It has been a remarkable year for refined travel, with many new resorts and luxury hotels opening from one end of the globe to another. While many special new hotels opened in 2012, these 12 stood out to us. From rich modern luxury hotels in Paris to rustic retreats in Patagonia, these hotels are amongst the finest resorts in the world today. Grab your suitcase and a sense of adventure and join us to explore some of the best new hotels of 2012.
Boucan by Hotel Chocolat – St. Lucia
Lovers of fine chocolate and Caribbean relaxation will discover an ideal retreat at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat, a new luxury hotel on the island of St. Lucia. Boucan is located on the Radot Estate, the one-of-a-kind chocolate plantation maintained by British chocolatier Hotel Chocolat. Visitors to this progressive hotel are welcomed to explore the estate at their leisure, walking amongst the cocoa trees and even taking part in the chocolate making process. Alternatively, guests can relax at the spa or the calm infinity pool overlooking the dramatic Piton mountains and the rolling Caribbean sea beyond. It is refined, contemporary travel at its best on one of the Caribbean’s most breathtaking islands.
Boucan by Hotel Chocolat | Gallery
Hotel Americano – New York
The High Line elevated park has inspired a new design movement in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, and the new Hotel Americano is one of Chelsea’s most celebrated new additions. From its shiny, translucent fascia to its raised wooden bed platforms to its contemporary furnishings, Hotel Americano is as hip as it gets in one of the world’s hippest locales. Rooms start at $225 a night for the “Uptown Studio” and climb from there based on room options and date ranges. It has earned the admiration of locals and tourists alike, and may just be the most fashionable way to visit Manhattan in this New York minute.
Hotel Americano | Gallery
Tierra Patagonia – Chile
Few landscapes are as dramatic as Patagonia, the majestic, glacier-rich mountain region in the Southern reaches of Argentina and Chile. Its natural beauty is unparalleled, and it is now accessible from a new hotel offering luxury lodging and deep exploration of the local nature. Tierra Patagonia is a high-design eco-lodge overlooking an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve near the southernmost point of South America. Guests are welcomed to relax indoors and enjoy a fine meal or a quiet swim, but they’re also encouraged to trek deep into the dramatic nature of Patagonia. A visit to Tierra Patagonia is to explore both– the pampering of the senses and the excitement of exploration.
Tierra Patagonia | Gallery
Mandarin Oriental Paris
Far from the rough frontier of Chilean Patagonia, the Mandarin Oriental Paris rises in one of the most refined locations in the world. This new modern hotel bears one of the top names in luxury travel, continuing Mandarin Oriental’s focus on modern design, world-class dining and luxury accommodations. Guests know what they’re paying for when they select this brand, and they can now do so in what may be the most romantic city in the world.
Mandarin Oriental Paris | Gallery
Lamai Serengeti Safari Lodge
On a hilltop in northern Tanzania, a boutique safari hotel overlooks the stunning nature of southeastern Africa. The Lamai Serengeti Safari Lodge is an eco-retreat for the ages, a mix between luxury lodging and high-comfort “glamping” in the African countryside. Guests are welcomed to explore Africa on guided tours and safaris or simply relax at the hotel and take in the sights, scents and sounds of natural Africa. A trip like this will change the way you see the world, and perhaps change the way you choose your hotels in the future.
Lamai Serengeti | Gallery
Casa Gangotena – Ecuador
Quito, Ecuador may not seem like the most obvious travel destination, but it will certainly surprise you. When UNESCO began honoring World Cultural Heritage Sites in 1978, Quito was one of two originals thanks to a remarkably preserved historic center and its magnificent old world architecture. Amongst these is a masterfully-restored luxury hotel which opened to the public in 2012– the Casa Gangotena. This 31-room hotel was previously a mansion with a view over the grand San Francisco plaza and the hilly city beyond. For its unmatched class and culture in modern day Ecuador, this hotel is an open door to an old world with a rich sense of cultural preservation.
Casa Gangotena | Gallery
Six Senses Laamu – Maldives
Off the southern coast of India, thousands of tiny islands comprise a peaceful archipelago nation called the Republic of Maldives. This year, the famed Six Senses coastal hotel brand opened a resort of their own on the Maldives, the Six Senses Laamu hotel. The Laamu Atoll makes for a picturesque and exotic location for the new hotel, which features six waterside and overwater lounges and a collection of private huts perched directly above the aqua-colored sea. While guests are encouraged to enjoy water-bound activities like surfing, swimming, fishing and more, there is one goal at Six Senses Laamu– relax. It’s hedonism at its best in the distant Indian Ocean.
Six Senses Laamu | Gallery
L’and Vineyards – Portugal
Wine lovers will want to take note– one of Portugal’s famed wine regions is home to a wild new modern hotel, L’and Vineyards, Portugal. This high-design hotel is the work of architect Marcio Kogan, a long-time favorite here at TheCoolist. L’and Vineyards features sweeping views of the Portuguese countryside, inviting its guests to explore the local wineries or sampling some of the regions’ best at the hotel cellar. Its design is a reason to visit alone, but the wine will certainly encourage you to stay for a while longer.
Crusoe Island Eco Lodge
A new eco retreat has opened for guests on the Robinson Crusoe island, nearly 400 miles off the coast of Chile. This ecologically diverse and dramatic island is named after the fictional explorer Robinson Crusoe, a man who survived as a castaway by building his own hamlet on a strange island. Guests to the Crusoe Island Eco Lodge live under similar circumstances, but with much more comforting amenities. Guests are welcomed to experience the lush nature of the island while retreating to the comforts of the hotel in the evening. From the rustic, camp-style hotel to the beautiful nature around it, the Crusoe Island Eco Lodge represents some of the finest eco-tourism hot spots of 2012.
Crusoe Island Lodge | Gallery
La Maison – Champs Elysees
A modern, minimal hotel has opened on the Champs Elysees in Paris France. La Maison Champs Elysees is the design masterwork of Martin Margiela, a creation that is both avant-garde and classical, contemporary and comfortable. It is a refined and progressive hotel, perhaps the most progressive of this calendar year. Some visit Paris to experience the art in the city itself, others come to this hotel to occupy that art itself.
La Maison – Champs Elysees | Gallery
Naked Stables Reserve – China
A protected nature reserve in Moganshan, China is home to one of 2012’s most remarkable retreats, the Naked Stables Reserve hotel. Naked Stables Reserve features a collection of private tree-top huts that overlook the hills and valleys of the Chinese outback. Beyond the amazing view, guests can enjoy spa treatments, fine cuisine and activities that include hiking, horseback riding and swimming in one of the resort’s three pools. The focus on natural harmony is emphasized at Naked Stables Reserve– no gas vehicles are allowed on the property and guests are shown around on foot, horseback or electric buggy.
Naked Stables Reserve | Gallery
Hotel Bel Air – Los Angeles
While the Hotel Americano is very much a creation of New York culture, the Hotel Bel-Air is all things Los Angeles. This laid back retreat has the charm of a Hollywood hills bungalow and the class of a private celebrity spa. It’s distinctive, but not pretentious, designer-yet-accessible and ultimately a comfortable place to stay in LA. It’s one of our 12 favorites for 2012, admired for its design, its character and the lovely grounds on which it rests.
Hotel Bel-Air | Gallery
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Thanks for reading, fellow followers of cool. If you stayed at a special new hotel in 2012 that we didn’t include, feel free to share it in the comments or send us a tweet @thecoolist. If you want to check out more amazing hotels like these, don’t miss our travel section for more.