The luxury travel network Virtuoso® has revealed the nominees for the 2017 Best of the Best awards to be announced at their 29th annual Travel Week conference. The awards will take place in August in Las Vegas, and will mark 11 years since the organization began honoring the best properties in the world.
Virtuoso surveyed its hundreds of travel agencies and more than 11,400 high-end travel advisors to select the winners in each of the categories, ranging from the most innovative experience to best achievement in design. I have had the privilege of personally visiting many of the nominees and have also selected my favorites among the nominees. Official winners will be updated in August.
2017 Award Nominees:
Best Achievement in Design:
- Baoase Luxury Resort, Willemstad, Curaçao
- Park Hyatt Mallorca, Majorca, Spain
- Six Senses Douro Valley, Lamego, Portugal
- The Strand Yangon, Yangon, Myanmar
- The William Vale, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Six Senses Douro Valley (This renovated 19th-century manor house is located on a hill overlooking the vine covered Douro Valley and the river below. Barefoot luxury at its best and a enormous 22,000 sf spa make this a winner).
Best Dining Experience:
- Le Louis XV – Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, Monte Carlo, Monaco
- La Terrazza – Hotel Eden, Rome, Rome, Italy
- Meo Modo – Relais Borgo Santo Pietro, Siena, Italy
- Manta – The Cape, A Thompson Hotel, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
- Majorelle – The Lowell, New York, New York, U.S.
La Terrazza - Hotel Eden, Rome (I was the first writer to stay in the hotels stunning new Penthouse and also experienced the stunning La Terrazza, with its open air terrace and sunset views of St. Peter’s Dome. Led by Michelin starred executive chef, Fabio Ciervo, this is one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city).
- The Blue Bar – The Berkeley, London, UK
- Aquarium Bar – Castelbrac Hotel, Dinard, France
- Saxony – Faena Hotel Miami Beach, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.
- Bar Hemingway – Ritz Paris, Paris, France
- The Long Bar – Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, Shanghai, China
Bar Hemingway - Ritz Paris (I am a sucker for historic and authentic bars and this one certainly fits the bill. Hemingway and buddy F. Scott Fitzgerald spent many nights in this bar in the 1920's. Every time I have had drinks there, I have visions of Cole Porter (who would spend up to 9 hours a day here writing) and many others filling the historic and intimate alcoves.)
Best Family Programme:
- Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxford, UK
- Hotel Castello at Forte Village Resort, Santa Margherita di Pula, Italy
- Hotel Sacher Wien, Vienna, Austria
- The Reef Atlantis, Nassau, Bahamas
- The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Naples, Florida, U.S.
Hotel Castello at Forte Village Resort (You would be hard pressed to find another family program as well thought out as this. The Sardinia resort has created a "fantasy land" for children and teenagers with a top-notch staff watching over them while parents relax. A wide range of theme park activities such as; Thomas the Tank Engine, Mario's Village, miniature horses, Fisher Price nursery and Barbie™ activity center.)
Best Spa Wellness Programme:
- Canyon Ranch, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
- Golden Door Luxury Resort & Spa, San Marcos, California, U.S.
- Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden, Berchtesgaden, Germany
- Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
- SHA Wellness Clinic, Alicante, Spain
Golden Door Luxury Resort & Spa (I was fortunate to spend a week with some of the wealthiest men in the world at the resort's famed Men's Week. From gourmet meals to amazing spa treatments and more activities than you could ever want, this retreat is the perfect mix of wellness and seclusion offering the best healthy alternative for kick starting your system).
Best Guest Experience:
- Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort, Tangalle, Sri Lanka
- Hotel Solar de las Animas, Tequila, Mexico
- The Mark, New York, New York, U.S.
- São Lourenço do Barrocal, Monsaraz, Portugal
- Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Hotel Solar de las Animas (One word Tequila! Located in the center of the village of Tequila, and at the foot of the Volcano. I experienced the Jose Cuervo Express, a luxurious train from Guadalajara to Tequila offered by the hotel, where you are treated to tequila inspired drinks and snacks. Once back to the resort enjoy cocktails in the Sky Bar with views of the Tequila Volcano).
Sustainable Tourism Leadership:
- Cavallo Point – the Lodge at Golden Gate, Sausalito, California, U.S.
- CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla
- Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, Wolgan Valley, Australia
- Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Machu Picchu Pueblo, Peru
- UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa, Trancoso, Brazil
CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa (One of my favorite locations in the world. Anguilla is growing and expanding to offer the best luxury resorts. I have visited Anguilla many times through the years and always love the quiet and tranquil location where CuisinArt is located on Rendezvous Bay, The resort also leads the way in energy efficiency, with its own Reverse Osmosis plant to create potable water for the Resort and island residents).
- Amanemu, Shima, Japan
- Chablé Resort and Spa, Chocholá, Mexico
- Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, New York, New York, U.S.
- Park Hotel Vitznau, Vitznau, Switzerland
- The St. Regis Langkawi, Langkawi, Malaysia
Chablé Resort and Spa (I was fortunate to be the first writer to launch the resorts spectacular underground Cenote Spa. Located 25 minutes from Merida in Mexico's Yucatan jungle, the resort has only 38 casitas and two large villas. But it is the spectacular and totally unique spa that has visitors raving. Add the world class tequila collection and you have a winning combination).
Hotelier of the Year:
- Taparahi Tibble – Aman Sveti Stefan, Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
- Eric Boonstoppel – Cheval Blanc Courchevel, Courchevel, France
- Timothy Ananiadis – Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Athens, Athens, Greece
- Frank Marrenbach – Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa, Oetker Collection, Baden-Baden, Germany
- Susanne Hatje – Mandarin Oriental, New York, New York, New York, U.S.
Frank Marrenbach- Brenners Park- Hotel & Spa- (Frank Marrenbach led the way in turning the Villa Stéphanie into a state-of-the art 5,400 sf spa connected to the Brenners Medical Care building, Haus Julius. It is one of the most advanced spas in Europe, offering luxurious therapy and long term cures. Watch for my upcoming coverage on the Ultimate Wellness Retreats).
Hotel of the Year:
- Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, Lanai City, Hawaii, U.S.
- Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand
- Palazzo Seneca, Norcia, Italy
- The Peninsula Beijing, Beijing, China
- The Lanesborough, Oetker Collection, London, UK
Four Seasons Resort Lanai (I have covered Hawaii extensively through the last several years and have always directed my focus to the amazing Four Season's properties. Launching the new property in Oahu, the Four Seasons Resort Ko'Olina, and now the super exclusive retreat on Lanai, the island owned by tech billionaire Larry Ellison, is my favorite hotel among the nominees. The future is bright for this celebrity destination including plans to spend well over $75 million on an expansion and upgrade of The Lodge at Koele with 10 new spa buildings planned. Count me in!)