Global luxury travel network Virtuoso revealed this year’s winners in its Best of the Best awards, taking votes from its 20,000 travel advisors in 50 countries in categories ranging from best wellness program to best dining experience. Not surprisingly, Four Seasons Hotel George V was crowned with the most prestigious prize: Hotel of the Year.
The 2019 Virtuoso Best of the Best winners are:
Hotel of the Year:
An iconic hotel that epitomizes excellence in luxury hospitality and encourages positive change in its community.
Winner: Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, France
The property brings impeccable service, fine art and antiques and stunning floral displays. A new spa features an indoor pool and dozens of treatments and fitness programs, including a staff-led jog past landmarks including the Louvre and Eiffel Tower. The hotel offers three restaurants: the three-Michelin-starred Le Cinq as well as Le George and L’Orangerie, which each boast a star of their own.
Best Achievement in Design:
Outstanding architecture and design of a hotel or component (room or suite, restaurant, spa, public space, etc.), whether a new property, renovation, or restoration.
Winner: Rosewood Hong Kong, China
Soaring 65 stories above Victoria Dockside, a new art and design district on the Kowloon waterfront, Rosewood’s glass tower enhances Hong Kong’s skyline. Inside, Western and Asian aesthetics blend seamlessly, from the octagonal Chinese bagua symbol on carpets and walls to copper-mesh-lined French pendant lights, Damien Hirst artwork, and Indian artist Bharti Kher’s life-size elephant sculpture.
Best Dining Experience:
Excellence in hotel dining encompassing outstanding food, wine list, service, ambiance, or even a stunning view.
Winner: La Reserve Paris Hotel and Spa – Restaurant Le Gabriel, Paris, France
The gilded dining room of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant in a 19th-century mansion-turned-hotel makes an unforgettable impression. And that’s before chef Jérôme Banctel brings his notable pedigree, Breton upbringing, and influences from his travels to the table with modern takes on French classics such as coriander-spiced artichoke heart and pigeon with cacao and buckwheat.
A hotel bar that offers a social meeting spot where innovative drinks, lively mixologists and servers, and an enticing atmosphere create a “see and be seen” buzz.
Winner: Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club – Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar, Surfside, Florida, U.S.
Amalfi Coast bars perfected the art of aperitivo, and that spirit is exemplified in this stylish import from Positano’s Le Sirenuse hotel. The lounge in the historic hotel’s original ballroom serves the largest selection of Champagne in the Miami area, plus grappas, liqueurs, and bubbly-infused cocktails, in handblown Venetian glasses.
Sustainable Tourism Leadership:
A property that exhibits a commitment to the pillars of sustainable tourism including environmentally friendly practices, protection of cultural and natural heritage, and social and economic benefits for local people.
Winner: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, Wolgan Valley, Australia
This 7,000-acre success story shows how degraded ranchland can be restored to its natural grandeur. Kangaroos, wombats, and other wildlife roam the resort grounds, which was the world’s first to achieve internationally accredited carbon-neutral certification. Guest experiences focus on the outdoors, such as guided glowworm walks, stargazing, nocturnal animal viewing and tree planting.
Best Family Program:
A property offering children’s programs, from creative activities to educational endeavors and active adventures.
Winner: Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Families bond over horseback riding, boogie boarding, snorkeling and more, then relax at the pool or spa (with a kids’ treatment menu). The Kids’ Club offers 4- through 12-year-olds storytelling, movies, and games, while teens enjoy karaoke, pool tables, and dancing. Family accommodations lie near the pool and beach, and a “baby concierge” stocks everything from strollers to bottles – and arranges sitters too.
Best Wellness Program:
A hotel focusing on mind/body balance through excellence in nutrition or diet programs, fitness and wellness classes, spa experiences, and inspiring location.
Winner: Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
Miraval helped pioneer the modern spa resort, and its flagship property continues to lead the way. Guests choose from more than 100 workshops, classes, and activities that include cooking, private and group workouts, beekeeping, and even equine therapy. Healthy gourmet meals fuel guests’ paths to wellness, as do rituals including massages and acupuncture at the Life in Balance Spa.
Best Virtuoso Newcomer:
The most noteworthy network addition from April 2018 onward.
Winner: Montage Los Cabos, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
This contemporary retreat offers an abundance of memorable experiences. Guests sip mezcal and dine at the two restaurants, play the 18-hole golf course, enjoy Baja-inspired spa treatments, and snorkel and paddleboard in Santa Maria Bay – a marine sanctuary and one of the area’s few swimmable beaches.
Best Virtuoso Hotel Ambassador:
An executive (other than general manager or managing director) who embodies Virtuoso’s power of human connection and strives for the mutual benefit of network advisors and their brand, property, or properties.
Winner: Carlos Quereda, Querido Representation Co.
During his decade-long tenure at the Marbella Club on Spain’s Costa del Sol, Quereda was inspired by cofounder Count Rudolf von Schönburg’s ritual of greeting guests and staff, converting them into lifelong friends of the hotel. Quereda brings this hospitality to life to satisfy travelers’ quests for unique properties that embody local traditions and soul.
Hotelier of the Year:
An experienced manager who demonstrates leadership and vision, a passion for the industry, a commitment to Virtuoso advisors, and an appreciation for detail.
Winner: Amanda Hyndman, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, U.K.
Hyndman’s career spans more than 30 years and some of the world’s most prestigious hotels, including Mandarin’s Bangkok flagship, where she was the first female general manager. She arrived at the Hyde Park property in June 2018, one week after a two-year renovation was completed – and two days before a fire shuttered the hotel. Hyndman transitioned staff to help with rebuilding, weathering the nine-month closure with no layoffs. The hotel reopened last spring with Hyndman and her kindness and commitment at the helm.