BEST MAINSTREAM HOTEL CHAIN
What’s in a name? According to the corporate office, “W…for warm, wonderful, witty, wired. W for welcome.” In other words, we may never know what that W stands for, but we do know we love it. This proves our readers have excellent taste, since the W brand (part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which includes Sheraton, Westin, and St. Regis) is ultrastylish and ultrahip without skimping on service, comfort, or convenience. Also winning Best Mainstream Property, Best High-Tech Hotel Chain, and Best Property in Australia, you could say the W has swept our first annual awards. And no wonder: Its gay ads and homo promos are simply the best. Call 888-625-5144.
Founded in 1960 in Toronto, the Four Seasons now has 66 properties in 29 countries, with 20 more on the way. With unique destination-inspired hotels in historic and ultramodern buildings, no two properties are ever the same. No wonder Hollywood royalty and glam globetrotters refuse to stay anywhere else. Call 800-332-3442.
Marriott’s upscale brand has long been synonymous with fancy pants, and it continue its luxury dominance with new digs opening in China, Russia, and other parts of Europe. Call 800-241-3333.
BEST HIGH-TECH HOTEL CHAIN
With rooms featuring unlimited broadband access and movie downloads to your laptop, W once again proves it is ahead of the futuristic curve.
BEST HOTEL CHAIN FOR COMFORT
Four Seasons & Marriott (tie)
The Four Seasons is known for its livability and “just ask how high to jump” staff, but Marriott is a winner too, sprucing up its once-dowdy image with deluxe spas and chic decor. Call 800-332-3442 and 888-236-2427 respectively.
BEST MAINSTREAM PROPERTY
W New York & Four Seasons Istanbul (tie)
Of the three W hotels in New York City, this one on the upper east side is the most glamorously located. And have you ever stayed in a century-old neoclassic Turkish prison? No, it’s not Midnight Express but the luxe 65-room Four Seasons Istanbul, complete with towers, courtyards, tall ceilings, a spa, gardens, and a restaurant adorned with Turkish art.Call 212-755-1200 and 011-90-212-638-8200.
BEST LESBIAN PROPERTY
Pearl’s Rainbow, Key West
After an expensive (and expansive) refurbishment, this ultimate lesbian resort looks better than ever, with 38 rooms in five historic Key West buildings, two heated swimming pools, and two hot tubs (all clothing optional), a poolside bar and grill, and the nicest B&B owners you will ever meet. Call 800-749-6696.
BEST GAY HOTEL
Hotel Axel, Barcelona
One of the most stylish and sophisticated gay hotels in Europe, this Spanish gem sports a chic rooftop bar, a swimming pool, a full-service spa, drag shows, tea dances, a boutique shop, gay fiestas, and more beautiful people than you can shake a tapa at. Call 011-34-93-323-9393.
BEST GAY RESORT
Turtle Cove, Australia & Island House, Key West (tie)
Both of these premier gay clothing-optional resorts enjoy lusciously warm, pants-chucking weather: The 29-room Turtle Cove Resort & Spa is on a beachfront in tropical Queensland in a virgin rain forest, while the Island House is in a private compound with a health club, poolside café, and artfully decorated rooms. Call 011-61-7-4059-1800 and 800-890-6284 respectively.
BEST GAY B&B
Big Ruby’s, Key West
With spacious wooden decks, cozy verandas, tropical foliage, a treetop walkway, a Jacuzzi, on-site bicycle rentals, and a mellow, social vibe, Big Ruby’s has been a Key West favorite for decades. But it hasn’t rested on its laurels, maintaining a rigorous upkeep and a gracious attitude. Call 800-477-7829.
BEST CLOTHING OPTIONAL RESORT
InnDulge, Palm Springs
Of the scores of gay clothing-optional resorts in Palms Springs, InnDulge is one of the classiest, with a huge pool, 22 rooms with wrought iron and pine furnishings, a 12-man Jacuzzi, a fun cocktail hour, and awesomely friendly owners. Call 800-833-5675.
BEST HOTEL IN NORTH AMERICA
The Phoenician, Scottsdale
Chichi Scottsdale (adjoining Phoenix) is full of hoity-toity spa resorts, but the Phoenician takes the desert cake. It’s nestled at the base of Camelback Mountain next to a 27-hole championship golf course and has a $25 million dollar art collection. Call 800-888-8234.
BEST HOTEL IN EUROPE
The Ritz, Paris
Not to be confused with Ritz-Carlton, this opulent masterpiece, which opened in 1898, makes Versailles look like a Motel 6. It has an elaborate Roman-style indoor pool, rich period furnishings, and a guest roster that has included every royal or celebrity you can think of. Call 800-223-6800.
BEST HOTEL IN AFRICA
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, South Africa
Who says Africa means roughing it? This five-star lodge on a private game reserve boasts 13 luxury suites (each with a private butler and plunge pool) sculpted within the landscape and a cellar serving up top-tier meals. Call 800-524-7979.
BEST HOTEL IN ASIA
The Oriental, Bangkok
This stunning 393-room tower astride Bangkok’s Chao Phya River is one of the crown jewels of the Mandarin hotel chain, with a Thai spa, two outdoor pools, a Thai cooking school, eight restaurants, and impeccable Asian hospitality throughout. Call 011-66-2-659-9000.
BEST HOTEL IN AUSTRALIA & SOUTH PACIFIC
W Hotel, Sydney
So hip it hurts, with a deeply colored lobby and an indoor pool, the W is located on a wharf within walking distance of the opera house and features bilevel loft rooms with mezzanine bedrooms. Call 011-61-2-9331-9000.
BEST HOTEL IN LATIN AMERICA
Le Meridien, Rio de Janeiro
Towering 37 stories over the white sands and Speedo-clad men of Copacabana, Le Meridien is the tallest hotel in the area, blending French cuisine and service with Brazilian mellowness. It even has a private section of the beach. Call 011-55-21-3873-8888.
BEST CASINO HOTEL
Bellagio, Las Vegas
You’ve seen the trademark fountains burst in the air in Ocean’s Eleven. But this Strip megaresort lives up to its hype, with 928 rooms added late last year, an expanded spa, and an impressive fine art gallery of European masterpieces. Call 888-987-3456.
BEST HOTEL FOR ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN
Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix
Opened in 1929, this work of genius is the only existing hotel in the world with a Frank Lloyd Wright–influenced design (he worked on it as a consulting architect), using bold geometric patterns, brick towers, and stone quarried from the local landscape. Call 800-950-2575.
Maho Bay Camps, U.S. Virgin Islands
Consisting of 114 roomy tent-cottages hidden in the lush foliage of the Virgin Islands National Park, the innovative and ground-breaking resort is connected by elevated walkways on a hillside perch over a secluded beach. Call 800-392-9004.
BEST SKI LODGE
Chateau Whistler, Canada
With ski-in and ski-out access, this grande dame Fairmont property includes steep Blackcomb Mountain views and tony Old World design. Call 604-938-8000.
Four Seasons Hualalai
Where A-list celebs stay when in Hawaii, this bungalow-style resort includes a killer spa with a lap pool, whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms, and cold plunges—not to mention outdoor Hawaiian massage—all set amid tropical gardens. Call 800-332-3442.