Travel + Leisure Announces Hotel Design Awards

Bjorn Moerman, Wikimedia Commons

Travel + Leisure magazine has polled a panel of seven distinguished judges and named this year's list of best-designed hotels, resorts and more.

Unsurprisingly, forward-thinking cities such as Abu Dhabi and Shanghai had a number of entrants – but the magazine says there was a lot to recognize in the U.S. as well.

Judges for the competition included famous names such as fashion designer Norma Kamali and Nadja Swarovski, the creative director for Swarovski Crystal. The rest of the panel was made up of architects, curators, and designers.

The winning hotels were split into two categories – one for hotels with more than 100 rooms, and the other for smaller, boutique-style hotels.

The futuristic Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi topped the "More Than 100 Rooms" category. The 499-room hotel features two 12-story steel-and-glass towers that are covered by a veil-like grid of LED panes that shimmer and change color. As if that weren't daring enough, the two towers are connected by a bridge, under which Formula One races take place.

"Yas pushes the boundaries of hotel design," says Swarovski about the hotel.

On a smaller scale, the winner in the "Fewer Than 100 Rooms" category is the colorful but simple Pantone Hotel in Brussels, Belgium. The 61-room hotel features mostly white walls, but floors and rooms are accessorized with pops of color taken straight from the Pantone Matching System, a standardized color spectrum used by design and manufacturing industries. Pantone products of all sorts are also for sale at the hotel, ranging from vibrant furniture to monochromatic mugs.

"Pantone is clever, but not 'cute,' exactly what a small hotel should be," says juror David Childs, who is the man behind the now-in-construction One World Trade Center, among many other things.

Amangiri, a resort in the desert of Canyon Point, Utah, was also gifted with a design award. The centerpiece of the remote resort is a 150-foot-high rock, which acts as the main pavilion and stretches into the main swimming pool on the property. Two wings that branch out from this rock center are made of concrete that uses local sand, allowing the structures to organically blend in with the surrounding sandstone.

The design jurors also rated transportation, and placed the Norwegian Epic by Norwegian Cruise Line at the top of the list. The ship features 128 studio staterooms that are geared to younger, solo travelers. The studios are soft, padded rooms with one-way portholes that peek into the ship's interior corridors, where lighting changes relative to the time of day.

"Single cabins are an opportunity for this industry to blossom," says fashion designer Norma Kamali.

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