best of 2013

Trip Styler's Best Stays + Sips of 2013

endemico + TS best of 2013[trip style = any]

Every year I sleep in hotels of all designs, shapes and sizes. Many delight, some throw curveballs and a few are downright disappointments {aka. the naughty list}. This year I took it upon myself to chronicle the standouts in categories ranging from architecture to amenities and service to spa treatments, plus a few dining hits that shouldn't be missed. Here are the winners.

Best Overall Encuentro Guadalupe, Mexico - Twenty rectangular lofts sit staggered between desert brush and boulders on a steep hill overlooking grapevines in Mexico’s wine country. Inside each minimalist muse is a blank slate bathed in white—white paneling, white tiles, white duvet—and lit by Edison-style bulbs. Wooden furniture completes the space and makes an appearance on the pod’s front porch around a clay, wood-burning fireplace.

Best Design Encuentro Guadalupe, Mexico - See above. Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Dubai - The scale, stature and sizzle of this 405-room resort sends you into a Nirvana-like state with every glance. The Standard, Miami Beach - While I can't recommend you stay at The Standard Miami---the service is on-again, off-again---you should take a peek at its gorgeous, vintage design. Templar Hotel, Toronto - A subdued and stunning collection of villas in Toronto's fashion district. Hotel de Glace, Quebec City - The most awe-inspiring ice palace I've ever seen. I wanted to kiss the walls!

Best Service Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay, Lanai - Every single staff member stopped in their tracks to speak with me and ensure my stay was comfortable. Four Seasons Resort, Whistler - Their attention to detail was so perfect, the staff went beyond anticipating my needs and became BFFs with my dog.

Most Pleasantly Surprising Stay Vive Hotel Waikiki, Oahu - Opened in summer 2013, the Vive has the friendliest staff---Trip Styler Sis hurt her knee and they asked her multiple times if she needed ice---and great Honolulu 2.0 touches like included breakfast and free WiFi. A great option for a budget-boutique stay two blocks from the beach. The Pearl Hotel, San Diego - The Pearl's Jet Age charm extends to their staff, who were the cheeriest group of gals I've ever encountered!

Most Exquisite Stay Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas - Discreet and decadent, serene and spacious, the Mandarin is without a doubt one of my top 20 stays of all time.

Best Hotel Bed The Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino - Straddling the 49th Parallel and the divide between a centuries-old coastal rainforest and the open ocean, this Travel+Leisure hall of famer—the only one of its kind in Canada—delivers low-key luxury on a gold-plated, Douglas fir platter. I'm quite certain I'll see the Wick Inn's dreamy beds in heaven.

Best Hotel Bathroom Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Dubai - Clad in light grey marble, the vanity is decorated with a pounded copper sink and lit by twinkly Moroccan lights. Two steps lead up to the bathtub and into another world. Big enough to bathe a baby elephant, the bath area is a room unto itself topped with a golden dome. I even considered sleeping in the tub one evening! NOBU Hotel, Las Vegas - The bathroom had me at its tall, white sink, big enough to fit a three-year-old, yet it was the four-quadrant design separating the sink, toilet, shower and vanity with sleek wooden slats that made me want to sing an ode to NOBU in the shower.

Best Hotel Shower Lava Lava Beach Club, Hawaii {Big Island} - Every cottage comes with a private, lava-encased outdoor shower spouting water from a bamboo shoot.

Best Hotel Pool Treats Parker Palm Springs, Palm Springs - Boozy cocktails, bunches of berries and hot chocolate are just a few of the treats delivered to your pool-side lounger. Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay, Lanai - Where else does Dr. Shades pop by to clean your sunglasses while you snack on complimentary canapes like prosciutto-wrapped beet?

Coolest Hotel Amenity NOBU Hotel, Las Vegas - Forget standard slippers, NOBU offers guests fluffy flip flops. Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas - Rooms are adorned in fresh-cut flowers. The Ampersand Hotel, London - Where raiding the minibar stacked with sparkling water, juice and cookies is free---and encouraged. Parker Palm Springs, Palm Springs - If you request a wake-up call, it comes along with a silver carafe of coffee served in gold-rimmed cups.

Best Upcycling Program Caesars Palace properties in Las Vegas sanitize all left-behind guest soaps, melt them into new molds and deliver them to families in need around the globe.

Best Spa Treatment Turkish Hammam at the Talise Ottoman Spa at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Dubai - The treatment started with a full-court press scrubbing and cleansing splashes of water. As my Turkish towel-clad attendant ran a soapy bubble bundle from my feet to my shoulders, I felt like I was floating, weightless, on top of the clouds. Ali'i Experience at the Spa Without Walls at the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii {Big Island} - My treatment started with a lomilomi hot stone massage in a beachfront cabana and ended with warm coconut oil slowly trickling down my head. It felt so Hawaiian it was as if I was dancing the hula at Mauna Kea’s summit. West Coast Lifestyle Package at CHI Spa at the Shangri-La, Vancouver - With cashmere robes and sheets so luxurious you want to rip them off the bed and wear them as a scarf and spa suites sporting infinity soaker tubs with embedded light therapy, the four-hour West Coast Lifestyles package starts with a private yoga class {so Vancouver!} and is followed by a sea kelp soak, a body wrap with mud flown in from China and a seaweed facial {or massage}.

Best Restaurant Luce, Portland - Simple, cool, fresh and perfectly Portland.

Best Beverage South Shore {rum bar} at The James Royal Palms, Miami - I'm not the hugest fan of rum, but the Hispanola with three lemon wedges, egg white, mint, sugar and a dash of bartender love rocked my cocktail world.

Best Dessert France Pavilion in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando - The chocolate macaron, ice cream edition {find it in the ice cream shop}. Bearfoot Bistro, Whistler - A dessert-meets-magic show, where cream and liquid nitrogen mingle to form their famous Nitro Ice Cream.

Best Coffee Shop Barista Parlor, Nashville - An industrial-design coffee shop, where the java is brewed in a lab {before your eyes} and breakfast is served with handkerchief napkins.

[photo by @tripstyler at encuentro guadalupe]