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Best Hotels in US and Caribbean

2013 Best Hotels rankings announced

2013 Best Hotels rankings announced
Amangani, Jackson, Wyo. / Image via travelandleisure.com

Jan 31, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. News & World Report has released its 2013 Best Hotels rankings, and a new hotel has seized the No. 1 spot on the list of the 2013 Best Hotels in the USA. Amangani in Jackson, WY is now the top-ranked hotel in the country.

Out of the 1,639 U.S. luxury hotels across the United States evaluated for the 2013 rankings, 164 properties scored high enough to earn a place on the list of the Best Hotels in the USA. The top ten are:

10. Triple Creek Ranch

Darby, Mont.

Cozying up to Trapper Peak in western Montana, Triple Creek Ranch is like an upscale cowboy camp for adults. Guests bunk down in the rustic (yet luxurious) cabins, cast lines into the fishing lakes, and hit the trails on horseback. In fact, this Relais & Châteaux property offers just about everything an adventurer could want, from dog sledding in the winter to cattle driving in the summer. "Most people come here for cowboy culture, beautiful scenery, and luxury accommodations," said General Manager Bill McConnell. "But after they arrive and unwind from their travels, they become engrossed in the special attention paid to their specific interests and goals, whether it be riding horses, driving cattle, hiking the mountains, spotting wildlife, fly fishing, or rest, relaxation, fine dining, and fine wine."

9. Waldorf Astoria Chicago

Chicago

The Waldorf Astoria Chicago is not just a pretty face. Yes, the décor is splendid—the lobby is fashioned with Carrera marble and the guestrooms are fitted with Italian linens. But this esteemed member of the Waldorf Astoria family earns the No. 9 spot for its deep commitment to customer service. In fact, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago has just started a new initiative called True Waldorf Service. General Manager Rick Evanich said, "The concept is to provide authentic, personalized service from the moment guests book their trip through the time they depart." This service can include anything from a Lava Shell Massage at the hotel's Elysian Spa & Health Club to dinner at the Waldorf's upscale European bistro, Balsan. The hotel staff, on occasion, has even organized personalized itineraries for guests.

8. The Inn of the Five Graces

Santa Fe, N.M.

Centered in the heart of historic Santa Fe, The Inn of the Five Graces delights guests with "a unique visual experience," according to General Manager Sharif Seret. Lush, ivy-draped courtyards connect the guest suites, some of which date back to the early 1600s. But these suites don't show their age: They have been updated with plush textiles, Far East antiques, and mosaics to create a stunning display of color and texture. When it comes to dining, guests are happy to note that a full breakfast is included in the room rate, and they say the French fare at Bistro 315 is worth sampling. The spa is a perfect bookend to days filled with art-gallery hopping along Canyon Road or shopping the kiosks at Santa Fe Plaza.

7. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu

Big Island, Hawaii

Stretching out along the Kona-Kohala Coast on Hawaii's Big Island, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu complements the gorgeous setting with elegance, luxury, and the requisite Hawaiian warmth. This Four Seasons property stuns with seven pools (one of which is carved from lava rock), a renowned spa with treatments like a Polynesian Niu (Coconut) Scrub, and a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, the guestrooms are fitted with private lanais (balconies) and deep soaking tubs. But what Robert Whitfield, regional vice president and general manager, praised the most is the resort's staff. He noted that guests are greeted as family: "There's nothing that can replace the sense of being truly welcomed into paradise."

6. Four Seasons Hotel Seattle

Seattle

Seattle might be known for its gray skies and frequent showers, but the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle certainly isn't. According to General Manager Ilse Harley, "Everyone on our staff—from the bellman and the concierge team to the housekeeping staff and our spa therapists—are the best at what they do. They know how to anticipate your needs and they keep up to date with what's new in the city so you have the very best travel experience." Located within walking distance of Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, the financial district, and the convention center, this stylish Four Seasons hotel appeals to both business and leisure travelers. And its amenities enchant all types of guests, too: Here, you'll find a rooftop infinity pool, a 6,000-square-foot spa, and the swank ART Restaurant and Lounge. The hotel even offers babysitting services, so Mom and Dad can enjoy a fancy evening out.

5. Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort

Calistoga, Calif.

Occupying 157 acres in a northern Napa Valley canyon, Calistoga Ranch has moved up several spots on our 10 Best list from last year. We imagine that its popularity stems not so much from its new offerings, but from its top-notch amenities. Take the wine, for instance: The resort has its own label and vineyard. When it comes to the accommodations themselves, you'll find 48 luxurious lodges outfitted with fireplaces, indoor and outdoor living rooms, and original artwork. And The Bathhouse spa offers signature treatments, like lavender honey facials and mud and mineral salt baths. According to General Manager Coni Thornburg, "Calistoga Ranch offers the best of the Napa Valley lifestyle and our innovative design coupled with the resort's unparalleled commitment to a flawless guest experience has truly set the standard for a luxurious and environmentally conscious travel experience."

4. The Setai Fifth Avenue

New York City

The Setai Fifth Avenue's Midtown location gives it a certain prestige, but the high-end hotel's resolve to make every guest's stay near-perfect is what gives it such renown. Anne-Juliette Maurice, who directs sales and marketing for the hotel, praised the Setai's personal assistants, who get in touch with guests before their stay to ascertain their needs. "Whether it be reserving a helicopter tour of the Hamptons, a proposal atop the Empire State Building, tickets around the world... our personal assistants offer it all." Speaking of "offering it all," The Setai also features an 11,000-square-foot spa and the Michelin-rated Ai Fiori restaurant. Meanwhile, the guestrooms contain espresso machines with fine-quality beans, beds outfitted with customized Pratesi linens, and bathrooms with soothing rain showers, so visitors can lounge in the lap of luxury.

3. The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, An Auberge Resort

Bluffton, S.C.

Just west of Hilton Head—at the end of a road canopied by old oak trees—sits The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Lowcountry escape unlike any other. Amid the property's forests and alongside the May River, you'll find 50 cottages and cottage suites fitted with chic-yet-comfortable décor, private screened-in porches, fireplaces, and even bikes with customized baskets and headlights. The Inn also features a full-service spa that offers indulgent treatments, like sweet milk and rose bud scrubs and warm river stone massages. When asked what he believes are the hotel's best qualities, General Manager Marty Wall said, "The Inn at Palmetto Bluff boasts world-class amenities and comfortable, luxurious accommodations, but the sincere 'southern hospitality' and attention to detail provided consistently by each member of our team truly defines the guest experience and remains our biggest differentiator from other resorts."

2. Four Seasons Resort Lana'i, The Lodge at Koele

Lanai, Hawaii

Spreading out over the rolling hills on Hawaii's most exclusive island, the Four Seasons Resort Lana'i, The Lodge at Koele is an oasis holding court in a paradise. You can stop to smell the orchids in the greenhouse; you can lounge poolside and enjoy a refreshing Evian spritz; you can swing clubs at a Greg Norman-designed golf course (or the one designed by Jack Nicklaus); and you can also relax with a fragrant pineapple-citrus massage. And that's not all: The resort's staff will also take you on special excursions to secluded surfing spots or colorful snorkeling bays. When asked to specify some of the best things about the resort, General Manager Tom Roelens said, "Guests are treated to picturesque gardens, rolling countryside, ample estate-like activities that are matched by luxurious accommodations, privacy, and (most importantly) genuine service."

1. Amangani

Jackson, Wyo.

After nabbing the No. 6 spot in 2012, this Wyoming resort has made its way up the list, claiming the title of 2013's Best Hotel in the USA. It's not hard to see how: Amangani crowns the breathtaking East Gros Ventre Butte in Jackson Hole with grace and luxury. The resort's redwood ceilings, slate floors, and regional artwork achieve a mélange of elegance and naturalism. And opportunities for indulgence abound at nearly every corner. There's the heated outdoor pool with stunning views of the snow-capped Teton Mountains; the decadent spa that offers everything from mud wraps to massages; and the delicious Grill restaurant that serves local meats and fish and farm-to-table produce. But Stuart Campbell, the hotel's general manager, said that the best thing about Amangani (which means "peaceful home" in Shoshone) is its staff: "Guest after guest tells me they feel like they've come home when they're here."

U.S. News is also proud to announce the first-ever Best Hotels in the Caribbean rankings. Of the 273 luxury properties analyzed, 27 scored high enough to be named Best Hotels in the Caribbean by U.S. News. The top ten are:

10. Seven Stars Resort

Turks & Caicos

Overlooking Grace Bay's white sands and fringed by the protected lands of Princess Alexandra National Park, Seven Stars Resort has earned numerous accolades from reputed sources like Condé Nast Traveler and Frommer's. It's easy to see how this resort—perched on the northeastern coast of Turks & Caicos' main island, Providenciales—captures the attention of major travel publications. After all, this small resort boasts Provo's only heated salt-water pool, not to mention a spa and complimentary outdoor activities, including sailing, kayaking, and windsurfing. Guests are consistently impressed by Seven Stars' facilities, but even more so by the resort's customer service. "All of the staff members are encouraged to make guests feel like family," said Ken Patterson, the resort's managing director. "Staff members also routinely step outside their own job descriptions to ensure that guests are taken care of."

9. Amanyara

Turks & Caicos

When searching for a serene hideaway, discerning travelers turn to Aman Resorts. Like its award-winning sister properties in the U.S.—Amangani in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Amangiri in Big Water, Utah—the Aman group's Turks & Caicos resort offers a luxurious experience accompanied by a breathtaking natural setting. Amanyara, meaning "peaceful place," overlooks the lily-colored shores of Northwest Point Marine National Park from Providenciales' northernmost coast. The resort's design takes full advantage of the surrounding scenery: The accommodations feature sliding-glass walls that open to the elements and create the illusion of limitless space between you and the Caribbean. If you're looking to soak up the sun, sand, and surf, this is a picturesque place to do it.

8. Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort

Antigua

Picture this: a 300-acre private Caribbean island comprised of powdery beaches, rustling palm trees, and salty sea air. That's where you'll find Jumby Bay—just two miles off the northeast coast of Antigua. Guests describe this Rosewood resort as paradisiacal. Jumby Bay's 40 guestrooms all overlook the sugary shores of the Caribbean Sea, with wrap-around terraces and wall-to-wall windows affording sweeping views. Meanwhile, the resort's secluded sands and open-air spa, Sense, provides the ideal setting for you to do exactly what you came here to do: Catch up on some rest and relaxation. "As one of the only places in the world where cars and motorized vehicles are not allowed, Jumby Bay Island exudes relaxation and a welcoming atmosphere in every sense," said MaryAnne De Matteo Diamante, Jumby Bay's director of sales and marketing. "With 24-hour concierge services and a staff that knows every guest's name, the resort's services are designed to allow guests to truly unwind and disconnect from their everyday lives."

7. Jade Mountain

St. Lucia

If having the leafy palms, calm waves, and powdery shores right outside your door is one of your top criteria, reserve your room at Anse Chastanet. But for a more exclusive and intimate escape, head higher into the hills of western St. Lucia to Jade Mountain. Designed by famed architect Nick Troubetzkoy, the resort's "sanctuaries" are contemporary and colorful with an open fourth wall facing the dramatic Piton Mountains and the bright blue Soufrière Bay, not to mention a private infinity pool. Recent guests who spent their honeymoon at Jade Mountain say that the resort caters to romance with amenities like private whirlpool tubs (designed to fit two) and spa treatments created especially for couples. And if you and your partner grow restless after such a concentrated dose of relaxation, the resort provides the equipment you need—free of charge—to go snorkeling, biking, sailing, or all of the above.

6. Nisbet Plantation Beach Club

St. Kitts & Nevis

Surrounded by 30 acres of crystalline sand and tropical foliage along Nevis's northeastern corner, Nisbet Plantation Beach Club is the Caribbean's only historic plantation hotel with a beachfront seat. Although the property dates back to the 1700s and maintains its plantation-style décor, the hotel does not show its age. Guests describe this property as a hidden gem full of character, something general managers Andrew and Lori Hall attribute to Nisbet Plantation's employees: "The staff at Nisbet Plantation, who are Nevisian, take great pride in welcoming guests to their island home and ensuring guests experience the very best Nevis has to offer." Sure, Nisbet Plantation Beach Club may not be as large as other Caribbean resorts, but you'll still find luxurious amenities like an oceanfront pool, a beach bar, and a full-service spa.

5. Four Seasons Resort Nevis

St. Kitts & Nevis

If you're looking to stay in the lap of luxury, you can't go wrong with booking a room at a Four Seasons. This brand is renowned for its sumptuous accommodations and impeccable customer service, and this branch is no exception. Flanking the golden sands of Pinney's Beach, the Four Seasons Resort Nevis earns rave reviews from guests for its beautiful location and ample amenities. The plush and colorful furnishings in the guestrooms exude a homey atmosphere, while the private balconies provide an excellent venue for watching the sunset. But you didn't travel all the way to Nevis just to admire the view: While here, you'll find plenty of ways to experience this popular vacation spot, including coral reef tours and water skiing, as well as 18 manicured fairways designed by Robert Trent Jones III. To top it off, travelers claim they were treated like royalty from the moment they arrived to the time they checked out.

4. Jamaica Inn

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Jamaica boasts its fair share of big-name, all-inclusive resorts, but discerning travelers and experts routinely overlook them in favor of the Jamaica Inn. While those other properties offer unnecessarily flashy amenities, this intimate hotel has been proving that size doesn't matter since 1950, winning guests over with personalized service and an immaculate attention to detail. "Some people say they feel the difference in the environment as soon as they arrive," said Nicole Henry, the Jamaica Inn's director of sales and marketing. "If we take care of everything that our guests would need or want, it leaves them free to truly relax and enjoy their stay." Every suite comes elegantly appointed with antique furniture, deep soaking tubs, and private verandahs overlooking northern Jamaica's honey-hued shoreline. Make the most out of the inn's prime location with an oceanside massage at the KiYara Spa or an intimate dinner along the beach.

3. Eden Rock, St. Barths

St. Barts

Overlooking one of the most picturesque bays in the Caribbean, Eden Rock has to please the most fastidious travelers—and it does so with grace. Sitting on the Baie de St. Jean on St. Barts' northern coast, this Relais & Châteaux resort features bright, modern décor, stunning sea views, and a peaceful atmosphere only disturbed by rolling waves and palm trees swaying in the breeze. Eden Rock holds numerous awards from top travel publications like Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure, but just as impressively, this Caribbean hideaway consistently garners rave reviews from guests. Visitors describe everything about this resort as ideal, from the bright, breezy guestrooms to the spa treatments to the cuisine served at the lauded restaurant, On the Rocks. But what ties it all together is the customer service: Eden Rock's staff is frequently praised for its friendly demeanor and attention to detail.

2. Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France

St. Barts

On an island as beautiful as St. Barts, the competition between luxury hotels is steep. Yet despite a valiant effort put forth by other resorts—especially Eden Rock—Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France has managed to come out on top. "St. Barts isn't really a Caribbean Island; it's a little piece of France in the Caribbean, and we help guests experience the island," said Elodie Miyet, the hotel's director of sales and marketing. "Clients really feel like they're part of a club—part of a family—when they stay here." Overlooking the pearly white sands of Flamands Beach, this five-star hotel combines the relaxing aura of the Caribbean with a hint of European decadence. Inside, the property's crisp white and blue décor feels cool in the Caribbean heat, while private terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows allow you to bask in the salty sea air. And if you need an extra dose of relaxation, you can spend some time in one of the Natura Bisse and Intraceuticals SPA's open-air treatment spaces.

1. Tortuga Bay

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

In a destination known for its luxurious, all-inclusive resorts, you'd think a boutique property would be overpowered. But in Punta Cana, tiny Tortuga Bay has won the hearts of travel experts and guests alike. Sure, it may not have as many pools as there are days of the week or more dining options than you know what to do with, but previous travelers describe their stay here as total bliss. A part of the Puntacana Resort & Club complex, Tortuga Bay's villas—designed by fashion icon Oscar de la Renta—face golden sands, turquoise waters, and one of two golf courses. Guests can't help but exalt the lavish décor, but what earns Tortuga Bay the title of Best Hotel in the Caribbean is its customer service. Returning travelers rave that that they were remembered by name, while first-timers say that the staff's attention to detail is what sets Tortuga Bay apart from other luxury hotels.

U.S. News has also released its first-ever ranking of the 2013 Best Hotels by Brand to help travelers select the best brand-backed hotels across the United States and the Caribbean.

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