Luxury Travel Advisor has named the 2014 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 2014 Luxury Travel Advisor Awards of Excellence winners.
Best Luxury Hotel in Paris
Four Seasons, George V
New luxury hotels keep opening in Paris, but the Four Seasons, George V has retained top billing as the best hotel. And why not? The George V is old luxury and new luxury all at once. Think incredibly sumptuous guest rooms that let you block out the entire world if you wish, while just steps away is some of the best shopping in the City of Light and the excitement of the Champs-Elysees. Service is paramount here but it’s subtle and refined. Dining is overseen by a Michelin-star chef, Christian Le Squer. The Saturday night we stayed, a jazz quartet was playing in La Galerie. Tres chic, indeed.
Best Luxury Hotel in New York
St. Regis, New York
In a city that never sleeps, the St. Regis, New York is a bastion of calm and sophisticated luxury. Our readers are clearly dazzled by its ability to frame a visit to Manhattan with discrete service in an opulent setting. And yet, the St. Regis is constantly evolving; its famous King Cole Bar (home of the original Bloody Mary) has been expanded with contemporary new touches and guest rooms have also been redone. Consider as well the elegant Tiffany Suite, with famous Tiffany blue accents throughout ... just one of the amazing suites in the house. And, please, what other hotel has two Bentley house cars, one for night and one for day?
Best Luxury Hotel in London
Corinthia Hotel London
It’s not easy for a new hotel to rise to the top in a city filled with icons, but Corinthia Hotel London has done that in just four years. Here, stellar service in a cosmopolitan setting combines with landmark architecture to craft a seamless guest experience. And, oh, that spa; ESPA Life is on three levels and has already won the hearts of local Londoners. In the heart of the city, the Corinthia puts you near the River Thames, Trafalgar Square, Westminster and Covent Garden. Now, that’s location.
Best Luxury Beach Hotel Worldwide
Four Seasons Bora Bora
Overwater bungalow or two-bedroom beach villa? Luxury Travel Advisor’s audience is clearly a fan of both these unique offerings at Four Seasons Bora Bora, the best luxury beach hotel worldwide. The resort clearly makes the most of its setting, with options like private, beachfront sunset dining by candlelight just one choice for dinner. Guests love snorkeling and other water activities in this “Garden of Eden” and claim it’s ideal for romance travelers and family groups alike.
Best Luxury Boutique Hotel Worldwide
Esprit Saint Germain, Paris
This chic Left Bank gem remains a favorite of our discerning readers who love how it immerses them in all things Paris. With just 28 rooms Esprit Saint Germain is a quiet hideaway home for those who want to explore the city’s charming cafes and shops, which are just steps away. Clients love its lobby lounges where wine, champagne and soft drinks flow all day. Service gets a top call out here from guests who praise the friendly, ultra-accommodating vibe.
Best Luxury Hotel Worldwide
Burj Al Arab, Dubai
This over-the-top hotel has been a winner since its inception and once again it’s regained top spot in our readers’ hearts. Its iconic architecture has become a symbol of modern Dubai but it’s the now-legendary hospitality that makes the Burj so extraordinary. Chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce transfers, suite-only accommodations and personal butlers create the backdrop for a memorable visit. It’s go big or go home in Dubai and the Burj does not disappoint.
Top Africa, Indian Ocean or Middle East Hotel Opening 2014
Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach
If you’re entering a luxury market like Dubai, you’ve got to really bring it on, and that’s just what the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach has done. This new kid on the block differentiates itself with a glamorous setting that includes 10 restaurants and lounges, a spa that sports gorgeous gardens and guest rooms with a light, airy feel that combines with subtle chic Arabic details.
Top Luxury Hotel Renovation/Restoration
Ashford Castle, Ireland
When Red Carnations Hotels bought this lovely County Mayo landmark, it immediately began to restore it to its former glory. Ashford Castle’s ambitious restoration won our readers’ hearts with its new top suites in particular, which were reimagined by Beatrice Tollman, the founder and president of Red Carnation. Carefully sourced furnishings and artwork make each of these quarters a must-see for any luxury traveler.
Most Anticipated New Luxury Hotel Opening
Baccarat, New York
So many new luxury hotels, so little time. But if you must sample one, it’s Baccarat, New York that had our readers awaiting its debut with breathless anticipation. And why not? It’s set across from the famed Museum of Modern Art, a fab location unto itself, but it’s inside, where Baccarat crystal is the signature touch everywhere you look. Nice Touch: The hotel’s bar has become the place to be seen in Manhattan.
Top Caribbean Hotel Opening 2014
Set on Aruba’s Palm Beach, this hot resort has 55 suites in the Deluxe, Executive and Junior categories, but we wonder if it’s the two Ritz-Carlton Suites with panoramic ocean views, living rooms, balconies and outdoor showers that stole the hearts of our luxury travel advisor audience. Or perhaps it’s that sultry spa with 14 treatment rooms offering local signature treatments and indigenous scrubs that wowed them. Either way, congrats to the Ritz for snagging Top Caribbean Hotel Opening for 2014.
Top North American Hotel Opening 2014
Park Hyatt New York
The highly anticipated Park Hyatt New York did not disappoint when it opened, and how could it? At 475 square feet, standard rooms are among the largest in the city, with floor-to-ceiling windows and the latest technology (including free Wi-Fi). Executive Chef Sam Hazen oversees all F&B, including the Living Room bar with views of Carnegie Hall. More Buzz: Spa Nalai has six treatment rooms with private outdoor balconies.
Top Asia Hotel Opening 2014
Perched on the banks of the Kamogawa River, the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto is in one of the prettiest destinations in Japan, chock full of UNESCO-listed palaces and temples, and lovely landscapes. But the hotel itself is also lovely, namely the spa by ESPA, and the destination restaurants, which include a pastry shop by Pierre Hermé. The building is styled after a traditional Meiji house and courtyard, and guest rooms have views of the river or Higashiyama mountains. We say the suites with “moon-viewing decks” and/or fireplaces sound particularly enticing.
Top Mexico/Central America Hotel Opening 2014
Andaz Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s Papagayo Peninsula has pristine beaches and tropical forests filled with awesome howler monkeys and now it’s got the hip Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort to brag about as well. The resort reflects the peninsula’s indigenous flora and fauna, so its buildings are shaped like cocoons and shells. Amenities include two infinity pools and three “concept restaurants” overlooking the sea. It’s all family-friendly, with a Camp Hyatt for the kids. Tip: Go for one of the four suites that come with private plunge pools.
Top Europe Hotel Opening 2014
The Peninsula Paris still has everyone abuzz now that it’s finally debuted. Why? Views of the Eiffel Tower are breathtaking from its rooftop restaurant, which has already become a “must” for the local elite. We love the Katara Suite on the top floor, with its awesome private rooftop garden with equally awesome views. When it’s time to unwind, there’s the 19,000-square-foot spa, an indoor swimming pool, and a series of sophisticated and lovely restaurants and bars. Ooh la la.
Top South Pacific Hotel Opening 2014
One&Only Hayman Island
This private island resort off Australia’s Queensland coast has drawn the rich and famous since 1950. Its new life as part of One&Only comes after an amazing $66 million re-do that’s clearly wowed our luxury travel advisors. The reimagined resort has new landscaping, room décor, a redesigned pool wing, a new pool and restaurant. Best part? More than half of its rooms are suites, villas and penthouses. Yes, please.
Top General Manager Worldwide
David Morgan Hewitt, The Goring, London
This dashing general manager gets top kudos from our readers and we know why. He’s equally comfortably hosting the Queen of England in his posh hotel as ensuring that the operations of The Goring are meeting the expectations of all his demanding guests. Humorous, hospitable and the utmost professional, we congratulate David Morgan Hewitt, our General Manager of the Year.
Top Luxury Sales Director Worldwide
Jeremy McClellan, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
This new, hotly contested category drew many nominees, but Jeremy McClellan, who was named The Ritz-Carlton Global Sales Organization, Travel Industry in early 2010, beat out the competition in fine form. We say it’s because he knows the business inside and out; his 13+ years with Ritz-Carlton has included all aspects of sales from group to catering to business travel. Cheers, Jeremy!
Top Sales Director for an Individual Hotel
Lenora Yuen, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
“Hawaii is my passion as is leisure travel industry sales,” says Lenora Yuen, who was born and raised on Oahu. “Over the years I’ve covered every region of the USA and it’s been a pleasure to know and work with so many wonderful travel professionals.” Yuen has been with Four Seasons Hotels for 26 years and was with the opening sales team for Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and the Four Seasons Resort Maui.
Best Cruise Line for Luxury Ocean Cruises
Under the helm of president & CEO, Edie Rodriguez, Crystal Cruises remains a notable standout for its excellent service and on-board offerings. It continues to raise the bar on land, as well, with its famed over-the-top shore excursions. Better yet, this year, under the new ownership of Genting Hong Kong, Crystal announced it’s finally getting a much-desired new ship, to join the Symphony and Serenity, which are much-adored by our travel advisor audience.
Best Cruise Line for Luxury Small Ships
Seabourn Cruise Line
Seabourn has maintained a steady flow of exciting luxury news over the past year, keeping our travel advisors happy with its current offerings and excited to see what’s on tap for the future. Coming up next year is yet another new ship, Seabourn Encore, which will sail the world with its awesome sibling vessels. Also new for 2016 and 2017 are 38 fresh ports of call, keeping the line’s well-heeled clients energized and enamored of the line.
Best Luxury River Cruise Company
Our readers love that AMA Waterways is constantly keeping itself relevant for today’s travelers, while serving up all the amenities of a luxury line. Its latest news, that it’s teaming up with Disney for family sailings, is just one sign of its cool spirit of innovation. What our audience continues to like is that AMA carries its own fleet of bikes and provides two guides on its guided bike tours, so clients can cruise, on land, from one port to the next.
Airlines: Best Flat-Bed Business Class Service
The sleeping facilities in Emirates Business Class will make you want to snuggle up and not awaken until the plane’s wheels are back on the ground, but we say the service might keep you awake, simply because there are so many really fun things to do. There’s in-seat power for your laptop and a side table for space to work. A personal minibar is at your fingertips and you might want to watch a movie or two on the beyond-belief entertainment system. Internet connectivity makes it easy to stay in touch with work or upload your musings on your blog.
Best New Attraction
9/11 Memorial Museum, New York
Comprised of 110,000 square feet of exhibition space, this new museum takes visitors 70 feet below the ground, within “the archaeological heart of the World Trade Center site.” What became of the WTC is displayed throughout the museum, including the Survivors’ Staircase, the last visible remnant of the buildings after the attacks. Also on view is a massive twisted piece of “impact steel,” a portion of the north tower facade that suffered a direct hit from American Airlines Flight 11.
Best Chauffeured Services Worldwide
Carey continues to please our crowd of elite travel advisors, thanks to consistent excellent service and its international network that spans more than 550 cities across 60 countries. Our readers also love that it’s able to promise 24/7 chauffeured service for personal and business travel. We hear as well that services are centrally managed and locally dispatched to ensure a quality ride. Let's roll.
Best FIT Operator
Abercrombie & Kent
Luxury operator Abercrombie & Kent continues to search the globe for unique offerings for its discerning clients. Armed with ultra-experts throughout the world, A&K’s local guides and tour directors are constantly seeking to elevate the guest experience. Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy is another standout, dedicated to preserving natural habitats, protecting wildlife and supporting indigenous people throughout the world.
Best Local Destination Management Company
Made for Spain
Specializing in custom travel itineraries, services and unique experiences in Spain, Made for Spain won the votes of our audience this year, thanks to the hard work of founder and co-owner, Virginia Irurita and her team, who are always scouring their homeland for amazing offerings for their clients. We congratulate the winner of this hotly contested category. Without the help of a fabulous local DMC, the work for many luxury travel advisors would be difficult indeed.