High-end travelers are using experienced advisors now more than ever. Considering how unpredictable exotic travel is in remote areas, they are turning to experts to vet the very best hotels and properties. The global luxury travel network Virtuoso has a huge group of experts and advisors, and they have revealed their nominations for its 2019 Best of the Best awards to be announced at their 31st annual Travel Week conference. The awards will take place August 14, 2019, at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and will honor the best properties in the world. I will update the winners live.
Virtuoso surveyed its hundreds of travel agencies and luxury travel advisors from around the world who will ultimately select the winners in each of the categories, ranging from the most innovative experience to best achievement in design. I have been fortunate to visit many of the nominated properties including a few where I was given exclusive access before the property has opened to the public. Here are my favorites among the nominees.
HOTEL OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:
-Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris
-Hotel Sacher Wien, Vienna
-The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel, Edinburgh
-The Lowell, New York
-Waldorf Astoria, Amsterdam
MY FAVORITE: Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris
Built in 1928, the 244-room hotel including 11 extravagant suites are filled with Louis XV style, and offers up the 3 Michelin-starred Le Cinq restaurant. With many oversized suites offering up balcony views of the Eiffel Tower, the hotel also features a decadent new spa and a legendary wine cellar.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN DESIGN NOMINEES:
-Belmond Cap Juluca, Anguilla
-Cheval Blanc, St. Tropez
-Raffles Europejski, Warsaw
-Rosewood, Hong Kong
MY FAVORITE: Cheval Blanc in St. Tropez
I recently was among the first to stay at this amazing new property in the French Riviera, and can safely say it is in my top ten hotels of all time. You can read about my spectacular experience here.
BEST DINING EXPERIENCE NOMINEES:
-Doot Doot Doot, Jackalope Hotel, Australia
-Francis Mallman at Chateau La Coste, Villa La Coste, France
-Kerridge’s Bar and Grill, Corinthia Hotel, London
-Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer, Hotel Adlon Kempinski, Berlin
-Restaurant Le Gabriel, La Reserve Paris Hotel and Spa, France
MY FAVORITE: Restaurant Le Gabriel, La Reserve Paris Hotel and Spa, France
Dining at this new 2 Michelin star restaurant is an adventure unto itself with its Napolean III style interior helmed by the brilliant Thomas Fefin with Executive Chef Jerome Banctel. Classics of French cuisine are served including the memorable Vendée pigeon with cacao and crunchy buckwheat.
BEST BAR NOMINEES:
-Le Bar Long, Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Hotel, Paris
-Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar, Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, Florida
-The Chapel Bar, The Jaffa, Tel Aviv
-The Flying Stag, The Fife Arms, England
-Z Bar, Peninsula Hotel, Chicago
MY FAVORITE: Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar, Florida
I was the first writer to visit this amazing property and was so excited to see my dear friend Antonio Sersale and his new U.S. launch of the famed Le Sirenuse Bar in Positano. This is among one of the very best bars in the world and you can read my detailed report about the property here.
BEST FAMILY PROGRAM NOMINEES:
-Grand Velas, Riviera Maya
-Half Moon, Jamaica
-One & Only Capetown, South Africa
-Rome Cavalieri, Rome
MY FAVORITE: Gleneagles, Scotland.
With 850 acres of stunning countryside, there are so many family programs to choose from that children will be totally content. The resort has coaches and specialists to provide children with personalized training. Activities range from owning a pony for the day, falconry classes, driving min Land Rovers, Training gundogs, racing ferrets, or riding Segways around the estate.
BEST SPA WELLNESS PROGRAM NOMINEES:
-Anantara Quy Nhon Villas, Vietnam
-Lefay Resort & Spa Lago di Garda, Italy
-Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa, Arizona
-SHA Wellness Clinic, Spain
-The Oberoi Sukhvilas Resort & Spa, India
MY FAVORITE: Anantara Quy Nhon Villas, Vietnam
The resort features amazing spa treatments within three stunning cliffside pavilions including a massage pavilion overlooking the ocean.
BEST SUSTAINABLE TOURISM
-Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, Wolgan Valley, Australia
-Soneva Fushi, Maldives
-Vermejo, A Ted Turner Reserve, New Mexico
-Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives
-Londolozi Game Reserve, Sabi Sabi, South Africa
MY FAVORITE: Soneva Fushi, Maldives
This resort is supported by the owners Soneva Foundation using impact-investing principles, seeking to recover outlays through carbon finance, which in turn will be fed back into projects to help extend the reach and benefits to more families.
They work at a community level to bring tangible change to people’s lives while simultaneously working with global leaders to shape policy. From teaching Maldivian children to swim to helping provide safe drinking water to 750,000 people around the world. They have provided 230,000 people in Darfur and Myanmar with fuel-efficient stoves that reduce deforestation and deathly indoor air pollution. The cook stoves supplied by the Soneva Foundation reduce wood consumption by 50%, air pollution by 80% and CO2 emissions by 60%. And finally they have planted over 500,000 trees in Thailand, creating over 300 acres of rich biodiverse forest.
BEST NEWCOMER NOMINEES:
-Capella Ubud, Bali
-Heckfield Place, England
-Hotel Lutetia, Paris
-Montage Los Cabos, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
-Six Senses Duxton, Singapore
MY FAVORITE: Montage Los Cabos
Montage Los Cabos features 122 beautiful rooms, suites and large Casa’s all created with the focus on indoor and outdoor living. I was lucky to be the first journalist to take a tour of the property and have stayed there as a guest once it opened, and I can tell you first hand this is one of the most luxurious offerings in all of Mexico. My favorite is the stunning beachfront Presidential suite and the enormous spa. Check out my full detailed report on the property here.
HOTELIER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:
-Amanda Hyndman, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London
-Anthony Costa, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai
-Ivan Artolli, Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo, Monaco
-Marcus Bauder, Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo
-Nathalie Seiler-Hayez, Beau-Rivage Palace, Switzerland
MY FAVORITE: Ivan Artolli, Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo, Monaco
With a recent overall renovation as well as the launch of the new Prince Rainier suite, I was lucky to have visited the property and to have taken an exclusive hard hat tour during construction. Overseeing such a massive project while working hard to retain its original historical charm, Italian born hotelier Ivan Artolli has created magic. Artolli spent his entire working career in the hotel industry including prestigious hotels like Hotel Ritz (Paris), Claridge’s (London), Beach Plaza (Monaco), Plaza Athénée (Paris), Savoy (Florence), Grand Hotel (Milan), Hotel Amigo (Brussels). In July 2016, Ivan Artolli was appointed to the position of general manager of the Hotel de Paris, after 17 years working for Rocco Forte Hotels.