Travelers are hard-pressed to find much to complain about at the Montage Kapalua Bay. Located on the northwest corner of Maui, this 24-acre property offers panoramic views of the beach and ocean. Visitors can spend their time on the water with activities that range from sport fishing to snorkeling. The resort also offers more adventurous pursuits like zip lining and helicopter tours, as well as traditional Hawaiian luau shows. Other activity options include shopping, golfing on two award-winning courses or playing a round of tennis at the hotel's courts. If you're looking to relax, you can enjoy the complimentary beach towels and chairs, take advantage of the poolside Hana Hou Bar & Sunset Patio or indulge in a spa treatment. Accommodations here are one-, two-, three- or four-bedroom suites and each come equipped with separate living and sleeping areas, and furnished lanais. Additional amenities include flat-screen TVs, in-room laundry facilities and bathrooms with separate tubs and showers. To top off their great experiences, recent guests said all staff members, from the pool attendants to the restaurant servers, went above and beyond to ensure they had a pleasurable stay.
With sweeping waterfront views and a beachfront location, the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is a favorite retreat for Miami Beach travelers. Guests of this resort can take a dip in one of two pools, sit down for a tasty meal at three distinct restaurants, sip top-notch vino, tour the on-site Wine Vault, and take advantage of complimentary car service. Accommodations at the No. 2 Best Hotel in Miami Beach are spacious, featuring pastel hues, five-fixture marble bathrooms and furnished balconies. What's more, all rooms offer ocean views. (Courtesy of St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort)
Flanking the northern base of Blackcomb Mountain, The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler prides itself on its picturesque surroundings, upscale lodging and first-rate service. Previous visitors recommend booking a mountain-facing room. Although they're pricier than other accommodations, these rooms come with cozy comforts such as designer bath products, flat-screen TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi. You'll also find an abundance of activities to choose from: Wintertime yields skiing and sleigh rides, while summer offers opportunities to hike and whitewater raft. And at any time of year, you can lounge along the heated outdoor pool, rejuvenate with a Canadian maple syrup and brown sugar scrub or enjoy wine tastings. In the evening, sip a cocktail at the on-site bar or sample prime slices of tenderloin at Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar (recent visitors mention that meals here are pricey, but worth every penny). Recent guests were thrilled with the exceptional service at this Four Seasons property, but thought the parking fees were a tad high.
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Whether you’re looking for snow-covered peaks and sprawling national parks, frenetic big cities or historic cobblestoned towns, dramatic coastline or red sand deserts, America has a holiday for you. Ride horseback through big sky country, hit the slopes in Colorado or Utah, and explore the concrete jungle of New York. Wander Austin for live music, wander up and down San Francisco’s famous hills, live out your great American road trip, or take to the beaches of Aloha state Hawaii. You’ll likely work up an appetite with all that adventure, so it’s lucky for you that the United States is the home of Manhattan bagels, Maine lobster, southern barbecue, fluffy beignets, crisp California wines, strong Portland coffee and hoppy midwestern microbrews.
It’s a desert conundrum. You visit the driest, emptiest place on the planet to ogle the Martian landscapes, squint at the shimmering salt lake, gawp at the cosmos – this is world-renowned stargazing territory, home to the ALMA radio telescope. But at this hotel just outside the hip hiker-hub of San Pedro, part of you just wants to stay put. Inspired by pre-Inca ruins, this Awasi – the first of the tiny rootsy Chilean chain, open since 2007 – is all pale wood and tan adobe walls, with shade-giving trees pressing in on all sides. There are plenty of alpaca blankets and books in the public spaces, and a fire-pit and candlelight encourage intelligent idling after dark. The 10 suites have bathtubs, chaise-longues, more blankets. The restaurant serves up sublime octopus causas. It would be too easy to indulge in all of this and then join fellow wanderers at the bar and talk about expeditions to undertake, maybe tomorrow, over a glass of Maule Valley Merlot. Fortunately, Awasi insists all guests have a private guide – invariably an expert on Andean geology or geyser physics – and their own four-wheel-drive, so spending a little time away from the retreat is pretty straightforward too. This is a place made for hedonistic hermits, part of a new breed of superior and polished wilderness hotels. By Chris Moss
Guests rave about Wentworth Mansion, applauding its long-standing commitment to the building's history and its ability to deliver on contemporary luxury. Constructed in the late 1800s, the Wentworth Mansion exudes old-world charm, meaning it's also the perfect Charleston home base for history buffs. Lodgers particularly praise the elegant decor, fantastic customer service, on-site spa, evening brandies and sherries, and complimentary hors d'oeuvres. Rooms include spacious bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, fireplaces or outside porches and, in some suites, sunrooms. Though guests say the rooms and overall atmosphere are relaxing, they note that the luxury doesn't come cheap. However, its location is another feather in its cap; The Battery is nearby, as is the South Carolina Aquarium. Also, keep in mind that this hotel is a part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which means that members of the INVITED rewards program can earn and redeem points here.
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 area of Nishishinjuku is arguably the best place to stay in Tokyo since it has a lot of budget hotels in Tokyo to choose from. One of my favourites is the APA Hotel & Resort Nishishinjuku-Gochome-Eki Tower since it combines business with pleasure. All rooms come with free WiFi, a desk, flat-screen tv, private bathroom, and mini-fridge. In addition, there’s a seasonal outdoor pool, and an Akashi Onsen (artificial hot spring). Nishi-Shinjuku Station and Nishi-Shinjuku are a 1-minute and 15-minute walk away respectively.
This elegant Art Deco tower piercing the blue Californian skies on Sunset Boulevard has long been a landmark of the city, home to Hollywood greats since its arrival in 1931, courtesy of architect Leland A Bryant. In those days it was Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner – and John Wayne, who apparently kept a cow on his balcony to ensure fresh milk for his coffee. Now it’s shiny again after a multi-million-dollar renovation, and 21st-century stars are coming here just for a night or to grab a drink in the see-and-be-seen Tower Bar on the notorious Sunset Strip. No photographs. No phone calls – it says on the bottom of the menu firmly while maître d’ Gabé Doppelt discreetly juggles regular guests such as Jennifer Aniston with those who prefer dim lighting or need private corners for tête-à-têtes. The spicy tuna tartare is nearly everyone’s favourite; the seared scallops with black leek and truffle sauce a close second. The 81 bedrooms are done up in dusty pinks and browns with dazzling bathrooms clad in metallic gold wallpaper designed by fashion illustrator Donald Robertson, and there’s a Joanna Vargas spa for those red-carpet moments. The newly refreshed outdoor terrace overlooking the small but beautiful pool is one of the loveliest spots – in a city with a strong alfresco game – for a breakfast of mashed avocado on sourdough with poached eggs, or simply to relax for an hour or so, taking in the spectacular views of LA and basking in that brilliant golden sunshine. By Mary Lussiana
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This Relais & Châteaux property – which is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Aspen – consistently earns high praise for its prime location near Aspen's world-renowned slopes and the tasty cuisine served at its two restaurants: element 47 and Ajax Tavern. But the hotel lures more than just powder hounds and foodies. Families have access to loaner strollers and video game consoles, while travelers with pets receive treats and jet lag kits for their pooches. What's more, all 92 rooms and suites feature luxurious touches like separate steam showers and Jacuzzis, gas fireplaces and heated marble bathroom floors. (Courtesy of The Little Nell and Shawn O'Connor)
The b is one of the best budget hotel chains in Tokyo and their Akasaka location offers incredible value since it’s not in the core tourist areas. The b Tokyo Akasaka-Mitsuke is a 2-minute walk from Akasaka-Mitsuke Station which is connected to 5 different metro lines, so it’s quite convenient to get around the city. As for the rooms, they come with a flat-screen TV, free WiFi, and a surprisingly spacious private bathroom. A portable WiFi hotspot smartphone is also provided so you’ll have free roaming data while you’re in Tokyo.
Big Sur is all about big views, and the Post Ranch Inn has become synonymous with the wild, dramatic beauty that is the Pacific Coast along California's Highway 1. The region's natural charms are reflected in the names of its 39 rooms - including Cliff House, Pacific Suite, Ocean House, Tree House, Mountain House and the Butterfly Rooms - and the spectacularly constructed recycled-redwood lodgings are designed to inspire awe. The Cliff Houses have glass-walled bedrooms and decks suspended over a 1,200ft precipice, with private, stainless-steel outdoor hot tubs from which to absorb that vast oceanic expanse. Surrounded by regal redwoods and oaks, the triangular Tree Houses are raised on nine-foot stilts, with dreamy views through the foliage to the Santa Lucia Mountains. Activities for energetic types include everything from morning yoga, meditation and guided nature hikes to the use of two clifftop spa tubs, an infinity pool and a private telescope. For foodies, the inn's Sierra Mar restaurant serves gorgeous dishes bursting with seasonal flavours, such as freshly picked strawberries with wild-mint blossoms, goat's cheese and pistachio purée. But the essence of any stay here is just whiling away the hours with someone you really like, letting time unspool in truly spectacular surroundings.
Hidden among fisherman’s casas painted cobalt-blue, pink and pistachio bordering Trancoso’s sleepy village square, where the town’s elders gather to shoot the breeze, Uxua is almost imperceptible to the passer-by. The only giveaway is the tables of smart Cariocas and international hipsters sipping passionfruit Caipirinhas while watching the early evening scene unfold on the Quadrado. Golden light catches the locals playing football around the whitewashed 16th-century church. This is just how expansive Dutch owner Wilbert Das (Diesel’s former creative director) likes it. Surrounded by dense rainforest and teetering high on a ridge overlooking the powder-sand fringed Atlantic, Uxua fits right into the post-hippie utopia of Trancoso. Working with local artisans, Das has turned the hotel into a collection of rustic renovated casas, cottages, an intimate treehouse and a tribal-inspired spa. All are cloaked by hummingbird-flecked tropical gardens and centred around a pool lined with green aventurine quartz, which, for those not up on their healing crystals, is said to be very therapeutic. Interiors are haute-boho: roomy indoor-outdoor sitting rooms and airy living spaces with dazzling-white walls and muslin-canopied beds, accented with lots of reclaimed wood, antiques and vintage finds including brightly painted Virgin Mary statuettes. A decked path runs through mangrove forests to the beach, where there are enormous day beds for post-breakfast snoozing and a beach bar fashioned from an old fishing boat – just stay horizontal and another Caipirinha will soon find its way to you. This is the South American coastal retreat that’s on everyone’s radar. By Chris Caldicott
Two are indisputably better than one at the Belmond Hotel Splendido and Belmond Splendido Mare, a dual-property entity sitting high above Portofino cove. Both halves carry with them a bit of history: the 670-room Hotel Splendido was once a 16th-century monastery known for withstanding attacks from Saracen pirates, while the other, 16-room “Mare” half sits on the piazzetta, a respite from the lively Ligurian harbor. Outside, fragrant bundles of wisteria and straight-backed juniper bushes flank its winding cobblestone walkways, while rooms mostly come with terra-cotta-tiled terraces where you can take your morning cappuccino—some offer up stunning panoramic views of the cove.
The Taj Mahal Palace is a 1903, grey-and-white stone, red-domed wedding cake of a building that stands sentry over Mumbai’s harbor. When your taxi pulls up through the throngs of families and tourists who choke the roads near the Gateway to India arch and you’re ceremoniously welcomed by doormen in traditional silk kurtas, you have that pinch-me feeling of Wow, I’m really staying here? You’re in good company, as everyone from George Bernard Shaw to Barack Obama has spent the night here too. Because the Taj is such a landmark, there are tourists and locals who come and go from the hotel’s restaurants, shops, and bars, as well as the daily Heritage Walks around the property. But some parts of the hotel are off-limits to non-guests, so you quickly leave the bustle of the lobby behind. The Taj has the best pool in Mumbai, and a dozen restaurants, bars, and cafés, including Wasabi by Morimoto, Souk for Tagines, and Kraft Masala for Indian.
Colorado is the place for big skies, crystal-clear rivers and valleys peppered with ranches. And Dunton Hot Springs is the state's original retreat offering super-smart rooms in a rustic setting, the one we first fell in love with. About 90 minutes' drive from Durango, in the San Juan National Forest, this former ghost town and natural hot spring sets the bar for glamping. From the outside, the 12 guest cabins look like 19th-century homesteads crafted from planks and corrugated iron; inside, there are bison-skin rugs, cowhide throws and surprising ethnic touches such as a Rajasthani wedding bed or African mask. More Wild West-themed rooms display homespun cowboy-print curtains, ticking stripe and gingham. Owners Christoph and Katrin Henkel have spared little expense in creating this magical, 200-acre getaway. Chef Carrie Eagle prepares meals using local ingredients, and the list of activities includes snowshoeing, fly-fishing, river rafting and horse riding. Top that? The Henkels have tried with Dunton River Camp, their new property just four miles downriver, where eight super-luxe tents have views of elks grazing on bluebell-covered meadows.
John Steinbeck certainly chose a beautiful spot to hole up while writing his famous piece on Positano for Harper’s Bazaar in 1953. Positano was just a quiet fishing village then and he described the Sirenuse as ‘an old family house converted into a first-class hotel, spotless and cool’. While still spotless and cool, the summer villa is a lot more upscale these days, immaculately run with huge charm and a maniacal eye for detail by Antonio Sersale and his wife Carla. The handsome ox-blood red building is crammed with precious antiques (starting with a rare 18th-century palanquin in the reception hall), many of them collected by Antonio’s late father Franco, and the white bedrooms have tiled floors from Vietri and balconies with grandstand views. But it’s the small details – the cloth-bound copies of Steinbeck’s article and the pretty beach baskets in the bedrooms, the crisp Frette linens and Eau d’Italie bath goodies – that kick things to another level. Positano is a bit of a madhouse nowadays, but you can avoid it altogether, dreaming away the hours on the pool terrace, booking a massage at the Gae Aulenti-designed Aveda spa or hopping on the hotel’s boat for a spin. In the evening, guests gather in the Champagne & Oyster bar before moving on to La Sponda restaurant to tuck into tonnarelli pasta with lobster and saddle of lamb with artichokes to the sound of guitar and mandolin duo Franco and Andrea. By Nicky Swallow
Located along the stunning blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, the hacienda-style Krystal Vallarta is a tropical oasis of calm, peace and serenity. Ideal for family vacations, this modern resort will keep younger guests entertained at Kamp Krystal, which features an indoor playground with a ball room and a new children’s pool with a waterslide. While the little ones have a blast at the kids club, parents can relax by the resort’s sparkling infinity pool overlooking the turquoise waters of Banderas Bay, or head to lively downtown Puerto Vallarta and explore the Malecón Seafront Promenade. Great for visitors who enjoy outdoor dining, the resort’s seaside restaurant affords breathtaking views of Banderas Bay. A wide range of delicious dining options, from elegant Japanese dishes and other international cuisine to fresh seafood and classic comfort foods from the beachfront snack bar, are sure to keep everyone happy.
This fashionable hotel earns acclaim for its elegant design and prime location in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. The No. 4 Best Hotel in Chicago boasts exceptional customer service, an indoor pool, a spa and a health club. Accommodations within the Waldorf Astoria Chicago are dressed in stylish gray tones and contemporary furnishings. (Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Chicago)