The First Resort | Going Places
With Platinum Sponsors as prestigious and diverse as Blacklane (chauffeurs to take you places) via Visoanska (beauty products to get you looking hot) to My Private Villas (destinations of desire) it’s sure to be a grand affair. Partners range from the highest level comms CNN and Milbanke Media to consumables like Doisy + Dam chocolates and Boursot French wine to cruises from Hapag Lloyd. Beach bod readiness is possible thanks to Tidal and Sand Dollar swimwear not forgetting Gassan diamonds. Baobab Collection (luxury homeware) and The Thinking Traveller (more desirable villas) illuminate the exquisite elixir of culture. Longings and belongings. To quote the composer Sir John Tavener, “See everything with the eye of the heart.”
The Boutique Hotel Awards wear their art on their sleeve: the best of the best internationally. There’s the stampede of fashionable feet as 250 leading luxury boutique hotel professionals and influencers from 112 countries around the globe take their seats. The setting: the glorious Merchant Taylors’ Hall in the City of London has been around since 1347 although the bones of the current building date from just after the Great Fire of 1666. It’s a fabulous Tudory Elizabethanist Medievalish fanfare shifting between major and minor modes, to paraphrase the composer Samuel Barber.
The Awards are now in their eighth year and are the only organisation in hospitality where every hotel and villa is actually visited by an experienced hotel judge and specialist in a particular category. The winners are selected from over 300 nominees. Guest experience is examined from six angles: Dining + Entertainment | Design | Facilities | Location | Staff Service | Overall Emotional Impact.
“The Boutique Hotel Awards 2018 Ceremony is an exciting and invigorating night,” enthuses Bianca Revens, Managing Director. “I am so proud to be a part of an organisation that recognises the passion and hard work of our winners and nominees, creating outstanding, unique luxury hotels and villas. Congratulations to everyone involved!” Keynote speaker Robin Sheppard, Cofounder and Chairman of Bespoke Hotels, calls the Awards “star studded” and “an essential date in the world’s perpetual calendar”. He adds, “We see the attention to detail in every stitch of fabric and every morsel of food.” Awarta Nusa Dua Resort + Villas in Bali, Indonesia, achieves a double whammy: top overall prize and World’s Best Culinary Experience. The other international winners are:
- World’s Best Beach or Coastal Hotel: Reethi Faru Resort, Filaidhoo, Maldives
- World’s Best Classic Elegance Hotel: Relais + Chateaux Hotel Heritage, Bruges, Belgium
- World’s Most Inspired Design Hotel: Hotel TwentySeven, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- World’s Best Honeymoon Hideaway: Drake Bay Getaway Resort, Drake Bay, Costa Rica
- World’s Best New Hotel: Hotel Grand Windsor, Auckland, New Zealand
- World’s Best Relaxation Retreat: Carpe Diem Exclusive Boutique Resort, Santorini, Greece
- World’s Most Romantic Retreat: Akademie Street, Franschhoek, South Africa
- World’s Most Sustainable Hotel: Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Tofino, Canada
- World’s Best Wellness Spa: Green SPA Resort Stanglwirt, Going am Wilden Kaiser, Austria
- World’s Best Private Villa: The Resort Villa, Rayong, Thailand
- World’s Most Stunning Views: Hanging Gardens of Bali, Bali, Thailand
- World’s Best Family Hotel: Blue River Resort + Hot Springs, Dos Rios, Costa Rica
A jazzy string trio strikes up in the conservatory. The party has begun. A celebration of pure wanderlust joy is underway. “It’s a wonderful job being a hotelier!” exclaims Heidi Belnap who with her brother Aaron Hunsaker and his wife opened The Harkness in Idaho. “There are only about 850 people in our town. But we’re on the freeway to Yellowstone National Park and just two hours away from Salt Lake City. We restored a 1906 building that was close to being condemned. People are just falling in love with the hotel. It’s just different for that part of the world. It’s very boutique.” Michael S Howard extols the virtues of Thailand. He should know. Michael is Managing Director of Rasa Hospitality, a Bangkok based ground that manages top end resorts and hotels in Thailand. “Our conversation is the highlight of the evening.”
Dinner is served. Starter: salad of Devonshire white crabmeat, lemon and ginger cured Scottish salmon with asparagus and crème fraîche. Main: baked aubergine parmigiana with rainbow chard, toasted almond and French bean salad. Pudding: poached fig in port sauce with mango brûlée and blackcurrant délice. Demitasse and truffles. There’s simply no better way to celebrate the halfway point between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. Sandwiched by a Richard Dhondt Champagne reception and carriage wine from D Vine, to alter the context of a quote from the composer Sir Hamilton Harty, The Boutique Hotel Awards are “better by two bars*”.
*Samuel Henshall, an 18th century Curate of nearby Christ Church Spitalfields, invented the corkscrew