Forbes Travel Guide's 13 Most Elite Five-Star Properties Of 2014
“Five star” is often thrown around in the ranking-obsessed world we live in, but Forbes Travel Guide (formerly Mobil Travel Guide) originated the Five-Star rating system when our team of professional incognito inspectors began traversing the country in search of the best hotels in 1958. The coveted Five-Star award was established in 1960; and more than half a century later, our globetrotting inspectors are still uncovering the world’s best hotels, restaurants and spas.
Earning a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rating is a pinnacle achievement; it means that a property aced up to 800 service and facility standards. A hotel of this caliber provides a memorable stay through flawless service and the finest of amenities. The staff is intuitive, engaging and passionate. Dining at a Five-Star restaurant is an unforgettable experience: The food is exceptional; the service is superlative; and the décor is original and elegant. And if you’ve been to a Five-Star spa, you’d know it—no detail is overlooked, from the uncompromising service to the high-end products.
With January’s announcement of the 2014 Forbes Travel Guide Star Ratings, an elite field rises above the rest. Thirteen standouts earned Five-Stars in all three of our categories—hotel, restaurant, spa. For the first time, we revealed our list of star-rated restaurants in Asia, and with that came a new distinction: quadruple Five-Stars. Three properties in China achieved this honor, each winning Five-Stars for a hotel, a spa and two restaurants. For the ultimate luxury trip, the following top hotels should be on your itinerary.
Crown Towers Macau
The crown jewel of Macau’s City of Dreams complex shines inside and out with its shimmering glass façade and sleek Oriental-inspired décor (imagine a high-ceilinged lobby filled with bamboo groves). The 290 rooms, including 33 opulent villas, are decked out with floor-to-ceiling windows—ensuring you can savor top-notch vistas of Cotai and Taipa—and marble bathrooms with deep-soaking tubs and rain showers. The luxury seeps into Crown Towers Macau’s amenities, in the form of the delightfully relaxing Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Crown Spa, whose interiors ooze modernity with massive steel doors and curved walls. Your taste buds will delight in a meal at either of the Five-Star restaurants. Chef Tam Kwok Fung’s mouthwatering Cantonese cuisine (try the roasted goose) can be had at Jade Dragon. For eclectic European fare, snag a table at The Tasting Room to relish elegant dishes such as oven-baked sea bass with wild mushrooms, yellow wine sauce and Tasmanian black truffles, or unique options such as carbonara-style abalone with 56-month pata negra ham.
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
Known for its service and top-of-the-line technology, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is the island’s grand dame hotel (it marked its 50th anniversary last year). The luxurious rooms have travertine and marble bathrooms stocked with Hermès amenities, and walnut furnishings that are sleek and homey at once. Be sure to make reservations at the hotel’s two Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurants: Pierre, where you can indulge in innovative French dishes with Victoria Harbour in the background, and Mandarin Grill + Bar, which serves exciting twists on classic dishes (e.g., “bacon and egg,” composed of 18-week Spanish suckling pig, organic duck egg, herbs and truffle jus). Don’t pass up on the opportunity to unwind in The Mandarin Spa, where you can reserve a block of time rather than a specific service, allowing you to choose depending on your mood upon arriving at the Five-Star spa.
Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
Bordering the beautiful Victoria Harbour, this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star dazzler boasts fantastic views from just about everywhere. A fusion of East and West with silk-paneled interiors and marble entryways, the rooms have wall-to-wall windows showing off postcard-worthy panoramas of the harbor, Victoria Peak and Kowloon. Those marvelous sights don’t go away, even when you retreat to Five-Star The Spa at Four Seasons Hong Kong. The 17 treatment rooms feature large windows, allowing you to soak up that harbor backdrop in the midst of your fusion massage. Sticking to the East/West theme, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong’s two Five-Star restaurants represent flavors from China and France. Divine Cantonese cuisine is whipped up in the kitchen of Lung King Heen, where chef Chan Yan Tak creates intricate dishes that combine flavor and texture, while some of the finest French fare in Hong Kong can be had in the opulent dining room that is Caprice.
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
Its intimate size (there are just 113 rooms and suites) combined with chic décor and great service makes The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong a must-visit. Even though it’s part of the Mandarin Oriental brand, the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star property also gives you all the perks of a boutique hotel, including personalized service and exclusivity. Guest rooms come outfitted with high-tech amenities, such as bedside panels that control the shades and lights. The Oriental Spa is a modern oasis with its bright entryway (white floors and light woods) and soothing treatment rooms decked out in dark woods, dim lighting and warm hues. The two-level, Five-Star spa specializes in treatments that blend both ancient and contemporary techniques. For an elegant meal, Five-Star Amber shines. Sit beneath a massive chandelier that’s sculpted of 4,320 long bronze rods and enjoy some modern French cuisine. Chef Richard Ekkebus uses his classic training to create dishes with the freshest ingredients—the restaurant receives a daily fish shipment from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji market.
The tallest building in Taipa, this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star stunner isn’t just all looks. Altira Macau takes customized service to the next level; the staff calls you by name and can even personalize your robes and towels with monograms upon request. Rooms are just as welcoming with hardwood floors and unobstructed panoramas of the South China Sea. The Five-Star experience continues into the two-story masterpiece that is Altira Spa. The indoor infinity pool may be one of the most scenic you’ve ever seen, with jaw-dropping views of the Macau Peninsula. On the 10th floor of the skyscraper sits yet another Five-Star, Aurora. The restaurant offers a taste of Italy’s Puglia region in the heart of bustling Macau with dishes such as handmade pasta. Chef Michele dell’Aquila delivers a delightful Mediterranean meal with all the glamour of the glittering destination.