Point Me To The Plane Contributors David Ghorbanpoor and Sarah Johnson collaborated on this report.
This week World of Hyatt announced a partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), a group of 500 plus independent boutique properties scattered across the globe. It’s no secret that Hyatt, with just over 700 properties worldwide, lacks a broad international footprint relative to its competitors.
The majority of SLH’s properties are outside the U.S., balancing out Hyatt’s portfolio nicely. In this post, we take a look at some of our very favorite locations.
Small Luxury Hotels Now Count Toward Hyatt Status
Under the agreement, World of Hyatt members will be able to count qualifying nights toward elite status as well as earn and redeem points at participating SLH hotels.
Hyatt isn’t telling us which properties count until later this year, before the partnership officially launches.
It remains to be seen whether SLH free night redemptions will fall into the existing World of Hyatt award chart, but if they do, scoring a standard room for a maximum of 30,000 points will be a great value for many hotels in the SLH portfolio. The best World of Hyatt Credit Card bonus we’ve seen could cover two nights at many of these properties.
A precedent has been set with Hyatt’s Miraval partnership, and so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a separate SLH award chart for points redemption.
The American Small Luxury Hotels properties, of which there are 55, span the entire two continents and every genre of hotel style. Stretching from coast to coast in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, SLH hotels run the gamut from secluded mountain ranches to bustling city oases and everything in between.
In Central and South America, you’ll find everything from spas set in pristine jungles to city hotels in heritage-listed buildings.
The Betsy, situated across the street from the water on iconic Ocean Drive in South Beach, blends colonial architecture into an Art Deco backdrop. The hotel has both courtyard and rooftop pools. Rooms approach $900 per night during the peak winter months when northern visitors flock en masse to South Florida to escape the cold.
The Adelphi Hotel
Located just a few hours north of New York City in Saratoga Springs, The Adelphi Hotel is an old-world Victorian gem which has only just recently reopened after a five year restoration project. Its inclusion in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2018 hot list signals a successful historic revival doing proper justice to the resort town’s rich legacy. Nightly rates bottom out in the low three figures during slow winter months but can eclipse four figures during busy summer weekends.
Saratoga Springs, well known for its thoroughbred race horse tracks, is also home to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, which displays horse paintings and trophies. The nearby Saratoga Automobile Museum exhibits vintage models and race cars. At three hours north of New York City, through the winding Hudson Valley, Saratoga Springs is a wonderful weekend getaway for those in New England or the tri-state region.
The Quin, a “quintessential” New York City hotel sharing the same mid-town block as the flagship Park Hyatt New York a stone’s throw from Central Park, was known as the Buckingham Hotel until a comprehensive renovation and rebranding in 2013.
Though the Quin is typically overshadowed by more well known upscale Manhattan hotels, Travel + Leisure readers thought highly enough of the property to rank it as the fifth best hotel in New York City. Base room nightly rates vary between $300 and $700.
Mi Amor Tulum Boutique Hotel & Spa
Travelers to Tulum remark how different it is compared to its more commercialized Riviera Maya counterparts Playa del Carmen and Cancun. With a dearth of branded loyalty program properties in the area, Tulum’s hotel landscape is dotted with smaller footprint boutique properties, which stand in stark contrast to the sprawling resorts further up the coast.
An authentic property such as the 17 room adults-only Mi Amor Tulum Boutique Hotel & Spa would be a fantastic redemption option not only for World of Hyatt members, but also for management to distinguish luxury boutique portfolio additions from competitor programs.
Base nightly rates range from $300 to $600 depending on the season.
Nayara Resort, Spa & Gardens
The Nayara Resort, Spa & Gardens offers guests stand alone casita or villa accommodations within the Arenal Volcano National Park in northwest Costa Rica, halfway in between San Jose and Liberia. The Arenal Volcano, which dominates the landscape and can be seen from most everywhere within the resort, is one of the youngest, still active volcanoes in the Western Hemisphere.
Both a Virtuoso and American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts member, The Nayara Resort, Spa & Gardens is no stranger to accolades having been voted in the top five most romantic hotels in the world by TripAdvisor and most recently ranked as the 53rd best hotel on the planet, and third best in Central America, by Travel + Leisure readers.
Billed as an authentic rainforest experience, guests are encouraged to take take part in nearby eco adventures in addition to on site spa treatments and yoga classes. Nightly base rates range between $275 and $475.
Small Luxury Hotels’ Caribbean portfolio counts 23 hotels on 16 islands, including Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Most are situated on or within minutes of some of the best beaches; others, like Paseo 206 in Havana, are perfectly located for exploring the vibrant, historic towns. Travel to Cuba still looks tricky, but rest assured there are ample ways to go and savor the flavor of Havana.
One of our picks, Spice Island in Grenada, sits on Grand Anse Beach, consistently ranked as one of the Caribbean’s best beaches. The island is known for its lush hills, spice production and exceptional weather. It’s location on the southern edge of the hurricane belt means it gets slightly better weather than its northern counterparts.
Spice Island Beach Resort
The Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenada’s only AAA Five Diamond property, distributes 64 rooms across six unique suite layouts. As an all-inclusive resort, three meals per day dining, afternoon tea, premium cocktails and house wines are included in the nightly rate as are tennis, cycling and greens fees at the nine-hole Grenada Golf Club.
Though the resort features a large pool, the beach is the star of the show at Spice Island. With over half of the hotel suites located directly on the beach, guests exit their rooms onto private patios featuring hammocks and chaise lounges. Given that the majority of suites sleep at least three people (the base room is an expansive 620 square feet) and an on-site kids’ club provides daily supervision for children aged three through twelve, the resort is a great Caribbean option for entertaining the whole family.
Nightly base rates start at around $900 and increase from there depending upon the season.
Paseo 206, the first luxury boutique hotel in Havana, is an interesting addition to the Small Luxury Hotels portfolio. Opened in 2016 in a historic 1930s mansion on a tree lined street in the vibrant Vedado district, the eight room property has been restored to transport guests back in time to a previous era.
The furnishings and restaurant offerings reflect the owners’ Italian and Cuban roots. Eclectico, the ground floor restaurant, serves contemporary Italian fare fused with traditional Cuban ingredients. Prepare to pay upmarket stateside prices.
Paseo 206 does provide its guests modern amenities – not to be taken for granted in Cuba – such as high-speed complimentary Wi-Fi, air conditioning and Hermes bath amenities. Visitors seeking an authentic Havana experience but accustomed to more luxurious hospitality comforts can book into base rooms for around $250 per night.
As Brian Jackman said, “Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe the magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?”
The Small Luxury Hotels African portfolio only comprises five countries and ten properties. Those in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique are ideal for a post-safari getaway while the four Moroccan destinations would be a wonderfully unique addition to a Spain or Portugal trip.
Diamonds Mequfi Beach Resort
Mozambique is trending up as a resort destination in southern Africa. With long stretches of undisturbed coast — a contrast to alternative destination Mauritius — and a more tropical climate relative to beach destinations in South Africa, Mozambique is a burgeoning locale for travelers in the region to unplug and unwind.
The Diamonds Mequfi Beach Resort’s standalone Indian Ocean facing bungalows promote the property’s peaceful, laid-back luxury vibe. Its layout pays tribute to the mostly undeveloped 1,535 mile long coastline, which has yet to attract larger hospitality brands where travelers might be more accustomed to redeeming points for free nights.
Tourism in the Middle East has been on a steady rise throughout the region since bottoming out in areas affected by the Arab spring in the early years of this decade. The Small Luxury Hotels Middle East portfolio is, however, the smallest of its continental destinations with just four properties in four countries.
Riyadh, Dubai, Beirut and Tel Aviv each offer travelers unique cultural and physical diversity. As travelers continue to explore new luxury frontiers in the Middle East, expect the regional SLH portfolio to expand to match demand.
The Norman Tel Aviv
The Norman Tel Aviv opened less than four years ago in the centrally located White City area of Tel Aviv, where visitors will find the highest concentration of Bauhaus-style architecture on the planet. The Norman is comprised of two Bauhaus buildings dating back to the nineteen-twenties, which have been restored to retain its historic elements while welcoming guests with modern amenities.
The 50 room hotel features a rooftop infinity pool with panoramic city and sea views five floors above street level. While located more inland relative to larger branded hotels such as The Ritz-Carlton Herzliya, Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel or Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel, The Norman does offer a complimentary beach bag to every guest as well as private transfer to the coast.
Guests choose The Norman Tel Aviv over alternative accommodation for its Unesco site location, rooftop scene, proximity to tourist destination Rothschild Boulevard and its chic and understated style. Base room rates begin at $650 and surpass $1,000 during high demand periods.
The Indian Ocean, with its clear turquoise waters and island resorts, has long been a bucket list destination for seasoned world travelers. Challenging to reach from the Western Hemisphere, Indian Ocean trips often mark special occasions for those seeking to impress and be impressed upon.
From Sri Lanka’s dazzling wildlife and natural landscape (five SLH properties) to the “wow” factor felt across 1,190 islands over 35,000 square miles in the Maldives (four SLH properties) to the blend of African and Indian cultures in Mauritius (two SLH properties), the Indian Ocean offers an abundant diversity of pursuits to complement the oft conjured overwater bungalows and untouched beaches.
The Maldives first began welcoming overnight visitors in 1972, a time when the island atolls communicated with the outside world by morse code and locals moved around in wooden dhoni sailboats. The iconic Baros Maldives opened in 1973.
Through the years the resort has set the standard in authentic luxury while other global brands, arriving later, eventually discovered the splendid natural beauty of the Maldives and set up roots.
SLH named the Baros Maldives it’s resort hotel of the year in 2017. Comprising five restaurants and 75 villas, 30 of which are overwater, the property successfully aims to provide its guests privacy, serenity and comfort.
Unlike fellow luxury properties such as the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort or the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, the Baros Maldives is located within the same atoll as Velana International Airport (MLE) in Male. Thus, after a long journey, a simple 25 minute speedboat transfer awaits Baros Maldives guests upon touchdown in contrast to the further seaplane transfers required for guests of resorts in further flung atolls (which can easily run over $500 per person).
Base villas start at $400 per night during low season and reach $1,000 during peak spring dates. Overwater villas generally command a $100 to $200 premium.
The Small Luxury Hotels Asian portfolio is its second largest, at 73 hotels across China, Japan, Mongolia, South Korea and Southeast Asia. However, for World of Hyatt members, the biggest draw will be the boutique properties in Indonesia and the continental southeast, as there are no less than seven Hyatt properties in China alone. Add to that an astonishing 297 Marriott/Ritz-Carlton properties in Asia and 86 Hilton hotels and resorts, and those booking on points definitely have options!
Even amongst boutique SLH properties, our picks tend toward the smaller side of things. The Viceroy Bali has just 25 rooms and villas. 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai has 30 suites set in a historic 1880s villa.
Viceroy Bali, Ubud
Travelers choose to visit Ubud while in Bali for its art, culture, yoga and natural highlands beauty. Discerning travelers to Ubud choose to stay at the Viceroy Bali. Each room at the Viceroy Bali is perched at the edge of a steep ravine and boasts its own plunge pool overlooking the Petanu River gorge.
Guests preferring a more efficient commute may opt for direct helicopter transfers to and from the property’s helipad situated adjacent to hotel reception. Some helicopter transfers are chartered solely for the purpose of visiting the Viceroy Bali’s restaurant, CasCade, which overlooks the lush jungle and is rated amongst the top fine dining spots in Bali for its food, wine and ambience.
Although some luxury properties in the Ubud area can be booked with points, none of them reach the level of the Viceroy Bali, which bears no relation to the Viceroy Hotels & Resorts Group. The Mandapa Ritz Carlton Reserve might otherwise compare, but the select few Ritz Carlton Reserve properties which have cropped up around the world do not participate in Marriott Rewards.
Nightly base rates begin at $400 and extend beyond $1,000.
137 Pillars House Chiang Mai
Another historical revival project within the SLH portfolio, 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai was the original East Borneo Company headquarters built in the 1880s as the center of life for the few foreign employees and their families who were in northern Thailand to ship teakwood to Europe.
After changing hands to the Japanese military during World War II, the Company sold the “Borneo House” post war to an employee, Scotsman William Bain, who kept the property in his family until 2005 when Bangkok born, Harvard educated architect Panida Wongphanlert bought the dilapidating house as a weekend retreat from her residence in the Thai capital.
After a multi-year restoration, which included moving the house via hydraulic lift to the center of the property, Wongphanlert decided to share the former East Borneo Company headquarters with the public as a luxury boutique hotel in 2011.
With 30 suites, four on-site restaurants, a spa and a swimming pool nestled against a dramatic five-story living wall, the 137 Pillars House is an illustration of how exquisitely designed nostalgic decor united with modern comforts can create an intangible tranquility worth something greater than the sum of a resort’s parts.
Australasia, which consists of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific islands, conjures up images of pristine landscapes, endless beaches, turquoise water and a vibrant Polynesian culture. There is a limited supply of high-end loyalty brand hotels, even in Sydney, Melbourne or Auckland, so Small Luxury Hotels’ 15 properties are a welcome addition to the luxury hotel sector.
Whether you want to relax in the heart of Sydney or Perth, or get away from it all in the remote Margaret River wine region, Australia’s six properties offer exquisite service and exceptional luxury.
Of New Zealand’s six SLH properties, four are located on the South Island. Three are in Queenstown and the lakes region alone, which makes sense given that the influx of tourism in Queenstown has increased tenfold over the last decade.
Queenstown is synonymous with luxury despite its origins as backpacker central. Eichardt’s Private Hotel, front and center on Lake Wakatipu in the heart of town, is one of the best properties in the whole of New Zealand.
Eichardt’s Private Hotel
Eichardt’s Private Hotel sits on Marine Parade, along Central Otago’s Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand. One of the 30 Luxury Lodges of New Zealand as well as a Virtuoso property, Eichardt’s Private Hotel is no stranger to luxury and prestige. It’s an exclusive retreat in one of the country’s busiest tourist destinations, favored by jetsetters and celebrities alike.
Queenstown, which began its rise to popularity thanks to backpackers and snowboarders, now has quite a few luxury properties, though none come close to matching the attention to detail and luxurious touches of Eichardt’s Private Hotel.
The Penthouse, a recent addition on the top floor of the hotel, is the ultimate in luxury. The experience begins at Queenstown airport, where a chauffeur picks guests up in a Land Rover, which is then available for private use at all times during the stay. A butler is on hand at all times to ensure nothing is overlooked, and the refrigerator is stocked with all of the essentials, including Krug champagne.
Rates for a lakefront apartment, located in a separate building, begin at $1,100 per night while suites in the main building start at $1,200.
Como The Treasury Perth
Perth, the capital of Western Australia is often overlooked when planning an Australian itinerary. Perth recently made, however, CNN Travel’s Top 2018 Destinations list, and was dubbed Australia’s “capital of cool.” It is, admittedly, a five hour flight from Sydney and four hours from Melbourne, but thanks to Qantas Airways new London-Perth flight, it is easier than ever to get to, even for us here in the eastern US.
Thanks to the FIFO (fly in, fly out) workers who live in Perth but work in the oil and minefields of north Western Australia, Perth happens to be one of the most expensive cities in Australia. Those prices extend into the tourism sector, creating attractive conditions to book accommodation with points.
This, and the fact that there’s a limited supply of luxury hotels in Perth, were compelling reasons for adding Como The Treasury to our list. The Treasury is located in a gorgeous 19th century state building at Cathedral Square, in the heart of the city. Its location is ideal for exploring Perth’s burgeoning food and drink scene, taking in the surrounding wine region or relaxing at one of the many city beaches.
Como The Treasury has just 48 rooms and suites, all modern and sleek, a complementary juxtaposition to the ornate red brick exterior. The spa features Shambhala wellness treatments and the pool offers expansive views of the city.
Room rates begin at $450 in low season and can get as high as $950 in the summer. As a member of Virtuoso, Como The Treasury offers Virtuoso clients amenities such as complimentary breakfast for two, $100 food and beverage credit to be used in one of their exceptional restaurants and an upgrade on arrival, subject to availability.
Small Luxury Hotels boasts some truly unique and distinctive boutique properties around the globe. For travelers focusing the majority of their attention on loyalty branded hotels, the potential addition of the aforementioned SLH properties and others to the World of Hyatt program would open up an entirely new segment of accommodation previously unavailable through large hotel loyalty programs.
We wait with anticipation for World of Hyatt and Small Luxury Hotels to announce which SLH properties will be included in World of Hyatt, and for those that make the cut, how valuable points redemption options will be for redeeming free nights.
Stay tuned for a follow-up post highlighting SLH’s European portfolio, which comprises over half of SLH’s global hotels and resorts and includes, by almost any standard, aspirational properties worthy of a bucket list.