Sunday, January 22, 2012

Luxury Hotels I LOVED in 2011

Some hotels just do everything right. Or nearly everything. And, as we roll into another busy year of booking luxury travel for some of the coolest people on the planet, I've been reflecting on those properties I personally visited in 2011 that top my list of winners. These are the hotels that have earned a spot on my "top of mind" list, for various reasons ranging from impeccable service to ultra-cool design to impressive renovations to tiny details that wow every time.

There are of course, SO many phenomenal hotels we love, and will add to future lists as we revisit them this year or in the future. But for now, in no particular order, here is my personal Top 10 List of Hotels I Visited & Loved in 2011:

1) Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay
If you watched recent episodes of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills", you got a glimpse of this gorgeous Hawaiian property on lush Lanai. I easily could have stayed a few weeks, working from my oceanview terrace in between phenomenal massages and delicious meals (both here and at sister property, the Lodge at Koele). The General Manager and his entire staff from the sales/marketing team to the reservation directors to housekeeping all go the extra mile for our Preferred Partner clients.

2) Mandarin-Oriental, Barcelona
An amazing location overlooking Passeig de Gracia, sleek/chic rooms and suites (my favorite are those with a private terrace), a fantastic spa, outdoor pool with stunning views, and an uber-friendly staff anxious to share tips about their terrific city are what put this hotel on the top of my list in Barcelona.

3) Montage Deer Valley, Deer Valley Utah
Hands down, this the best new luxury resort to open in the mountains in years. The newest in a trio that already includes favorites in Laguna and Beverly Hills, Montage Deer Valley (pictured) is as much fun in the summer (think amazing hiking, biking, white water rafting) as it is during ski season (the slopeside location is key). A gorgeous spa, terrific dining options, incredible service, and even a billiards room & bowling alley set this resort apart from others in ski country.

4) Hotel Le Bristol, Paris, France
Fresh from a multi-million dollar renovation, this classic Parisian hotel is THE place to stay for impeccable service in a traditional French setting with a modern twist. The new suites (especially those with Eiffel Tower views) are over-the-top, and the city center location is always a draw.

5) Beach Village at Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego
Want your own beach house but not ready to totally commit? No need to, as you can simply book a stay here at Beach Village on the grounds of famous Hotel Del. The only difference is, when you stay at Beach Village, you're literally steps from the sand in your private oceanview residence yet you still get to enjoy the beauty and benefits of the iconic (and newly renovated) Hotel Del.

6) The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Resort, Kapalua, Maui
Every family we booked here this year had the same thing to say: This place is phenomenal! From the awesome views to spacious, family-friendly suites to the delicious cuisine to the friendly staff, it's a winner all around. Personally, I loved the spa/fitness center (especially the yoga classes), the stunning setting and overall vibe of this Hawaiian resort.

7) The Marbella Club, Marbella Spain
I dream about a return visit to this Costa Del Sol beach resort that exceeded all of my expectations, by a lot! Lounging by the oceanfront pool, spending time at the Thalasso Spa and relaxing on my gardenview terrace were highlights of my too-short visit to the only place I'd ever want to stay in Marbella.

8) Acqualina Resort, Sunny Isles, FL
This is truly the example of a resort that gets it right. From the minute you arrive and are welcomed by name to the warm hospitality extended til the minute you leave, coupled with gorgeous (and huge) oceanfront suites, a beautiful spa, fantastic food (delivered to your beach chair if you desire) and a gazillion activities for kids, everyone is easily pleased at Acqualina. Delicious sushi (perfect for a room-service snack) and an Il Mulino on-site are added bonuses I loved!

9) Le Royal Monceau, Paris
The oh-so-chic Royal Monceau hotel is definitely the place to stay for the stylish, fun, "not into cookie cutter hotels" crowd. Everywhere you turn is an unexpected surprise from designer Philippe Starck, but in a good, grown-up way. Lush colors and fabrics blend perfectly with the funky furnishings, and the suites (especially where JLo stayed) are simply gorgeous. The Italian and French restaurants are notable both for their whimsical decor and their sublime cuisine, with incredible service to match.

10) Four Seasons Los Angeles and Four Seasons Westlake Village
This last spot goes to sister properties as they're both on my list of faves for similar reasons: Close to home! An oldie but goodie, Four Seasons LA makes the list after super-impressing me on a "bizcation" I took in my own town last spring. I truly loved every moment of Four Seasons service at its best, and the Sunday brunch remains the best in town. And, having just revisited Four Seasons Westlake, I'll go on record saying it's my favorite spot to "get away" when I don't have time (or the desire) to get on a plane. My perfect 48-hour retreat came complete with spa time (I adore the private spa suites), fitness classes and delicious healthy food in a Zen-inspired, art-filled, pet-friendly setting (they know how to VIP the dogs!).

All of the above properties offer exclusive VIP amenities/perks to Elite Travel International clients, ranging from breakfast-inclusive rates to resort credits to spa treatments, priority upgrades, late check-out and more. For details or to book an upcoming stay at any of my favorites, send me an email or call 310.979.9036.


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  2. The Shangri-la in Paris looks fabulous. Royal Monceau is an unexpected winner!

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