From new boutique hotels to completely renovated resorts, we report on the hottest places to stay while vacationing in the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico.
The Quiet Side
More than 2,000 acres of lush jungle meet the golden sand and aquamarine sea at Playa Grande on the secluded north coast of the Dominican Republic. A clifftop at this remote location is the setting for Amanera, Aman Resorts’ newest Caribbean destination. Here, aside from participating in watersports, playing golf, taking scenic nature hikes and bike rides, deep-sea fishing, and blissing out at the spa, guests can spot humpback whales (January to March). For young travelers, the kids’ club offers fruit picking, bird-watching and other fun activities. Spacious guest casitas offer views of the Atlantic Ocean and unadulterated luxury. Casitas from $950
ST. KITTS AND NEVIS
Farm By the Sea
Nestled in the verdant hills of St. Kitts, the new eco-chic Belle Mont Farm accommodates guests in Bill Bensley-designed cottages with soaring ceilings, outdoor showers, private plunge pools and views of the Caribbean. But the main attraction is the hotel’s 400-acre organic, sustainable farm, from which renowned Executive Chef Christophe Letard sources ingredients for his farm-to-table West Indian fare. Golf is played on Irie Fields, a par-71, 18-hole course that weaves through fruit orchards. If players get hungry, they can simply pick a ripe mango and eat it in the shade of a wild calabash tree. Cottages from $700, two-bedroom villas from $2,500
PALM SPRINGS, CALIF.
The first Palm Springs, Calif., hotel built from the ground up in a decade, Arrive caters to the desert town’s appetite for both midcentury-modern design and digital connectivity. Each of nine buildings has a distinctive butterfly roof, COR-TEN steel siding and clerestory windows. Yet check-in happens not at the front desk (there isn’t one), but at the open-air Reservoir restaurant’s bar. There are no room phones either. Instead, guests simply text their requests or questions. All 32 rooms feature Apple TV, DirecTV, superfast free Wi-Fi, rain showers and Malin+Goetz toiletries. The brainchild of former Facebook employee Ezra Callahan, Arrive attracts the kind of travelers more likely to be socializing on the pool deck or playing bocce ball than hiding out in their rooms. Rooms from $200, patio rooms from $230
It took almost three years and a multimillion-dollar renovation, but the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, owned by Larry Ellison, is back with a vengeance and better than ever. All 217 rooms have been redesigned with modern élan, even as the resort embraces the authentic spirit of Hawaii in its heyday, with Polynesian and century-old Hawaiian artwork adorning the walls. In addition, the spa continues to use indigenous ingredients in pampering treatments, such as the luscious Macadamia Sugar Polish. Rooms from $1,075, Ohana Prime Oceanfront Suite from $4,225
Return to the Scene
The site of one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history, The Watergate Hotel, a memeber of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, is once again newsworthy: Euro Capital Properties invested $125 million in a renovation designed by architect Ron Arad, and the glamorous hotel recently reopened after an eight-year hiatus. A highlight of the 336-room palace is The Next Whisky Bar, a hub of social activity in the lobby, where capital insiders order $200 glasses of whiskey or a rare glass of Bollinger Champagne, a pour exclusive to the hotel. Rooms from $425, suites from $1,200
Named for nearby Camelback Mountain, The Camby has a sense of humor. Quirky design flourishes include cattle-head light fixtures that project the word moo in their stream of light, reflective copper ceilings etched with inspirational quotes and clever names for some rooms. For example, the gym is called JIM. There’s a 24-hour rooftop pool, the Zest Spa and a large menu of in-room dining treats, including Pillow Fight, which comes with fluffy pillows, boxing gloves, and cookies and milk to enjoy postfisticuffs. Rooms from $300, junior suites from $599
After a $27 million renovation, The Restoration, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts in historic downtown Charleston, S.C., has reopened as a hip showcase of the city’s history, mercantile culture and art scene. A street-level store, aptly named The Port Mercantile, stocks a tasteful collection of gift items and gourmet products from near and far. Next door, The Rise serves coffee from Toby’s Estate, the famed Brooklyn small-batch roaster. As the sun sets over the steeples of the Holy City, The Watch Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits is the place to sip blood orange martinis, nosh on hush puppies, and see and be seen. Signature Suite from $299, One-bedroom Suite from $499
NEW YORK CITY
Rural City Retreat
Built almost entirely out of reclaimed and repurposed materials, the eco-friendly 1 Hotel Central Park, which overlooks New York City’s Central Park, has an ivy-covered three-story exterior living wall, hanging kokedama plants and barn wood-beam ceilings. The latest concept from Barry Sternlicht, the socially conscious yet luxe hotel includes offerings such as a farmstand with complimentary local fruit; Triple Clear water filters on all taps, sinks and showers; and Jams, chef Jonathan Waxman’s farm-to-table eatery. Most memorable in the 229 rooms (outfitted with terrariums and custom hemp-blend-filled mattresses by Keetsa with 100 percent organic cotton sheets) are the deep window seats in select city-view rooms from which guests can contemplate the green expanse below. Meanwhile, a Tesla is ready to take guests within a 15-block radius. Rooms from $499, City Suite from $800
Magnificent Mile Marker
You’ll be blown away by The Gwen, a new Luxury Collection Hotel in the Windy City. With interiors enlivened by panels created by sculptress Gwen Lux in 1929, the 300-room hotel rises above River North on the Magnificent Mile. Dramatic and glamorous, it evokes images of Chicago’s pre-Depression, Gatsby-like glory. A stone’s throw from the storied attractions of the Loop, the hotel’s dining venue, The Terrace Restaurant, may lure you away from the city’s many award-winning restaurants. Rooms from $280, deluxe suites from $620
Newspaper and magazine junkies, this one is for you. The Press Hotel, Portland, Maine’s first boutique hotel, is located in the Gannett Building, the former offices and printing plant of the Portland Press Herald, the largest newspaper in the state of Maine. Appropriately, rooms are furnished with vintage-style writing desks, and the newspaper’s city room is now the Inkwell lobby bar. Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the 110-room newcomer evokes the seriously on-trend vibe of Maine’s revitalized port city while respecting its storied past. Rooms from $299, Penthouse Suite from $1,169
Bed and Brews
Shack up with the ghosts of beers past at Hotel Emma, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. In the Alamo City’s former Pearl Brewery, near the River Walk’s hum, surrounded by a restaurant- and boutique-abundant commercial sector, this 146-room San Antonio hotel plays up its brewmaking past with industrial artifacts woven into the interiors. Lavish textiles, leather-sheathed chairs and a grand piano in the Emma Koehler Suite, named for the brewery’s CEO, ensure regal coddling. In the library, you can turn the pages of some 3,700 books, then nosh at Supper, An American Eatery. Rooms from $350, suites from $750
MIAMI BEACH, FLA.
The 632,000 mosaic tiles that mark the entryway at Faena Hotel Miami Beach say it all: Every detail here counts. Accommodations at the property (169 rooms and suites, plus 13 penthouse residences) delight the eye with elegant art deco touches, red velvet fabrics and blue-tile bathrooms. The creature comforts are plentiful: a butler for every floor, modern Asian cuisine at Pao by Paul Qui, traditional Argentine asado at Los Fuegos by chef Francis Mallmann, expert mixology at The Living Room bar and A-list relaxation at the 22,000-square-foot Tierra Santa Healing House spa. Now that’s five-star leisure worthy of a close-up. Rooms from $495, suites from $1,395, penthouse residences from $8,000
Spa and Sand
Spread across six serene oceanfront acres on Anguilla’s Shoal Bay East, Zemi Beach House Resort & Spa, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, is a contemporary Caribbean escape with special emphasis on wellness. Each of the 73 guest rooms and suites features luxe amenities, such as European linens and towels, deep soaking tubs, private balconies and minibars stocked with gourmet treats. Zemi Thai Beach House, the holistic spa, is inside an ancient house transported from Thailand. Rituals include hammock massages and soaks in a vitality pool. To help guests further relax, the resort has four bars—most notably Rhum Room, serving 85 small-batch estate rums from the Caribbean and Latin America. Rooms from $745, suites from $1,650
CLEARWATER BEACH, FLA.
Instagram-worthy views await at Opal Sands Resort on the sun-drenched coast of Clearwater Beach, Fla. All 230 beautifully appointed rooms and suites in this just-opened luxury resort feature floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies overlooking the clear, calm, Mediterranean-blue water of the Gulf of Mexico. A member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts and part of the LVX collection, the 15-story resort is awash in sun, fun, fresh local seafood and state-of-the-art pampering in a full-service spa with a menu of scalp-to-sole treatments. Spend mornings lounging beside the zero-entry Gulf-front pool before having crab-and-lobster cakes or fish tacos for lunch, along with a Blue Hawaiian, at Reflections Poolside Bar. It’s just a short stroll down the powdery beach from the property to Pier 60, known for its shops, eateries and nightly sunset celebrations. Rooms from $299, suites from $549
LOS CABOS, BACK IN ACTION
Post Hurricane Odile, a trio of top-notch resorts return to their previous state of paradise.
One&Only Palmilla re-emerged last April after a seven-month top-down renovation, with a new look and a slew of new amenities. The Chicago-based design firm Anderson/Miller reinvented the 174 guest rooms and suites, which now emphasize caramel leather and Mexican textiles and artworks. Guests who can pull themselves away from the private plunge pools will be wowed by Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Seared restaurant, as well as the Mexican and Mediterranean-influenced cuisine of Agua by Larbi. Both women and men can be well groomed, as One&Only Palmilla has unveiled the OBO Beauty Salon by Jonathan & George—and Barber & Blade for guys who don’t want to shave themselves on holiday, but still want that smooth and classic look. Rooms from $455, Oceanfront One-Bedroom Suite from $2,096
Esperanza, An Auberge Resort chose wisely by tapping Mary Alice Palmer of HKS Hospitality Group to lead a propertywide comprehensive redesign in preparation for its reopening in June 2015. For the beachfront resort’s 57 expansive guest rooms, she devised a relaxed, rustic-luxurious environment featuring woodwork that evokes weathered driftwood, rustic woven linens, natural leather and metallic tile finishes in bronze and silver, and incorporated new interpretations of traditional Mexican craftsmanship. The public spaces have all been transformed, from the pool’s new sunning ledge with in-water chaise lounges to the spa’s palapa relaxation lounge and Integrated Wellness Program (up to 35 different classes) to the new Pesca ceviche bar at the famed Cocina del Mar. Rooms from $550
It took nine months for Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort to come out of its cocoon last June. In addition to advances in the infrastructure (you’ll notice faster Wi-Fi), there’s a new state-of-the-art gym with Technogym fitness equipment and replanted landscaping in the resort’s beloved desert garden. The other enhancements are service-oriented: Staffers have undergone 100 hours of advanced training to develop the spa’s new customized Signature Treatment; plus guests of the Signature Villas will be pampered by new villa hosts who are charged with anticipating and fulfilling (almost) every desire. Rooms from $695, Signature Villa from $3,600