Lux­ury stripped bare

In­tel­li­gence or­gan­i­sa­tion shares best and worst in the in­dus­try

Life & Style Weekend - - TRAVEL - With Ann Rickard

IENJOY re­ceiv­ing the sur­vey re­sults of The Best (And Worst) New Lux­ury Ho­tels ev­ery year from LTI – Lux­ury Travel In­tel­li­gence. This is a global mem­bers-only or­gan­i­sa­tion, cov­er­ing ho­tels, restau­rants, spas and nightlife in gritty de­tail.

LTI prom­ises us their highly ex­pe­ri­enced and dis­cern­ing ex­perts have cov­ered the globe and thor­oughly re­searched ev­ery prop­erty and given hon­est and un­bi­ased opin­ions to bring us the truth.

Who doesn’t thrill to the thought of stay­ing in a ho­tel we can usu­ally only dream about? The best ho­tel I have ever stayed in was the Four Sea­sons in Paris.

For three un­for­get­table days and nights my eyes popped, my breath sapped and my heart beat faster as I en­tered the Four Sea­sons lobby and took in the glo­ri­ous sight of the ex­trav­a­gant floral ar­range­ments. Twelve thou­sand blooms are brought into the ho­tel from Am­s­ter­dam each week for floral artis­tic di­rec­tor Jeff Leatham to cre­ate sculp­tural in­stal­la­tions that halt all vis­i­tors en­ter­ing the ho­tel. De­pend­ing on the sea­son it could be long stems of vi­brant yel­low tulips in tall vases bend­ing to­wards you in greet­ing, or tight bunches of blood-red roses peek­ing from clus­ters of round glass bowls. The ar­range­ments are themed and they are spec­tac­u­lar.

Any­way, that’s my most mem­o­rable lux­ury ho­tel story – it goes without say­ing I’ve stayed in some places that you would not ken­nel your dog in, but let’s stay with the im­ages of the beau­ti­ful floral sculp­tures. Let’s not spoil things.

So … want to know the best newly opened ho­tel in the world ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey? He­lena Bay Lodge in New Zealand. A $50 mil­lion prop­erty with just five suites means a $5 mil­lion per guest in­vest­ment, and that means wow.

Like so much of New Zealand, He­lena Bay it­self is a mag­nif­i­cent gift from na­ture. Rolling and lush green hills lead down to a glit­ter­ing bay. The lodge’s ar­chi­tec­ture and decor have been kept min­i­mal so as not to dis­tract from the beauty of the sur­round­ing land­scape.

“This is des­tined to be­come one of the world’s best ho­tels,” the sur­vey says.

He­lena Bay is near Hiku­rangi in New Zealand’s North Is­land, a place I be­came fa­mil­iar with in the 1970s when I mar­ried a New Zealan­der who lived nearby. We had to drive through Hiku­rangi to get to the pretty town of Rus­sell and I re­mem­ber scoff­ing in a shame­fully racist way about small one-horse New Zealand towns. Not scoff­ing any more. I’d give any­thing to get to Hiku­rangi now for a stay in He­lena Bay Lodge.

And the world’s worst new ho­tel ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey? The Palazzo Ver­sace in Dubai. Oh dear. Maybe too much money and too lit­tle thought thrown at it? Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey it’s an im­pres­sive prop­erty but in the wrong place, sur­rounded by heavy con­struc­tion that will go on for years. Best we say no more.

Also in the world’s worst top five is Trump In­ter­na­tional in Wash­ing­ton DC. Gar­ish decor, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, “more quan­tity over qual­ity”. Well, no more needs to be said, right?

Here’s to lux­ury ho­tels, and may we all have an op­por­tu­nity at least once in our lives to stay in one.

PHOTO: CHRIS MCLEN­NAN

He­lena Bay Lodge, in New Zealand has been judged best newly opened ho­tel by Lux­ury Travel In­tel­li­gence.

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