In compiling its annual It List, Travel+Leisure's editors once again visited hundreds of new hotels around the globe. So whether you're looking for a quick getaway or hoping to get away from it all, we've found the place for you.
Björk and Gwen Stefani have checked in to music producer Jon Baker's treetops resort, where seven Zen-spare suites on 2.4 hectares overlook Port Antonio and the Caribbean Sea. With a staff-to-guest ratio of four to one, anything you ask for is possible, from a picnic of jerk chicken and planter's punch on Frenchman's Cove to spontaneous staff-led rafting trips. You can even have a band to back you up in the recording studio should you feel so inspired. In a world of cookie-cutter boutique hotels, Geejam is truly bespoke.
Port Antonio; +876 946 1935; islandoutpost.com; doubles from $780.
It's got Rat Pack glamour and now, after a $1 billion renovation, the Fontainebleau also has top restaurants and lounges (11 of them, including Alan Yau's much-anticipated new outpost of London eatery Hakkasan) and 1504 guest rooms, with plasma TVs and iMacs. The staff is still adjusting to the demands of such a huge hotel, but it's the public spaces that really impress: the epic lobby, the glowing floor of the Bleau Bar, and, outside, a seemingly endless series of pools, lounge chairs, palm trees, and more pools.
4441 Collins Ave.; +1 305 538 2000; fontain-ebleau.com; doubles from $327.
Hainan Island, China
The 450-room Ritz-Carlton is a standout among the growing number of resorts on Hainan, China's only tropical island. Amid crowds of well-heeled mainland Chinese (including lovestruck newlyweds in matching Hawaiian shirts) we found a Forbidden City-inspired retreat with gardens, reflective lagoons and wooden pillar-lined walkways. After a day spent by your villa's plunge pool, don't be daunted by the distance to the seawater-themed Espa at the other end of the resort: a personal butler awaits to drive you there.
Yalong Bay National Resort District; +86 898 8898 8888; ritzcarlton.com; doubles from $250.
Six Senses Destination Spa
Spa-obsessed jet-setters, take note: Six Senses has brought the best of South-East Asia's healing arts to a speck of land off Phuket's eastern coast. A 10-hectare retreat houses four individual spas – yes, four – each dedicated to Chinese, Indian, Indonesian or Thai traditions. Many of the practitioners have trained for years to fine-tune a single treatment, which became apparent during our deep-tissue Indian Abhyanga massage. Between appointments, we lounged by the ocean and ordered seaside delivery of addictive Thai dishes such as chili lobster.
32 Moo 5, Tambol Paklok, Amphur Thalang; +66 76 381 010; sixsenses.com; doubles from $3500, including treatments and meals.
It's rare that a hotel feels both stolidly conservative and explosively futuristic, but that's the effect architect Norman Foster has achieved with his redesign of the Dolder Grand, in Zurich. The hilltop property overlooks the city and lake, and the original 1899 facade and turrets, now restored, are flanked by dramatic new stone-and-glass buildings, the Golf Wing and the Spa Wing. Inside, gently curving hallways evoke a 2001: A Space Odyssey sort of mood, and wooden doors open to reveal quietly modern guest rooms – off-white leather upholstery, smoked-oak flooring, and private terraces.
65 Kurhausstrasse; +41 44 456 6000; thedoldergrand.com; doubles from $1010.
We may never have ventured into Poblenou, Barcelona's emerging tech district, if it weren't for Dominique Perrault's 122 metre tall glass-and-steel den of cool. Barcelona's beautiful people bear the 15-minute cab ride from the city centre to arrive at this hotel, where they gather on ebony wingback chairs and chalk-white daybeds at Angels & Kings, an outpost of musician Pete Wentz's New York bar. We couldn't get over our room's perfect views of the Sagrada Familia, the Agbar Tower, and the hills of Catalonia beyond.
272 Pere IV; 1800 221 176 (Australia only); me-barcelona.com; doubles from $310.
Dutch designer Marcel Wanders's Baroque-minimalist palace on the calm waters of Biscayne Bay is a feast for the imagination: Step inside, and South Beach's Art Deco aesthetic melts away. In the lobby, stark white surfaces lead to a latticed black spiral staircase and rooms come with enormous digitally manipulated femme-fatale paintings. When it all becomes too much – the chandelier that turns out to be a showerhead; the trompe l'oeil cloud-mosaic bathroom tiles – retreat to the hotel's waterside patio to take in the Technicolor sunset over downtown Miami.
1100 West Ave.; +1 305 514 1500; morganshotelgroup.com; doubles from $650.
Park Hyatt Shanghai
Situated atop the towering 101-storey Shanghai World Financial Centre, the Park Hyatt radiates calm. Interior designer Tony Chi's decor is almost monastic in its restraint, but unlike monks, guests are invited to indulge: cream-of-artichoke soup with caviar in the Dining Room, an acupressure massage in the dreamlike Water's Edge spa, or a swim past curious egg-shaped sculptures in the infinity pool.
100 Century Ave.; +86 21 6888 1234; park.hyatt.com; doubles from $1058.
W Hong Kong
The "Whatever, Whenever" motto of Starwood's boutique brand couldn't
be more appropriate in Asia's frenetic financial capital. Sure, the concierge can have a bespoke suit tailored in just 24 hours, but if money is no object he can also have a private jet at the ready for that last-minute trip to Shanghai. All 393 guest rooms have skyline views and remote-controlled everything (blackout curtains; multicoloured mood lighting; iPod docking stations), but be sure to request harbour-facing rooms, as the ICC tower obstructs the panorama on the Hong Kong city side.
1 Austin Rd. W., Kowloon Station, Kowloon; +852 3717 2222; starwoodhotels.com; doubles from $340.
Jose Ignacio, Uruguay
You'll find a boho-chic crowd in José Ignacio at Estancia Vik, the town's first luxury guest estancia. All 12 spare suites feature installations by Uruguayan artists; big names, including sculptor Pablo Atchugarry and painter Clever Lara, have work in the public spaces. The location – on 1600 hectares of pasture eight kilometres from the beach – is still close enough to town that you can grab dinner at midnight, as locals do. Km 8, Cam.
Eugenio Saiz Martínez; +598 64 675 838; estanciavikjoseignacio.com; doubles from $980.
If Piedmont's Slow Food movement has meant better eating for everyone, an unexpected consequence has been the increased popularity of this once sleepy corner of western Italy. Which is why LaVilla, just east of the town of Le Langhe, is such a welcome addition. The 17th-century palazzo sits amid rolling hills and its rooms are understated, with covetable antiques (claw-foot tubs; 19th-century armoires) and all the comforts (heated tile floors; overstuffed down pillows; an honour bar stocked with the best Barbera wines). The complimentary breakfast of freshly baked croissants, fruits, artisanal cheeses and prosciutto is a highlight.
7 Via Torino; +39 041 793 890; lavillahotel.net; doubles from $270.
Reserve, South Africa
Molori Safari Lodge
Tucked into the hills of South Africa's Madikwe Game Reserve, the five-suite Molori Safari Lodge presents a compelling argument for the place of indulgence in a recessionary world. South African designer Stephen Falcke mixes traditional elements (thatched roofs; carved-wood statues) with Fendi chaises and gilded Louis XVI-style chairs. Indeed, the lodge excels at fantasy fulfillment. Fancy a romantic wood-fired braai? A candlelit table and chef are at the ready. And let's not forget the game drives: two a day with an expert ranger.
Madikwe Game Reserve; +27 82 613 5723; molori.com; doubles from $2440, all-inclusive.
Priory Country Lodge
The 1848 Tudor-style lodge in Bothwell, a Tasmanian town known for game hunting, offers a dizzying roster of activities. Guests can fill their days with trout fishing, rounds of golf (the nearby course is the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere), visits to a whiskey distillery and walks through World Heritage-protected wilderness. The bush dinners are also a hit – especially the highland favourite: braised lamb shanks on mash.
2 Wentworth St.; +61 3 6259 4012; thepriorycountrylodge.com; doubles from $720.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Xudum Okavango Delta Lodge
Amid the colonial-throwback camps in Botswana's Okavango Delta, there's an iconoclastic new kid in town from &Beyond, the safari company formerly known as CC Africa. The 25,000-hectare reserve, one of the largest in any permanent African delta, is a part-land, part-water experience. Guests from the nine pinewood suites punt for hours along water channels in mekoro dugouts, or make incursions into the acacia- and palm-studded plains, hot on the trail of hippos, Cape buffalo and a profusion of wild cats. Okavango Delta; +27 11 809 4300; doubles from $1795 per person.
For the best new resorts, classic and city hotels of 2009, check out the full story at www.travelandleisure.com.au