Luxury travel network, Virtuoso, announced this year's winners of the prestigious "Best of the Best" hotel awards last night at Virtuoso's 2010 Travel Mart conference in Las Vegas.
This marks the fourth year Virtuoso has reviewed its collection of more than 800 world-class properties and recognized hotels that set new standards in luxury travel and hospitality professionals who elevate the industry through their efforts. Editors of Virtuoso Life magazine, the Virtuoso network's award-winning publication, collaborated with the organization's elite travel advisors to select hotel nominees in ten categories that ranged from best architectural design to top hotel and hotelier of the year. Winners represent the best in their category, demonstrating innovation, dedication, social conscience and even courage. The "Best of the Best" award winners will be featured in the September/October 2010 issue of the magazine.
Best Spa: The Spa at Grand Velas All-Suites & SPA Resort, Riviera Maya
At 89,000 square feet, The Spa at Grand Velas All-Suites & Spa Resort is the largest spa in the Yucatan. Built amid the lush jungle that hugs the resort, the Spa boasts an organic style reflective of its Mexican surroundings. A cavernous lower level takes its inspiration from the region’s underground water pools, or cenotes. A hand-hewn rock wall emerges from a winding chlorine-free pool that's outfitted with water-bubble beds, cascades and a gurgling volcanic geyser.
Best Family Program: Rocco Forte Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sicily (pictured above)
With its exclusive beach, acres of wide-open countryside, two championship golf courses and idyllic climate, Vendura makes the perfect destination for a family holiday. There are kid-size bicycles, a shallow children’s swimming pool and free organized activities. Little ones enjoy mime classes, treasure hunts and biscuit making, while the Teenagers Club offers rugby, beach volleyball and golf.
Best Hotel Dining: Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, Dorchester Hotel, London
Awarded three Michelin stars, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester offers contemporary French cuisine in a random and elegant décor along with professional and friendly service. Guests can book tables overlooking beautiful Hyde Park; or parties of six can book Table Lumière, a table surrounded by a shimmering curtain of 4,500 fiber-optic lights.
Most Innovative Guest Experience: Amanfayun in Hangzhou, China
Hidden in a picturesque valley, Amanfayun enjoys a serene setting surrounded by tea fields, natural forest, quaint villages and a pilgrimage circuit of five significant Buddhist temples. Designed in the spirit of a traditional Chinese village, the property comprises 47 dwellings, several of which date back more than 100 years. Bonds forged with local monks at the fourth-century Temple of Goodness make it possible for guests to hike up the mountainside to join them for prayers before sunrise and afterward share a traditional vegetarian breakfast.
Most Socially Responsible: Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
Since 2001, the Four Seasons' owners have been the backbone of the Growing Together program, which benefits rural communities on the Papagayo Peninsula through customized volunteer experiences that support local schools and conservation efforts. Now 12 staff ambassadors match guests who want to volunteer with communities that have the greatest need.
One to Watch: Alan Fuerstman, Montage Hotels & Resorts
As a young college graduate, Alan Fuerstman was hired as a bell captain at Rancho Las Palmas where, it is said, even J.W. Marriott himself was impressed by the young man. Fuerstman moved on and up, running good resorts and making them better. He left the Bellagio in Las Vegas to start Montage. With Utah’s Montage Deer Valley Resort set to open in December, all eyes are on the 53-year-old as he expands Montage beyond the West Coast.
Hotelier of the Year: Claudio Ceccherelli, General Manager Park Hyatt Milan
When Claudio Ceccherelli was a 25-year-old reception manager, he taught at the Aurelio Saffi hotel school in Florence. Now, at 53 years of age and the general manager of the Park Hyatt Milan, Ceccherelli is a gracious old-world gentleman who’s not too buttoned-down to come to work wearing an Inter Milan team jersey the day after a big win or don chef’s whites and cook lunch for the staff. He’s an exceptional mentor for a hotelier on his way up.
Hotel of the Year: The Goring, London
For almost a century, four generations of the Goring family have run the exceptional property. Opened in 1910, The Goring was the first hotel to introduce private bathrooms and central heating for every room. Today, the hotel is a bastion of quality and absolute individuality. Well-known British designers Nina Campbell, David Linley and Tim Gosling have all had a part of the design concept; and later this year, the hotel will debut six new Russell Sage-designed rooms done up with historic fabrics – and sheep.
Best Achievement in Design: Armani Hotel Dubai
Known for his classic style, Armani had his hand on everything from the A-shaped swimming pool to the zebrawood paneling. The 160-room hotel goes minimalist inside Dubai's cloud-piercing Burj Khalifa, with curved walls, metallic finishes and limestone floors – the bronzed A-shaped arches in the triple-height lobby are one of Armani's favorite details.
Best Bar: Sir Elly's, The Peninsula Shanghai
Crowning the upper two floors of the new hotel, Sir Elly’s has an edge when it comes to gigantic views – a circular bar area and three raised sofas facing huge windows ensure everyone gets a great look at The Bund, the Huangpu River and the Pudong skyline. Named for Peninsula’s founder Sir Ellis Kadoorie, this glam space seals its staying power by offering inspired cocktails and cuisine from a five-star French chef.
Abercrombie & Kent Villas
Italian Villa Rentals
The Kahala Hotel & Resort
EPIC SANA Algarve Hotel
Stonewater Cove Resort and Club
Blantyre, in the Berkshires
Argentario Resort Golf & Spa
Mezzatorre Resort & Spa
The Lodge at Torrey Pines
Pure Entertainment Group
Haute Coutour Events
Qantas Vacations: Best of Luxury