clients choice awards — top five

Hualalai beach tree at sunset (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Travel magazines such as Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure post annual Readers Choice rankings of the best hotels in the world. I don't know the magazines' methodology, but their results are sometimes laughable ... such as the time a "nice enough" luxury hotel just off Times Square won the designation of Best Hotel in the World.

I'll be totally transparent about my methodology. Though I'm semi-retired, I do continue to work with a select group of Ourisman Travel clients. These are their top five choices ranked in order of the volume of sales to these hotels and resorts.

#1 — Four Seasons Hualalai. My personal favorite resort in Hawaii, Hualalai is the top resort in the world of all Ourisman Travel clients. Hualalai is the antithesis of the "big concrete box by the beach" that so many beach resorts tend to be. Luxurious and newly renovated guest rooms are located in detached two-story buildings arrayed along four beachfront crescents and around the green of the 18th hole of the golf course. I love Hualalai for its casual luxury. Guests enjoy great food while dining right by the beach where flip-flops are perfectly fine for that "sand between your toes" experience even at dinner. Click here for my slide show explaining the crescents of Hualalai.

#2 — Dorado Beach, Ritz-Carlton Reserve. My personal favorite resort in the Caribbean, I actually vacationed here as a teenager back in the 1960's when Dorado Beach was a part of Rockresorts. Like Hualalai, Dorado Beach is not a "big concrete box by the beach." Guest rooms are found in detached two story buildings, each with a direct ocean view and some with private plunge pools. West Beach rooms step out right onto the beach while East Beach rooms feature the sound of the waves crashing up against the beach rocks... what a restful sound when going to sleep. The beach is great ... soft, white sand and swimmable ocean water.

#3 — Four Seasons Maui. If you catch the trend, beach resorts are tops on our list ... and Hawaii is our clients' favorite destination. Maui was Four Seasons' first resort — set on a wide, sandy, swimmable beach with snorkeling — and it continues to be a popular draw attracting a trendy, cosmopolitan set of guests. High end shopping is available nearby at The Shops at Wailea. The biggest difference: while guests dine by the beach at Hualalai wearing flip-flops, many guests at Maui arrive for dinner with the ladies fashionably dressed and sporting high heels.

#4 — Le Meurice, Paris. The trend continues — I sell what I love — and Le Meurice is my favorite hotel in my favorite city in world. Paris has the world's greatest collection of "over-the-top" luxury hotels, but Le Meurice is not about being "over the top." The smallest palace hotel in Paris, Le Meurice exudes a warm, personable, and comfortable luxury while offering the best possible location in Paris, especially for first-time visitors. Step out the front door, cross rue de Rivoli, and you're in the Jardin des Tuilleries, the beautiful formal gardens in the very heart of Paris. Walk across the gardens, and you'll be at the Musée d'Orsay in 10 minutes. Or turn to the left, and you're just 10 minutes from the Louvre. Le Meurice, ideal for first-time visitors, its guests keep coming back, y compris moi.

#5 — Peninsula Tokyo. Japan has become the hot travel destination for 2019 and 2020. The 2020 Olympic Games have shined the world's focus on Japan, and I recommend booking a customized land tour or a cruise that circumnavigates this island nation. You'll want to begin or end your trip in Tokyo, and of all the great luxury hotels in Tokyo, my clients have most often booked The Peninsula. Why? Perhaps it's due to the hotel's location next to the Imperial Gardens, or because of its thoughtfully designed guest rooms (with such features as nail polish dryers in the bathroom), or even because my PEN Club clients benefit from totally flexible check-in and check-out times.

I can offer the following amenities at all of the above hotels through Virtuoso, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, STARS, Diamond Club, and PEN Club. While the details differ slightly by property, you'll receive at least the following at each of these top five hotels:
  • daily breakfast for two
  • $100 hotel credit towards incidental expenses
  • room upgrade if available
  • early check-in and late check-out if available
  • complimentary internet
In some cases, the credit is more, the room upgrade is confirmed at booking, and the early check-in is guaranteed. Get in touch for the full details!

My next column will take a look at #6-#10 on my list.

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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