By James Shillinglaw
Want to know what the cutting edge luxury hotels, hoteliers, tour operators and in-country destination companies are in travel? Luxury travel network Virtuoso unveiled its annual awards for Best of the Best in hotels on Aug. 12 and also honored top tour operators and destination companies earlier in the week.
At the 27th annual Virtuoso Travel Week at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Virtuoso selected 11 winners in hotel categories, based on a survey of its 370 agencies and more than 9,800 travel advisors. Editors of Virtuoso Life, Virtuoso’s magazine for clients of its luxury advisors, then researched the advisor recommendations and selected final nominees in each category.
Winners this year in hotel categories included Hotel of the Year: Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Galway, Ireland (which earlier this year completed a $30 million renovation); Hotelier of the Year: Antonio Sersale, Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy; Best Achievement in Design: The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, Japan; and Best Culinary Experience: Epicure, Le Bristol Paris, France.
Other hotel award winners included Best Family Program: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida; Best Spa: Dolder Grand Spa, The Dolder Grand, Zurich, Switzerland; Most Innovative Guest Experience: a tie between Corcovado Experience, Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Red Carpet Ready, The Peninsula Beverly Hills, Calif.; Sustainable Tourism Leadership – Hotels: The Brando, French Polynesia (which opened last August); and One to Watch: Rosewood Beijing, China.
Earlier in the week on Aug. 10, Virtuoso announced winners in tour and destination categories at its Destination Showcase Dinner honoring partners that provide exceptional experiences to Virtuoso clients around the world, while delivering great advice to Virtuoso travel advisors.
Each Virtuoso partner category has an elected committee of Virtuoso advisors that selects the nominees for the awards. The network’s travel advisors vote to decide the winners. Virtuoso Destinations & Experiences includes more than 70 tour operators and 150 on-site in-country specialists in more than 140 countries.
Destination and tour winners announced included Best Destinations & Experiences-Escorted Tour Partner: Tauck (for the 11th year in a row); Best Destinations & Experiences-FIT/Custom Partner: Classic Vacations; Best Destinations & Experiences-In-Country Partner: Abercrombie & Kent Kenya; Best Virtuoso Active & Specialty Travel Partner (VAST): Micato Safaris; Best Voyager Club Experience: Amber Tours, Mumbai, India: Highlights of Mumbai with Lunch at Oberoi; and Tourism Board of the Year: Tourism New Zealand.
Still to come at Virtuoso Week, which concludes on Friday, Aug. 14, are peer-to-peer travel advisor awards and cruise partner awards, both of which will be announced at the Virtuoso Gala Dinner on Aug. 13.
Steele Luxury Travel