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Colin Nagy, head of strategy at Fred & Farid, a global advertising agency, writes this opinion column for Skift on hospitality, innovation, and business travel. “On Experience” dissects customer-centric experiences and innovation across hospitality, aviation, and beyond.
As 2018 breaks into view, luxury-minded travelers start marking their calendars for retreats in the new year. Here are some of the hotels that caught our ever-searching eyes, and are worth putting on a luxury traveler’s 2018 hitlist.
There are wide range of options presented here, with some wild cards and some tried and true classics. The selection spans remote and isolated properties like Nihi in Sumba, city hotels like New York’s The Lowell, Kyoto ryokans for regeneration, or mountain resorts to ski.
The thread tying things together is vision, uniqueness, and a guest-centric experience.
The iconic property is more relevant than ever. Some 1,200 artisans crafted the stained glass, stucco work, carved wood, and mosaics, and the detail shows. Service is impeccable and hyper-discrete, with the best hammam in the city.
The competition is heating up as Abu Dhabi positions itself as a cultural hub, less garish than its neighbor, Dubai, and with new things to do. On your next stop-over to see the Louvre, skip Sadiyaat island and check into the Shangri-La. There is a private beach for guests, five restaurants and a stunning view of the Grand Mosque in the distance.
While Muscat is a must-visit for anyone, right up there on the wishlist for 2018 is getting up higher into the mountains of Oman. The Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar has stunning views of the country’s fabled green mountain, and outdoors activities.
The Lowell is discrete and recently renovated, and can be considered a thoughtful b-side to some of the cities other big-name luxury hotels. But the draw is the wood-burning fireplaces in many of the rooms, elegant design, and location right off of Manhattan’s Central Park.
One of the most visually stunning properties around, Aman Resorts’ take on a desert resort sits close to Lake Powell in Utah and blends into the landscape beautifully.
Liz Lambert, chief operating officer of the Bunkhouse Group, has a hot hand, with a run of cult-like hotels such as the St. Cecilia and San Jose in Austin, and the San Cristobal in Todos Santos. El Cosmico is her vibey, Marfa outpost complete with yurts, teepees, Airstream trailers, and an outdoor soaking tub. Come for the art in Marfa, but stay for the high desert stars.
Upstate New York is getting a lot more inspired by the day. Scribners is a 38-room, well-designed getaway about two and a half hours away from New York.
Those who have stayed discuss Goldeneye with whispered reverence. The site where Ian Fleming chose to pen several Bond novels is a Jamaican hideaway for a special occasion.
Lisbon may be getting all of the travel press recently, but Six Senses’ retouch of an old manor set in the country’s wine region looks to be a beauty. The brand’s focus on well-being is present, with meditation, pilates, and yoga.
St. Anton is Austria’s party animal town, but down the road, Lech is the thoughtful and discerning spot for winter sports. The Kristiania is a small, luxurious and cozy ski hotel with a beautiful, traditional alpine facade and a storied history.
Those who haven’t experienced the full-on Ryokan experience should start with one of the most iconic in the world. The Tawaraya in Kyoto gets rave reviews and personifies the Japanese word, Omotenashi, or thoughtful anticipation.
I covered my experience with Hoshinoya Tokyo earlier this year, and the parent brand, Hoshino resorts, is set to launch a new property in the Japanese Alps. It is a re-edited Japanese onsen hotel with thoughtful design and signature Hoshino hospitality. Put it on your list for a ski adventure this year.
Recently cited as the best hotel in the world, Nihi is not easy to get to, and that is the point. Set on a wild, untouched beach, the hotel, comprised of private villas, is located an hour’s flight from Bali and is integrated deeply into the Sumba community. The staff is local, and the word-of-mouth on the property so far has been incredible.
Babylonstoren is on a 500-acre historical working farm, close to the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve and 30 miles from Cape Town. The lodging comes in the form of elegant guest cottages, and there’s winemaking (and tasting) on the premises.
In Chile, the Tierra Chiloe is a stunning adventure tourism lodge, close to salmon and shellfish farms and set on an archipelago. The aesthetic is hyper-modern but it sits in nicely with the landscape.