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The Top 15 International Hotels Openings of 2017

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The Top 15 International Hotels Openings of 2017
A heavenly Nicaraguan country resort, an urban oasis on a famous Brazilian beach, an art-focused hub in an old grain silo, and revived icons in Paris and Rome: All these and more can be found on our list of the 15 best new international hotels of 2017. Read on for inspiration on where to head next—then grab your passport and hit the skies.
By Sandra Ramani, AFAR Contributor
Courtesy of Nekupe
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    Nekupe (Nicaragua)
    The name of Nicaragua’s first luxury country resort translates to “heaven” in the indigenous Chorotega language—a fitting moniker, given the dreamy set-up. Located about a 30-minute drive from historic Granada, the family-owned spot is spread out on a 1,300-acre nature reserve, surrounded by views of the Concepción and Maderas Volcanoes. The place was originally designed to be a private family home, and even now that it’s open to the rest of us, the intimate atmosphere remains. There are just eight accommodations, ranging from plunge pool–equipped suites to larger villas, and each comes with a personal ATV for exploring the grounds. On the property, you can get active with ropes courses, target shooting, horseback riding, and folk dancing lessons, or chill out with rum tastings, outdoor cooking classes, stargazing, or mountaintop yoga. If you can bear to leave, day trips to a volcano or nearby coffee plantations can be arranged.
    Courtesy of Nekupe
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    Hotel de Crillon, Paris (France)
    Reborn after a four-year closure and renovation, the iconic Hôtel de Crillon—now a Rosewood Hotel—sits in a building originally commissioned by King Louis XV in 1758. The extensive redo has restored the hotel’s 18th-century polish while addressing the needs of the modern traveler—so in the 124 rooms and suites, you’ll find bespoke furnishings, French duvets, and elegant antiques alongside 48-to-55-inch TVs, rain showers, and underfloor heating in the marble bathrooms. (We also like the thoughtful touches like salon-grade hairdryers and TVs in the bathroom mirror.) French influences take center stage at the restaurants, which include a fine dining spot, a modern brasserie, and a winter garden for afternoon tea—and at the new spa, where treatments incorporate “French grandmother” traditions and natural ingredients from around the country. After a day exploring the city, relax in the new heated pool, or in the gilded Les Ambassadeurs lounge, which features live music and a selection of over 100 champagnes.
    Courtesy of Hôtel de Crillon
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    Silo Hotel, Cape Town (South Africa)
    When the grain silo on Cape Town’s waterfront opened in 1924, it was the tallest structure in sub-Saharan Africa. Closed after 80 years of service, that historic structure and complex—set in the heart of what’s now the bustling Victoria & Albert Waterfront—has been reimagined to house both the world-class Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), unveiled earlier this year, and The Silo, a 28-room hotel occupying what was once the grain elevator. Given the unique structure, the rooms have high ceilings and incredible views of the harbor, city, or Table Mountain, along with beautiful furnishings and 24-hour butler service. Dining options range from a cushy sixth-floor bar and lounge and a more formal restaurant (a local’s favorite for its Royal Tea service and traditional Sunday roast), to a rooftop where fresh seafood is served poolside. Given the location so close to a museum, the art angle is strong here, too: In addition to featuring pieces from the owner’s extensive collection of works by emerging African artists throughout the hotel, there is a subterranean exhibition space curated by local galleries.
    Courtesy of Silo Hotel
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    Hotel Eden, Rome (Italy)
    First opened nearly 130 years ago, the Hotel Eden was, for decades, ahead of the curve, offering guests unusual touches at the time such as electricity, elevators, and indoor plumbing. But by the turn of this century, the grande dame—which has hosted everyone from royalty and presidents to Fellini and Bergman—had begun to fade; the new owners, The Dorchester Collection, closed its doors for a nearly two-year top-to-toe renovation. Reopened this spring, the legendary spot is now at the forefront of “new luxury” in the Eternal City, with a contemporary design balanced by traditional elements of stucco, marble, and frescoes. The elegant library boasts a wood-burning fireplace and full bar hidden behind moveable bookcases, while the chic new spa features four fully stocked treatment suites and a menu of treatments using products from Florence-based Santa Maria Novella and L.A.-based celebrity esthetician Sonya Dakar, who chose the hotel for her first European spa partnership. The 98 rooms mix fine fabrics and Bottega Veneta amenities with iPad-based room controls and Bang & Olufsen flatscreens; many also have views over the city. For more expansive vistas, head up to the top floor, home to a cozy bar, casual indoor/outdoor Il Giardino restaurant, and the excellent La Terazza, helmed by Michelin-starred executive chef Fabio Ciervo, who puts a healthful twist on what’s still indulgent Italian fare.
    Courtesy of Hotel Eden
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    Park Hyatt St. Kitts (Caribbean)
    After years of anticipation, the Christophe Harbour development on quiet Banana Bay final welcomed this five-star resort in 2017. Set overlooking the strait that separates St. Kitts and sister-island Nevis, the 78-room, 48-suite spot mixes contemporary architecture with island-chic design, and it pampers guests with deep soaking tubs, private balconies or terraces, and water views in all rooms. Also on the pampering front are a Miraval Life in Balance Spa—offering an extensive wellness menu developed by the famed Arizona destination spa, plus heated plunge pools and outdoor showers—and direct access to a quiet sandy beach. Dining options include an all-day eatery serving an elegant afternoon tea, an overwater restaurant highlighting fresh seafood, and The Stone Barn, an adults-only place for multi-course tasting menus. When you want to explore the island, the resort offers five curated Journeys, each focusing on a different aspect of Kittian nature and culture.
    Courtesy of Park Hyatt St. Kitts
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    Bisate Lodge (Rwanda)
    With this opening of this stunning safari lodge overlooking Bisoke, Karisimbi, and Mikeno Volcanoes, noted Africa specialist Wilderness Safaris has elevated the Rwanda gorilla trekking experience and appealed to hotel junkies at the same time. The interiors of the public spaces and six suites take “glamping” to a whole new level, with rich materials and textiles, oversized stone fireplaces, and pops of nature-inspired colors, plus gourmet food and wine (and lots of it.) With the lodge’s proximity to Volcanoes National Park, the mountain-spotting activities are the main draw for guests, but it’s worth adding on a couple days to check out birding excursions, guided nature walks, community visits, or a trip to gorilla expert Diane Fossey’s grave and research center, as well as tastings of wine, or Rwandan coffee and tea, back at the lodge.
    Courtesy of Bisate Lodge
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    Palacio Tangara (Brazil)
    For its first property in Latin America, the Oetker Collection brand headed to Sao Paulo, developing a quiet retreat in a city legendary for its population (nearly 12 million), energy (always buzzing), and traffic (notorious). Tucked away among the lush forests of Burle Marx Park, in a primarily residential area, the 141-room hotel is the most classically European-style hotel in the city, with a refined decor that incorporates local woods, materials, and textiles, and the work of Brazilian artists. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, and feature park views, while the outdoor pool and bar further help create the urban sanctuary vibe. Locals are also flocking to the hotel, drawn by The Flora Spa (from French brand Sisley), the decadent afternoon tea served in the lobby lounge, and the gourmet eats at the first Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant in Brazil.
    Courtesy of Palacio Tangara
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    Shore Club Turks & Caicos (Caribbean)
    Head to the island’s less-developed (and more secluded) Long Bay Beach to find this breezy new upscale resort. It’s all suites and villas here, each with an elegant, airy decor, garden or ocean views, and lots of room to spread out; many rooms also have sofa beds and additional bedrooms for when the kids are in tow. Little ones will also love the Kids Club—which has its own treehouse—while adults will enjoy the four pools, private tennis court, and Dune Spa. Complimentary breakfast and traditional afternoon tea are served in the Garden restaurant, while SUI-REN is the place for Peruvian- and Japanese-flavored fine dining by candlelight.
    Courtesy of Shore Club Turks & Caicos
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    Villa Brown Jerusalem (Israel)
    A 19th-century villa just a short walk from the old city walls is now home to this intimate, 24-room boutique hotel. Sumptuously decorated in a style inspired by Jerusalem’s Ottoman and British Mandate periods, the rooms feature jewel-toned fabrics, plush furnishings, and—in many—a terrace or balcony with city views. There’s a definite sense of place throughout, including at the rooftop spa, where you can soak in an outdoor Jacuzzi backed by views of the Jerusalem Hills. A central garden space provides the stage for the outstanding breakfast and high tea, both featuring multiple plates of homemade, Mediterranean-flavored goodness.
    Courtesy of Villa Brown Jerusalem
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    Hotel Emiliano Rio (Brazil)
    There are lots of beautiful things to look at around legendary Copacabana Beach, but this urban resort from venerable Brazilian brand Emiliano more than holds its own thanks to its striking, multi-paneled facade. The inside is pretty stunning, too, from the 90 stylish rooms to the rooftop, where the infinity pool is surrounded by vistas overlooking the Copacabana Fort. Cuisine is always a focus for the brand, and here, guests can enjoy contemporary fare crafted with local and organic products, in a space centered on a lush vertical garden. The 11th-floor spa offers treatments geared toward specific results, including detoxifying, energizing, and relaxing.
    Courtesy of Hotel Emiliano Rio
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    Miavana, Madagascar (Madagascar)
    Maldives, watch out: Madagascar just kicked things up a notch with the launch of this idyllic resort on the private Indian Ocean island of Nosy Ankao, in the heart of a protected marine reserve. Settle into one of the 14 one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas—each solar powered and featuring private pools, butler service, and kitchens. Then spend days swimming in the oceanview infinity pool, snorkeling and diving right off the edge of the resort, and drinking and dining in multiple venues, which include a rooftop lounge and a beachfront pizzeria. The dedicated team can also arrange for land-based wildlife-spotting adventures, or whisk you away via helicopter to check out other islands. At least once during your stay, have them set up an overnight under the stars.
    Courtesy of Miavana, Madagascar
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    Azerai Luang Prabang (Laos)
    The ancient town of Luang Prabang—a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its slew of royal palaces, traditional temples, and well-preserved culture—is now home to this much-anticipated hotel set in the heart of downtown, on a century-old site that once held French officer’s quarters. Now, you’ll find 53 open-plan rooms crafted in a warm, modern style that pays homage to the buildings’ traditional Laotian and French architectural bones. A central courtyard with a pool and Banyan tree–shaded loungers offers cooling respite after a day spent wandering the city sites, while the small spa provides relaxation with yoga sessions and locally influenced massages. Head to the Bistro for dishes that also reflect the country’s varied history.
    Courtesy of Azerai Luang Prabang
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    Four Seasons Ten Trinity (England)
    January 2017 saw the arrival of one of London’s most anticipated new hotels—the second in the city from five-star brand Four Seasons. Occupying a 1922 building that once housed the London Port Authority (and, more recently, doubled for MI-5 HQ in the Bond film Skyfall), Four Seasons Ten Trinity was crafted with no expenses spared, using the highest-grade materials and up-to-the-minute technology. The 100 rooms include a handful of Heritage Suites that feature original architectural details like ornate plastering and working fireplaces. Foodie highlights include the first U.K. restaurant from three-Michelin-starred French chef Anne-Sophie Pic, an elegant spot for authentic dishes from China and Japan, and a bar serving 1920s-inspired cocktails under an art deco ceiling. The spa features eight treatment rooms and a traditional Moroccan hammam, while all guests have access to a pool, steam and sauna areas, and a wood-paneled gym.
    Courtesy of Four Seasons Ten Trinity
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    Burgenstock Resort (Switzerland)
    Spread out over a forested ridge above Lake Lucerne, the Bürgenstock—first opened in 1873—is one of Europe’s most historic resorts, home to the continent’s highest outdoor elevator (the 112-year-old Bürgenstock Hammetschwand), a vintage funicular, and a dozen registered historic landmarks. But over the years, the favorite of generations of jet-setters (and Old Hollywood celebs like Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren, who got married and lived here, respectively) had begun to fade—until a group of Qatari investors saved the day. Following a nine-year, $500 million overhaul, the iconic resort now features four hotels, including revived classics like a traditional Alpine-style inn and the four-star central Palace Hotel to two new builds: the sleek Bürgenstock Hotel & Alpine Spa, with 102 fireplace- and window seat-equipped rooms and a multi-level spa, and noted architect Mateo Thun’s Waldhotel, with 160 nature-inspired guest rooms and a full medical wellness facility staffed in partnership with a local hospital. All the landmark areas have been spiffed up—including the beloved kidney-shaped Hollywood Pool, which has a bar with porthole-shaped windows underneath it. And the numerous dining options now include everything from traditional Swiss and gourmet French to sushi, dumplings, and authentic Lebanese cuisine. There’s plenty to do in every season, from hiking the miles of trails around the resort, sailing around the lake, and exploring Lucerne to having the hotel arrange skiing excursions and other winter adventures.
    Courtesy of Burgenstock Resort
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    Andaz Mayakoba (Mexico)
    Riviera Maya’s Mayakoba resort development welcomed a new resident this year with the opening of this Andaz property, which stretches from a lush mangrove setting all the way to a white-sand beach. The 214 rooms are dotted throughout, offering a different vibe for each type of guest, from honeymooners who might want more privacy to families who’d like to be by the Caribbean shores. All rooms are outfitted with the brand’s signature clean, modern decor accented by local color, plus private balconies or terraces to further soak up the environment. There’s plenty to do on-site, from snorkeling and paddleboarding just off the beachside pool and indulging at the excellent, 10,000 square-foot spa to savoring the flavors at an array of restaurants—including one designed to look like the home of a world traveler. When you want to head out, there’s easy access to the other facilities within Mayakoba, such as a tennis center and 18-hole golf course.
    Courtesy of Andaz Mayakoba
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    Up Next . . .
    Courtesy of Las Alcobas Napa