These seven new or renovated resorts all over the world have a few things in common: gorgeous design, over-the-top amenities, incredible local food and a transporting atmosphere.
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Baja California, Mexico
Is Valle de Guadalupe the next Mendoza? The owners of Endémico are betting on it. They’ve built a knockout of a hotel: 20 chic cabins perched on a rocky slope in the heart of Baja California’s wine country (there are more than 50 wineries in the area). Casual poolside dinners feature fresh catches from the nearby Ensenada coast—seafood tostadas, lobster tacos—and Baja red wines. Opened July 2012. Doubles from $175.
The Alpina Gstaad
This is the first high-end hotel built in the ski-resort town of Gstaad in 100 years, and the architecture (gabled roofs, wooden balconies) fits in with its traditional Swiss neighbors. Inside, the vibe is modern luxury, with a movie theater, a 21,500-square-foot spa (with a stunning indoor lap pool surrounded by slabs of local limestone) and an outpost of the modern-Japanese spot Megu. Opened December 2012. Doubles from $919.
This former convent has been turned into an Orient Express hotel in the Incan town of Cuzco; rooms that once housed nuns are now stocked with pisco cocktail–making kits. The staff’s evening uniforms were created by Peruvian fashion designer Fátima Arrieta; the chef hails from Gastón Acurio’s modern Astrid & Gastón restaurant in Lima and cooks with local ingredients like purple prickly pear. Opened June 2012. Doubles from $788.
Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort
Over the past three years, Sugar Beach, formerly The Jalousie Plantation, has undergone a major renovation. Guests now stay in roomy white adobe bungalows on the beach, or in villas in the 100-plus-acre rain forest. The resort’s restaurants weave in Caribbean influences, like pan-roasted mahimahi with grilled plantains. Renovation completed November 2012. Doubles from $350.
Porto Heli, Greece
Celebrity architect Ed Tuttle designed this resort, scheduled to reopen for the season in March, in an olive-grove-filled stretch of the Peloponnese peninsula overlooking the coast. Like all Aman Resorts, it is ultra-luxurious; each suite has its own pool. During harvest season, the staff can arrange olive-picking excursions followed by olive-oil-making lessons in the kitchen. Re-opening March 2013. Doubles from $1,047.
Hôtel La Ferme
To lure travelers to the Charlevoix region, an hour-and-a-half drive east of Quebec City, Cirque du Soleil co-founder Daniel Gauthier built a rustic hotel—and installed a train station on the grounds. The stylish furnishings include wool cushions and wood bed frames made by local artisans. The restaurant menu reflects Quebec’s Francophone culture in dishes like a torte of fennel and foie gras. Opened June 2012. Doubles from $149.
The Jerome, now an Auberge resort, has added a chapter to the story that started in 1889, when it opened as the grandest hotel in the West. New design touches nod to earlier eras: Leather steamer trunks act as minibars, and there’s floral wallpaper inspired by the 1920s. The J-Bar, a favorite of the late Hunter S. Thompson, remains unchanged and is still one of Aspen’s best hangouts. Re-opened December 2012. Doubles from $595.