Hottest new hotels for 2013
We know, we know. You haven’t gotten around to staying at last year’s top new hotels and now this bursts onto your screen.
The good news is, 2012 is so last year.
The best new hotels of 2013 are higher, shinier and deluxier than their one-year-older peers.
1. Mukul Resort & Spa, Nicaragua
Opened: February 2013
Part of Guacalito de la Isla, a 676-hectare, eco-sensitive resort on four miles of untouched Pacific coast, Mukul has only been open a few days as of this posting, but is already a benchmark for luxury in Nicaragua.
The brainchild of entrepreneur Carlos Pellas, the retreat takes its design cues from local culture: villas and bohio-styled huts crafted from native teak and pine are distinguished by an ancient Mayan numerical system, reclaimed rum barrels are used in headboards and the Pellas’ family rum is the nightcap of choice.
Book the six-bedroom Casona Don Carlos, Pellas’ private beach residence, and you’ll also enjoy a pool and oceanfront living area.
Spa treatments offered in themed suites include a crystal temple, rainforest room and hammam using a bounty of local ingredients: raw cane sugar crystals, seaweed and Nicaraguan volcanic clay.
There are plenty of more active diversions, such as golf on an oceanfront course -- its 18 holes were chiseled without cutting down a single tree.
Mukul Resort & Spa, Kilometer 10, Carretera Tola-Las Salinas Rivas, Nicaragua; rooms from US$550 per night; +505 2563 7100; www.mukulresort.com
2. Anantara Xishuangbanna Resort & Spa, China
Opened: February 2013
The first five-star hotel in the jungle-laced Xishuangbanna region of China’s southern Yunnan province, Anantara is set on a sweeping curve of the Luosuo River, its 105 rooms and villas overlooking tropical forest and water features.
The week-old hotel (as of this writing) offers plenty of diversions, including an Indochine specialty restaurant and a spa focusing on traditional Chinese medicine.
Anantara excels in cultural offerings and experiences. Guests can visit nearby Dai minority villages, trek through the Hengduan Mountains, where the Lancang River later becomes the Mekong, or visit a nature reserve where China’s last remaining wild elephants roam wild.
The hotel’s “tea guru” is also on call to lead excursions into the surrounding mountains, where fields of pu’er tea, the country’s most prized brew, are opened to guests for picking, followed by tea ceremonies at the resort.
Anantara Xishuangbanna Resort & Spa, Xishuangbanna, China; rooms from RMB 1,800 (US$289) per night; +86 691 893 6666; xishuangbanna.anantara.com
3. Nobu Hotel, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas
Opened: February 2013
Actor and hotelier Robert De Niro, Hollywood film producer Mier Teper and notable chef Nobu Matsuhisa are behind this newcomer, opened at the start of February.
Part of the Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas empire, the Nobu Hotel will be positively petite in comparison to the Caesars Palace property that it adjoins: the hotel, the first of its kind, will feature 181 Japanese-inspired rooms, conceptualized by New York interior designer David Rockwell.
While all rooms come with niceties such as Japanese artwork and traditional Umi-tiled bathrooms, the Sake Suites take things up a notch with a home theater and pool table; the Nobu Suites come with a sushi counter and personal chef.
Guests have access to the extensive Caesars facilities next door, but will also enjoy priority access to the Nobu Restaurant, the largest in the group’s portfolio, covering some 1,040 square meters.
Three additional Nobu hotels are in the pipeline, set to open in London, Bahrain and Riyadh.
Nobu Hotel, Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Boulevard S., Las Vegas; rooms from US$249 per night; +1 866 227 5938; www.nobuhotels.com
4. W Guangzhou, China
Opening: March 12, 2013
The first W Hotel in mainland China opens on March 12 with all the pizzazz we’ve come to expect from the Starwood brand.
The who’s who of the design world -- New York’s Yabu Pushelberg, Glyph of Toronto, Hong Kong’s AFSO, A.N.D. of Tokyo -- were called upon to fit out the property.
Touches include a dramatic four-story glass loft suspended from the side of the hotel, illuminated by optical fiber strings of light. Welcome to WooBar.
Yan Yu, the signature Chinese restaurant, is more restrained in its design, with orchid motifs and dapper waiters done up in a rainbow of silk uniforms: mandarin, fuchsia, lemon, lime and plum.
The visuals continue throughout the public spaces, with larger-than-life installations, such as a three-story “luminous waterwall” and an oversize “nest,” creating an entry you won’t forget.
Bookings open from the end of February.
W Guangzhou, 26 Xian Cun Road, Pearl River New Town, Tianhe District, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China; room rates to be announced; +86 20 2213 1000; www.starwoodhotels.com
5. Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai
Opening: April 2013
The Mandarin Oriental hotel group hasn’t cut any corners at its newest outpost, expected to open at the start of April.
Located in Shanghai’s booming Pudong district, on the east bank of the Huangpu River, the property unites Asian styling with every modern touch imaginable.
The 362 rooms and suites come designed with verve and vision, from the peacock-inspired bed throws to the black marbled counters and curved leather armchairs.
Six restaurants and bars will include Yong Yi Ting, where a pared-back dining room belies impeccable Chinese fare.
Other highlights include Qi Bar, with lavish chandeliers, marbled floors and velvet sofas, and the Mandarin Cake Shop, stocked with signature MO pastries, cakes and truffles.
Spa facilities include 13 suites alongside all manner of Jacuzzis, saunas and showers.
Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shangahi, 111 Pudong Road, Pudong, Shanghai; room rates to be announced; +86 21 2082 9888; www.mandarinoriental.com
6. Capella Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Opening: April 1, 2013
Opening on April 1, Washington D.C.’s newest hotel is a canal-side darling offering just 49 guest rooms and suites, each appointed with lavish European fixtures: original modern art, hand-crafted paneling, Italian marble flooring, handmade upholstery.
Added niceties include mini-bar snacks included with the room, and access to “personal assistants” around the clock.
With al fresco seating, the restaurant will serve grilled meats, but the pick of the dining options will be the rooftop bar, where cocktails and canapés are only outdone by views of the Potomac River, Kennedy Center and Washington Monument.
Guests can have a personal assistant organize after-hours retail therapy, backstage passes to the ballet or a winery tour to Monticello and Thomas Jefferson country.
Capella Georgetown, 1050 31st St., Washington, D.C.; rooms from US$745; +1 202 617 2400; www.capellahotels.com
7. Shangri-La Hotel, at the Shard, London
Opening: May 2013
Due to open in May, the Asian-based Shangri-La Hotel Group’s first property in the United Kingdom is located from levels 34 to 52 in the spire of London’s Shard -- at 310 meters, one of the tallest buildings in Europe.
The property offers views over the city from each of its 202 rooms and suites, designed by internationally acclaimed architect Renzo Piano.
No detail has been overlooked, from heated bathroom floors to designer LED televisions, high-speed Internet access and butler service available in all suites.
The first new-build five‑star hotel in the central London area in more than a decade comes with four restaurants and bars, as well as an infinity pool and 24-hour fitness center on level 52 -- over the edge of the pool you can see St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London on the hotel’s doorstep perch on the south bank of the River Thames.
Shangri-La Hotel, at the Shard, London, 32 London Bridge St., Southwark, London; room rates to be announced; +44 22 3102 3704; www.shangri-la.com
8. Banyan Tree Kerala, India
Opening: First half of 2013
Resorts don’t get much more exclusive than the Banyan Tree’s debut property in India, set on a private island in Kerala’s backwaters and due to open in the first half of the year.
Guests sail into the lobby of the all pool-villa property, inspired by Kerala’s highly stylized Kathakali art -- elaborate teak woodwork and carvings, decorative copper artwork, coir handicrafts and vivid fabrics.
With Kerala’s appeal as a wellness destination, the Banyan Tree offers multi-day spa packages that incorporate a range of Ayurvedic treatments alongside yoga and spa cuisine, inspired by the tri-dosha concept of Ayurveda.
Poolside, hotel butlers roam with cool towels, platters of fruit and refreshing sprays.
Those looking for more fast-paced diversions will want to catch a boat to the hotel’s neighboring Activity Island, where a climbing wall, archery range and obstacle course await, or indulge in immersive tours such as backwater houseboat jaunts, cooking classes focusing on southern Indian specialties and clam-diving excursions.
Other notable hotel openings in 2013:
The 12-room Mahali Mzuri, Richard Branson’s Kenyan safari lodge in the Motorogi Conservancy in the northern region of Maasai Mara; The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, with seven restaurants and a sprawling spa; the Peninsula Paris, the first European outpost from the hotel group, set to dazzle near the Arc de Triomphe by the end of the year; Sofitel So Singapore, opening in July and only the third So-branded property in the world; the Oberoi Dubai, its 250 rooms overlooking Burj Khalifa; the Regent Bali, located beachside in Sanur.