A questionnaire developed by the editors of Travel + Leisure, in association with Harris Interactive/Yankelovich Partners, was sent in the winter of 2001 to tens of thousands of subscribers, asking their opinions of hotels, spas and hotel spas, cities, islands, airlines, cruise lines, rental-car companies, and tour operators. All responses were returned to, and kept confidential by, Harris Interactive/Yankelovich Partners.The scores are indexed averages of responses concerning applicable characteristics. Respondents rated hotels, spas and hotel spas, islands, and airlines in five categories; they rated cities, cruise lines, and tour operators in six categories (see below). These ratings were then averaged, creating an overall score. A minimum number of responses were necessary for a listing. Some properties were included in both the "hotel" and "hotel spa" categories, and have different scores for each. For rental-car companies, survey respondents were simply asked to select the company that they prefer to use when traveling.

  • These were the categories:
  • For hotels: rooms/facilities, location, service, restaurants/food, value.
  • For spas and hotel spas: accommodations/ambience, treatments, service, food, value.
  • For cities: sights, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people, shopping, value.
  • For islands: natural attractions, activities/sights, restaurants/food, people, value.
  • For airlines: cabin comfort, food, inflight service, customer service, value.
  • For cruise lines: cabins, food, service, itineraries/destinations, entertainment/activities, value.
  • For tour operators: staff/guides, itineraries/destinations, activities, accommodations, food, value.