Helena Bay Lodge in New Zealand has been judged best newly opened hotel by Luxury Travel Intelligence.
Helena Bay Lodge in New Zealand has been judged best newly opened hotel by Luxury Travel Intelligence. Chris McLennan

Hotel where each suite is worth $10 million

Who doesn't thrill to the thought of staying in a hotel we can usually only dream about? The best hotel I have ever stayed in was the Four Seasons in Paris.

For three unforgettable days and nights my eyes popped, my breath sapped and my heart beat faster as I entered the Four Seasons lobby and took in the glorious sight of the extravagant floral arrangements. Twelve thousand blooms are brought into the hotel from Amsterdam each week for floral artistic director Jeff Leatham to create sculptural installations that halt all visitors entering the hotel. Depending on the season it could be long stems of vibrant yellow tulips in tall vases bending towards you in greeting, or tight bunches of blood-red roses peeking from clusters of round glass bowls. The arrangements are themed and they are spectacular.

Anyway, that's my most memorable luxury hotel story - it goes without saying I've stayed in some places that you would not kennel your dog in, but let's stay with the images of the beautiful floral sculptures. Let's not spoil things.

So...want to know the best newly opened hotel in the world according to the survey? Helena Bay Lodge in New Zealand. A $50million property with just five suites means a $10million per guest investment, and that means wow.

Like so much of New Zealand, Helena Bay itself is a magnificent gift from nature. Rolling and lush green hills lead down to a glittering bay. The lodge's architecture and decor have been kept minimal so as not to distract from the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

"This is destined to become one of the world's best hotels," the survey says.

Helena Bay is near Hikurangi in New Zealand's North Island, a place I became familiar with in the 1970s when I married a New Zealander who lived nearby. We had to drive through Hikurangi to get to the pretty town of Russell and I remember scoffing in a shamefully racist way about small one-horse New Zealand towns. Not scoffing any more. I'd give anything to get to Hikurangi now for a stay in Helena Bay Lodge.

And the world's worst new hotel according to the survey? The Palazzo Versace in Dubai. Oh dear. Maybe too much money and too little thought thrown at it? According to the survey it's an impressive property but in the wrong place, surrounded by heavy construction that will go on for years. Best we say no more.

Also in the world's worst top five is Trump International in Washington DC. Garish decor, according to the survey, "more quantity over quality". Well, no more needs to be said, right?

Here's to luxury hotels, and may we all have an opportunity at least once in our lives to stay in one.


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