September 2019 Best of the Best 2019: The Winners

Best of the Best 2019: The Winners

Mezcal sunrise: Float on up to the pool bar at Montage Los Cabos.
Mezcal sunrise: Float on up to the pool bar at Montage Los Cabos.
Virtuoso travel advisors voted on the top hotel, wellness program, bar and restaurant experiences, and more for our 13th annual hotel awards.
Hotel of the Year: Four Seasons Hotel George V
In a city where elegance is as ubiquitous as croissants, the eighth-arrondissement Four Seasons Hotel George V has epitomized Parisian sophistication since its opening in 1928, with impeccable white-glove service, an A-list guest registry, and chef Christian Le Squer’s three-Michelin-starred Le Cinq (the hotel’s other restaurants, Le George and L’Orangerie, each have a star of their own as well). But the George V’s friendly staff, magnificent floral displays, and cozy corners and courtyard for lingering banish any stuffiness. Last summer, the hotel debuted a decadent new spa with an indoor swimming pool and dozens of treatments and fitness programs, including an early-morning, staff-led jog past the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and other landmarks. Fine artwork and antiques lend each of the 244 guest rooms and suites a timeless Frenchness reminiscent of an eighteenth-century apartment. To put it simply, even after all these years, the George V is as à la mode as ever.
Hospitality in full bloom: Jeff Leatham’s arrangements enliven the George V’s public spaces.
Hospitality in full bloom: Jeff Leatham’s arrangements enliven the George V’s public spaces.
Best Achievement in Design: Rosewood Hong Kong
Soaring 65 stories above Victoria Dockside, a new art- and design-forward district on the Kowloon waterfront, Rosewood Hong Kong's glittering glass tower fits right in with Hong Kong’s gravity-defying skyline. Inside, Western and Asian aesthetics blend seamlessly, from the octagonal Chinese bagua symbol found on carpets and walls to coconut-wood columns, copper-mesh-lined French pendant lights, Damien Hirst artwork, and Indian artist Bharti Kher’s life-size elephant sculpture. Most of the 413 guest rooms show off Victoria Harbour, and each floor has a salon where guests can relax amid objets d’art while sipping cocktails or tea served by butlers, putting a chic home-away-from-home spin on this ultra-urban metropolis.
A Grand Harbour Corner Suite’s bathroom.
A Grand Harbour Corner Suite’s bathroom.
Best Bar: Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar at Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club
Amalfi Coast bars perfected the art of aperitivo, and that muse is everywhere at this stylish import from Positano’s Le Sirenuse hotel in the historic 77-room Surf Club’s original ballroom. With a splash of la dolce vita and a dash of tropical glitz, the elegant bar and lounge serves the largest selection of Champagne in the Miami area, plus grappas, liqueurs, and bubbly-infused cocktails, in handblown Venetian glasses. The views may read Atlantic Ocean, but the bites – caprese, tuna tartare with squid ink, Sicilian anchovies with olive oil and Amalfi lemon – transport patrons straight to the Med.
Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar.
Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar.
Best Dining Experience: Restaurant Le Gabriel at La Réserve Paris Hotel and Spa
The gilded dining room inside a nineteenth-century mansion turned intimate 40-room hotel makes an unforgettable impression – and that’s before chef Jérôme Banctel brings his impressive pedigree, Breton upbringing, and influences from his extensive travels to the table with modern interpretations of French classics. Try the Brittany artichoke heart spiced with coriander or the pigeon with cacao and buckwheat, two of his signature standouts. Order à la carte, or opt for the tasting menu with wine pairing, each bite an affirmation of the kitchen’s two Michelin stars.
Restaurant Le Gabriel’s stately dining room.
Restaurant Le Gabriel’s stately dining room.
Best Wellness Program: Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa
Miraval helped pioneer the modern spa resort with its debut in 1995, and its flagship property on 400 acres at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains continues to lead the way today. Guests choose from more than 100 workshops, classes, and activities that include cooking and nutrition, private and group fitness workouts, beekeeping, and even equine therapy. Ease into one of the 146 rooms and suites, some with fireplaces and private patios, between outdoor pursuits and massages, facials, or Eastern energy treatments, acupuncture, and regenerating rituals at the Life in Balance Spa. Healthy gourmet meals in the restaurant or at the poolside café fuel guests’ paths to wellness.
Discover desert relaxation, balance, and health at Miraval.
Discover desert relaxation, balance, and health at Miraval.
Best Virtuoso Newcomer: Montage Los Cabos 
Montage’s contemporary, 39-acre desert-meets-the-sea retreat made waves when it debuted in Cabo’s already glittering hotel community last year. The resort opened as the brand’s first property outside the U.S., with 122 rooms and suites, three expansive villas with butler service and private pools, and Baja-inspired treatments at the 40,000-square-foot Spa Montage. Guests can fill days teeing off at the 18-hole golf course, snorkeling and paddleboarding in Santa Maria Bay – a protected marine sanctuary and one of the area’s few safely swimmable beaches – or simply lounging by the tiered pool. Two restaurants, including Marea, with panoramic Sea of Cortés views, serve a lineup of creative mezcal cocktails (the bars stock 50-plus varieties of the smoky spirit) and modern Mexican dishes such as an octopus tempura taco with chorizo powder and tuna tostadas with dried chili ashes. Confidential to kids: Hit up Paletas early; the best flavors of the coffee shop’s handmade Mexican popsicles often sell out.
Coveted cove: Montage’s perch on pristine Santa Maria Bay.
Coveted cove: Montage’s perch on pristine Santa Maria Bay.
Sustainable Tourism Leadership: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
Tucked beneath soaring escarpments within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage site, this 7,000-acre conservation success story a three-hour drive from Sydney serves as a model for how degraded ranchland can be restored to its natural grandeur. Kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and other wildlife roam the 40-room resort, which was the first in the world to achieve internationally accredited carbon-neutral certification when it opened in 2009. A love of nature and the environment permeates guest experiences, such as guided glowworm walks, stargazing, and nocturnal wildlife-viewing. Ongoing conservation work includes the revegetation of stream banks for wildlife habitat, including the endemic duck-billed platypus, and a program to restore the Wollemi pine – a species that dates back some 200 million years and was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered nearby in the 1990s. Guests can join in on wombat surveys and tree-planting projects, among other on-site conservation activities. – Costas Christ, global strategist, sustainability
Australia’s only carbon-neutral resort, One&Only Wolgan Valley.
Australia’s only carbon-neutral resort, One&Only Wolgan Valley.
Best Family Program: Grand Velas Riviera Maya
This 205-acre, all-inclusive Caribbean resort is serious about child’s play: Families can bond over horseback riding, boogie boarding, and snorkeling from the sandy beach, among other adventures, then dial the activity and adrenaline levels back at the pool or serene spa (there’s a kids’ spa-treatment menu). The Kids’ Club invites 4- through 12-year-olds to drop in for supervised storytelling, movies, board games, and other curiosity quenchers, and teens get their own chill-out space with karaoke, pool tables, dancing, and a bar with drinks and snacks. The resort’s 539 suites include accommodations just for families near the pool and beach for easy access to the next play date, and the “baby concierge” stocks everything from strollers and bouncers to bathtubs and bottles – and arranges sitters for date nights too.
Sun and sand by day at Grand Velas Riviera Maya.
Sun and sand by day at Grand Velas Riviera Maya.
Hotelier of the Year: Amanda Hyndman, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London
 
Amanda Hyndman’s career spans more than 30 years and some of the world’s most prestigious hotel addresses, including Mandarin Oriental’s Bangkok flagship, where she was the first female general manager at the storied hotel. She took over the 181-room Hyde Park property in June 2018, just one week after the completion of a $130 million, two-year renovation – and just two days before a fire broke out and shuttered the hotel. Needless to say, she’s a pro at handling adversity: Hyndman transitioned her staff to help with the rebuilding process and made it through the nine-month closure without laying off a single person. The hotel bounced back in style and reopened last summer with Hyndman and her welcoming demeanor, kindness, and commitment at the helm. 
Best Virtuoso Hotel Ambassador: Carlos Quereda, Querido Representation Co.
 
During his decade-long tenure at the Marbella Club on Spain’s Costa del Sol, Carlos Quereda was inspired by resort cofounder Count Rudolf von Schönburg’s daily ritual of greeting guests and staff, converting them into lifelong friends of the fashionable hotel. Quereda replicates that generosity of spirit and personalized hospitality to satisfy each traveler’s quest for one-of-a-kind properties that embody local traditions and soul, and he has made the Virtuoso family the foundation of his business, earning the admiration of travel advisors and hoteliers alike. Count Rudi would be proud.
 

Popular Articles