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.

LAS VEGAS: Top 5 New Year’s Eve Parties

New-Years-Eve

December is now upon us and it’s time to get serious about where you will be celebrating New Year’s Eve. Las Vegas is always rockin’ with a party on every corner and rooms fill up fast, so do not delay. The choices abound, but we’ve whittled down the list to a more manageable 5, to make travel planning even easier.

Here are some of our favorite choices to ring in the New Year:

COSMOPOLITAN
The Cosmopolitan has several events going on but the celebration at The Ice Rink is where I’d want to be. You’ll be high above the Strip in a winter wonderland, skating your cares away and listening to Bruno Mars in concert on a marquee made of 65 digital panels. (He’s performing live downstairs at The Chelsea.) Tickets include cocktails.
Where: The Ice Rink, Cosmopolitan
When: 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Cost: $99 – $150 (Must be 21 to attend)

DOWNTOWN/FREMONT STREET
The Fremont Street Experience hosts one of Sin City’s biggest NYE parties, spanning several blocks, under the light canopy (which will be displaying a special light show that evening). This year’s party theme is “Rock in the New Year” and will feature 9 hours of live music on 3 stages, including Vince Neil (of Motley Crue) and Loverboy. The midnight countdown includes a dazzling fireworks display and revelers can duck into any number of casinos to warm up, try their hand at a game of poker, or freshen up their drinks.
Where: Fremont Street
When: Gates open at 6 p.m.
Cost: $40 (Must be 21 to attend)

ARIA
The Gold Boutique Nightclub and Lounge inside the Aria hotel is throwing a NYE Countdown hosted by JabbaWockeeZ, winners of America’s Best Dance Crew (and currently entertaining guests at their new customized theater at the Luxor). In addition to the drama and dance of this high-energy group, The Bangerz will deejay the event. First two hours feature an open bar, people, so don’t be late!
Where: The Ice Rink, Aria
When: Starts at 9 p.m.
Cost: $50 for the ladies; $75 for gents; table reservations start at $1,200 (Must be 21 to attend)

CAESARS PALACE
Pure Nightclub at Caesers recently won the Lifetime Achievement Award in the annual Vegas Seven Nightclub Awards and on New Year’s this plush venue with gorgeous Strip views will make you a believer. This is the cream of the crop and always deserves a visit no matter what time of year you visit Las Vegas. Known for hosting celebrities on a regular basis, you can hobnob with the best at this venue. Open bar from 9 p.m. to midnight.
Where: Pure Nightclub, Caesers Palace
When: 8 p.m. to 4 a.m..
Cost: $50 for the ladies; $100 for gents; Tickets here

PLANET HOLLYWOOD
How about a “Bottomless New Year’s Eve” at Koi Ultra Lounge? Planet Hollywood is set dead center in the middle of the Strip, giving you a bird’s eye view of all the revelry and fireworks along Las Vegas Boulevard. Tickets include an open bar and party favors.
Where: Koi Ultra Lounge, Planet Hollywood
When: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Cost: $40 for the ladies; $60 for gents;  bottle service $150 – $200 Tickets here

NOTE: The Las Vegas Strip will be closed to ALL auto traffic after 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, so plan appropriately.