From London to Beijing to Rio to French Polynesia, 11 properties are being celebrated as the Best of the Best hotels. Virtuoso travel advisors selected them as the network’s finest hotels of 2015 in a variety of categories. With almost 1,100 hotels, resorts, villas and private island retreats in more than 100 countries in Virtuoso’s program, it was a big task to settle on only 11 winners.
Announcing the 2015 Virtuoso Best of the Best Hotels:
Best Achievement in Design: The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, Japan
Located on the Kamogawa River, with views of the famous Higashiyama Mountains, the 134-room hotel evokes the spirit of the Japan of more than a century ago. The hotel’s Zen design aesthetic creates a sense of serenity among guests. Soothing waterfalls, lantern-lined walkways and lacquer furniture all help set the peaceful design tone.
Best Culinary Experience: Epicure, Le Bristol Paris, France
This three-Michelin-star restaurant is an experience in modern French gastronomy. While French mainstays such as frogs’ legs are on the menu, they’re given an of-the-moment twist with tandoori spices. Also highly recommended: the macaroni stuffed with black truffles, artichoke, and foie gras.
Best Bar: Connaught Bar, Connaught, London, UK
Walk into the uber-stylish Connaught Bar, and you’ll enter what feels like a stunning living room in hues of silver, pink, green and lilac. The art of bartending is also a key part of the experience, as drinks are treated like individual masterpieces. Order a signature martini, and the bartender rolls out a trolley laden with top-shelf spirits and herbal and spice extracts.
Best Family Program: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida, USA
The hotel’s water park, Explorer Island, provides seemingly endless family fun. Kids won’t want to miss the pool with its underwater sound system; the interactive fountain; the Lazy River with spray cannons, a waterfall and rapids; and water slides. Families can also play beach volleyball, basketball, video games, table tennis, pool or bocce ball. As well, the Kids For All Seasons day camp is housed on the Island.
The Dolder Grand’s spa stretches out over 43,000 square feet (four thousand square meters). But it feels more intimate because of its individual spaces. Travelers visiting the spa relax in an aroma pool, snow room, meditation space, solarium, steam bath, and outdoor whirlpool with memorable views of the Alps.
Most Innovative Guest Experience (tie):
Travelers can typically visit Corcovado only during park hours, when it’s jammed with tourists. But Copacabana Palace can arrange a sunrise picnic breakfast at the famed Christ the Redeemer statue. It’s an exclusive opportunity available only to its guests.
Want to be a celebrity for a day? The experience begins in your room or suite, where a stylist brings out your inner star, including hair and make-up. You’ll even wear fancy loaner jewels. Then an award-winning photographer will snap shots of you on the red carpet or in front of the hotel’s Rolls Royce.
Sustainable Tourism Leadership – Hotels: The Brando, French Polynesia
The Brando takes sustainability very seriously, as evidenced by its 35 villas constructed from naturally sourced materials; air conditioning that uses deep-sea water rather than fossil fuels; use of solar and coconut oil power; and staff at its research station who work to protect coral reefs and endangered sea turtles. The atoll was Marlon Brando’s home, and he dreamed of making it a model of sustainability.
One to Watch: Rosewood Beijing, China
The hotel may have a boutique feel, but in a city that’s crunched for space, it’s also roomy. The calligraphy-filled lobby extends three stories high, and its rooms and suites are among the largest in Beijing. Local touches such as artwork convey a quintessentially Chinese feel. The hotel also provides a green oasis, with more terraces, gardens and balconies than any other Bejing hotel.
Hotelier of the Year: Antonio Sersale, Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy
Virtuoso travel advisors sing Sersale’s praises, calling him “peerless” for his personal service and attention. After starting his career as a trainee at The Leading Hotels of the World, Sersale has managed his family’s 58-room hotel since 2004. The property, formerly his family’s summer home, is famed for its gorgeous views, lively restaurant and warm hospitality.
Hotel of the Year: Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Galway, Ireland
Ashford Castle is lauded for its combination of history and modern luxury. The 82-room property was built over hundreds of years with new additions. The castle reopened in April after extensive renovations. Its unique setting means guests can explore Ireland’s only fjord, cruise lakes, and fly-fish, all while savoring some of the country’s most gorgeous scenery.
Visiting These Best of the Best Hotels
Did you know that you receive special benefits if you book your stay at one of these Best of the Best hotels through a Virtuoso travel advisor? Typical benefits include a room upgrade if available, early check-in and late check-out, complimentary breakfast and a restaurant or spa credit. Find a Virtuoso hotels specialist who can advise you on the right property for your upcoming travels.