As the president of The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, I have had the good fortune to gain vast experiential knowledge of the delicate intricacies that constitute true luxury hospitality in the world of global travel. In the early part of this decade, prosperity abounded and many newcomers jumped onto the bandwagon of the luxury lifestyle. However, in 2009, many have had reasons to reassess their commitment to the good life, and so it is with great pride that I present these destinations that have demonstrated their continued pledge to the white-glove service standards that we have come to expect. Whether receiving our prestigious International Star Diamond Award for the first time this year, or upholding the expectations of excellence for which they originally earned the award, these are six outstanding choices that I recommend when considering your next travel itinerary.
The creative genius of the Michael Schumacher World Champion Tower in Abu Dhabi—a curvy building that reflects “the geometrical order of a snowflake and the aerodynamics of a Formula 1”—inspired our International Board of Trustees to create a whole new category of Star Diamond Awards, honoring innovative and unique projects. We presented PNYG CEO Joachim Swensson with the Five Star Diamond Award in January of this year after the initial project launch in Abu Dhabi. This, the first of seven Michael Schumacher towers that will appear around the world, features 250 luxury residences, with the top 10 floors of the 787-foot skyscraper offering multilevel sky villas, and of course, Five Star Diamond levels of service and craftsmanship.
Tunisia may not be one of the first destinations that pops up on radar screens for many luxury travelers, but the development of Kelibia la blanche is giving us all a reason to recognize this Mediterranean land as a locale of choice. Billed as the haute couture of real estate, this property encompasses more than 100 acres along the coast of El Mansourah and is the ideal investment for international lifestyle property purchasers. The development has demonstrated their dedication to world class standards to such a degree that The Academy has recognized Kelibia la blanche as one of the finest environmentally friendly developments worldwide.
4, rue Achtart Nord Hilton
1002 Tunis, Tunisia
Described as the quintessential embodiment of elegance, the reason that One & Only Palmilla can boast the Five Star Diamond Award is a mystery to no one that understands the true essence of a luxury hotel. This venue, located at the southernmost point of Baja in the Los Cabos corridor, has played host to countless celebrities and international dignitaries who have a reputation for demanding nothing less than the absolute best. Don Abelardo Rodriguez, son of the Mexican president, originally built the resort in the 1950s. Today, the pampering continues with 24-hour butler service, aromatherapy turndown menus, flat-screen satellite TV with DVD/CD players, Bose surround-sound audio systems, and terrace daybeds and telescopes.
San Jose Del Cabo
A mention of The Plaza Hotel would not be complete without a nod towards the home city that houses the legendary venue. It is a rare and fortunate occasion when a property or destination comes along that goes above and beyond even our Five Star Diamond Award, but such was the case with the City of New York, and in 2009 the Big Apple was the first recipient of the Six Star Diamond Award.
The history of The Plaza Hotel New York is almost as famed as its luxe Fifth Avenue locale. From the Oak Room and Oak Bar, the Champagne Room, and the Rose Club, to the Warren Tricomi Salon, the Shops at The Plaza, a Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa, and Fitness Center by Radu, this Five Star Diamond winner needs little prologue. The venue’s reputation for extravagance has been heralded in more than a dozen movies, and after last year’s completion of the $400 million, lobby-to-roof renovations, opulent fixtures like 24-karat gold faucets are just one of the features that adorn the hotel rooms. The 2,100-square-foot, two-bedroom Royal Terrace suite is one of our top picks within the property.
Fifth Avenue at Central Park South
New York, NY
Claiming to be the star of New England, our International Board of Trustees agreed with Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri and recognized the state as the first in the U.S. to be awarded the Five Star Diamond Award. The biggest little state in America is deserving of its accolades as a world-class destination due to cities like Newport, its most luxurious tourist magnet, the award-winning WaterFire by Barnaby Evans in downtown Providence, and a plethora of activities for yachting enthusiasts. Rhode Island’s Five Star Diamond Award is a testament to the caliber of offerings from the Ocean State.