By John Wogan
Apr 21, 2021
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, the past 12 months were big for hotel openings. Flinging open their doors for the first time, these new and revamped properties welcomed guests inside with a (masked) hello and a taste of travel’s future.
This is the Travel+Leisure guide to the essential openings of the past 12 months. It includes 73 hotels in 29 countries — sparkling skyscrapers, restored heritage buildings, tented camps where your nearest neighbors are rare wildlife, even a train parked on a bridge over a raging river. Beyond each of their unique brands of luxury, gastronomic excellence and dedication to diverse facets of our wellbeing, many have in their missions to do good.
Read on and click through for your next new favorite places to stay.
BILLED AS THE CITY’S FIRST ‘six-star’ hotel, Crown Sydney arrived late last year with a splash. Towering over the waterfront at Barangaroo, the all-glass skyscraper (read our review here) twists 275 meters into the ether and each of the 349 rooms and 22 villas boast different layouts and influences of the harbor. The high-gloss Opera Executive Suite, for example, has a cheeky backside glimpse of the Harbour Bridge, a jet-black marbled bathroom, muted silver wallpaper, giant metallic columns and rich Frette linen. There’s an air of opulence from the moment you enter the lobby, a grand space with an illuminated spiraling atrium. There are 14 signature restaurants and bars, including the habitually booked-out Nobu, as well as a spa with an infrared sauna and vitality pool. But the showpiece is the fifth-floor terrace infinity pool. With its buzzy vibe and Ibiza-esque beats, US$275-a-day private cabanas, water-tight security, plush daybeds and designer-clad clientele clasping cocktails, this is Sydney in all its vertical-resort glory.
The Johri at Lal Haveli
ON A SIDE STREET IN JAIPUR’S bustling Johri Bazaar (home of the city’s fine-jewelry market), you might be surprised to hear contemporary jazz drifting out of a quiet courtyard. At the Johri—a boutique hotel set in a 19th-century haveli, or mansion—co-owners Abhishek Honawar, Naina Shah, and Siddharth Kasliwal have created a modern, welcoming retreat that pays homage to the area’s history of craft. Johri means “jeweler”; accordingly, each of the five suites is modeled after a different precious stone or metal: ruby, sapphire, emerald, pearl and gold. Guests can also expect a “high-chai” afternoon tea service and an in-room gin-and-tonic at dusk. While the verandas, spa, and lounge bar will be accessible only to hotel guests, the vegetarian Indian restaurant and cocktail bar are open to the public and are sure to become a magnet for the city’s style set.
thejohrijaipur.com; doubles from US$300. —PRASAD RAMAMURTHY
Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
IN THE MOUNTAINOUS, snow-globe village of Niseko on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, Ritz-Carlton has debuted its latest ultra-high-end Reserve. As with its sister properties, the vibe here is intimate, with only 50 guest rooms and an understated design scheme that mirrors its natural surroundings. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame the peaks of Mount Yotei and Mount Annupuri, and rooms are decorated with delicate cherry-blossom motifs in a nod to the area’s explosion of blooms every spring. Skiers will appreciate access to more than 800 hectares of terrain that gets some of the world’s driest, fluffiest powder, with plenty of groomed runs and off-piste areas. Off the slopes, there are miles of hiking and biking trails, two 18-hole golf courses, and an onsen spa fed by Hokkaido’s mineral-rich hot springs. The chefs, meanwhile, work with farmers and fishermen to incorporate the island’s famous produce and seafood into such dishes as soufflé pancakes with yuzu custard and omakase sushi paired with regional sake.
ritzcarlton.com; doubles from US$710. —SELENA HOY
One&Only Desaru Coast
Courtesy of One&Only
NEVER HEARD OF DESARU? This pristine southeastern shoreline of Malaysia is hoping to change that, morphing into the region’s next luxury-resortville, with One&Only leading the charge. Here, perched on a kilometer-long white-powder beach, the greenery-topped clean lines and right angles melding into 51 hectares of lush surrounds come courtesy of late starchitect Kerry Hill. There are only 45 keys, and each has a private pool; book the four-bedroom Villa One if you’re looking to together in style. If the gorgeous location, a 90-minute drive from Singapore, doesn’t work wonders for your soul, the first Chenot spa in Asia runs the full spectrum of treatments you’ve likely never heard of but definitely want in your life, prescribing them based on your vitality index score on their proprietary biomarker analysis. The point of that mouthful is to energize and optimize your body and mind—a great take-home from vacation, if we do say so ourselves.
FUN FACT: Capella Bangkok has the most pools of any hotel in the city— one, the main, transports you to St-Tropez; seven are in giant riverfront villas you’re going to want to move into on arrival; and 10 swish on the oversized porches of oversized rooms and suites (accomms in this urban resort start at 61 square meters, and all 101 keys face west over the river and offer outdoor space) that could host a barbecue or fulfill your city #sunsetgoals dreams. But do try to extricate yourselves from the Vifa-speakered, bamboo- and aluminum-toiletried, double-bathrobed room (see our story here), especially at the witching hour, because the daily “Cin cin” serves up an hour of complimentary adult beverages and then there’s so much divine dining and drinking to be had (their Michelin contender Cote offers seafood-focused Med fare designed by three-starred Mauro Colagreco, accompanied by a stellar cellar of rare wines and the largest range of small-batch champagnes in town). The Auriga Spa has trained a singing bowl orchestra, and offers aquatherapy circuits in each dressing room and a partnership with one of Bangkok’s best hospitals that tailors your wellness program—including plant-based meals on demand from the in-house garden—to your doctor’s orders. One thing you won’t need his help prescribing: making Capella Bangkok your own personal pied a terre.
Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô
ZANNIER ONLY HAS five hotels and is all about small-batch, purposeful hospitality, dedicated to preservationist travel and epicureanism that stays authentic to the destination. At their newest, Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô (read our review here), which opened last December, 71 villas are arranged in three categories, each in a different traditional Vietnamese architectural style: the Beach villas are an ode to the local Cham architecture, with pitched bamboo roofs and exterior walls finished in a mixture of clay, sand and straw; Hill Pool villas are inspired by the traditional homes of the Ede ethnic group; and the Paddy Field villas evoke the lives of local fishermen. We’re told Arnaud Zannier bought the land to immerse guests in a feeling of wondrous remoteness. A 45-minute drive from Quy Nhơn, on the barely touristed central coast of Vietnam between Nha Trang and Danang, that feeling dominates this photogenic, oh-so-romantic, luxury hideaway.
Others in the region
For full descriptions, visit travelandleisure.com/it-list.
Xigera Safari Lodge
WHILE YOU’RE LIKELY to spot lions, white rhinos, herds of elephants, and even a leopard or two, wildlife isn’t the only visual thrill at this Botswana lodge, which is perched on stilts above the Okavango Delta. Xigera teamed with Southern Guild, a Cape Town art gallery, to bring the work of 80 sub-Saharan artists and designers to the property, and each of the 12 tented villas could double as a gallery. Among the standout examples: ceramics from South African artists Andile Dyalvane and Atang Tshikare, wood benches and chairs crafted from fallen trees by Adam Birch, and a totemic sculpture by Conrad Hicks that encircles the crackling flames of the firepit. But the real showstopper is the three-story Baobab Treehouse, which sleeps two: The steel structure was inspired by a painting of the tree by South African artist Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef. The second-floor bedroom has a zippable canvas wall that can open to the starry night sky. And from the top-floor deck, guests can see the delta unfold all around them.
xigera.com; doubles from US$2,630, all-inclusive. —TRAVIS LEVIUS
St. Regis Cairo
PEACE AND CALM define Cairo’s latest high-end opening, where the double-glazed windows in guest rooms silence the nonstop action outside on the Nile Corniche. Serenity also reigns at the reflecting pools of the hotel’s Water Garden, where you can sip mint tea or a Bloody Mary made with hibiscus-infused vodka amid design details like arabesque lanterns and decorative mashrabiyas (windows covered with latticework). When it’s time to explore the city’s extraordinary history, fuel up on some of Cairo’s best falafel and ful medames (a classic Egyptian fava-bean stew with spices) at La Zisa—one of six restaurants on property—before heading off to experience the wonders of the Egyptian Museum, Khan el-Khalili bazaar, and the Pyramids, all a relatively short drive away. And for a glimpse of an unexpectedly bucolic side of the city, the hotel can arrange a speedboat up the Nile for scenes of palm groves, farms, and fishermen, complete with a picnic breakfast on a verdant stretch of the riverbank.
marriott.com; doubles from US$220. — NICOLA CHILTON
SUSPENDED HIGH ABOVE the Sabie River, in an engineering feat that balances heritage status with sound environmental management, Kruger Shalati feels like a total departure from conventional safari-lodge style. The hotel is actually a repurposed train comprising 24 glass-walled rooms set on former rail tracks. Romantic touches, like maroon leather headboards and a whimsical suite-numbering font, are complemented by vernacular motifs. A favorite example? In place of the regular waffle weave, silky bathrobes commissioned from rising textile-design star Bonolo Chepape riff on the bridge’s angular arches. I wore one for an in-room spa treatment during which I could admire hippos and elephants in the river below. I then retired to my flawlessly positioned tub before setting off on a game drive. As part of the hotel’s concession agreement, most of the guides and hospitality staff hail from communities surrounding the park. The commitment to economic impact and conceptual innovation is a welcome shake-up.
krugershalati.com; doubles from US$530 per person, all-inclusive. — MELANIE VAN ZYL
Others in the region
Angama Safari Camp, Kenya
Jack’s Camp, Botswana
Singita Sabora Tented Camp, Tanzania
The Mayfair Townhouse
TOWN-HOUSE HOTELS are having a moment in the British capital, and this West End newcomer—comprising 15 adjoining Georgian buildings built in the 18th century—is perhaps the best example. Situated on Half Moon Street, where the first act of Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest is set, the 172-room property provides easy access to the best of central London, with Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park all within walking distance. Long before hedge funders moved into the neighborhood, Mayfair was home to bohemian bons vivants (including Wilde and his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas), and the hotel pays affectionate homage to them. The Dandy Bar serves Victorian-inspired cocktails, including the Mr. Bosie, a vodka-and-gin-based affair that’s a nod to Douglas’s nickname. Richly layered materials like velvet and marble and a palette of deep reds, greens, and blues give rooms an era-appropriate feel. Meals are served anywhere on the property, including the Club Room or in guest rooms, and the lobster curry is a standout.
themayfairtownhouse.com; doubles from US$500. —REBECCA ROSE
Les Sources De Cheverny
THE CHÂTEAUX OF France’s Loire Valley are among the world’s architectural marvels, but you probably wouldn’t want to live amid all that opulence. Fortunately, the elegant but low-key Sources de Cheverny is a perfect antidote to the grandeur fatigue that can set in after gazing at too many spires. The hotel is a charming hamlet of converted stone outbuildings and wooden cabins on the grounds of a modest château. Owners Alice and Jérôme Tourbier have followed the same blueprint they used at Les Sources de Caudalie, the hotel at their family’s vineyard in Bordeaux: killer gastronomy, luxurious spa treatments (both hotels use products made with locally grown grapes), and cozy interiors with rooms clad in warm wood tones. Borrow a bike and pedal over to the 17th-century Château de Cheverny next door—the model for Marlinspike Hall in the Tintin books. Then come back to chef Frédéric Calmels’s gigot d’agneau de sept heures (leg of lamb cooked for seven hours) and a bottle of fruity Loire Chinon.
sources-cheverny.com; doubles from US$280 . —JOSHUA LEVINE
ALEX AND CARRIE VIK are known for tapping renowned architects to create inspiring, art-filled hotels in Uruguay and Chile. The Milan outpost of Vik Retreats marks the brand’s European debut, and while not immediately obvious from the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it entrance (tucked on a quiet side street steps from the Duomo), Galleria Vik Milano continues this tradition. A massive cast of Rodin’s The Thinker greets guests in the lobby, while the 89 rooms and suites feature a mix of contemporary, vintage, and antique furniture, plus works by Italian, Uruguayan and international artists. Choose a room with a private balcony overlooking the glass-vaulted arcades of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest shopping mall. It’s the ideal perch for people-watching and enjoying an Aperol Spritz before dinner at Vikissimo—which looks out on the Galleria’s famous bull mosaic—or I Dodici Gatti, the rooftop pizzeria, for simple, perfectly executed classics like caprese salads, margherita pies, and tiramisu.
galleriavikmilano.com; doubles from US$600. —RIMA SUQI
Four Seasons Hotel Madrid
IT TOOK EIGHT years of painstaking refurbishment, the suspension of a subway line, and US$700 million, but Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts’ first venture in Spain finally opened in September as part of Centro Canalejas, a seven-building complex off Puerta del Sol that also houses glitzy boutiques and private residences. Patience has paid off: behind the prowlike façade, marble staircases sweep up from the gilt-trimmed lobby to 200 spacious guest rooms that exude a sense of calm, with gauzy white curtains, tufted beige headboards, and bouquets of fresh-cut flowers. Bedside iPads connect you with the front desk via instant message; swipe to book a table at celebrity chef Dani García’s rooftop brasserie (then say ¡Sí! to dishes like scallop tartare bound with an Iberian-ham emulsion and drizzled with basil oil) or to schedule a treatment in the four-floor spa, which has a glass-enclosed pool set amid the hotel’s terra-cotta roofscape.
fourseasons.com; doubles from US$530. —BENJAMIN KEMPER
Others in the region
Wander the Resort
IN THE PAST few years, Prince Edward County (about a two-hour drive east of Toronto) has become a coveted escape for city folks looking for the best of country life—wide-open spaces, lakeside trails, and the rolling vineyards for which the region is known. Now there’s another reason to visit: Wander, a collection of 10 two-bedroom glass-and-timber cottages on the northern shore of West Lake created by designer Shannon Hunter. Her minimalist-yet-cozy style takes cues from nature, with rooms clad in warm wood and accented with jute rugs. Picture windows frame the calming landscapes; heated concrete floors and firepits on the private decks are especially useful in winter (the resort is open year-round). Families, meanwhile, will love using the full kitchens and dining areas for big sit-down dinners; staff can provide a stocked refrigerator with produce and wine.
wandertheresort.com; cottages from US$470. —HEATHER GREENWOOD DAVIS
Paradero Todos Santos
THE TERM immersive can feel like an overused buzz-word these days, but Paradero Todos Santos excels at connecting guests to the best of Baja California Sur through deeply authentic experiences. Founded by Mexico City–based duo Pablo Carmona and Josh Kremer, the 35-suite hotel sits on five acres surrounded by the Sierra de la Laguna range, a cactus-studded desert, and family-owned farmland. Minimalist suites occupy low-slung concrete buildings decorated with furnishings sourced from artisans around the country. In the restaurant’s open-flame kitchen, chef Eduardo Ríos celebrates local produce and seafood (the shrimp zarandeado is a standout, as is the spicy mezcal margarita). But the guided activities are what make the stay truly memorable. One morning, the team arranged yoga followed by surfing lessons with Mario’s Surf School at nearby Cerritos Beach. Our pros, Martín and Rafael, patiently explained proper form, led us into the gentle waves, and cheered enthusiastically—whether we toppled off or, finally, caught a brief-but-victorious ride.
paraderohotels.com; doubles from US$550. —SARAH BRUNING
THERE ARE HOTELS with the comforts of home, and then there are hotels like the Chloe, which were once actually lived in. Built in 1891 by Henry Picard, a prosperous merchant from Alsace, France, this former single-family mansion is now a 14-room property owned by restaurateur Robert LeBlanc and brought to new life by NOLA design powerhouse Sara Ruffin Costello. Each room has its singular charms, such as an armoire that you step into, like a secret passageway, to access a bathroom. Mine had a large window overlooking St. Charles Avenue, where the live oaks were still heavy with Mardi Gras beads and the whooshing sounds of the streetcar served as my soundtrack. In the afternoon, I sat on the front porch and sipped a martini, feeling like a character in a Tennessee Williams play. If the front of the house is straight-up Southern sophistication, the backyard—with its retro baby-pink loungers and heated pool—is its cooler sibling.
thechloenola.com; doubles from US$400. —ANNE RODERIQUE-JONES
Commodore Perry Estate
THE FIRST URBAN hotel from Auberge Resorts Collection began as a grand Jazz Age residence for a wealthy businessman. The original 1928 Italianate mansion remains the centerpiece, but Auberge has added an adjacent three-story building with a similar feel (white stucco façade, arched hallways, a terra-cotta roof) that gives the whole four-hectare property a cohesive look. Interior designer Ken Fulk created a baroque world of dusty-pink walls and muraled ceilings and filled it with Spanish Revival–inspired furnishings sourced from the famed Round Top antiques fair nearby. Even with all the eye candy, the best part of a stay might be a few hours spent lounging poolside under a canopy of oak trees with lunch from chef Bradley Nicholson, who uses produce supplied by the estate’s own farm.
auberge.com; doubles from US$600. —ALLISON MCNEARNEY
Life House Lower Highlands
IF WES ANDERSON were to make a western, the set would resemble Life House Lower Highlands. Period details—opulent Louis XVI bergères upholstered in floral patterns; leather headboards and sofas—transport guests to the late 1800s, when industrialists were moving west to frontier outposts like Denver. Today Lower Highlands, known as LoHi, is the city’s hippest neighborhood, home to stylish bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and breweries—and Life House finally gives the area its first boutique stay. The American West narrative continues in the 16 rooms, each decorated with Navajo-style pillows and botanical paintings. Some rooms come with bunk beds inspired by 19th-century Pullman sleeping cars; they don’t skimp on comfort, thanks to full-size mattresses and corduroy privacy curtains. The hotel restaurant, Wildflower, pays homage to the city’s Mexican and Italian settlers with dishes like smoked-chorizo-topped chilaquiles and beet salad with burrata imported from Puglia.
lifehousehotels.com; doubles from US$190. —JEN MURPHY
Mayflower Inn & Spa
HOW DO YOU TRANSFORM a staid but storied country hotel into a destination for the modern age? First, Auberge Resorts Collection appointed interior design star Celerie Kemble to infuse character into the Mayflower’s main building by replacing the damask and frills with one-of-a-kind pieces, including Turkish rugs, paper-flower arrangements, and a shoppable library of first-edition volumes from Johnnycake Books. Second, they rethought the food. When I visited in the fall, chef April Bloomfield had just begun a yearlong residency, bringing elevated field-to-fork cooking to the Garden Room restaurant. Finally, the spa was updated by the Well, the hot New York City health club. Neutral tones and natural fibers have freshened up the communal spaces, while a treatment program ranging from sound baths to tarot readings offers guests a taste of wellness culture at its most on-trend.
aubergeresorts.com; doubles from US$890. —FLORA STUBBS
THE VIBE IS MORE SUMMER CAMP than boot camp at the adults-only, 100- room Miraval Berkshires, which unfolds across 150 piney hectares. Booze is generously available, and while baby-kale-quinoa bowls are offered at the smoothie bar, so is a sizable array of fresh-baked pastries. Aside from its easygoing ethos, the draw is Miraval’s program of inventive, and decidedly active, wellness experiences. In the surrounding forest, you’ll find hatchet throwing, ropes courses, and classes in primitive fire-building techniques, as well as workshops on beekeeping, rehabilitating birds of prey, and meditating with horses (a fascinating practice in which the horse responds to the guest’s energy). Treatments in the 28-room Life in Balance spa—such as the Kombucha Facial, which uses a tuning fork to release jaw tension—are similarly imaginative. And the food is sourced regionally and from the resort’s organic garden (my favorite dish: the Hudson Valley steelhead poke with crispy rice).
SONOMA COUNTY’S most significant hotel opening in years faithfully embodies the area’s unspoiled, agricultural setting. Woods and plots of hillside vines blanket its 104 hectares, while the Modernist, earth-toned guest suites seem to disappear into the landscape. Immersion in nature is a big theme: there are miles of hiking trails on the grounds, most rooms have outdoor showers, and the spacious decks seem to hover amid the towering oaks. Outdoor yoga classes take place in a garden framed by vineyards, and e-bikes are available to stop by roadside markets and to see the region’s rural beauty up close, without having to get in a car. Nature informs the property’s main restaurant, too. At Hazel Hill, chef de cuisine Jason Pringle uses the surrounding fields and nearby Pacific to full advantage—the best dishes I ate all year were a poached lobster tail with organic root vegetables from the kitchen garden and salmon, caught off the Sonoma coast, with sunchokes and wild mushrooms.
montage.com; doubles from US$995. —JOHN WOGAN
Others in the region
Adero Scottsdale, Autograph Collection, Arizona
Camp Sarika by Amangiri, Utah
Cara Hotel, Los Angeles
Círculo Mexicano, Mexico City
Columns Hotel, New Orleans
Edgartown Inn, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
Emeline, Charleston, South Carolina
Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas, Mexico
Hew & Draw, Newfoundland
Hotel Kansas City, Missouri
Hotel Magdalena, Austin, Texas
Hotel Sin Nombre, Oaxaca, Mexico
Hotel Ynez, Santa Ynez Valley, California
Lake House Canandaigua, New York
Life House Nantucket, Massachusetts
The Maker, Hudson, New York
The Newbury Boston
One&Only Mandarina, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Palmaïa, The House of Aïa, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Riggs Washington D.C.
The Rockaway Hotel, New York City
The Roundtree, Amagansett, New York
Stables Inn, Paso Robles, California
Surety Hotel, Des Moines
Urban Cowboy Catskills, New York
White Elephant Palm Beach, Florida
White Water Cambria, California
Wylder Hope Valley, California
Central and South America and the Caribbean
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Rosewood Little Dix Bay
OVER THE YEARS, this iconic resort—established in 1964 by conservationist Laurance Rockefeller on 200 beach-fringed hectares of Virgin Gorda—has come back better not once, but twice. The Caribbean hideout was already closed for renovations when Hurricane Irma ravaged the island in 2017. Over the next four years, Rosewood rebuilt the cottages, tree houses, and ridge-top pool suites overlooking the bay; created three distinct open-air restaurants; stocked the Rum Room bar with more than 100 rare selections; and acquired catamarans for private shuttles from the Tortola airport (cocktails provided). Then, two months into its comeback, the pandemic hit, shuttering the 81-room resort and delaying its full unveiling until December. The wait was worth it. Though new offerings like secluded picnics and spa scrubs following swims at the famed Baths National Park are a treat, it’s the way Little Dix Bay has perfected the art of island living that keeps guests coming back.
rosewoodhotels.com; doubles from US$850. —ELAINE GLUSAC
Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf
EVEN BEFORE Hurricane Irma battered the tiny Caribbean island of St. Bart’s and most of its resorts in 2017, Le Carl Gustaf was undergoing a four-year restoration under the French hotel company Barrière. Its launch is part of a turning point for St. Bart’s, where several properties have come roaring back to life. The palm-shrouded grounds are set on a hill overlooking Gustavia, the main town, which is famous for its low-slung, red-roofed buildings. All of the hotel’s 21 rooms are positioned to maximize the Caribbean views beyond—and each has a large terrace where guests can take their meals (particularly special during golden hour). And while there’s plenty to do on-property (dips in your private plunge pool, massages and yoga at the spa and fitness center, Mediterranean-style seafood at the beachside restaurant), Shell Beach, one of the most iconic on the island, is also just a short walk away. hotelsbarriere.com; doubles from US$1,090. —DAN KODAY