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Hot New Hotels

March 21, 2013 By: Joe Pike, Mary Winston Nicklin, Jena Tesse Fox, Meagan Drillinger Travel Agent


SLS Hotel South Beach’s Tower Penthouse
SLS Hotel South Beach’s Tower Penthouse has a grand living room.


Some top names in the field dominate this list but there are also a number of boutique properties and rising stars coming online as well. Here is Travel Agent’s selection of Hot New Hotels that opened between January and December of 2012.

U.S. and Canada

Conrad New York, New York

Guests enter into a sunlit 15-story atrium highlighted by a blue and purple Sol LeWitt painting rising 13 floors above the registration desk. Book the 1,500 square-foot Conrad Suite on the top floor of the hotel to give your clients a taste of lavish New York apartment living, complete with sweeping views of lower Manhattan. Cool Touches: A virtual concierge is available in every room to ensure quick access to room service, reservations, and other amenities. Did we mention upscale dining from Chef Anthony Zamora, valet parking, and proximity to such trendy neighborhoods as SoHo, TiBeCa and Greenwich Village? 

Shangri-La Toronto, Ontario

This hotel, which takes up the first 17 floors of a new 66-story tower, offers plenty of space for stretching out—guest rooms range from 490 to 2,200 square feet. Ask for one of the 49 suites, especially the Owner’s Suite—which covers 1,100 square feet—or the Shangri-La Suite, which is twice that size. Coolest touches: Guest rooms have iPads for in-room use, and nine have private terraces. Hotel amenities include the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris, a yoga studio, an indoor pool, and a 24-hour fitness center with floor-to-ceiling windows. Even better: David Chang has just opened a Momofuku restaurant right next to the Shangri-La. We also hear the hotel is near the performance center for Canada’s opera and ballet companies, the headquarters for the country’s five major banks, consulates, and sports venues. In the Lobby Lounge, with its two-story-tall windows, guests can choose from an all-day menu revolving around Southeast Asian flavors. 

SLS Hotel South Beach, Miami

Shangri-La Toronto
Shangri-La Toronto is part of a new tower complex.

A follow-up to the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, this hotel opened at the historic site of the former Ritz Plaza Hotel. The beachfront property’s penthouse suite and one of its 10 pool bungalows were designed by platinum-selling musician Lenny Kravitz and his team at Kravitz Design. The Tower Penthouse, on the top floor of the historic tower, has a big living room with a dining table and a grand bar centered in the room as well as an outdoor patio. The master suite has an in-room bathtub and Kravitz-designed wardrobes, plus a large master bathroom. The Bungalow Suite is a bit more laid-back, with some subtle deco details. (Think cypress wood-paneled walls; stone floors in the living room and bedroom; white Thassos marble walls and glass mosaic floors in the master bath.) The suite also has a large balcony with views over South Beach and Hyde Beach


Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Puerto Rico

Billed as the luxury brand’s first six-star resort in the Caribbean, this new Ritz-Carlton stands, fittingly, in the footprints of the former Laurance Rockefeller estate. Tip: Check out Su Casa, the original plantation hacienda renovated back to its original 1920s style, which serves as a four-bedroom beachfront VIP villa. The $342 million oceanfront resort has one-bedroom suites, all directly on the beach, as well. Dorado Beach also has a five-acre spa; a restaurant by James Beard-cited Chef Jose Andres; and an eco-educational Ambassadors of the Environment program by Jean-Michel Cousteau.

Eden Roc at Cap Cana, Dominican Republic

Milan-based designer Marina Nova, in collaboration with Dominican architect Franc Ortega fashioned this luxe Caribbean hideaway, the epicenter of which is a massive natural grotto. Complete with elemental walking paths and multiple vantage points, the grotto offers guests the opportunity to experience a heightened sense of nature with waterfalls and a freshwater lagoon. Cool Touch: An Eden Roc at Cap Cana app lets guests control light, temperature, TV and sound in their rooms via their iPhone. The Soloya Spa, complete with rainfall showers, a Swedish sauna and a hammam, is at guests’ disposal, as are three Jack Nicklaus signature courses, while the Eden Roc Kids Club keeps the young ones entertained.

Sunscape Curacao
Deluxe oceanfront room at Sunscape Curacao has a private balcony.


Sunscape Curacao Resort, Spa & Casino, Curacao

Got gaming clients and shoppers looking for something new? Let them know that Sunscape Curacao Resort, Spa & Casino opened last year with one of the largest and most visited casinos on the island, as well as complimentary scheduled shuttles to the shops and sights of Willemstad. Everyone will appreciate the spacious–and newly upgraded–rooms and suites with private terraces or balconies overlooking the Caribbean. AMResorts’ complete makeover of the former Princess Beach Resort also included new decor in the five restaurants and a brand new spa. Guests also enjoy the benefits of Sunscape Resorts & Spas’ Unlimited-Fun vacation concept, which includes, an Explorer’s Club for children, Core Zone Teens Club and nonmotorized water sports.

Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia

Travelers have really been buzzing about this Viceroy Hotel Group resort’s new Luxury Beachfront Bungalows that come with their own plunge pools and butler service. The bungalows (two of which have the option of a two-bedroom configuration) sport contemporary decor, hardwood floors and high-beamed ceilings. The exteriors are designed to blend into the beach environment with thatched roofs and whitewashed adobe walls. Each bungalow offers a private thatched shade area to the front complete with sun lounges and table and chairs, and a large private courtyard with a Jacuzzi.

Click through for the hottest new hotels in Mexico



Secrets Aura Cozumel’s
Secrets Aura Cozumel’s amenities include three swimming pools.



Desire Resort & Spa, Puerto Morelos

If your clients are looking for a hot hotel where they can shed their inhibitions, we think we’ve found just the one. Original Resorts’ new Desire Pearl Resort & Spa is an exclusively couples-only, clothing-optional, five-star hotel complex on the beach in Puerto Morelos, just a few minutes outside of Cancun. Guests can enjoy the hotel’s grand pool, Jacuzzi Lounge & Wet Spot Bar, Obsession disco (with its exclusive-to-guests private Sin Room), Mediterranean and Mexican/Asia fusion restaurants, tennis court, a holistic spa and pier with docking facilities.

Iberostar Cancun

Yes, the Iberostar Cancun is the only resort in the area that has an 18-hole championship golf course, along with all the fine amenities and more one expects from a five-star all-inclusive resort, and that might be enough to qualify as “hot” with your clientele. But the buzz we hear that sets it apart is the raves it has drawn for its dedication to service. A number of reviews on TripAdvisor praise everyone from the front desk team who greet them when they step off the airport transfer to the “outstanding” entertainment staff who “go out of their way” and housekeepers who keep the rooms “immaculate,” as well as the “great service” in the bars and six restaurants.


Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis
Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis is the brand’s first property in Latin America.


Paradisus Cancun

Originally a Gran Melia, Paradisus Cancun changed its name and feel as of December last year. What makes this hotel hot, however, is the addition of the specialty Royal Service, a private enclave of rooms that are adults-only, and come with their own set of privileges. Those who book four nights in the Royal Service section receive an included meal at Tempo, a resort restaurant headed by Michelin Star Chef Martin Berasategui. Royal Service guests also have access to the YHI Spa’s hydrotherapy suite without having to schedule a treatment in advance. A private pool, beach section and butler service is also available for guests of Royal Service. The resort now has six restaurants and three bars, several pools, YHI Spa and a golf course.


Ambergris Caye
El SecretoBelize occupies a private beachfront on Ambergris Caye.


Secrets Aura Cozumel and Secrets The Vine Cancn

A four-poster canopy king-size bed (or two double beds), private terrace or balcony and full marble bathroom with Jacuzzi, adds touch of elegance to rooms and suites at the Secrets Aura Cozumel–the super product of two existing resorts: Sabor Cozumel Exclusive Resort & Spa and Aura Cozumel Grand. Also added were the brand’s signature Bordeaux, Oceana and Windows eateries. For couples, all of the swank rooms at the adults-only Secrets The Vine Cancun provide ocean views and private balconies, plus there are seven restaurants onsite. Both resorts have a large Secrets Spa by Pevonia with a menu of dozens of pampering choices. All Secrets guests have access to the signature Unlimited-Luxury service, which offers limitless gourmet a la carte dining, 24-hour room and concierge services, and daytime activities.


RIU Palace Costa Rica
RIU Palace Costa Rica is the brand’s second resort in the scenic Guanacaste region.


Central and South America

El Secreto Belize 

The El Secreto experience begins well before setting foot on the resort’s white-sand shores as guests are greeted in San Pedro where they board the boat that will take them to the resort. Upon arrival guests are welcomed by property staff at the resort’s private pier where they are pampered with a signature cocktail and chilled scented towel on arrival. Occupying its own private beachfront enclave on Ambergris Caye, 11 miles north of San Pedro, Belize, El Secreto is an intimate, exotic escape within a secluded oasis surrounded by the natural beauty of its island setting. It combines the style of the South Pacific, with the relaxed nature of the Caribbean, with large palapas housing common areas that afford open-air views of the surrounding beach area.


Palacio Nazarenas
Palacio Nazarenas occupies what was once a convent in Cuzco, Peru.


Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis

What makes Hard Rock International’s first hotel in Latin America hot is its sheer size (think 11 bars, four restaurants and a nightclub). Noteworthy amenities include the Rock Shop, offering Hard Rock’s iconic merchandise; Base Bar, a nightlife hotspot; and Megapolis Explorer Tour Desk, which will guide clients to unlocking and enjoying the secrets of Panama. It also has the Body Rock gym, Rock Spa, Cutz Beauty Salon and a Kids and Teens Club. The Hard Rock Lounge serves signature cocktails at Mamie Lee’s Bar and live local music at Ciao Tapas & Pizza Restaurant, while the infinity pool offers private cabanas and the Float Bar.

Panorama Suite at The Alpina Gstaad
Panorama Suite at The Alpina Gstaad, the Swiss city’s first new five-star hotel in 100 years.


Palacio Nazarenas, Cuzco, Peru

Each suite at Palacio Nazarenas is enriched with oxygen and has its own private bar for mixing drinks with ingredients grown on the property. Cool Touch: A personal butler is on call to assist at any time. The Palacio also has a spa, Cuzco’s first outdoor pool and restaurants serving locally sourced Peruvian cuisine. It took a team of eight full-time archaeologists and the supervision of Peru’s National Institute of Culture three years to restore a centuries-old convent and convert it into Palacio Nazarenas, Orient-Express’ sixth hotel in Peru. This urban retreat resides on Nazarenas Square with its sister property, Hotel Monasterio, which occupies a former 16th-century monastery. The two hotels are just a few minutes from both the Plaza de Armas and the San Blas quarter. 

Gastro Bar at TRYP
Gastro Bar at TRYP by Wyndham Bogota Embajada affords panoramic views of the city and mountains.


Riu Palace Costa Rica

RIU Hotels & Resorts opened this, its second hotel in Costa Rica, right next door to the Hotel Riu Guanacaste. The resort’s main drag, El Poblado, is a chic thoroughfare for chic travelers, where guests will find boutiques, a kiosk, souvenirs and photographic shop, as well as a fully equipped Renova Spa, where guests can enjoy free use of the gym, sauna and Jacuzzi. On the same street, guests will find the casino, the Pacha nightclub and the complex’s conference center. Riu Palace Costa Rica has four pools, one with a swim-up bar, and a children’s pool, as well as a mini-club for children and entertainment programs operating day and night.

Bulgari London
A suite master bedroom at Bulgari London on Knightsbridge Road.


TRYP by Wyndham Bogota Embajada, Colombia

The TRYP provides allergy-free rooms, a sports bar and one of the largest fitness centers in Latin Americas, comprising a health spa, hot tubs, steam baths, sauna and swimming pool. But its location is key here, especially for business travelers. Just a 15-minute ride from El Dorado International Airport in the heart of Colombia’s capital, the TRYP is the centerpiece of the newly built Capital Towers complex, complete with retail shops, commercial space and fine-dining restaurants. It is within close proximity to the United States Embassy; Corferias, the city’s convention and exhibition center; major businesses; and top attractions. 

Click through for the hottest new hotels in Europe



The Alpina Gstaad, Switzerland

The first new five-star hotel to be built in Gstaad in 100 years is already catching the collective eye of the international jet set. And with a 21,500-square-foot Six Senses Spa, MEGU restaurant, Havana-inspired cigar lounge, wine tasting room, private cinema and an outdoor swimming pool, we can see why. Set on five acres, the luxury development includes 14 private apartments within the boutique hotel and two chalets, all designed with authentic local materials. 

Amanzo’e, Greece

The Caledonian
Suite at The Caledonian, Edinburgh, Scotland

The coolest touch and best selling point here is that the 38 sleek, free-standing villas, designed by architect Ed Tuttle, are set at different levels to maximize privacy. Each pavilion has its own private pool, spacious living areas, and high ceilings. This resort near Porto Heli on Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula is the 25th property for the Singapore-based luxury hotel group Amanresorts and also its third Mediterranean hideaway (after Montenegro’s Aman Sveti Stefan and Turkey’s Amanruya). The region has many ancient archaeological sites, and guests will also be able to explore the surrounding islands by boat, sample local wine at the vineyards, and relax at Amanzo’e’s spa.

Belgraves, A Thompson Hotel, London

Described as “rough luxury,” this boutique property—the first UK opening from Thompson Hotels—should be especially attractive to foodies: HIX Belgravia, its 80-seat restaurant and bar, offers a menu inspired by chef and food writer Mark Hix’s travels around the world. The mezzanine level has Mark’s Bar, the second of HIX’s bars, and a cigar garden. Belgraves is within easy walking distance of Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, the National Gallery and upscale shopping in Knightsbridge.

Bulgari Hotel, London

Set discreetly on Knightsbridge Road, this hotel’s lodgings include suites with butler service. The best are the Bulgari Suites, and we recommend Bulgari VI and Bulgari VII, which have terraces with views of Knightsbridge and through to Hyde Park. The Bulgari Suites have dining rooms for up to eight people and can be connected into two-bedroom suites. Good to know: Even the smallest room in the house, No. 614, has a balcony overlooking Knightsbridge. 

Cafe Royal, London

Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa
Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa overlooks Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

When it first opened a century ago, this erstwhile restaurant quickly became a favorite hangout for celebrities like Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill, and Diana, Princess of Wales. Now, after a historic restoration, it seems poised to become a London hot spot once again. What we love: Each room has a dressing lobby and double doors that lead into the bedrooms. All rooms include access to a private butler. The Empire Suite (#424) is the largest option and has five huge floor-to-ceiling windows for top views over Regent Street. 

The Caledonian, Edinburgh

Hilton’s Waldorf-Astoria brand has made its Scotland debut with this property, and it’s definitely worth noting. We’re excited about the new restaurants: The Pompadour by Galvin and the Galvin Brasserie de Luxe—the first Scottish restaurants for the Michelin-starred brothers, Chris and Jeff Galvin. The top pick at the hotel is the Caledonian Suite with three bedrooms (one with a king bed, one with a queen bed and one with twin beds) and a separate living room. The suite also has great views of Edinburgh Castle, as do, six of the seven one-bedroom suites.

Castello di Casole, Tuscany, Italy

Housed in a 10th-century castle on a 4,200-acre estate in the rolling hills not far from Florence, this boutique hotel has more than 100 acres of vineyards and olive groves, a model game reserve, a state-of-the-art wellness center and some of the region’s finest cuisine. Castello di Casole is also home to 28 restored and reconstructed Casali farmhouses and 10 Hotel Villas. Best Touch: Fourteen of Castello di Casole’s 41 suites have large private gardens and terraces with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking acres of vineyards and lemon and olive trees.

Conrad Algarve, Portugal

A spa that’s billed as “one of the most decadent in Europe” and an edifice designed to resemble an 18th-century palace would alone would merit a recommendation for the Conrad Algarve, But this resort nestled in Quinta do Lago near Ria Formosa Natural Park on Portugal’s popular Atlantic coast has even more extensive facilities: fitness center, tennis court, golf simulation area, outdoor swimming pool, and an array of restaurants and lounges. For indulgent clients, sell the Roof Garden Suite, which includes a plunge pool and provides direct private access to the spa.

Deluxe Mangroves Balcony Room
Deluxe Mangroves Balcony Room at Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara in Abu Dhabi


InterContinental London Westminster,

Anglophiles and history buffs should note that this hotel occupies a venerable 19th-century building that was once Queen Anne’s Chamber. Good for Foodies: The Blue Boar Smokehouse and Bar has onsite charcoal and smoking ovens to prepare classic comfort food using fresh British produce. The first new InterContinental UK to open in 36 years, this hotel is a short walk from Parliament and within sight of Westminster Abbey

Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa, Mallorca, Spain 

Set atop a rugged cliff in northwest Mallorca, Spain, Jumeirah’s first European resort affords views that defy description. Guests can watch the sunset while sipping cocktails on one of the resort’s three terraces or in the comfort of their own room complete with large windows overlooking the sea. The views are not lost in the hotel’s Talise Spa, which hangs over the Port of Soller and the Serra de Tramuntana. The spa is extra-special, with 10 treatment suites and a thermal area equipped with a hammam, an ice room, a glass-paneled sauna overlooking the valley, a relaxation room with fireplace and an outdoor heated hydropool. Upon arrival, guests can slip right into relaxation with a welcome hand massage and the smell of citrus wafting through the lobby.


Palais Namaskar
Palais Namaskar, Marrakech, is surrounded by landscaped gardens and pools.


Marti Istanbul, Turkey

This luxury hotel in Turkey’s Taksim district is distinguished by its elegant Turkish design and excellent service (a well-connected concierge and helpful general manager). What we love: The hotel has a terrace on the hotel’s 11th floor, which reportedly offers some swank views. Also, most guest rooms have marble and glass enclosed bathrooms with separate rainforest showers. Suite guests get hammam-style basins surrounded by richly textured mosaics. Top pick is the 10th-floor Regal Suite. The 2,700-square-foot suite has views over the Bosporus, a piano in the living room, a kitchen, a study, a walk-in closet and a hammam-style bathroom with Jacuzzi. Private butler service is also available.

Penthouse bedroom
Penthouse bedroom at the Conrad Seoul.


Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa, Italy

On Italy’s Amalfi Coast, the tiny Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa, a 17th-century monastery, was renovated and restored and opened in May. Ask for the Sea View Penthouse Suite, which spreads out over two levels and includes a living and dining room with fireplace, a large terrace overlooking the sea, a separate bar, upstairs bedroom, and a walk-in closet. Extra Special: A 12th-century chapel is connected to the hotel by a garden, and both are available for ceremonies. Set between Positano and Amalfi, the hotel also has a spa, a heated infinity pool, gardens, and a special herb garden spread out over five terraced levels. 

Palazzo Margherita, Italy

Three Words: Francis Ford Coppola. With interior gardens and painted frescos, the director’s new Italian resort is a must-see. The vibe is decidedly laid-back, with a private pool and the option to dine wherever. Guests can even book a farmhouse table in the kitchen where they can watch and participate in the making of their own traditional Southern Italian meal. In the evenings, guests can head to the salon for private screenings from Coppola’s collection of classic Italian films and documentaries. Guest rooms surround an inner courtyard, and some of the suites even open directly onto the courtyard garden.


Four Seasons Hotel Baku
Suite with balcony at Four Seasons Hotel Baku, Azerbaijan


Radisson Blu Resort, Gran Canaria, Spain

The Rezidor Hotel Group opened its first hotel on the Spanish resort island of Gran Canaria this past summer. What makes it special: The outdoor leisure area has a garden, a boutique and supermarket for shopping, salt and freshwater swimming pools and a kids club. Sports fans can practice their games at the tennis courts, a paddleball court and a beach tennis/volleyball court. Each of the rooms and suites has its own private balcony with views of the Atlantic Ocean, aimed to get the full effect of the sunsets. The Radisson Blu Resort is on the island’s southwestern coast a little more than half-an-hour’s drive from Las Palmas.

The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company’s first hotel in Austria’s capital comprises four historic palaces dating back to the 19th century. The hotel’s accommodations include 43 suites and a spacious Presidential Suite of rooms on the second floor. Top Tip: The Club Lounge is located on the seventh floor and provides guests exclusive access to a private concierge service, a gastronomic food and beverage presentation throughout the day and views of the cityscape from its windows below the eaves of the hotel. The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna, on the central Schubertring Boulevard, is the ninth hotel in Europe for the company. 

W Paris

W landed in the French capital in a big way: A classic, Haussmann-era building near the Opera was converted into a hip destination for the W crowd. Unique perks include do-it-yourself cocktail classes (each room has its own in-room cocktail bar), a restaurant from Michelin-starred Chef Sergi Arola, and the Extreme Wow Suite with its big circular bed taking pride of place in the center of the bedroom. The smartly designed Living Room is smaller and more intimate than at other W Hotels worldwide—a successful adaptation to its Paris setting.

Africa and The Middle East

Delano Marrakech

Decorated in a baroque style by design guru Jacques Garcia, the Delano Marrakech has suites decked out in marble and velvet. There are also three pools and a 20,000-square-foot spa offering Valmont and marocMaroc treatments. Like the original urban resort in South Beach, the Delano Marrakech is aiming to become a nightlife destination with a hip rooftop hang-out and an underground nightclub. And the French and Italian restaurants are helmed by Michelin-starred Chefs Michel Rostang and Giancarlo Morelli, respectively.

Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, Abu Dhabi

Book the Kasara Suites, of which there are five. We hear these are the most exclusive accommodations in that they offer private plunge pools and complimentary access to the Kasara Club Lounge and personal concierge services. For a client that commands the royal treatment, look into the one Royal Mangroves Residence, which has a rooftop private infinity pool, garden, terrace and bar with direct elevator access from parking (key, if discretion is imperative). The Residence can be configured to a three-, seven- or 10-bedroom space and comes with a private butler, chef, masseuse, limo and chauffeur. The hotel has been known to arrange city tours of the Grand Mosque or the Yas Island with the Formula 1 Circuit. Guests can also arrange private shopping experiences, kayaking in the mangroves or private cooking classes.

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai

While the official grand opening took place in February, early visitors got to be a part of the soft-opening of the world’s tallest hotel in November. When complete, the hotel will have a whopping 10 restaurants, four bars, two lounges, conference facilities, and the Saray Spa and Health Club. All guest rooms promise sky-high views and the latest technology; and Executive rooms come with free breakfast and Wi-Fi. Its second tower is expected to open by late 2014.

Palais Namaskar, Marrakech

Opened as the Oetker Collection’s first foray outside of Europe, this desert resort is surrounded by landscaped gardens and pools, and includes a 7,000-square-foot spa. The coolest touch at this resort is the 14-seat Falcon 900LX jet, which is decked out with a dining table, king-size bed and sound system. The private jet takes guests on a 30-minute flight into Casablanca, but we hear it can be charted for trips to New York, Moscow or Dubai. In the evening, guests can make their way to the No mad Bar for a sunset cocktail before dining on the terrace around the main pool at Le Namaskar restaurant. Tip: Try the red tuna “Rossini style.” 

St. Regis Abu Dhabi on the Corniche

The second St. Regis in Abu Dhabi, this is an urban hotel set on the city’s famous seafront boulevard, the Corniche. Housed in the new Nation Towers development (occupying floors 33-49 of one tower), the luxury hotel has 10 different restaurants and bars, including an eatery from Michelin-starred Chef Gary Rhodes. Facilities run the gamut from the Remede Spa to the outdoor infinity pool facing the Gulf. All the guest rooms are attended to by the St. Regis butlers. Top Digs: The Abu Dhabi Suite is billed as the world’s highest suspended Presidential Suite, situated on the connecting bridge between towers, and comes with its very own spa, gym and private cinema.

St. Regis Mauritius

We hear the resort, which sits on the southwestern tip of Mauritius, has both natural beach and Le Morne Brabant Mountain views. A-listers and glitterati alike will flip over the St. Regis Villa, which has its own private entrance, four bedrooms with private pools and gardens, entertainment and dining areas, an infinity pool, a bar and a private spa treatment room. Signature restaurant Simply India serves up fine dining experiences overseen by Michelin-starred Chef Atul Kochhar. Six other distinct dining experiences include Le Manoir Dining Room, serving French and Mauritian cuisine; Floating Market, a modern Asian dining experience; and The Boathouse Bar & Grill for casual oceanfront dining. The 1904 Bar serves rum cocktails and vintage whiskeys. A 22,730-square-foot Iridium Spa beckons travelers to take part in the full-service salon, relaxation lounge, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms. 

Taj Palace Marrakech, Morocco

Another November soft-opening was the Taj Palace Marrakech, which takes up 21 acres with a backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. Designed by Stuart Church, rooms here are inspired by the traditions of the Berber Kasbahs with an Indian influence. The smallest guest room starts at a whopping 860 square feet, the largest in town. The Jiva Grande Spa’s 14 rooms make it the city’s largest. 


Anantara Sanya Resort and Spa, China

China’s Hainan Island is fast becoming one of Asia’s hottest tropical beach destinations and this resort, surrounded by jungle-clad mountains and overlooking the South China Sea, is staking its claim here. Of the room categories, we say book one of the private pool villas, which are outfitted with rain showers and teak furnishings. Suggest clients sample “Dining by Design”—a tailor-made experience such as a candlelit wine picnic in the mountains. Other restaurant options include flame-grilled cuisine by the sea and authentic regional Thai food. The Anantara Spa offers a collection of pearl- and tea-infused treatments. The concierge can arrange area excursions: from sailing and surfing to jungle hikes to discover the culture of the indigenous Li people. 

Conrad Seoul

The guest rooms here have espresso machines, so guests can leisurely sip their favorite brew while looking out at views of Seoul’s urban skyline, including Yeouido park and the Han River. Techies will appreciate the “Apple” based in-room technology with free Wi-Fi and a personalized iPhone remote control. For guests who want to mix business with pleasure, the Conrad Seoul is housed in one of the three towers of the International Finance Center in the Yeouido Business District, aka “the Korean Wall Street,” and is attached to the Cineplex, Mall and subway system. There is also a health club and spa with a heated pool and eight-hole golf range; meeting facilities; and five restaurants and bars. Both The Grill and The Executive Lounge are on the 37th floor.

Four Seasons Hotel Baku, Azerbaijan

The once well-kept secret that is Azerbaijan appears to be blossoming with high-end options for VIP travelers. Most notably is the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel Baku. Overlooking the promenade by the Caspian Sea, the hotel has four restaurants and bars including the Kaspia and Kaspia Bar, and the Jaleh Spa and Pool. We hear that Jaleh has an indoor pool within a two-story atrium topped with a glass roof. Of the 10 spa treatment rooms, the VIP couple’s suite is the crème de la crème—with a private terrace overlooking the Caspian Sea. There’s also a special room for Ghassoul mud applications. Separate men’s and women’s changing rooms each have saunas, experience showers, ice fountains, steam rooms and hammams. 

Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai

Inspired by the city’s glam Art Deco period, the rooms at the Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai, have floor-to-ceiling windows and spacious marble bathrooms. The Presidential Suite occupies the entire 39th floor. There is also an Executive Club floor where guests will find separate check-in and check-out facilities and a separate concierge service that is available from 6 a.m. until midnight. Reservations are highly recommended for the hotel’s two restaurants—Shang-Xi for Chinese gourmet cuisine, and Camelia for hip, all-day dining in a happening ambiance (think a sushi bar, whiskey bar and wine lounge). The hotel, which occupies 11 floors of the 21st Century Tower in Pudong’s Lujiazui financial zone, also has an indoor infinity pool overlooking the Shanghai skyline, a spa and a 24-hour Health Club.

The Palace Hotel Tokyo

The hotel is not entirely new, but rather a new incarnation of a hotel that’s existed on this spot—a coveted piece of real estate next to the Imperial Palace—since 1961. The top-to-bottom renovation was part of a $1.2 billion development project, and the results are positively swank. With 10 restaurants and bars helmed by top chefs, hotel management is “aiming for a constellation of Michelin-starred restaurants,” says CNN Go. The Lounge Bar Prive affords views of Tokyo twinkling by night, while the Grand Kitchen has a terrace that opens onto the moat of the Imperial Palace. The spa at the Palace Hotel is by Evian—the first in Japan for the French brand, and only one of two outside France

Twelve at Hengshan, Shanghai

Looking for luxury in Shanghai? Close your eyes and count to Twelve. No doubt the crowning achievement at this hotel on Hengshan Road is the 1,108-square-foot Presidential Suite, with large marble bathrooms, deep soaking tubs and high-tech amenities. The hotel also has a spa with 13 double treatment rooms and an exclusive VIP suite, which gives guests access to a mud bath room, scrub table and ice fountain. There are two signature restaurants and a lobby lounge, including 12 Hengshan, which specializes in Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine, and Tops & Terrace, which serves up international cuisine in a French boulangerie setting.

Viceroy Maldives

Encircling a blue lagoon, we hear the Viceroy Maldives on the private island of Vagaru in Shaviyani Atoll is a blend of elegance and simplicity, nature and luxury. The latter includes five restaurants ranging from beachside dining and a private chef’s table with a wine cellar. All rooms have private plunge pools and plenty of living space and the beach villas have lovely gardens with outdoor showers. The over-water spa villas offer a state-of-the-art spa experience; five of the seven villas have steam showers, private decks and two hydraulic treatment tables. The Couple’s Suite includes a private wet chamber with a Vichy shower. Activities run the gamut from fishing trips and windsurfing to kayaking and scuba diving excursions from the resort’s PADI-licensed Dive Centre. There’s also a fitness studio and daily sunrise Yoga classes for landlubbers. 

W Singapore-Sentosa Cove

The W Singapore-Sentosa Cove sits on the city’s exclusive island, just minutes away from downtown. We love the look of the hotel, which includes a welcome waterfall, outdoor terrace, rock-shaped daybeds and a DJ console in the W Lounge carved out of natural stones. When it’s time to dine, be sure to visit SKIRT, the W’s first contemporary grill restaurant. Guests can cozy up to the slick bar to sample the long list of creative cocktails. The Kitchen Table offers all-day dining with various live food stations, while WOOBAR, the destination nightclub, serves up a tasty menu of elixirs created by the W mixologist. The hotel is home to an Away Spa, the W’s signature spa concept. Cool Touch: W Singapore has nine Away guest rooms and suites, situated on the spa level of the hotel and each featuring a private plunge pool.

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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...


About the Author

Mary Winston Nicklin


About the Author

Jena Tesse Fox
Jena Tesse Fox covers Europe, Africa, Australia/South Pacific and business travel for the Questex Travel Group's publications. The daughter of history teachers, she can spend...


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Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger has been with Luxury Travel Advisor and Travel Agent since 2009, covering both Asia and Mexico. A fan of both fabulous hotels and culturally immersive...

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