2016-12-23



Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (December 23, 2016): the hottest luxury hotel openings of 2016.

Be the first to explore my selection of the best new luxury hotels, 56 in total, that opened their doors in 2016. Some of these hotel are managed by world’s most exclusive hotel brands.



JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach features on my list of the hottest 2016 hotel openings

There is more information and direct link to the hotel websites below the slide show! Think I missed one? Share your opinion in the comments section!

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1. SONEVA JANI, MALDIVES

Inspired by a word that means wisdom in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani is located on Medhufaru island, which is part of an uninhabited five-island cluster in the Noonu Atoll in the Maldives, one of the world’s most magnificent destinations. The Maldives’ most exclusive hotel is fringed by pristine beaches, blanketed with lush tropical greenery, and surrounded by a 5.6 km (3,4 mi) lagoon of crystal clear waters with uninterrupted 360° views of the Indian Ocean. Each one of the 24 water villas has a private pool and opens to its own stretch of lagoon, with some villas featuring slides going directly from the top deck into the lagoon below. The highlight of the villas is the retractable roof in the master bedroom, which slides back at the touch of a button so that guests can lie in bed and stargaze.

Contact me to receive a complimentary room upgrade at Soneva Jani at the time of booking.

Hotel website: Soneva Jani

Accolades: Soneva Jani features in my list of the top 10 most exclusive hotels in the Maldives, the most astonishing beach retreats in Asia, and 10 reasons why you should put Soneva Jani on your bucket list.

Review: Coming soon (April 2017).



SONEVA JANI, MALDIVES

2. ST REGIS VOMMULI, MALDIVES

The St. Regis Vommuli Resort brings the brand’s hallmark luxury services to the Maldives. A 40-minute seaplane ride southwest from Malé airport, the resort is located on a private atoll spanning more than 20 acres, surrounded by unspoiled beaches and a secluded lagoon with sparkling turquoise waters. The design draws inspiration from nature itself, with aesthetics including manta ray shaped lagoon villas, a signature bar in the shape of a whale shark, a lobster-inspired spa and a spiral shell shaped library. Besides organic sea forms, some buildings are based on local cultural symbols; coastal villas along the southern shoreline, for example, are akin to Maldivian Dhoni boats. The resort features 77 luxuriously appointed private villas, all with a distinct contemporary design scheme inspired by the island’s natural materials and color palette. Guests have access to a tranquil spa, an infinity swimming pool, a dive center, and 4 restaurants.

Hotel website: St Regis Vommuli Maldives

Accolades: St Regis Vommuli features in my list of the top 10 most exclusive hotels in the Maldives.

Review: Coming soon (March 2017).

THE ST REGIS VOMMULI, MALDIVES

3. MILAIDHOO ISLAND, MALDIVES

Another high profile opening took place in the Maldives this year. Milaidhoo Island promises its guests a new chapter of barefoot island living on its boutique 13 acre island set in the heart of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Baa Atoll region. Milaidhoo offers a return to a classic, relaxed Maldivian holiday style on a tiny island with deep soft white sand beaches and a vibrant coral reef where dolphins, whale sharks and manta rays are visitors – a benefit of being in a protected marine area. Standing on stilts over the lagoon are 30 spacious over-water villas (2,600 square feet) and hidden amongst the tropical greenery are 20 serene villas on the beach (3,100 square feet). All villas have large private freshwater swimming pools and an island host to attend to the guests’ every whim. This private, luxury island is reached by a scenic 30-minute seaplane flight from Male International Airport.

Hotel website: Milaidhoo Island

MILAIDHOO ISLAND, MALDIVES

4. SIX SENSES ZIL PASYON, SEYCHELLES

The new Six Senses Zil Pasyon is located on the island of Félicité, one of the most dramatically beautiful and unspoiled islands in the Seychelles. With massive granite boulders fringing the shoreline and picture perfect beaches it is the island’s dramatic beauty that make it the perfect private island escape. True to Six Senses heritage of creating exceptional guest experiences in places of incredible beauty, the resort occupies just one-third of the island’s land total – the rest is left to the beauty of nature and wildlife. The resort includes 28 one-bedroom pool villas and a  couple of two-bedroom pool villas ranging from 2,150 square feet (200 square meters) to 5,380 square feet (500 square meters) plus 17 private residences. Six Senses Zil Pasyon offers six dining and bar venues on the island, sport and leisure facilities, three pristine sandy beaches and an outdoor main pool.

Hotel website: Six Senses Zil Pasyon

Accolades: Six Senses Zin Pasyon features in my list of the most anticipated hotel openings of 2016.

Review: Read here my review of Six Senses Zil Pasyon.

5. BANYAN TREE TAMOUDA BAY, MOROCCO

Banyan Tree Hotels & Resort has opened a glorious beach retreat in Tamouda Bay, along the northwestern coast of Morocco. The Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay pays tribute to the region’s Andalusian-Moorish legacy and Moroccan heritage that evokes a sense of place throughout its landscapes, courtyards, verdant gardens, fountains and reflecting pools. Basking on golden sands with brilliant blue waters lapping at its feet, this exclusive all-pool villa resort conveys romance with exotic Moroccan charm and inspires relaxation via its understated Mediterranean vibe. The resort is 15 km (9 miles) away from the city of Tetouan and a 45-minute drive from bustling Tangier. Positioned between the rugged Rif Mountains and the glistening Mediterranean Sea, Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay, Morocco resort offers spectacular waterfront views and sublime resort living.

Hotel website: Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay

BANYAN TREE TAMOUDA BAY, MOROCCO

6. FOUR SEASONS CASABLANCA, MOROCCO

Cool and avant-garde on the beachfront of Morocco’s largest city, Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca enjoys a prestigious resort-style setting, just a short distance from the business district and the historic city centre. The new hotel is part of the master-planned Anfa Place community, combining residential, business, shopping and entertainment. Only five storeys in height, the intimately scaled Casablanca hotel features 186 ultra-spacious guest rooms, including 29 suites – most with private balconies overlooking the ocean or gardens. The hotel is ideally located to explore the city’s vibrant social scene. It features four Casablanca restaurants, an outdoor pool and club-like spa, and fitness centre. Meetings and events will unfold in the ballroom and five function rooms, open to outdoor terraces that will celebrate Morocco’s year-round warmth and sunshine.

Hotel website: Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca

FOUR SEASONS CASABLANCA, MOROCCO

7. THE HIGHLANDS, TANZANIA

Home to leopard, buffalo and elephant, the Ngorongoro crater experience is redefined by The Highlands, raising the bar  for low-impact/high-style camps. Carefully positioned for maximum privacy high on the slopes of the Olmoti volcano, the lodge’s guests enjoy sweeping views all the way to the Serengeti. Inspiration for the eight canvas-and-glass domed suites was drawn from the traditional Maasai bomas that dot the landscape. Warm, intimate and contemporary, this is quite simply the perfect place from which to discover the wild and pristine Crater Highlands. At the heart of the camp is an authentic indoor fireplace designed to emulate the traditional East African campfire experience. Delve into the library or enjoy a drink from the extensive bar and unwind in comfort and style at the end of each rewarding day.

Hotel website: The Highlands

THE HIGHLANDS, TANZANIA

8. THANDA ISLAND, TANZANIA

Thanda Island is a tropical island with a single luxurious, five bedroom villa and two rustic Tanzanian Bandas in the Indian Ocean, off the east coast of Tanzania. Beach house romance, nostalgia and East African elegance personify the villa on Thanda Island, designed for a perfect summer in coastal whites, greens and blues. The owners of Thanda Island, Christin and Dan Olofsson of Sweden, built the villa as their own discreet, sumptuous retreat and private playground, but have now developped this remarkably uncommon destination into a very special, totally private island getaway. Situated in its own marine reserve, you can bathe in blue heaven with the gentlest giant of the ocean, the whale shark, and watch sea turtles nesting.

Hotel website: Thanda Island

THANDA ISLAND, TANZANIA

9. LIMALIMO LODGE, ETHIOPIA

Perched on the edge of the escarpment, Limalimo Lodge is a beautiful place to experience Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains National Park, a nature reserve listed by UNESCO as a site of outstanding beauty. The lodge features simple luxury and elegant design influenced by rural Ethiopia style in a stunning setting. The bar and restaurant are perched on top of the hill with views along the dramatic escarpment and onto the lowlands below. The 12 rooms are scattered around the site among the trees with views over wooded hillsides. Guests are able to explore the unique flora and fauna of the Simiens and visit local communities, or simply relax in the comfort of the lodge and its grounds.

Hotel website: Limalimo Lodge

LIMALIMO LODGE, ETHIOPIA

10. &BEYOND MATETSI RIVER LODGE, ZIMBABWE

Situated in a 50 000 hectare (123 500 acre) private wildlife concession on the Zambezi River, near Victoria Falls, the brand new lodge provides the most luxurious accommodation and most unique wildlife experiences in the area. &Beyond Matetsi River Lodge consists of two camps of nine suites each, including a family suite at each camp. Highlighting the area’s cultural heritage, Matetsi is decorated with traditional abstract carvings of wood and stone and features a strong copper theme in homage to the mineral riches of the region. The lodge boasts a generous Safari Shop and state-of-the-art gym, as well as a massage sala and conference facility. A 20-meter-long (66-foot-long) rim flow swimming pool stretches along the river’s bank.

Hotel website: &Beyond Matetsi River Lodge

9. &BEYOND MATETSI RIVER LODGE, ZIMBABWE

11. PARK HYATT MALLORCA, SPAIN

For discerning global travelers, Park Hyatt Mallorca is a luxury retreat which reflects the style of a traditional Mallorquin hilltop village with references of local art and cultural heritage.  Situated on the east coast of Mallorca, the new Park Hyatt Mallorca overlooks the majestic Canyamel valley, offering views of the Balearic Sea and the town of Canyamel. The hotel has 142 spacious and luxuriously appointed guest rooms, and 16 uniquely designed suites, brilliantly combing a blend of sophistication and upscale residential comfort with timeless regional accents. The hotel also offers a sophisticated dining experience centered around a village square, presenting a range authentic cuisines catering to all tastes.

Hotel website: Park Hyatt Mallorca

Accolades: Park Hyatt Mallorca features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in Spain, and the best luxury resorts in the Balearic Islands.

Tip: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade on arrival, daily continental breakfast, $100 USD food & beverage credit, early check-in and late check-out).

Review: read here my review of the Park Hyatt Mallorca.

12. THE RITZ-CARLTON BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Located in the heart of the cultural and shopping district, the hotel is literally on the doorstep of Budapest’s heralded historic sites. The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest, is housed within a protected historic building, located on Elizabeth Square, with views over St Stephens Basilica. Constructed in 1914 as the headquarters for an Italian insurance company, the building has seen many incarnations, but now it is a luxury property with 170 elegantly appointed rooms and 30 suites.  Whilst many of the building’s original architectural details have been retained, including elegant statues on the exterior walls, the interiors offer guests a spacious and relaxed contemporary environment, inspired by the cool colours and swirling water of the Danube River.

Hotel website: The Ritz-Carlton Hungary

Tip: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade on arrival, daily continental breakfast, $100 USD food & beverage credit, early check-in and late check-out).

THE RITZ-CARLTON BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

13. IL SERENO LAGO DI COMO, ITALY

Il Sereno Lago di Como is the first new hotel on Lake Como, Italy, in decades. Designed by famed Milan-based architect and designer Patricia Urquiola, the all-suites hotel features 30 oversized suites, all with their own furnished terraces and lake views. Il Sereno is the third property to join the Sereno Hotels portfolio after Le Sereno Hotel & Villas in St. Barthélemy and Villa Pliniana, also located on Lake Como. Decorated Milan restaurateur and Michelin star chef, Andrea Berton, is at the helm of the hotel’s signature restaurant, Ristorante Berton Al Lago, featuring an exquisite menu inspired by the region. Rounding out the all-star team, acclaimed botanist Patrick Blanc contributed his signature vertical botanical gardens throughout the property, including a spectacular ‘green sculpture’ work of art.

Hotel website: Il Sereno Lago Di Como

Tip: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade on arrival, daily continental breakfast, $100 USD resort credit, early check-in and late check-out).

IL SERENO LAGO DI COMO, ITALY

14. THE RITZ PARIS, FRANCE

“When I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Ritz Paris” Ernest Hemingway once wrote in a letter to his friend and fellow writer A.E. Hotchner. It’s been awhile, but the iconic hotel is back in action, after the 117-year-old landmark closed in 2012 for a top-to-bottom restoration by celebrated architect and designer Thierry W. Despont. The grand hotel – where Princess Diana spent her last hours – now features a 50-50 ratio of suites to rooms; a renovated Bar Hemingway, dedicated to the novelist and frequent guest; the world’s first and only Chanel Spa; and a tunnel from the parking facility to the hotel for private VIP entrances. Behind the walls, the latest in technology has been added throughout the hotel while great care has been taken to ensure that “the Ritz will always be the Ritz.”

Hotel website: Ritz Paris

Tip: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, and a complimentary one-way private airport transfer).

THE RITZ PARIS HOTEL, FRANCE

15. SOHO HOUSE BARCELONA, SPAIN

Soho House Barcelona is set in a striking 18th century building in the historic Duc de Medinaceli square, overlooking Port Vell marina. That’s a short walk away from the iconic Las Ramblas, La Boqueria food market, and from the Gaudí-designed Palau Güell. The new hotel reflect Catalan culture through design features, such as its vaulted tiled ceilings and intricate metal work, but also embrace the fun spirit of the city. Arranged around a central glass atrium which runs throughout, all 57 rooms, that vary in size, have rustic Spanish patterned tiles, unique artworks and bathrooms with vintage bronze fittings. The hotel also has two restaurants, a rooftop pool, an indoor pool, a 30-room movie theater, a game room, and one of the brand’s signature Cowshed spas, with amenities provided by the British beauty line.

Hotel website: Soho House Barcelona

SOHO HOUSE BARCELONA, SPAIN

16. EROSANTORINI, GREECE

Tucked away on a cliff  high above the Mediterranean Sea, this utterly beautiful property offers one of the most breathtaking vistas on the globe, capturing Santorini’s iconic whitewashed villages, epic sunsets, and vibrant land and seascapes. Designer Paola Navone, recognized worldwide for brilliantly melding a modern design aesthetic with local materials and traditional handicrafts, has brought her prodigious gifts to Erosantorini, creating quintessentially Greek interiors and open-air salons that exude an effortless barefoot chic. The resort has only four suites, with each suite featuring its own private and semi-private space for outdoor living in every season, with dramatic floating fireplaces, heated private plunge pools, outdoor Jacuzzis, radiant heated floors, and magnificent views throughout.

Hotel website: Erosantorini

EROSANTORINI, GREECE

17. CANYON RANCH WELLNESS RESORT AT KAPLANKAYA, TURKEY

Canyon Ranch opened its first-ever international destination outside the USA, Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort at Kaplankaya, on a spectacular peninsula of the sun-kissed Aegean coast in Turkey. The resort lies directly on the waterfront in Turgutreis, approximately 20 km (12 mi) from the centre of Bodrum. The two-storey hotel of comprises 66 rooms and suites. This is further complimented by 72 serviced residences. The restaurants and bars are places of entertainment, where the ambience runs from formal to casual and dishes are prepared with the best local products. With indoor & outdoor pools and Purovel Spa & Sport facilities, the resort provides guests with a wide variety of sport and leisure opportunities.

Hotel website: Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort at Kaplankaya

Accolades: Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort at Kalpankaya features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Bodrum.

CANYON RANCH WELLNESS RESORT AT KAPLANKAYA, TURKEY

18. NIKKI BEACH RESORT & SPA BODRUM, TURKEY

Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Bodrum is a luxury, lifestyle beachfront boutique hotel on the southwestern coast of Turkey. Designed to blend into its natural surroundings, the property utilizes modern elements to define Nikki Beach’s sleek look, with a nod to local aesthetics and materials. The contemporary property features 76 suites and villas. In-room amenities include indoor and outdoor bathrooms, entertainment walls, panoramic sea views and private pools, patios and decks. Among the hotel’s remarkable offerings, guests can enjoy pontoons and decks built into the sea, a rooftop relaxing pool area and expansive spa and gym fitness facilities.  Nikki Beach Resort & Spa’s philosophy blends high and low energy levels, creating environments that provide the ultimate entertainment, indulgence and relaxation. The goal is to make each experience a personal journey.

Hotel website: Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Bodrum

NIKKI BEACH RESORT & SPA BODRUM, TURKEY

19. QT BONDI, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA‎

QT Bondi Beach Accommodation offers the only boutique, high-end hotel apartments on Bondi Beach. Experience an exhilarating mix of Bondi barefoot luxury with all the creature comforts you would expect to find in a world-class designer hotel. Welcome to the ultimate in chic beachside glamour. Created by renowned Australian designer Nic Graham, the QT Bondi Accommodation has an impressive selection of 69 extra-spacious studios and apartments that mix barefoot luxury with designer digs in the signature quirky-yet-stylish QT manner. The QT Bondi is essentially serviced apartments as you won’t find the typical hotel facilities on-site such as restaurants, gym or spa. The philosophy of the hotel is to make you feel like a Bondi local with an emphasis on guests making the most of exploring the neighbourhood and staff are well versed in pointing out where to go.

Hotel website: QT Bondi

QT BONDI, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA‎

20. CONRAD MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Positioned atop S Maison, a high-end retail complex on the edge of Manila Bay, the visually striking Conrad Manila offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Makati; but also enjoys easy access to the airport and lots of shopping, dining, recreation and attractions. Inspired by the impressive vessels that traverse the bay, Conrad Manila’s stunning architecture makes strong connections to the immediate waters in front, and the skyline of Makati’s Central Business District behind the hotel. The hotel has 347 guest rooms, with a high proportion of suites to anticipate and meet the expectations of the growing number of seasoned business and leisure travelers. The 8-storey structure also houses a dedicated sky park.

Hotel website: Conrad Manila

CONRAD MANILA, PHILIPPINES

21. SHANGRI-LA AT THE FORT, MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila, is a landmark, mixed-use development in the heart of Bonifacio Global City (BGC), an emerging contemporary lifestyle district at the centre of Metro Manila and one of the fastest growing urban developments in Asia. Rising 250 metres high, Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila, is one of the tallest towers in the Philippines. The hotel features 576 contemporary and spacious guestrooms and suites with unparalleled city and bay views. With one of the largest portfolios of conference and meeting venues in the city, Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila’s event spaces can suit any occasion. Guests can explore a variety of innovative cuisines from around the world, with seven dining concepts housed in the hotel.

Hotel website: Shangri-La at the Fort Manila

SHANGRI-LA AT THE FORT, MANILA, PHILIPPINES

22. SHANGRI-LA HAMBANTOTA RESORT & SPA, SRI LANKA

Overlooking the pristine southern coast of beautiful Sri Lanka, Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa is located along the ancient Spice Route in a city steeped in rich history. Hambantota is known for its natural beauty and wildlife, and allows visitors to explore Asia’s most fascinating nature sanctuaries, including the Yala and Bundala National Parks. The luxury resort spans 53 hectares, making it the largest resort in Sri Lanka, and boasts 300 spacious rooms, including 21 suites, all surrounded by stunning tropical gardens. It is home to an 18-hole golf course, an expansive spa and an artisan village that celebrates local arts and crafts.

Hotel website: Shangri-La Hambantota Resort & Spa

SHANGRI-LA HAMBANTOTA RESORT & SPA, SRI LANKA

23. ANANTARA KALUTARA, SRI LANKA

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas has opened its second resort in Sri Lanka, a peacefully secluded hideaway located along the island’s southwest coast. Only ten minutes from the town of Kalutara and an hour south of the capital Colombo, Anantara Kalutara has a unique setting between the Indian Ocean and Kalu River and boasts coastal, river and lagoon frontage. All 141 guest rooms, suites and pool villas immerse guests in stunning views, with private balconies and terraces overlooking lush gardens, the ocean or lagoon. All guest rooms come with a wine humidor as standard and interconnecting, disabled and poolside guest rooms are available. Suites are set apart by an elegant lounge and the one-of-a-kind one bedroom Presidential Suite boasts a private plunge pool and sundeck. The resort has two swimming pools, a fantastic spa and a choice of three restaurants.

Hotel website: Anantara Kalutara

ANANTARA KALUTARA

24. SANTANI, SRI LANKA

Santani is the first and only purpose-built wellness resort in Sri Lanka. Offering effective, meaningful wellness without artifice, Santani has a pure and simple purpose: to help you get unstuck. This 48-acre former tea plantation within a pristine forest now functions as a restorative destination spa, which is completely accessible yet blissfully secluded. The 1

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