Resort
Situated on nearly 500 acres of powdery, white-sand beaches and secluded pine forests, the David Rockwell-designed WaterColor Inn & Resort contains 60, cheerfully appointed beachfront rooms with walk-in showers and balconies. Located near rare, coastal dune lakes, the WaterColor offers a host of outdoors and recreational activities, including kayaking, hiking, tennis, fishing and golf.
Vail Cascade Resort & Spa
A $30 million renovation in 2008 upped the ante at Vail Cascades, where a new deck looks onto an infinity pool, outdoor fire pits are surrounded by rocking chairs, and all spaces boast views of the mountain and Gore Creek. Large refreshed rooms are filled with natural light and accented by light wood furnishings and earth-tone fabrics. The ultimate bonus: most rooms have patios and balconies, and each has a fireplace and heated stone bathroom floors. As for other activities, there are snow cones by the pool, alfresco candlelit dinners, and pampering treatments such as high-altitude hydrating massages at the Aria spa.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa
Limestone building on 300 acres, next door to Sea World, that is a playground for families, thanks to amenities like its own 4-acre water park.
Disney's Yacht Club Resort
Sea Pines Resort
Hotel compound that melds European luxury with Southern hospitality on the first tee of the famed Harbour Town Golf Links.
The Oberoi Udaivilas
Four Seasons Hotel, Dublin
It may be something of an eyesore from the outside (with a hospitalesque brick building that was panned by architecture critics when it opened in 2001), but the characteristically luxurious Four Seasons property has some of the largest and best-appointed guest rooms in town. Even the most wallet-friendly Moderate rooms are 447 square feet and kitted out in customary country style (antique repros, brass lamps, floral upholstery); all 197 rooms have large marble baths with walk-in showers and deep soaking tubs. The two on-site bars are a study in contrasts: while the bar has an old-school men’s club vibe—complete with leather chairs and an extensive whiskey “library”—the ICE bar is a slick, mirrored, white-on-white space meant for cocktail-sipping and sampling tapas. The health-minded will surely appreciate the property’s lovely, glassed-in indoor pool, gleaming fitness center, and the spa offering Sodashi treatments.
Playa Linda Beach Resort
Time-share property on a stretch of white sand with apartment-like accommodations for weeklong stays.
Hilton Waikoloa Village
Navigate this splashy playland on Waiulua Bay via mahogany canal boat or air-conditioned tram.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa isn’t intimate—it holds 602 rooms—but travelers can still find some Zen calm here. The resort is set along 50 acres on the southern coast of Kauai, with lush grounds that meander alongside the ocean and a saltwater lagoon, allowing for leisurely strolls. Rooms near the Anara Spa—one of the best on the islands—are the farthest from the bustle of the large lobby area and its collection of exotic birds. An adults-only pool flows into a lava-rock river pool, which segues into a 150-foot-long waterslide, which drops into the “active” (read: lots of kids) pool. Six restaurants offer something for every palate.
Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas
The time: 1940. The place: Walt Disney World's version of the Jersey Shore, complete with a boardwalk, surrey bikes, and saltwater taffy. The rooms: think old-fashioned floral.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Five hundred vacation villas that share the same barrier island and amenities as the Sanctuary (No. 6).
Disney's Polynesian Resort
Commanding an enviable position on the Seven Seas Lagoon, and a short boat ride from the Magic Kingdom’s front gates, the South Seas–inflected Polynesian is a circa-1971 Disney original. It connects via monorail to the Magic Kingdom in two stops; to Epcot in six. Its top kid-centric attraction is the three-story waterslide down a steaming faux volcano, and it’s also the only hotel on the monorail with a specialized kids’ area. The 847 island-themed rooms, in longhouse-style buildings, have darker, handcrafted wood furniture. The white-sand beach, within view of Cinderella Castle, is a popular sunbathing spot by day and provides a front-row view of the Electric Water Pageant (a parade of illuminated floats) by night.
Disney's Vero Beach Resort
Calm compound on the Atlantic that's the perfect pre- or post- Orlando furlough.
Disney's Grand Californian Hotel
Disneyland's choicest digs, done in traditional Craftsman style. In addition to kid- and adult-friendly fare, California Adventure Park is just a turnstile away. Everybody wins.
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
A towering lobby filled with totem poles, a replica geyser, and a waterfall-fed rock pool—this Orlando fantasy channels America's national parks to uncanny effect. Take a ride on a pony or in a horse-drawn carriage. At the adjoining Wilderness Resort & Campground, catch a campfire sing-along attended by Chip 'n Dale.
Grand Hotel Majestic- Già Baglioni
The 109-room Grand Hotel Majestic - Già Baglioni exemplifies traditional style: Murano glass chandeliers sprouting from the ceilings, acres of marble, a frescoed palazzo, and corridors you could drive a double-decker bus down.
Olissippo Lapa Palace
This hilltop hotel surrounded by gardens in the embassy district was built in 1870 as a private villa and feels straigh out of Old Hollywood. Enjoy the palm-shaded outdoor pool and the bird's-eye view of the city's red-tile roofs. Take a stroll through the hotel’s beautifully manicured gardens.
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.
A refined 10-room bush camp on the western edge of Kruger offers a roster of throwback activities, such as hot air balloon rides and safaris on horseback.
andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp
Two tented camps—one vintage-luxe style (Bateleur Camp), the other more rustic—on a private concession on the western border of the Masai Mara National Reserve.
Westin Resort & Spa Playa Conchal Costa Rica
Spread over 2,400 verdant, landscaped acres, this resort is practically its own seaside village. The grounds include an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones II–designed golf course; tropical gardens; three pools (one adults-only, one kids-only, one huge and lagoon-like); tennis courts; a spa; and a secluded, white crushed-shell beach. Activities include photography classes, tango lessons, windsurfing, and fishing charters. Each of the 406 suites has a separate living area and a terrace, with contemporary, Balinese-influenced décor and garden-and-pool or golf-course views. With eight restaurants and four bars to choose from, most guests don’t bother to venture off the property in the evenings.
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa
At the southern tip of Ka'anapali Resort and only two miles from Lahaina, the Hyatt Maui is an exceptional property—and exceptionally difficult to leave. After all, with the best pool system in Ka'anapali and a Grotto Bar under a waterfall, it's easy for families, couples, and groups to lounge all day by the pool. When the sun sinks down behind Lana'i, savor a dinner of hand-rolled sushi at the resort's restaurant, Japengo, or enjoy dinner with a fire-and-knife show at the Drums of the Pacific Luau. For a romantic, educational, and mesmerizing evening, head to the rooftop for the Tour of the Stars, where a 14" telescope and cultural guide help you scour the Polynesian sky.
Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club
A refurbished 1950’s-era hunting lodge in the Mount Kenya foothills with an 120-seat dining room at Tusk Restaurant and Terrace.
Modern Rajasthani retreat made up of well-appointed tents, villas and an Oberoi spa. The luxury tents are air-conditioned, decorated with traditional Indian block printings, and canopies woven with golden thread. Bathrooms are equal upscale, with sandstone showers and standalone, claw-footed tubs. The new restaurant, Rajmahal, uses herbs and vegetables from the on-site garden.
Georgian estate with a full roster of activities, including golf, fly-fishing, and horseback riding.
Llao Llao Hotel & Resort, Golf-Spa
This vast 1940 Patagonian lodge is a historic monument—and an ideal base for an Andean adventure. Set on a hilltop between crystalline Lake Nahuel Huapi and smaller Lake Moreno, the 161 standard rooms and suites in the original Bustillo wing are compact and comfortably furnished in B&B style; the best suites are set in the six-year-old Moreno Wing, with private whirpool tubs, modern design, large balconies, and breathtaking vistas of Lake Moreno and snowcapped Mount Tronador. The area is a paradise for hikers and bikers in the cool summers (December to March), a snowy wonderland for skiers during winter, and a gastronomes’ paradise year round.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
From your balcony at this African-themed Orlando lodge, you just might spot a giraffe, bongo, or wildebeest roaming the surrounding savannah. Dinner stars Kenyan-coffee-braised short ribs and Swahili shrimp curry. At dusk, don night-vision goggles and tour the grounds by open-air truck. Don't miss the safari at the resort's companion Animal Kingdom theme park.
Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort
Golfers, sportfishers, and families looking for American-style services favor this sprawling, Spanish colonial–style resort perched midway between the ocean and the rainforest. Los Sueños Marriott has created a fantasy pool system of canals, bridges, islands, and swim-up bars, surrounded by gardens, plentiful chaises, and attentive waiter service. Besides the 201 large guest rooms and suites, and widely varied activities and amenities, the resort is located next to a full-service marina and its Ted Robinson–designed, championship golf course. The hotel can arrange canopy tours and nature walks in nearby national parks.
173 classic African and contemporary colonial -style rooms featuring featuring wildlife sketches and views of the Zambezi River and the acacia forest. Guests can take part in socially responsible initiatives, such as helping local women tie-dye textiles for sale in the Rays of Hope program.
Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa
Intimate beachfront villas—once the residence of Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe—on a lush stretch of the Golden Mile.
Room to Book: Executives overlooking the garden.
Tipping the indulgence scale, Taj Hotels’ Rambagh Palace, in Jaipur, has two spa suite tents patterned after a 16th-century Mughal encampment. When India’s royalty went camping, their tasseled tents were made of velvet and embroidered silk. Devised by husband-and-wife hotel design team Amit and Shalini Gehlot, the billowing pavilions contain handwoven carpets, royal pennants, and love swings made from salvaged shesham wood.
Fairmont Mara Safari Club
50 tents on the Mara River (a prime hippo-viewing spot), with a slew of activities, including traditional African dinners served in a boma.
The Taj Mahal, the epic monument less than half a mile away, is undoubtedly the focal point at this 102-room luxury resort. Fusing Mughal and Moorish architecture, the property is a rich spread of reflection pools, terraced lawns, and a grand colonnaded entrance, while interiors are flourished with sandstone floors, French doors, and four-poster beds. If you can't get enough of the Ayurvedic amenities in your bathroom, head to the spa, where an extensive menu of treatments are inspired by ancient, Indian healing methods— some almost 5,000 years old—for both men and women. Take comfort in the fact that though the Taj Mahal is closed once a week, the close-up view from the hotel bar is open all week long.
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
343-room eco-friendly hotel and five bungalows constructed on a 16th-century lava flow, currently the nesting ground for endangered sea turtles thanks to the hotel's rehabilitation program.
Montage Laguna Beach
Montage aims for an experience you might find in Positano, crisp service and the smell of the surf. The location is exceptional: 240 rooms on 30 acres with a panoramic view of the Pacific. The shingle-style architecture, all twists and turns and gables and porches, is incurably romantic, though interiors are also impressive, as they include a prominent collection of art from early in the 20th century, including works by William Wendt, Jean Mannheim and other air painters who put Laguna Beach on the map. For dinner, choose from one of three restaurants—Studio, The Loft, and Mosaic Bar & Grille—and then retire to the lobby to hear the resident pianist.
Formerly Palazzo Sasso
In 1997, when this long-defunct hotel reopened in an ornate 12th-century palazzo, Plácido Domingo set the tone as the first guest. It has remained a consistent fave (often taking top honors for Italy on the T+L 500 list), with rooms layered in 17th- through 19th-century antiques, Vietri tile floors, and Frette and Bulgari appointments. But the main attraction? Sea view, sea view, sea view. Even the gym and heated pool come with sweeping views (the pool from an underwater window), though for the best panoramas head for the rooftop solarium with its twin Jacuzzis. Chef Pino Lavarra’s nouvelle-Italian cuisine has garnered two Michelin stars for Rossellinis Restaurant (open March–October).
Gracing its own sandy cove on the east side of Ocho Rios, this classic Caribbean resort has been around since the colonial days of the 1950’s. It has long been a favorite among visiting British elite, including the likes of Winston Churchill. Thoroughly spruced up in 2007, the 47 suites are a blend of Indonesian, colonial, and retro Jamaican décor, but remain refreshingly unplugged, with no TV’s to shatter the peace. Every suite has its own outdoor space, with a private infinity pool and sea entrance just steps from the bedrooms. Although the Jamaica Inn offers the usual distractions like couples’ massages at the KiYara spa, it still cultivates a colonial air, with croquet on one of the sweeping lawns and polo lessons at nearby Chukka Cove equestrian center.
Fairmont Kea Lani
Every room in this whitewashed resort is a large, comfortable suite, and the fusion of Hawaiian and Mediterranean ambience creates a classy feel throughout. The resort is one of the island's leaders in eco-sustainability, and to really feel like a rock star for a night, book a two-story oceanfront villa with a private outdoor pool.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
A $150-million refurbishment, completed in 2007, brought new life to this venerable resort overlooking the crescent of Kaunaoa Beach (the property was originally built in 1965 by the founder of RockResorts, Laurance Rockefeller). The 258 guest rooms—all with private lanais overlooking the sea or the championship Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed golf course—are now sleek aeries outfitted in teak and Hawaiian-inspired fabrics. The renovated common areas, including the lobby and the Mandara spa, are decorated with carvings and statuary from Rockefeller’s museum-quality collection of Polynesian, Oceanic, and Asian art (the red-granite Buddha, which overlooks the grand staircase and the North Garden, dates back 1,400 years). The waterfront has an 11-court tennis club, and activities like canoeing, snorkeling, kayaking, and sailing. At dinnertime, outdoor tables at the restaurant, Manta, are just steps away from where the manta rays feed each night.
Situated next to a small lake on 3,000 acres, the Broadmoor caters to active families: horseback riding, rock climbing, and fly-fishing are all nearby. An endless string of five-star ratings and a parade of celebrity guests decorate this 1918 Rocky Mountain resort. The Broadmoor’s spa ranks among the finest in North America, as do its tennis and dining facilities.
Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore
Three wings consisting of unusually shaped rooms (imagine odd angles and curves) on 15 landscaped acres a few blocks from pedestrian-friendly Orchard Road.
Serengeti Sopa Lodge
Secluded hotel with African interiors set in an acacia grove overlooking the plains.
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
Belmond Hotel Splendido
More than a few VIP's (the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Catherine Deneuve) have signed the visitor's book at this Portofino hotel. Originally a 16th-century monastery, the property was transformed into 69 guest rooms (16 at the more affordable Splendido Mare), three restaurants, and two bars. Guests can relax on the hotel's Chris-Craft Corsair 36 while enjoying champagne and canapés. Very spiritual.
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort
Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F.
Only a world-class hotel like the Four Seasons could make Mexico City, a hectic metropolis of 21 million, feel relaxing. Its colonial-hacienda architecture, Mexican gardens (with tropical-fruit trees, orchids, and chirping caged canaries), courtyard dining, and proximity to verdant Chapultepec Park represent an oasis of calm amid the bustle of the capital. The 240 spacious guestrooms also promote tranquility with a neutral palette of taupes and creams, deep soaking tubs, and views of elegant Paseo de la Reforma or the quiet courtyard. In keeping with Four Seasons culture, the large staff is warm, genuinely helpful, and utterly unflappable. The in-house Galería Lourdes Sosa has a rotating collection of Mexican art, including paintings by Jose Luis Cuevas.
Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort
Whether it's splashing in Maui's best swimming pool all day or relaxing in Maui's best spa, a day spent at the Grand Wailea is synonymous with island luxury. In recent years, the Grand Wailea has led an exciting hyper-local food movement, where many of the resort's food and beverage items are grown or harvested on Maui. A few items, such as resort-grown honey, are sourced right on the property, and there's even a monthly dinner featuring food caught or harvested by hotel staff. Oh, and the 780-room property is set right on Wailea Beach—which in 1999 was voted by "Dr. Beach" as the #1 beach in America.
The Cloister at Sea Island
Long a favorite of the East Coast Establishment; the 1928 Mediterranean-style hotel is set on more than 1,000 acres of a barrier island beach. Luxurious accommodations are a focal point of this hotel (hand-woven Turkish rugs, overstuffed chairs, and exposed wooden beams) as is The Georgian Room: often considered the best restaurant in Georgia. As part of a major expansion, the classic resort recently added a new pool overlooking Black Banks River and will add 63 new rooms set to open in April 2016.
Domaine des Hauts de Loire
A former 19th-century hunting lodge with 31 Empire-style rooms set on 178 forested acres between Blois and Amboise.
Mediterranean-inspired beachfront resort—Ritz-Carlton’s flagship near the Gulf of Mexico—with a 51,000-square-foot spa, access to premier golf, and a kid-friendly entertainment center (including 11 aquariums).
Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
The Dallas icon of luxury, founded in 1980 when oil heiress Caroline Rose Hunt turned a circa-1925 cotton magnate's mansion into an outstanding property, undertook a full freshening up for its 30th anniversary. The updated look, by the interior design firm BAMO, includes Michael Taylor sofas, William Switzer chairs, and limed oak reception desks, befitting the original Italian Renaissance decorative scheme. The 143 rooms have been redone in calm colors and opulent fabrics, and guests manage to feel miles away from a bustling city that is just a block or two from the hotel. Don't forget to make a reservation at the esteemed Mansion Restaurant, which is famous for its tortilla soup.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
The city's grande dame. All 364 rooms include modern amenities, but those in the original wing have a traditional feel.
Travelers have long been drawn to this remote valley in the Allegheny Mountains, seeking the curative powers of the white sulphur springs discovered by the Shawnee. It’s there, in rural West Virginia, that travelers also find the Greenbrier, one of America’s most legendary resorts, which dates back to 1778 and features interior designer Dorothy Draper’s familiar floral patterns and baroque plaster pediments. Now, after a $65 million renovation, the 6,500-acre property is once again decked to the nines; the resort boasts seven restaurants, four golf courses, a spa and equestrian center, and as of 2010, a casino complex designed by Carleton Varney, with 37 table games and 320 slot machines. The 710 rooms all have custom pillow-top mattresses and newspaper delivery.
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.
The Breakers Palm Beach
Unsurpassed in terms of luxury when oil tycoon Henry Flagler built it in 1896, the Breakers outdid itself in a 1926 renovation modeled after various Italian renaissance palaces and gardens. Still the Grande Dame of deep-pocketed Palm Beach, the 540-room resort, set on 140 beachfront acres, is pure drama, its palm-lined drive leading up to the twin-spired towers. Money seems to have been no object with the lobby and sitting rooms, decorated in gold leaf, Venetian chandeliers, tapestries, and hand-painted ceilings. The modern day intervenes in breezily tropical rooms, newly redesigned in white and sand tones, and in the private poolside cabanas with flat-screens and concierge service. The full tally: five oceanside pools, nine restaurants, two golf courses, a spa, and luxury shopping.
Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Like a super-sized Tara, the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island belongs to a fictional plantation family. In the morning room, a portrait of the “Mistress” presides over moss-green brocades, floral drapes, and porcelain bibelots. The “Master” hangs his hat in the lobby bar. Tobacco-stained walnut planking creaks like the timeworn floors in an authentic antebellum mansion. Landscape architects transplanted 123 mature live oaks for the resort’s entrance avenue, and Kiawah’s beach glows pink at sunset as a shrimp trawler anchors in front of the resort. Treatments at the third-floor spa also have a distinctly Southern drawl: the Mint Julep Facial incorporates the Anakiri line’s pure-peppermint essential oil.
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
25 luxe jungle tents outfitted with four-poster beds, freestanding bathtubs, and teak floors, on 20 acres next to Ranthambhore National Park and Tiger Reserve.
Belmond Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge
Machu Picchu’s remote mountaintop ruins feel amazingly accessible when you’re staying next door; the Sanctuary Lodge (part of the Orient-Express group) is the only hotel to abut the 15th-century ancient Incan site. It takes a four-hour trip by train and bus to reach Machu Picchu (from the nearest city, Cuzco), but you’ll be whizzing past Jungle Book–worthy vistas en route. Want to arrive like Hiram Bingham did when he “discovered” the place in 1911? Take the old Inca trail (a five-day journey by foot) and bring your bug spray—mosquitoes here are no strangers to human sacrifice. From Mountain View Rooms (which, unfortunately, have twin beds), you’ll see the looming, craggy peaks of Huayna Picchu as well as the Urubamba River valley—with its 300-odd species of orchids—from your personal garden-side deck.
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
A re-creation of the exclusive Italian fishing village, right down to the jut of its ferry dock and the rusty hue of the buildings, Portofino Bay has some of Orlando’s largest rooms (at least 450 square feet apiece), with terrifically soft beds. The 750 rooms, decorated in a combination of Italian-villa and southern-plantation style, have curvaceous, carved- and inlaid-wood headboards and armoires, and elegant fabrics. It’s no more than a 10-minute remove from the theme parks; however, the hotel is less suited to families than to romance, also evidenced by the Mandara Spa and the nightly opera performances on the quay. Guests here can skip the lines at both Universal parks’ attractions.
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
With gas lamps and wicker chairs in this sprawling neo-Victorian manse, Cindarella, Prince Charming, and the wicked stepsisters feel right at home. There are, or course, thoroughly modern elements: suites big enough for eight, a walk-in pool with a waterfall, and after-dark kids' activities. Don't miss the dingin at Citricos or Victoria & Albert's (one of the best restaurants in Florida) and take advantage of the hotel's proximity to Disney's Magic Kingdom.
Omni La Costa Resort & Spa
Immensely appealing for both kids (playroom, water park, and Guitar Hero-equipped teen center) and parents (43,000-square-foot spa and holistic center founded by Deepak Chopra).
Hawks Cay Resort
Chesapeake Bay resort offering a roster of outdoor activities, from kayaking to croquet.
Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole
From its staff to its amenities, the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole—the first mountain resort from the luxury hotel family—set a new standard for both the brand and for luxury ski lodges throughout the U.S. when it opened a decade ago. All 156 rooms at the ski-in, ski-out resort have fireplaces and marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs. Staff members are experts in their field: a biologist gives wildlife tours in the summer, and adventure concierges lead guests down the slopes during the ski season. After a day hiking or on the slopes, head to the heated outdoor pool surrounded by three whirlpool hot tubs; dry off with heated robes and towels before heading to the new THB restaurant (which stands for The Handle Bar) and bar at the base of Teewinot lift for a whiskey on ice.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler
San Clemente Palace Hotel & Resort
Former monastery dating to the 1700's on the private, 16-acre San Clemente Island, with spacious rooms and amenities including a pool, tennis, a 3-hole golf course, and a spa.
Room to Book: Standard Doubles have lovely lagoon views.
Kahala Hotel & Resort
Oahu classic—fresh from a three-year, $52 million renovation—with thoughtful in-room details (Egyptian-cotton linens; chenille robes; oversize rainfall showerheads). This 1964 colossus benefits from having about it a whiff of retro glamour. It was here, at what was then a Hilton and known as the Kahollywood, that Richard Burton and Liz Taylor hid out from the paparazzi in a private cabana.
The Omni Homestead Resort & Spa
The 1766 Homestead is the uncontested grande dame of the Allegheny Mountains, set 180 miles west of Richmond. Here, old Virginia hospitality permeates every aspect of guests’ stays, from the gracious service and haute-traditional cuisine to the ritual of afternoon tea and biscuits in the pillared Great Hall. The 483 rooms and suites also exemplify antebellum elegance, with warm-pastel wallpapers of mauve and rose, roomy upholstered armchairs, thick floral drapes, and sumptuous down featherbeds that would give even the daintiest of southern belles sweet dreams. Plus, some suites have sun porches with rocking chairs—all the better for admiring the property’s misty mountain surroundings.
This luxurious coastal resort south of Camden, ME, has had many names, owners, and incarnations since it first debuted in 1889, but that’s only resulted in smart renovations throughout its history. Now it comprises a mix of condo time-shares, private cottages, and 178 guest rooms and suites—each with a balcony or terrace overlooking the ocean. In recent years, the updates continued: the new, zero-entry pool is built into the hillside, with uninterrupted views of Penobscot Bay, and the just-opened Italian restaurant and spa lure prepsters from three new guest cottages. Many of the existing rooms were thoroughly freshened up, and the resort recently committed to staying open year-round. In the winter, expect festive seasonal offerings like an ice-skating rink and a bonfire with s’mores.
Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando
With the lagoon-style pool, complete with beaches, palm trees, and an abandoned prop plane, the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando brings the South Pacific to life. Yet steps from the resort is easy access to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Universal Citywalk. The hotel also offers its own entertainment, with a kid activity center a 5,000-square-foot fitness-center, and family game centers. The hotel exterior and 1,000 rooms and suites are decorated in cheerful yellow and aquamarine colors alongside cane and rattan accents. Families will love the Jurassic Park-themed Kids’ Suite.
Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
Set along a secluded stretch of Atlantic coast, this 70-room mini-resort is a sanctuary where mountain views, sea breezes, and heady indigenous plant life converge. The property’s original 1929 gabled farmhouse has been added on to over the years, but the extensions are understatedly modern and include a crystal grotto-style spa, a 16-seat cinema (showing classics, blockbusters, and kids’ flicks), and two swimming pools (one a sea-facing infinity pool, the other mountainside and ringed with boulders). Although there’s no direct beach access, the hotel has a free shuttle service that makes the two-minute drive to Camps Bay Beach—and the trade-off is a lush landscape fragrant with fynbos (wild indigenous shrubbery), hammock-swagged picnic spots, and private mountain trails bordered with pelargonium blossoms.
Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch
With its own high-speed lift steps from the hotel and Wolfgang Puck's only Colorado outlet, the Ritz-Carlton—a giant lodgepole-and-timber cabin built in classic National Park-lodge style—is Beaver Creek's answer to convenience and luxury. It dominates the base of Beaver Creek Mountain, creating a postcard-pretty image as skiers schuss down the corduroy Cabin Fever trail to it, where ski valets stand at the ready. The 180 guest rooms and suites are decked out in Colorado rustic, with custom millwork and plenty of wood, while the marble bathrooms all have soaking tubs. Dip into the Bachelor Gulch spa, which has 19 treatment rooms, before dinner at Spago, which opened here in 2007.
An 11-day wine-cruise itinerary winds along the Rhône River, stopping at the medieval Châteauneuf-du-Pape, one of the oldest domaines in Provence.
Sandstone-hued splendor on Lake Pichola with a supervised kids' buffet and play zone during Sunday brunch. Guests of the 80-room property arrive by private launch. Suites are appointed with gilded, locally made furniture.
Rustic, all-suite lodge featuring white-pine beams, cast-iron fireplaces, and well-equipped rooms (full kitchens; private patios) abutting the 6 million acre Adirondack Park.
La Cantera Hill Country Resort, A Destination Resort
Oasis with a clay-tiled roof on a mesquite- and live oak-covered plateau 30 minutes from the historic downtown.
Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa - A Wyndham Grand Resort
The Atlantic in front; El Yunque rain forest out back; and three pools, two golf courses, and 13 tennis courts in between.
Meliá Cabo Real All-Inclusive Beach & Golf Resort
For clans looking to laze around a lagoon-like pool but who still want some on-site action (a rock-climbing wall and a zipline across a white-sand beach).
Disney Cruise Line
Disney is the best cruise line for families. What may surprise you is that the 1,760-passenger Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are gorgeous ships, even without Disney touches like character appearances and first-run movies. Show productions are tops on the high seas, as is the kids’ programming, which includes a chance to make “Flubber” and play detective. Cabins are larger than the norm, and a unique dining system has you eating in a different venue each night. Adults get their own entertainment “district.”
New and Newsworthy: In summer 2010, the Magic returns to Europe, adding port calls in Russia and Tunisia. New 2,500-passenger ships debut in 2011 and 2012.
Price: Weeklong cruises from $799 per person.
Geographic Areas: Caribbean, Bahamas, Mediterranean, Baltic.
Silversea’s fancy, pampering experience is delivered on six sleek, 132- to 540-passenger ships, done up in contemporary décor, with gourmet cuisine, spacious ocean-view suites, free booze, and top-notch service—the solicitous crew even shines your shoes and brings room service, course by course. Steaks are prepared the way you like them. And yes, the bartender knows your name. An impressive guest lecture series includes famous chefs. The line also operates the upscale 132-passenger soft adventure ship Prince Albert II.
New and Newsworthy: The 540-passenger Silver Spirit debuted in 2009; it’s the line’s first new ship in eight years. Silver Wind recently had a multimillion refurbishment including a new observation lounge and spa.
Price: Weeklong cruises from $2,638 (plus air–inclusive offer).
Geographic Areas: Mediterranean, Northern Europe and Baltics, Africa and Indian Ocean, Far East, South Pacific, Caribbean, South America, Central America, New England/Canada,
Seabourn has long defined luxury for the old-money crowd, operating tastefully decorated, intimate yachts with no more than 300 suites per ship. Here, guests are pampered with free-flowing fine wines and other niceties while enjoying unique itineraries to destinations that larger ships cannot follow, including World Heritage sites made accessible by a partnership with UNESCO. While the fleet grows with new, modern ships appealing to the bon vivant crowd, Seabourn maintains its hallmarks of impeccable service, fine cuisine (now overseen by Thomas Keller), and luxurious all-suite accommodations. Join the bon vivant crowd and dress up at night (even on “casual” itineraries) or by attending exclusive on-board lectures by luminaries in the fields of Cuisine, Culture, Arts, and Sciences.
Lindblad is a top adventure company, with an impressive affiliation with the National Geographic Society. Research scientists come on board, and passengers can observe NG field sites and equipment, including undersea cameras and hydrophones and video-microscopes. Meanwhile, excellent naturalist guides lead shore explorations, often involving wet Zodiac landings, getting you close to nature. The line’s five ships range in size from 62 to 148 passengers, though Lindblad also charters additional vessels. Cabins are snug, cuisine is not gourmet, but who cares when you have blue-footed boobies to view?
Windstar Cruises achieves a unique cruise experience with its fleet of six small luxury yachts. Who cares if the sails are computer operated? They still billow and are gorgeous, and there’s plenty of open deck space from which to enjoy them. The fleet cruises to 50 nations, calling at 150 ports throughout Europe, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central America. A friendly, casual atmosphere prevails, even at dinner. Cuisine is both creative and delicious. Water sports (sailing, ski-tubing) are complimentary from the marina at the stern.
New and Newsworthy: In May 2014, Star Pride, the first of three newly acquired power yachts, joined the fleet. In May 2015, the company launched Star Breeze and Star Legend. The power yachts, with a capacity of 212 guests each, doubled the size of Windstar's fleet. The Star Pride is currently undergoing a $3 million renovation.
Price: Weeklong cruises from $2,249 per person.
Geographic Areas: Mediterranean, Caribbean, Central America, South America, Transatlantic.
Singita Sabi Sand
Two lodges with interiors by up-and-coming African designers—Boulders is high-design rustic built into the landscape, Ebony has a vintage safari feel. Private outdoor showers and well-stocked wine cellars, plus photography-focused safaris and cultural outings to a nearby village to share meals with locals.
Nisbet Plantation Beach Club
Wicker-furnished cottages on a palm-fringed 18th-century former sugar plantation.
Discovery Shores Boracay
Barefoot elegance is the prevailing vibe on this tiny island, where the 2 ½-mile stretch known as White Beach is often singled out for having the softest sand in the world. The 88 spacious suites feature large glass walls that look towards a scenic rock garden, but chances are you'll spend more time by the water. Take a dip in the pool, or jet-ski on the crystalline sea. For people-watching, head to the Sandbar, where they stir up delicious mojitos, infused with local flavors like lychee and mango. Sing your heart out with the recreation lounge’s selection of 1,000+ (mostly English-language) karaoke tunes.
Uniworld River Cruises
World-class gourmet cuisine and all English-speaking staffs await travelers aboard Uniworld Boutique River Cruise's sumptuously appointed vessels. This LA-based provider of luxury river cruises offers trips on no fewer than 13 rivers in more than 20 countries, such as Germany, Egypt, China, and Vietnam. The company's 40 itineraries range in length from a week to a month and and include custom-blended shore excursions. Trips include the eight-day castles along the Rhine cruise; tulips and windmills, a 10-day trip from Amsterdam to Antwerp; and classic Christmas markets, which explores the best Christmas markets throughout Germany.
Singita Kruger National Park
The property consists of the Lebombo Lodge and Sweni Lodge, two lavish lodges—treetop suites or riverside rooms, along with twice-daily game drives and kids’ safaris with tracking tutorials.
The most sophisticated digs in this part of the Gulf Coast, with citrus-hued rooms and apartment-like suites.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa
About 25 miles from downtown Austin, this family-friendly Hyatt resort is known for its Crooked River pool area. It features, among other things, a kid-magnet water slide and a crowd-pleasing, 1,000-foot lazy river. If you can get your kids out of the water, recreation staffers lead activities like flag football and horseshoe tournaments. Amenities like a world-class golf course, horseback riding, and a soothing spa should keep the adults happy, too.
Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa
Laid-back lakeside spread that's only 30 minutes (via free shuttle) from the action on the Strip.
Grand Cayman Beach Suites
Right on Seven Mile Beach, with diving, snorkeling, catamaran sailing, and a nine-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course for landlubbers.
Regina Hotel Baglioni
With its original Art Deco style rooms, a prestigious location on Via Veneto near the Spanish Steps, and suites that recall the splendor of the Dolce Vita, this Belle Époque property continues to be an popular option near many prime Rome sites. Guest accommodations vary between traditional Italian style, represented by antique furniture, silk tapestry, and rich damask fabrics, and more of an Art Deco slant with marble floors and original furniture. Some have Murano glass chandeliers, high ceilings, and precious silk tapestry. The Brunello Lounge & Restaurant serves market driven Mediterranean dishes.
Royal Caribbean International
Based out of Miami Port of Call on Dodge Island, Royal Caribbean International offers a wide variety of cruises to destinations across the globe, including Alaska, New Zealand, Brazil, and Singapore. One popular option is the three- or four-night Bahamas cruise aboard the Majesty of the Seas®, which stops in Nassau, Bahamas; Coco Cay, Bahamas (the cruise line’s private island); and Key West, Florida before returning to Miami. Onboard features include the Vitality Spa, Casino Royale®, Broadway-style shows, and Royal Caribbean’s signature rock-climbing wall.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines offers trips from the Port of Miami to destinations such as Tahiti, Bermuda, Greece, and Mexico. Onboard the ships, travelers enjoy multiple restaurants, complimentary 24-hour stateroom service, and a variety of nightly entertainment. Possible journeys include a three-day vacation to the Bahamas and a four-day Western Caribbean cruise to Cozumel, Mexico and Key West, Florida aboard the Carnival Imagination. Besides in-port activities, the 855-foot Imagination also features the Carnival WaterWorks park, a 9-hole miniature golf course, and an adults-only retreat with a hot tub and lounge chairs.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Offering a “Freestyle Cruising” experience, Norwegian Cruise Line has an extensive offering of journeys that vary in destination and length of trip to satisfy a variety of budgets and preferences. Leaving from the Port of Miami, Norwegian’s trips range from a two-day quick getaway to the Bahamas to a 7-day trip to the Western Caribbean. Transatlantic trips to destinations like Venice, Italy, typically 23 days in length, are also available. On board, guests have access to activities like pools with slides, relaxing spas, and casinos. The cruise line also offers Freestyle Dining, which includes no set dining times or assigned tables.
This Connecticut-based company offers close to 100 trips, including river cruises in Europe and volunteer conservation programs in Grand Teton National Park. t+l trip pick Culturious Costa Rica. Visit small villages and coffee plantations before taking a horseback ride through a private hacienda and kayaking through mangrove forest.