15 Hotels For The Trip Of A Lifetime

Jade Mountain, luxury hotel, couple in pool

Photo: Jade Mountain

A phenomenal hotel can turn a vacation into an extraordinary experience that you will remember for the rest of your life.Fodor’s recently revealed its 2012 Hotel Awards, which looked at the best hotels for the Trip of a Lifetime. They also issued awards for hotels in several other categories, like New & Noteworthy, Global Icons, and Trendsetters.

From Siem Reap to the Maldives, most of these locations are remote and exotic, but some are closer to home, in the Caribbean or Alaska. Besides the requisite luxury amenities and facilities, these hotels offer unique experiences that take advantage of their natural surroundings, from elephant trekking in northern Thailand to swimming with whale sharks in the Maldives.


Location: Bodrum, Turkey

Rates: Doubles from $1,000 per night

Amanruya resort exudes Turkish culture and architecture, with its stone cottages equipped with traditional fireplaces, its Mediterranean-inspired gardens, and its incredible Turkish meals.

Though guests can tour the nearby ancient ruins, many choose to relax in their rooms--each cottage has its own pool--and enjoy the views of the Aegean sea.


Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Rates: Doubles from $950 per night

Owned by luxe hotel chain Aman Resorts, Amansara is a modern and sleek resort that was once the guesthouse of a Cambodian king.

After exploring the famed Angkor temples nearby, guests can return to the hotel by private tuk tuk and cool off in the hotel's pool.

Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru

Location: The Maldives

Rates: Doubles from $1,150 per night

One of the best things about this Four Seasons resort are its above-water Asian-style private villas--and the fact that the hotel is on its own private island.

Guests can snorkel with whale sharks and dolphins or just relax on the beach. This remote spot is a favourite with honeymooners.

Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle

Location: Chiang Rai, Thailand

Rates: Doubles from $2,500 per night

This hotel is the ultimate 'glamping' experience.

After a long day on an elephant trek in northern Thailand's Golden Triangle, guests can unwind in luxury tents that have traditional Thai furniture, like a wooden hot tub, and modern amenities, like Wi-Fi.

Great Fish River Lodge

Location: Kwande Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Rates: Doubles from $1,000 per night

What makes this hotel different from other luxury safari hotels is the fact that its luxury rooms are built inside a traditional stone and thatched-roof lodge, rather than a canvas tent.

All of the suites overlook a river and have private plunge pools.

Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa

Location: Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile

Rates: Doubles from $275 per night

This hotel blends seamlessly into its environment on Chile's remote Easter Island. The guest rooms, which are made from volcanic rock, cypress woods, and clay are supposed to evoke traditional cave dwellings.

The green hotel uses solar- and wind-powered energy, serves local food, and employs local staff.

One&Only Palmilla

Location: Los Cabos, Mexico

Rates: Doubles from $640 per night

The One&Only Palmilla embraces its reputation as a destination for romance, catering to honeymooners and wedding parties--there's even a quaint colonial-style chapel on site for weddings.

The property has lots of traditional thatched-roof palapas and luxurious guest rooms that overlook the Pacific Ocean.

Parrot Cay by COMO

Location: Turks & Caicos

Rates: Doubles from $500 per night

Elite travellers love Parrot Cay by COMO because of its privacy and its exemplary service, from the private butlers to the knowledgeable concierges.

There's an infinity pool, three fine restaurants, a spa and wellness centre, and a gorgeous white-sand beach.

Peter Island Resort & Spa

Location: Peter Island, British Virgin Islands

Rates: Doubles from $680 per night

You can rent out this private island if you've got the money--or just rent one of the spacious and secluded villas, which have kitchens and private pools.

Explore the island's many beaches, pools, and lush landscaped grounds or take a quick boat ride to Tortola, the nearest island in the British Virgin Islands.

Petit St. Vincent

Location: Petit St. Vincent, St. Vincent & the Grenadines

Rates: Doubles from $1,100 per night

With no phones and no TVs, this Caribbean resort is the perfect place to unplug and unwind in luxury.

Cottages, which are either on the beach or on a hill overlooking the sea, all have outdoor patios to take advantage of the spectacular sea views.

Raffles Praslin Seychelles

Location: Anse Takamaka, Praslin, Seychelles

Rates: Doubles from $710 per night

This luxury resort is comprised of 86 luxury villas which all have outdoor spaces, private plunge pools, and butler service.

Owned by the luxury Raffles hotel brand, the secluded resort has two giant pools, three fine-dining options, a great spa, water sports, and beautiful beaches.

San Camp

Location: Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Rates: Doubles from $1,100 per night

Located in the heart of Botswana's Kalahari Desert, guests at San Camp are almost guaranteed to see the Big 5, with regular morning and evening outings to see wildlife.

Guests stay in simple white tents outfitted with old colonial officers' furniture. The stellar service and unique will make for a memorable stay.

Southern Ocean Lodge

Location: Kingscote, Australia

Rates: Doubles from $990 per night

Located on the edge of a cliff on Australia's Kangaroo Island, Southern Ocean Lodge features phenomenal views of the Southern Ocean.

The hotel, which was made entirely from recycled wood and glass, features luxurious rooms and facilities, like a state-of-the-art spa and fantastic food and wine.

There are daily excursions to see the island's beaches, landscape, and local wildlife, which might include wallabies, platypus, and seals.

Tutka Bay Lodge

Location: Homer, Alaska

Rates: Doubles from $2,000 per night

Located on a small cove near Alaska's Kachemak Bay State Park, Tutka Bay Lodge allows guests to fully immerse themselves in nature.

Accommodations are in rustic lodges, and all meals--which consist of locally-sourced foods like Alaska salmon and oysters--are served at the hotel.

Jade Mountain

Location: Anse Chastanet, Soufrière, St. Lucia

Rates: Doubles from $995 per night

Jade Mountain calls its accommodations 'sanctuaries'--and perhaps rightly so. Each luxuriously-appointed 'sanctuary' overlooks Anse Chastanet bay and has an enormous infinity pool right in the outdoor living room.

Even though there's a great restaurant and bar, most guests understandably opt for room service.

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