The World’s Best 2017 Hall of Fame Winners

Four Seasons Punta Mita, Mexico
Photo: Courtesy of Four Seasons

All those honored by Travel + Leisure’s annual World’s Best Awards are winners — but some are more winning than others. Every year for the World’s Best survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on their travel experiences around the globe, to share their opinions on everything from airlines and cruise lines to cities and spas. And every year, the survey reminds us of why we love to travel, of the ways in which being taken out of our comfort zone — in comfort — can return us to our best selves.

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Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy Duomo
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Beloved by foodies and history buffs alike, Florence continually ranks as one of the top cities to visit in Europe. The activities do not disappoint, whether it’s climbing to the top of the Duomo, seeing Michelangelo’s David, or savoring a plate of wild boar tagliatelle at a small, family-run trattoria.

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Rome, Italy

Colosseum, Rome, Italy
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All that is required for the perfect vacation here is an appetite for life. You can explore the Colosseum or admire art in the Borghese Gallery, shop along Via Condotti or stay in a top property like the World’s Best–winning Hotel de Russie.

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Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii Beaches and Palm Trees
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Voted this year as Hawaii’s top island, Maui offers volcanic craters and waterfalls to explore; the coastline boasts 30 miles of beaches on which to unwind after a day spent snorkeling or surfing.

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Kauai, Hawaii

Queen's Bath, Kauai, Hawaii
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Its rainforest lends this island the nickname “the Garden Isle,” making it an idyll for naturalists and hikers, while beachcombers celebrate its fifty miles of white-sand beaches. Steven Spielberg is one of its many fans; he filmed Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Hook here.

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Big Island, Hawaii

Big Island, Hawaii, Cove
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The island’s varied topography, ranging from volcanoes to rainforests, mountains, and breathtaking beaches, offers the best of everything one could wish for in a tropical getaway. Its justifiably famous coffee means you’ll be ready to start your adventures bright and early.

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New York City, New York

Downtown New York City at Night
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An urban reality of a “choose your own adventure” game, this city caters to vacationers of every age and every interest, with the finest in art, theater, and restaurants. And yes: the Statue of Liberty, seen from the High Line park or a Circle Line boat tour, is a must for all.

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Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico Buildings
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Celebrated for its breathtaking landscapes, artisanal food, restorative spas, and meandering walks through art galleries and cafes, Santa Fe is an easy long-weekend escape. The fact that it gets 350 days of sunshine a year is the icing on the cake.

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Charleston, South Carolina

Hank's Seafood Restaurant, Charleston, SC
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This city’s historic sights and booming culinary scene — along with the locals’ warm Southern hospitality — have kept our readers happy year after year. And with new hotels shaking things up, like the World’s Best–winning Dewberry, there’s never been a better time to visit.

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Quebec City, Canada

Rue de Petit Champlain, Quebec City, Canada
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Get a taste of France without the jet lag in this historic city, whose old, cobblestoned quarter is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are also natural wonders to see, including the spectacular Montmorency Falls.

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Vancouver Island, Canada

Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
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By day, you can have a whale-watching adventure, hike through Strathcona Park, and visit boutique wineries. At night, you can unwind at a boutique hotel and enjoy the fishermen’s fresh catch as the fog rolls in.

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Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia Opera House at Night
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This sophisticated seaside city is hailed for its famous harbor, extraordinary surfing, and a temperate climate that makes enjoying its cultural gems (the Opera House among them) a joy.

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Melbourne, Australia

Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia
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Though smaller than its sister city Sydney, Melbourne has plenty going for it: a thriving arts scene, exquisite restaurants (the World’s 50 Best were announced here this year), and charming pedestrian streets. A lovely day on the beach is easily spent in the nearby suburbs.

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Bali, Indonesia

Babur Village, Bali, Indonesia
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Bali delivers on plenty of romantic attractions, from the pristine beaches to the five-star resorts that specifically cater to couples. A strong spa and wellness culture also draws those in search of R&R.

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Bangkok, Thailand

Night Market, Bangkok, Thailand
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Thailand’s capital city is a blur of excitement, from the bustling streets to the nighttime markets. And foodies will not be disappointed: days can be spent street-stall hopping while nights are devoted to sophisticated restaurants and trendy bars.

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Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ankor, Siem Reap, Cambodia
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Angkor Wat belongs on everyone’s bucket list. Here, there are no ropes advising visitors to move away and observe the ruins from a distance, and educated and affordable private guides can help make the experience more memorable. When the heat overwhelms, return to the utmost of civilization, sipping watermelon juice poolside at a deluxe hotel.

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Kyoto, Japan

Cherry Blossoms on the River, Kyoto, Japan
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Japan’s ancient former capital is famous for its more than 1,000 temples, verdant gardens, and architectural treasures including Shinto shrines and the Kyoto Imperial Palace. To experience Kyoto at its most dazzling, visit during cherry blossom season in the spring.

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Cuzco, Peru

View to Plaza de Armas, Cuzco, Peru
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This UNESCO World Heritage site is often a stopover en route to Machu Picchu to literally catch one’s breath (the altitude of more than 11,000 feet has hotels stocking oxygen tanks in its lobbies). But Cuzco deserves its own visit to soak up the distinct Incan culture and breathtaking vistas.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Argentina’s capital is no doubt one of the most stylish, buzzy cities in the world. Walk beautiful neighborhoods like Recoleta, where you can shop for exquisitely made leather goods and jewelry, or take in a tango show and go bar-hopping late into the night.

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Santorini, Greece

Santorini Greece Beach
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There’s a reason you see tons of Santorini photos populating your Instagram feed. With its iconic white buildings, many built into caves, and vistas over the azure Aegean Sea, this Greek island is the visual definition of serene beauty.

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Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Iguana, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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Made famous by Charles Darwin, these islands are so magical that by the third day of your trip, swimming with hammerhead sharks seems like a good idea (you won’t be wrong). It’s impossible not to be transported by boobies walking over your feet, sea lions swimming circles around you, and whales breaching in the distance.

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Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa at Night
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A city bounded by towering mountains and the windswept Atlantic, Cape Town is a stop on many a safari itinerary. Admiring the dramatic scenery is just scratching the surface: go deeper into the scene by visiting cutting-edge restaurants and top hotels (like the World’s Best–winning Ellerman House).

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Jerusalem, Israel

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, Israel
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This exquisite, ancient city remains on our list year after year, drawing visitors of all faiths who appreciate its beauty and storied history.

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Alvear Palace Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Alvear Palace Hotel, Buenos Aires
Courtesy of Alvear Palace

This turn-of-the-century hotel’s grandness—both in scale and ambience—lands it on the World’s Best list year after year. As one reader wrote, the staff “treated everyone like they are royalty!”

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Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires
Courtesy of Four Seasons

Located in a former Belle Époque mansion in the city’s posh Recoleta neighborhood, the Four Seasons has been sleekly restored to offer modern suites with a chic Argentinean sensibility.

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Ritz-Carlton, Santiago, Chile

Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Santiago, Chile
Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago

Featuring marvelous views of the Andes, this 205-room hotel earns a perennial spot on the list for its location in the sophisticated Las Condes neighborhood, as well as for its spa and indoor pool, which is enclosed by a glass roof.

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Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, France

Four Seasons Hotel Paris George V
Courtesy of Four Seasons

You don’t need to leave this 244-room hotel to experience the best Paris has to offer. From the perfectly arranged flowers in the marble lobby to the lavish Le Cinq restaurant and decadently furnished suites, the George V feels like a palatial retreat.

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Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Thailand

Four Seasons Chiang Mai, Thailand
Courtesy of Four Seasons

At this expansive resort, which overlooks rice paddies in the Mae Rim Valley, there are only two reasons to leave your lounge chair by the pool: to indulge in a Thai massage at the spa, or to cook up a delicious local meal during a class in the Rim Tai Kitchen.

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Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, Thailand

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Thailand
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

The city’s din seems miles away at this riverside oasis, a Bangkok grande dame that first opened as the Oriental hotel in 1876. Today’s amenities include private butler service, a stunning pool overlooking the water, and exquisite food.

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The Peninsula Hong Kong

Peninsula Hong Kong
Courtesy of The Peninsula Hotels

The flagship property of this World’s Best–winning hotel company opened in 1928 and continues to dazzle guests with its opulence and service. Many of the 300 rooms and suites have sweeping views of the harbor.

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Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

This centrally located five-star property — the first hotel from the Mandarin Oriental brand — boasts sleek furnishings, a pampering spa, and sweeping skyline views.

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Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur, India

Oberoi Rajvilas, Rajasthan, India
Courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

Lose yourself to the majesty of India on these 32 acres, where you can choose to stay in rooms with marble baths or in air-conditioned tents that take “glamping” to a whole new level (think claw-foot tubs and gold-thread tapestries).

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Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India

Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India
Courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

Featuring sweeping views of the Taj Mahal, this 102-room property is a reason to celebrate that the famed monument is actually closed once a week — that means you get more time to linger in your four-poster bed or head to the spa for an Ayurvedic treatment.

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Virgin America

Virgin America Airplane in San Francisco
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This year, T+L welcomed this airline, which features leather seats in coach and excellent in-flight entertainment systems, into the Hall of Fame. “Fantastic service, great food,” writes one fan, with another adding, “Virgin made flying fun again!”

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Virgin Atlantic Airways, International

Virgin Atlantic Plane in Heathrow, London, UK
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Consistently attentive service has our readers planning their itineraries around this airline’s transatlantic schedule. Flight attendants receive shout-outs year after year for their compassion toward even the most anxious — and youngest — travelers.

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JetBlue Terminal at JFK Airport, New York
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What began as an alternative to overpriced flights is now a prized way to travel, with comfortable seats and attentive service. Readers throw additional praise at the airline’s family-friendly attitude.

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Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines
Courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines

This airline consistently wins top ratings from readers who love its service, food, in-flight entertainment, and tropical feel. Writes one reader. “Best flights ever! You’re in Hawaii as soon as you board.”

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Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines Plane
Ashlee Duncan/Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

As one reader says of this perennial favorite — capital letters not ours — “ BEST AMERICAN AIRLINE!” The staff gets points for its consideration, and its value is unbeatable.

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Singapore Airlines, International

Singapore Airlines Planes at Changi
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Rated No. 1 in its category since this list began 22 years ago, this airline reminds travelers that our vacations can begin at wheels up. Even when seated in economy, readers hail the service as being first class. In 2018, it will mark the world’s longest flight with its new route between Singapore and New York.

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Emirates Airline

Emirate Airline Onboard Lounge
Courtesy of Emirates

Readers celebrate this airline’s consistent excellence, with its helpful cabin crews, quality food service, and comfortable seats regardless of cabin class.

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Cathay Pacific Airlines

Cathay Pacific Plane Interior
Courtesy of Cathay Pacific

This airline makes it likely you’ll land after a long-haul flight to Hong Kong feeling rested. “Incredible experience,” sums up one reader speaking for many, while another adds, “amazing, amazing, amazing!

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National Car Rental

National Car Rental Counter in Indianapolis
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Readers love its reward programs, and even the non-regulars praise the knowledgeable staff and ability to choose from a wide range of well-maintained vehicles. Writes one fan, who helped propel National to No. 1 this year, “Great cars. Great people.”

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Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Enterprise Rent-a-Car Sign
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This rental car company earns a place on the list year after year (this year it was No. 2). Readers applaud its helpful staff and the high quality of its vehicles.

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Hertz Rental Car Counter in Charlotte
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Renting cars is seldom put onto the list of traveling pleasures, but readers say that Hertz makes the difference, from its helpful staff to its ability to check in via remote kiosk. “They are wonderful,” writes one. “I enjoy renting cars from them.”

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Avis Rental Car in Denver Colorado
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As all of us who have watched our first hours of vacation tick by while standing in line will understand why this is the kind of praise that puts Avis in the Hall of Fame: “They have always been there for me when I need to get somewhere in a hurry.”

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Cunard's Queen Mary 2
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Cunard took the top spot in the mega-ship ocean category list this year, in part thanks to a $132 million refurbishment of the Queen Mary 2. Readers repeatedly praise the line’s service and Old-World glamour, which feels like a throwback to cruising’s heyday in the early 20th century.

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Disney Cruise Line

Disney Dream at Port Canaveral, Florida
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It’s no surprise that this mega-ship line wins praise for being family-friendly, but it goes beyond with our readers by offering larger-than-expected cabins — all the more appreciated with small ones in tow. Adults are also treated to their own entertainment “district.”

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Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises Serenity
Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Its two large-ship luxury vessels, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, are repeatedly praised thanks to their extraordinary service, food, and staterooms that are undergoing multimillion-dollar renovations.

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Holland America Line

Holland America Cruise in Norway
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Readers hail this line, which has both mega and large ships, for its value, attentive staff, and in-depth itineraries, with one fan remarking, “Great for family get-togethers!”

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Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Xperience Ship
Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

This line brings the best in hotel accommodations to the sea: rooms are large and elegantly furnished, and cruisers appreciate the extra touches of a pillow menu, evening hors d’oeuvres, and sparkling wine upon arrival.

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Viking River Cruises

Viking River Cruises Hlin Koblenz
Courtesy of Viking River Cruises

A sophisticated way to travel the world’s rivers, whether in Europe or Egypt, these ships receive top marks for their luxurious staterooms, personalized concierge service to assist with reservations on land, and gourmet meals prepared on board with local ingredients.

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Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

UniWorld Joie de Vivre
Courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Uniworld’s voyages along the waterways of Europe, Russia, Egypt, and China offer personalized service on some of the most luxurious ships in the market. (Check out our editor’s take on their latest vessel to sail the Seine, the Joie de Vivre.) “Absolutely outstanding in every way!” says one, while another adds. “We were taken care of beyond measure.”

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Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises Coral Princess
Courtesy of Princess Cruises

This adults-oriented line, which has both mega and large ocean ships, is as sophisticated as they come, offering luxurious staterooms with balconies from which to see the glories of destinations like Alaska and British Columbia. Families with teens and tweens will also appreciate their partnership with the Discovery Communications on select shore excursions.

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Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas in Haiti
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This family-friendly mega-ship cruise line is all about over-the-top amenities. Adventurers can enjoy the first-ever cruise ship zipline, circus school, and roller-skating rink on one of Royal’s Quantum-class smartships.

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Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas

Hailed for both its large and midsize ships, Regent Seven Seas offers stellar service and premium comfort. (Check out our review of their latest ship, the Seven Seas Explorer.) Readers love that shore excursions are built into the cost of their cruise fare so one can choose adventures without thinking about the cost.

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Oceania Cruises

Oceania Nautica Ship
Courtesy of Oceania Cruises

One of the joys of cruising is the food, but Oceania takes it to another level thanks to an ongoing partnership with French chef Jacques Pépin. If you’re interested in culinary experiences on land, the large ship line offers guided tours to local markets and wineries in European destinations.

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Seabourn Quest in South Georgis fjords
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket/Getty Images

In addition to the expected luxury and service that lands any cruise company on this list, Seabourn ups the ante by partnering with UNESCO on shore excursions to promote World Heritage sites. A favorite mid-size ship is the 458-passenger Seabourn Quest, ice-strengthened for its trips to Antarctica.

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Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Mexico

Four Seasons Punta Mita, Mexico
Courtesy of Four Seasons

Located in a fishing village on Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, this property appeals with its two Jack Nicklaus–designed golf courses, three pools, two private beaches, ten tennis courts, a kids’ program, and the famous Four Seasons hospitality.

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Belmond Hotel Monasterio, Cuzco, Peru

Belmond Hotel Monasterio, Cuzco, Peru
Courtesy of Belmond Hotel Monasterio

Housed in a former monastery and national monument built in 1592, this luxury hotel is an oasis from which to explore the area. Writes one reader, “I was amazed at the beautiful blending of ancient and modern architecture,” while another adds simply, “one of our favorite hotels in the world!”

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Park Hyatt Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Park Hyatt Hotel Sydney Australia
Courtesy of Park Hyatt

Visitors could ask for no better location than the Park Hyatt, with its dramatic views over Sydney Harbor and the Opera House. Guests also remarked upon the personalized service, elegant rooms, fine dining, and rooftop pool and spa.

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Cape Grace, Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Grace Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa
Courtesy of Cape Grace

Centrally located between Table Mountain and the city’s bustling waterfront — and an easy walk to the marina’s restaurants and cafes — readers love this family-friendly, five-star hotel’s impeccable service and traditional ambience.

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Singita Sabi Sand, South Africa

Singita Sabi Sand Boulders Camp
Courtesy of Singita

Located in a privately owned game reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park, where sightings of rhino, leopards, and lions are a daily event, Singita consists of two recently redone lodges: Boulders and Ebony. Suites overlook the Sand River and feature plunge pools.

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Micato Safaris

Leopard With Micato Safaris
Courtesy of Micato Safaris

This top safari outfitter continually earns a place on this list thanks to its once-in-a-lifetime trips to Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, and Kenya.

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Halekulani, Oahu, Hawaii

Halekulani Hotel, Hawaii
Courtesy of Halekulani

This elegant hotel ranks as one of Oahu’s finest, thanks to the understated beauty of the décor and the lovely setting along Waikiki Beach. Don’t miss having cocktails while watching a hula performance at the world-famous bar, House Without a Key.

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Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

Four Seasons Maui at Wailea
Courtesy of Four Seasons

There’s something for everyone at this recently renovated resort on Wailea Beach. While it has a family-friendly approach, the hotel doesn’t forget that grownups may want time solo time as well: the most beautiful pool is reserved for adults only.

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Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Big Island, Hawaii

Four Seasons Hualalei
Courtesy of Four Seasons

Lounging on the idyllic white-sand beach? Playing a round of golf? Staring at the sea from your poolside lounger? These are the weighty decisions you will be forced to make at this Big Island property, which continually ranks tops on the island.

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Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui

Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui
Courtesy of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

This whitewashed, all-suite resort is an island leader in eco-sustainability, but it’s the sophisticated furnishings and vibe — not to mention the golf, spa, pool, and glorious sunsets — that have readers dreaming of their next visit before they’ve even left.

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Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Hawaii

Four Seasons Lanai
Courtesy of Four Seasons

Lanai’s top property emerged from a multimillion-dollar renovation better than ever: the 213 sleek, earth-toned rooms have mahogany floors (many face Hulopoe Bay) and feel connected to the destination. Another welcome addition is the on-site Nobu restaurant, which earns raves.

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The Peninsula Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel
Courtesy of The Peninsula Hotels

This property remains among the best in the city for its prime location near Rodeo Drive and service that surpasses one’s fantasies. Ever dreamed of having your pillowcase monogrammed so you could take it with you? You’ve come to the right place.

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The Peninsula Chicago

Peninsula Chicago Room
Courtesy of The Peninsula Hotels

This Michigan Avenue grande dame has new, sparkling rooms with state-of-the-art tablets that control everything from lighting to housekeeping. Other noteworthy amenities include the spa, lap pool, and Shanghai Terrace restaurant.

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Rancho La Puerta, The Baja Peninsula, Mexico

Rancho La Puerta Spa, Mexico
Courtesy of Rancho La Puerta

Spread over 3,000 acres, Mexico’s top destination spa is hardly about deprivation: an open kitchen is set on the property’s organic farm, and fitness is as much about enjoying the spectacular terrain on rewarding hikes as it is working up a sweat.

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Mii Amo, A Destination Spa at Enchantment, Sedona, Arizona

Mii Amo Spa in Sedona
Courtesy of Mii Amo, A Destination Spa at Enchantment

Readers love the bespoke approach at this intimate spa, set amid the region’s dramatic red rocks. Three, four, or seven night “journeys” are designed for each guest, combining the spiritual and spa treatments.

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Lake Austin Spa Resort, Austin, Texas

Lake Austin Spa Resort Paddleboarding
Courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort

To truly enjoy this all-inclusive resort, which has 40 rooms across 19 acres, you’ve got to stick your phone in a drawer and live a little. Drop into one of the dozens of exercise classes, indulge in spa treatments, and enjoy long, leisurely meals of healthily prepared foods.

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