December 12, 2019

Best Hotel & Resort Projects of 2019

More than just a place to sleep and eat while on vacation or traveling for business, the 21st-century hotel has evolved into a multi-sensory experience—with great design setting the stage. The hospitality sector continues to deliver surprises, so here are our favorites among the new builds and transformations we covered: the best hotel projects of 2019. Three were winners in their Best of Year Award categories and four were honorees. 

TWA Hotel in New York by Beyer Blinder Belle, INC, Lubrano Ciavara, and Stonehill Taylor

You expect Don Draper to appear any minute at the check-in counter. He would then head past the chili pepper–red sunken lounge to a room in the hotel, which you can see through the soaring glass wall. The raptorlike TWA Flight Center—a terminal for Trans World Airlines, designed by Eero Saarinen, built in 1962, and mothballed in 2002—is finally back, transformed into the lobby, restaurant, and ballroom of the new TWA Hotel at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens. The voices of Frank Sinatra and the Beatles float in, establishing the period and mood; hotel staff are uniformed like TWA flight attendants; and The Connie, a 1958 Lockheed Constellation still attracts passengers—though now they climb aboard just for cocktails. The property earned a 2019 Best of Year Award for Hospitality Transformation. Read more about this project

Solaz Los Cabos by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos

In Baja California, the Sea of Cortés coast from Cabo San Lucas to the north is peppered with resort hotels. In style they tend to be either steroidal haciendas or monumental hulks. By contrast, the new Solaz Los Cabos is a refreshing example of Mexican modernismo. No surprise, then, that it is the work of Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos, a firm founded in 1937 by pioneering modernist architect Juan Sordo Madaleno and known since for award-winning hotel design. The company added a 2019 Best of Year Award for Resort for this property.  Read more about this project

Little Shelter in Thailand by Department of Architecture

What makes a shingle a shingle? That was the question Amata Luphaiboon and Twitee Vajrabhaya Teparkum, Department of Architecture Co. principals, asked themselves for Little Shelter, an inn in Chiang Mai, Thailand, that the firm designed and which Luphaiboon co-owns. Wanting to be sensitive to the region’s centuries-old architecture, they decided to take a fresh look at the venerable building material. The result earned the firm a 2019 Best of Year Award for Building Facade and honoree status for Boutique Hotel. Read more about this project

Shinola Hotel in Detroit by Gachot Studios

Haven’t heard of Detroit’s coolest accessories company? Then you don’t know chic from Shinola. Named after the defunct 19th-century shoe polish that spurred the famously salty phrase, the brand was begun in 2011 by Tom Kartsotis with a line of upscale watches. Now making other luxury leather goods as well as bicycles, it has been on a meteoric rise since—as has its hometown of Detroit, a formerly depressed city, but today a burgeoning cultural hub. When a label and a city reach a convergence point, can a stylish hotel be far behind? But a Shinola hotel had to be just right. Enter Gachot Studios, led by husband-and-wife John and Christine Gachot. The project was a 2019 Best of Year Award honoree for Hospitality Transformation. Read more about this project

Asbury Ocean Club Surfside Resort & Residences by Anda Andrei Design and Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture and Handel Architects

Most of the team behind the Asbury Hotel—Anda Andrei Design and Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture and Handel Architects—as well as the revival of the shore town that originally put Bruce Springsteen on the map, is back at it again with a luxury building composed of a 17-story residential tower and a 54-room boutique hotel, all overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The collaboration earned 2019 Best of Year honoree designation in the Boutique Hotel category.  Read more about this project

Gloriette Guest House in Soprabolzano, Italy by NOA

For centuries, residents of the northern Italian city of Bolzano have sought refuge from the summer heat by retreating to the Dolomites. The construction of a cog railway in 1907 gave ready access to the nearby Alpine village of Soprabolzano, where members of Bolzano’s upper crust established warm-weather estates. In their gardens they built gloriettes, small guest houses, one of the most known being the 18th-century pavilion on the grounds of Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace. That arcaded belvedere, along with its local descendants and the villas they serve, many in the art nouveau style, informed the design of Gloriette Guesthouse, a new 25-room boutique hotel by NOA* Network of Architecture that reinterprets Soprabolzano’s leisured past for the 21st century. The result garnered 2019 Best of Year honoree status for Boutique Hotel.  Read more about this project

Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah by AvroKO

From a distance, it looks like it’s been there for a century. But in reality, the Perry Lane Hotel in Savannah, Georgia, is a new ground-up structure—actually, two structures (more on that later). Its interiors, however, conjure a bygone era, yet still feel fresh and modern. That’s the work of AvroKO principals Greg Bradshaw, Adam Farmerie, William Harris, and Kristina O’Neal, who immersed themselves in Savannah, even invented a muse to guide the project, their first in the Hostess City. Read more about this project

Hotel Calimala in Florence by Alex Metlis

Pochi passi (several steps) from the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, and Piazza della Repubblica—the touch points of Florence’s centro storico—stands Hotel Calimala, one of the city’s newest and freshest hospitality venues. The 38-room property represents the transformation of a 19th-century palazzo, officially Palazzo degli Angeli, which last housed offices. Credit goes to architect Alex Meitlis, who divides his time between Tel Aviv and London, where he is known for the design of Yotom Ottolenghi’s restaurants. A happy marriage of the historic and the modern, Hotel Calimala retains the detailed sgrafitto frescoes of its exterior, while its interiors are now a sophisticated canvas of marble, terrazzo, contemporary custom furnishings, and artwork. Read more about this project

Zannier Hotels Sonop in Namibia 

From the land of barking geckos and bespoke Land Cruisers, ancient deserts and private airstrips, greetings! Zannier Hotels Sonop, an exclusive luxury encampment in the Republic of Namibia, in southwestern Africa, is the latest edge-of-the-map hospitality project from the boutique group based in Ghent, Belgium. Sonop, which means sunrise in Afrikaans, comprises 10 meticulously outfitted residential tents and ancillary canvas structures. Built on stilts, they sit among an outcropping of boulders at the edge of the Namib, widely considered the oldest desert in the world. Almost no one lives there. Angelina Jolie tipped off founder and CEO Arnaud Zannier to the place. From the cigar lounge at Sonop, it’s like looking at the world before we got here. Read more about this project

Layering Courtyard in Beijing by Archstudio

Today’s savvy global travelers seek out unique experiences as much as they do high-quality bed linens and in-room espresso makers—a consumer preference that generally inspires hospitality designers to chase after and incorporate mercurial trends. But when creating a boutique hotel near Beijing’s Qianmen Gate, Archstudio took cues not from passing fancies but from a fixture of historic neighborhoods: the traditional siheyuan compounds that once formed urban buildings blocks but are now more often casualties of redevelopment. The local firm reinvented a 5,700-square-foot quad­rangle into Layering Courtyard, a mixed-use bed-and-breakfast and events space—and a self-contained oasis in the bustling city. Read more about this project

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