For hotel lovers, you always remember your first luxury stay. The one that got everything just right — mouthwatering room service, incomprehensibly plush pillows, journal entry-inducing room views, or maybe just the perfect combination of design and destination. For many travelers, booking a room at one of the best luxury hotel brands is a stark contrast from the norm; the price point is high and the locations can often be farther-flung, requiring additional planning. But if you’ve been feverishly bookmarking all of the ‘bucket list travel’ articles in recent months and are ready to transition to the research portion of your vacation journey, there are a few key names of which you should be aware.
The edit of luxury hotel brands ahead includes properties with outposts all around the globe. Adventure to the forests of Japan, dive into the warm waters of Hawaii off the shores of Maui, or explore ancient pictographs right here in the Southwestern United States — with the help of these iconic properties, the opportunities for memorable adventure are limitless. Hear directly from luxury hotel leaders on the history of how their properties got started and the evolution of these businesses that have helped them maintain their reputation as pioneers in luxury hospitality.
Auberge Resorts Collection
Rewind back to 1981 in Napa Valley, the historic California wine region was introduced to a fine-dining restaurant mirrored after the flavors of Provence, France. It was an instant success, and five years later, the owners opened The Inn of the Sun — also known as Auberge du Soleil. From there, Auberge properties cropped up in renowned leisure destinations like Hotel Jerome in Aspen, The Lodge at Blue Sky in Park City, and Mayflower Inn & Spa in Litchfield County. Over the years, Auberge Resorts Collection has collaborated with design creatives to dream up each property’s unique identity. In Santa Fe, Nunzio DeSantis Architects preserve Bishop’s Lodge’s distinct Southwestern heritage and the forthcoming property in San Francisco (The Hearst Hotel) will be in collaboration with the much sought-after Roman & Williams when it opens in 2023.
Pillars of an Auberge property encompass culinary adventures, wellness experiences, design-led luxury spaces, and immersive activities that speak to the culture and history of each specific destination. Among their more notable partnerships is one with THE WELL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Frank Lipman, named Better Sleep. This program was created exclusively for Auberge and offers guests the opportunity to improve their sleep health while traveling (think: tips for yoga poses, breathing methods, journaling excesses, meditative rituals, and beyond).
Coming Soon: Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection will open in the Hudson Valley on September 30.
COMO Hotels and Resorts
With holistic wellness at its core, COMO Hotels and Resorts is known for its Shambhala wellness offerings that connect the dots between modern science and ancient healing. Christina Ong founded the company in 1991 with COMO The Halkin in London’s Belgravia district. The next two to open were COMO Metropolitan London and the iconic COMO Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos — the brand now operates 15 luxury hotels and resorts around the world. While Ong leads the overall design philosophy, in recent years, COMO has collaborated with renowned designers like Paola Navone, Yew Kuan Cheong, and Linzi Coppick.
Of note is COMO Shambhala Cuisine, which is inspired by Ong’s love of good food. It can be found on the menu at each hotel’s restaurant and focuses on a balanced mix of raw and cooked ingredients, all with the goal of flavorful nutrition (in the vein of something like a Balinese-inspired curry or fresh salmon salad). COMO Shambhala Estate, the flagship property, is located in Bali and is an immersive wellness sanctuary with a 360-degree approach of massage therapies, body care, Ayurvedic treatments, and programs tailored to each guest’s personal goals.
Coming Soon: COMO Le Montrachet will open in 2023; the Burgundy property will be their first in France.
A staple among luxury hotel-goers, Six Senses was founded in 1995 and now operates 21 hotels and resorts in 17 countries. “Our hospitality is never just about a place to stay. Six Senses’ acknowledgement in the industry comes from our efforts to help people reconnect with themselves, others, and the world around them,” Six Senses Chief Commercial Officer Bryan Gabriel tells TZR. “At all our destinations we strive to be part of the local fabric and culture, and our guest experiences are crafted to stimulate, energize, and revitalize the human spirit.”
Their locations are in some of the most far-flung, breathtaking parts of the globe including Vietnam, Bali, Thailand, and the Maldives (plus several others). “The Six Senses aesthetic has a touch of quirkiness, which supports delightful and unexpected surprises, delivered out of constant curiosity and willingness to challenge the norm,” Gabriel adds. You can dive off the shores of Six Senses Fiji to spot black tip reef sharks or visit the Tashi Chho Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress near Six Senses Bhutan — each property offers experiences that capture a sense of place.
The Peninsula Hotels
Legendary hotel group, The Peninsula began with two brothers of Jewish-Iraqi descent. Ellis Kadoorie planted roots in Shanghai In 1880 and his brother Elly was situated in Hong Kong. Together, the two eventually became shareholders in Asia’s oldest hotel company and opened The Peninsula Hong Kong in 1928. The brand has nine other properties (two more coming soon) and are located across Asia, Europe, and North America. Art is a defining part of the brand’s identity, with programs like Art In Resonance in which they’ve partnered with curators Bettina Prentice and Isolde Brielmaier to commission an ongoing collection of art from contemporary artists. The Peninsula Chicago recently teamed up with local artist, Bob Faust on an exhibition and they also brought on Peter Marino to design the upcoming Peninsula London.
If you’ve ever stayed at The Peninsula, you’re likely familiar with the elevated transportation experience (namely, the fleet of Rolls-Royce cars owned by the hotel). The brand has over 30 Rolls-Royce cars across its properties in New York, Shanghai, Beijing, Paris, Beverly Hills, Tokyo, and Bangkok. There’s also Thai riverboats in Bangkok, a motor yacht in Shanghai, and once The Peninsula’s Istanbul property opens, guests can cruise the Bosphorus strait on the hotel’s boat.
Rocco Forte Hotels
A family business, Rocco Forte Hotels was established in 1996 by Sir Rocco Forte and his sister, Olga Polizzi. It’s now a collection of 14 hotels, resorts, and villas that operate in European destinations including London, Florence, Rome, Sicily, Puglia, and Berlin. All of these locations occupy landmark buildings, with some of their most popular properties including The Balmoral in Edinburgh, Scotland (Rocco Forte Hotel’s first property), Brown’s Hotel in London, Hotel de Russie in Rome, and Villa Igiea in Palermo (the portfolio’s latest edition).
Rocco Forte has worked with several designers, architects, and artisans to translate these unique buildings to hospitality. One example of this is Villa Igiea, a Grade 1 landmark that the hotel’s director of design partnered with designers Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen on. Other design collaborations include Emilio Pucci for Hotel Savoy, Tommaso Ziffer for Hotel de la Ville, and Martin Brudnizki for Brasserie Prince at The Balmoral.
Banyan Tree Group
Few luxury hotel brands capture the essence of the term ‘escape’ quite like Banyan Tree Group. Founded in 1984, it began with “a single resort in Thailand that flourished from an abandoned tin mine,” Banyan Tree Group SVP Renyung Ho tells TZR. From there, it grew into an independent hospitality group with a portfolio of hotels (there are 47 in the current pipeline), resorts, spas, galleries, golf courses, and residences in 23 countries around the world. “Recently, we launched two brand extensions: Buahan, a Banyan Tree Escape, with its signature ‘no walls, no doors’ concept offering an intimate stay experience in lush natural surroundings and Banyan Tree Veya, designed to welcome guests on a wellbeing journey to connect with themselves, others, and nature,” Ho says. The former was cited in TIME’s list of World’s Greatest Places within just a month of opening, and other famous Banyan Tree properties worth adding to your bucket list include Angsana Corfu in Greece and Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru in the Maldives.
Banyan Tree’s mission to be a regenerative business is felt through several sustainability initiatives ranging from working with locally-sourced materials, using efficient energy and waste management systems, a Green Imperative Fund (a donation-matching scheme for guest contributions), and participation in the United Nations’ Greater Good grants.
Coming Soon: Banyan Tree AlUla in Saudi Arabia is coming later this year and “will provide a luxury tented camp experience,” Ho shares. Also, the first Angsana resort in Bali, Indonesia will open in 2023 under the name, Angsana Saranam Wellbeing Resort (Angsana properties are under the umbrella of the Banyan Tree Group). “We will also continue expansion in China with the openings of Banyan Tree Quzhou, Angsana Quzhou, Angsana Chengdu Wenjiang, and Dhawa Xi’an Chanba,” she adds.
Viceroy Hotel Group
Viceroy Santa Monica has been a staple on the coastal city’s iconic Ocean Avenue since 2000 when the luxury hotel brand first debuted. Over the years, Viceroy has expanded globally with outposts in destinations like Los Cabos, St. Lucia, and Serbia. The hotel brand launched with Kelly Wearstler as its interior designer and has since collaborated with different designers and architects to translate the hotel to its unique environment. “For instance, Viceroy Chicago is located on the site of a former historic Cedar Hotel, at the heart of Chicago’s Gold Coast Neighborhood with sweeping views of Lake Michigan,” Viceroy Hotel Group VP of Brand Marketing Kelly Kang says. “We worked with Architect Goettsch Partners to preserve the four-story brick and terra-cotta façade of the original Cedar Hotel.” In Los Cabos, Mexican architect Miguel Ángel Aragonés designed a breathtaking contrast between white concrete buildings and walkways enveloped by water that lead out to the sea.
Art is another pillar for the Viceroy brand. “We are constantly collaborating with an amazing community of artists to create site-specific works for each of our hotels, through an artist series called A Canvas for Discovery,” Kang says. “Through this, we connect with local and global artists to create original work from painters, musicians, sculptors, and photographers.”
Coming Soon: Viceroy will be opening their second European resort in Algarve, Portugal in 2023. “Surrounded by nature and miles of lush green hills, citrus groves, fig and carob trees, small farms and inland villages with cobblestone streets, this resort will be a true expression of Algarve’s Mediterranean charm,” Kang says.
Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
“The history of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts dates back to 1979, when the legendary Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek first opened in Dallas,” Rosewood’s Caroline MacDonald tells TZR. Fast forward to 2022, and their collection has grown to 30 hotels and resorts in 18 countries worldwide, an expansion and evolution that MacDonald says is a testament to CEO Sonia Cheng who took the reins of the group in 2011. Among the more iconic properties under the Rosewood umbrella are The Carlyle in New York and Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. If you’re never stayed at a Rosewood, it’s worth mentioning that the group is guided by their philosophy of ‘sense of place’ — meaning, each property celebrates its respective location, which means each hotel has its own unique look and feel (“no two Rosewood journeys are the same,” MacDonald adds).
Because this approach opens up more doors for creativity, it’s no surprise they’ve partnered with some impressive names. “We have been fortunate to collaborate with many amazing designers, architects, artists, and artisans over the years, including Tony Chi, whose timeless stylings can be found at The Carlyle, Rosewood London, and Rosewood Hong Kong, as well as Karl Lagerfeld, who designed Les Grands Apartments at Hôtel de Crillon,” MacDonald says. They also teamed up with Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel and artistic director Philippe Starck on Rosewood São Paulo “with a majority of the design materials both locally sourced and inspired by the country’s diverse culture,” she says.
Coming Soon: Rosewood Vienna just opened its doors on August 1st (their first in the German-speaking market), which is situated in Peterplatz, one of the most famous squares in the city’s Old Town. “Looking ahead to 2023, we are eagerly anticipating the debut of Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort, located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii,” MacDonald says.
A leader in the luxury adventure space, Belmond found its beginnings in 1976 with Cipriani, A Belmond Hotel in Venice. Just a year later, they began to collect carriages for their Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a design-led train route that launched in 1982. For the last forty-plus years, Belmond has been a go-to for those with a penchant for experiential travel, with their river cruises, safari lodges, trains, and — of course — world class hotels.
Earlier this summer Belmond made a splash when it unveiled a design collaboration with French fashion house Dior in the gardens of Splendido, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino and at Bagni Fiore beach. Dior transformed these spaces with its signature Toile de Jouy pattern, crafting a highly designed space that was fodder for photo enthusiasts.
Coming Soon: In May 2023, Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, Riviera Maya will reopen following an extensive renovation and redesign by designer Tara Bernerd.
Alila Hotels & Resorts
Founded in 2001 and under the Hyatt umbrella, Alila Hotels is a collection of 16 properties around the world, most notably in Asia. Their American properties — all in California — are situated in Big Sur, Encinitas in San Diego, and Napa Valley. Both Spa Alila and Journeys by Alila distinguish the luxury brand, with the former crafting memorable treatments with local ingredients and the latter curating activities that give guests a strong sense of a specific destination. For example, at Alila Ventana Big Sur, guests can explore the environment of the central coast with a forager to gather wild plants and acquaint themselves with flavors from the local land.
Alila properties are located in some of the most remarkably beautiful corners of the globe, including Indonesia, the Maldives, Malaysia, China, and India, with unique experiences ranging from joining temple priests in prayer at Alila Villas Uluwatu to a Balinese BBQ feast at Alila Manggis.
Coming Soon: Alila Imperial House Bao Dai is set to open in 2023.
AMAN properties are recognized for private, thoughtful design that works with the natural and urban surroundings. The first property — Amanpuri — was founded in 1988 on Phuket’s west coast and since then, 34 hotels, resorts, and residences have been developed in 20 countries including Bhutan, France, India, Italy, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and several other idyllic places. Fifteen of these are located close to or within UNESCO-protect sites, giving unique access to each destination’s culture and heritage.
Wellness offerings and excursions are custom to each AMAN journey. Head for Japan to soak in local hot springs or the Dominican Republic to partake in lunar rituals. If you’re staying stateside, at Amangiri in Utah, guests can embark on tours of Zion National Park and discover 6,000-year-old petroglyphs in Broken Arrow Cave.
Coming Soon: Aman New York debuted in August 2022 on the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue. Also set to open soon, Aman Nai Lert Bangkok, Thailand’s first urban Aman hotel and residences. Also keep an eye out for Amanvari in Mexico at the edge of the Sea of Cortés and Aman Niseko in Japan, designed by the late Kerry Hill.
Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts opened its first hotel in 1961 in Toronto, Canada. By the ‘70s, the company touched down in London, England and by the close of the decade, it had entered the US market. Throughout the 1980s, the brand debuted flagship hotels in several American cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia and by the ‘90s, expansion in destinations across the globe was underway. Currently, they operate 124 hotels and resorts worldwide.
There are few corners of the globe that don’t have a Four Seasons outpost ready to welcome. In Hawaii, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea (where The White Lotus was filmed) is an oceanfront resort where guests can snorkel and discover underwater caves off the coast of the property. In New Mexico, Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe sprawls across 57 rolling acres in the Sangre de Criso foothills where guests can smell the scent of piñon woodsmoke from their private casita patios. Each Four Seasons property is like this — unique to its destination and reliably distinct.
Coming Soon: Four Seasons Hotel Nashville will debut late 2022 in the SoBro neighborhood.
In 2003, Montage was founded when it opened its flagship property in Laguna Beach, California overlooking the Pacific Ocean on 30 oceanfront acres. The brand currently has seven resorts under its umbrella, with several others currently in development. “Every Montage is truly unique, each capturing a sense of spirit and place rooted in their respective destinations,” Montage International Global Creative Director Azadeh Hawkins tells TZR. “We’ve collaborated with many incredible interior designers as well as with our in-house design team to bring the resorts to life.”
Recent programming that Montage has introduced includes a virtual reality snorkeling experience. “Guests can travel to an international space station, dive through an ocean shipwreck, swim with whales, and skydive all from the comfort of the resort pool,” she says. “In Deer Valley, we’ve just partnered with the Charter Club at Deer Creek, Utah’s most unique and exclusive multi-sensory experience club, to offer our guests one-of-a-kind boating experiences.”
Coming Soon: This fall, Montage Los Cabos is hosting two culinary activations with notable chefs. “From October 28 to November 3, Chef Dominique Crenn, America’s only three-Michelin-starred female chef and the talent behind world-renowned Atelier Crenn in San Francisco and on November 25 and 26, James Beard Award-winning Chef Gabriel Kreuther of two-Michelin-starred Gabriel Kreuther in Midtown Manhattan will host a family-style dining event,” Hawkins shares.