We create every issue of Virtuoso Life to inspire you to travel and explore the world, and we tap our network of professional photographers to bring stories to life with their images.

One of the most important (and most debated) decisions of each issue involves determining the cover image. For the May issue of Virtuoso Life, we knew the image would show a Virtuoso hotel – it’s the Hotel Issue, after all, and the feature “Small Wonders: 20 intimate hotels, villas, and lodges worth adding to your short list” provided options aplenty. Our editorial and creative team consulted with the Virtuoso Hotels and Resorts team to help us choose which of 1,200 hotels to include – in fact, half of our hotels have fewer than 100 rooms.

The editorial team presented three top contenders to Virtuoso’s Member Marketing Committee, an elected group of advisors that essentially serves as our publications’ editorial advisory board. “The advisors loved all of them for different reasons,” says editorial director Elaine Srnka, “which assured us that we were on the right track.”

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at three of our top contenders, and what we loved about each of them.


Hôtel Le Toiny
Saint Bart’s

The board loved the image of the newly renovated Le Toiny’s open-air bar, declaring it sophisticated, colorful, and stylish. Art director Melanie Fowler said she wanted the model’s sandals. One editor said the model looked like someone you’d want to hang out with, while associate editor Amy Cassell liked the clean lines of the cover with four bar stools and three chandeliers.

However, the general consensus was that the image didn’t clearly communicate that the destination was Saint Bart’s or that the setting was a hotel. The image opens “Rosé All Day,” Srnka’s dining guide to the island.

Hôtel Le Toiny, Saint Bart’s.

Pikaia Lodge
Galápagos Islands

Art director Melanie Fowler loved the Pikaia Lodge option. “The person in the image isn’t the primary focus,” she says. “It highlights the destination, as well as the property’s beautiful architecture.”

Managing editor Marika Cain liked the model in Pikaia Lodge, as well. “It gives it scale, as a traveler taking in the views.”

A few of the advisors wanted to picture themselves in that space, rather than see another person in the image. Fun fact: the “model” is Monica Witmer, director of sales and marketing for the hotel.

Fowler used the image on the opening spread of the issue’s “Small Wonders” feature article.

Pikaia Lodge, Galápagos Islands.


Canaves Oia Hotel
Santorini, Greece

Cain says this image ultimately won out because it beckons you to step inside and go explore. “It’s a fresh look that feels dreamy and conceptual at the same time. I love the open door inviting you in. Our litmus test for a great cover is ‘Does it make you want to go there?’”

Greece is a perennially popular travel destination, Srnka says. Santorini is iconic, and the bright pop of color on the masthead adds a modern flair.

Notice the cruise ship on the Greece cover, as well – a nod to the different ways of exploring this classic destination.

Canaves Oia-Santorini
Canaves Oia, Santorini.