World’s Foremost Luxury Travel Experts Select the Very Best in Hospitality
International luxury travel network Virtuoso® unveiled the winners of the highly anticipated 2016 Best of the Best awards last night at the 28th annual Virtuoso Travel Week conference. The special night marked 10 years since Virtuoso began feting the very best properties and hospitality professionals within its renowned Hotels & Resorts Program. This year, standouts included the gorgeous and beloved Borgo Egnazia, Savelletri di Fasano in Italy, which was named the coveted “Hotel of the Year.”
Virtuoso® is the leading international travel agency network (with more than US$15.5 billion in annual travel sales) specializing in luxury and experiential travel. This by-invitation-only organization comprises over 390 agency members with more than 11,400 elite travel advisors in 40 countries throughout North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. Drawing upon its preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s best hotels and resorts, cruise lines, airlines, tour companies and premier destinations, the network provides its upscale clientele with exclusive amenities, rare experiences and privileged access.
Virtuoso surveyed its 390-plus agencies and more than 11,400 elite travel advisors to identify the winners in each of the categories, ranging from most innovative experience to best achievement in design. Editors of VIRTUOSO LIFE, the network’s multi-award-winning magazine, provided their keen insight and hotel knowledge to identify the nominees from which Virtuoso advisors voted.
“Naming any hotel as the Best of the Best from among the world’s finest properties in our renowned Hotels & Resorts program is always a challenge. This year’s winners surpassed our expectations and the exacting standards we – and more importantly, our clients – demand from our partner hotels. At Virtuoso, we recognize we are defined by the company we keep. And we are especially proud to count hotels and hoteliers of this caliber as our partners,” said Albert Herrera, senior vice president of Global Product Partnerships for Virtuoso.
With a diverse portfolio of nearly 1,200 hotels, resorts, villas and private island retreats in more than 100 countries, Virtuoso Hotels & Resorts is revered as the industry’s most prestigious hotel program.
The Best of the Best winners were revealed during the Hotels & Resorts Dinner, sponsored by Park Hyatt Hotels, before an audience of more than 1,600 of luxury hospitality’s elite. The 2016 Best of the Best award recipients will be featured in the September/October issue of VIRTUOSO LIFE, reaching 200,000 upscale world travelers.
The 2016 Virtuoso Best of the Best categories and winners are:
Hotel of the Year: Borgo Egnazia, Savellerti di Fasano, Italy
Going for the Gold: “Borgo Egnazia and the area of Puglia is one of the exciting new destinations in Italy that one could ever encounter. The hotel has an amazing ambiance, warm and friendly people, incredible food and a spiritual spa.” – Annette Sordoni, Protravel International, a Virtuoso agency
Best Achievement in Design: Faena Hotel Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.
Seeing Is Believing: “The design of the hotel is a feast for your eyes! From the moment a guest enters, they are transported to a visual fantasy land, which has sophistication and style that is unparalleled. …Not to mention the world class art collection!” – Judy Stein, Ovation Vacations, a Virtuoso agency
Best Culinary Experience: The Farmhouse Restaurant – Farmhouse Inn, California, U.S.
Most Important Meal of the Day Re-Invented: “Don’t skip breakfast here! It is a real culinary awakening – hearty, seasonal, and farm-fresh.” – Ken Neibaur, Cardoza Bungey Travel, a Virtuoso agency
Best Bar: The New York EDITION, New York, U.S.
Let’s Toast: “Craft cocktails are a must.” – Rachelle Matheson, Jigsaw Travel, a Virtuoso agency. “Don’t miss the Espresso Martini.” – Reece Farmilo, Out and About Travel, a Virtuoso agency
Best Family Program: Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
It’s a Family Affair: “The hotel has an amazing family program that introduces children to the culture of the city before they go out and explore it in person.” – Robert Merlin, SmartFlyer, a Virtuoso agency. “The painting lessons are awesome and a fun way to incorporate culture.” – Kimberly Wilson Wetty, Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc., a Virtuoso agency
Best Spa: Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como, Italy
Say Spaaaah: “The spa has a gorgeous setting with breathtaking views of Lake Como, and wonderful treatments that incorporate natural herbs. Lake Como is magical and the new Grand Hotel Tremezzo Spa is where the magic happens for all their guests.” – Isabel Bernardo, Ovation Vacations, a Virtuoso agency
Most Innovative Guest Experience: Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil
Access, Access, Access: “Take advantage of the exclusive opportunity to visit the falls early in the morning before the Iguassu National Park opens and again in the evening after it closes.” – Alex Korey, KK Travels Worldwide, a Virtuoso agency
Sustainable Tourism Leadership: andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Tourism with a Conscience: “andBeyond Phinda has been a conservation leader since breaking ground in the early 1990s. Today, Phinda remains one of the world’s most successful ecotourism projects. Ongoing conservation successes include being home to the fourth largest cheetah population in South Africa and helping relocate 14 rhinos to other safe havens.” – Costas Christ, Virtuoso Director of Sustainability
One to Watch: Hotel Eden Rome, Dorchester Collection, Rome, Italy
A Classic Making a Comeback: “I instantly fell in love with the location and the historic charm of the building. I can’t wait to see the Hotel Eden; I know it will again be my go-to hotel in Rome.” – Jessica Ourisman, Brownell, a Virtuoso agency
Hotelier of the Year: José Silva – Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, Paris, France
The Royal Treatment: “He is all about the guest experience and exceeding expectations.” – Phoebe Weinberg, Greatways Travel, a Virtuoso agency