If the altitude of Cusco lays you low, El Convento will provide pumped-in oxygen to your room, along with its other amenities. The namesake convent dates to the 1500s and archeological ruins are maintained on property. Décor continues the old-new pairing, with stylish rooms and public areas lined with stone arches, while weavers in the courtyard give demonstrations and must-have textiles are available for purchase.
The ancient lava fields and low-lying scrub of the surrounding area make it feel more like Namibia than Hawaii. But as soon as driver pulls off Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway onto a private lane and the landscape shifts from Martian to tropical – lush with palms, canary-yellow hibiscus and musk ferns – and you inhale the plumeria-infused cold towel, bowing to receive the simple kukui nut lei, you know exactly where you are. Creating this distinct sense of place without employing gimmicky tropes (all too easy to do in a place like Hawaii where a little puka shell goes a long way) is what makes Hualalai stand out on an island of upscale hotels. The Hawaii-ana is restrained – hand-woven palm mats, tropical wallpaper in neutral tones – and the buildings are modelled on classic architecture that really pushes the indoor-outdoor living. The soaring lobby opens onto teak lanais overlooking the secluded stretch of coastline, miles from touristy Kona to the south and the resort village of Waikoloa to the north. Authenticity shines through, too, in the way this place interacts with its environment; for example, rather than clearing the hardened lava from various eruptions, Four Seasons used traditional hand-stacking techniques to build walls, stocked the King Pond with injured rescue fish from the ocean, and implemented a commercial fishing ban to allow the depleted waters in front of the property to recover. And the staff emit the characteristically chill aloha spirit while being super-attentive to the overworked tech couple from Silicon Valley and the stylish family of five escaping an endless New York winter. By Rebecca Misner
‘Nothing worked, but we didn’t care,’ Princess Margaret recalled of her holidays here in the late 1960s. Back then this former sugar mill and cotton warehouse was a little hotel where guests dined on canned spaghetti. Now it’s a romantic 17-room bolthole beloved by young couples, families with small children and anyone in dire need of some hardcore downtime. Set beside Endeavour Bay, it has a style that is colonial-meets-contemporary, the centrepiece of which is an airy Great Room, created by Parisian designer Tristan Auer, and which every Tuesday hosts a boisterous, not-to-be-missed cocktail party that almost the whole island attends. Breakfast of jerked eggs and smoked lionfish is served on the veranda, with a view across parrot-green lawns to the small and lovely beach. Water pistols are thoughtful provided to keep sneaky birdlife at bay while you tuck in. Couples can hole up in one of the three colourful cottages, or in a room within earshot of the crashing waves; families can spread out in the huge suites set in the tropical gardens. The island stretches over three miles, and many guests rely on golf carts to see its crowd-free beaches and exhilarating coastal trails, and for a run to Basil’s Bar, newly revamped by Philippe Starck, where a dance under the stars is almost obligatory. Like the rest of Mustique, the hum of glamour at The Cotton House is soft and low rather than high-pitched, making it one of the most charming island hangouts around. By Nigel Tisdall
Highly recommend for a white Christmas! The city is so magical complete with German Christmas markets and carolers (come prepared for the cold!). Old town is beautiful (very European) and there is lots to do. Recommend trying the toboggan ride (great for all ages) and a visit to nearby Jacques-Cartier National Park if you like the outdoors! Tip: make sure you have the right change (in coins) for the buses.
Past guests find little to complain about at the Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver. Thanks to the convenient downtown location and the personable staff, recent visitors are quick to call this Shangri-La outpost their favorite Vancouver hotel. Accommodations are appointed with floor-to-ceiling windows, deep soaking tubs, free Wi-Fi and 42-inch flat-screen TVs. For total pampering, guests suggest heading to CHI, The Spa or unwinding by the outdoor pool and hot tub. Travelers also recommend grabbing at least one meal at MARKET by Jean-Georges for inventive, locally sourced Michelin-starred seafood dishes. Though the luxurious amenities cost a pretty penny, recent visitors say the experience is worth the splurge. You'll find the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver in central Vancouver, a few blocks south of Coal Harbour.
At the No. 2 Best Hotel in Maui, guests are greeted with panoramic views of Wailea Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Accommodations are spacious (each room measures at least 600 square feet) and include lanais, locally inspired art, deep-soaking tubs and Nespresso coffee makers. On the resort grounds, travelers will find three saltwater pools, two tennis courts and a spa, but this resort's best attribute is its kid-friendly atmosphere. One of the island's most family-friendly properties, the Four Seasons Resort Maui offers everything from a game room to a waterslide to the brand's complimentary Kids For All Seasons activities program. (Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea)