International luxury travel network Virtuoso announced the winners of the eagerly awaited 2017 Best of the Best awards at the 29th annual Virtuoso Travel Week.
The 11th annual ceremony celebrated this year’s top 11 hotels and hoteliers before 1,600 of luxury travel’s crème de la crème attending the Hotels & Resorts Dinner. Of particular note, Palazzo Seneca in Italy received the sought-after “Hotel of the Year” honour.
Virtuoso received input from its 800-plus travel agency partners and more than 16,000 professional travel advisors to name the winners in each category, from best dining experience to best wellness program.
Editors of VIRTUOSO LIFE, the network’s multi-award-winning magazine, offered their expert insight and hotel savvy to select the nominees on which the advisors voted. This year’s Best of the Best award recipients will be highlighted in the publication’s September/October.
With a broad-ranging portfolio of more than 1,200 hotels, resorts, villas and private island retreats in over 100 countries, Virtuoso Hotels & Resorts is revered as the industry’s most prestigious hotel program,e. Founded in 1992 with just 20 hotels, Virtuoso Hotels & Resorts is marking its 25th anniversary in 2017, celebrating the remarkable growth, quality and diversity that have become trademarks of the program over the past quarter-century.
2017 Virtuoso Best of the Best categories and winners:
Hotel of the Year: Palazzo Seneca, Norcia, Italy
“The Bianconi family doesn’t just own a lovely hotel. They are beautiful people indeed, who care for others less fortunate, love the land where they were born, and take good care of this land.” – Julia Kostina, Renshaw Travel, a Virtuoso Agency
Best Achievement in Design: Six Senses Douro Valley, Lamego, Portugal
“What sets this resort apart is that it retains the charm and beauty of a large country manor set among rolling hills and vineyards. There’s a prevailing sense of quiet, calm and relaxation as soon as you enter.” – Linda Zelisko, Travel Experts, a Virtuoso Agency
Best Dining Experience: La Terrazza – Hotel Eden Rome, Rome, Italy
“Have you ever eaten pasta surrounded by vapored dry ice? It is simply the most innovative dish I have ever seen.” – Jonathan Phillips, Camelback Odyssey Travel, a Virtuoso Agency
Chef Fabio Ciervo in his kitchen
Best Bar: Bar Hemingway – Ritz Paris, Paris, France
“Walking into Bar Hemingway is like stepping back in time. Head bartender Colin Field is a book of stories. You can sit back, listen and just imagine.” – Liora Manilof, Forest Travel Agency, a Virtuoso Agency
Best Family Programme: The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Naples, Florida, USA
“They have great options for families to visit local museums, bird sanctuaries, and a special program with a local artisan who leads their glass blowing classes. They really go out of their way to make the experiences as engaging as possible for the kids.” – Nick Cutrone, Vista Travel Consultants, a Virtuoso Agency
Best Wellness Programme: Canyon Ranch, Tucson, Arizona, USA
“The combination of four areas – physical, emotional, spiritual, and medical – is very unique in the wellness community. Most spas will cover a couple of the areas. Canyon Ranch can do it all. It has a wider range of options for the consumer than any other spa and the quality is outstanding!” – Peggy Purtell, Travel Experts, a Virtuoso Agency
Best Virtuoso Experience: Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
“From the moment you arrive in the Sanctuary Lounge and make a wish by throwing a little stone in the cenote, you know you are in a special place. Everything in the hotel is an experience so that makes it unique.” – Areli Guzman, Viajes Terranova, a Virtuoso Agency
Best Virtuoso Newcomer: Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, New York, New York, USA
“The large wrought iron front doors give a luxurious first impression. But the standout feature is the beautiful spiral staircase and long hanging cascading sculpture on the ground level.” – Sylvia Betesh Lebovitch, Ovation Vacations, a Virtuoso Agency
Sustainable Tourism Leadership: Cavallo Point – the Lodge at Golden Gate, Sausalito, California, USA
“Sustainable tourism can sometimes lead to unexpected opportunities. It’s a tale of tourism helping transform swords into plowshares.”- Costas Christ, Global Strategist, Sustainability, Virtuoso, of the former military base now transformed into an urban eco-resort
Best Virtuoso Hotel Ambassador: Kees Hogetoorn – Grand Hotel Amsterdam, an Accor Hotel
“I knew nothing about his hotel prior to meeting Kees and he truly allowed the property to come to life. His passion and enthusiasm is unmatched.” – Jessica Renshaw, Renshaw Travel, a Virtuoso Agency
Hotelier of the Year: Susanne Hatje – Mandarin Oriental, New York, New York, New York, USA
“There is a peace of mind when I send clients her way because I know they will be taken care of by her amazing team that lead by her example. She makes every client stay memorable. She has an incredible vibrant and energetic personality, always engaging with guests.” – Miriam Omphroy, Forest Travel Agency, a Virtuoso Agency