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Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) has announced Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda in Italy as Hotel of the Year at the SLH Awards 2020. Selected for the accolade by SLH’s Executive Panel, this pioneer of sustainable hospitality manages to create a haven for body, mind, soul and conscience on the shores of Lake Garda, and is one of 18 hotels to have been honoured in this year’s awards. With over 400 SLH hotels around the world now open again these winners, along with 46 Highly Commended hotels, embody the inspirational spirit of all SLH hotels in demonstrating that the show goes on despite the many challenges faced this year.

In contrast to previous years, this year several of the awards were also voted for by a panel of experts from the worlds of luxury, travel, wellbeing and cuisine – Simon Leadsford (Publisher, Conde Nast Traveller), Katy Simpson (CEO, Noble Isle), Dominique Crenn (3 Michelin-starred chef, Atelier Crenn in San Francisco), Gary Allen (Managing Director, Luxury Travel Media) and Carol Duval-Leroy (Owner, Champagne Duval-Leroy). These winners include Castello di Reschio in Umbria, Italy (Most Inspirational Interior Design), Cap Rocat in Mallorca, Spain (Most Intimate Bedroom for The Sentinels), Castle Hot Springs in Arizona, USA (Most Mindful Wellness Retreat), The George in Christchurch, New Zealand (Most Intense Bespoke Experience) and The Seminyak Resort & Spa in Bali, Indonesia (Best Gourmet Experience).

Two specific members of staff have been honoured with awards. Chef Marc Collins from Wentworth Mansion in South Carolina, USA, was named Local Food Champion in recognition of his work as a proactive advocate of the state’s culinary traditions and produce. Meanwhile, Michael Ferreira, Guest Experience Manager at Le Barthélemy Resort & Spa in St Barths, won the Hotel Hero award for consistently demonstrating incredible thoughtfulness and an absolutely-can-do attitude to guests.

In line with SLH’s commitment to helping its member hotels operate with integrity and a commitment to nurturing and protecting our planet, two awards heralded those who lead by example. The Sustainable Innovator of the Year award was won by Arima Hotel in San Sebastián, Spain, for creating a ‘soulstainable’ escape in constant contact with nature. The Stay Small, Stay Considerate Award was won by Lefay Resorts, in recognition of their two Italian hotels in Lake Garda and The Dolomites being carbon neutral as part of a philosophy that ‘personal wellness should never overlook environmental wellness’.

The heritage awards saw hotels recognized by hotel type and by key members of our community. The Norman Tel Aviv (Tel Aviv, Israel) was voted City Centre Hotel of the YearHotel Villa Franca (Positano, Italy) was named Resort Hotel of the Year and Château la Chenevière (Normandy, France) was awarded Country House Hotel of the Year. Members of SLH’s INVITED loyalty programme chose The Tokyo Station Hotel (Tokyo, Japan) as their INVITED Hotel of the Year while the Travel Agent Hotel of the Year was Hotel Relais Christine in Paris (France). Finally, the Mystery Inspectors’ Award saw SLH’s elusive group of over 100 inspectors have their say based on their first-hand experiences staying at each and every one of SLH hotels over the last twelve months, with Hemingways Nairobi in Kenya coming out top. 

Member hotels were also invited to submit entries to applaud innovation in their use of digital platforms: 

·        The Frederick and The Iroquois, as part of Triumph Hotels (New York City, USA), were recognized for the experiences focus of their website with the Digital Excellence Award

·        Halcyon House (Australia) was awarded Most ‘Liked’ Hotel for its curated portrayal of life on Cabarita Beach in New South Wales 

Richard Hyde, Managing Director of Small Luxury Hotels of the World said: “Great hotels are still great hotels despite the many curve balls that COVID-19 continues to throw at them. With the SLH Awards 2020 we are recognizing some really exceptional hotels at a time when they need recognition more than ever. As the winner of Hotel of the Year and our Stay Small, Stay Considerate Award, Lefay Resorts is a shining example to all of how luxury and social responsibility can complement each other. This sense of responsibility is now also about sustaining our hospitality industry and the communities that hotels in turn support. The best way to show your support is to book a stay and discover exactly why independent hotels are so very special.”

The full list of winners and highly commended hotels is as follows:

· Hotel of the Year – Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda (Italy)

· City Centre Hotel of the Year – The Norman Tel Aviv (Israel)

Highly Commended – Hotel Lungarno (Italy); Refinery Hotel New York (USA); DUKES London (UK)

· Country House Hotel of the Year – Château la Chenevière (France)

Highly Commended – Schlosshotel Kronberg (Germany); Stein Eriksen Residences (USA); Hotel Rangá (Iceland)

· Resort Hotel of the Year – Hotel Villa Franca (Italy)

Highly Commended – Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay (Spain); Canaves Oia Suites (Greece); Keemala (Thailand)

· Mystery Inspectors’ Award – Hemingways Nairobi (Kenya)

Highly Commended – Grand Hôtel du Palais Royal (France); Pimalai Resort & Spa (Thailand); Rockliffe Hall (UK)

· Most Inspirational Interior Design – Castello di Reschio (Italy)

Highly Commended – Le Coucou Méribel (France); Gangtey Lodge (Bhutan); Ksar Char-Bagh (Morocco)

· Most Intimate Bedroom – Cap Rocat (Spain)

Highly Commended – Thorngrove Manor (Australia); Carmo’s Boutique Hotel (Portugal); Le Grand Bellevue (Switzerland)

· Most Mindful Wellness Retreat – Castle Hot Springs (USA)

Highly Commended – Quinta da Comporta (Portugal); Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti (Italy); Spa Village Tembok Bali (Indonesia)

· Most Intense Bespoke Experience – The George (New Zealand)

Highly Commended – Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay (Spain); Milaidhoo Maldives (Maldives); Pangkor Laut Resort (Malaysia)

· Best Gourmet Experience – The Seminyak Beach Resort & Spa (Indonesia)

Highly Commended – The Atlantic Hotel (Channel Islands); Castle Hot Springs (USA); Halcyon House (Australia)

· Local Food Champion – Chef Marc Collins, Wentworth Mansion (USA)

Highly Commended – Chef Salvatore Minneci, Susafa (Italy); Chef Carvison Pratt, Sailrock Resort (Turks & Caicos); Chef Jim Hopkins, Stein Eriksen Residences (USA)

· Hotel Hero Award – Michael Ferreira, Le Barthélemy Resort & Spa (St Barths)

Highly Commended – Laksiri Perera, The Fortress Resort & Spa (Sri Lanka); Harold Shepherd, The Sandpiper (Barbados)

· Sustainable Innovator of the Year – Arima Hotel (Spain)

Highly Commended – Susafa (Italy); Petit St Vincent (St Vincent & The Grenadines); Domaine de Manville (France)

· Stay Small, Stay Considerate Award – Lefay Resorts (Italy)

Highly Commended – Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa (Costa Rica); AKARYN Hotel Group (Thailand); Gaya Island Resort (Malaysia)

· INVITED Hotel of the Year – The Tokyo Station Hotel (Japan)

Highly Commended – Dormy House Hotel (UK); Velassaru Maldives (Maldives); Hotel Relais Christine (France)

· Travel Agents’ Hotel of the Year – Hotel Relais Christine (France)

Highly Commended – Viceroy Bali (Indonesia); Hotel Vilòn (Italy); Casa Angelina (Italy)

· Most ‘Liked’ Hotel – Halcyon House (Australia)

Highly Commended – Canaves Oia (Greece); Castello di Reschio (Italy); Cap Rocat (Spain)

· Digital Excellence Award – Triumph Hotels (USA)