In the world's top destinations, luxury is frequently delivered in a whisper rather than with a shout. Some luxury hotels can subtly turn personal service into an art and discretion into an exact science. For a hotel chain to anticipate, deliver and exceed its guests' expectations in hotel after hotel across the brand's locations is truly the definition of a luxury experience above and beyond the warm greeting or opulence of the lobby.
Just ask an "Aman junkie": With Aman Resorts, the hotel is the destination. Since its 1988 beginnings in Phuket, Thailand, the 33-group chain hasn't grown fast; it has grown strategically. Underlying the selection of carefully curated urban and secluded spots in 21 countries, Aman seeks out "transformative experiences and awe-inspiring locations." Aman produces its unbeatable brand of hospitality in small, peaceful doses. In America, stay at Amangiri at Canyon Point, Utah, and Amangani at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
The ladies and gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton present their outstanding collection by interest, not solely by location. Envision desirable experiences in meaningful locations as personal motivations: beach, golf, honeymoon, lake, ski, mountain, spa. The Ritz-Carlton in Kyoto, Japan, achieves harmony in a modern-day ryokan on the banks of the Kamogawa River, where hyper-local activities immerse guests in this cultural beauty spot. Mid-mountain in mid-winter at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, s'mores around the fire pit come with astronomy conversations and stars seen through telescopes.
Belmond is the rebranding of Orient Express – as in legendary trains, hotels, resorts, river cruises and safaris. Think classic elegance. Hotel Cipriani on Giudecca Island in the Venetian Lagoon delivers guests to St. Mark's Square via a gleaming private launch. Closer to home, three Belmond properties provide this brand's deluxe style at Belmond Charleston Place in Charleston, South Carolina; at Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara, California; at the newly opened Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond at St. Michaels overlooking the Chesapeake on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
Rosewood Hotels and Resorts
The luxury brand born in 1979 at Mansion at Turtle Creek in Dallas has expanded to incorporate such icons as The Carlyle in Manhattan and the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. Tagging each property with "A Sense of Place" philosophy, Rosewood is undertaking an ambitious reimagining of the former U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London. Sample a sunny Rosewood in North America at Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or in Los Cabos, Mexico, at Las Ventanas al Paraíso.
Kiss and tell. Known for dreamy, private sanctuaries in hand-picked corners of the world away from the well-beaten path, One&Only Resorts are moving into the urban resort scene beginning with Dubai. Beach and nature resorts have been the brand's hallmark, tucked away in exclusive places such as the Maldives, Mauritius, Rwanda and Wolgan Valley, Australia.
The Red Carnation Hotel Collection
"No request too large, no detail too small" – these seventeen family-owned and operated boutique hotels in five countries are at the top of their game. Count on a very civilized afternoon tea in an intimate setting tucked in enviable corners of London: The Milestone Hotel across from Kensington Palace, The Rubens opposite Buckingham Palace, The Montague steps from the British Museum, The Egerton House Hotel in heart of Knightsbridge and The Chesterfield in the midst of Mayfair. Wake up like royalty in an 800-year-old Irish castle in County Mayo and dip into Red Carnation at The Chesterfield Palm Beach in Florida.
Rocco Forte Hotels
Stylish Rocco Forte Hotels are in the right locations in European cultural centers and capital cities like St. Petersburg, Berlin, Rome, London and Edinburgh. A multigenerational English family runs the small chain of a dozen landmark properties with shared characteristics and distinct differences, all oozing personality – just like any family. Look out over Berlin's historic museum district from the rooftop terrace bar at Hotel de Rome, itself a 19th-century restoration.
Oberoi Hotels and Resorts
Jet lag be gone; long-distance travelers consistently award Oberoi with a coveted mention among the world's best luxury hotel brands. Since the 1930s, the Delhi-based group has added 30-plus properties beyond India into Indonesia, Mauritius, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Oberoi, Marrakech, joins the group nestled amid acres of ancient olive groves, where the spa is on its own private island on a lake in a fragrant citrus orchard.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
The global luxury hospitality brand out of Toronto, Canada, certainly knows a few things about wowing guests in warm-weather destinations too. Anyone could be forgiven for running out of superlatives to describe Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo following an injection of $35 million into what is Central America's top-ranked resort. Among 109 diverse properties in 43 countries, get a taste of the urban experience at Four Seasons San Francisco following the hotel's $20 million refresh.
The Peninsula Hotels
The bride arrives at The Peninsula Hong Kong in an immaculately restored classic 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II for a moment she'll never forget. The flagship “Grande Dame of the Far East” is one of the Peninsula urban retreats in 10 major cities: Shanghai, Tokyo, Beijing, New York, Chicago, Beverly Hills, Bangkok, Manila and Paris with Istanbul, London and Yangon in development. A luxury hospitality leader since 1928, The Peninsula Hotels has informed the world on what makes great service.