Thursday, April 15, 2010

2010's Hot New Hotels

Alila Villas Uluwatu

Desa Pecatu, Bali

This fabulous clifftop pleasure complex on Bali's booming south coast is the region's first fully successful marriage of postmodern cool and tropical hot. The Singaporean design partnership WOHA has created a startlingly original vocabulary that alternates monumentality and intimacy, classicism and funk—and lets sky and sea shine through at every turn. The public places and 84 villas spill across a hillside overlooking the ocean with an organic ease that makes the place feel like it's been there forever, and its smart eco-planning may let it stay there almost that long: Flat roofs are insulated with local volcanic rock, and water from washing machines and baths is filtered for garden use. Rooms have ceilings of local bamboo, and the hardwood is recycled from retired Indonesian railway sleeper cars. The yoga pavilion is a little architectural masterpiece on a verdant knoll, and the two restaurants—one serving traditional Indonesian and Balinese, the other contemporary Western fare—are excellent. Perhaps one of the resort's most beautiful touches is a private banquet room with a vaulted clerestory studded with 2,500 glittering copper batik stamps.Which room to book: Villa 409, a one bedroom at one of the resort's highest points, offers total privacy and a wide ocean view.

Capella Pedregal

Cabo San Lucas

From the resort's entrance via a jaw-dropping 1,000-foot-long tunnel carved through the mountain, to the seafood restaurant El Farall√≥n tucked into a cliff above the ocean, to the views of whales and dolphins splashing in the surf, the focus at Capella's new property on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula is on making the impossible feel routine. Eight contemporary buildings (some of which back right into the mountains) house 66 rooms on 24 acres of dramatic yet manicured bluffs. Huge stone vases, metal turtle sculptures, Jurassic-size shells, and dozens of varieties of cactus dot the property, while three curvy public pools—two freshwater and one salty—snake through the grounds. Rooms, the smallest of which measure 820 square feet, take on a Mexican gothic look and, happily, include private plunge pools, stand-alone tubs, one-button fireplaces, and complimentary minibars. Personal assistants assigned to each guest will eagerly fulfill even the most self-indulgent request. Lunch options consist of upscale twists on the usual burgers-and-salads resort fare, but the breakfast buffet at Don Manual's is elevated to craft with bountiful fruits and fresh pastries and no fewer than five milk options, all presented in a warm, rustic kitchen.

Which room to book: Ocean View rooms on the third and fourth floors have the same panoramic views as the pricier suites.

Terranea Resort

Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

Out-of-towners don't typically find themselves in Rancho Palos Verdes, a moneyed burb 20 miles south of Los Angeles airport, but with the opening of this sunny and sophisticated resort that's quickly changing. From its perch above the Pacific, Terranea tumbles across 102 acres scented with sage scrub and pine trees, and consists of 582 accommodations, from honey-colored guest rooms in the main building to stand-alone casitas with three bedrooms and your very own outdoor fire pit. The decor throughout is a mix of Spanish hacienda (elaborately tiled floors, graceful archways, even valets dressed like gauchos) and seaside lodge (rooms have seashell lamps and bleached-wood furnishings), with a splash of California modernism (the stark serenity of the adults-only pool is the essence of SoCal cool, while the family pool has rainbow-striped cabanas and even a modest waterslide). For fun, there's a huge spa, a small beach, and guided kayaking and hiking expeditions. Of the resort's two formal restaurants, the Catalina Room is the more popular, but the waitstaff's kindness and enthusiasm are more impressive than the food. Opt instead for the local brew and the avocado burgers at Nelsons, the clifftop pub with spectacular views.

Which room to book: The ones with the best views are a trek from the lobby, except for those on the higher floors overlooking the resort pool.

The Allison

Newberg, Ore.

Oregon's Willamette Valley finally has a resort on a par with its award-winning wines. Fully utilizing the 35-acre property's natural beauty (including vineyards and hazelnut orchards), designers have blurred the boundary between inside and out. Everywhere, it seems, there's a spectacular view: from the lobby's fireside "living room"; from the indoor infinity pool, with its glass wall that opens; even from your bathtub, thanks to a retractable screen. Extensive use of rough-hewn stone and wood surfaces, along with muted golds, greens, and browns, invite the agricultural landscape inside. Offering respite after a long day of winery tours, the 85 guest rooms are at once capacious (starting at 490 square feet) and cosseting (gas fireplace, terrace or balcony, wine glass–stocked wet bar). The staff are genuinely friendly and have a knack for anticipating guests' needs: Noticing our reviewer's running shoes, the bellman offered running maps. The hotel's dining room, Jory, is everything you'd hope from a restaurant named for the region's native soil, with a terroir-focused seasonal menu and a 32-page wine list, including well over 100 Oregon pinot noirs alone.Which room to book: With million-dollar views, upper-floor rooms are just $20 to $30 more than garden-level rooms.