by Peter J. Bates

Monday, February 4, 2013


One of the most rewarding aspects of my career in luxury marketing is the global travels and the privilege of discovering different parts of the world – and gems in those locations. And, my love of global pursuits has translated into memorable journeys with my family. Last year, I explored distinctive destinations and magnificent hotels, and I’d love to share them with you and continue the travel narrative that inspires us all. I’d also like to point out that none of the places or companies listed below are current clients – I visited them for business or leisure.

Most Interesting Place: Cartagena
I had never considered Colombia as a luxury destination but my visit to Cartagena showed me otherwise. There is an excellent (and growing) hotel product, new air service (thank you, JetBlue), and spectacular service levels. A rich culture of music, arts and gastronomy embrace the city, generating an uber-cool vibe. As much as I travel, I often don’t head to South America, which made Cartagena a particularly thrilling treat for me – and ignited an interest in discovering more around the continent.

Best Large Hotel in U.S.: Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
A member of the Dorchester Collection, the Hotel Bel-Air was completely renovated and re-opened in October 2011. The amazing revamp re-charged the iconic property for the 21st century while retaining features of its original character. Think the glamour of old Hollywood blended with a style that is young, fresh, vibrant and fun. The Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air restaurant is divine, and the hotel bar remains famous for its savory cocktail collection.

Best Small Hotel in U.S.: Lake Placid Lodge, New York
Situated in the picturesque Adirondacks of New York State is the Lake Placid Lodge. Spending a few days in a cozy log cabin edging a five-mile-long lake and hiking in Adirondack Park (an impressive six million acres) was the perfect recipe for relaxation and family bonding.

Best Hotel in Europe: Corinthia Hotel, London
To me, the Corinthia Hotel (located in Whitehall) is the epitome of a contemporary version of the “grande dame” property. Embodying state-of-the-art facilities (including electrical outlets where you need them!) in an historic building dating back to 1885, Corinthia possesses a supreme blend of modern features and old-world elegance. My favorite features are the vast ceilings and open spaces. I also favored the delightful courtyard with fireplaces.

Best Hotel in India: Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambore National Park
I took my family to India for the first time last year, and the experience was a pulsating kaleidoscope of colors, flavors and sites. In contrast to much of what they saw, their time during a tiger safari evoked a distinct calm as we carefully explored the animals’ habitat. Our home during the safari was the Oberoi Vanyavilas on the edge of Ranthambore National Park. This jungle resort features luxury air-conditioned tents, outstanding garden dinners, and an exquisite staff, creating a sensational complement to our magical surroundings.

Best Hotel in Asia: The Palace Hotel, Tokyo
Uniting contemporary Western design with rich Japanese tradition, The Palace Hotel re-emerged on the scene in 2012 – a reincarnation of its former self, celebrating the finest in home-grown hospitality and paired with matchless amenities for leisure and business travelers. The location is divine and unique, overlooking the magnificent Imperial Palace. My favorite feature is the amazing balconies – your vantage point seems almost endless.

Best Airport: Dehradun Airport
I travel through countless airports annually, and for me, Dehradun, situated in the foothills of the Himalayas, was the best airport I experienced last year. It is a modern facility – a testament to a new generation of hubs in the country. Considering the relaxed and spiritual tone of the Himalayas, the modernity and efficiency of Dehradun was a pleasant and welcome surprise.

Best Airline: Cathay Pacific and Qantas
Considering all the airlines I flew in 2012, Cathay Pacific and Qantas tied for the “best” accolade. I flew Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong – for a day! – in the new business class. The service was first-rate, and despite the long flight and time difference, I felt energized to effectively conduct my business. I took Qantas to Sydney for a family vacation over the Christmas holiday, and the entire experience was stellar from the moment we boarded until the moment we de-planed. We flew premium economy on the new A-380 – the plane was very quiet so we could all sleep, and service was always delivered with a smile.

I welcome your thoughts on what resonated with you during your global adventures last year. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of my “best” list and what’s on my 2013 calendar for global discovery.

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