From Antigua to Tahiti, the new five-star hotels in the Forbes travel guide for 2020
It does not require the Hubble telescope to view the most recent five-star hotels in the hospitality industry. But it could easily take a year to visit them all. Forbes Travel Guide inspectors traveled from Santa Barbara, Seychelles to find its 2020 Star Award winners, an elite group of the world’s most luxurious hotels, restaurants and spas.
A record 107 new five-star award winners landed on the 62nd annual list, the result of ambitious expansion. Forbes Travel Guide has ventured into 16 countries including Bahamas, Cambodia, Egypt, Fiji, French Polynesia, India, Jordan, Maldives, New Zealand, Scotland and South Africa.
To experience the most notable properties, Forbes Travel Guide’s incognito inspectors check into a hotel for a minimum of two nights, masquerading as regular guests and paying their own fare. Then they test up to 900 objective and rigorous standards, including whether a staff member greets them on the sidewalk within 30 seconds of arrival, whether clothing left in a room is neatly folded or draped and placed within sight. after the nightly turndown service, and whether the staff uniforms demonstrated exceptional design. Ratings total 75 percent of a hotel’s score based on its service, while the remaining 25 percent is determined by the quality of its facilities.
Check out the full list of Michelin-starred properties here, and learn more about notable new five-star hotels, restaurants and spas below.
For the second year, London is boasting the distinction as the city with the most five-star hotels, with 19. New additions to the five-star hotel stable include: The Berkeley; Brown’s Hotel, a Rocco Forte hotel (the oldest property in London); The Egerton House Hotel; the historic Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square; The Milestone Hotel and Residences; and Rosewood London.
The Maldives got off to a flying start on the list, winning six of the highest accolades. The winners go above and beyond with their offers. At boutique hotel Velaa Private Island, play the nine-hole golf course designed by Masters champion José María Olazábal, get up close to marine life on a Seabob underwater scooter or cool off in the unique snow from the spa room, the only one in the Maldives. The Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa recently unveiled new Beach Pavilion accommodations with private plunge pools, and the Four Seasons Explorer, a three-deck catamaran with 11 guest cabins, docked at the property. Dive into the waters of Cheval Blanc Randheli to swim with manta rays or snorkel at night to observe biofluorescent marine life.
Design also shines in hotels in the Maldives. The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort is modern with the sleek architecture of its villas and the Whale Bar in the shape of a whale shark. The spa’s Blue Hole Pool is an expansive hydrotherapy oasis that seems to blend into the ocean. The three Kanuhura Maldives have a bohemian vibe with whitewashed villas adorned with funky art and pearl swings and a beach teepee from Bar Iru. One & Only Reethi Rah brings the scenery to the forefront, from yoga in a lodge on stilts to dining in a treehouse.
Other destinations with five-star first-time accolades include Cambodia (Amansara and Belmond La Residence d’Angkor); Cape Town (Delaire Graff Lodge and One & Only Cape Town) and Johannesburg, South Africa (Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg and Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa); Doha (Mandarin Oriental, Doha); Fiji (dolphin island); Ireland (Ashford Castle); Mauritius (Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita, One & Only Le Saint Géran and The Oberoi Beach Resort, Mauritius); Monte-Carlo (Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo); Moscow (Four Seasons Hotel Moscow) and Saint Petersburg, Russia (Lotte Hotel St. Petersburg); Prague (Four Seasons Hotel Prague); the Seychelles (Frégate Island Private); the Cayman Islands (The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman); Perth (Perth Crown Towers); Bora Bora (The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort) and Tahiti (The Brando).
In the United States, nine hotels are joining the next generation of top tier. Encore at Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Las Vegas bring the total number of five stars under Wynn’s roof to seven; they join previous winners Wynn Tower Suites, Encore Tower Suites, The Spa at Wynn Las Vegas, The Spa at Encore Las Vegas and Wing Lei.
There’s also the Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, a former 1930s social club for stars in Miami that exudes glamor and has an outpost of Le Sirenuse restaurant on the Amalfi Coast.
In California, Santa Barbara additions include the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, where hotel guests have access to the member-exclusive Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club across the street, and the San Ysidro Ranch, which is making a triumphant return after being forced to close for renovations following mudslides in 2018. Last but not least, there’s The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, a property with a prime location along from the breathtaking jagged coastline about 30 minutes from San Francisco.
In Rhode Island, there’s Ocean House, a Victorian oceanfront beauty, and its more rustic sister property, the Weekapaug Inn. The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas showcases Texas pride with its “guacamologist,” who hands out guacamole and margaritas in the lobby daily, and an eponymous restaurant from Southwestern chef extraordinary Dean Fearing.
While Macau can resist the effects of the coronavirus, it still reigns supreme as the five-star restaurant capital of the world. Among the 23 big winners, newcomers include Lai Heen (perched on the 51st floor of the Ritz-Carlton, Macau, the tallest Chinese restaurant in town); SW Steakhouse at Wynn Palace Macau, where you can enjoy delicious cuts and seafood while watching a theatrical performance; Le 8, a sensual red, black and gold space of the Grand Lisboa Hotel which offers 40 kinds of dim sum and more than 17,000 wine labels; and Ying, whose Cantonese cuisine is as exquisite as the views of the Macau Peninsula and Tower from its 11th-floor location in Altira Macao. The futuristic hotel Morpheus designed by Zaha Hadid landed a pair of five-star spots: Alain Ducasse at Morpheus, which serves fine French cuisine under glistening blown glass tubes that hang from a silver ceiling, and Yí, where you can enjoy regional Chinese cuisine tasting menus.
Elsewhere in Asia, Chinese innovative sensation Bo Innovation and contemporary French pillar Rech by Alain Ducasse round out the Hong Kong winners. And Les Amis praises the gastronomic destination of Singapore for the sophisticated French gastronomy of chef Sébastien Lepinoy.
In the United States, California dominates with 12 five-star restaurants. New entrees range from Sonoma (the ingredients at SingleThread Farms restaurant come from his own farm) to San Francisco (the poetic meal at Atelier Crenn and the fine Asian-influenced cuisine at Benu) to Beverly Hills (a counter 10-seat chef by José Andrés and Aitor Zabala at the SLS hotel in Beverly Hills, the Somni of a Luxury Collection hotel).
As wellness continues to thrive in the hospitality industry, more and more luxury hotels are focusing on their spas. This year, 24 spas were awarded the first five stars. Macau leads the pack with five new recipients: Morpheus Spa, where your dedicated spa butler guides you through the experience in the two-story hideaway; The Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Macao, Cotai Strip, whose Portugal with Love service immerses you in the city’s Portuguese roots by incorporating Port wine; The Grand Lisboa Spa, where each treatment begins in a thoughtful way with a 10-minute relaxation ritual (cleaning and massage of hands and feet); and the Tria spas at MGM Cotai and MGM Macau, which introduced So Sound therapy to the city as a way to combat stress.
A new five-star trio consolidates Los Cabos as a spa destination. One & Only Spa at Palmilla offers 13 spa villas, Mexican remedies (like a consultation with a shaman), and the services of renowned podiatrist / pedicurist Bastien Gonzalez. At the Waldorf Astoria Spa Los Cabos, retreat to one of the treatment suites floating over a swimming pool to participate in catering services that draw inspiration from the phases of the moon, the sea, and Mexican folk healing. The largest spa on the Baja California Peninsula, the 40,000-square-foot Montage Los Cabos Spa pampers with a tranquil adults-only pool, expansive wet facilities, and locker rooms stocked with Agave Spa products (including face and eye gel) for your use.
And Arizona’s acclaimed spa scene has received a boost with a new five-star trio. In Phoenix, Aji Spa, whose name means “sanctuary” in the Native American Pima language, incorporates the traditions of the Pima and Maricopa tribes into its treatments and design. Near Tucson, The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain uses local gems to heal everything from stress to poor energy flow. And Scottsdale’s Phoenician Spa lets you swim in the rooftop pool while gazing out over Camelback Mountain, blend your own essential oils in its Aroma Design Bar, and take classes like aerial yoga.
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