The first in Getting On Travel’s new feature series covering luxury hotel news
With vaccinations in progress providing a wee bit of light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, we are beginning to think about future travels. Despite the world all-but-closing, neither the construction of new luxury hotels nor significant renovation of intriguing lodgings has slowed down.
Given this, we’re launching a new, recurring feature that provides a peek into new hotels and refreshed luxury accommodations that have caught our eyes. We have catching up to do, and we’ll start with these properties opened in 2020, presented in chronological order. As we move forward, we’ll alternate catching up with 2020 openings and showcasing recent and upcoming 2021 ones of note in various regions of the U.S. and around the globe.
Arctic Bath, Harads, Sweden
Chillax! Spa, wellness, and sustainability merge at Arctic Bath, a Small Luxury Hotels of the World member in the Swedish Lapland. Local, pure, and sustainable are the watchwords at this wellness hotel. Think cabins floating on the Lule River and elevated shoreline cabins and suites, all connected by boardwalks and walkways. Think contemporary Scandinavian design, with clean lines, blonde wood, clear glass, and contrasting stone. Add a circular, floating full-service Nordic spa — go ahead, plunge into the frigid waters; you’ll feel better, honest.
The restaurant specializes in local and sustainable drinks and meals, with menus inspired by the natural surroundings. Choose your season: midnight sun or northern lights; either way, you win. Opened January 2020
Hotel Zed Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
The 70s called, and they want you back. While it may not be classic luxury, the pet-friendly Hotel Zed Tofino won us over with its groovy, retro vibe. Chill by the teardrop fireplace in the retro sunken living room, visualize your future with the crystal ball in the psychic’s den, play Ms. Pac-Man in the hidden arcade, or trip the light fantastic underneath the disco ball in the mini disco. Dial a friend on the rotary phones in your room, or hitch a ride in the 1969 woody wagon.
Expect ’70’s colors and stylin’, even some shag carpeting. And, check out the carpeted bike path cutting through the lobby and connecting to Tofino’s multi-use pathways. Each spring and fall, Western sandpipers flock to the hotel’s four acres of old-growth rainforest with a private inlet, all sited on indigenous lands. Roar, the West Coast’s first live-fire restaurant, opens in May. Read more about what to do in Tofino. Opened August 2020
Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte’s newest luxury hotel, the Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte, takes its cue from Argentina. Vibrant colors set the tone at this uptown Charlotte hotel, a member of both the Kessler Collection and Marriott Autograph Collection. The lively décor includes original works by Argentinian artists, custom chandeliers, curated room soundtracks, and—we love this —even colorful carpeting that mimics the flow of a flamenco dancer’s skirt.
Guest beds feature headboards crafted from embossed teal leather with antiqued brass nailheads. Hotel amenities include a penthouse spa with water-inspired treatments, the Bohemian Garden bar, rooftop Búho Bar , and Mico, specializing in South American and Argentinian classics with Mediterranean influences crafted from locally sourced ingredients. Opened August 2020 P.S. While in Charlotte, don’t miss the Mint Museum.
Terramor Outdoor Resort, Bar Harbor, Maine
Terramor Outdoor Resort, the first authentic, glamping-style accommodations on Mount Desert Island, elevates the camping experience near Acadia National Park. In the soaring glass and timber lodge, a two-sided, stone fireplace invites lounging on cooler or inclement days. Food and bar service add to the comforts here, with tables on a screened porch, farmer’s porch, and deck. Start the day with coffee and end it with s’mores.
The resort’s five styles of safari-style tents sleep two to five people. Our faves are outfitted with king beds dressed in high thread-count linens, an overhead fan, a bathroom with two-person shower and dual vanity, Adirondack-style chairs on the porch, and a private fire ring, also with seating. Some tents even have private outdoor showers. An outdoor pool, recreation field, and a dog park complete the amenities. Opened August 2020
Luminary Hotel & Co., Fort Myers, Florida
The downtown, waterfront Luminary Hotel & Co., a Marriott Autograph Collection property, overlooks the Caloosahatchee River. Calming, natural sea and sand colors set the tone in the rooms and suites. The hotel aims to connect visitors to the area’s rich history through design elements as well as dining and retail outlets inspired by local pioneers. For example, the Silver King Ocean Brasserie honors the tarpon gamefish and emphasizes fresh seafood. And, Ella Mae’s Diner, honoring Dr. Ella Mae Piper, takes a southern accent with comfort fare.
Snag a seat in the rooftop Beacon Social Drinkery and soak in sunset views while savoring small-plate selections. Other amenities include a coffee roaster and shop and The Workshop culinary theater, designed to host classes, presentations, and demonstrations, as well as a pool and an indoor/outdoor fitness center. Opened September 2020
The Dupont Circle, Washington D.C.
A thoughtful top-to-bottom renovation gave new life to The Dupont Circle, dating from 1947. Irish-designer Clodagh’s décor uses natural materials and earth tones with color accents, creating a sense of serenity while nodding to the Doyle Collection’s Irish roots. The luxury boutique hotel showcases original works by international artists.
Sip classic cocktails in Doyle, the clubby bar offering small plates and serving dinner and Sunday brunch. Or opt for American fare with global inspirations in The Pembroke, designed by Martin Brudnizki and serving all meals. While here, consider a day trip to nearby Mount Vernon. Opened October 2020
White Elephant Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Florida
A sibling to the five-star White Elephant on Nantucket Island, the White Elephant Palm Beach represents a total renovation of the 1924 Mediterranean Revival-style Bradley Park Hotel. While the facade remains the same, the contemporary interior reinterprets the footprint, creating 13 rooms and 19 suites, including two penthouses.
The elegant beach-inspired décor blends neutrals with color-rich accents and features hardwood floors topped with woven rugs, Carrara marble, and museum-quality art. Expect five-star service and amenities. Nantucket’s popular Lola 41 restaurant has opened here, too, offering indoor and poolside dining. Opened November 2020
Xigera, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
The Tollman family, owners of Red Carnation hotels, considers Xigera Safari Lodge their love letter to the African bush, and it shows. Shaded by ancient trees and overlooking the Okavango Delta’s floodplains, this exclusive lodge doubles as an art gallery, with furnishings and original artworks created by 76 African artists. Xigera (pronounced kee-jera and named for the Pied Kingfisher that inhabits the waterways) immerses guests into the bush.
We love that each of the 12 suites are individually decorated. In addition to game drives and excursions in a glass-bottomed boat, guests can book spa treatments, swim in the pool, workout in the gym, and feast under the stars. Plan a sleepover or dine in the separate Baobob Treehouse, roughly 1 km away. But, only if you can tear yourself away from lounging on the deck in the cozy kooboo-cane human nests, woven by South African artist Porky Hefer. Opened December 2020
Kruger Shalati: The Train on the Bridge, Skukuza Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, South Africa
A century ago, a luxury train touring visitors through Kruger National Park would park atop Selati Bridge and spend a night immersed in nature. Now, Kruger Shalati: The Train on the Bridge provides the same experience on a restored, 1950’s steam train permanently parked on the bridge. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame views taking in crocodiles, water buffalo, elephants, hippos, and other wildlife foraging in or crossing the Sabie River, 50 feet below.
Or savor the eye-candy views while soaking and sipping Champagne in your deep soaking tub, on your Juliette balcony, or socializing on the lounging poolside terrace. The land-based Bridge House serves meals, with seating both indoors and outside. All-inclusive rates include two game safaris daily. The boutique hotel plans to add seven family-friendly rooms in the Bridge House in 2022. Opened December 2020
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Pinterest Photo courtesy White Elephant Palm Beach, Chi-Thien Nguyen/Elkus Manfredi Architects