The Star Diamond Standard

The Academy’s Star Diamond Award is the most coveted and only truly global awards program in the world.

As the Haute Ambassador of Travel, I invite our San Francisco readers to join me in recognizing some regular favorites of the Star Diamond family, as well as some new additions, both here and abroad. Whether considering a staycation with cocktails right here in our City by the Bay, or doing it exotic-style in Malaysia, these award-winners are some of my top picks.

Mandarin Oriental
San Francisco

The haute factor The reputation. When a luxury hospitality brand is as revered as the Mandarin Oriental, the name alone is enough to invoke visions of posh pamperings. The views are, of course, stupendous, but combined with the level of sophistication found in the décor, service, and amenities, there is little room for doubt as to why this is one of my favorite award-winners in the San Francisco area.

Crash pad stats The Taipan suite and the Oriential suite both offer 2,000 square feet of sumptuous space, with full bay or city views and a Swarovski telescope to please any voyeuristic desires.

Let the feast begin The superlatives for Silks and MO Bar keep rolling in, a notion not lost on us when considering awarding the luxury hotel with five Star Diamonds. In a region so revered for its culinary pleasures, nothing short of delectable perfection is expected—and delivered—at these Bay Area restaurants.

Ty-Ku Asian Spirits

The haute factor The bottle. Conceived by two non-drinking college buddies at Columbia University, creators Kirk Spahn and Trent Ulicny patented the hautest of cocktail containers where the press of a button illuminates the bottle, transforming it into an emerald green beacon of light.

Tickling the taste buds Sweetened with the syrup from elderflowers to keep that nasty morning-after nausea at bay, the concoction blends 20 botanicals, teas, sake, and vodka for a 40-proof alcohol that has San Franciscans begging for more.

Regional Recognition Just this fall the San Francisco chapter of the U.S. Bartenders Guild gathered at Sems to review the Asian spirit with Spahn. Local cocktail connoisseurs can find Ty-Ku at the Golden Gate Yacht Club and Chaya Brasserie.

Pangkor Laut Resort

The haute factor The signature sea villas. Images of these stilt-supported suites hovering over Emerald Bay graces the pages of the world’s most sought-after travel tomes. The two-bedroom Pavarotti suite is an ode to our favorite Italian tenor who fell in love with the resort and his rainforest villa with an expansive, open-roofed bath.

Crash pad stats Whether choosing to luxuriate directly above the ocean blue in a bungalow on stilts, firmly root yourself on the shores of Pangkor Laut, or take a walk on the wild side in a tropical garden suite, the villas deliver vacation ecstacy.

Let the feast begin The all-inclusive resort lends itself to a plethora of drinking and dining options. Adhereing to the mantra “absolute freshness and uncompromising standards,” the international chefs heading up the culinary curriculum are well versed in both Western and Asian cuisine, serving it up at eight different palate-pleasing venues.