Ten exceptional properties, representing a variety of global regions and styles, have been honored as the world’s best hotels. They were feted as the year’s Best of the Best at Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas.
Virtuoso surveyed its 11,400-plus travel advisors to identify the winners. Editors of the network’s award-winning VIRTUOSO LIFE magazine identified the nominees on which Virtuoso advisors voted.
With more than 1,100 hotels, resorts, villas and private island retreats in over 100 countries, the competition to be one of the world’s best hotels is stiff. This year’s Virtuoso Best of the Best winners are:
Hotel of the Year: Borgo Egnazia, Savellerti di Fasano, Italy
A borgo is a traditional Italian village, and this village-like resort has something to delight everyone. A championship golf course. Beach clubs. A spa that incorporates local herbs and olive oils into treatments. Six restaurants – including one just for the kids. And programs to explore interests from fishing and photography to bartending and wine appreciation.
Insider Insights: “Borgo Egnazia and the area of Puglia is one of the exciting new destinations in Italy that one could ever encounter. The hotel has an amazing ambiance, warm and friendly people, incredible food and a spiritual spa.” – Annette Sordoni, Virtuoso travel advisor, Encino, California
Best Achievement in Design: Faena Hotel Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.
Film director Baz Luhrmann and costume designer Catherine Martin designed a whimsical, colorful new property from the former Saxony Hotel, built in 1947. Floor-to-ceiling murals by Juan Gatti greet guests as they enter through the lobby “Cathedral.” A gold-plated woolly mammoth sculpture by Damien Hirst oversees the garden. The 169 guest rooms boast bold red and teal accents, animal prints, and furnishings that rival the spectacular ocean views.
Insider Insights: “The design of the hotel is a feast for your eyes! From the moment a guest enters, they are transported to a visual fantasy land, which has sophistication and style that is unparalleled. …Not to mention the world-class art collection!” – Judy Stein, Virtuoso travel advisor, New York City
Best Culinary Experience: The Farmhouse Restaurant, Farmhouse Inn, Forestville, California, U.S.
This family-owned, 25-room Russian River Valley inn offers many charms. Among them: cottages with vaulted ceilings and wood-burning fireplaces, a carriage-house spa, and winemaking owners. But the true gem is the Michelin-starred restaurant in an 1873 farmhouse. Guests and locals return again and again for the innovative cuisine. Recent items include Hog Island oysters, spring pea ravioli, and tamarind-kissed Snake River Farms short ribs.
Insider Insights: “Don’t skip breakfast here! It is a real culinary awakening – hearty, seasonal, and farm-fresh.” – Ken Neibaur, Virtuoso travel advisor, Palo Alto, California
Best Bar: The New York EDITION, New York, U.S.
The hotel’s Gold Bar is aptly named. Its showstopper is a horseshoe-shaped bar layered in 24-karat gold leaf. Gold Bar’s original herringbone floors, mahogany walls, carved plaster ceilings, and portraits in gilt frames are also a draw. Both locals and guests frequent the 273-room hotel’s bar.
Insider Insights: “The french fries are my absolute favorite in New York City, usually accompanied by a Mexican Bull: tequila, fresh ginger syrup, and lime and pineapple juices.” – Sylvia Betesh Lebovitch, Virtuoso travel advisor, New York City
Best Family Program: Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Young guests at the 74-room hotel’s kids’ club take part in activities inspired by Mexican arts-and-crafts traditions. One day they might fashion piñatas. The next they might create papier-mâché masks. Staff members also teach children about the hotel’s art, and help plan family trips to view area art.
Insider Insights: “The hotel has an amazing family program that introduces children to the culture of the city before they go out and explore it in person.” – Robert Merlin, Virtuoso travel advisor, St. Louis, Missouri
Best Spa: Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como, Italy
The 90-room hotel has recently redesigned its 18th-century wellness villa. A white marble Hammam Suite beckons guests with a steam room, couples’ bathtub, scrub plinth, and rain shower with fine-spray waterfall. One recommended treatment: the Grand Garden Ritual. It’s a nearly two-hour aromatherapy session with an exfoliation, massage, and facial created exclusively for the spa.
Insider Insights: “The spa has a gorgeous setting with breathtaking views of Lake Como, and wonderful treatments that incorporate natural herbs. Lake Como is magical and the new Grand Hotel Tremezzo Spa is where the magic happens for all their guests.” – Isabel Bernardo, Virtuoso travel advisor, New York City
Most Innovative Guest Experience: Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil
This is the sole resort situated within Brazil’s Iguaçu National Park – the site of the stunning renowned falls. The resort has a resident biologist who leads guided walking tours of the rain forest and falls. Many of the 193 guest rooms feature incredible views of the natural marvel.
Insider Insight: “Take advantage of the exclusive opportunity to visit the falls early in the morning before the Iguassu National Park opens and again in the evening after it closes.” – Alex Korey, Virtuoso travel advisor, Atlanta, Georgia
Sustainable Tourism Leadership: andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
The reserve has encouraged partnerships for community projects, including a health clinic for 25,000 villagers, a recycling center, and an education fund. Phinda’s sustainability focus extends to construction as well. Workers built Forest Lodge by hand, carrying materials themselves to avoid vehicles and equipment disturbing the rare sandforest habitat. The four-lodge, 61-room property helped transform degraded farmland into a wildlife habitat and wilderness safety zone.
Insider Insight: “andBeyond Phinda has been a conservation leader since breaking ground in the early 1990s. Today, Phinda remains one of the world’s most successful ecotourism projects. Ongoing conservation successes include being home to the fourth largest cheetah population in South Africa and helping relocate 14 rhinos to other safe havens.” – Costas Christ, Virtuoso Director of Sustainability
One to Watch: Hotel Eden Rome, Dorchester Collection, Rome, Italy
Ideally located in the Old City, a short walk from the Spanish Steps, the historic 121-room property closed for renovations in 2015. It will reopen in early 2017. But one element won’t change: the impeccable service. The team will happily go the extra mile for guests. One Virtuoso client example: bringing a dream to life by securing a guest a meeting with the Pope during his private mass. The client was allowed to walk up to him and kiss his hand.
Insider Insight: “I instantly fell in love with the location and the historic charm of the building. I can’t wait to see the Hotel Eden; I know it will again be my go-to hotel in Rome.” – Jessica Ourisman, Virtuoso travel advisor, Birmingham, Alabama
Hotelier of the Year: José Silva – Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, Paris, France
In 2014, José Silva left the Four Seasons on Lake Geneva to help renew one of the world’s most prestigious properties – Four Seasons Hotel George V. Two years later, Silva has created a friendly, welcoming service culture at the 244-room hotel. He introduced experiences including flower arranging classes and concierge-led jogs past Paris monuments.
Silva also oversaw the creation of two new Presidential Suites that equal any in the city. The new Le George restaurant, in a breath of fresh air for Paris, serves healthy Mediterranean-inspired dishes in a casual setting.
Insider Insight: “He is all about the guest experience and exceeding expectations.” – Phoebe Weinberg, Virtuoso travel advisor, Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan
Securing Perks at these World’s Best Hotels
Book through a Virtuoso travel advisor to receive a variety of complimentary perks at these world’s best hotels and others. Benefits can include a room upgrade and food, beverage and spa credit. To find a Virtuoso advisor that specializes in hotels, visit virtuoso.com.