Each year Conde Nast Traveler conducts Readers’ Choice Awards to discover the top global travel destinations. This annual exercise has become a big event on the luxury traveler’s calendar. The awards provide important indications about the mood of high-end travelers as well as the most popular travel hotspots of the world. This year’s survey was bigger than ever before with 8 million votes being cast. 28,876 readers of Conde Nast Traveler participated in the annual survey. The final ratings were culled based on the votes of participating readers. The survey looked for winners in various brackets – cities, islands, hotels, airlines and cruise ships. 1,285 contenders made it to the final list based on the votes of Conde Nast Traveler’s travel-loving readers.
This year, the top 100 on this readers’ choice awards list were drawn from all six continents of the world. The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai in Pudong earned top earners for being the best hotel in the world. It is interesting that hotels located outside the United States and Europe, traditionally the top luxury travel destinations, are being overthrown by properties elsewhere. Even the second spot on the top 100 went to Peninsula House in the Dominican Republic. The third spot was jointly held by Four Seasons Sharm El Sheikh, a resort in Egypt and Safari Lodges at Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa.
There were big changes within the United States as well. Charleston has been a permanent fixture on Conde Nast Traveler’s annual listing. But this time, it emerges out of the runners-up lists and makes it to the top spot. Charleston is also one of few non-coastal cities on the US list. There is a surprise winner in the list of top-scoring US hotels. Chicago’s Elysian Hotel acquires the No. 1 spot despite being one of the newest entrants. The hotel opened barely two years ago. Coming in second and third are 21c Museum Hotel, Louisville and The Peninsula, Chicago respectively.
2011 marked the first time that Conde Nast Traveler compiled a separate list for Canada. While Quebec City emerged as favorite city of the surveyors, Vancouver came in second but also topped the list of islands. British Columbia featured heavily on this list with 27 hotels featuring in the Canada top 60. King Pacific Lodge (Rosewood) in British Columbia was the big winner.
America’s love for all things Mexico earned it a list of its own. But more than that, Mexico has proved that it is a holiday destination to reckon with. The country has increased its tally from four entries on the top 100 in 2006 to ten in 2011. Meanwhile, in the Caribbean and Atlantic region, Bermuda is the surefire winner. One of the other big winners is the tiny island nation of St. Lucia with five resorts and one hotel. Tourists who are looking for offbeat hotels and resorts should head to Central and South America with its eco-camps, golf resorts, wine country resorts and more.
Sydney edges ahead of past No. 1s like Paris and New York to become the top city to travel to. Sydney sneaked past No. 2, Florence with just 0.1 more. Australia is the giant in the Oceania region. Meanwhile, a tough year in Japan could not dislodge Kyoto from the top city spot in Asia. When Conde Nast Traveler first introduced the Asia list in 2006, there were only eight properties scoring over 90. Now, there are 23. In the Africa and Middle East sector South Africa and Egypt are dominant players – they account for 17 of Africa’s 20 highest-scoring hotels and resorts.
Only in Europe are there few surprises, with the list being largely similar to the one from 2010. New trends include Estonia’s arrival on the list. The British Isles now account for 40 properties.