TOP RESORTS WORLDWIDE
From all of the luxury resorts around the world, Travel Weekly readers chose just six as finalists in the Top Resorts category.
Paradise Island, Bahamas
Atlantis, Paradise Island, an ocean-themed destination resort built around a 100-acre waterscape, offers more than 35 restaurants, bars and lounges, the largest casino in the Bahamas, meetings facilities and a marina. Activities include the Aquaventure water experience. The main resort features three interconnected towers: the Royal Towers, the Coral Towers and the Beach Towers, totaling 2,300 guestrooms and suites. The Cove Atlantis is separate from the main building and features adult and family pools and two beaches. The Reef Atlantis offers kitchens and balconies.
Maundays Bay, Anguilla
Cap Juluca, an 80-unit, 18-villa, Moorish-style resort on a beachfront stretch of Maundays Bay, underwent a $22 million renovation this year. Still to come is the remainder of an $80 million renovation and expansion project. The resort was purchased in August by Apollo Management. The new owner's plans call for a multi-acre swimming pool and a limited number of residential villas. Other changes will include an upgrade of guestrooms, villas and the property's five restaurants; the development of nearby Cove Bay Beach; and the use of solar and wind power.
St. Regis Bora BoraBora Bora, French Polynesia
This Starwood resort features over-water and beach villas. Each over-water villa has a terrace and a gazebo, and some have a Jacuzzi and/or a private pool. Two Royal Beach villas have infinity pools, and the Royal Estate features three pavilions, three bedrooms, two living rooms, a chef's kitchen, a dining room, a spa, a sauna, a Jacuzzi, a pool, gardens and a beach. St. Regis Bora Bora boasts a spa on a private island, a restaurant and a children's activity center.
Hayman Island Resort
Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia
Hayman, a private-island destination, is situated near the Great Barrier Reef, surrounded by coral-fringed beaches and the Coral Sea. Hayman Island Resort has 212 guestrooms, suites and penthouses plus a villa with balconies and terraces. Restaurants, guest-service areas, marine facilities and operational plant blend with the natural surroundings. Its spa facility, Spa Chakra Hayman, is part of the spa network created by Spa Chakra and Guerlain Paris. Hayman also offers bars, a lounge, an outdoor island setting for dining and a Kids Club.
Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & SpaWailea, Maui
Grand Wailea, one of Hilton's Waldorf-Astoria Collection properties, fronts Wailea Beach. The resort has 780 guestrooms, including 52 suites. For accommodations with concierge services, the resort offers 100 rooms in the Napua Tower. Adjacent to the resort is the Hoolei at Grand Wailea, a complex of vacation-rental townhomes. Among the resort's facilities is Spa Grande; Camp Grande for children; golf courses; and tennis courts. Among the dining options is Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, a floating seafood restaurant named after Hawaii's state fish.
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
The Big Island, Hawaii
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai sits on the North Kona coast of Hawaii's Big Island. Its 243 expansive, bungalow-style guestrooms, including 31 suites, feature private, furnished lanais and ocean views. Some of the lower-level guestrooms and suites also offer outdoor gardens and lava-rock showers. The resort's oceanfront restaurant, Pahuia, seats 184 guests and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The resort also offers the Hualalai Sports Club and Spa for indoor and outdoor spa treatments and fitness options with the latest in workout equipment.
AccorNominated: Europe, South Pacific
Accor, Europe's largest hotel company, operates under the Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, MGallery, Mercure, Suitehotel, Ibis, All Seasons, Etap Hotel, Formule 1 and Motel 6 brands, representing 4,000 hotels in 90 countries. This year, Accor relaunched Sofitel as an international brand by opening hotels in Luxembourg, London and Macau. In March, Accor brought its Pullman brand into China and plans to open four more Pullman hotels in China by 2010. By the end of 2008, the Pullman network will consist of 56 hotels in 23 countries in Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and South America. Accor also plans to open 200 more Motel 6 properties in the U.S. and Canada by 2010. Meanwhile, the recently launched A Club loyalty program and the extension of partnerships with Expedia and other companies are expected to boost top-line growth.
Best WesternNominated: Midprice, Limited ServiceBest Western International lists 4,000 independently owned and operated hotels in 80 countries and territories, including the new Best Western Premier label in Europe, Asia and, soon, Africa. Best Western Premier has chosen the new Saidia beach resort in Morocco as the location for its first Premier hotel in the Middle East and Africa region. The resort, the Best Western Premier Le Jardin de Fleur, is scheduled to open in 2009. Best Western also forged a deal with Zainal Mohebi Group of the United Arab Emirates to brand and manage Middle East development. In addition, Best Western hopes to add 175 hotels to its North American portfolio every year. The company also developed Atrea, an upper-upscale product. Three Atrea properties are under construction. The 100-room Atrea being built in San Antonio is expected to open in January.
Comfort InnNominated: Midprice
Comfort Inn, the flagship brand of Choice Hotels, has more than 1,400 operating hotels in the U.S. and 160 under development. Worldwide, there are 1,925 Comfort Inn hotels. Comfort Inn hotels participate in the Choice Privileges rewards program.
Comfort Inn & SuitesNominated: Limited ServiceComfort Inn & Suites has more than 425 locations worldwide. Most Comfort Suites hotels offer an exercise room and/or a swimming pool. Some amenities and programs may vary and are available at U.S. locations.
Courtyard By MarriottNominated: Limited Service
Courtyard by Marriott unveiled a new lobby this year. A signature element is the Courtyard GoBoard, a 52-inch touch screen packed with information guests can use. Guests also can connect to free WiFi and outlets to power digital devices. A number of lobbies have been renovated in the U.S. this year, and another 100 should be completed in 2009.
Fairmont Hotels & ResortsNominated: Luxury
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, a brand of Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, operates 56 hotels globally, among them the Fairmont Scottsdale in Arizona, a 2008 Travel Weekly Readers' Choice nominee in the category of Best Spa Hotel or Resort. Fairmont is a collection of luxury hotels, which includes landmarks like the Fairmont Singapore, Fairmont Le Montreux Palace in Switzerland and New York's Plaza. It has resorts in Barbados, Bermuda, Germany, Kenya, Mexico, Monaco, Switzerland, the U.A.E. and the U.K. and projects under development in Beijing, Kunshan, Macau's Cotai Strip and Sanya, in China, and in Manila, Philippines. Moreover, Fairmont will spend $62 million over the next two years refurbishing five inns in Kenya and expanding one on the island of Zanzibar. The company also will spend $15 million upgrading its flagship Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, and $35 million at its other outlets in Kenya.
Fiesta Americana Hotels & ResortsNominated: Mexico
One of nine hotel brands operated in Mexico by the Grupo Posadas hotel company, Fiesta Americana offers a collection of hotels, resorts and villas in prime beach and city locations. Its two all-inclusive properties are the five-star Fiesta Americana Cozumel Dive Resort and the three-star Explorean Kohunlich, located in a jungle setting in Tulum. Other Fiesta Americana hotel locations include Acapulco, Cancun, Guadalajara, Los Cabos, Merida, Mexico City, Monterrey and Puebla.
Four Seasons Hotels And ResortsNominated: Domestic, Europe, Luxury, South Pacific
Four Seasons Hotels is a Canadian-based luxury hotel chain consisting of AAA five-diamond hotels and resorts. In October, the company opened the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita, its first property in Mauritius and the 81st property in its portfolio. Four Seasons Hotels operates an exclusive residential program called the Residence Club that involves the sale of villas, penthouses and timeshares within five select Four Seasons properties as private properties with rental opportunities. For 2007, Travel Weekly readers voted Four Seasons the Best in the South Pacific.
Hampton InnNominated: Midprice, Limited ServiceThere are more than 1,500 Hampton Inn locations throughout the U.S., Canada and Latin America. Amenities include free breakfast daily and free high-speed Internet access in guestrooms, lobbies and meetings rooms. Hampton locations that are near airports offer free shuttle service to and from the airport. All locations offer either an on-site exercise room or complimentary passes to a local facility. Hampton Inn is a member of the Hilton family of hotels. Guests can earn Hilton HHonors hotel points and airline miles for their stay. In 2007, Hampton Inn was voted best hotel in the economy class by Travel Weekly readers for the third consecutive year.
Hilton WorldwideNominated: Asia, Caribbean, Domestic, Europe, Sales & Service, South Pacific, Upscale
Hilton's franchise brands span the lodging segments from luxurious, full-service hotels and resorts to extended-stay suites and midprice hotels. Its brands are Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton and the Waldorf-Astoria Collection. Hilton Hotels Corp. has 42 properties in the pipeline for the Caribbean and Latin America and has expansion plans that will quadruple its presence there over the next five years, bringing its presence in the region to more than 200 properties. This news underscores the company's stated goal to add 1,000 hotels to its international portfolio in 10 years.
Holiday InnNominated: MidpriceInterContinental Hotels Group, parent of Holiday Inn, relaunched its Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express chains in 2007 and road-tested the changes throughout 2008. Holiday Inn properties total 1,371 globally with 376 in the pipeline, 266 earmarked for the Americas. The breakdown worldwide is 952 existing hotels in the Americas; 324 in Africa, Europe and the Middle East; and 95 in Asia-Pacific. Holiday Inn is one of the largest hotel brands in China.
Holiday Inn ExpressNominated: Limited ServiceHoliday Inn Express (Express by Hoiday Inn in some parts of the world) is one of the fastest-growing hotel brands in its segment. All hotels are limited service and feature complimentary breakfast and Priority Club Rewards benefits. Holiday Inn Express has 1,852 hotels globally and 745 in the pipeline. The majority of the hotels, 1,641, are located in the Americas. Europe, the Middle East and Africa account for 198 and Asia-Pacific for 13.
Hotel IndigoNominated: BoutiqueHotel Indigo, a brand of InterContinental Hotel Group, is expanding quickly across the globe, with 19 locations open and more than 60 in the pipeline. Its global growth is credited to the Interpret Indigo design concept, which drives the brand's ability to offer a distinct product design from location to location. As a result, no two Hotel Indigo properties look alike. Hotel Indigo opened its first hotel in Atlanta in 2004. This year, plans are to move into key Asia-Pacific cities, including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo. Hotel Indigo participates in IHG's Priority Club Rewards.
Hyatt Hotels & ResortsNominated: Domestic, Caribbean, Sales & Service, UpscaleHyatt operates more than 200 hotels, resorts and vacation club properties around the world. Specializing in full-service hotels with meetings facilities and services for the business traveler, its hotels are found in major and secondary cities, airport locations and resort areas. Last year, Hyatt launched the first hotel in its luxury boutique chain in East London, the Andaz brand. Positioned "above a W and below a Four Seasons," according to a Hyatt executive, it will make its U.S. debut when the Andaz West Hollywood opens in January on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip. Subsequent property openings include Andaz Wall Street (February) and Andaz Fifth Avenue (December), both in New York, and Andaz Austin in Texas (2010).
Iberostar Hotels & ResortsNominated: All-Inclusive, MexicoIberostar Hotels & Resorts, the hotel division of Grupo Iberostar, is one of the best-known hotel chains in the world with more than 90 properties in locations with the greatest demand for tourism. In 2007, the Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso opened in the Playa Paraiso complex on the Riviera Maya in Mexico, becoming the first in the Spanish all-inclusive resort chain's series of Grand Hotel-branded properties. Opening in December is the Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The Grand Collection includes the Grand Amazon cruise ship that offers luxury cruises on the Amazon River. Iberostar has three resorts in Brazil and will open a fourth in October. The opening of two Jamaica properties this fall brings to 16 the number of resorts in its Caribbean and Mexico portfolios. Iberostar has eight properties in Mexico, five in the Dominican Republic and one in Jamaica and plans to plant its flag in Puerto Vallarta by 2011. Opening in October was the Iberostar Suites Rose Hall, followed by the Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall in December, both in Jamaica's Montego Bay area and adjacent to the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach.
InterContinental Hotels GroupNominated: Asia, Europe, Luxury, Sales & Service, South PacificInterContinental Hotels Group owns, manages, leases or franchises more than 4,000 hotels in 100 countries. IHG has a portfolio of brands, including InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites and Hotel Indigo. Extending its leadership position in China, IHG signed a deal with Shimao Group to open six new hotels under three brands in four cities by 2013. This partnership sees the world's largest hotel group (by number of rooms) and one of China's leading real estate developers add a total of 2,100 guestrooms to IHG's Greater China pipeline, which is already the largest in China. The hotels will carry the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts brands. In October, IHG announced that it will introduce the Hotel Indigo brand to the Asia-Pacific region. Some of the brands within the IHG portfolio have opened or are set to appear in locations such as Bangalore, India; Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam; Maldives; Mauritius; and Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia. However, with 1,800 new openings in the pipeline, IHG said recently that it may delay some of its openings up to three months because of the downturn in the global economy.
Karisma Hotels & ResortNominated: All-Inclusive, Boutique
Karisma Hotels & Resorts is a collection of what the company calls "gourmet inclusive" resorts strung along the beaches of the Riviera Maya. The collection features El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels and Azul Hotels. The company was in a growth mode this year, with the planned openings of its second and third Azul-branded properties. (The first Azul property, the Azul Beach Hotel by Karisma, opened in 2005.) Azul is positioned as a family-friendly alternative to Karisma's adults-only El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels brand. The Azul and El Dorado brands share some common elements, including Karisma's Gourmet Inclusive dining and amenities concept. The new Azul Sensatori Hotel began taking reservations in November. The Riviera Maya hotel is the result of an alliance between Karisma and German travel company TUI AG. Azul Fives by Karisma is slated to open in December in Playa del Carmen.
Kimpton HotelsNominated: BoutiqueKimpton is the largest boutique hotelier with 42 hotels throughout the U.S. and Canada. Among the company's newest properties are the Hotel Monaco Alexandria and Jackson 20 restaurant in Virginia, which opened in January 2008, and the Hotel Palomar Los Angeles in Westwood and the adjacent BLVD 16 restaurant. Additional projects are under way in Alexandria, Va.; Atlanta, Baltimore, Miami and New York. Kimpton has been recognized as a hospitality industry leader in ecological practices through its EarthCare programs. In 2008, Kimpton became the only company where all hotels were members of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association; all hotels are approved by TAG, a directory of gay-friendly hotels and resorts.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel GroupNominated: Asia
Mandarin Oriental is the award-winning owner and operator of some of the world's most prestigious hotels and resorts. It now operates or has under development 40 hotels representing 10,000 rooms in 24 countries, with 16 hotels in Asia, 14 in the Americas and 10 in Europe and North Africa. The luxurious Mandarin Oriental, Boston opened its doors on Oct. 6, bringing the Asian-based hotel group's distinct "East Meets West" design to the city. Mandarin Oriental was Travel Weekly's Readers' Choice Award winner for Best in Asia in 2006 and 2007.
Marriott InternationalNominated: Asia, Domestic, Europe, Sales & Service, Upscale
Marriott International manages and franchises more than 3,000 lodging properties across 19 brands in 67 countries and territories. Marriott's operations outside the U.S. and Canada have grown in the past decade from fewer than 240 hotels to about 420 hotels. Marriott said it will nearly triple its lodging presence in Mexico over the next five years by adding 29 branded Marriott hotels. Marriott also signed new development agreements that will add to the company's pipeline of hotels planned or under construction outside of North America. In the Middle East, the company expects to expand its portfolio of properties from 26 to 65 through 2011. With the signings involving nine properties, Marriott's Middle East hotel pipeline stands at 39. In Asia, Marriott expects to open 25 hotels by the end of 2009, with another 50 due in the following three years. Marriott International took Travel Weekly Readers' Choice awards for Best Domestic hotels and Best in Sales & Service for the past three years, while its flagship brand, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, was named Best Midscale Chain, also for the past three years.
Palace ResortsNominated: Mexico, All-InclusivePalace Resorts has 10 all-inclusive properties in Mexican destinations Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Nuevo Vallarta and the Riviera Maya and one in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, which is slated to open in January as the company's first resort outside of Mexico. When completed, Moon Palace Casino, Golf & Spa Resort will be the largest resort in Punta Cana with 1,791 rooms. Palace Resorts opened the newest golf course in the Cancun and Riviera Maya region this fall. Riviera Cancun Golf & Resorts, located at the Cancun Hotel Zone, is home to a Jack Nicklaus Signature course. For 2009, Palace Resorts will add a concierge level to its properties; Xpu-Ha Palace will become pet-friendly; and nine resorts will work toward receiving a green designation by the end of the year. Xpu-Ha Palace is the first Palace hotel to hold the Certificate for Environmental Quality Tourism from Mexico's Environmental Protection Agency. Palace Resorts was voted Best in Mexico for the last three years in Travel Weekly's Readers' Choice Awards.
Peninsula HotelsNominated: AsiaThe Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, owner of the Peninsula brand, and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. plan to develop a Peninsula hotel in Paris. Qatari Diar, the investment arm of the Qatar government, owns the building that will be transformed into a luxury hotel by mid-2012. The property is on Avenue Kleber, one of the 12 avenues leading out from the Arc de Triomphe. The Peninsula Hotels brand operates eight luxury hotels in Bangkok; Beijing; Beverly Hills, Calif.; Chicago; Hong Kong; Manila, Philippines; New York; and Tokyo. Construction began in 2006 on the Peninsula Shanghai; the hotel is slated to open in 2009.
Ramada InnNominated: MidpriceRamada Worldwide, a member of the Wyndham Hotel Group family of lodging brands, had more than 860 properties in its portfolio by midyear. In August, Wyndham announced an exclusive agreement with a South Korean company to develop 20 Ramada Encore hotels in that country during the next six years, nearly tripling the brand's presence there. In the same month, Wyndham signed an agreement to open nine hotels in Japan during the next five years under the Ramada and Days Inn brands. In October, Ramada opened its largest hotel, a 998-room property in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The hotel is the Ramada brand's second property in Mecca and its 11th in Saudi Arabia. The Ramada brand continues to grow in China with the addition of the Ramada Changzhou hotel. The property is scheduled to open in December.
Relais & ChateauxNominated: Boutique
Relais & Chateaux is a collection of 475 hotels and restaurants in 55 countries. Established in France in 1954, the main markets of the association are still France, Germany, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S. The latest Business Survey of the Relais & Chateaux Association reveals that 13% of the sales revenues of its members are generated directly by membership in Relais & Chateaux. Accommodations and restaurants account for most of the revenues, although the survey shows spa activities have enjoyed significant growth.
Ritz-Carlton Hotels & ResortsNominated: Caribbean, Domestic, Luxury, Sales & Service
Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts, an independently operated, luxury division of Marriott International, operates 68 Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts locations worldwide, 36 in the U.S. and 32 internationally. There are three Ritz-Carltons in China, and six more are slated to open there by 2010. Plans call for further expansion in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. In 2007, Ritz-Carlton hotels were voted the most luxurious hotels in the world by the readers of Travel Weekly.
Riu Hotels & ResortsNominated: All-Inclusives, Caribbean, Mexico
This family-owned and -operated Spanish company has more than 110 hotels in 18 countries, with properties in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, Florida and Mexico, where it has the most beds. Riu operates four categories of hotels: classic, club, palace and grand palace. One of the newest properties is the Riu Santa Fe in the southern end of Mexico's Baja peninsula, three miles from Cabo San Lucas. With 902 rooms, it is the chain's largest resort and its 13th Mexican property. Riu Hotels & Resorts has agreements with top tour operators, particularly with Germany's TUI, Europe's largest tour operator and a partner in Riu since 1976.
Sandals ResortsNominated: All-Inclusive, CaribbeanSandals Resorts is a diverse collection of all-inclusive resorts in beachfront locations in Antigua, the Bahamas, Jamaica and St. Lucia. Sandals Resorts operates 12 Sandals, four Beaches, two Royal Plantation and two Grand Pineapple resorts. Sandals has invested more than $250 million in the past two years to renovate existing product, including the conversion of more than 50% of room inventory to suites, and it invested another $200 million on newbuilds, including the Mediterranean Village addition that opened at Sandals Antigua in 2007; the Italian Village, due to debut at Beaches Turks & Caicos on Jan. 20; the four Millionaire Suites that debuted this year at Sandals Regency La Toc in St. Lucia; and the Zen Gardens Spa, which opened earlier this year at Sandals Cay off of Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau. Sandals expanded its family market to include family reunions at its Beaches resorts, ramped up its watersports fleet with environmentally friendly outboard engines, switched to a new class of dive boats, added scuba certification for kids, launched a Teen and Tweens program and expanded its program of off-site supervised excursions for kids. In 2007, Travel Weekly readers voted Sandals Best in the Caribbean for the fifth year in a row and Best All-Inclusive for the second straight year.
Secrets Resorts & SpasNominated: All-Inclusive, MexicoSecrets Resorts & Spas, a member of the AMResorts portfolio, is an adults-only brand on a growth path. It recently celebrated the opening of its second and third properties in Mexico's Riviera Maya region: Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun and Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, joining the existing Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun. Opening in Jamaica in 2009 will be the Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay and Secrets St. James Montego Bay. In the Dominican Republic, Secrets La Romana Resort & Spa will debut in 2009 and Secrets Punta Cana Resort & Spa in 2010.
Shangri-La Hotels & ResortsNominated: AsiaShangri-La Hotels & Resorts is the largest Asian-based deluxe hotel group in the region. The hotel management company's chain is composed of 56 hotels and resorts in key cities in Asia and the Middle East. Nine of these are Traders Hotels, a sister brand that provides midrange accommodations to the business traveler. New properties are under development in Europe and North America. Nine Shangri-La hotels and resorts offer CHI, the Spa at Shangri-La.
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts is Starwood's largest brand serving the needs of business and leisure travelers worldwide. From full-service hotels in major cities to luxurious resorts by the water, Sheraton can be found in the most sought-after cities and resort destinations around the world. Starwood recently announced it is spearheading a $4 billion renovation program of its Sheraton hotels.
Sol MeliaNominated: Caribbean, MexicoSpanish hotel chain Sol Melia plans to add 80 hotels with 19,700 rooms to its inventory by 2010. The hotel company currently has 85,000 guestrooms in 350 hotels in 30 countries. Sol Melia operates six brands: Melia, ME by Melia, Tryp Hotels, Sol Melia, Paradisus Resorts and Sol Melia Vacation Club. Sol Melia allocated $1.67 billion for investments in land, construction, hotels and chains through 2010 and an additional $182 million for a communications and advertising campaign to increase brand awareness. Sol Melia is the third-largest hotel chain in Europe and the 12th-largest in the world.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts WorldwideNominated: Domestic, Europe, Sales & Service, South PacificThrough its brands, Starwood is represented in most major markets around the world. Its operations are grouped into two business segments: hotels and vacation ownership/residential operations. Its earnings are derived mainly from hotel operations, which are primarily in the luxury and upscale segment. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide boasts 900 owned and managed properties in more than 100 countries. Its portfolio includes the following brands: St. Regis, the Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, W, Le Meridien, Aloft and Element. In November, Starwood opened the Aloft Beijing, Haidian, the brand's first property in the Asia-Pacific region and the first Aloft hotel to open outside of North America. Also in November, Starwood announced plans to open three hotels in Saudi Arabia, including one Aloft property. The addition of these three properties increases Starwood's portfolio to 13 hotels in Saudi Arabia. Starwood expects to double its portfolio in the Europe, Africa and Middle East region to 500 properties by 2013. In 2007, Starwood was voted Best in Europe by Travel Weekly readers for the second consecutive year.
St. Regis Hotels & ResortsNominated: LuxurySt. Regis Hotels & Resorts was founded by John Jacob Astor with the landmark St. Regis Hotel, New York over a century ago and today includes some of the most celebrated properties in the world. The company, a Starwood brand, broke ground this year on the St. Regis Bal Harbour in Bal Harbour, Fla. By 2014, the company expects to open 22 new properties in the Americas, Asia Europe and the Middle East.
W Hotels WorldwideNominated: BoutiqueW Hotels is a global luxury brand in the Starwood portfolio. It numbers 24 properties featuring fine restaurants and trendy bars and lounges. W Hotels properties have been announced in 12 destinations in the Americas, six in Europe, six in Asia, three in the Middle East and one in Africa. A W Hotel planned for Verbier, Switzerland, will become its first ski retreat.
Westin Hotels & ResortsNominated: UpscaleWestin Hotels & Resorts, a brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, operates more than 160 hotels, including 30 resorts, around the world. More than 50 Westin properties are in the global pipeline. Starwood recently expanded the brand in China with the opening of the Westin Beijing Chaoyang. Eight more Westin hotels are on tap for China. Also opened this year was the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina in Dubai, as well as a number of Westin hotels in the U.S. Westin is known for introducing the hotel industry's first global in-room spa program, breaking ground in the industry with its Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Bath and launching a multimillion-dollar retail program featuring these products.
Wyndham HotelsNominated: UpscaleWyndham Hotel Group, one of the world's largest hospitality companies, acquired the Microtel Inns & Suites and Hawthorn Suites hotel brands from Global Hyatt Corp. in June, expanding the Wyndham Hotel Group system to 12 brands. The company now encompasses nearly 7,000 hotels in 65 countries on six continents under the brands AmeriHost Inn, Baymont Inn & Suites, Days Inn, Hawthorn Suites, Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, Microtel Inns and Suites, Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, Wingate by Wyndham and Wyndham Travelodge. Wyndham Hotel Group is also the largest U.S.-based hotel franchising company in China, based on the number of hotels, with more than 140 properties open and under development under the Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Super 8 and Wyndham brand names. Wyndham Hotel Group recently introduced the Wyndham Grand Collection, an ensemble of luxury hotels within the brand. Wyndham also is hoping to expand its Wyndham and Wingate brands in the U.S., while pushing for international growth of its Howard Johnson, Ramada, Super 8 and Travelodge brands.
BEST CASINO HOTEL
Bellagio, a subsidiary of MGM Mirage, was the first Las Vegas hotel-casino to be awarded the AAA Five Diamond Award, an honor it has held for seven consecutive years. It is also the only hotel in the country with two AAA Five Diamond restaurants for five consecutive years (Picasso and Le Cirque). Bellagio has more than 100,000 square feet of gaming area; 3,933 guestrooms, including 512 suites; five outdoor pools, four whirlpools and 52 private cabanas; two wedding chapels; and more than 200,000 square feet of meetings and convention space.
Caesars Palace Las Vegas offers more than 129,000 square feet of casino space. The resort sits on 85 acres at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip and features 26 restaurants and cafes; the Garden of the Gods pools and gardens; and the spa, Qua. Its 4,100-seat Colosseum spotlights famous entertainers and is steps away from the Forum Shops. Caesars recently topped off the $1 billion, 665-room Octavius Tower, which is slated to open next summer. The 665-room tower will give Caesars more than 4,000 hotel rooms overall and 300,000 square feet of convention space.
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
Mandalay Bay, a subsidiary of MGM Mirage, is a AAA Four Diamond Award winner for the last eight consecutive years. It has more than 135,000 square feet of gaming area. The hotel offers 3,211 rooms, including 436 suites. Four Seasons Hotel manages an additional 424 rooms in Mandalay Bay's main hotel tower, and a separate, all-suite tower, THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, offers another 1,117 suites. Mandalay Bay has two spas, three wedding chapels and a convention center that is the fifth largest in the country. Mandalay Bay Beach features a wave pool, a lazy river and beachside gaming. Moorea Beach Club caters to guests age 21 and older and offers an upscale pool experience for adults.
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
MGM Grand, another MGM Mirage subsidiary, has been a AAA Four Diamond Award winner for the last two years. The hotel has more than 170,000 square feet of gaming area. Encompassing four 30-story towers, the MGM Grand has 5,044 guestrooms, including 751 suites. Skylofts at MGM Grand features 51 two-story lofts located on the top two floors. Skylofts won AAA's Five Diamond Award in 2007 and 2008. Located within the Mansion at MGM Grand are 29 private villas. Rounding out the accommodations is the Signature at MGM Grand, a nongaming complex of three distinct towers, each with 576 suites. The resort's Grand Pool complex features five separate pools and whirlpools plus a lazy river. The Wet Republic, a 53,000-square-foot venue for age 21 and older, opened in April. Las Vegas' first ultra-pool, it combines a nightlife vibe with luxury service and amenities.The Wet Republic features private bungalows; cabanas; two large, saltwater pools; cocktail service; menu options; and poolside treatments.
The nearly 10-year-old Venetian Las Vegas Resort-Hotel-Casino and its Venezia Tower, which opened in 2003, include more than 4,000 suites. More than 3,000 of the original hotel's all-suite rooms were renovated recently at a cost of $100 million. The Venetian, a repeated recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award, this year received AAA's Five Diamond Award. The Venetian features the Grand Canal Shoppes, the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, world-class gaming, fine restaurants, the Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum and a variety of entertainment venues as well as convention and corporate services. The casino offers more than 139 games plus a high-limit salon, which includes 20 table games, including baccarat. When the Venetian Poker Room opened in 2006 at nearly 11,000 square feet, it became the largest poker room in square footage on the Strip.
The Wynn Las Vegas boasts 2,716 rooms and suites on 217 acres along the Las Vegas Strip. From the main level, guests ascend a 50-story hotel tower with views of either the Strip; the resort's Tom Fazio-designed, 18-hole golf course; a lake; or a mountain. The luxurious Tower Suites, which operate as a boutique hotel within the Wynn Las Vegas, is the first in Las Vegas to earn Mobil Travel Guide's highest rating of five stars. The hotel's second tower, the $2.7 billion Encore Tower, is expected to open this month adjacent to the Wynn. The resort's 110,000-square-foot casino has more than 1,900 slots, a 26-table poker room and a full array of table games. It also offers blackjack poolside at the Cabana Bar and Casino. Restaurants at the Wynn include offerings from internationally celebrated chefs.
BEST SPA HOTEL OR RESORT
It all began in 1979 with Canyon Ranch's first health resort in the foothills of Tucson. Since then, the Canyon Ranch Spa brand has expanded to resorts from Las Vegas to Massachusetts to Florida, and cruise passengers can find one onboard the Queen Mary 2. At the Canyon Ranch in Tucson, one-story, Southwestern-style accommodations are clustered throughout the grounds. Accommodations include deluxe rooms with queen, king or two double beds plus a patio; executive rooms with a sitting area, an extra vanity and a mini-refrigerator; one-, two-, and three-bedroom master suites with a living room, a dining area, a washer and dryer, kitchen facilities and a patio; and the 2,700-square-foot Casa Grande, which varies in the number of bedrooms and includes a full kitchen, a washer and dryer, a dining area and living space. Casa Grande is equipped with a fax, a computer and a printer.
Fairmont Scottsdale hosts the 44,000-square-foot Willow Stream Spa, a branded product offered at only 10 Fairmont hotels. The spa incorporates the elements of air, water, earth and wood into locally inspired, signature treatments. The AAA Five Diamond resort is one of 56 Fairmont properties around the globe where travelers can discover culturally rich experiences that are authentic to the destination. This year, the 649-room resort opened the $6.7 million Fairmont Gold, a hotel within a hotel, in a secluded enclave on the grounds of the resort. Fairmont Gold encompasses 66 newly renovated guestrooms, three parlor suites and a private lounge. Guests enjoy a private check-in and checkout area, concierge service, complimentary continental breakfast, cocktail hour canapes and an honor bar. The resort has five heated swimming pools and this year added a Bourbon Steak restaurant to its award-winning dining options as well as the new Stone Rose lounge.
White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
The Greenbrier is an award-winning resort whose famous sulphur springs serve as the inspiration behind the hotel spa's nature-based treatments. According to the hotel, the healing powers of natural essences and minerals have been attracting guests to the Greenbrier for more than 226 years. A National Historic landmark, the Greenbrier has hosted distinguished guests from around the world since 1778. The property offers 721 rooms, including 33 suites and 96 guest and estate houses; 10 lobbies; more than 40 meetings rooms; a conference center facility; the spa; and 50 recreational activities, including three championship golf courses and indoor and outdoor tennis courts.
La Costa Resort and Spa
Founded in 1965, La Costa Resort and Spa was America's first full-service destination spa resort. Following a $140 million restoration, La Costa has a new spa plus renovated luxury accommodations, new meetings venues and premier family activities. Accommodations feature 474 guestrooms plus suites with up to two bedrooms. New restaurants include the BlueFire Grill, which serves coastal cuisine inside or outside, and Legends, where the specials are lobster and prime rib. Legends overlooks the golf course.
Created in 1996, Miraval's flagship resort in Tucson has been consistently rated the No. 1 Destination Spa by SpaFinder Magazine, Travel + Leisure, Zagat Survey and Conde Nast Traveler. Miraval offers more than 150 programs and activities, all of which reflect Miraval's core philosophy of living life in the moment. The Tucson property features 118 rooms and suites grouped in six villages on 400 acres set against the backdrop of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The resort also offers full ownership villas.
Scottsdale, Ariz.The Phoenician is a AAA Five Diamond luxury resort located at the base of Camelback Mountain. The resort's spa, the 22,000-square-foot Center for Well-Being, is for adults only; no one under the age of 18 is allowed to use the facility. (For ages 5 to 12 there's the Funicians Kids Club.) The spa offers personalized programs, services and treatments plus fitness classes and workout facilities. The 250-acre resort boasts 581 guestrooms, 66 suites, a 27-hole championship golf course, a clubhouse and pro shop, 12 tennis courts, nine heated pools, a 165-foot water slide and daily activity programs for adults and children. The Phoenician also offers a variety of places to dine, with nine restaurants and lounges. The Phoenician is owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide as part of its Luxury Collection.