Grand Awards 2018
Andrew Harper's Favorites from the Past Year of Travel
Each year, Andrew Harper editors have the pleasure of recalling our travel experiences and singling out a number of particularly memorable amenities from the hotels and resorts we visited. From beaches and baths to spas and pools, these were our favorites from 2017.
The extraordinary spa complex alone is worth the detour to this magnificent resort on Germany’s Baltic coast. The cleverly designed Schlosstherme spa comprises two historic brick buildings connected by a sun-filled atrium, containing a café and, on the other side of a double-sided fireplace, a hushed relaxation room. A large fireplace also faces the swimming pool, divided by glass doors into indoor and outdoor sections. Loungers surround the pool, both on the ground floor and in a gallery above. A clothing-optional section of the spa contains a steam room, two saunas and a chalet-inspired snow room for cooling off. I felt like a new person after a restorative hammam treatment, part of which I spent lounging in a private steam room.
Alila Jabal Akhdar
The peacock-blue horizon pool at the Alila Jabal Akhdar resort is unheated and comes into its own with the onset of Oman’s summer heat. But it is not the pool itself but the view from it that is truly extraordinary. Located at an elevation of 7,000 feet in the Al Hajar Mountains, the hotel is surrounded by a sun-scorched landscape of fissured hills, jagged cliffs and stark rocky ridges. And from the pool’s edge, an immense gorge falls away thousands of feet to a hazy and insubstantial horizon. The epic scale and drama of the scenery would not seem out of place in Utah or Arizona.
One&Only The Palm
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Palm Jumeirah is an artificial archipelago, so the beach at the One&Only The Palm resort is not real. Not that you can tell, as the white sand is soft and deep and lapped by a calm expanse of turquoise sea. What makes the beach remarkable is the futuristic backdrop of Dubai’s Marina district, with its forest of dizzying skyscrapers clustered around Marina 101, a 1,417-foot tower that is now the tallest residential building in the world. Relaxing on a lounger beneath a white umbrella, glass of chilled wine in hand, it seems as if Midtown Manhattan has been uprooted in its entirety and translocated to the Persian Gulf.
Most Glamorous Bath
Rome’s venerable Hotel Eden opened in April 2017 after a comprehensive renovation that has left it immaculate and gleaming. Our Junior Suite was serene and supremely comfortable. Its superbly appointed bath came with an entirely separate “wet” room with both a rainfall shower and a huge soaking tub. The latter was carved from an immense block of white marble and decorated with a striking gold mosaic. Two sinks were set in another magnificent expanse of marble, while white-marble boxes contained tissues and miscellaneous amenities. The lighting was perfectly balanced, and there was an abundance of thick white towels. A vase of white calla lilies and a generous supply of Bottega Veneta bath products provided additional grace notes.
Most Unique Luxury Amenity
Chileno Bay Resort, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Swim-up bars are, of course, nothing new. But at this Auberge property, the bar swims up to you. We had just settled ourselves in loungers facing the adults-only pool when we noticed a gentleman sporting stylish sunglasses enter the water, bringing with him a set of shakers and cocktail supplies supported by a large white floating rectangle. He waded around to everyone lounging beside the pool, offering freshly shaken shots of watermelon juice and tequila. In order to fully evaluate the service, we dutifully accepted the complimentary drinks. They were most refreshing.