Monday 9 January 2012

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Travel & Leisure's Top 500 Hotels of 2012

So Travel and Leisure's list of the top 500 hotels in the world for 2012 is out. This is the list that's compiled from a public vote, so it's supposed to be a little more "common man" of a list than one that's put together by people who make their living critiquing hotels. I've spent the last couple of hours going through the magazine, and while it's full of some great choices, there's a few head scratchers in there as well. Did we really vote Fairmont Whistler on to the list ahead of Fairmont Pacific Rim? This is why they don't let us vote for important things people!

Still, I suppose everybody has their own tastes, so I'll take the results with a grain of salt. There were certainly some highlights. One of my all-time bucket list hotels, the Wickaninnish Inn on Vancouver Island, was voted top hotel in Canada. I can't count how many times I've made plans to get out to Tofino and check out the Wickaninnish, but something always seems to get in the way. It might have something to do with the fact that my number one reason for wanting to go there is to go storm watching, yet when it's stormy it's a lot harder to get to the island because the ferries are unreliable. I need to find a way to overcome this obstacle, but so far I've only managed to come up with one idea. Anybody own a submarine?

Winter Walk on Chesterman Beach Photographer Jacqui Windh  
Even without the Wickaninnish though, I figured that I would probably have seen at least a good chunk of the North American hotels on the list. High end isn't exactly my forte, but I've had the opportunity to spend time in some very fancy places, and just based on volume alone I would have thought I'd be able to cross off at least 5% of the list. I mean, that's only 25 hotels. That seems reasonable right? So I went through the list and how many of the top 500 hotels in the world do you think I've stayed at?


That's pretty sad, and it gets even worse when you consider that four of those seven were in Las Vegas. Take Nevada out of the picture and the only top hotels I've visited were in Whistler, Huntington Beach, and New York City (glad to see the Plaza survived our stay and still managed to crack the top five hundred). My kids are doing even worse as they've only visited two of the hotels on the list, although that's partly understandable. Somehow I don't think the Hotel Goldener Hirsch - "a rustic-chic, 69-room property filled with 15th-century antiques" would be a really good place for my kids to practice their keep-away skills.

Hyatt Huntington Beach
I used to take lists like this a lot more seriously. There used to be an annual publication put out called "The 100 Best Hotels and Resorts in the World" that I considered my ultimate guide to picking hotels for many years. I would quite often plan a trip around a certain hotel that I wanted to stay at, based on a recommendation from this book. Eventually though, it became clear that what I really enjoyed in a hotel wasn't necessarily the same as the criteria the reviewers were using. While they were testing bed firmness and measuring the square footage of rooms, I was downstairs seeing if there were fresh cinnamon rolls included in the breakfast buffet, because I'll happily sleep in a bathtub if they're serving free Cinnabon in the morning.

It's probably just as well that I don't get a vote in these things.