In the ever-changing hospitality space, hotels incessantly worry about staying updated with their look and feel. One moment, clawfoot tubs and floating sinks are the must-have amenities, and the next, touch-screen showers and soap butlers are the rage. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors scoured the many properties undergoing renovations this year to find the ones that are most worthy of a vacation. Whether it’s a top-to-bottom makeover of a beloved classic or a hotel debuting a fully customizable bed, these are the spots that captured our attention. (Editors’ Note: We omitted Los Cabos hotels from this list, but watch for dedicated coverage on those renovations on ForbesTravelGuide.com.)
It’s out with the old and in with the new at this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Knightsbridge gem, which shuttered in 2013 for a big renovation. In the spring, the former St. Regis hotel will reopen as an Oetker Collection property and show off brand-new rooms and public spaces. The redesign was the last work of heralded interior designer Alberto Pinto, who died in 2012. Pinto was known for his penchant for big spaces and intermingling different period décor, but we’re told that the eclectic designer honored the building’s heritage as one of London’s top Regency landmarks.
The Nobu Hotel at Eden Roc Miami Beach
The hotel-within-a-hotel concept can get confusing if mishandled. That’s why the team behind this project is taking its time to clearly define both properties. When it reopens in the second half of the year, Eden Roc, which has had a Miami presence since the 1950s, will still be a place to turn to for sophistication and stunning oceanfront views. If anything, the partnership with Nobu Hospitality (which has one other hotel in Las Vegas), only assists in that declaration. The all-new Nobu Hotel will feature 210 Japanese- and beach-influenced rooms, a signature restaurant, another waterfront eatery, more than 70,000 square feet of event space and two pools.
The Ritz-Carlton, Denver
This downtown Denver hotel refreshed its rooms in February and the results are sleek and luxurious. Dark blue and neutral, cream tones along with urban-inspired art fill its 202 soothing rooms, which are the largest in the city. Tip: Book club-level accommodations to score access to the newly redone 12th-floor Club Lounge. In the expansive living-room-like lounge, hide away in one of the private nooks with a Colorado microbrew and admire the view of the Rockies. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel has additional updates in the works: In the spring, the spa will get a new hair and nail salon and a brand-new 24-hour gym will open.
Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay
While remodeled spas and revamped kitchens are great ways for hotels to show that they’re not resting on their laurels, sometimes the best changes can be small. At this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star treasure, for example, one of its most important fixes comes in the form of the Four Seasons Bed, which is being touted as the world’s first fully customizable bedding experience. In addition to picking from three levels of bed firmness, you choose pillows and other bedtime amenities. Of course, once you wake from your fairytale slumber, you’ll find dreamy improvements all around the resort— bespoke furnishings and a 75-inch LED TV in the rooms, a refreshed Lower Lobby and Makamae, a refined apparel and jewelry boutique.
The St. Regis Monarch Beach
You won’t have to wait long to see the 400 restyled rooms at the striking Five-Star St Regis Monarch Beach—they will debut in March. The Orange County hotel sought inspiration from the coast for its makeover. Fresh hues of blues and greens, as well as ocean-centric art, will adorn the guest rooms. It also will upgrade in-room amenities with large wall-mounted TVs, Bluetooth alarm clocks and coffee makers. Next up is a restaurant redesign that will include planting an herb garden and adding beehives to provide the onsite chefs with fresh ingredients.
The Peninsula Beijing
The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Beijing hotel will embark on a massive room renovation from April to late 2016, but don’t worry—it will remain open for business. The 25-year-old property promises to unveil the largest rooms in the city and most of China (its 525 guest rooms will be reconfigured into 230 more spacious accommodations) that are decked out with the cutting-edge technology that the brand is known for. The Peninsula also plans to introduce some new restaurants and bars, but is keeping that news under wraps.
The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale
This Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel’s beautiful beachfront spot makes it a great retreat, but its upcoming renovation will up the ante. Slated for an $8 million makeover, which will begin in the summer, the Ritz-Carlton will transform its 8,500-square-foot spa, offer a Prohibition-inspired restaurant and bar, and include the resort-wear-focused store Island Company. In November, when it’s all said and done, experience a new hair salon, steam room and sauna at its Four-Star spa, locally sourced seafood and a potent rum program at the eatery, and a lobby offering a stimulating entertainment area with tabletop games.
Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
If you have a nose for change, you’ve probably already started sniffing toward Guanacaste, Costa Rica. There, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star retreat is using its 10th anniversary as an excuse to add new dining options: Soy y Sombra captures the essence of South American cuisine through chef Pablo Brennes’ seafood and rotisserie-style chicken dishes; Cena Sociale specializes in modern Italian fare; Tico is an open-air lounge that wows with light fare and drinks from day to night. And if all of that isn’t filling enough, the property also gave the lobby a dramatic overhaul—just wait until you see the rope and bronzed chandelier—and changed the lighting, color schemes and furniture in all 154 rooms, giving them a sexier, more modern feel.
Wickaninnish Inn Tofino
Added to the property in 2003, Wickaninnish Inn’s On-the-Beach building offers the newest guest rooms and suites at this remote and romantic Vancouver Island hotel. These Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star accommodations are more luxurious than ever thanks to a three-week January closure to upgrade each of the 30 rooms, including the panoramic Canopy Suite. Every room received a stone-surround fireplace, wood accents and new paint schemes, lights, carpets and artwork, taking these beachside aeries up a notch.
Slated to reopen in November or December, the Ritz Paris’ three-and-a-half-year closure has marked the first time since 1898 the hotel took a hiatus from hosting the likes of Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn. Architect-designer Thierry Despont, who led revamps of The Dorchester and Claridge’s in London, is overseeing the project, which includes adding suites and expanding rooms for a key count of 142, down from 159. The Ritz’s dining scene gets new life with the debut of chef Nicolas Sale at L’Espadon, and cocktail aficionados, fear not: Bar Hemingway will return with longtime bartender Colin Peter Field.
Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F.
Under the direction of cutting-edge Paris design firm Gilles & Boissier, this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel embarked on a yearlong, $14 million reinvention in 2014 and is rolling out its new look this year. The lobby of the Mexico City hotel recently introduced a bold design with bursts of orange and red. Next on the agenda: the opening of Il Becco restaurant in March, followed by a bakeshop in April, another new dining concept in August, a spa barbershop, and 240 reimagined rooms and suites later this year.
Palace Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel
The Palace Hotel is an icon among San Francisco architecture; its soaring Garden Court atrium has caused visitors to gape since 1909. You’ll be impressed anew this year at the end of the hotel’s full renovation, which includes new and upgraded amenities in all guest rooms as well as an updated fitness center, indoor pool and lobby. The building’s historic elements—and the rooms’ 11-foot ceilings and expansive windows—will be preserved and complemented by a contemporary interior design that still pays homage to the past. Look for the finished product to debut this spring.
In February, Belgravia’s 105-year-old grande dame unveiled a new lobby (complete with a fleet of footmen), the final change in a redesign carried out by four top English designers. Nina Campbell (suites), Tim Gosling (The Bar & Lounge, The Terrace and suites), David Linley (The Dining Room) and Russell Sage (rooms, suites and the Royal Suite) also recruited fabric houses Fromental and Gainsborough to create sumptuous interiors. Later this year, in-room evening cocktail service and an éclair trolley at afternoon tea will top off the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star London hotel’s transformation, deliciously.
The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
Located in the upscale Nob Hill neighborhood, the 105-year-old San Francisco hotel is a stately staple. But thanks to Hirsch Bedner Associates, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star property is adding a modern twist to its classic 336 rooms. With a renovation in full swing—the accommodations are being stripped and redone—couture fashion sets the stage for a sleek setting filled with gray, blue and silver. Plus, high-tech touches, such as the ability to stream Netflix from your personal account, make staying under 400-thread-count sheets (and 100 percent combed cotton linens) even sweeter. The renovation will finish in March.
The Cliff Lodge
Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort’s flagship hotel is getting a top-to-bottom remodel that coincides with the debut of the mountain-top Hidden Peak facility (featuring a restaurant and 10,000 feet of 11,000-foot-high deck space) in time for the 2015-2016 winter season. The Cliff Lodge will embark on the first phase—updating its common areas and all 348 guest rooms—in April, to be completed in the fall. Phase two follows in 2016 with a reimagined portico and entryway.
Tortuga Bay Hotel
Technically, this Dominican Republic hotel and its fine-dining restaurant Bamboo debuted a new look at the tail end of 2014, but we’re highlighting it now because the renovation fell under the radar. Legendary designer Oscar de la Renta, co-owner of the hotel, began redesigning Tortuga Bay’s vibrant canary-yellow villas before his death. And the late designer’s aesthetic is all over the sophisticated island-inspired accommodations: natural, airy suites filled with mahogany, wicker, rattan and chic touches like four-poster beds covered in Frette linens.
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
Its picturesque oceanfront setting on the Northern California coast makes it easy for The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay to exude natural beauty. And in an effort to add to its charm, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel is undergoing a renovation—scheduled to be completed in March—of its 261 rooms, guest house rooms and guest house luxury suites. Expect to see Pacific Ocean influences throughout, from pickled wood entry flooring and driftwood nightstands to gray-meets-blue carpeting. In addition, the fifth-floor Club Lounge will be opened up to provide better views of the breathtaking ocean.
Boise, Idaho’s artsy hotel just finished a renovation. The Forbes Travel Guide Recommended property added animal-inspired hallway carpeting (zebra, cheetah and cow prints) and improved its standard rooms by infusing pops of red throughout (from the nightstand lamp base to the zigzag curtains), swapping in Euro-style mattresses, and doing away with its bathtubs and replacing them with tiled showers. In addition, the downtown hotel’s atrium now includes stunning silk chandelier blooms and Boise-centric artwork created by locals. What’s next for spring? The meeting rooms and landscaping will receive a fresh update.
Encore at Wynn Las Vegas
Steve Wynn always finds a way to outdo himself. Beginning this summer, his Wynn Design & Development team will give the Strip’s Encore tower a refresh. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel’s in-room 42-inch flat-screen televisions will be swapped for 55-inch TVs, wood countertops will be replaced with granite, and everything from bedside controls to carpeting will be updated by the fall. But should you prefer the old decor, not to fret. The color palette is expected to stay the same.
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota
This Gulf Coast gem, which overlooks Sarasota Bay, starts its renovation this summer. Tapping into local landscape hues, Bilkey Llinas Design will transform the property’s 266 guest rooms, suites and public spaces. Upon completion in the fall, expect to see a mix of sea greens, whites, grays and lavenders throughout the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel. Highlights will include new room carpeting that pays tribute to the nautilus shell, local artwork from Ringling College of Art and Design students, and contemporary furnishings (think twists on classical and transitional pieces) with lighter woods and cream lacquers.
The Phoenician Residences
A sister property to Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Phoenician, The Phoenician Residences shines bright in the desert sun. And in late summer, the luxury collection residence club in Scottsdale, Arizona, will begin to radiate even more. Each of the spacious six units, which include both two- and three-bedroom villas, will undergo a renovation with furniture reupholstering; new drapes, fixtures and flooring; and much more.
The Restoration on King
Already one of Charleston’s go-to addresses for comfortable stays—the development was initially to be used for apartments—The Restoration on King began some changes in 2014 to make the property even more spacious by adding 34 new rooms. Beyond that, the King Street spot is also bringing a spa, some event space, a store, a library-inspired lobby and a fifth-floor bar and pool into the fold. If all goes accordingly with construction, you will be able to check out the breathtaking views around the hotel starting Fourth of July weekend.
Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
A grand institution with high-end touches and historical charm around nearly every corner, this Phoenix hotel decided that a fresh coat of color and uncompromising cool could only help. Not only did it make enhancements to the rooms and suites (soft hues, specialty glass tops, bronze-metal accents), but things were spruced up in meeting areas, the spa and poolside cabanas that can now come equipped with flat-screen TVs and private baths. And as a show of just how thorough the redesign was, front-of-hotel uniforms and the property’s website were also made over.