Beijing's new Kempinski hotel looks like a rising sun on Yanqi Lake
The Brando has renewable energy sources and an organic garden in honor of its former owner, Marlon Brando
Tennis star Andy Murray opened the Cromlix Hotel close to his hometown of Dunblaine, Scotland
With new construction, rebuilds and plenty of revamped heritage properties rising from the ashes, the global hotel hot list became a lot more enticing this year.
If you needed a reason to travel, some of the new landmark arrivals on the world’s hospitality landscape are worthy destinations.
Here are 23 of the hottest places to open (or re-open following extensive renovations) in 2014.
Hacienda Na Xamena (Ibiza, Spain)
Draped over the side of a 180-meter cliff overlooking the glorious Mediterranean, the island’s oldest luxury hotel re-opened this year following one of the biggest revamps in its 40-plus-year history.
The boho-chic resort has come a long way since its rustic beginnings with no running water or electricity, but retains a back-to-nature appeal despite being just 20 minutes from Ibiza’s famed club scene.
Outdoor cascading seawater lagoons offer relief from dance-floor stomping or island hiking.
Hacienda Na Xamena, Urbanizacion Na Xamena, San Miguel, Ibiza, Islas Baleares, Spain; +34 971 33 45 00
Iniala Beach House (Phang Nga, Thailand)
Iniala’s 10 rooms are housed in three beachfront villas and one penthouse suite (with more planned).
The latter was, of course, where Mrs. Kim West slept when the Kardashians dropped by for a beach break.
“Eclectic” is an overwhelming understatement here, with 10 designers given free rein over the hotel’s varied spaces.
What this translates into is a collectable $20,000 Joseph Walsh canopy bed here, a private spa room housed in a gold leaf-covered dome there, plus a fully themed “kids” hotel” wing complete with mini-bathrobes and slippers.
Iniala Beach House, 40/14 Moo 6 Baan Natai, T. Khokkloi A. Takuathung, Phang-Nga, Thailand; +66 (0) 76 451 456
Soho House Chicago
The fourth U.S. outpost of the London-based members club is easily as cool as the creative and media types its aimed at.
Housed in a historic industrial building, the hotel features throwback furnishings including vintage radiators and antique chandeliers.
There’s a rooftop pool and bar, a private screening room, plus a spa offering scotch ‘n’ shave for gents, which wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of “Mad Men.”
Commoners (i.e. neither guests nor members) can only access two restaurants, a lounge and the spa.
Soho House Chicago, 113-125 N. Green St., Chicago; +1 312 521 8000
Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard (London)
A number of notable new hotels popped up in London this year, but the one that literally towers above the competition has to be Shangri-La’s debut hotel in the UK.
Spread through the 34th to 52nd floors of the tallest building in western Europe, guests are treated to an eagle’s eye view of the city’s iconic landmarks, including St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge.
Naturally, the hotel also has the highest bar in London on the top floor, which spills over to the poolside lounge area from 9 p.m. onward.
Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, 31 St. Thomas St., London; +44 20 7234 8000
The Brando (Tetiaroa, French Polynesia)
Tahitian and silver screen royalty have already been here, but now it’s your chance to call this private atoll home while staying in one of its 35 beachfront villas.
Marlon, The Brando’s former eponymous owner and resident, was big on conservation and sustainability, so the all-inclusive resort pays respect with renewable energy sources, an organic garden and an on-site “ecostation” staffed by resident research scientists.
The Brando, Tetiaroa Private Island, Arue Tahiti, French Polynesia; +689 40 866 366
Alila Jabal Akhdar (Oman)
Oman might not have the global hospitality presence of its neighbor, the UAE, but with the newly opened Alila, you don’t have to look much further.
The eco-friendly resort is perched on the edge of a cliff 2,000 meters above sea level – needless to say, the sweeping panoramas across the dramatic gorge and neighboring Al Hajar mountains are stunning.
For those who prefer to spend most of their time outdoors with the view instead of staring at it from the stylish interiors, the Jabal Terrace is worth booking.
Alila Jabal Akhdar, Plot No.4 Al Roose, Jabal Al Akhdar, Nizwa, Sultanate Of Oman; +968 2534 4200
The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto (Japan)
Want to explore this ancient city’s cultural intrigues but can’t bear to be without mod cons?
Kyoto now boasts a globally known luxury resort, combining delicate Japanese aesthetics with plush comforts so you’re never really out of touch with either the destination or life’s luxuries.
Guests can expect bathrooms with traditional Japanese wooden tubs and LCD televisions, as well as plush 600-thread-count-covered futons on tatami floors in some suites.
The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, Kamogawa Nijo-Ohashi Hotori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan; +81 75 746 5555
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp (Skeleton Coast, Namibia)
Located in the middle of nowhere amid vast desert plains and dry riverbeds (well, it’s near the Hoanib River in northern Palmwag Concession if you want to get technical) and only accessible via light aircraft, this 100% solar-powered camp manages to offer a swimming pool and a restaurant.
There are eight en-suite tents, but most of the time guests will be out on excursions to catch sight of elephants, giraffes, zebras, springboks, lions and even fur seal colonies.
Kiddies stay home – only guests aged six or above are welcome.
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Hoanib River, Skeleton Coast National Park, Namibia Skeleton Coast, Namib Desert, Namibia; +27 11 807 1800
Sofitel So Singapore
In a city-state known for its orderliness, Sofitel So is a refreshing in-your-face explosion of textures and colors.
The design-focused hotel, partially housed in a heritage telecoms building, is the third So property in the world.
As with its predecessors, a high-profile designer was invited to leave a mark on the property (in this case Karl Lagerfeld).
Each of the 134 quirky guestrooms are Mac’d up with iPad minis and iPhones, and feature light boxes reminiscent of European glass domes above the bed.
Sofitel So Singapore, 35 Robinson Road, Singapore; +65 67 016 800
Maalifushi by COMO (Maldives)
The COMO’s second resort in the island country is a one-hour transfer from Male, undoubtedly spent writhing in anticipating of reaching the first luxury resort on the mostly unpopulated atoll of Thaa.
Of course, it’s the Maldives, so visitors can look forward to a thriving house reef with manta rays, hammerheads and whale sharks nearby.
Further afield, guests can book a dolphin cruise, a guided surf trip, a sunset Dhoni cruise or an aqua-safari with a resident marine biologist.
Maalifushi by COMO, Thaa Atoll, Republic of Maldives; +960 678 0008
Miss Clara (Stockholm)
Formerly the Ateneum School for Girls in the early 1900s, Miss Clara is named after the former tenant’s headmistress.
Much of the art nouveau building’s original elements have been preserved; the interiors are no-nonsense chic, featuring an almost monochrome palette of dark wood, herringbone parquet floors and white walls.
The hotel’s location on a main thoroughfare puts Hamngatan shopping street and the vibrant old town within walking distance.
Miss Clara, Sveavagen 48, Stockholm; +46 8 440 67 00
One&Only Hayman Island (Whitsunday Islands, Australia)
When a private island resort is refurbed, rebranded and reopened as One&Only – the brand’s first in Asia-Pacific – it’s notable.
And much more so when the address says “Great Barrier Reef.”
The island has more than two kilometers of white sand to retire to when there’s no more exploring of the famed coral reef to be done (the resort is on the closest Whitsunday island to the outer reef).
The spa’s signature treatments include one administered out at sea and another under the rainforest canopy.
One&Only Hayman Island, Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia; +61 7 4940 1234
The Norman (Tel Aviv, Israel)
The Norman has been making headlines for its boutique luxury offerings located in the middle of the UNESCO heritage-listed White City, known for its high concentration of Bauhaus buildings.
Guest rooms and suites – all decked out in classic furnishings – are housed in two restored 1920s buildings, connected by a citrus garden.
The resident art curator can arrange personalized tours of the many artist studios and galleries in the neighborhood.
The Norman, 23-25 Nachmani St., Tel Aviv, Israel; +972 3 543 5555
Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, French West Indies
When luxury powerhouse LVMH unveiled its third “maison” earlier this year, expectations were high to see if the resort would live up to its sister properties in the Maldives and Courcheval, despite ongoing upgrades scheduled into next year.
Short answer: yes.
A butler-escorted sail, a lobster lunch on a pristine island, and Guerlain spa treatments aboard the resort’s private yacht.
The stunning Baie des Flamands beach surroundings don’t hurt either.
Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, Baie des Flamands, Saint-Barthélemy, French West Indies; +590 590 27 61 81
Mont Rochelle (Franschoek, South Africa)
Richard Branson added to his South African portfolio of Virgin Limited Edition hotels (which already includes a private game reserve) with a 22-key hotel and vineyard at the foot of the Klein Dassenberg Mountains that re-opened in September following a £2 million ($3.1 million) refurbishment.
There are restaurants on-site, but guests can also pack a picnic hamper to explore the 39-hectare estate, or hide away in the cellar at a bespoke wine tasting or vintage-fueled lunch.
Mont Rochelle, Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek, South Africa; +27 (0) 11 325 4405
URSO Hotel & Spa (Madrid, Spain)
The Spanish capital welcomed its first five star boutique hotel earlier this year, occupying a whole block between Chamberi, Chueca, and Tribunal neighborhoods.
Local artisans were engaged to restore elements of the 20th century neoclassical former palace to its former glory.
Pastry delicacies at the hotel are supplied courtesy of the local, century-old La Duquesita, while the hotel also hosts regular pop-up restaurants from notable local chefs.
Some suites also come with private terraces for soaking up the Iberian sun.
URSO Hotel & Spa, Mejia Lequerica 8, Madrid, Spain; +34 914 444 458
Casas del XVI (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
When Christopher Columbus made his first voyage in the 15th century, he washed up on a Caribbean island he would name La Hispaniola.
Half a millennium later, former residences in the oldest city in the new world have been restored into a hotel.
For now, there are seven rooms housed in two former homes – when complete, the hotel will include 20 of these splendid buildings.
All rooms come with a complimentary GPS-enabled iPhone to help navigate the surrounding UNESCO heritage-listed Ciudad Colonial (Colombus may be turning in his grave).
Casas del XVI, Calle Padre Billini No. 252, Ciudad Colonial, Santo Domingo, República Dominicana; +1 809 688 4061
Portrait Firenze (Florence, Italy)
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Tyrone Power and his wife once enjoyed strolls along the River Arno – just some of numerous photos proudly displayed in the Ferragamo’s second hotel.
In keeping with the family’s luxury heritage, the interiors of the 34-key all-suite hotel are inspired by 1950s Italian haute couture.
Guests enjoy free entry to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum, as well as privileges at their boutiques, plus special tours of Vasari Corridor.
Portrait Firenze, Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli, 4, Florence, Italy; +39 055 2726 4000
Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa (Zanzibar, Tanzania)
Joining the sustainable hospitality movement worldwide, the Spice Island’s latest beachfront resort is powered by solar and wind energy, and maintains an organic fruit and vegetable garden to supply the on-site restaurant.
There are 11 pool villas, including a massive five-bedroom residence.
The beach is one of the best kitesurfing spots in the world – equipment and instructor are available for hire at the on-site kitesurfing and watersports center.
Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa, Paje Beach, Zanzibar, Tanzania; +255 776 263 451
MORE: 14 amazing cruises setting sail in 2015
Cromlix Hotel (Perthshire, Scotland)
When tennis star Andy Murray decided to open his first hotel, he returned to his roots, choosing a late 1800s Victorian mansion a few miles from his Scottish hometown of Dunblane.
The 15-bedroom hotel, complete with an original private chapel and loch, sits on a 34-acre plot in the Perthshire countryside.
There’s obviously a tennis court (in Wimbledon colors of blue and purple) on-site, and guests can also arrange for clay pigeon shooting, archery, fishing, or golf trips nearby at some of the most iconic courses in the world.
Cromlix Hotel, Kinbuck, Near Dunblane, Perthshire, Scotland; +44 1786 822 125
The Peninsula Paris
It took four years of meticulous restoration work, but Europe now has a Peninsula Hotel to call her own.
The original hotel housed on the same site was the first to offer en-suite bathrooms when it opened back in 1908.
Today, the 200 guest rooms are also decked out with distinctly more high tech conveniences, including control tablets.
For the full-on luxe experience, guests can arrive in the vintage 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II and stay in one of the five suites with a private rooftop garden.
The Peninsula Paris, 19 Avenue Kléber, Paris; +33 1 5812 2888
Sunrise Kempinski Hotel, Beijing
When it comes to architecture, this is the hotel that had the world buzzing when it opened its doors mid-November — just in time to host U.S. President Barack Obama during his recent visit to the city for APEC 2014.
The brand’s largest property in China, the Sunrise Kempinski complex sits on 14 square kilometers of land next to Yanqi Lake, 60 kilometers from Beijing’s city center.
The eye-catching 97-meter-high luxury hotel has 21 floors filled with 306 guestrooms and suites.
It spans 18,075 square meters and is covered by more than 10,000 glass panels that are lit up by hydroelectric-powered LED lights at night.
Sunrise Kempinski Hotel, Beijing, 18, Jia, Yanshui Road, Yanqi Lake, Huairou District, Beijing; +86 106 961 8888
Four Seasons Moscow
It’s near impossible to find a better Moscow location than the one occupied by the Four Seasons’ new Russia property, a replica of the historic Hotel Moskva of the 1930s.
The 15-story hotel sits across the street from the Bolshoi Theatre and adjacent to the Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin.
The seventh floor terrace has become a hot place to watch locals and tourist mill about while mingling with Moscow’s well-heeled.
With 180 guest rooms and 41 suites, all rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, many with balconies lending views to Moscow’s famed square.
Guests get access to their own Nespresso coffee machine, Roberto Cavalli bathroom amenities and an in-room iPad that allows them to ofer in-room dining and book spa appointments.
Four Seasons Moscow, 2, Okhotny Ryad Str., Moscow; +7 499 277 71 00