Luxury Travel Intelligence (LTI) delivers the inside track on this year's luxury hotel openings.
This year, LTI visited 53 new hotels and discovered several standout properties. Only five properties disappointed them enough to make their Worst list. So, who got it right this year and who got it so wrong?
This is the best of 2016 announced in reverse order.
10 Les Neiges – Courchevel
This is a good example as to why LTI holds off announcing its annual list until the very last minute. Les Neiges opened on Dec 16, and from what we have seen, fully deserves to make our top ten of this year's openings. This is exactly what you should expect from a luxury ski in/out property. The attention to detail is impressive.
9 The Lodge Feline Fields, Kalahari
We ventured out to this ‘under the radar' new opening to find an exceptional lodge, with rustic but luxurious suites, warm, friendly staff and wonderful food. The seclusion and magnificent wildlife complete a magical experience.
8 Il Sereno, Lake Como
Once again, we compliment owners and management for delaying the opening to ensure everything is perfect for guests. Long may this positive trend continue. This whole property has a beautiful contemporary style that is clearly designed to take full advantage of the breath-taking location. A first-class restaurant – already the best on Como – makes it even more worthwhile.
7 Fendi Private Suites, Rome
The location is unbeatable: just seven luxurious suites sit comfortably above the Fendi flagship store. More the ultimate pied-a-terre than a luxury full service hotel, as there is very little in the way of services, beyond the beautiful accommodation (although there is the excellent Zuma restaurant on the Fendi rooftop, independent of the hotel). This is a different but very worthy option for the discerning traveller, when in Rome.
6 Ritz, Paris
A long overdue major refurbishment, which took four years and cost $360M, has revealed a fresher, more relaxed Ritz. But we love that it's still a Grande Dame in every way, with 630 charming and wonderfully efficient staff. This has become our new ‘go to' when in Paris.
5 Le Barthelemy, St Barth's
Such was our anticipation, we were one of the first through these doors when they finally opened in November. We are pleased to report that everything is on point and St Barth's now has a new star turn. The La Mer Spa is an added benefit, with first class therapists.
4 The Beekman, New York
A gem of a property that feels as if it has been here forever - Grande Dame in style, with Old School elegance, this offers all the up to the minute detail and technology. The friendly and efficient staff are also a real asset. Two exceptional destination restaurants complete the picture.
3 Soneva Jani, Maldives
As ever, the Maldives delivers another knock out luxury property, with Soneva Jani raising the stakes even higher. There is so much we love here. Each of the 24 villas comes with its own pool, retractable roof in the bedroom and lots of innovative touches, such as TVs concealed in a stack of well-travelled luggage trunks. Breathtaking.
2 Pink Sands Club, Canouan
It's been worth the wait. There was a time when we thought this opening might never arrive, but it is nice to see such an exclusive luxury property taking its time before welcoming guests. LTI is impressed by everything from the private jet transfers (virtually to the door) to the spacious, elegant accommodation, cutting-edge technology and the beautiful deserted beaches.
And the Best new luxury hotel for 2016 is…
Helena Bay Lodge, New Zealand (pictured at top)
Expectations are high here when you consider the $5m per guest investment: this unique $50M property has just five suites, accommodating no more than ten guests. And while financial investment doesn't guarantee luxury and service, we are pleased to report that it does here. Every conceivable luxury is to hand. The architecture and décor is intentionally on the bland side, so as not to distract from the beautiful surrounding landscape. This is destined to become one of the world's best hotels.
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