The Hottest New Hotels of 2013

The Tambourin lounge at Villa Rosa Kempinski in Nairobi, Kenya

here are familiar brands aplenty in this list, which is also peppered with 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 2013.

 

Africa

Sir Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri Camp, Masai Mara

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www.mahalimzuri.virgin.com

Guests enjoy a front-seat view of the Great Migration (which usually takes place between July and October) at Mahali Mzuri. This newest addition to Virgin Limited Edition, Sir Richard Branson’s collection of private retreats, is set within the Motorogi Conservancy in the Masai Mara ecosystem of Kenya. Each of its 12 luxury tented suites sits on a raised platform and includes a bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, sitting area and a large deck with views over the landscape. Authentic touch: Most of the Mahali Mzuri team are Maasai who hail from the local communities around the Olare Motorogi Conservancy.

Olare Mara Kempinski, Masai Mara Tented Camp

The Olare Mara Kempinski has 12 tents in Kenya’s Olare Orok Conservancy. It’s a top home base for catching sight of the wildlife that inhabits these protected grasslands. Tents come with four-poster beds, claw-foot bathtubs, outdoor showers, and teak decks. (Tip: One has its own private plunge pool.) The tented camp has an eco-friendly focus: Produce for meals is grown in the onsite vegetable garden, and solar panels provide 70 percent of the energy needs.

Villa Rosa Kempinski, Nairobi

The new Kempinski in Nairobi complements the brand’s new tented luxury camp in the Masai Mara. We love the Presidential Suite, which has its own terrace, plunge pool, and even an outdoor barbecue area. The dining options are extensive: 88, the Pan Asian Restaurant; Lucca, the Italian Bistro; Tambourin, the Arabic rooftop lounge; and the all-day dining restaurant called Cafe Villa. For night owls, there’s a cigar lounge and a Taittinger Champagne corner at The Balcony.

 

Asia

Anantara Angkor Resort & Spa, Cambodia

Anantara Resorts’ new retreat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, puts guests right at the doorstep to the ancient temple ruins. The Anantara Angkor Resort & Spa was designed to resemble “a grand Khmer villa”—and it has succeeded. Its 39 rooms and suites are centered around a garden courtyard—complete with a salt water pool. The Anantara Spa is equipped with a gym, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi and nine treatment rooms (including four foot massage rooms!). The rooftop garden hosts yoga sessions, while the two restaurants offer traditional Khmer cooking classes. In addition, the hotel has a network of local guides who can unveil the secrets of Angkor Wat, on foot or by bicycle, and even set up a picnic at Angkor Thom. The resident “Streetwise Guru” can lead you on a tour of the local markets.

Anantara Hoi An Resort & Spa, Vietnam

Anantara’s boutique retreat in Vietnam reflects Hoi An’s cultural diversity, with two- and three-story colonial-style buildings revealing French, Dutch, Chinese and Japanese influences. The 93 guest rooms and suites blend European and Asian styles, designed with a split level layout, each featuring an upper bedroom and bathroom, leading down to a lower lounge that opens onto a porch with day beds. Nice touch: The resort offers guests Vietnamese cooking, language, painting and lantern-making classes; Thu Bon River inspirational trips; and visits to the nearby beaches of Cua Dai and An Bang. Ancient cultural sites are also accessible, such as the Imperial Citadel of Hue and My Son Sanctuary.

Banyan Tree Spa Chongqing Beibei, China

China’s North Hot Springs got a little hotter last September with the debut of the Banyan Tree Spa Chongqing Beibei. We hear that the springs contain mineral contents such as calcium sulphate, magnesium and potassium. Upon soaking for 10 to 15 minutes, guests can move on to spa treatments, such as the signature Royal Banyan treatment (think a massage where a herbal pouch is dipped in warm sesame oil, followed by a lemongrass cucumber body scrub). Another experience is the Yin Yang Rainmist experience, which is the first hydrothermal package in Chongqing Beibei. It features a combination of rain shower and steam bath for a body scrub, and another rain shower that is followed by a massage.

Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives

The Cheval Blanc Randheli brings new meaning to the word “luxury” on the island atoll beloved by celebrity honeymooners. Private seaplanes from Malé transport passengers in 40 minutes to the island resort, where dedicated ambassadors are at the ready to customize guest experiences with dinner cruises, yoga sessions on the beach, and private scuba diving excursions. Architect Jean-Michel Gathy has fashioned the 45 villas in a contemporary style reflecting the traditional palm cabanas of the islands. Set in lush gardens, the villas have private pools.

Villa at Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives

Villa at Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives

Conrad Beijing

The futuristic skyscraper that houses the Conrad Beijing is worth the price of admission and sets the tone for the uber-modern luxury within. The guest rooms come with such luxurious comforts as Nespresso machines and 400-thread-count bed linens. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow for expansive views over the city from the hotel’s location in the Chaoyang District. Named after China’s Sage of Tea, the restaurant Lu Yu has a two-story wall that resembles a library stocked with a wide variety of Chinese teas. For foodies, private dining rooms are available where chefs will prepare your meal right before your eyes. There’s a resident DJ spinning tracks at the hotel’s rooftop bar, Vivid, which also has an al fresco area. The Conrad also has a spa, fitness center and 80-foot pool.

Park Hyatt Busan, South Korea

Attention shoppers! Park Hyatt Busan is adjacent to the world’s largest shopping mall, Shinsegae Centum City, as well as the Busan Exhibition and Convention Centre (BEXCO). Nestled in the marine city adjacent to Haeundae Beach, Park Hyatt Busan is built in a modern style with 33 floors above ground and six floors below street level. Architect Daniel Libeskind designed the hotel in a curved shape, which embodies the ocean waves in Busan. In addition to this nod to the nautical, as well as the camellia, a symbolic flower of Busan, the interior of Park Hyatt Busan offers views of the ocean and Gwangan Bridge though floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The Lumi Spa has seven treatment rooms filled with natural sunlight and ocean views.

Raffles Makati, Philippines

Raffles Makati sits in a brand-new, 30-floor tower housing deluxe rooms, suites and one- to four-bedroom residences. The suites span the ninth and 10th levels of the tower and we love the look of their floor-to-ceiling windows with views over the city. Raffles aficionados will be amused to know that the Long Bar has made the trek to the Philippines. It has decor similar to that of the Long Bar in Singapore, with tropical fans, terra-cotta tiled floor and long-stemmed ceiling fans. The restaurants include all-day dining, a contemporary pastry boutique, two lounges, as well as the Long Bar and the Writers Bar. Guests can cool off at the two outdoor swimming pools, unwind at the Willow Stream Spa or work off dinner at the fitness center.

Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran

Why it’s hot: Location, location, location (and design…and amenities). The resort is set on Jimbaran Bay, once a small fishing village that has blossomed into a bustling beach community. The resort offers four dining venues in a three-story complex. The signature restaurant Bamboo Chic serves Pan-Asian flavors (with a focus on Balinese cuisine), while Smoqee Lounge & Sky Bar mixes up cocktails. Latitude 8 serves coffee by day and wines and tapas by night, and WaLa is a casual spot for gelato and coffee.

W Guangzhou

The entry into the W Guangzhou starts off with a bang—a 62-foot “Luminous Water Wall” by WET Design greets guests as they enter. Guest rooms range from Spectacular to WOW in seven different categories, complete with 46-inch LED HD TVs, sound systems, high-speed Wi-Fi, and MP3 player plug-ins. At the signature WOOBAR, mixologists and DJs concoct drinks and mix tunes to set the mood, while the Fei Ultralounge is the place for all-night dancing. Yan Yu serves up Cantonese-style cuisine. For Japanese fare, visit I by Inagiku, which has indoor and garden dining options, along with a Sake bar. At The Kitchen Table guests can have breakfast, lunch or dinner at large oversized tables with views into an open kitchen. The AWAY Spa is the first in China and it’s a 24/7 retreat. Complementing the spa is a FIT fitness center and a WET heated indoor pool.

W Guangzhou lobby, with “Luminous Water Wall”

W Guangzhou lobby, with “Luminous Water Wall”

 

Caribbean

Azul Sensatori Jamaica

The location of this resort alone cemented a place on our list of hot hotels, with prime real estate on Negril’s world-famous Seven Mile Beach with views of the Caribbean Sea. It’s also notable for being Karisma’s first foray into the Caribbean. While there’s a multigenerational section with Family Suites and two-story Family Loft Suites, couples and others can isolate themselves from the sounds of kids at play by booking one of the 108 rooms and suites in the Adults Only section. Expect to see some “Do Not Disturb” signs on many of the rooms here, which also offer two oceanfront pools with swim up bars that become lounges in the evening, since this is where the resort’s romantic Honeymoon Suites can be found.

Terraced honeymoon suite at the Azul Sensatori Jamaica

Terraced honeymoon suite at the Azul Sensatori Jamaica

Radisson Grenada Beach Resort

Whenever a well-known, branded hotel makes its debut in a new destination, it definitely garners quite the buzz from the agent community. Couple that with a breathtaking spot on Grenada’s Grand Anse Beach and you’ll see why we think this Radisson resort is worthy of being included. Set on 20 acres of tropical grounds with a white sugar-sand beachfront, the Radisson’s central location in Grand Anse is what sets this hotel apart from most—near the shopping and financial district, and just seven minutes from Port Saline International Airport and the picturesque capital of St. George’s. Clients will never have a dull moment staying at this hotel.

Royal Oasis by Occidental, Haiti

That a major hotel company has faith in the resilience of Haiti and its people is hot news in itself, but The Royal Oasis by Occidental made a huge splash when it opened because it is not only the largest hotel in the destination, but also Haiti’s first all-inclusive resort. Clients who are intrigued by Haiti, but perhaps a bit hesitant to visit, should know that The Royal Oasis was constructed to be earthquake-resistant and hurricane-proof. It features a crisp, modern design and is just a 30-minute drive from Port-au-Prince International Airport. At the Royal Oasis’ five bars and restaurants guests can experience an extraordinary selection of local and international cocktails and menus, while Grand Level Occidental Members will enjoy the exclusivity of the Lounge Club Royal, which offers fine dining in a private and superior style.

The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba

It’s a Ritz-Carlton hotel…and it’s on the island of Aruba. What could be hotter than that? We say it’s the resort’s 55 luxurious Deluxe, Executive and Parlor Suites that will have clients buzzing upon their return. They all offer one-and-a-half baths, a spacious living room and boutique bath amenities. Two Ritz-Carlton Suites deliver impressive ocean views and rooms as expansive as they are elegant, distinguished by a master bedroom, a living room, and a private balcony facing the sea with outdoor showers. A smart choice for guys or girls getaways, The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba offers the signature Ritz-Carlton Club Level directly overlooking the resort’s sprawling sun-kissed coastline. For added excitement, there’s a large casino that is open 24/7, and for unwinding, the Spa blends the four natural elements of Fire, Water, Sky and Earth into signature treatments that use organic ingredients.

Divi, the all-day bar and lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba
Divi, the all-day bar and lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba

Sandals LaSource Grenada

This may be the most luxurious resort Sandals Resorts International has ever rolled out—a game-changer for how clients will view all-inclusive resorts going forward. Nestled on a beautiful chunk of Pink Gin Beach, Sandals LaSource Grenada offers clients a high level of luxury with an unprecedented look and feel for the resort company’s portfolio. So throw away all notions that luxury doesn’t exist at an all-inclusive resort. The best room views are from the Skypool Suites, which afford outstanding Caribbean Sea vistas from their large balconies. Another first for the all-inclusives pioneer: This resort’s whopping nine gourmet dining options, including Sandals’ very first steakhouse, Butch’s Chophouse, named after the resort company’s founder and chairman, Gordon “Butch” Stewart.

Cascading pool at Sandals LaSource Grenada’s South Seas Village

Cascading pool at Sandals LaSource Grenada’s South Seas Village

 

Central and South America

Andaz Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica

From its perch on the northwest Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Andaz Peninsula Papagayo will impress clients with views of the stunning Bay of Culebra—views they can enjoy from the privacy of their spacious balcony. The decor balances modern design with touches of local character, including woven textiles, solid woods and carved artifacts, to create an authentic, local feel. What makes this hotel stand out, however, is its privately accessible beach for Andaz Peninsula Papagayo guests that ensures isolation from crowds, while two swimming pools encourage fun in the sun. Culinary highlights include Ostra, the hotel’s specialty restaurant, which features three live culinary stations, allowing guests to sample specialties and soak in the freshest products and flavors of the country.

Wyndham Guayaquil, Ecuador

Boredom is not an option at Wyndham’s first foray into Ecuador. Wyndham Guayaquil is just steps from the historic Santa Ana Hill and just minutes from the sights and attractions at Malecon 2000, Simon Bolivar Convention Center, World Trade Center Guayaquil and Aeropueto Internacional Jose Joaquin de Olmedo. It’s also convenient to museums, botanical gardens and other places of interest. Don’t let its location in the business hub fool you; the hotel is family-friendly—there’s a full kitchen in every room and dedicated children/teens activities—and it touts the ninth-floor terrace, with its views of the beautiful Guayas River, as a wedding venue.

 

Europe

Aman Canal Grande, Venice

Amanresorts got a foothold in the city of canals in a historic building. In San Polo, midway between the Rialto and Accademia Bridges, the centerpiece of the Aman Canal Grande is the 16th-century Palazzo Papadopoli. We hear rooms have some amazing ornamentation that’s been kept intact, such as 18th-century frescoed ceilings and rococo mirrors. The property has two gardens, making it a good pick for those craving greenery: Fronting the Grand Canal, the Garden Terrace is one of very few private gardens on the canal, where Aman guests can dine al fresco. A second “secret” garden with soaring trees offers a more laid-back experience.

Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg, Russia

This hotel is the first Four Seasons in Russia, and opened last year after a major renovation from the private apartment building known as the “House with Lions” into a five-star hotel. The triangular building was originally conceived in 1817 by Auguste Montferrand as the private address of the city’s elite, close to the Winter Palace. During the renovation, the original concept and aesthetic was studied and many elements were maintained. Neo-classic materials were acquired from across Europe (like gilt mirrors and marble fixtures) to keep the ambiance in sync. The hotel’s four-level spa is constructed within a triangular courtyard of the original Lion Palace, and has eight spa treatment rooms—including a deluxe couples’ suite with a private lounge.

Hotel de Paris, St. Tropez, France

A once-fashionable meeting place for the international jet set in St. Tropez has been given a new lease on life, thanks to a dramatic makeover by acclaimed designer Sybille de Margerie. After two years of non-stop renovations, the legendary hideaway is back on the French Riviera scene. Outfitted with all the latest technology and designer furnishings, the 52 rooms and 38 suites are a feast of color—with a rainbow of hues accenting the walls, curtains, and fabrics. Top dig is The Presidential Suite (sprawling over 1,400 square feet) with its private terrace offering views over the Saint Tropez harbor. One of the highlights is the pool with a transparent glass bottom—suspended over the lobby so that bathers are visible from below.

Hotel Indigo St. Petersburg – Tchaikovskogo

InterContinental Hotels Group launched its boutique Indigo brand in Russia in the historic center of St. Petersburg, between the Neva and Fontanka rivers, the Summer Garden, and Tavrichesky Garden. We say that’s a good spot for visiting local attractions. Floor-to-ceiling murals in the hotel’s 119 bedrooms were inspired by the nearby Summer Garden, the Foundry metal works and river embankments. Good to know: The hotel, like all of the Indigo properties, is crafted to reflect its neighborhood, so keep an eye out for local artwork and regional specialties on the menus.

Hotel Nikol’skaya Kempinski, Moscow

This new hotel on Lubyanka Square in central Moscow is the culmination of a six-year renovation project that merged several adjacent historic buildings not far from Red Square, the Kremlin, and the Bolshoi Theatre. Interiors by the Leo International Design Group conjure the Belle Epoque with elements like marble, crystal, and gilded wood. Served by butlers, the two Presidential Suites are like private apartments in some of the best real estate in town. This is the Kempinski Group’s second hotel in the Russian capital, and for a sense of the “wow” factor, rates start at around $400 per night.

InterContinental Davos, Switzerland

Alert the dedicated ecotourists among your clientele that this hotel is focused on environmental sustainability, heated with 90 percent renewable energy. Inside the dome-shaped hotel, the ambience reflects a modern, upscale alpine chalet. The hotel’s spa has 14 treatment rooms, a wet area, open-air pool, and a lounge overlooking the mountains. For younger visitors, the hotel has a Globini Kids Club—a team of professional kindergarten teachers to create activities and a safe place for kids.

InterContinental Marseille, Hotel Dieu

Housed in the centuries-old Hotel Dieu, a landmark historic monument on the Old Port, InterContinental Marseille, Hotel Dieu opened as the city’s first true five-star hotel. The historic structure, which looks over the city and port, has been renovated so that historic details—like a 12-century chapel and its mosaics—have been preserved. Perched atop Le Panier, the oldest part of France’s second largest city, the building has vaulted passageways and large terraces. The property overlooks the city and offers views of the Vieux Port and the iconic Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica.

 Presidential Suite at the InterContinental Marseilles

 Presidential Suite at the InterContinental Marseilles

J.K. Place Roma

Occupying a historic building at Via Monte d’Oro 30, just off the Via Condotti (right in the middle of town), this hotel is within walking distance to the Spanish Steps. Rooms come with rosewood canopy beds or handmade fabric beds, spacious marble bathrooms, plus complimentary minibar and free Wi-Fi. The J.K. Master Room is the largest at 540 square feet. Composed of a living room and separate bedroom, the suite is decked out with custom furniture by architect Michele Bonan.

Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna

Originally built as a hotel for the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1873, the building stands in the heart of the city, not far from St. Stephen’s Cathedral. After two and a half years of restoration, it opens its doors again—as famous Vienna-based architect Boris Podrecca’s most recent masterpiece. (Podrecca, widely considered a pioneer in postmodernism, blends elements of the original Renaissance revival style with a contemporary, chic overlay.) In its new life, the hotel has two restaurants, a winter garden, a spa, and some top nightlife spots.

Rosewood London

Housed in a 1914 Edwardian Belle Epoque building in Holborn, the Rosewood’s wrought-iron gates lead to an intimate courtyard, making for an impressive welcome. The Grand Manor House Wing is accessed via a private elevator and its own street entrance; this is the only hotel suite in the world to have its own postcode. Beyond that, the suite has six bedrooms, a dressing chamber, a library, a dining room and several sitting rooms that spread out over 6,318 square feet of living space. The Garden House, meanwhile, has a garden terrace overlooking the London skyline while the Chancery House has plenty of old-fashioned grandeur.

Executive Suite at the Rosewood London

Executive Suite at the Rosewood London

Swissotel Metropole, Geneva

Swissotel Hotels and Resorts opened the Swissotel Metropole, Geneva, in March. Its 12 “signature rooms” are the first of their kind within the company: All lights and electronic instruments are navigated via a central control panel and the TV has a media connection panel allowing guests to connect their own devices. Additional services, available free of charge to guests in the new rooms, include minibar access, free Wi-Fi, and ironing service on arrival. All signature rooms are offering a view over the famous English Garden or Lake Geneva. We hear the open, mosaic bathrooms are considered a particular highlight of the property, providing guests with their own personal spa experience via the steam showers, or Jacuzzi baths with jet stream. The experience is enhanced by the Swissotel product line Pürovel, which is produced by Swiss farmers using pure biological oils and local herbs.

The Chedi Andermatt, Switzerland

This new ski resort is set to become a new Grande Dame hotel for Switzerland. The best suite to book is the Gemsstock Suite, which spans an expansive 1,400 square feet. The resort can arrange over-the-top requests for guests, such as customized day excursions, sightseeing in Lucerne, guided hiking trips to a cheese-making farm, and concert tickets for the Lucerne Festival.

The Chedi Bar and Living Room at The Chedi Andermatt in Lucerne, Switzerland

The Chedi Bar and Living Room at The Chedi Andermatt in Lucerne, Switzerland

The London Edition

This upscale hotel was created in partnership between Marriott and Ian Schrager. The brand of luxury lifestyle hotels currently only has two other properties in its portfolio worldwide—in Istanbul and Miami Beach. (More are due to open in the coming years.) Occupying the site of the former Berners Hotel in Fitzrovia, The London Edition has 173 rooms, a lounge dubbed the Punch Room, and a restaurant called Berners Tavern run by Jason Atherton, who created Maze for Gordon Ramsay Holdings. The hotel is near the British Museum and Soho.

Waldorf Astoria Berlin

As part of the new Zoofenster skyscraper, this 32-story hotel has the highest Presidential Suite in the whole city on the top floor. The hotel’s interior design has been conceived by Parisian agency Inter Art Etudes with plenty of Art Deco flair. Guests can choose from five different dining venues, the most exclusive of which is Les Solistes, where the menu was thought up by Michelin-starred Chef Pierre Gagnaire. And be sure to visit the Guerlain Beauty Spa, the only Guerlain outpost in Germany.

W Verbier, Switzerland

Starwood Hotels & Resorts opened the first-ever W Hotel in Switzerland in December, also marking the W brand’s first-ever alpine and ski retreat. The resort has four wooden chalet-style buildings, each connected by a glass atrium. For accommodations, the W Verbier has 123 guest rooms, including one Extreme WOW Suite (the W brand’s take on the traditional Presidential Suite), as well as 15 W-branded Residences. Top Perk: All guest rooms and suites have a fireplace and a balcony with panoramic alpine views. The resort also offers immediate ski-in, ski-out access to the mountainside.

 

Mexico

Iberostar Playa Mita, Riviera Nayarit

What sets this resort apart from other Iberostars in Mexico is its location. Riviera Nayarit is an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, secluded between the Western Sierra Madre Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. As such, the resort places a huge emphasis on the natural environment and the local, traditional towns that surround it. Why it’s hot: In addition to its ocean view rooms and suites, this resort has 18 adults-only Spa Rooms that include spa treatments in their rates. There are a variety of dining options, including an international buffet, as well as four themed restaurants: Gourmet, Japanese, Steak House and Mexican. There is also an exclusive SeaSoul bar with ocean views, as well as seven other bars placed throughout the resort. Geared toward both couples and families, the hotel has a Splash Park aqua park and a separate kids’ pool.

Grand Residences Riviera Cancun

The all-suite Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, an affiliate of Leading Hotels of the World, debuted shortly before Christmas—a gift for clients who value privacy and the personal touch. The all-suite property is nestled in a secluded enclave between Riviera Maya and Cancun. The suites are designed as private residences, with on-property gourmet dining, a spa and salon, and personalized beach and pool service. The property’s top-notch Presidential Suite is a four-bedroom penthouse that sleeps up to 13. It comes complete with a private roof garden, ocean views, a pool, Jacuzzi, and a bar and grill.

Nizuc Resort & Spa, Cancun

Nizuc Resort & Spa is just 10 minutes from Cancun’s airport, and delivers service on par with any of the established and respected five-star resorts to the south. Sitting on its own stretch of land away from the hotel zone, Nizuc is a quiet, secluded resort overlooking the ocean on an almost private strip of beach. What we loved was the path that led from the main pool area through wild, rustic foliage, passing private lounging areas on small docks in hidden beach nooks (Hint: You can request a private dinner to be served here), which led us to the adults-only La Punta Grill & Lounge, which has its own infinity pool and sunning area. This area is authentic Mexico, as it served once as a presidential retreat for the country.

Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancun

Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancun

Middle East

Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates

Waldorf-Astoria’s first hotel in the UAE is designed to mirror the classic features of an Arabian palace. Guests may feel like royalty as they enjoy a private beach and two temperature-controlled outdoor pools. Dining aficionados can select from four signature restaurants, including specialty dining from US steakhouse, The Lexington Grill; Japanese dining at Umi; and Emirati-inspired cuisine at Marjan. The Waldorf Astoria Spa, one of the Emirate’s largest spas, stretches over 17,760 square feet with 12 treatment rooms as well as a VIP room. Let your golfing clients know that there’s an 18-hole championship course onsite.

Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort and Spa

Perched on the eastern crescent of the iconic Palm Jumeirah, an archipelago of islands connected to the mainland, this Asian-style resort has rooms with direct access to more than 107,000 square feet (that’s two-plus acres!) of lagoon pools. Inspired by traditional Thai architecture, the resort also has 18 over-water villas—the first of their kind in the Middle East—and three Royal Beach Villas. A kids club and a teens club keep the young ones entertained while the grown-ups visit the Anantara Spa.

Villa with pool at the Anantara Dubai Palm Beach

Villa with pool at the Anantara Dubai Palm Beach

Hotel Indigo Tel Aviv

InterContinental Hotels Group opened the Hotel Indigo Tel Aviv – Diamond District, the debut of IHG’s boutique brand in Israel. We hear the hotel has design details inspired by the gemstone. (Think murals all throughout the property.) There’s also the diamond-inspired Clarity Spa, a sundeck and a rooftop glass swimming pool. The French-Mediterranean restaurant Blackstone Bistro & Lounge (named after the original, raw formation of a diamond) serves locally sourced food and drink and is open to locals as well as guests. Bonus: Free Wi-Fi access is available throughout the hotel so guests can keep up-to-date online or relax with their own music selection in the iPod docking station.

Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel and Spa, Kuwait

The Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel and Spa is the first Jumeirah property in the Gulf region outside the UAE. The hotel has eight restaurants and lounges, an outdoor swimming pool lined with palm trees, and a Talise spa. Equipped with free Wi-Fi, the top of the hotel’s 316 guest rooms are the decadent Royal Suites—sprawling across 3,875 square feet. The five-bedroom villa, meanwhile, at the hotel looks over the ocean and the hotel gardens, and offers guests the use of a private parking space as well as a private plunge pool. Guests can also make use of the full kitchen, including dishwasher, fridge, microwave, oven and chinaware.

Rosewood Abu Dhabi

The first Rosewood Hotels & Resorts property in the UAE is set on the waterfront of Sowwah Square. The 34-story landmark hotel occupies a prime spot on Al Maryah Island (formerly Sowwah Island), in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s new central business district. It has 189 rooms and suites and four penthouses, as well as nine signature restaurants and lounges. Rosewood Abu Dhabi’s interiors are created from such materials as Italian marble, a bespoke 13-foot American walnut table, and custom and hand-blown chandeliers from the Czech Republic.

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai

Acquiring the title of “World’s Tallest Hotel” from the Guinness Book of World Records, the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is just a little shorter than New York City’s Empire State Building. At 1,164 feet and 72 stories, the property is the first JW Marriott Marquis outside of North America and the 59th addition to the brand’s global luxury portfolio. The 43,000-square-foot Saray Spa and Health Club draws inspiration from the caravanserai silk route across Arabia. The hotel’s nine restaurants and five bars/lounges include the steakhouse Prime 68 (as in 68th floor), where the cuts of meat are matched only by the sky-high views; the experiential sushi restaurant, Izakaya; and cocktail bar Vault, which occupies the 71st and 72nd floors and affords panoramic views of the city.

Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal

This resort is the first Ritz-Carlton in Abu Dhabi and the ninth property in the Middle East for the luxury hotel operator. Inspired by 15th to early 17th century Renaissance architecture and the urban planning of the city of Venice, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is located at the waterfront and consists of 10 buildings arranged in a crescent formation around a sprawling 17,000-square-foot outdoor pool where guests can relax in a private cabana.

 

United States

Capella Washington, DC

This boutique hotel was inspired by the history of American architecture. Guests of the property are entitled to Capella Personal Assistants 24 hours a day. Complimentary amenities include a refreshment center, laundry pressing service (up to five pieces), Wi-Fi and more.  We love The Grill Room and The Rye Bar, which are trending on the DC culinary scene. The former specializes in bone-in, artisanal meats, seafood, and tableside preparations, while the latter serves up rare rye whiskeys, cocktails and a specialty menu of bar snacks.

The Clubhouse at Streamsong Resort, Florida

When its 216-room main lodge opened in January 2014, the Clubhouse Streamsong Resort near Tampa had already been welcoming guests to its 12-room golf clubhouse for almost a year. The landlocked luxury resort targets a different Florida niche, eschewing the usual beach focus for golf (Streamsong Red was named “Best New U.S. Course You Can Play” by Golf magazine), as well as tennis, shooting, fishing, bird watching, horseback riding, hiking and hot-air ballooning.

Clubhouse Steamsong Resort, west of Tampa

The Clubhouse at Steamsong Resort, west of Tampa

Downtown Grand Las Vegas

Las Vegas’ booming Downtown area received an early Christmas present when the Downtown Grand opened in November. Yes, the hotel has its share of gaming facilities (600 slot machines, 30 table games and a sports book), dining options (five), and bars—including the signature Mob Bar, a flapper-style environment that has handcrafted cocktails and live entertainment. The topper, however, may be what’s at the top: Downtown Grand’s PICNIC is the latest entry to Las Vegas’ competitive rooftop swimming pool scene. Designed to be reminiscent of a ‘50s pool oasis, the new area offers live entertainment and film screenings throughout the year, an infinity pool, and opportunities for picnics on the grass or at communal tables. Guests can also enjoy cocktails or play blackjack outdoors. 

El Encanto, Santa Barbara

The first Belmond hotel on the U.S. West Coast—and Santa Barbara’s only Forbes Five-Star resort—reopened to rave reviews after nearly seven years of restoration accomplished in close association with Santa Barbara’s Historic Landmarks Commission. To complement the historic decor, the hotel also offers carefully selected artwork by Damien Hirst and Charles Arnoldi. Accommodations are a mix of private bungalows and luxury suites. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the rolling hills of Santa Barbara’s wine country, The Spa draws from the surrounding landscape using local ingredients to create signature treatments. Executive Chef Leo Andres Ayala creates inspired California Coastal cuisine with locally sourced seasonal produce, such as herbs directly from the chef’s garden, and Belmond El Encanto cheese, made from the milk of Ellie, the resort’s resident cow.

Hotel Zetta, San Francisco

The new property from Viceroy Hotel Group is the first new hotel in San Francisco in five years. The stylish building is on 5th Street in the heart of SoMa, adjacent to the Westfield Shopping Centre, steps from Moscone Center and close to Union Square. BART trains are practically at the doorstep for guests who want to explore other San Francisco neighborhoods. Hotel Zetta offers ultra-modern accommodations and, like all Viceroy properties, a 21st century awareness of sustainability. The interactive lobby is a social hub with Macs and—heads up, The Price Is Right fans—a Plinko game wall.

Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica

Opened Fall 2013 as a new offering on the iconic Santa Monica Pier, the hotel’s unique lobby—dubbed Le Meridien Hub Experience—re-interprets the traditional lobby scene as a social gathering place with good coffee, large-scale artwork and unique lighting. Cool touches: The hotel has a 24-hour curated soundtrack and offers the “Unlock Art” program—LM100 artist-designed key card collections that not only offer access to the guest room but also to Le Meridien brand affiliated contemporary cultural centers in the city.

Nobu Hotel at Caesars Las Vegas

The first celebrity chef-branded hotel venture in Las Vegas brings Nobu’s famed culinary brand to the hospitality space, including the world’s largest Nobu restaurant and the first to offer teppanyaki in the United States. The hotel’s dining experiences channel his signature style and, ramping up the cool factor, all rooms have minibars filled by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa himself. Nobu’s signature hot tea is served in the room upon arrival, and there are tech touches like iPad registration, an iPad docking station and Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace app. 

King Room at the Nobu Hotel at Caesars Las Vegas

King Room at the Nobu Hotel at Caesars Las Vegas

Salamander Resort, Middleburg, Virginia

The pet project of Black Entertainment Television co-founder Sheila Johnson officially opened last August after much delay and fanfare. Just a short drive from Washington, D.C., the expansive resort (it occupies 340 acres of Virginia horse country) offers an ideal retreat with its infinity pool surrounded by cabanas, Equestrian Center, and access to over 50 vineyards within an hour’s drive. There is a Cooking Studio at Harrimans Restaurant where guests can partake in culinary classes and watch cooking demos. Chef Todd Gray, of Equinox in Washington, is the Salamander’s Culinary Director.

The Langham Chicago

Just minutes from the commercial Loop district and within walking distance of the famous Magnificent Mile, Langham Hotels’ first purpose-built hotel in North America arrived on the scene last summer. With design by world-renowned architects like Dirk Lohan, who worked with his grandfather Mies van der Rohe on the IBM building in the 1960s, and David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group, who designed the property’s signature restaurant, Travelle, this property is a major addition to Chicago’s booming hotel landscape. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Langham without Tiffin at The Langham, the traditional afternoon tea that first debuted at The Langham, London in 1865, and the signature Chuan Spa.

The Pearl Rosemary Beach, Florida

This luxury resort opened on Florida’s Emerald Coast in time to catch the last wave of summer travelers. The resort is notable for its tech-friendly amenities, including the Intelity App, which enables guests to book dinner reservations, room service, or place concierge requests before or during their stay via an iPad available in each room. The resort is also the first in the U.S. to offer in-room Apple TVs, allowing guests to stream wirelessly from the complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi. But with a private stretch of white-sand beach just steps away, a spa with four stunning poolside treatment cabanas, and an 18.6-mile scenic bike trail, guests may find they have little time for TVs and PCs.

The Redbury South Beach, Miami

This boutique property charms with its Art Deco-themed rooms and suites with in-room Crosley record players and a collection of vinyl curated by Capitol Records and Universal Music Enterprises. Apartment-style touches include kitchens and private balconies. The swank rooftop pool and Chef Tony Mantuano’s Lorenzo restaurant are also plusses. Other perks include exclusive access to the beaches, pools, and amenities of the nearby SLS Hotel South Beach and The Raleigh, as well as complimentary BMW house car service within a three-mile radius of the hotel.

Thompson Chicago

Why do we think this hotel is hot? Lots of reasons: All of the hotel’s residential-style rooms and suites have modern art and a fully stocked minibar. The bathrooms have rain shower heads and natural bath and spa products by REN, and the minibars are filled with Dean & DeLuca snacks. Tech touches include bedside lighting controls, nightstands with built-in USB chargers and an in-room entertainment system by Tangerine. Coolest tech detail of all: Each room has its own ISP address and functions as its own hotspot. (Wi-Fi is included.) It also offers top views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. Plus, guests enjoy complimentary car service to downtown Chicago.

Thompson Chicago lobby

Thompson Chicago lobby

 

Hawaii

Andaz Maui at Wailea

Hawaii doesn’t get new hotels very often, so when it does, it’s hot news. With Wailea’s first new resort in six years, Andaz is putting a luxury spin on the destination’s multigenerational market while also creating a quiet retreat for affluent couples. Seventy percent of all rooms face the ocean and the two Premiere Suites have a soaking tub smack dab in the center of the room, offering clients an impressive ocean view while they soak. The hotel is also home to one of Hawaii’s hottest restaurants, Morimoto Maui, named after executive Chef and former “Iron Chef,” Masaharu Morimoto. Four of the resort’s five swimming pools lead into each other, with three infinity pools ending up in one relaxing “lagoon.” The fifth is separate and serves as the resort’s adults-only pool.

Open-air lobby lounge at the Andaz Maui at Wailea on Maui

Open-air lobby lounge at the Andaz Maui at Wailea on Maui

 

New York’s Boutique Boom

Here is a quartet of newcomers that proves small hotels are a good fit for the Big Apple. The Quin, Viceroy and WestHouse are all within shouting distance of Carnegie Hall and each other, and just blocks from Central Park and Broadway theaters, while the Refinery is trying the Garment District on for size.

The Quin, New York

The Quin is housed in a pre-War building that, as the Buckingham Hotel, is rumored to have been the former home of famous musicians and painters such as pianist/composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski and artist Georgia O’Keeffe–whose names are given to the Quin’s two specialty suites. There’s also a Penthouse suite for those who adore a view of Central Park. The Quin employs a team of Attachés  to curate New York City experiences for guests, be it art and culture, shopping, food and drink, or entertainment they seek.

Viceroy New York

With its array of amenities that leave guests wanting for nothing, including Chef Marc Murphy’s Kingside restaurant, the Viceroy was already hot when it opened in October. It has since opened a new rooftop bar dubbed, in no-nonsense New York fashion, The Roof, where guests can take maximum advantage of the New York scenery from 29 stories up while nibbling on small plates and sipping small-batch spirits, regionally brewed craft beers, global wines and sexy cocktails.

WestHouse Hotel of New York

One of three new additions by Small Luxury Hotels of the World to New York’s ever-trendy hotel scene, this 1920s Art Deco-style property unwrapped itself just in time to welcome early Christmas guests. We love the unique apartment-style vibe: guests are called “residents,” check-in from their rooms and can even request their own butler. And, as mentioned above, you can’t beat the neighborhood.

Refinery Hotel New York

This Garment District property hit the scene last May and we hear it’s a great pick for fashionistas who want to hit the nearby sample sales. The main entrance is designed to evoke a fashion runway, while the reception area has hat-making machinery repurposed as custom art installations. Other furnishing is inspired by sewing machines and factory carts, while the Parker and Quinn restaurant sports classic design touches that span New York City’s history from the 1900s to today. Macy’s and Madison Square Garden are just a few blocks south.

The Quin, Refinery and WestHouse are all members of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

Viceroy New York suite

Viceroy New York suite

 

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