The following is a contributed piece and not the opinion of HOTELS.
Movies have the Academy Awards, television has the Emmys and hotels have the Mogels! We’ve attempted to run this program annually since 2015, but with a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic (and a lack of sufficient travel to warrant such a post), this will be our sixth outing. The awards are based on our travels over the past year, and we’ve cheated a little bit to make up for the lost time by starting our qualifying period in the Fall of 2021 through to the end of 2022. Over this period, both of us experienced accommodations at 28 different properties in a dozen countries.
Though few hoteliers have the opportunity to visit so many unique locations and properties within this short period, we have been fortunate to have clients call upon us from both close to our home base in Canada as well as far away across the ocean. We do our best to pay these experiences forward and pass along any lessons so that all will benefit. While we have nothing but the utmost respect for all properties mentioned herein, it really is about the learning that applies to any brand anywhere. Above all, hotels are innovating in all corners of the world, and there’s a tremendous amount that an onsite manager or executive can learn by visiting another continent.
One might also think that the hotels all become a blur. That is, after a while, you cannot differentiate one bed from another. We beg to differ! Each of the properties we stayed at was highly memorable for one reason or another (some excellent as noted here, and some less so, which we will not delve into at the moment).
Without further introduction, here are our awards for the calendar year of 2022 based on our personal experiences:
Best Housekeeping Award: Winning our housekeeping award goes to The Boston Harbor Hotel. A three-night stay demonstrated flawlessness insofar as daily service and turndown service, including the finer details like replenishing the welcome fruit bowl with each morsel consumed. We were working in our room, and mindful of this, the housekeeper altered her schedule. Amenities were ample and, when we mentioned that the shampoo was excellent, an additional bottle was provided with a ribbon on our last night.
Best Hotel Restaurant (formal): Restaurant Pavilion in the Baur Au Lac in Zurich may just be one of the finest restaurants we have ever experienced. Earning two Michelin stars, the restaurant has one single serving, delivering a four-hour extravaganza of taste experiences focused on local cuisine. We are sure that every property that has a two-star restaurant will deliver a similar once-in-a-lifetime experience. There is learning here for all hotel restaurateurs: choose one of their techniques to add to your property.
Best Hotel Restaurant (informal): Cielo in Hotel de la Ville in Rome has the distinct advantage of being located on a rooftop overlooking the Spanish Steps in the center of the city. Okay, maybe it was the weather, the atmosphere and the joie de vivre, but the crisp linens, simple local-fare menu and attentive service provided a highly memorable experience. Not trusting our initial instincts, we dined twice for lunch and dinner on two separate days. The magic was there!
Best Hotel Bar: Flamel Bistrot & Mixology Lounge in the Lugano Dante Hotel in Switzerland provided the most creative bar experience to date. This was not just a countertop and simple panache: here, the mixologist is more of a chemist with pharmaceutical-grade equipment to produce their own spirits (gins, absinth, malts, liquors, etc.), all infused with locally grown herbs and imported spices. Even the ice blocks are unique, being crystal clear, oversized and super-frozen in order to keep the right temperature with minimum dilution. The experience has not, to our knowledge, been replicated in any other hotel.
Best Hotel Restoration: The Halekulani Hotel in Honolulu used the pandemic period to perform a major restoration. The distinction between restoration and renovation is that ownership was looking to enhance what their customers were experiencing through technology and other back-of-house upgrades. Many guests may not have noticed the total soft and hard good overhaul. Here was a product loved by many and unchanged in appearance but still totally new and ready for another decade of enjoyment.
Best New Hotel (less than 200 rooms): The Royal Hotel in Picton, Ontario, is one of those small properties on the main street in a town of 5,000 souls that puts a smile on your face. Friendly and personal, the ground floor encompasses a modern open-concept lobby with a bar, restaurant, patio, living room, meeting space and retail. Natural wood textures and a countrylike feel throughout reinforce the comfort factors. For those unfamiliar, Picton is in the center of Prince Edward County, an up-and-coming wine-growing region near Toronto, and naturally, The Royal is the place to taste the best of the area. Developers looking at a small-pad (33 rooms here) property to emulate, there is no need to look further.
Best New Hotel (more than 200 rooms): Resorts World Las Vegas is actually three hotels in one (Hilton, Conrad and Crockfords). It is hard to consider this $4-billion-plus property as just a hotel(s), rather it is best described as a destination. With over 30 dining outlets, an impressive casino, an event theatre, convention space, multiple pools and shopping, RWLV even boasts a direct underground Tesla shuttle to the Las Vegas Convention Center courtesy of The Boring Company. It is one of these locations that continues to amaze the visitor on literally every level.
Best Hotel for a Romantic Lunch: Look no further than the Stonehouse Restaurant and Plow & Angel at San Ysidro Ranch up the mountain from Santa Barbara in California. Consider that we were seated on a patio in an enclosed courtyard in perfect weather, adding to the enjoyment. Service was flawless, menus provided ample options and our selections were perfect. Surprisingly, pricing did not require a second mortgage. We could dine here forever.
Best Hotel Artwork: The Galleria Vik Milano in Milan was more of an art gallery than a hotel. The walls were murals from famous artists. Each of the 89 hotel rooms is named after a famous artist with works in each of the guestrooms reflecting that genre (one of ours was named Tommaso Cascella). The lobby and hotel restaurant were literally drenched in modern, unusual paintings and sculptures. This reinforces our recommendation that a great hotel deserves its fair share of artwork to create a visual point of differentiation.
Best Service: The Savoy Hotel in London is no surprise as the winner in this category. The property exceeds every performance standard, including cleanliness, timeliness, amenities, service requests, concierge, front desk, valet, laundry and dining. As an example, when we could not get a table for Sunday afternoon tea (we had no reservation), the hostess suggested that tea be served in Larry’s suite, providing us with the menu and encouraging us to make selections to ensure prompt delivery.
Hotel Mogel Hotel of the Year 2022: The Lugano Dante Hotel in Lugano, Switzerland. With just 84 rooms, this property is a showcase for innovation and hospitality. We previously mentioned Flamel, which deserved its own acclamation for bar service innovation. The hotel also provides some unique experiences which are worthy of your exploration. Prearrival included pillow selection, a review of the local area and assistance with transportation. The property uses in-room technology to enhance eco-friendliness. All is documented with your own unique webpage. The rooms were small but amazingly efficient and perfect. The lobby utilizes local plants that have been dried and then reanimated through a process that we would find hard to explain. Looking for ideas to build your property? This is a living laboratory.
Many other properties deserve honorable mention. For every hotelier, the road to success is based on learning. We all share a love for this industry. Simply put, get out there and see what others are doing that you can emulate.
Story contributed by Larry and Adam Mogelonsky of Hotel Mogel.