Luxury Travel Advisor has named the 2013 winners of its prestigious Awards of Excellence. Our advisory board, an invitation-only panel of those influential travel advisors who have graced the cover of Luxury Travel Advisor, selected each of the nominees across several categories. Luxury Travel Advisor readers then voted exclusively to determine the best of each segment. Please join us in congratulating the 2013 Luxury Travel Advisor Awards of Excellence winners.
Best Hotel Villa
Residences on Grace Bay, Grace Bay Resort, Turks & Caicos
International jet-setters flock to this enclave within the resort for the quiet and privacy. But what has us buzzing about the three luxury homes, each with its own 95-foot-wide stretch of private beach, is the space. The homes have 6,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms and 2,600 square feet of external area with private deck, an infinity pool and outdoor shower. The two oversized master bedrooms have oceanfront views, and the master bathrooms have free-standing tubs, glass showers and double vanities.
Top Europe Hotel Opening in 2013
Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace, St. Petersburg
Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg is filled with history; 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, many elements were maintained. Neo-classic materials were acquired from across Europe (like gilt mirrors and marble fixtures). The hotel has several dining options: In the Tea Lounge, styled as a winter garden filled with trees and flowers, guests can try traditional Russian specialties, while locals can opt for modern interpretations of old favorites.
Top North America Hotel Opening in 2013
NOBU at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas
This boutique hotel is a collaboration between Caesars Palace, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, actor Robert De Niro and Hollywood film producer Meir Teper. Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace is the first celebrity chef-branded hotel venture in Las Vegas. David Rockwell led the overall interior design for the boutique hotel which has 181 guest rooms, including 18 suites that range from one-bedroom to five-bedroom. The Nobu Restaurant and Lounge, at 12,775 square feet, is the world’s largest Nobu Restaurant.
Top Asia Hotel Opening in 2013
Park Hyatt Siem Reap
After an extensive renovation, the Park Hyatt Siem Reap reopened last year with 108 guest rooms, a spa, two swimming pools, and lovely food options including a deli-patisserie, a bar lounge, and The Dining Room where the menu features a French-Indochine mélange. Note: Suites come with private gardens or pools. Surrounded by lush gardens, this five-star hotel has long been considered one of the top places to stay while visiting the 12th century ruins of Angkor Wat.
Top Africa, Indian Ocean or Middle East Hotel Opening in 2013
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi
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. Overlooking the 1,600-square-meter pool, the backdrop of the hotel is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The property features 447 guest rooms and suites, in addition to 85 private one- and two-bedroom villas with outdoor terraces, separate arrival palazzo and private butler service.
Most Anticipated New Hotel Opening
There’s a palpable buzz about the hotel at 19 Avenue Kleber that’s slated to open in August. The European debut for The Peninsula Hotels, The Peninsula Paris is the result of six years of restoration work that’s said to represent the finest in French savoir-faire and craftsmanship. The building is old-fashioned Beaux-Arts and more than 100 years old. (Stay tuned for more details about the 200 rooms, including 45 suites, and on-site amenities in a future issue of the magazine.)
Best Hotel in the Caribbean
Four Seasons Nevis
This elegant resort officially reopened on December 15, 2010. Rooms here include 17 suites; there are an additional 40 private residential units. The spa, which first opened in 2002, consists of gingerbread-trimmed treatment cottages among tropical gardens in the West Indian colonial style. The signature regimens are the 80-minute Rum Tonic body treatment and the Island Hopper massage, which can be of either 50 or 80 minutes.
Best Hotel in Mexico
Four Seasons Punta Mita
Go for the service, but stay for the suites. Four Seasons is recognized world-wide for its personalized, over-the-top service. But what sets Four Seasons Punta Mita apart from other hotels in Mexico are its two Presidential Suites - Arena and Coral. Each has five bedrooms and a beachfront location. Note: We hear guests can easily spot whales and dolphins passing by. Families should opt for one of Four Seasons Private Villas, the four of which are strewn throughout the resort.
Best Hotel Renovation/Reinvention Worldwide
The Gritti Palace, Venice
The Gritti Palace’s new look comes with 61 guest rooms and 21 suites, some with canal views. The interior design of signature suites takes inspiration from renowned personalities (think Ernest Hemingway, Somerset Maugham and Peggy Guggenheim). Guests will be impressed by the Redentore Terrazza Suite, which spans 818 square feet and includes a 2,691-square-foot rooftop terrace. Cool Touch: The roof has a spa pool, entertaining spaces and views over the city.
Top Hotel for Jetsetters Worldwide
St. Regis Bora Bora
If you want to raise the luxury bar on your next jaunt, book one of the Royal Retreat Villas. These mini “royal estate” villas are significantly more spacious than the standard floor plan. The villas feel like a garden oasis, set among palm fronds, and have direct access to the beach. The smallest is 2,000 square feet, the largest double that. They offer a larger separate lounge with daybed nook, and bedroom with an adjoining bathroom. The bathroom opens into a private garden with outdoor shower.
Best Pet-Friendly Hotel Worldwide
Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
This iconic Beverly Hills hotel has 285 guest rooms and suites, all with step-out balconies offering views of the gardens, Los Angeles or Beverly Hills. Four-legged friends are as equally pampered as their escorts. The luxury hotel welcomes dogs up to 15 pounds on a complimentary basis, and provides water bowls, food bowls, dog treats and dog food.
Best Authentic Experience Series
The Corinthia Hotel London: Downton Abbey Town-and-Country Experience
Visitors to the hotel can go on a day’s outing to an English country estate, Petworth House, where they can go hunting for game, take a tour of the ancestral home of Lord and Lady Egremont, see the largest private collection of artwork by Turner, and unwind over a traditional English Afternoon Tea in the countryside. The day begins with an early morning pick-up from the hotel in Whitehall Place (and yes, Range Rover or helicopter options are available) to the Petworth estate in West Sussex, less than 80 minutes from the hotel.
Best Hotel Worldwide
Four Seasons Bora Bora
Looking for seclusion? The three-bedroom Otemanu Luxury Beachfront Villa with private pool is the choice. Surrounded by lush foliage, the 5,380-square-foot tropical hideaway, which dedicates more than a third of its space to outdoor terraces, has beach access, stellar views and a garden whirlpool. There are also six two-bedroom Beachfront Villas with private pools. Four of these are classified as “premium” because they offer views of the mainland, while the other two villas face the lagoon. In the evening, snag a seat on the terrace of the overwater Sunset Restaurant and Bar.
Best Afternoon Tea, London
Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane
Afternoon Tea is served in Amaranto - Restaurant, Bar and Lounge (a brainchild of designer Pierre-Yves Rochon). The tea service is accompanied by a wide selection of blends of tea that have been specially prepared for Amaranto. Tip: We hear La Dolce Vita is the signature tea, which is an Italian twist featuring bruschetta, parma ham and baby panettone. Reservations are highly suggested.
Top General Manager Worldwide
Karen Whitt, The Regent Palms, Turks and Caicos
Our top GM, Karen Whitt, has been leading the Regent Palms Turks and Caicos since 2011, bringing with her more than 20 years of hospitality industry experience. No stranger to the Caribbean, Whitt moved to Turks and Caicos from Jamaica in 2005 and assumed the position of general manager of the Somerset Resort. She has remained an active member of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association. In 2010 and 2012 Whitt was named “Hotelier of the Year” in Turks and Caicos.
Best Hotel Bar, Paris
Le Bar at Four Seasons Hotel George V
For a taste of true Parisian opulence, Le Bar at Four Seasons Hotel George V has the competition beat. From wine-colored chairs to wood paneling on the walls, this chic urban hideaway oozes old-world Paris with a twist. Le Bar is open every night of the week (until the wee hours), and is also open for breakfast. Guests can also order from the bar’s menu until 6 p.m.
Best Rooftop Bar
Jimmy at The James New York
Channeling an English pub with a dash of 1970’s decadence, the bar atop the stylish hotel features herringbone floors, brick glazed tile walls, a leather trimmed wooden bar top, periwinkle plush sofas and of course, a couple of roaring fireplaces to keep the chill at bay. If the flickering fireside isn’t keeping you quite warm enough, sip one of the specialty cocktails like a tequila-soaked Night of the Iguana or a Black Walnut White Russian. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer sweeping views.
Best Cruise Line for Ocean Cruises
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Raising the bar on an all-inclusive cruise, Regent Seven Seas Cruises calls to the discerning and VIP cruiser. The all-inclusive experience includes key posh perks like a luxury hotel package with pre-cruise accommodations that come with breakfast, airport hotel and hotel-ship transfers, roundtrip air, open bars, free and unlimited shore excursions, gratuities and taxes. New this year, Regent Seven Seas is adding a new port of call in Antibes this year during its cruise from Venice to Barcelona.
Best Cruise Line for Small Ships
Seabourn Cruise Line
Luxury is a given with a name like Seabourn Cruise Line, but we hear that what keeps the clients coming back is the intimate size of the ships. Even the ships that are considered large for the fleet have just 225 suites. Seabourn is known for attracting well-heeled, experienced travelers who have a keen eye for service and are looking to sail to the next exotic destination. In fact, this year, Seabourn Odyssey will make its maiden call at Monemvasia, an island off the Peloponnese Peninsula.
Best River Cruise Company
AMA Waterways continues to prove its excellence for river cruising with a boutique hotel feel. The company is constantly keeping itself relevant and fresh for today’s travelers, while maintaining the amenities of a luxury product. Today’s trends are all about cultural immersion, and AMA Waterways is one step ahead. In fact, AMA Waterways carries its own fleet of bikes and provides two guides on their guided bike tours, so clients can pedal from one port to the next.
Airlines: Best Flat-Bed Business Class Service
Singapore Airlines continues to wow its passengers with new improvements that keep it ahead of the curve. Most recently, the airline invested a staggering $150 million. In business class, the new seats recline at 132 degrees and have an improved seat cushion. When converted they become a full-flat bed at 78 inches in length. Other enhanced features include an 18-inch LCD screen, an all-in-one business panel, USB port, eXport and HDMI ports. High rollers flying in first class can expect new seats, each 35 inches in width.
Best Train Experience
Take a trip back to the golden age of travel with Rocky Mountaineer. This menu of rail journeys takes travelers along historic routes in Canada and now the United States. The entire train ride takes place during daylight so guests do not miss a thing, from glacier-fed lakes to mountain ranges and rivers. The company’s newest route, Coastal Passage, arrives in and out of Seattle, WA. Rocky Mountaineer offers more than 45 Canadian vacation packages and five unique routes.
Best Chauffeured Services Worldwide
Travelers riding with Carey International book their travel based on a standard of service. In fact, Carey is reliant on the Carey System, a global network of certified Carey franchises that live up to the company’s standards. Carey’s network extends to more than 550 cities across 60 countries, and promises 24/7 chauffeured service for personal and business travel.
Best FIT Operator
Abercrombie & Kent
The A&K business model combines VIP service, such as a private passage by road and lake through the Andes, with behind-the-scenes memories. A&K lets travelers discover Machu Picchu through the eyes of its former resident archaeologist, and introduces you to Mayan culture firsthand through a Mayan family. Constantly updating its portfolio, A&K is all over the world, specializing in luxury, culture, wildlife and history.
Best Local Destination Management Company
Exeter International provides its guests with intimate experiences that are otherwise difficult for others to arrange in Eastern Europe. With top connections in all the major cities of Eastern Europe, such as Prague and Budapest, Exeter International is able to take its clients behind the scenes, such as backstage tours, gala dinners in private palaces and sessions with world-famous lecturers. Exeter now sends over 1,500 travelers to Russia and Eastern Europe each year.