New York, USA
The New York Palace
Built above (and incorporating) the Gilded Age mansion of financier Henry Villard, Manhattan’s grand-dame hotel at 50th and Madison has emerged fresh from a $140-million transformation.
Design: Old-world luxury meets modern art. Case in point: resto Villard Michel Richard, where lenticular portraits of the French celeb chef alternate with Villard’s likeness on the golden walls of his former music room.
Amenities: Sumptuous sensory touches like Richard’s Pomme Palais pastries in the concourse, Molton Brown amenities in guest rooms and Diptyque candles in the lobby.
Dress Code: The runway on every stairway.
Drink: Absinthe, mescal, chartreuse and gentian liqueur conspire to sting in Le Scorpion cocktail.
Dish: Savour the high-meets-low decadence of Michel’s fried chicken with mashed potatoes.
Outing: Holly Golightly (whose larger-than-life portrait graces the Gallery dining room) would swoon at the shops of Madison Avenue, mere steps away.
Don’t Miss: The splash-out $25,000-a-night Champagne suite with unlimited access to a private Dom Pérignon cave.
Outside the Rocky Mountain foothills town of Priddis, Alberta, the former ranch house of a construction magnate is today the 13-suite secret stay of the Spruce Meadows horsey set (even celeb equestrian dad Steven Spielberg has put in time here).
Design: Designed to fuse with the surrounding foothills, two fan-shaped buildings offer sweeping views of the rugged landscape through double- and triple-high windows.
Amenities: Ask your personal butler to arrange an art lesson, horseback riding or a tee time at one of the four courses within a 20-minute drive.
Dress Code: Cashmere and cowboy boots.
Drink: A glass of bubbly at sunset. Our pick: Francis Ford Coppola’s Sofia Blanc de Blancs.
Dish: Stroll into the Sapphire Hall kitchen and watch Executive Chef Yoshi Chubachi at work, or dine with strangers – who soon become friends – at the chef’s table. Try Chubachi’s roast rack of lamb with honey, herbs and grainy mustard.
Outing: The estate’s 13 acres of rambling countryside allows you to venture into complete solitude – or be in downtown Calgary in 30 minutes.
Don’t Miss: The Hydrotherapy Bath Experience, a customized aromatherapy soak, drawn for you in suite.
Sanctuary Saadani River Lodge
Take a boat trip up the Wami River and arrive in style at this sprawling property made up of cabins and lodges hidden away in a thicket of East African jungle.
Design: Individual suites sit on stilts and are stunning examples of understated luxury and seclusion, each with its own large, private terrace and outdoor shower.
Amenities: Head to the new, dedicated spa cabin for a treatment using South Africa’s eco-certified Africology line.
Dress Code: Keep it light, layered and long-sleeved to beat the heat.
Drink: Sundowners on the riverbank (but with a view like that you’ll barely notice your G&T).
Dish: Grilled fish and seafood straight from the Indian Ocean.
Outing: A trip to sister property Saadani Safari Lodge is great for a change of scene (and a day on the beach).
Don’t Miss: A river safari is the perfect complement to a more traditional Serengeti game drive – just swap the cheetahs and zebra for hippos and crocs, though you may still spy elephants and giraffes cooling off in the water.
The epitome of five-star service in the rich-but-refined Mayfair Village, this century-old hotel has long welcomed the world’s royal families and heads of state.
Design: Recent renovations added a new wing to the hotel housing more modern-style rooms and an Aman Spa (the only one in the world outside an Aman Resort).
Amenities: Bamford toiletries made in Britain from organic, cold-pressed essential oils like rosemary and lavender.
Dress Code: Something smart but subtle from nearby Savile Row.
Drink: Order a cocktail from the award-winning Connaught Bar’s martini cart and they’ll shake it up for you tableside.
Dish: Scottish partridge or Welsh venison from the two-Michelin-star Hélène Darroze restaurant.
Outing: Head to the department store Liberty for more timeless luxury and personalized service, including an oriental rug section, hand-selected vintage gowns and their signature by-the-metre flower print fabrics.
Don’t Miss: Indulge in a signature shoeshine from Royal Warrant holder John Lobb – you can leave a pair for the butler or relax in the dedicated leather shoeshine chair on the second floor.
Four Seasons Punta Mita
Set on 1,500 acres of pristine coastal peninsula, the resort’s secluded ambiance provides the perfect antidote to nearby Puerto Vallarta’s frenetic pace.
Design: Adobe-style casitas with ocean views nestled in tangled jungle.
Amenities: Hit the beach early to take advantage of the plush cabanas or keep the sand off your feet at one of five pools. Either way, you’ll be serviced by an interminable flow of waiters proffering chilled towels and refreshments.
Dress Code: Resort chic.
Drink: Sit in on a tasting with tequila master Alfredo Sanchez and learn to savour – not shoot – this misunderstood spirit.
Dish: Be on the beach when the catch comes in, choose your fish and preparation (from ceviche to grilled whole). That evening, await your meal at the restaurant of your choice, served just the way you like it.
Outing: A quick boat ride away lie the protected Marietas Islands (a Jacques Cousteau favourite). Tour the uninhabited seabird sanctuary by stand-up paddle board.
Don’t Miss: The Hakali Massage in which warm nopal mash is applied to the body and cactus paddles are used in place of hot stones.