Our well-traveled Forbes Travel Guide staff members each compiled their must-visit dream hotels. From a beachfront resort in Costa Rica and a resort on the Chao Phraya River to the white sand beaches of St. Barts and Anguilla, we hope our hotel bucket lists inspire your own wanderlust within.
Jennifer Kester, Executive Editor
Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, St. Barts
Why: Gorgeous St. Barts regularly tops vacation lists, but I’m especially angling for a trip to stay at the newly revamped Cheval Blanc. When luxury conglomerate LVMH took over the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel, it gave the property a makeover, complete with its own specially made signature color, blush pink. I’ll reserve a beach suite, which comes with a prime on-the-sand location, majordome (butler) service and a terrace with its own infinity pool. When I’m not gazing at Flamands Beach from the chic White Bar, I’ll luxuriate in Guerlain’s only Caribbean spa and set out on bespoke adventures planned by the hotel’s “alchemists,” like a yacht excursion to explore St. Barts’ bays that includes an onboard Guerlain treatment and a fresh lobster lunch.
Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, Palm Beach
Why: When winter wears me down, star designer Jonathan Adler’s cheery new interiors at Eau Palm Beach will perk me up. The rooms take inspiration from the sea and sun outside with different shades of blue and bursts of canary yellow. The details are playful and oh so Palm Beach: bamboo-Mylar wallpaper, nautical carpets, Queen Anne-shaped mirrors in lacquered teal and lamps shaped like conch shells. But the real winter cure-all lies in Eau Spa. I’ll hit the DIY scrub bar to customize my own vanilla-and-ginger polish, then I’ll retreat to the Bath Lounge to sit in the Jacuzzi under a waterfall. Finally, the hot stone massage will zap my tension faster than the slushy snow melts outside.
Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk, Oahu
Why: Since I was born in Oahu, I feel a special kinship with Hawaii. It’s been ages since I’ve visited my native island, so a trip is in order. My base will be Five-Star Trump Waikiki, whose spacious apartment-like suites come with kitchens kitted out with Sub-Zero, Bosch and Wolf appliances (including a washer and dryer). But I’ll likely spend all of my time taking lessons from the hotel’s own surf school, relaxing in the sixth-floor infinity pool or sipping Lanikai Shores (shochu, fresh sweet and sour, mango puree, soda) at the Wai’olu Ocean View Lounge.
Laura Janelle Downey, Managing Editor
The St. Regis San Francisco
Why: I am in desperate need of a relaxing vacation. And although I’ve been to many fabulous international locales, I have yet to visit San Francisco. So this year, a trip to the City by the Bay is in order. My first stop will be to check into the 10-year-old St. Regis San Francisco. I’ll let a St. Regis butler carry my bags to one of the 711-square-foot Astor Suites before I make a mad dash to the Five-Star hotel’s Remède Spa. In this 9,000-square-foot haven, I’ll indulge in the six-hour Remède Spa Sanctuary (facial, massage, body polish, manicure and pedicure, and lunch). After a half-day of pampering, I’ll be ready to hit the nearby streets for shopping at places like Louis Vuitton.
El Mangroove, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Why: If I’m going to escape for a long weekend, getting some R&R at a 17-acre Costa Rican beachfront resort sounds like my idea of pure bliss. Enter Four-Star El Mangroove, a 1-year-old private boutique hotel in Papagayo Bay. Offering 85 suites with oversized terraces (plunge pool included), farm-to-table fare at beach restaurants like Matiss (octopus ceviche, anyone?) and Makoko (the roasted king sea bass doused in a miso-tangerine glaze is calling my name), and a 130-foot-long fresh-water pool, this bohemian getaway is perfect for soaking up the sun. And since I always like to squeeze in some sort of exercise whenever I’m away, El Mangroove’s yoga on the beach classes are sure to keep my 37-year-old body in check.
Michelle Doucette, Director, Partner Engagement
Rosewood Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Why: When I’m ready for this year’s sand-between-my-toes, salt-in-my-hair getaway, I’m hightailing it to the cushioned beach chaises of Rosewood Mayakoba. Though tearing myself away from my luxe suite may be challenging (the Five-Star resort, located just north of Playa del Carmen, is an all-suite enclave set on 1,600 acres), two things top my to-do list: getting a treatment at the resort’s private-island Sense Spa and taking a cooking class at the new La Ceiba Garden & Kitchen. Both venues offer menus inspired by Maya traditions, from the spa’s signature massage incorporating chocolate to the restaurant’s open-flame cooking methods. A tropical paradise imbued with a strong sense of culture and place? I’ll take it.
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
Why: Bangkok has long been one of my bucket-list destinations, and this is the year to cross it off with a stay at Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, on the Chao Phraya River. It’s a historic property that, by all accounts, personifies Thai luxury with nine dining options (including famed French restaurant Le Normandie and the recently reimagined 1950s-era Bamboo Bar) and a spa set in a century-old teak house. To see Bangkok’s sights, including the Grand Palace, I’ll need only hop a ferry at the hotel’s pier, and after a day spent exploring, what better place to unwind than in one of Mandarin Oriental’s Authors’ Suites, each with a design inspired by a famous guest scribe such as Joseph Conrad or Somerset Maugham.
DeMarco Williams, Senior Editor
Cap Juluca, Anguilla
Why: Don’t tell my wife, but one of my goals this year is to set up a trip for us where no preplanning is done. I’m talking flight, hotel and nothing else. To pull off such a feat, though, I’ll need the help of a property I’m confident can anticipate my needs before I even pass through customs. That’s why I’ll step out on faith with this Four-Star Anguillan gem. With knowledge that every one of its 70 newly refurbished guest rooms has Instagram-approved views of the Caribbean, there are no worries there. And realizing the place has so many other distractions—60,000 flowering plants; an 1,800-square-foot pool; a spa rooted in indigenous treatments; four dining options; and a nearby Greg Norman-designed golf course—I’m sure we’d have more than enough to occupy our time before heading back to the all-too-structured real world.
Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires
Why: A few years back, I visited Bermuda. Magnificent weather. Fabulous food. But honestly, the most memorable part of the trip was this sample of a local fragrance I received. I cannot get that botanical enchantment out of my head. So, when I make my way down to this 12-story tower in the heart of the Argentinian capital’s swanky La Recoleta neighborhood, the first thing I’m doing is visiting onsite perfumer Julián Bedel with the hope that he can help me recreate the floral magic. After that, I’ll be able to take in the Four-Star property’s other top-shelf amenities (heated outdoor pool, in-house spa) and elegant design touches (glass chandeliers, floral rugs, Toile de Jouy wallpaper). Another plus, Elena, offers a Sunday Brunch with a ridiculous local following; with its impressive (and aromatic, I’m sure) lineup of pastas, charcuterie and salt-baked fish, I understand why.
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs
Why: Don’t let the mountainous backdrops and occasional bear sighting fool you. Colorado Springs doesn’t just come out to play in the wintertime. In fact, when I need a weekend away later this summer or fall, I’m aiming for a stay at this outdoorsmen’s paradise. While The Broadmoor is far from new (heck, the place has earned a Five-Star rating every year since 1960), the property consistently comes up with fresh ways to keep sophisticated hikers coming back. The thing I’m dying to experience right now is the spring 2015-opening Broadmoor Fishing Camp, an adventure luring you in with five acres of private waters, horseback riding, seven cabins, a grand lodge for social activities and more.