Travel, leisure, and entertainment awards are fun to browse, and they inevitably stoke and inspire the wanderlust that lives inside many of us. But let’s face it — limited vacation time, family obligations, and budgets keep most people from experiencing all the wonders the world has to offer.
Some of us will get to visit one or even a few of those far and away “World’s Best” winners, but the rest of us can keep FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) at bay by looking to the countless “best in the world” award-winning experiences waiting to be had right here at home in the USA. Happily, there are many.
Granted, the hotels aren’t exactly budget bargains, but they have room options that many people can save up for to have a YOLO (You Only Live Once) world’s best experience at a fraction of the cost of traveling halfway across the world for it.
And now, without further ado, here are our favorite “World’s Best at Home” picks.
- Miami Beach
- Faena Hotel (Faena.com)
- Conde Nast Traveler 2017 Awards
- Best Hotels in the World – #11
- Rates range from $382 for a Twin/Twin to $50,000 for a 5-bdrm suite
It’s more fitting to call the Faena a work of art than a hotel. Among much else, this collaborative creation wows with the vivid, fantastical, theatrical look and feel that defines the unforgettable work of Faena partner and filmmaker Baz Luhrmann (Rome + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby, etc). Here’s a taste — the lobby, a.k.a. The Cathedral, has gold-leafed columns and floor-to-ceiling murals depicting wild animals and religious allegories. There’s a bi-level dinner theater. Original, flamboyant art fills every available space. The big, luxurious rooms are chic and vibrant but toned down from the public spaces, providing a retreat for the senses. Oh, and of course, it’s all fronting a big stretch of pristine white-sand beach.
BEST BEACH RESORTS
- Rhode Island
- Ocean House – Watch Hill (OceanHouseRI.com)
- Conde Nast Traveler Gold List 2017
- Beach Resorts – #16
- Rates range from $400 for a standard room to $4,300 for cottage sleeping 18 guests
This meticulously restored Victorian icon first opened its doors in 1868, instantly becoming the favorite for generations of families who came “to summer.” The seaside beauty, perched high on the bluffs of Watch Hill, was ultimately immortalized in the 1916 silent movie American Aristocracy, starring Douglas Fairbanks.
Today, it’s the first and only AAA 5-Diamond and Forbes 5-Star hotel in Rhode Island. The spa and restaurant are also Forbes 5-Star rated, making the Ocean House one of only 11 resorts in the world with this honor.
BEST SKI LODGES
- Montage Deer Valley Resort (MontageHotels.com/DeerValley)
- #1 – Conde Nast Traveler Gold List 2017
- Ski season rates range from $935 to $3,770
This ski-in/ski-out Craftsman-style lodge is so perfect in every detail that it even has resident Bernese mountain dogs. Just 5 minutes from Park City’s celebrated Main Street, the Montage is a refined Alpine retreat in one of America’s best ski resorts. Three high-speed lifts, the biggest spa in Utah, gourmet dining, a pub with a bowling alley, and a fireplace in every room set the scene for a world’s best ski getaway.
- Hotel Jerome (HotelJerome.AubergeResorts.com)
- #2 – Conde Nast Traveler Gold List 2017
- Ski season rates range from $450 to $1,115
Standing the test of time, this 93-room auberge was built in 1889 at the height of the Silver Boom. Renovated and reimagined as a silver baron’s Wild West estate, this atmospheric choice for a ski vacation sits closest to Aspen Mountain and is just a short drive to Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, and Snowmass.
- Siesta Key, Florida
- Siesta Beach
- #5 – TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards 2017
Landing at #5 in the world in this year’s TripAdvisor Awards, the Florida Gulf’s Siesta Beach (near Sarasota) also lands at #1 in the USA, not that this is a novelty. Siesta Beach, on the barrier island of Siesta Key, has been racking up awards and accolades at least since the 1980s. Among them are “the whitest and finest sand in the world” (Great International Beach Challenge 1987), “Best Sand Beach in America” (Travel Channel 2004), “Best Beach in America” (Dr. Beach 2011 & 2017), and many more.
So, what’s Siesta Beach’s secret? Well, in addition to its low-key, yesteryear location and ambiance, the sand here is different from almost every other beach in the world. Most beach sand around the world is made up of pulverized coral, but the sand here is 99% quartz that flowed down from the Appalachians over rivers and mountains millions of years ago. And bonus… the sand is so reflective that even on the hottest days, it feels cool underfoot.
And now for the lightning round…
New York City #5 – TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards 2017
San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge #11 – TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards 2017
Washington DC Lincoln Memorial #12 – TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards 2017
BEST AMUSEMENT PARKS
TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards 2017
Hardly a surprise, it’s all about Orlando… #1 Universal’s Islands of Adventure #2 Discovery Cove #4 Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park #8 Universal Studios Florida #9 Walt Disney World’s EPCOT #10 Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom
TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards 2017
#1 Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC #4 Art Institute of Chicago #6 National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, NYC
Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2017
#2 Hilton Head Island, South Carolina #6 Maui, Hawaii #7 Kauai, Hawaii
Spa devotees — you didn’t think we forgot you, did you? Let’s bring it home…
BEST SPA RESORTS
A note before we list the best all-American world-class spa resorts. Travel + Leisure separates their top spa resort winners into domestic and international categories. Each, however, gets a score based on the same factors, so it’s easy to sort the USA winners with the international winners, and here they are.
Blowing Rock, North Carolina WestglowResortAndSpa.com (Score 93.71)
This Relaix & Chateaux destination spa is housed in a restored and updated Greek Revival mansion that was once the summer home of renowned artist and author Elliott Daingerfield. The all-inclusive experience combines the amenities of a luxury spa with a holistic approach to health & wellness. Its accolades go far beyond the T+L awards, including top nods from Conde Nast, SpaFinder, OpenTable, and more.
Killington, Vermont NewLifeHikingSpa.com (Score 93.59)
The vision for this resort, opened in 1978 in Vermont’s pristine Green Mountains, was of a camp for adults looking for fresh air, exercise and wellness activities, down time for relaxation and stress release, and healthy food. Fluffy robes, oil treatments, and mood music are not what you’ll find here — nature itself is the spa. You can however, get a good massage at the end of an invigorating mountain hike. The success of founder Jimmy Lesage’s vision is confirmed by the thousands of annual repeat guests, as well as SpaFinder, USA Today, Travel + Leisure, and more
Santa Fe, New Mexico SunriseSprings.OjoSpa.com (Score 93.42)
This tranquil oasis on 70 lush acres fed by natural springs also has something of an adult camp feel, though with a more luxurious and zen-like ambiance. Relaxation, self-discovery, and well-being are the resort’s hopes for guests. Nature-infused luxury, farm-fresh gourmet cuisine, a host of outdoor rejuvenation experiences, and a totally unplugged southwestern lifestyle lead the way to Sunrise Springs’ promise of achieving serenity.
And there we have them! Roomongo’s favorite “World’s Best Travel & Leisure” award-winners right here at home in the USA. Have you been to any? We’d love to hear about your experience and if you think they live up to the title.