Hotel Watchlist: Spring Openings Smart Travelers Should Know About

AFAR’s resident hotel expert shares the spring hotel openings that are worth a special trip this year.

Open-air wood guest room at Soneva Secret, with water in distance

Letting the outdoors in at Soneva Secret

Courtesy of Soneva Secret

Spring is nearly here, and with the season comes a spate of important hotel openings: the Tokyo flagship of a new brand from Aman Resorts; a renovated historic hotel on New York City’s Upper East Side; and a castaway-style luxury escape in the Maldives that puts both sustainability and well-being front and center.

1. The Surrey, a Corinthia Hotel

Rendering of beige and white guest room at the Surrey

A rendering of a guest room at the Surrey, a Corinthia Hotel, in New York

Courtesy of the Surrey, a Corinthia Hotel

Malta-based Corinthia Hotels made a name for itself transforming historic buildings into luxury hotels. The brand’s U.S. flagship is scheduled to open mid-2024 in a 1926 Upper East Side residence hotel that once hosted the likes of JFK and Bette Davis. Designer Martin Brudnizki created the interiors, which include 100 guest rooms and suites and 14 residences designed with richly textured fabrics in soothing greens, blues, and muted golds. Miami-based hospitality group Casa Tua will oversee the Italian restaurant, lounge, and private members club.

2. Regent Santa Monica Beach

Regent first established itself back in the 1970s, but over the past year or so, the luxury hotel brand (now part of IHG Hotels & Resorts) has unveiled such impressive renovations as the Carlton Cannes in the south of France and the Regent Hong Kong. By the time summer rolls around, Regent is expected to arrive stateside in Santa Monica, California, only a short walk from the pier. Expect a laid-back vibe at the Regent Santa Monica Beach, but with a sophisticated twist: Guest rooms will feature beachy wainscoting on the walls, juxtaposed by sleek gray headboards and ceramic lamps. A pool deck will face the beach, and the hotel will offer butler service for Regent guests on the beach.

3. Emory Hotel London

Maybourne Hotel Group’s Claridge’s, Connaught, and Berkeley hotels in London are among the city’s finest and most beloved luxury hotels, and that’s why everyone’s abuzz about the Emory Hotel, Maybourne’s first new London hotel in 50 years, opening in April 2024. The vibe of this 61-room all-suite hotel will lean residential, and guest rooms will feature the work of a different interior designer on each of the nine floors (Alexandra Champalimaud, André Fu, Pierre-Yves Rochon, and Patricia Urquiola among them). The rooftop bar, with its 360-degree city views, will be for guests only. A four-floor subterranean wellness center includes a 22-meter pool. Hotelier Knut Wylde, recently the general manager of the Berkeley, will bring Maybourne’s world-class hospitality to life at the Emory, which will offer private airport car transfers, hearty English breakfasts, and personal assistants to all guests.

4. Mandarin Oriental Mayfair

A guest room with large sofa at Mandarin Oriental Mayfair, with blue floral motifs on walls and carpet

A guest room at Mandarin Oriental Mayfair

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Mayfair

    Opening later this spring, the second London property from Mandarin Oriental is housed in a modern red brick building in Mayfair designed by the firm of the late British architect Richard Rogers (behind the Pompidou Centre in Paris). The 50 guest rooms take cues from haute couture, with hand-painted silk wallpaper by de Gournay and carpets with floral motifs. Korea-born chef Akira Back makes his U.K. debut with an eponymous restaurant, while the spa includes a 25-meter-long indoor pool.

    5. Royal Mansour Casablanca

      A major port city with architectural styles ranging from Islamic Moroccan to art deco, Casablanca is perpetually in the shadow of Marrakech. This spring, it could feature more prominently on the traveler’s map. The city will welcome the Royal Mansour Casablanca, the sister property to the iconic Royal Mansour in Marrakech. The hotel will open after a five-year restoration project in an art deco landmark built in 1952 as the city’s first luxury hotel.

      6. Singita Milele

      Woman wearing straw hat in infinity pool at Singita Milele, overlooking Serengeti

      The infinity pool at Singita Milele overlooks the Serengeti.

      Courtesy of Singita Milele

      Guests on the private Grumeti Reserve in Tanzania have 350,000 acres of varying, wildlife-filled Serengeti landscape to themselves. The five existing retreats on the reserve, all run by luxury safari standard-bearer Singita, range from the stately Sasakwa Lodge to the canvas-walled Sabora Tented Camp. In May 2024, Singita Milele opens. The villa, ideal for groups of up to 10 guests, will have ample outdoor living spaces, an infinity pool, a jacuzzi, and a movie room. Suites will be named after the collective nouns of charismatic megafauna (a crash of rhino, for one) and will showcase local designers and materials, while floor-to-ceiling glass walls, outdoor showers, and sprawling terraces have been designed to make guests feel connected to the surrounding savanna. Explorations with Singita are all tailored to guests’ interests and preferred schedules, be it a drive to see roaming wildebeest herds or a walk in the bush.

      7. Karangoma

      Distant view of two green-tented accommodations at Karangoma, with trees

      A rendering of tented accommodations at Karangoma in Botswana

      Courtesy of Karangoma

      Wild Expeditions in Africa focuses on supporting small, locally owned camps and mobile safaris in Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Zimbabwe, and Karangoma in Botswana’s Okavango Delta will be no different. Opening in May 2024, the six-tent lodge is a partnership with local elder Olatotse Sarefo and is located on 74,000 acres of a wooded peninsula surrounded by the Okavango’s seasonal floodplains. Accommodations, which sit on wooden decks and are linked by elevated pathways, will be inspired by Hambukushu basket weaving. Guest experiences will be centered on the cultural traditions of the Bukakhwe San and Hambukushu people with such activities as wildlife tracking and tutorials on making (and playing) local instruments. This being the Okavango, wildlife sightings abound: Observe lions, wild dogs, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and more on game drives, walks, or by mekoro boat.

      8. Janu Tokyo

      Rendering of beige suite's living room at Janu Tokyo, with wall of windows

      The flagship of Janu, a new sister brand to cult favorite global luxury hotel group Aman Resorts, is finally opening its doors in March 2024 in Tokyo’s Roppongi neighborhood. Where Aman tends to be hushed and secluded, Janu leans playful and social. The 122 rooms and suites designed by Jean-Michel Gathy have a sleek and minimalistic aesthetic, and the 43,000-square-foot wellness center has a hammam, nine treatment rooms, and two pools.

      9. Soneva Secret

        In February 2024, Soneva Secret debuted in the secluded Maldivian Haa Dhaalu Atoll, a habitat for mantas, whales, dolphins, and more. Sonu Shivdasani, founder of the region’s sustainability-minded Soneva Fushi, is behind the new Secret resort brand, which focuses on remote destinations that get travelers—children included—closer to nature while maintaining a near-zero carbon footprint. The 14 overwater and beach villas, served by 14 private chefs, were designed with an airy indoor-outdoor vibe and have retractable roofs for stargazing; the restaurant Out of This World has an overwater wine cellar with a glass floor.

        10. Nujuma, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

        A rendering of beach villas at Nujuma, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, in Saudi Arabia

        A rendering of beach villas at Nujuma, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, in Saudi Arabia

        Courtesy of Nujuma, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

        The Red Sea area of Saudi Arabia has an ambitious goal of creating 50 hotels by 2030, all required to follow regenerative tourism principles. Such recent newcomers include Six Senses and the St. Regis Red Sea Resort. And come spring, Nujuma, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, will open 63 villas along white-sand shores, each with its own sea-facing pools and panoramic windows. The Ritz-Carlton Reserve will have a diving center for snorkeling, diving, sailing, kayaking, and windsurfing on the Red Sea, as well as the Conservation House, which will educate guests about Saudi Arabian culture and natural landscapes through various activities on land and on the water.

        Jennifer Flowers is an award-winning journalist and the senior deputy editor of Afar.
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