What makes a luxury hotel, the location, the amenities, the exclusive seclusion or a whole magical experience all wrapped up into one exquisite experience?
Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
Part of the Kempinski hotel chain, it’s no surprise that the Emirates Palace has shot to the forefront of many “Best Of” lists of luxury hotels. The five-star treatment affects everything about the property, from restaurants to architecture to ways to stay entertained. Visitors can bathe in two breathtaking swimming pools, one reserved “for adventure” and the other “for relaxing”.
For natural beauty, guests can wander 85 hectares of carefully manicured gardens, rendering the property a veritable oasis of lush color. While the Palace takes its cues from other international properties of distinction, the resort also finds its soul in local culture. The Arabic architecture is unlike anything in 5-star properties elsewhere in the world, adorned with over a hundred 18-meter high domes. Rooms and suites are trimmed with ornate gold and marble details. Plus, guests are waited on hand and foot, with attentive private butlers available around the clock.
Westin Excelsior, Rome
If the phrase “When in Rome…” brings to mind the difficulty of bending to local norms, the Westin Excelsior may give you a few new ideas. The iconic property’s signature dome “La Cupola” and its ornate façade are now a fixture of chic Roman style.
Best of all, your sumptuous lodgings are within a stone’s throw of many of Rome’s most legendary and historic sites, such as the Spanish steps or the Borghese Gardens. For a centrally located city hotel, the Excelsior also boasts a surprisingly complete array of amenities, including an indoor pool, banquet facilities and a fully stocked workout center.
The Plaza, NYC
To experience the Big Apple in fine style, it’s hard to improve on the address made famous by Eloise and, before that, F. Scott Fitzgerald and a generation of major American artists. Whether you fell in love with the classic children’s book or you simply want to see how New York’s high society lives today, The Plaza can attend to all your needs.
Architecture buffs will enjoy the Beaux Arts décor, the glittering chandeliers just dripping with crystal baubles. Alongside the Old World charms, the hotel is updated with 21st century conveniences, from high speed Internet access to the plush, terry robes in each room.
Ocean House, RI
Compared with a European capital or a tropical isle, Rhode Island may not immediately spring to mind when you think about luxurious properties. For centuries, though, Rhode Island was the playground for America’s moneyed set. Today, visitors can still enjoy the luxurious remnants of the gilded age.
The state’s single Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond Hotel, Ocean House is fittingly situated on Watch Hill, letting guests take in sweeping views of the Ocean State’s incomparable coastline. In addition to the opulent suites, guests can alternately soak up the salty sea atmosphere from their own private villas. For real pampering, head to the 12,000 square-foot destination spa, which features a range of wellness treatments as well as fitness programs and relaxing packages promising full indulgence.
Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai
Calling itself “the most luxurious hotel in the world”, the Burj Al Arab goes a long way toward living up to the name. Book a stay at one of their 202 duplex suites, and you’ll get a personal chauffeur to drive you around town, in nothing less than a Rolls Royce.
Guests’ whims are catered to by personal butlers and by a private reception staff, located on each floor. The hotel is also home to nine restaurants, a full-service spa, four swimming pools (indoor and outdoor) and a sandy private beach. The hotel isn’t only famous for its amenities. It’s also a chief feature of the Dubai skyline, making its sail-shaped form a symbol of the city’s futuristic image of glamor.
Las Vegas Palms
When it comes to Vegas, there’s no place for moderation. Opulence is everywhere, making it hard for a resort to really stand out. The iconic Palms somehow pulls it off, nonetheless. The three towers ascend above the Palms Casino, putting the resort at the heart of “Sin City’s” see-and-be-seen nexus.
In addition to the casino and the towers, the complex is home to the Pearl Theater, which regularly showcases some of Vegas’ bigger-name talent, from former Beatles to legends of late-night. The guestrooms themselves range from fairly modest rooms to suites and penthouses fitting a turbo-charged sense of imagination. For a bachelor’s party blowout or a girls’ weekend, the resort earns its reputation as a place to taste the good life.
Rosalie Bay Resort, Roseau
While you may associate opulence with waste, there’s no rule against mixing the good life with eco-consciousness. In fact, it’s the order of the day at Rosalie Bay Resort. The eco-resort features 22 acres of lush gardens and jungle, perfect for exploring. You’re likely to get plenty of wilderness to yourself, too; with just 28 rooms, the property allots almost an acre of its verdant grounds per room!
The spaciousness of true resort living is echoed in the layout. Guests stay in individual cottages, each trimmed with charming gingerbread detailing and done up inside in plantation-inspired style. When it comes to earning their many eco-friendly qualifications, Rosalie Bay Resort is just as attentive to detail. From the resort’s wind- and solar energy sources to the on-site water filtration setup, to furnishings made from recycled materials, it’s the perfect marriage of the extraordinary and the simple things.
Four Seasons Resort Lana’I The Lodge at Koele
Regularly ranking among Conde Nast’s lists of the best hotels and resorts in the world, the Koele resort lives up to the Four Seasons’ reputation. The lodge is plantation-inspired in décor, seamlessly blending the rough beauty of the natural surroundings with the refined elegance indoors. Rooms are trimmed in gold and red and the carved wooden headboards telegraph glamor.
Unlike the standard luxury resort experience, the Four Seasons at Koele also gives guests an opportunity to engage in local culture. You can divide your time in paradise, engaging in volunteer programs, learning at classes on cultural themes or simply relaxing at the spa.
Mokara Hotel & Spa, San Antonio
This little corner of Texas takes you about as far as you can get from a couple of cowboys eating canned beans around a fire. Rooms have 12-foot ceilings and large windows, letting in the always-streaming sunshine. The on-site spa wins widespread acclaim for the quality of its treatments.
Try the yucca-inspired treatments for an inspired introduction to the local flora. Plus, if you feel like holing up, you needn’t even leave your room for a treat. Each guestroom features sumptuous details like marble bathtubs.
For your own private retreat on the Pacific, head to Mexico’s secluded Capella Ixtapa. If every bit as luxurious, this resort sits at the other end of the spectrum from The Plaza. Poised as a romantic retreat, it combines the designs of traditional Mexican art with all the modern conveniences to ensure total comfort.
The on-site upscale restaurants complete the picture, letting you settle in to the edenic retreat, with nothing but ocean and jungle around you. Spend your days getting treatments at the on-site spa (including therapies using the local Xochitil blossom) to lounging in your very own infinity pool.