We're suckers for a beautiful hotel pool. That's why we've rounded up our favorites from this year's Hot List for your viewing pleasure.
1. BERKELEY RIVER LODGE, Kimberley, Australia
Simple, stylish bush vernacular, all pitched roofs and corrugated iron. Luxurious interiors mimic landscape colors; baths and showers are alfresco.
2. PARK HYATT SYDNEY, Sydney, Australia
Executive opulence with breathtaking views, enjoyed by a core clientele of business folk, celebs, and out-of-town-wedding parties. The muted palette of tans and chocolates is punctuated by orange sandstone and dark native timber.
3. RITZ-CARLTON VIENNA, Vienna, Austria
The property feels more like a grand hotel in the great Central European tradition than part of a giant chain. While guests are often from the United States or the United Kingdom, in-the-know locals flock to the Dstrikt restaurant (run by celebrated city chef Wini Brugger) and the hotel's panoramic atmosphere rooftop bar (open in warm weather). The staff—from bellhops to concierges—are clued-in and attentive.
4. EL SECRETO, Ambergris Caye, Belize
A marriage of high-tech convenience and dress-down luxury, from the pristine carpeted motorboat that zooms you up the coast to your villa's iPad-controlled AC, Wi-Fi, TV, and music (still buggy at the time of our visit). The thatched-roof villas, all with cooling plunge pool, outdoor shower, and bathroom almost as large as the bedroom, look out on beach or garden or cluster around a small saltwater lake. A well-curated variety of spa treatments are given either in the villas or in two thatched towers designed to catch the breeze. Staff are attentive to detail, from the fresh juices waiting outside your door in the morning, to the pleasant meals in the open-air restaurant, to the delicious frozen coconut mojitos (the signature cocktail) at the bar or on a poolside chaise.
5. SHINTA MANI, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Bangkok-based American designer Bill Bensley created spaces that are serene and minimalist yet theatrical, with rectangular columns, recessed doorways, and other dramatic features inspired by the architecture of Angkor. Rooms are in a palette of black, gray, and white, offset by splashes of orange reminiscent of Cambodian monks' robes.
6. SHANGRI-LA HOTEL,Toronto, Canada
It may attract a business crowd, but the Shangri-La has all the necessities for a city vacation, including indoor cabanas surrounding a whirlpool, a gorgeous hammam spa, and the excellent lobby-level restaurant, Bosk, which focuses on Canadian-sourced seasonal fare. For those in search of a more raucous evening, chef David Chang's first non-U.S. Momofuku outpost is attached to the hotel.
7. SUGAR BEACH, St. Lucia
A $100 million renovation of a former sugarcane plantation on the dramatic west coast's choicest spot—the steep mountainside and small white-sand beach between the island's famous volcanic Pitons. All rooms have private plunge pools and butler service. Amenities include two kids' clubs and a well-equipped water sports and PADI-certified dive center.
8. HANGAROA ECO VILLAGE & SPA, Easter Island, Chile
Your Rapa Nui soirée begins with flowers draped around your neck and a fruity drink in your hand. The indoor/outdoor cocktail lounge with circular bar is the meeting place for a global crowd of adventurers. While some pay the standard B&B rate, most opt for packages that include meals and guided excursions, both full and half day, to the island's hundreds of archaeological sites.
9. FOUR SEASONS HOTEL PUDONG, Shanghai, China
In a neighborhood of big hotel players, Four Seasons competes with a swank little outdoor terrace and a forty-first-floor infinity pool—kept at a constant 80 degrees, the better to enjoy a long soak while ogling the rapidly rising skyline. The food is inventive and great-tasting, but $10 for a few slices of tomato is a bit rich. (Don't be surprised to see portly captains of industry sipping tea from their own plastic thermoses rather than the restaurant's cups.) Service throughout is attentive, almost to a fault, but that's what's expected by the largely Chinese clientele.
10. TWELVE AT HENGSHAN, Shanghai, China
Situated on a leafy street with a split personality (four girly bars and a Gothic church), Twelve draws three distinct categories of guests—cashed-up locals, a few intrepid western business travelers tired of staying in commercial-center high-rises, and party apparatchiks, for whom the place is a clubhouse (smoking indoors is against the law here, but that matters not when you are the law). The interior garden, complete with trickling streams, is a soothing retreat, as is the restaurant's rooftop terrace, with gentle breezes and cabana seating.
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