We had the pleasure of being one of the first people to see the completed first phase of The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort and Spa’s $50 million makeover a few months ago. The lobby was transformed into a sun-splashed area meant for lounging and libation sipping. Gift shops and a café were improved. The pool area was re-envisioned into a freshwater paradise.
When we had a quiet moment with the resort’s vice president managing director, Morty Valldejuli, before the opening ceremony, we approached him and said, “Well, you at least get to relax for a while now.” His response: “No, we’re already on to phase two.”
Valldejuli’s tireless words echo those of other vice presidents and general managers around the globe. In this industry, the only sleeping that can be done is by hotel guests in their plush beds. Everyone else is too busy figuring out how to make rooms more spectacular, restaurants more impressive and onsite experiences more memorable.
The following 13 renovated properties make up an incessant bunch that realizes that the days of leaving well enough alone are long gone.
What we remember most about our September 2015 visit to this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star treasure is its impeccable service. If the physical enhancements being unveiled in April can rival what the staffers do every day — we’re still in awe that the culinary team remembered how we liked our tomatoes sliced — you are in for quite the treat.
A peek at the 98 richly refined rooms and suites, the refashioned Il Giardino restaurant and the introduction of The Eden Spa certainly hints that things will only get better at this Rome institution.
Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel
One of the most-talked-about renovations of the year comes from this 1758 Paris landmark on Place de la Concorde. Shuttered in 2013, Hôtel de Crillon will reopen this summer as a newly branded Rosewood property.
Most of the public areas will be restored to their original splendor. But the hallways and rooms will be injected with a more contemporary look. Famed designer Karl Lagerfeld was tapped to design two suites.
Expect a brand-new spa in the historic hotel’s basement, new restaurants and bars and luxury all around.
The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort and Spa
As we mentioned earlier, the phase one changes have already been implemented. But these upgrades are just the beginning for this Cayman Islands getaway. Phase two, which will premiere in August, calls for new coats of exterior paint and a fresh hallway look.
Every room will be transformed, too, meaning the moment you walk into a unit, you’ll feel the Caribbean breeze, not just from the new patio doors being installed but also from pearl-white entertainment centers, upholstered headboards, cool couches and neutral-toned bathrooms with sliding glass shower doors.
The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort
As sister property The Canyon Suites debuts its new look, this Four-Star Scottsdale hotel is next in line for a makeover. The Phoenician aims to adopt a contemporary elegance that plays to the destination’s history, location and culture.
The extensive undertaking, which will take place through December, will include a redesigned lobby, afternoon tea area and Thirsty Camel Lounge. The main pool area will receive additional deck space, new VIP seating and a reconcepting of the bar and grill.
Rosewood Little Dix Bay
A tropical British Virgin Islands escape is the antidote to a dreary winter. Start planning for next December, when this Four-Star hotel will reopen after the most substantial renovation in its 50-plus years.
Among the overhauled rooms, you’ll want to reserve a new One Bedroom Suite, which will have a sizable terrace with a private plunge pool overlooking Little Dix Bay. If you need more space, Two Bedroom Suites will be surrounded by gardens right near the beach.
The Virgin Gorda hotel’s restaurants also will see changes. Beach Grill will be rebuilt, while the Pavilion and Sugar Mill will get larger indoor/outdoor dining areas.
Eden Roc at Cap Cana
This slice of paradise originally boasted just 34 suites, each with a private swimming pool. The sought-after Dominican Republic enclave wisely expanded its inventory in 2016 with the addition of 52 beachfront suites.
Each of the new accommodations features a full sea view, housekeeping and concierge services and access to Eden Roc Beach Club. For larger groups, junior and one-bedroom suites can be configured into a two-bedroom space with separate living and dining areas.
Last summer, Fairmont Empress unveiled the first phase of its $30 million renovation. The updates, meant to modernize the century-old landmark hotel in Victoria, Canada, included the addition of air conditioning to 465 rooms, the debut of Lobby Lounge and Q at the Empress restaurant, and the introduction of new Fairmont Gold offerings, like a terrace with views of the Inner Harbour and 20 new rooms.
The second phase, due to be completed later this spring, will uncover refreshed versions of Willow Stream Spa, the main lobby and 229 guest rooms.
Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach
Sunseekers will have to find a different place for beachside fun from mid-June to early September of this year.
Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach will close for approximately 12 weeks to refurbish interior areas, including the lobby and reception areas and guest rooms. The Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star property’s enhancements will also extend to the pool terrace and event spaces.
Hotel Nikko San Francisco
After closing in December 2016 for an intensive redesign, Hotel Nikko San Francisco’s brand-new look will be revealed just in time for a 30th-anniversary celebration on March 20.
All 532 of the Four-Star San Francisco hotel’s guest rooms will receive upgrades, as will the lobby and public spaces throughout. The ballroom gets additional drama with sculptural light fixtures, beaded wall elements and bold carpeting.
The property reduced the number of rooms, from 525 to 230, doubling them in size to provide the most expansive accommodations in the city. Inspired by Imperial China, the interior revitalization employed opulent materials like Palissandro marble, bronze, jade onyx and rosewood, which were used to great effect in the new three-story lobby.
Additional updates include an onsite greenhouse to facilitate a new sustainable culinary program and an in-house physiotherapist specializing in Eastern and Western healing techniques.
The sister property of Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Lodge, this Maine beauty is starting to show that it’s all grown up. The hotel, which is in the midst of a $40 million transformation, first debuted its fresh direction in 2016 with rooms that were sprinkled with blue-and-beige color patterns, fireplaces and private terraces.
When Cliff House makes yet another reveal this summer, it will show off even more coastal curves through new accommodations and an adults-only infinity pool.
The US Grant, A Luxury Collection Hotel
San Diego’s grande dame kicked off the year with a facelift. The renovation melds the hotel’s dual heritage: American (it was built in 1910 by the son of President Ulysses S. Grant to honor his father) and Native American (owners are the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, which is indigenous to San Diego).
A new white Carrara marble promenade leads to the mirrored-walled lobby, which is adorned with rugs inspired by the $50 bill (which features Grant, of course) and Kumeyaay artifacts. Linger here so that the roving Vieux Carre cart can pull up and craft you a classic cocktail.
The neutral guest rooms now have pops of stately hues — deep blue and gold — and the three Presidential Suites were updated to be worthy of a head of state.
One&Only Ocean Club, Bahamas
Hurricane Matthew battered the Bahamas back in October 2016. It forced the exclusive oceanfront hotel to close and scramble to repair roofs, clear debris and fix landscaping. Dune, the property’s Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, sustained more serious damage.
But the luxury hotel will be ready to open its doors on Valentine’s Day. And what a fitting reopening date: One&Only radiates romance, with its adults-only pool, quiet stretch of beach, lovely multitiered hidden garden and luxurious refurbished rooms and suites. Be sure to book dinner at the expanded, redesigned Dune (preferably the deck) to enjoy water views along with your local lobster with curry sauce.
We just revealed our 2017 Forbes Travel Guide Star Ratings. Click here to see the complete list of winners.