This story originally appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of Elite Traveler.
From peaceful palapas above tropical fish-filled lagoons to regal architecture in the heart of the world’s most energetic cities, we bring you the best luxury hotel openings of the past year.
Opened December 2016
Sitting prettily in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps, Gstaad draws a glamorous set of skiers with its pristine slopes and selection of luxury hotels. The latest to join this Alpine scene is the five-star boutique hotel Ultima Gstaad, which welcomes guests with a lavish Baccarat crystal chandelier and grand piano made entirely from glass. Guests cozy up in warmly decorated suites or in the privacy of an individual chalet which, combined with the impeccable service and amenities, give Ultima Gstaad its edge. Behind each chalet’s classic alpine lodge facade, spacious interiors combine natural materials and plush furnishings with contemporary lines and a wealth of amenities. Encompassing just 11 suites and six residences, the hotel has a distinct feeling of exclusivity, and this is heightened by its facilities. As well as having butlers on hand, guests can make use of the hotel’s sleek wood,metallic and white spa by La Prairie and on-site Aesthetics Clinic, while themodern chandelier-lit Duchessa Restaurant stands out as an elegant setting for fun-filled nights of food and wine.
Kokomo Private Island
Opened March 2017
Providing unapologetic splendor in a secluded location, the new Kokomo Island resort is the epitome of exclusivity. With its remote setting on the edge of Fiji’s Kadavu archipelago, this private island affords true barefoot luxury. The lush forested island is fringed with idyllic white sand shores, which are lapped by the azure waters of the Pacific Ocean and encircled by the pristine Great Astrolabe Reef. This privileged setting, with a manta ray cleaning station nearby, affords guests world-class diving, with rainforest trails to explore on land. Only 21 villas and five hilltop residences sit within this tropical flora, encompassing light and bright contemporary interiors that were designed with sustainability in mind. The produce for each of the island’s three restaurants is sustainably sourced too, with dining experiences ranging from a barbecue on the island’s sandy shores to a private picnic. The spa celebrates its Fijian setting through luxurious treatments that combine the indigenous beauty rituals with Sodashi products. From fine dining and relaxed sunset cocktails to the unique experiences you enjoy here, every single moment on Kokomo Private Island truly is one to be savored.
Opened February 2017
The second New York City property opened by Firmdale Hotels, The Whitby lies at the heart of Upper Midtown Manhattan amid an abundance of boutiques, restaurants, galleries and museums, and just moments from the greenery of Central Park. Just like its sister developments, The Whitby exhibits the distinct style of the hotel group’s co-owner Kit Kemp, whose award-winning designs are recognized for their contemporary use of patterns and texture; artworks feature throughout the property, with a different color scheme in each room. Across the hotel’s 16 floors, each room and suite benefits from floor-to-ceiling windows, with many featuring private terraces. Taking up the entire top floor is the two-bedroom Whitby Suite that provides the most exclusive stay, with spacious terraces affording the hotel’s best views. Before checking out, make sure you reserve a space in the convivial Whitby Bar — the high-ceilinged space leads through to the hotel’s atmospheric orangery and has a menu of seasonal fare and cocktails that makes it the ideal precursor to catching a movie at the in-house cinema.
The Shore Club
Turks and Caicos
Opened December 2016
The idyllic Long Bay Beach on the island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos is the sought-after setting for The Shore Club, the latest luxury resort from The Hartling Group. You’d be forgiven for not wanting to stray far from your room, the light, bright and airy interiors incorporating the colors of the ocean and sky, with a grand facade that exhibits classic West Indies-style architecture. With the hotel’s setting amid tropical gardens that lead to the sugar-white shores and jewel-like water, guests can stroll along boardwalks to each of the four pools, spa, collection of boutiques and private tennis court, and to the resort’s three restaurants and bars. Candlelit fine dining, Asian cuisine and Peruvian fare are all on the menu, along with afternoon tea in the tropical Cloister Garden and a wellbeing culinary offering. And while unadulterated relaxation is inevitable, the inclusion of bicycles and watersports means there are plenty of ways to explore the surrounding land and sea as well. If you’re staying in one of The Shore Club’s opulent villas, a personal butler is a part of the service.
Pink Sands Club
St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Opened October 2016
Located on the mesmerizing Canouan Island in the heart of the Grenadines, The Pink Sands Club is part of a three-year project costing in excess of $100m. The picture-perfect island situated between Barbados, St Lucia and Grenada is ideal to jet to, care of the island’s private jet runway—at almost 6,000ft, it’s the longest in the Grenadines. Built into the hillside above Godahl beach, the hotel is made up of 26 suites and six lagoon villas, all providing unblemished views of the ocean and decorated in the Club’s signature style. The spacious five-bedroom Canouan Estate Residence provides astonishing views of the ocean and the barrier reef and has a private infinity pool. There’s also a private path that leads directly to Point De Jour/Shell Beach. ESPA treatments are offered from 11 palapas; nine perched on stilts in the tropical gardens, and two unique treatment rooms—set out in the lagoon and only accessible by boat, you travel through a fish-filled waterway and take in the plentiful aquatic wildlife in the glass-bottomed palapa.
Opened October 2016
Following the acclaimed private island resort Soneva Fushi, great anticipation surrounded the opening of the group’s latest retreat. While the former can be found in the Baa Atoll, Soneva Jani lies a little further north within a secluded lagoon of the Noonu Atoll, dotted across five lush islands fringed with the beautiful white-sand shores the Maldives is celebrated for. Comprising a collection of sprawling water villas and island sanctuaries, the resort is the epitome of laidback chic, with each contemporary thatched villa opening out onto its own private stretch of the lagoon, encompassing a private pool, outdoor deck and light-filled interior with a retractable roof for stargazing. With such a privileged setting, it’s natural Soneva Jani would pay close attention to the environment, which is perhaps most evident in the magical experience guests have when diving with the resort’s instructors. However time is spent, from being spoiled in the spa to savoring seafood, relaxing with your toes in the sand or wandering through the resort’s flourishing gardens, Soneva Jani is ultimately a place to disconnect from the demands of modern life.
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar
Opened October 2016
The Middle East’s highest luxury resort, Anantara’s newest hotel is set 6,500ft above sea level on the Saiq Plateau of Jabal Akhdar, an area known for its damask roses. A two-hour drive from Muscat airport and just half an hour from the historic city of Nizwa, the hotel sits secluded on the rim of a vast canyon, with staggering views of the rugged mountain peaks that surround it. Their cliffside Jacuzzi and infinity pool are irresistible to guests, who may also choose to take daily yoga classes on Diana’s Point, a promontory that sits dramatically on the edge of the canyon and is named after Diana, Princess of Wales, who visited the spot in 1986. The hotel has 115 luxury rooms, and private villas with spacious rooms, kitted out with traditional yet understated Omani furniture and divine bath products that aim to reflect the area’s indigenous scents. As well as a state-of-the-art spa offering hammams and five treatment rooms with therapists who truly have that magic touch, the hotel offers local guided hikes and walking tours around the nearby ancient mud-brick villages, which take guests past date plantations and orchards of pomegranate trees, and even the home of one of the world’s oldest remaining rose-water distillers. Visitors can dine in one of the hotel’s six restaurants, the best of which is Italian restaurant Bella Vista. Its chef has been flown over from Sicily to cook to-die-for pizzas using his grandmother’s recipes. Staff are extremely attentive yet discreet.
Opened April 2017
The first collaboration between Nick Jones, the founder of the achingly cool Soho House, and Andrew Zobler, founder of the Sydell Group known for creating world-class properties, The Ned incorporates the best of the respective groups’ signature styles – classic design, comfort, unmatched service and unique gastronomy. A former Midland Bank originally designed in 1924 by Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens, the Grade-I listed building has been fully restored to its original grandeur. With the building standing unused for more than a decade, restoration work has taken over four years and many of the structure’s original features have remained, including old safety deposit signage in a main stairwell and wood-panelled bank teller’s cabins acting as booth seating in the restaurants. The eighth floor rooftop is reserved for Ned’s Club members and features a heated pool and terrace with sweeping views of London. Marvel at Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and 30 St Mary Axe, also known as the “Gherkin.” The Lutyens Suite, named after the building’s architect, is ideal for entertaining and relaxing. The extensive 1,076 sq ft suite has two en suite bedrooms, a bar and dining space, and allows guests private access to the rooftop to take in the panoramic views.
Membership to Ned’s Club includes access to the Vault Room, a plush bar located two floors underground that contains over 3,000 stainless steel safety deposit boxes and inspired the design of Fort Knox in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger.
Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square
Opened January 2017
Never before has a former port authority building been so glamorous. Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square opened in the 1922 headquarters of Port of London Authority, which at the time was one of the major sites of London’s thriving commerce. The imposing building has a prestigious location in the City close to the banks of the River Thames, just a stone’s throw from the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, making it an ideal location for both business and leisure travelers. The heart of the hotel is the stunning rotunda, a circular space with beautiful dome and rounded walls that exude elegance. It hosts a restaurant and a bar with expert mixologists. To take advantage of the soaring ceilings,many of the soon-to-be-opened suites will be entered through the rotunda. Above the dome is the third-floor Presidential Suite, complete with private landscaped terrace. The hotel is home to La Dame de Pic, the first UK restaurant from three-Michelin-starred chef Anne-Sophie Pic and will have private residences and a member’s club opening later this year.
Opened March 2016
Tucked into the forested landscape of Ise-Shima National Park, Amanemu offers total seclusion and stellar views over Ago Bay. In this glorious setting, the contemporary design of architect Kerry Hill has been brought together with the principles of Japanese living, integrating natural materials from warm wood to grey slate and white stone. As a hot-spring resort, the spa lies at its heart, combining Japanese tradition with the latest wellbeing expertise, encompassing a patchwork of outdoor onsen for guests to soak in by day or view a star-filled sky at night. Inside, each space feels light and airy, and has been designed to bring the outdoors in through the integration of floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors. Fittingly, the restaurant here places the focus on Japanese cuisine, taking great pride in ingredients such as Matsusaka Wagyu, Ise lobster and abalone. Evenings are then spent in the sumptuous lounge and bar, which leads out to the infinity pool, or in the sunken terrace for candlelit drinks by a crackling fire. The greatest luxury here lies in the way a stay enhances the experience of being in this culturally and gastronomically unique coastal region.
Coming Soon and Notable Refurbishments
Opening April 2017
Le Carl Gustaf
Opening late 2017
Opening June 2017
Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills, US
Opening June 2017
The Peninsula Beijing in June 2016 combined the previous 525 rooms to create 230 stunning new rooms, including 61 generous-sized suites.
Pulitzer Amsterdam underwent a full renovation, which was completed in August 2016.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Adare Manor is currently closed for refurbishments until September 2017 when a new spa, swimming pool and cinema will be unveiled alongside a new wing of luxurious bedrooms.
The Mayfair Hotel, LA is spending this year upgrading their common areas including the lobby, breakfast area and fitness center.
Los Angeles, US