Andaz West Hollywood, Los Angeles
This year’s list of Hot Hotels was compiled with the assistance of Travel Agent’s expert in-house destination editors and contributors. We also consulted with industry experts Ignacio Maza, executive vice president of Signature Travel Network; Suzanne Hall, senior director of marketing and development, land products for Ensemble Travel Group; and Albert Herrera, vice president, hotels, destinations and tours for Virtuoso.
Andaz West Hollywood, Los Angeles
Opened in January 2009, this hip hotel has been lauded by design experts for its “seductive, sophisticated atmosphere.” This is the first North American Andaz hotel, part of a new global brand created by Hyatt. What we love: Rooms have views of the Hollywood Hills, the Sunset Strip or downtown Los Angeles and the huge rooftop Sundeck (overlooking the Los Angeles skyline) has a heated pool and private cabanas.
The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, Marana, AZ
This resort opened December 18 in an amazing canyon that allows for neat hiking and biking. Great opening rates drew happy visitors over Christmas, who lauded the resort for its snazzy golf and spa facilities, as well as its CORE Kitchen restaurant. We hear many suites have double balconies and that the lobby lounge serves single-malt scotches and whiskeys from around the world.
The Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
Signature’s Ignacio Maza calls this “the jewel in the crown of Las Vegas’ CityCenter.” Opened December 4, the hotel, designed by the celebrated Adam Tihany, has become an instant icon in the city. “The property features an amazing Sky Lobby on the 23rd floor, with breathtaking views of the city,” says Maza. “During your stay, do not miss a treatment at the hotel’s 27,000-square-foot spa and dinner at Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, the celebrated Michelin-starred chef. If you are in a hurry, stop at Amore Patisserie to pick up some of the best fresh-baked desserts in Las Vegas.”
Vdara, Las Vegas
Vdara at CityCenter is a non-gaming condo hotel physically connected to Bellagio and adjacent to ARIA Resort & Casino. We say it’s ideal for low-key travelers seeking convenient access to all of the entertainment, gaming, shopping, dining and nightlife at CityCenter and in Las Vegas. Rooms here are homey, not only for their size (500 to 1,650 square feet), but for their full kitchens. Spa Vdara is a serious enterprise and well worth the indulgence; Bar Vdara is spacious and hip, with an outdoor area that’s a real treat.
ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas
Where does one begin with ARIA’s 4,004 high-tech guest rooms and panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Vegas skyline? Every room at this mega resort delivers a level of personalized automation currently found only in high-end custom homes. Downstairs, ARIA’s amenities include fine dining courtesy of Masayoshi Takayama of Masa in New York City and Shawn McClain, executive chef at three of Chicago’s top restaurants, while the 80,000-square-foot spa and salon has a living-room area and smoothie bar. Watch out for the pool area of all pool areas to open this spring. At 300,000 square feet, it will host 32 cabanas.
St. Regis Deer Crest, Park City, UT
This luxurious ski-in/ski-out resort opened last fall in Park City. “The resort has several unique features, including a funicular to whisk guests up to the lobby, Remède Spa, private ski beach, ski valets and split-level infinity pool,” says Maza. The hotel has 181 rooms and suites and is only 38 miles from Salt Lake City airport, making this one of the easiest luxury ski resorts to reach, year-round. It employs the famed St. Regis butlers, who attend to every need of their guests, Maza adds.
Dakota Mountain Lodge, Park City, UT
Dakota Mountain Lodge is the first ski-in/ski-out property in The Waldorf Astoria Collection. The plush mountain resort sits at the base of The Canyons Ski Resort in Park City. Amazing amenity: The 201 luxury accommodations include six-bedroom suite options. Hint: Be sure to save time for the Golden Door Spa.
Amangiri, Southern Utah
Set close to the Four Corners (where four state border lines cross), the luxurious Amangiri is tucked into a valley surrounded by stratified rocks and high bluffs. Albert Herrera of Virtuoso gives a shout out to this resort, which is a luxe base for day trips to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Bryce and Zion national parks. Each of the hotel’s 34 suites has desert and mesa views; Pool Suites and the Girijaala and Amangiri Suites have private pools and secluded outdoor sky terraces. At night, Amangiri’s exteriors are subtly lit, making for great stargazing.
The interiors of the Elysian positively ooze Coco Chanel (think stark use of black and gray with 1930s glamour). During our walk-through, we checked out one of the 1,264-square-foot Premier Gold Coast Suites and were won over by the working fireplace and view of the Gold Coast neighborhood. Hint: Hands down, #702 has the best outdoor setup, with a circular terrace hanging over Rush Street. Top View: The 3,160-square-foot Presidential Suite has two furnished balconies and an expansive media room.
The Roosevelt New Orleans
Roosevelt New Orleans is the former Fairmont Hotel off the Big Easy’s Canal Street. A $145 million restoration created 504 fresh and lovely rooms, 135 of which are luxury suites (the seven Astoria Suites have butler service). We loved Dominica, which has a unique Italian cuisine scene. The Sazerac Bar is a sophisticated local hangout. The Blue Room has brought back its classic Sunday Jazz Brunch with live entertainment.
The St. Regis Atlanta
Herrera of Virtuoso recommends this luxe property in the toney enclave of Buckhead. The “in-town” resort with a gracious, residential feel is made all the more posh with the 40,000-square-foot Pool Piazza and a Remède Spa. At Christmas it debuted Astor Holiday ice-skating rink, which drew more than 400 skaters over its first weekend.
St. Regis Princeville
St. Regis Princeville, Kauai, HI
Following a multimillion-dollar renovation, the hotel opened on October 1 with 252 guest rooms, including 51 Premium Ocean View Suites, the Halele’a Spa and the Kauai Grill by famed Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The hotel also has a unique infinity pool overlooking Hanalei Bay. We say the Bali Hai Suite, which has views of the mountain used in the movie South Pacific, and the Royal Suite, with a coffered and beamed ceiling, sound especially luxurious.
Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort, Kauai, HI
Ko’a Kea sits on the best stretch of Poipu beach in Kauai, reports Signature’s Maza. This boutique property has only 121 rooms, each with private lanai. The beachfront accommodations have amazing views of the Pacific. The hotel’s Red Salt restaurant has become one of the top tables in Kauai, and features the freshest produce and seafood from the Hawaiian islands.
Waldorf Astoria Orlando
This property opened last October next to Disney World with championship golf course, spacious rooms, a Guerlain spa and a kids’ program run by a team of children’s concierges. And while the two-bedroom Deluxe Suites are great for families, we hear the Deluxe King Suites with balconies have great vantage points for the park’s nightly fireworks display.
W South Beach, Miami Beach, FL
“This property opened last summer, and has taken South Beach by storm,” says Maza. The hotel offers 14 types of rooms, all with ocean views. The smallest room is almost 600 square feet, making W South Beach’s accommodations among Miami’s most spacious. The hotel’s signature rooms are the bungalows with plunge pools, with over 1,300 square feet of space. The property’s two restaurants, Mr Chow and Solea, have already become “must have” reservations in Miami.
Crosby Street Hotel, New York
As if we needed one more reason to make the trip south to SoHo, now we have one. The Crosby Street Hotel has 86 rooms and suites, many with views of downtown Manhattan. We hear that room #203, called The Meadow Suite, has more than 50 flowering plants on its terrace. Crosby Street Hotel also plans to attain Gold LEED certification. Its restaurant, The Crosby Bar, uses seasonal produce, much of which is from the rooftop garden. The hotel also boasts its own private cinema.
The Surrey, New York
The Surrey, which reopened in October, has had a $60 million investment and, oh, does it show. We found it to be quite chic, with lots of black-and-white motifs and beautifully tiled floors. It’s also extremely private, on East 76th Street between Madison and Fifth. You’ll find that Ellen Gerchik is the new director of luxury sales; you’ll know her from Park Hyatt and Rosewood. Room service spotlights seasonal menus of Chef Daniel Boulud’s French-American restaurant, Cafe Boulud, just next door.
The Mark, New York
This iconic Upper East Side boutique hotel has been transformed by French designer Jacques Grange. The property has a chic, sophisticated and understated atmosphere, says Signature’s Maza. The hotel’s new restaurant features dining by Jean Georges.
Cooper Square Hotel, New York
This East Village hotel is the latest sign of gentrification in the formerly edgy neighborhood. Locals hate it, but it has certainly caught the eye of visitors who want to avoid the crowds of midtown. The top spot in the hotel is the 3,000-square-foot Penthouse with a wraparound deck and 180-degree view of the city. The other rooms are smaller, but floor-to-ceiling windows help keep claustrophobia at bay.
Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, France
To celebrate its 100th birthday, Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat embarked on a $90 million, 14-month refurbishment that was completed last May 15. Designer Pierre-Yves Rochon redecorated the interiors; spaces are now filled with natural light. The tally is now 49 rooms and 24 suites, including eight new suites with private plunge pools. The highlight of the new spa is certainly its large garden with beautiful views over the Med.
Palais Stéphanie, Cannes, France
Palais Stéphanie, the newly renovated luxury hotel in Cannes, has earned its fifth star from the commissioner of the Alpes-Maritimes département in southeast France. The hotel is on the famous La Croisette at the original site of the Palais des Congrès, where the first Cannes Film Festivals were held. The redesign of the hotel, which added a number of oceanfront suites, pays tribute to the legendary film stars of festivals past, such as Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor.
The Arch London
A glamorous hotel close to Marble Arch and Hyde Park, the Arch London sits inside seven Georgian Grade II-listed buildings and two mews houses. We love the in-house film library with the Best Picture Oscar winners from the last 50 years.
Castel Monastero, Tuscany, Italy
Ready for a new Tuscan villa hotel experience that comes with a pampering spa and dining provided by chef Gordon Ramsay? Castel Monastero, in the medieval village of Monastero d’Ombrone in Chianti, is just 14 miles east of Siena—set atop a hill, of course, as all good villa hotels should be. What’s cool about Castel Monastero, aside from the fact that it’s in an 11th-century village, is that it has a 10,000-square-foot, 10-room spa, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait for an appointment.
Romeo Hotel, Naples, Italy
This design-oriented, high-end boutique hotel (gallery above) opened in an area of Naples nestled among Piazza Municipio and the cruise-ship terminals. While a major source of pride for the hotel is its rare art collection, we say its panoramic views of Mount Vesuvius and the island of Capri are arguably its top assets.
Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sicily
The first resort from the Rocco Forte Collection made a splash when it debuted on the coast of Sicily last year. The service, imported from alma maters like The Ritz London, is tops. Our Junior Suite had a private terrace with sweeping sea views. Nice touches included a potted orange tree on a tile table, hardcover books by Sicilian authors and a straw beach bag with Verdura flip-flops.
Centurion Palace, Venice
The new Centurion Palace is housed in the Palazzo Genovese, in the artistic area of Dorsoduro, beside the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, between Punta della Dogana and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. The hotel has the biggest Presidential Suite in town, facing Canal Grande. Some rooms have fireplaces and paneled ceilings; the duplex suites have wooden staircases; the windows are uniquely shaped; and the bathrooms have gold leaf covering the walls.
The Palazzina Grassi, Venice
The buzz in Venice: The Palazzina Grassi is next door to the Palazzo Grassi and smack on the Grand Canal. Columns, terrazzo floors and wood beams are complemented by Philippe Starck’s signature lamps and 300 Venetian mirrors and Murano glass lamps. Some of the 26 guest rooms offer dreamy views over the Grand Canal.
Hotel Missoni, Edinburgh
With a prime location on the corner of George IV Bridge & the Royal Mile, Hotel Missoni (gallery above) was designed by Rosita Missoni, one of the original founders of Missoni. Hence, the interiors are bold and dramatic, with the designers’ signature zig-zag motifs showing up in unexpected places.
The Augustine, Prague
The Augustine (gallery below) sits in a cluster of seven historical buildings, including the 13th-century St. Thomas Monastery, where practicing Augustinian monks can be seen in the hotel’s courtyard. Because of the hotel’s location in the castle district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the renovations have been meticulous, meaning guest rooms have lots of historical features.
Europe’s first Grand Hotel and the flagship of Langham Hotels International has unveiled the fruits of its painstaking five-year renovation. We loved the jeweled cast-iron gates leading to the Palm Court, fabled to be where the “afternoon tea” tradition began. On the guest room overhaul: Most were completely torn down, and, in some cases, two rooms were combined to create bigger rooms. The feel is of a period English residence fitted with all the latest technology.
Gran Meliá Colon, Seville, Spain
This exciting addition to the Gran Meliá collection is a gem in the heart of old Seville. We love the hotel’s Red Level—the adults-only boutique hotel-within-a-hotel. Perks include an in-room Nespresso coffee machine and access to a private lounge with its own concierge. The Penthouse Master Suite, aside from an enormous terrace, has a hydromassage bath and a Balinese bed. On-property dining is special, thanks to Michelin-star Chef Dani Garcia’s El Burladero, Tapas y Tintos.
Mardan Palace, Antalya, Turkey
Mardan Palace in Antalya is a hotel so luxe some say it is the best in the Mediterranean. At a cost of an estimated $1.4 billion, the Mardan Palace took three-and-a-half years to build. Making this hotel more than hot is the fact that during its grand opening, stars such as Richard Gere, Mariah Carey, Tom Jones, Sharon Stone and Seal were on hand to celebrate. They were probably impressed with the hotel’s swimming pool, the third largest in the world.
Le Gray, Beirut
The latest from hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray, this sexy boutique hotel has upped the trend factor in this cool capital city. “There’s a real romance about Beirut,” says Campbell Gray of the city’s vibe. “Its reputation is that it’s the Monte Carlo of the Middle East.” Standouts at Le Gray are the purple swimming pool and the cigar lounge and piano bar, which have 360-degree views of the city.
Caribbean and Bermuda
Tucker’s Point Hotel & Spa, Bermuda
Considered the most luxurious property to open in Bermuda in nearly 40 years, this hotel (gallery below) has already attracted elite travelers from across the globe. We hear the 1,650-square-foot Walsingham Suite is the most luxurious on property with its own entrance from the Palm Court and 340-square-foot balcony.
Sugar Ridge, Antigua
After an investment of more than four years and $30 million, Sugar Ridge opened its doors on December 1. Sixty rooms wrap around the property, with views to the south and west of palm-lined beaches and the Caribbean Sea, plus the neighboring islands of Redonda, St. Kitts and Nevis.
Viceroy Anguilla, Anguilla
With head-turning interiors and a picture-perfect setting, the Viceroy Anguilla is causing plenty of buzz. Set on 35 acres of beachfront land along Barnes Bay and Meads Bay, the resort has some spiffy free-standing villas, town homes, penthouses and single-story residences. We hear that the best rooms are the four- or five-bedroom Bluff Top Villas, which have a 180-degree view of the sunrise and the sunset.
Zoetry Golden Bear Lodge & Spa, Cap Cana, Dominican Republic
Inspired by the legendary golfer, Golden Bear Lodge & Spa guests can enjoy two Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses, Las Iguanas and Punta Espada. The Endless Privileges resort features many special services, including a personal golf concierge.
Zoetry Agua Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Set on the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic, this exclusive boutique hotel has just 53 cane-thatched suites, ranging from one-bedroom junior suites to three-bedroom havens. The suites’ hardwood floors and natural stone accents harmonize with the lush, secluded oceanfront setting.
Barceló Los Cabos Palace Deluxe
Barceló’s newest all-inclusive property is set on the Sea of Cortez. What’s special? Of the resort’s 626 suites, 34 are swim-up suites. For everyone else, there’s a 50,000-square-foot pool area. Amenities include a children-only water park, volleyball, Jacuzzis, in-water hammocks and an exclusive pool lounge.
Capella Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas
Each room at Capella Pedregal has a private plunge pool and direct ocean views. A staff of Personal Assistants, a Capella brand signature, contacts each guest prior to arrival and are on hand to arrange everything from dining reservations to yacht excursions. Want more? The spa has treatment pods that float on a private pool, while the El Farrallon restaurant has cliffside tables overlooking the sea.
St. Regis Mexico City
St. Regis Mexico City
The St. Regis Mexico City has become one of Mexico’s top places to see and be seen. Here, rooms on floors 10 through 14 have the best views of the city; we hear that the Astor Suite and the St. Regis Suite are the crème de la crème. To make a flamboyant entrance, guests can land on the hotel’s helipad.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Riviera Maya
In the environmentally sound Mayakoba resort development, Banyan Tree Mayakoba aims to evoke a background of Asian simplicity with “brilliant exclamations” of Mexican artistry. All 132 villas are free-standing units on land, over water or by the beachfront.
Central and South America
W Santiago, Chile
W Santiago is the cornerstone of a larger, mixed-use complex, which includes a convention center and retail shops. The property has 196 guest rooms, including 20 suites, 16 Cool Corner rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, three WOW suites and the signature Extreme WOW Suite, with views of Santiago and the Andes Mountains.
Tcherassi Hotel & Spa, Cartagena, Colombia
A two-year restoration project turned a 250-year-old colonial mansion into a seven-room resort. All rooms have balconies; a private lounge on the third floor has an outdoor bar and daybeds. The rooftop provides 360-degree views of the city and the sea.
Breezes Panama, SuperClubs Resorts’ latest Latin American resort, has 294 rooms in eight room categories, including four Luxury Ocean View Suites, the resort’s top category, and eight Beach Front Junior rooms. The spa has four treatment rooms, and there are four restaurants. The resort caters to families with a Kids Club, a Teens Club and nanny service.
A favorite of Virtuoso’s Albert Herrera, Peninsula Shanghai—the first new building to go up in the Bund in over 60 years—marks the return of the Peninsula brand to its home city. Rooms (which start at 600 square feet) have views of the Huangpu River and the skyscrapers of Pudong.
Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Phulay Bay
Opened in December, in Krabi, Thailand, the 54-villa Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Phulay Bay overlooks the Andaman Sea. By day, guests can relax at the infinity pool bar, with loungers and silk pillows and casual dining options. At night, things get a little sexier at the sunset lounge, with daybeds, oversized pillows, music and candle lanterns.
This 112-villa and suite resort, set on 30 acres on Sentosa Island, is Capella’s first foray into Asia. What’s special? We say it’s the villas’ private plunge pools and outdoor showers. Then there’s the Auriga Spa and Fitness Center, and the three pools.
The Mira, Hong Kong
The Mira, Hong Kong, in the shopping and entertainment district of Tsim Sha Tsui, has 492 rooms outfitted with a Blu-ray computer/entertainment center, high-speed Wi-Fi and iPod docking. But what sets it apart is its My Mira service, a 24-hour personal concierge that can provide a private chauffeur, a midnight snack or tickets to the theater depending on your whim.
This 202-room hotel occupies the top 11 floors of Marunouchi Trust Tower Main, a mixed-use building near Tokyo Station. What makes it hot are its fine details, including over 2,000 pieces of artwork, and more than 50 handmade chandeliers from the Czech Republic.
La Mamounia, Marrakech, Morocco
After a three-year restoration carried out by designer Jacques Garcia, La Mamounia reopened with two-level garden rooms with private terraces and 7,000-square-foot free-standing riad villas. History buffs will love the Churchill Suite, with memorabilia that belonged to the British statesman. La Mamounia’s gardens, spread over 27 acres, are an oasis in the heart of the city.
Shangri-La Villingili, Maldives
This resort, on the southernmost tip of Addu Atoll on Villingili Island, has 142 stand-alone villas, ranging from private ocean retreats to luxury Tree-House Villas perched almost 10 feet above the ground. Each tree house has an elevated infinity pool where guests are treated to panoramic views of the Indian Ocean.
Taj Cape Town
This hotel sits in two historical buildings that house 20 heritage luxury rooms with mountain views and an additional 10 rooms overlooking the city. A new 17-floor tower has rooms with floor-to-ceiling glass facades, balconies and panoramic views of Table Mountain or the city. The Taj Club floor has a private lounge and butler service.
One&Only Cape Town
At this chic hotel, each room and suite has a terrace and Table Mountain view. The large Island Suites have an open layout from the bedroom through the open shower to a second window. All rooms have butler service and free-standing egg-shaped soaking tubs.
Ruthanne Terrero compiled this report.
Additional Reporting: Michael Browne, Meagan Drillinger, Dave Eisen, Jena Tesse Fox, Mary Winston Nicklin and Joe Pike.