Luxury in hospitality is not about perceived brand image, premium price tag, a big building to moot and a grand lobby decked out to awe. Luxury in this industry originates from the elements of intelligent-discrete service, unique experiences to make the stay memorable and stand out (on Facebook at the very least!), seamless transition from transit to sojourn, cuisine that is authentic, and above all else, comfort. Comfort in style and elegance.
This fundamental understanding, however, seems to have strayed from its mark as marketers, overnight/online influencers, travel agents, and of late, online travel booking sites fall over each other, handing out 5-star rating and two thumbs up for almost anything that has a bed. Agents project their luxury offers on photoshopped appearance and lists of reviews as fool-proof evidence of their product’s luxury, almost always assuming rightly that readers are unsuspecting of review-generating farms of online profiles in the thousands, trading reviews for cents to the dollar to create and push this illusion until a new ‘luxury’ property comes along.
A mega brand luxury property whose name inspires utopia in itself, along the banks of a major river in the heart of a major tourist city in Asia struggles to explain to me the nearest/easiest way to cross the river, which most tourists cross every hour, to reach a famous restaurant on the other side; another staff gets annoyed when asked to repeat the food options served in the five restaurants; during dinner, a server flashes two sweet smiles and then insists that I use my smartphone to log-in, right away, to a website with my room number as id and rate her service, naming her specifically in my feedback; another night the property’s famous Italian restaurant has the audacity to rush me through my sub-par meal! Oh Dear, I’m sorry to have annoyed you. I paid luxury price for this. Same city, different property, it’s a soft launch, smaller setup with far fewer rooms. Their restaurant is topnotch, as were those in the earlier property. After ordering drinks, the family realise that vegetarian options are limited to nought. Fret not. The chef cooks up two amazing vegetarian starters. Best meal in months!
Such luxury goes beyond rating. It can only be appreciated when experienced. This epiphany brings me to the edition’s The 100 List at hand, the essential roll-call of the most luxurious properties around to be experienced. A year’s worth of research, review, analysis, feedback and scrutiny has been employed into crafting this edition’s The 100 List. This annual compilation took its first step with an initial draft list comprising of over 2,000 names, all elegant and noteworthy. Over the many months, this harvest distilled to just 100 names which proudly grace these pages. The essence of our 100 List is finding the pinnacles of intelligent service, exclusivity, accommodation, cuisine and experience. Let luxury welcome you home here in The 100 List, no matter where you travel.
In case you were wondering, the famous restaurant on the other side of the river is Thiptara, Peninsula Bangkok’s Thai restaurant by the riverside; amazing cuisine, the courtyard perfumed by Frangipani and the staff is very attentive. In my next visit, I am coming here again to eat, and stay.