These World’s Best Hotel Lists Drive Me Nuts…

I don’t know why I read these things, they always make me want to throw my laptop, but the 2009 Travel & Leisure World’s Best lists are up.

The Hay Adams is not the best hotel in DC. The Marriott in Budapest is not better than the Four Seasons George V in Paris (neither is the Westin Milan, which was a perfectly respectable city hotel when I stayed there two years ago — but the 4th best city hotel in Europe? That’s absurd.)

Perhaps I’m most offended by three “Couples” resorts — and for that matter a Sandals — on Jamaica being rated above the Aman resort property in Turks & Caicos, which doesn’t even make the list of best resorts in the Carribean.

But then the Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort gets ranked as the #12 resort in all of Asia, when I wouldn’t even consider it to be the best Le Meridien in Thailand (or even the best Le Meridien resort in the Phuket area!).

And the Oriental Bangkok is not the best hotel in Asia. The Shangri-La is not the best hotel in Hong Kong. The Westin Bund Center is not better than the Oriental properties in Hong Kong and Singapore. And the Westin Chosun isn’t even the best Starwood property in Seoul. They have room for the Dusit Thani Bangkok to make the list, yet room for only one hotel (Four Seasons) in Tokyo?

Need I comment that the Shangri-La is not the best hotel in Sydney?

The Intercontinental Thalasso as best hotel in French Polynesia? The worn out Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas makes the list, along with two middling Moorea properties, but not the Four Seasons or St. Regis Bora Bora?

And nowhere on this list is a single Maldives property. (Update: there is actually one property listed in the Maldives, not sure how I missed it. Sadly only one hotel in Indonesia, the former Ritz-Carlton Bali, hardly tops there…)

Take these lists with a definite grain of salt.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. You know something is screwy when so few of the top hotels were ranked at all last year. Yeah, things change from year to year, but not that drastically.

  2. I agree. it is more a list of the so-so hotels that a general American afford. Figure that most of the “great” hotels are completely out of reach of the general American. I take the reviews of FT much more seriously than these casual surveys.

  3. The Maldives doesn’t have the service culture found in SE asia. Sure, the resorts are beautiful, water clear, yadda yadda, but they didn’t compare to Four Seasons Sayan in Bali, not even close.

  4. @Eric, there are plenty of Balinese properties that belong on the list.. Oddly they picked only one — the former Ritz-Carlton which is hardly the top property in Bali.

    And I was mistaken, they did note one Maldives property.

    My point was simply when the Sheraton Port Douglas makes the list, something is terribly terribly wrong. That’s not a hotel that exhibits much of anything — it’s an option for using points when visiting the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation, etc.

  5. Interested in your rankings for best hotels in Australia, both Sydney and elsewhere, e.g. Brisbane and Melbourne.

  6. I don’t even know if the London is the best hotel in *West Hollywood* let alone Los Angeles/SoCal, California or the entire USA.

  7. I am actually impressed by the Asia list. The Westin Bund may not be the most luxurious hotel in Shanghai, but it is the only China hotel in which I have stayed where everything works (including the service) day in and day out. I have stayed at the Westin Chosun in Seoul >100 times and it is truly a great hotel. Again, everything is always done right. Hotels are more than just peripherial glitz.

  8. What other Le Meridien is in the Phuket area? Did you perhaps mean spg property in the area?

  9. I agree with the top hotel lists being meaningless. In the November 2005 issue of Conde Naste Traveler, In the Top 100 list for ’05 Readers Choice Award, Ladera ranks as the #1 property in the world. We stayed there about that time. Trust me, not only was it far from being the top hotel in the world, it wasn’t even the top hotel in the Caribbean – and I have my doubts as to it being the top hotel on St lucia.

    The Amboseli Lodge in Kenya was on either the Travel & Leisure or Conde Naste Traveler list of top hotels in Africa four years ago. I had stayed there two to three months before the list came out. It made my list of places to avoid. Rooms were tiny, outdated, wouthout AC – in hot Kenya.

    It’s unfortunate that these lists are of so little value. I’d love to get some fresh ideas. I find the Luxury Hotel forum and other hotel forums on FlyerTalk to be much more credible.

  10. @Ripper3785 – 70 minute drive away, Le Meridien Khao Lak is an amazing value, US$250 will often buy an oceanfront villa with private pool.

    But how in the world they list Le Meridien Phuket as the best property on the list from Phuket as opposed to, I don’t know, say Amanpuri…?

  11. It’s all subjective of course, I think you should read in the implied “in our opinion these are…” before the word “best.”

    But I’m surprised you’re so harsh on the Oriental Bangkok. So far that’s the possibly best hotel I’ve ever stayed in, in the world. At least I thought so, was upgraded to a nice corner/balcony room and the service was utterly extraordinary, beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. Granted there’s no possible way I have stayed in enough hotels to speak with authority. But I have stayed at several dozen that routinely contend for best in the world lists (Broadmoor, Imperial in Delhi, Pen in HKG, probably 40-50 R&C properties, etc.) and I consider it exceptional, certainly enough that it doesn’t seem out of place on a subjective list like this.

    I don’t disagree with the premise of the post, but these things are subjective.

  12. I don’t think I was harsh on the Oriental Bangkok, I just said it wasn’t the best hotel in Asia.

    These are subjective to a certain degree, but that can’t serve as a pass that anything they possibly print is reasonable. This one is just far too silly to chalk it up to different people with different perspectives.

  13. The first time I traveled to St Lucia, I knew that I had landed in paradise. With lush mountains, fresh fruit everywhere and secluded coves, St Lucia is picture perfect Caribbean. Ladera Resort is then the Caribbean resort.

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