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2017 Luxury Hotel Highs and Lows

2017 Luxury Hotel Highs and Lows

Old Dec 24, 17, 4:51 pm
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2017 Luxury Hotel Highs and Lows

I looked and couldn't find any thread reviewing the latest year. So I've begun this thread. If I erred and this overlaps another thread, please accept my apologies!

I thought it would be nice to review the highs and lows of the past year. Perhaps we can do this at the end of every year.

For me,

THE HIGHEST--

Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace Jodhpur (Jan 2017): This hotel stay was near perfection and joins our list of 13 all-time best hotel stays of all time. Incredible service. Amazing sense of place and era. Great F&B. Incredibly beautiful and spacious suite. Handled me getting sick with aplomb. The hotel was the most amazing part of this city. Incredible. Felt like royalty.

Hotel Imperial Vienna (Oct 2017): This hotel stay also was near perfection and joins our list of 13 all-time best hotel stays of all time. Incredible service, incredible upgraded Imperial Suite for us and Elisabeth Suite for my mother. Historic and beautifully classic design. Amazing sense of place and era. The hilarious toilet in the hallway. A random invite to a wonderful piano concert to start us off. Tremendous F&B. Incredible concierge. Amazing bar. Loved the hotel even more than the city. Sublime.

St. Regis San Francisco (Nov and Dec 2017): Another of my 13 all-time favorite hotels just continues to treat us like incredibly valued family guests in a luxury home. My favorite city hotel in the USA without question. Always upgraded to my favorite upgraded Metropolitan Suite--with the extra installed blackout shades just for me (installed Dec 2016). Incredible welcome amenities, and even allowed us to bring our 110 lb Rhodesian Ridgeback, Macallan, despite their weight limit of 35 lbs. Impeccable service, several complimentary Bentley car transfers, wonderful F&B, amazing bar, extremely comfortable stay as usual. Already booked for 4 more stays in 2019.

Rosewood Hotel de Crillon Paris (Oct 2017): Didn't stay but wildly impressed by "site visit" service, design, and F&B for our bar experience. Absolutely loved the combination of Art Deco modern design mixed with traditional Parisian elements to give a wonderful but updated sense of place. If I'm going to pay for a Palace Hotel in Paris, this is the place I'm staying. Absolutely loved it.


THE HIGHS--

The Lodhi New Delhi (Jan 2017): Wonderfully contemporary former Aman hotel with great service and location. Excellent F&B. Spacious rooms. Private pool in room is a first for a high rise hotel. Nice change from the many traditionally designed hotels we enjoyed for the rest of our time in India. Excellent start to our India trip. Handled air con fail very well...a nice change.

Oberoi Udaivilas Udaipur (Jan 2017): Amazing upgrade to Luxury Suite with Private Pool for my birthday after a room assignment error by TA. Wonderfully spacious and comfortable suite with traditional decor. Nice view. Great service and F&B.

Taj Nadesar Palace Varanasi (Jan 2017): Wonderful boutique hotel in former governor's mansion with very spacious suite, wonderful service, and excellent F&B. Best hotel in our favorite city in India.

Amanbagh (Feb 2017): Very nice Aman stay with beautiful pool villa, excellent service, and intriguing rural location and excursions. F&B was disappointing, so this wasn't as spectacular for us as so many other Amanjunkies paint it, but a very good stay otherwise. Menu choices were too limited IMO, and the quality was just OK.

St Regis Bahia Beach Puerto Rico (Feb 2017): Really impressive and comfortable stay in a beautiful location for a splurge on a work trip, with wonderful upgrade to very comfortable and spacious St. Regis Suite, wonderfully friendly service and excellent F&B, excellent beach, and a very fun private cabana day by the pool with my friends and clients. Lack of adults-only pool is only weakness, but that didn't detract from my lucky experience. Wishing everyone in PR a speedy recovery from Maria...and quick re-opening.

Park Hyatt Sydney (May 2017): Very impressive stay only marred by a few housekeeping issues. No upgrades but had 2 rooms on points and as part of Hyatt Visa free nights, so quite the steal of a stay! Incredible location and great modern design appropriate to Sydney. Comfortable and spacious entry level rooms with very nice view. Great F&B and service except for housekeeping issue.

The Louise Barossa Valley (May 2017): Very comfortable stay in spacious Estate 2 Bedroom Suite with friends and mother. Excellent service, nice restaurant, surprisingly wonderful breakfasts, and great location amidst the many wineries of the Valley. Even nicer stay than expected due to such wonderful service.

St Regis Rome (Oct 2017): Wonderful but not yet renovated junior suite on award stay. Spectacularly beautifully renovated public spaces, excellent service with a few misses, wonderful F&B, great concierge, and surprisingly wonderful location within walking distance of more sights than expected. Surprisingly smooth stay despite the ongoing room renovation. Can't wait to return to see how the renovated rooms/suites look after seeing the tremendous public spaces!

Prince de Galles Paris (Oct 2017): Hosted surprise birthday dinner for my husband here, upgraded on award to spectacular Makassar Suite, while mother upgraded to next door deluxe room. Suite is one of best we've ever had, though air con wasn't excellent. Service and F&B were particularly fabulous, location wasn't our favorite but wasn't an impediment. Really had a tremendous stay despite not loving the location and having weaker air con than I'd prefer.

St Regis Houston (Dec 2017): Surprisingly very enjoyable and extremely comfortable stay in upgraded Astor Suite, despite the dated Texan decor. Really impressive service and F&B and almost perfect location for me. Surprisingly looking forward to my return next year!

RAAS Devigarh (Jan 2017): Only had lunch and checked out the property, but WOW. Extremely impressive renovated former palace in rural location outside Udaipur with modern and updated takes on incredibly impressive and historic property. Excellent service and F&B. Beautiful views--best we saw in all of India. Not for everyone but incredible option for those who can appreciate it! Made us second guess our choice of the amazing Oberoi Udaivilas!

Peninsula Paris (Oct 2017): Only had lunch and checked out the property, but very impressed. Not a fan of the location, but the F&B blew us away. Service was incredible even for us as non-guests! Not quite the Parisian sense of place, but a truly impressive hotel nonetheless.


HIGHS FOR ME, THOUGH SOME WON't SAY LUXURY:

Carolina Inn Chapel Hill (April 2017): Traditionally beautiful Southern hotel with semi-luxury service and tremendous Southern sense of place and equally tremendous F&B. Great location in Chapel Hill. Really aim to please.

SLS Beverly Hills (June 2017): Tremendous F&B and service in a well located hotel that is about to undergo renovation (and needs it!). Upgraded suite was dark, oddly laid out, and uninviting, but the staff and service really made me want to come back. The Bazaar and Saam are my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles.

The Nines Portland (Aug 2017): Incredible one night stay in excellent location, with amazing upgrade to The Nines Suite, huge and beautiful suite with amazing space, decor, and views, but weak air con. Service and F&B truly to a very high standard.


MIDDLE OF THE ROAD--

Oberoi Amarvilas Agra (Feb 2017): Overall beautiful property with nice view onto Taj Mahal, with excellent service, F&B, and obvious aim to please, marred a bit by subpar room air con and dated decor. The hotel needs to be refreshed and/or renovated. It's resting on its laurels and location IMO, but it does have excellent service...but not for that price.

W Boston (April 2017): Excellent hard product and location with quite the expected scene on weekends, but some service misses and F&B misses for a single night stay gives me pause. Returning for service recovery upgraded suite in 2018, so time will tell. Cautious.

The Allison Willamette Valley (Aug 2017): Nice luxury level property in good location with clean but dull and uninspiring decor...and some serious service and especially management issues. Housekeeping fails. Front desk deception. Management didn't seem to care at all. I'd have to think twice before staying for these rates.

Park Hyatt Vienna (Oct 2017): Only did "site visit" but very impressive modern hard product, marred by surprising service misses during our short visit. Some might miss a sense of place since it's so modern but still a beautiful property.


THE LOWS--

St Regis Dubai (Feb 2017): Great hard product largely ruined by so many service and F&B miscues as to be incomprehensible. Management response was weak, thought they did rebate half my room rate (can't believe they didn't comp the single night). This and StR Washington are unquestionably my poorest St Regis stays of all time. I wouldn't return until I saw consistent improvement in service ratings.

St Regis Washington DC (April 2017): Very dated hard product in upgraded Junior Suite...with just as unimpressive soft product in all areas. Air con fail, F&B fails, service fails, when will it end? Only saving grace was friendly manager visiting from StR SF who knew me and handled things very well. But incomprehensible level of failures. The hotel needs a renovation BADLY, too. Avoid at all costs until they renovated and then get their ship in order. Probably the worst StR stay I've ever suffered.

The Liberty Boston (Apr 2017): Beautifully chic clubby hotel with excellent F&B and location...but massive suite air con fail matched by pitiful management response. I love this hotel..and yet cannot return until they fix the air con and there's new management. Pitiful GM who should know better, in particular.

Last edited by bhrubin; Dec 30, 17 at 8:35 pm
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Old Dec 25, 17, 1:01 am
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Nice write up Bhrubin. I don't have the extensive travel experience to try so many properties. but the highlight of my hotel stays in 2017 is definitely the Ritz Paris ( post renovation ). After staying at luxury properties for so long, I am starting to become indifferent but this property really wow me. Every single detail was taken care of, from hardware to service to F&B to decor, the attention to detail in this property is stunning. It's very expensive but at the same time worth every penny.

Another good property that I encounter in 2017 was the Grand Hyatt Tokyo. A surprise for me as I was expecting a business hotel but received exceptional and efficient service. Along with the above average F&B and the excellent location, it rates very highly among my favourite of all time.

Honorable mention goes to Kempinski Berchtesgaden ( 2 hours drive from Munich ) which is a get-away-from-everything resort amid the Bavarian Alps and beautiful forests. Comfortable suites and excellent F&B onsite as well.

Not much lows in 2017 as I always do my research before booking a stay and tried not to have high expectation to avoid disappointments. Maybe the Sacher Salzburg where the JR suite is claustrophobic, the room rates expensive and the service disappointing but it could very well be a one off.
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Old Dec 25, 17, 1:54 am
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-- --
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Last edited by QPRfan; Nov 6, 18 at 3:04 pm
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Old Dec 28, 17, 1:34 am
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The Highest:
L'Apogee Courchevel
Singita Boulders South Africa

Highs:
One and Only Reethi Rah
Four Seasons Santa Barbara
Anantara Qasr al Sarab
Mandarin Oriental Bodrum

Middle of the Road:
Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey
Dar al Masyaf Dubai
The Palace Downtown Dubai
Casa del Mar Santa Monica

The Lows:
Dorint Hotel Cologne
Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
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Old Dec 30, 17, 3:49 pm
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Highest:
Ritz Paris - loved the renovation, the outdoor seating in the garden for drinks, the service, F&B, concierge, everything!

Saffire Freycinet - here now and loving it! Service top notch, beautiful rooms, gorgeous views, very good farm to table food, nice activities, just great!

Seabourn Quest Penthouse Spa Suite on top back corner of ship for Antarctica and South Georgia Island cruise - for us best view and room on ship although not favored by those without strong sea legs/ stomachs on rough crossings! Booked again to go from Iceland to Montreal via Greenland next summer.


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Old Dec 30, 17, 6:15 pm
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Not going to cover all of the properties, but here are some noteworthy ones:

HIGHS
Gora Kadan (best kaiseki meals.... ever)
Amangiri (unreal property and location; so-so F&B; service was "good" by U.S. standards)
MO Tokyo
Wakura Onsen - Kagaya Bettei Matsunomidori
Wajima Nebuta Onsen - Noto No Sho
Tswalu Kalahari (Meerkats! Aardvarks!)
Mchenja Bush Camp (more earthy than Singita or Wilderness, but far more remote and more memorable)
Banjaar Tola (a few service flubs, but otherwise a wonderful stay. Saw 3 different Tigers.)
Peninsula Shanghai
MO Las Vegas (OK by MO standards, but far and away the best in Vegas, especially for those that don't like traditional Vegas)
Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp (new camp in need of more service polish, but guiding was fantastic.. and oh, the views of the Zambezi! First time we've ever seen a Honey Badger in the wild)
Saxon Johannesburg (Swing for a Presidential Suite, and do NOT stay at the FS Westcliff! You have been warned.)
Aman Tokyo
RC Tokyo

MIDDLE
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (overpriced and a bit worn down, but location and views are unbeatable)
Fairmont Banff Springs (Beautiful property, could use a big refurb. Best massage ever)
The Inn at Newport Ranch (Quirky and not a full-service property, but good for about 2 nights)
Park Hyatt Busan
Latitude 15 (Best in Lusaka for sure, but the hotel is starting to show more wear and tear than its young age might suggest)
MO Munich
Pudong Shangri-La
Beijing China World by Shangri-La

LOWS
El Tovar Hotel (Best in Grand Canyon, but yet another grand dame in need of a rebuild)
FS Mumbai (Better options abound in Bombay)
Portman RC Shanghai (Badly needed a refurb 15 years ago)
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Old Dec 30, 17, 6:22 pm
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@KI-NRT I am not sure you will ever be able to live down giving MO Las Vegas a “high” mark, no matter how nice it is relative to the rest of Vegas. (A Sheraton may the nicest in a small town, but I doubt that would really be a high mark, either, to be fair....especially when you’ve also been to the Peninsula Shanghai!)

Love the warning about the FS Westcliff Jo’burg. I’ve heard, too.

I am so glad you had such a wonderful year! Best wishes for 2018!
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Old Dec 30, 17, 6:57 pm
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HIGHS


My Las Ventanas bit ran so long it requires its own entry below. Other highs plus lows to follow.

This was the year we crushed on Las Ventanas al Paraiso, their villas in particular. There are two categories of these: regular and Signature. The former are semi affordable and wonderful; the latter are not especially affordable and fabulous. We indulged once in a regular villa and twice in a Signature villa. Difference between the two?


Code:
​​​​​​​Regular                      Signature
Shared butler                Dedicated butler
Kitchenette                  Full large kitchen, viking stove, etc.
Lovely bathroom              Master bath of the gods
One toilet in villa          Three toilets including one Toto
A la carte breakfast         Prepared to order in villa kitchen by butler
1600 sq ft inside            3000 sq ft
3900 sq ft                   4500 sq ft indoor/outdoor
Private infinity pool        full dun Infinity pool partially
                             shaded (good thing)
Hot tub on terrace           Hot tub embedded in infinity pool
Ocean view                   Ocean view
One bedroom                  One-bedroom
                             Bedroom bounded on two sides of
                             sliding glass walls so room can open
                             up to terrace
Two terraces                 Two terraces
                             Reflecting pool
                             Workout or media room
Outdoor shower               Jungle outdoor shower
Two sun loungers             Two sun loungers
Small terrace sofa area      Large outdoor sitting area
                             w/ sofa, four comfy chairs
                             Gated lush entry   
                             One-hour massage for 2, in villa or spa
                             Aromatherapy turn down
Fire pit                     Fire pit

There is more but I expect you get the drift. The beautiful spectacularly tidy property loaded with amenities is exquisite as are all interactions with the sweet staff. Super tasteful, bourgeois, excellent dining, finest kind. In future, in consideration of our financial well-being, the regular villa will suit.

Yes, it is Cabo and you can put me down as not loving that destination which seems most like a southern suburb of the U.S. with the general ambience of Spring Break year-round. But the upscale venues do a good job of countering that admittedly unfortunate geographic issue. It is a short non-stop from SFO and, for us, that makes up for a great deal. So, we repair to Cabo more often of late, especially since the Zihuatanejo non-stop no longer is available out of SFO. We do adore Mexico.




Sent from my iPad

Last edited by RichardInSF; Dec 31, 17 at 7:53 pm
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Old Dec 30, 17, 7:09 pm
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No idea how to fix the above post.

************************************************** *****************
Edited to add: I don't know either, but I am quite sure there are other mods who do, so I am asking around to see if I can find out. If I succeed, I'll put in the format and get it right as best I can and hopefully then you can finish it off.

There is a suggestion, I will try it here first.

Code:
test column column
1     1      1
2     2      2
Hmm, looks promising, Iwill try it on the post above.

Method: Click on edit, then click on "go advanced". In advanced mode, do [ then CODE then ] at the top and the same except /CODE at the bottom. Then line them up as you like inside.

RichardInSF, moderator, luxury hotels and travel

Last edited by RichardInSF; Dec 31, 17 at 7:43 pm
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Old Dec 30, 17, 7:13 pm
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Originally Posted by bhrubin View Post
@KI-NRT I am not sure you will ever be able to live down giving MO Las Vegas a “high” mark, no matter how nice it is relative to the rest of Vegas. (A Sheraton may the nicest in a small town, but I doubt that would really be a high mark, either, to be fair....especially when you’ve also been to the Peninsula Shanghai!)

Whoops! I meant to put MO Vegas in the "Middle" category... honest!

We liked our Junior Suite room - it was a bit darkly adorned and furnished, but it was comfy and serene. Also, no sounds from the outside (either from the hallway or the Vegas strip.) We asked for 2 humidifiers and a HDMI cable, and they were all delivered to our room within 5 minutes. We didn't avail ourselves to much else during our overnight stay (prior to heading out for Amangiri), but we felt it was money well spent. It did the job for us, and we wouldn't mind going back if we absolutely could not avoid stopping over in LV.

I am so glad you had such a wonderful year! Best wishes for 2018!
Thanks, and same to you and Gregg! It'll be hard for us to top 2018, but we'll be getting an early start by departing for Kenya and Uganda in 11 days. We'll let everyone know how it goes.
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Old Dec 30, 17, 8:22 pm
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Originally Posted by KI-NRT View Post
Not going to cover all of the properties, but here are some noteworthy ones:



MIDDLE
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (overpriced and a bit worn down, but location and views are unbeatable)
Fairmont Banff Springs (Beautiful property, could use a big refurb. Best massage ever)
The Inn at Newport Ranch (Quirky and not a full-service property, but good for about 2 nights)
Park Hyatt Busan
Latitude 15 (Best in Lusaka for sure, but the hotel is starting to show more wear and tear than its young age might suggest)
MO Munich
Pudong Shangri-La
Beijing China World by Shangri-La

In some lofty company for PH Busan! Happy New Year.
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Old Dec 30, 17, 8:23 pm
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HIGHS
Las Alamandas, Costalegre, Mexico
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Cabo, Mexico
Manoir Hovey, Quebec Province, Canada (suite selection matters)
St. Regis San Francisco

BETWINXT
Belmond Maroma

LOWS
Halekulani, Honolulu
Grand Wailea, Maui (yes, not five star but there were kids and we spent a bundle and a half)

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Old Dec 30, 17, 8:26 pm
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Originally Posted by KatW View Post
HIGHS
Las Alamandas, Costalegre, Mexico
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Cabo, Mexico
Manoir Hovey, Quebec Province, Canada (suite selection matters)
St. Regis San Francisco

BETWINXT
Belmond Maroma

LOWS
Halekulani, Honolulu
Grand Wailea, Maui (yes, not five star but there were kids and we spent a bundle and a half)
Bolding mine. That makes me so happy. Welcome to the club! Happy 2018!
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Old Dec 30, 17, 8:28 pm
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There are also hotels not stayed at , perhaps visiting just for a meal like some Amans , which are not included below .

The Highest

Nemu April , November & December
TUH May , December
MOHK May , August , December


Highs

Kila January , August
Nusa January , August
Trisara February

St Regis , SF May , June

M . S . Regatta , Vista Suite May , June

The Connaught September
The Halkin September

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat ' Saisons. LMAQS September

RC Kyoto April , November , December


Lows

Not this LH forum !


May you all ( reading this ) & yours have a Joyous CHRISTmas 💫 , all of 12 days flowing into an amazing 2018 🌟 ..

.. Along with lots of FT posts , DOs , etcetera
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Old Dec 30, 17, 8:55 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyerEC View Post
There are also hotels not stayed at , perhaps visiting just for a meal like some Amans , which are not included below .

The Highest

Nemu April , November & December
TUH May , December
MOHK May , August , December


Highs

Kila January , August
Nusa January , August
Trisara February

St Regis , SF May , June

M . S . Regatta , Vista Suite May , June

The Connaught September
The Halkin September

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat ' Saisons. LMAQS September

RC Kyoto April , November , December


Lows

Not this LH forum !


May you all ( reading this ) & yours have a Joyous CHRISTmas 💫 , all of 12 days flowing into an amazing 2018 🌟 ..

.. Along with lots of FT posts , DOs , etcetera

Bolding mine. Overlaps some of my all time favorite (TUH and StR SF) and another favorite (Halkin). Makes me happy again!

Happy to see you include RC Kyoto as a high, after recently hearing from one of our friends who was disappointed there (for reasons that I don’t think apply as much to me). So thanks for sharing...since we will be there in May 2018.
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