Fodor’s Hotel Awards

fodors 100

Fodor’s Travel recently named the 2013 Fodor’s Hotel Award Winners, which included hotels from around the world. According to Arabella Bowen, Fodor’s Travel executive editorial director, “To compile the Fodor’s 100, we look for properties within emerging destinations, trends our editors have been seeing throughout the year, new and noteworthy openings, and enduring favorites to create a list that will inspire all types of travel and traveler.”

This year’s list has been broken up into eight categories: Enduring Classics, Creative Conversions, Culinary Gems, Home Suite Homes, Sleek City Addresses, Local Characters, Exotic Hideaways and Blissful Beach Retreats. While you can access the full list here, the editors at JenLeoDals.com have carefully chosen one hotel from each category to feature.

Enduring Classics
“Enduring” is the perfect term for The Peninsula Hong Kong, which is described by Fodor’s as “an oasis of old-world glamour—opened in 1928.” As the island’s only historical five-star luxury hotel, this oasis of calm amidst the bustling city sits on the harbor, with outstanding views, outstanding service, and the perfect blend of east-meets-west.

Creative Conversions
According to the Travel Channel, Croatia has become the fastest growing Mediterranean tourist destination, and the Hotel Vestibul Palace could be one of the reasons. This creative conversion is made up of three palaces from three different eras in the Old Town of Split. It marries the new with the old, with modern touches interspersed with that of the Romanic, Gothic and Renaissance periods of the castles.

Culinary Gems
The lone Las Vegas entry in Fodor’s 100 is the new Nobu Hotel, a boutique hotel located within the Caesers Palace property. This hotel within a hotel sports 181 rooms and suites, has its own check-in lobby and dedicated concierge, as well as the largest Nobu restaurant in the world (hence it being named a culinary gem). The rooms, envisioned by Chef Nobu and partner Robert DeNiro, provide guests with complimentary valet service, priority access to Nobu, and free access to both PURE nightclub and the Qua Fitness Center.

Home Suite Homes
This category pays tribute to small boutique hotels with fewer than 40 rooms, and while there is a wide range of locations among the honorees, we were most impressed by Fazenda Nova in Tavira, Portugal. Sitting among 25 acres of olive groves and fruit orchards, this converted farm has a wide array of amenities and is located near both beaches and the country’s Algarve vineyards. Described as “affordable chic,” Fazenda Nova has a mere 10 suites along with a restaurant that serves seasonal dishes, inspired by the kitchen garden and orchards on the property, as well as the nearby ocean.

Sleek City Addresses
In contrast to the rural Fazenda Nova mentioned above is the ME London, an upscale, avant-garde hotel centrally located along the Strand. Part of the Melia Hotel Group, the ME London is a high-tech modern masterpiece, boasting 157 rooms, two New York-based restaurants, and a location that puts you near theaters, shopping, trendy nightclubs, as well as a bevy of tourist destinations.

Local Characters
The Volcano House on the Big Island of Hawaii nailed this category, which features “one-of-a-kind properties [that] specialize in immersive experiences that push beyond the typical hospitality formula.” Sitting on the rim of the Kilauea caldera in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano House may be the oldest hotel on the list, with its first incarnation beginning in 1846. The hotel, with only 33 rooms, recently underwent a major rehabilitation  and reconstruction implementing sustainability initiatives and providing simple luxury with gorgeous crater views.

Exotic Hideaways
The exotic locales in this category run the gamut from Bali to Zambia but our attention strayed to a retreat in the Kingdom of Bhutan, a tiny little country located in the eastern Himalayas. Uma by Como is located in Punakha, a less-traveled area of the country that only has 750,000 residents. Twenty-nine luxury rooms and private villas occupy the property, set amongst the forested mountains, all with stunning views of the Punakha Valley.

Blissful Beach Retreats
To round out the eighth category is an entry from Central America, El Secreto in Ambergris Caye, Belize. Opened just last year, El Secreto has only 13 private villas combining a rustic exterior with a luxurious interior. The opportunity for adventure abounds here, with the Caribbean outside your door where you can kayak, dive, snorkel, fish and swim. Nearby nature preserves and archeological ruins await exploration on foot or by bike. Relaxation can also be yours, lounging on the white-sand beach or partaking in a massage or spa ritual at their Ikal Spa.

HAWAII: Kauai Festival of Lights

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Celebrate the holidays with a twist on the island of Kauai during the upcoming Festival of Lights. This annual event is in its 17th season and runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from December 6th through December 24th. Hundreds of thousands of lights ring Historic Park and the interior of the Historic County Building is turned into a winter wonderland, with Kauai-themed decorated trees and forty years of holiday folk art.

Began by Hawaii native Jose Chansky over 40 years ago, this one-of-a-kind event features holiday décor made by local artists, all from recycled materials. Where else will you get to see a Christmas tree made from 7,500 green toothpicks, a tree decorated entirely from ornaments made of aluminum cans, or a SPAM-themed Christmas tree?

Along with the spectacular show of lights comes holiday music and caroling by the Kauai Chorale and visits from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. Opening night will also feature the Rice Parade, considered “an unique showcase of island lighted floats.”

17th Annual Festival of Lights
Where: Historic County Bldg., 4396 Rice Street, Lihue, Kauai
When: December 6-24, Friday – Sunday, 6-8 p.m.
Cost: Free

HAWAII: Kona Coffee Festival

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Java junkies won’t want to miss the Kona Coffee Festival, a weeklong celebration beginning November 1st. This is the oldest Hawaiian food festival and is dedicated to coffee beans grown exclusively in the Kona District on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai, prime ground due to the porous and mineral rich soil. The coffee grown and roasted on this island is among the most prized in the world and this festival gives you a peek into the estates and mills that produce the esteemed bean.

The event kicks off with an art show and competition at the Donkey Mill Art Center, a restored Kona coffee mill. On Sunday, there will be a coffee picking contest at the UCC Ueshima Coffee Company, where contestants will have three minutes to prove their mettle. Sunday also features a culinary contest, where both amateur and professional chefs will showcase their favorite foods that feature coffee as an ingredient. During the week, visitors will have a chance to go on a Kona Coffee Living History Farm Tour, a Farm & Mill Tour, and watch the coffee cupping competition. The competition winners will be announced at the Kona Coffee Council Dinner & Benefit Auction, which is open to visitors and natives alike.

Additional events include the KBXtreme Scholarship Bowling Tournament, Kona Coffee 101 Seminar, and the Aloha Makahiki Concert at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa. The full schedule of events with links to purchase tickets can be found here.

Kona Coffee Festival
Where: The Big Island
When: November 1-10

HAWAII: Hilton to Open All-Suite Hokulani Waikiki

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Hilton Grand Vacation Club is putting the finishing touches on its new all-suite hotel in the heart of Waikiki. The Hokulani Waikiki will feature 143 suites, each complete with private balcony, fully-equipped kitchen, living and dining space, and separate bedroom.

Enjoy the Hawaiian sunshine on the rooftop deck, which sports plunge pool, bar, private cabanas with flat-screen TVs and panoramic view, or head to renowned white sand Waikiki Beach—with its full complement of outdoor amenities—just steps away.

A café bistro is located in the lobby and upscale restaurants are a short walk away on Kalakaua Avenue, the heart of Waikiki’s urban retail district.

The Hokulani Waikiki, on the island of Oahu, is slated to open December 11th, and is now taking reservations. For more information, or to book your stay, call 800-420-6769.

 Hokulani Waikiki
2181 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA

 

HAWAII: Kauai Farm-to-Fork Culinary Experience

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Dive into local culture and experience a full day of the best Kauai’s farms have to offer. Tasting Kauai: Seed to Table offers “A Culinary Romp Through Paradise” once per month. You will get to go behind the scenes at an exotic fruit orchard, get a private tour of either Nani Moon Meadery (made with local honey and fruit) or Koloa Rum Company, attend a cooking demonstration utilizing locally sourced ingredients, and sit down to a four-course gourmet lunch.

Time: The tour departs at 9:30 am and is complete by 3:30pm.

Cost: Reservations are required and the fee is $140.

Remaining dates in 2013: August 16, September 13, October 11, November 15, and December 13.

Kilohana Plantation
3-2087 Kaumualii Highway
Lihue, Hawaii  96766
808-635-0257

Fun in the Sun at Waikiki OceanFest

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It’s not every day you get to see surfboard water polo or a sand soccer championship tournament, but you’ll be in luck if you’re on Oahu between August 17 and 25. The 12th Annual Duke’s OceanFest, held in Waikiki, offers fun in the sun for 9 straight days while honoring one of Hawaii’s famous sons, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku. Duke was an Olympic gold medalist, surfer, canoe steersman and all-around great guy. The OceanFest includes sand volleyball competitions, warrior canoe regatta, paddleboard championship, lifeguard competition, and both the Hawaiian Airlines Legends Surf Classic and the Duke Kahanamoku Kane/Wahine Longboard Pro Am. Great fun for the whole family. You can find the full schedule and location of each event here.

MAUI: New Luxury Hotel to Open in Wailea

Andaz

Hyatt is bringing a touch of luxury to the Wailea side of Maui with its new Andaz hotel. Located on Mokapu Beach, this 15-acre property boasts 290 rooms, suites, and residential-style villas with prices beginning at $500/night. LEED-certified, each room in the Andaz is oversized, has its own private lanai, rain showers, and typical amenities such as wet bar, large flat-screen tv, and free wifi. Dining options include Morimoto Maui (from famed Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto) and the Hawaiian Market, both of which are dedicated to featuring season-fresh, local ingredients. Poolside and restaurant cocktail lounges will feature expert mixologists ready to make you fresh and innovative concoctions sure to please the palate. Availability begins August 15th.