On the heels of Forbes Travel Guide’s recent 2020 Star Awards, which honor the best in luxury hospitality, the company unveiled the hotel, restaurant and spa of the year. This marks the first time in its 62-year history that FTG gave out such accolades.
CEO Filip Boyen surprised the more than 600 top hoteliers who gathered at Verified, The Forbes Travel Guide Luxury Summit in ARIA Resort & Casino during the February 19 gala by announcing the debut distinctions. “Every year we continue to see the bar raised higher, and hotels pushing themselves to deliver completely memorable guest experiences,” said Boyen. “Our hotel, restaurant and spa of the year awards are based on our well-known commitment to integrity, and are being awarded to the highest official scoring properties.”
Hotel of the Year
Hotel of the year went to Twin Farms, a cozy 20-room hideaway in Barnard, Vermont. The boutique property scored a record-breaking 98.24 percent, a result of anonymous inspectors testing rigorous, objective standards that emphasize exceptional service during a two-night stay.
“We were absolutely delighted and equally humbled by the news that we had been awarded the inaugural Hotel of the Year Award,” said John Graham, managing director of Twin Farms. “It is an honor that we have been recognized by Forbes, which is truly transparent and is recognized by our guests and our industry for relevance and its pursuit of excellence expressed through its 900-plus criteria evaluations.”
“It means that the dedication, commitment, the true giving nature and relentless dedication of our team, our owners and our partners have been recognized. We serve with the ultimate goal to affect how people [feel], and this feels amazing!” he said.
Among the 1,898 Star-Rated properties spanning 73 countries, Twin Farms manages to stand out by providing a one-of-a-kind experience. “In part it’s a beautiful Vermont setting,” Graham said, “in part wonderful design and art, in part great culinary and wine, in part memorable activities, but in whole our team truly dedicated to serving, really serving.”
About an hour and a half from Burlington, Twin Farms has earned a Five-Star rating for 25 consecutive years. The secluded property began as a romantic gesture. When author Sinclair Lewis (the first American to win the Nobel Prize for literature) proposed to journalist Dorothy Thompson, she said yes, but only if he would buy her a Vermont farm. They purchased what would become Twin Farms in 1928.
Today, the all-inclusive hotel still emanates passion. With 20 accommodations scattered among 300 acres, the adults-only property feels like your own sprawling escape. Every individually decorated room comes with a fireplace and views of the bucolic surroundings from the bathroom. And, of course, service goes beyond the ordinary: the refrigerator comes stocked with beverages and snacks, a staff member unpacks and packs for you, and there’s same-day laundry service, all of which is complimentary. Twin Farms also gifts you with a handcrafted wooden Stave jigsaw puzzle, a unique local touch (Stave is based in nearby Norwich) and a guest favorite.
Restaurant of the Year
While the coronavirus outbreak forced China tourism to plummet, the country undeniably still claims one of the world’s most luxurious travel destinations: Macau. The special administrative region on China’s southeastern coast is home to FTG’s top-scoring restaurant and spa of 2020.
Five-Star Sichuan Moon by Andre Chiang earned the Restaurant of the Year title with an impressive 99.22 percent score. Opened inside Wynn Palace in 2019, the fine-dining spot shines a light on often-misunderstood Sichuan food. Talented chef Chiang demonstrates that the regional cuisine isn’t solely fiery peppers with a 15-course degustation menu that includes everything from foie gras with mushrooms royale and peppercorn jelly to a king crab leg coated in typhoon shelter powder and broad bean sauce.
“Sichuan Moon offers a window into the rich history and culture of Sichuan cuisine,” Wynn Palace chief operating officer Frederic Luvisutto told us. “Our goal is to reinterpret the flavors of Sichuan dishes and present them on a global stage, by introducing creative new culinary techniques and pairing dishes with extraordinarily rare specialty teas from around the world. The Sichuan Moon interiors, which feature a beautiful Murano butterfly chandelier as a centerpiece and an exotic Tea Bar, offers a visually stimulating and immersive dining experience that is an elegant blend of East and West.”
“Chef Andre and his team source the highest quality of ingredients from around the world, put their creative minds together to design artfully presented dishes and cook each of their dishes with perfection to express the profound complexities of Sichuan cuisine,” he said.
While the virus prevented the Sichuan Moon team from attending Verified to collect the award, it sent a video in its stead. “This is a fantastic recognition for the team,” Luvisutto said in the video. “And it could not have come at a better time for us to energize the restaurant when we reopen.”
Spa of the Year
About an 11-minute walk from Wynn Palace in the City of Dreams complex is the top spa winner, Morpheus Spa, which achieved a near-perfect 99.50 score. Tucked inside the otherworldly Morpheus from Pritzker Award-winning architect Zaha Hadid, the six-room sanctuary pampers with your own dedicated spa butler, a Scandinavian-inspired snow garden—it’s the first spa in the world to feature real snow—and a platinum mask created exclusively for Morpheus Spa by Monaco-based cosmetics brand Margy’s Monte Carlo.
“It is a great honor to win this award,” said Macy Lam, vice president, general manager, Hotels, City of Dreams. “We are beyond thrilled. To be recognized as the best amongst the world’s most outstanding spa establishments is a wonderful encouragement to our colleagues. Their unwavering commitment to excellence in guest experience makes Morpheus Spa a remarkable place to visit.”
David Sisk, chief operating officer, Macau Resorts, and property president of City of Dreams, Macau added, “I would like to thank our colleagues at Melco for making Morpheus Spa the best in the world. The globally renowned Forbes award is a tribute to their talent and dedication. With its imaginative guest experiences, iconic design and exceptional amenities, Morpheus redefines high-end hospitality.”
Several other inaugural awards were announced at Verified. Fresh off winning Five-Star accolades for its hotel and spa, Montage Los Cabos picked up an award for the best hotel Instagram account. The FTG executive editorial team chose the Los Cabos hotel based on its consistency in image quality and brand voice, creative campaigns and initiatives as well as how the account interacted with its audience. Scroll through Montage’s beautifully curated feed and images of the cactus-dotted desert landscape, bright blue water and the grounds that seamlessly blend into both will spur wanderlust.
Since service drives Forbes Travel Guide’s Star Awards, the company wanted to recognize the workers on the frontlines who deliver service excellence daily. Star-Rated hotels were asked to submit nominations for Employee of the Year, and they poured in from all over the world. FTG’s executive team, inspectors and executive trainers chose two worthy recipients: Sherrita Savage, group reservations coordinator at Four-Star Half Moon Jamaica, A Salamander Resort, and Merrie Freeman, lobby greeter at Five-Star Wynn Tower Suites in Las Vegas.
Savage’s nomination listed everything from her numerous work achievements (among them: Employee of the Month for January and April in 2019, along with making top sales for reservations) to her admirable volunteer work (she helps SOS Children’s Village, Granville Child Care Facility and Martha Brae Basic School in her spare time).
Freeman’s entry hailed her sense of service: “Captivating patrons with her infectious smile and genuine compassion, she not only sets the tone for guest arrival and departure but takes pride in her reputation as Wynn’s ultimate brand ambassador and service liaison. Most impressive is her keen ability to build relationships and seek ‘golden nuggets,’ as opportunities to surprise and delight our guests; living and breathing the Wynn culture.”