by Sara Bliss
Welcome to the Polar Vortex Part 2. Also known as the time of year when we start dreaming about far-off lands to escape to. Lucky for you, the coolest new hotels pair stunning design with amazing locales. You really can’t go wrong. From a contemporary mod safari lodge in Bostwana to a floral oasis in Madrid, here are the 12 design destinations to visit this year.
Malliouhana - Anguilla
The colorful new Malliouhana on Anguilla (Photo: Courtesy of Auberge Resorts)
It’s impossible not to fall in love with the colorful, preppy-meets-glamorous revamp of this island favorite. Auberge Resorts spent 18 months on the renovation with Todd-Avery Lenahan of TAL Studios (who also did the amazing Hotel Jerome in Aspen). Between the stunning design and the sweeping ocean views — it’s almost too much beauty for one place. Two beaches, two infinity pools, and a delightful spa are bonuses. With only 44 rooms, the hotel also has the advantage of being more intimate than competitors Viceroy and Cap Juluca — it’s a total gem.
Hotel Urso - Madrid, Spain
Madrid’s Hotel Urso, in a former palace (Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Urso)
Set in a 20th century Neoclassical former palace, this gorgeous new boutique hotel in Madrid is showcasing the best of Spanish design, beauty, and food. Each month, its pop-up restaurant concept is helmed by a different Michelin-starred chef. The spa features Spanish beauty brand Natura Bisse. And local designer Antonio Obrador, the mastermind behind Cap Rocat in Mallorca, has given the spaces a sophisticated look that pairs chinoiserie wallpaper with local antiques.
Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge - Botswana
Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge in Botswana (Photo: Courtesy of Andbeyond)
Luxury safari brand Andbeyond has done a spectacular revamp of its Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge safari lodge in Botswana. Eight suites adjacent to the Moremi game reserve feature plunge pools, roomy terraces, and a breathtaking, crisp contemporary design.
Nira Montana - La Thuile, Italy
Italy’s new slopeside ski lodge Nira Montana (Photo: Courtesy of Nira Montana)
The first five-star hotel in the idyllic Italian ski town of La Thuile has everything you would want — and starts at less than $250 a night. The 55-room property is steps from the slopes. The Nordic-inspired design features that hipster birch wallpaper that everyone loves, and the hotel includes a spa, techno gym, and indoor pool. La Thuile, which is in the Italian Alps, is two hours from Geneva or Milan, and links to French ski resort La Rosière, offering just under 100 miles of trails.
Virgin - Chicago
Virgin Chicago (Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Hotels)
“We’re here to wake up this industry and bring back the fun,” declares Virgin Hotels on its website. With the first property opening this month in Chicago, New York to follow this fall, and Nashville next year, the brand is primed to make waves. In a nod to brands like Soho House, there is a hybrid bar/lounge/study/restaurant called Commons Club, designed to “have the vibe of a private members club.” Except — you don’t have to be a member. Hotel guests enjoy free cocktails from 6 to 7 p.m. and rates start at $200 a night. Way to get the party started.
The Brando - French Polynesia
Tetiaroa Island, aka the Brando (Photo: Courtesy of The Brando)
Marlon Brando’s private island retreat has been reborn as a stunning eco-friendly resort. There are 35 villas, each boasting its own plunge pool and private stretch of sand. But in keeping with the star’s wishes, the island is not all about vacation — it is also the setting for scientific research involving preservation and environmental solutions.
The new SLS in Las Vegas (Photo: Courtesy of SLS Las Vegas)
All the SLS hotels inherently have that Vegas flair — theatrical design, restaurants helmed by celebrity-chefs, and a vibe that’s buzzy, fun, and party-ready. So it’s no surprise the new 1,600-room SLS is the hotel-of-the-moment in Vegas. Highlights include the pool/nightclub, an outpost of L.A.’s trendy Fred Segal, and a mecca for carnivores: Bazaar Meat by José Andrés
Casa Cuixmala - Mexico
Mexico’s Casa Cuixmala (Photo: Courtesy of Casa Cuixmala)
A former private residence on 25,000 conserved acres along the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Casa Cuixmala is a dream destination. There are four oversized suites in the main house, which was originally designed by Robert Courturier in a sort of exotic Morocco-meets-Mexico scheme. If you are looking for more privacy, their are seven smaller casitas. Heaven for those looking for unspoiled, uncrowded stretches of sand: there are two miles of private beaches.
Eau de Palm Beach - Florida
A Jonathan Adler-designed room at Eau de Palm Beach (Photo: Courtesy of Eau de Palm Beach)
The former beachfront Ritz Carlton was just re-launched as the Eau Palm Beach. The cheery preppy redo of the 300-plus guest rooms by designer Jonathan Adler is reason alone to book. The rooms capture that zany, colorful, Hollywood Regency style that Palm Beach is known for. If you fall in love with anything in your room, from the Slim Aarons photographs to the Sputnik chandeliers, you can purchase it all through Adler’s eponymous stores.
Bahia ViK - Jose Ignacio, Uruguay
The beachside Bahia Vik in Uruguay (Photo: Courtesy of Bahia Vik)
Hoteliers Carrie and Alex Vik originally opened Estancia Vik, their first art-filled boutique hotel on a 4,000-acre ranch, to introduce the world to this idyllic part of Uruguay. Now the former sleepy fishing village of Jose Ignacio has turned into a boho-chic beach escape and the Viks have just opened their third hotel in the area, a beachside retreat called Bahia Vik. Their latest hotel includes 11 contemporary bungalows nestled in the dunes and pairing one-of-a-kind art, modern design, and a fun beach scene.
Iniala Beach House in Phang Nga - Thailand
The modular exterior of the Iniala House in Thailand (Photo: Courtesy of Iniala House)
Another wishlist destination (it starts at $20,000 for a week for a three-suite villa). The entire experience is over-the-top — each villa comes with its own spa therapist and six hours of spa treatments a day. Plus there is a butler, cook, and driver. Then there is the unbelievable, cutting-edge design: 10 different designers added their stamp to the resort, creating some of the coolest hotel rooms ever. Oh, and there’s also the stunning Natai beach out front, overlooking the Andaman Sea.
The façade of the Peninsula Paris (Photo: Courtesy of Peninsula Paris)
With the Ritz revamp finishing up this fall, the Plaza Athenee blooming from a facelift, and the spectacular new Peninsula in Paris — the Right Bank has never had more grand and glamorous hotels to choose from.