Virtuoso announced the winners of the 2017 Best of the Best awards last night at the 29th annual Virtuoso Travel Week. The 11th annual ceremony celebrated this year’s top 11 hotels and hoteliers before 1,600 of luxury travel’s top partners attending the Hotels & Resorts Dinner.
Virtuoso received input from its 800-plus travel agency partners and more than 16,000 professional travel advisors to name the winners in each category. Editors of VIRTUOSO LIFE, the network’s magazine, offered their expert insight and hotel savvy to select the nominees, which the advisors voted for. This year’s Best of the Best award recipients will be highlighted in the publication’s September/October issue.
“With this being the 25th anniversary of Virtuoso Hotels & Resorts, we wanted to ensure that this year’s winners were emblematic of the commitment to delivering the world’s best hotel experiences that has served as the hallmark of this program all these years,” said Albert Herrera, senior vice president of Global Product Partnerships for Virtuoso.
With a broad-ranging portfolio of more than 1,200 hotels, resorts, villas and private island retreats in over 100 countries, Virtuoso Hotels & Resorts is one of the industry’s most prestigious hotel programs. When it was founded in 1992, the program had just 20 hotels.
Best of the Best
Hotel of the Year: Palazzo Seneca, Norcia, Italy
Giving Back: “The Bianconi family doesn’t just own a lovely hotel. They are beautiful people indeed, who care for others less fortunate, love the land where they were born, and take good care of this land," Julia Kostina, Renshaw Travel, says.
Best Achievement in Design: Six Senses Douro Valley, Lamego, Portugal
Unwind with Wine: “What sets this resort apart is that it retains the charm and beauty of a large country manor set among rolling hills and vineyards. There’s a prevailing sense of quiet, calm and relaxation as soon as you enter,” Linda Zelisko, Travel Experts, says.
Best Dining Experience: La Terrazza – Hotel Eden Rome, Rome, Italy
Buon Appetito: “Have you ever eaten pasta surrounded by vapored dry ice? It is simply the most innovative dish I have ever seen," Jonathan Phillips, Camelback Odyssey Travel, says.
Best Bar: Bar Hemingway – Ritz Paris, Paris, France
Time Travel: “Walking into Bar Hemingway is like stepping back in time. Head bartender Colin Field is a book of stories. You can sit back, listen and just imagine,” Liora Manilof, Forest Travel Agency, says.
Best Family Program: The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Naples, Florida, U.S.
Educational Experiences: “They have great options for families to visit local museums, bird sanctuaries, and a special program with a local artisan who leads their glass blowing classes. They really go out of their way to make the experiences as engaging as possible for the kids,” Nick Cutrone, Vista Travel Consultants, says.
Best Wellness Program: Canyon Ranch, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
Healthy Inspiration: “The combination of four areas - physical, emotional, spiritual, and medical - is very unique in the wellness community. Most spas will cover a couple of the areas. Canyon Ranch can do it all. It has a wider range of options for the consumer than any other spa and the quality is outstanding!” Peggy Purtell, Travel Experts, says.
Best Virtuoso Experience: Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
A Singular Stay: “From the moment you arrive in the Sanctuary Lounge and make a wish by throwing a little stone in the cenote, you know you are in a special place. Everything in the hotel is an experience so that makes it unique,” Areli Guzman, Viajes Terranova, says.
Best Virtuoso Newcomer: Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, New York, New York, U.S
Dramatic Entry: “The large wrought iron front doors give a luxurious first impression. But the standout feature is the beautiful spiral staircase and long hanging cascading sculpture on the ground level,” Sylvia Betesh Lebovitch, Ovation Vacations, says.
Sustainable Tourism Leadership: Cavallo Point – the Lodge at Golden Gate, Sausalito, California, U.S.
Nature by the Bay: “Sustainable tourism can sometimes lead to unexpected opportunities. It’s a tale of tourism helping transform swords into plowshares,” Costas Christ, global strategist, sustainability, Virtuoso, says of the military base-turned-urban eco-resort.
Best Virtuoso Hotel Ambassador: Kees Hogetoorn – Grand Hotel Amsterdam, an Accor Hotel
Host with a Heart: “I knew nothing about his hotel prior to meeting Kees and he truly allowed the property to come to life. His passion and enthusiasm is unmatched," Jessica Renshaw, Renshaw Travel, says.
Hotelier of the Year: Susanne Hatje – Mandarin Oriental, New York, New York, New York, U.S.
Goes the Extra Mile: “There is a peace of mind when I send clients her way because I know they will be taken care of by her amazing team that lead by her example. She makes every client stay memorable. She has an incredible vibrant and energetic personality, always engaging with guests,” Miriam Omphroy, Forest Travel Agency, says.