The view of the Pacific Ocean from the Namale Resort. You won't need to leave during your vacation, but you'll also be tempted to never go home. Photo by Namale
While many travelers treat the hotel as simply a spot to sleep while vacationing, some of us enjoy a one-stop shop that has everything from award-winning restaurants and daytime entertainment to a great location and comfortable accommodations. For those who prefer an all-encompassing hotel, the members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com have found "The Top 5 Hotels You Don't Need to Leave."
W South Beach, Miami, Florida, USA
When you're located in the middle of prime South Beach real estate, only six blocks from the pedestrian mecca of Lincoln Road, it may be hard to stay inside all day. Nevertheless, the W South Beach provides guests with many persuasive arguments for never leaving the property. To start, the hotel's two restaurants are excellent: Mr. Chow serves its Chinese cuisine in a see-and-be-seen venue, while The Dutch, a modern take on the oyster bar, serves delicious comfort food in a beautiful but unpretentious setting. In addition to a nightclub on the premises, the hotel's communal spaces are creatively allocated leaving many dark corners and comfy couches, both indoors and outdoors, for lounging and
drinking. The hotel also features a heated outdoor pool, a Bliss Spa, a full fitness
center, and the sands of South Beach and the Atlantic Ocean are only a few short steps away.
WET Pool at W South Beach. Photo by W South Beach
Faena Hotel and Universe, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Few hotels are as grand and comprehensive as the Faena; after all, it single-handedly revived an entire district of the Paris of South America. Built in the Puerto Madero area of Buenos Aires, the complex began a complete revitalization within the district. Designed by Philippe Starck, the hotel has both rooms and residences, fostering a sense of community, as well as a great variety of venues and spaces throughout the complex. Food is served at El Mercado, the hotel's traditional restaurant, as well as the Bistro, a bright white Philippe Starck creation that serves a mix of European and Argentinean dishes. The Poolbar provides some serious people -watching, as well as food and drinks, and stays open to 3 a.m. every day. If you'd prefer to catch a true performance, El Cabaret also presents a nightly show that explores the history of tango with food and drink served throughout the performance. For those who need to recover from overindulging, the hotel's second floor features a Spa Hammam and Gym, offering daily yoga lessons, crystal and stone energy work, and more traditional spa therapies.
Casa Camper, Berlin, Germany
The Camper brand, famous for its footwear and philosophy that luxury is found in simplicity, authenticity and sustainability, has expanded its hotel chain to a new culture capital: Berlin. Casa Camper Berlin occupies a building in the heart of the Mitte area that is surrounded by up-and-coming art galleries and only a few minutes from Berlin's Museumsinsel (Museum Island). On the top floor of the hotel, Tentempie offers views and dining that are only accessible to hotel guests -- food, coffee, and alcoholic beverages are available 24 hours a day and are completely free. A cooked-to-order breakfast is even included.
Unlike many hotel lounges that beckon to be used but remain empty, many visitors commented that the comfortable couches and chessboards invited lounging and enjoying a glass of wine while checking email with the free wi-fi. If you're looking for a more traditional dining experience, the ground floor of the hotel hosts dos palillos, a restaurant serving Asian tapas by Albert Raurich, former head chef of el Bulli, Ferran Adria's restaurant. The restaurant, which recently won a Michelin star, is set up with an entirely open kitchen in the middle of the space, allowing a direct dialogue between the 10 chefs and 30 diners. Each diner has a front-row seat to the action, watching some of Europe's most renowned chefs prepare dishes from conception to completion. After this spectacle, guests may want to unwind in the spacious co-ed sauna or burn off some calories on the multiple cardio machines in the fitness center, both complementary to all guests and open 24 hours a day.
The Istanbul Edition, Istanbul, Turkey
The Istanbul Edition is the first hotel in a new branded concept by Ian Schrager, of Morgans Hotel Group and Gramercy Park Hotel fame in partnership with Marriot International. Choosing Istanbul as the first location for the new concept, the hotel is designed to provide personal, modern service with one of a kind food, beverage and entertainment offerings within the hotel. Upon entering the property, you'll find someone playing a baby grand piano in the middle of the expansive lobby. The primary restaurant is Cipriani, an offshoot of the Venetian original, and the first floor bar, Gold Bar, includes a 20-foot aquarium and low built-in sofas inspired by the traditional Turkish tea room. An exclusive nightclub, Billionaire, can also be found in the hotel for those who wish to take the revelry into the later hours. In keeping with the hotel's trend for only partnering with the best brands, the ESPA spa encompasses 20,000 square feet and three floors of the hotel. In addition to the traditional sauna and steam room, the spa also has a snow room, essentially a walk-in freezer with snow, for further hot and cold therapeutic experiences. The hotel's other unique spaces include a drawing room with modern raised fireplaces and a state-of-the-art screening room. In keeping with the focus on service, visitors repeatedly comment that the concierge service and staff is impeccable.
Namale Resort, Savusavu, Fiji
Our last pick is one that you won't need to leave during your vacation, but you'll also be tempted to never go home. The Namale Resort, the renowned all-inclusive resort and spa in Fiji, is a special combination of remote yet flawless luxury. The all-inclusive amenities include daily champagne breakfast, three-course lunches, and five-course dinners, with no limitations on alcoholic beverages. All activities are included, from guided hikes to any number of water-centric sports, like snorkeling, water-skiing, kayaking, and scuba diving. One activity not to miss is spotting spinner dolphins in nearby Natewa Bay -- an early-morning boat ride will take you to watch the dolphins feed after which you can snorkel the coral reef and spot the bay's variety of tropical fish.
Whether you want to travel to the South Pacific or stay in the middle of the action in South Beach, we hope these hotels raise your standards for what "amenities" should include! You can find more great hotels and personal travel recommendations at VirtualTourist.com.
(c) 2013 VirtualTourist.com, Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.
This was printed in the April 7, 2013 - April 20, 2013 Edition