The Peninsula Makes History at Forbes’ 2019 Star Rating Awards

 Forbes Travel Guide has announced its 2019 Star Rating Awards winners, with The Peninsula Hotels becoming the world’s first all Five-Star hotel brand

The Peninsula Hotels has become the world’s first all Five-Star hotel company at Forbes’ annual Star Rating Awards. An independent, global rating system for luxury hotels, restaurants and spas, The Peninsula Manila earned its fifth star this year, raising the brand’s tally to a total of 10 Five-Star hotels.

Covering 76 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East, each year Forbes Travel Guide’s highly trained inspectors visit properties as objective mystery guests, evaluating and verifying their quality based on up to 900 objective criteria. The evaluation covers both service and facility but the Star Rating system emphasises service, judging what kind of impression the property leaves on guests, how it makes them feel and what they remember most about the visit.

Top properties are deemed Five-Star, Four-Star or Recommended:


These are outstanding, often iconic properties with virtually flawless service and amazing facilities.


These are exceptional properties, offering high levels of service and quality of facility to match.


These are excellent properties with consistently good service and facilities.

“At Forbes Travel Guide, we verify luxury. Our independent inspection process is the gold standard in the hospitality industry,” said Filip Boyen, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide. “Discerning travellers can trust that each winner is the best of the best. We are pleased to honour the 2019 Star Rating recipients, an exceptional collection of hotels, restaurants and spas dedicated to guest service.”

In 2019 destinations making the cut for the first time include Anguilla, Bahrain, Belize, Danang, Doha, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Istanbul, Oman, Perth, the Swiss Alps, Tel Aviv and Uruguay.

This year there are also 21 new Five-Star hotels on the list, six new Five-Star restaurants and eight new Five-Star spas. 

Countries making the Five-Star hotel list for the first time hotel to include Malaysia with Crockfords at Resorts World Genting, Portugal with Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, South Korea with The Shilla, Seoul, Turkey with Raggels, Istanbul and Vietnam with Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An.

London unseated Macao as the city with the most Five-Star hotels, with four new hotels making the list including The Bulgari Hotel & Residences, The Langham, The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and The Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard.

All up, London finished the year with 13 top-ranking hotels, while Macao, in a close second, had 12 top-ranking hotels.

The U.S added two new Five-Star hotels: The Four Seasons Resort Lanai in Hawaii and Salamander Resort & Spa in the Washington D.C. area.

Eight new Five-Star spas also landed on the list, including La Prairie Spa at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, The Bulgari Spa Bali, Lisbon‘s Ritz Spa, Cabo San Lucas’ The Spa at Esperanza and Macao’s Zensa Spa. 

Forbes honoured winners at Verified, The Forbes Travel Guide Luxury Summit at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on 26 and 27 February.


You can see the full list of winners here.

Voting is now open for Luxury Travel Magazine’s 2019 Gold List, an annual awards honouring the world’s best luxury hotels, resorts and experiences. Cast your vote here.

This Ice Cream-Themed Hotel Room is Another Reason to Visit Finland

Valio Sweet Suite at Klaus K Helsinki
Valio Sweet Suite at Klaus K Helsinki

The Sweet Suite comes with a freezer stocked with as much ice cream as you can eat…

I scream, you scream, we all scream… well, you know how the rhyme goes, and if ice cream really does get you as excited as it suggests, then you’ll want to hold onto your hat because an ice cream-themed hotel room is about to open in Helsinki.

Why, you ask? We wondered the same thing. The concept, unsurprisingly the first of its kind in the world, is a collaboration between Finnish dairy company Valio and design hotel Klaus K Helsinki, located in the heart of Helsinki. Tomorrow, 1 March, the delicious, fairy floss-coloured ice cream suite will open as the Valio Jäätelöfabriikki Sweet Suite, named after Valio’s ice cream brand, and will be available to stay in through to September.

Guests staying will get to enjoy all-you-can-eat ice cream from the fully stocked in-room freezer along with a bunch of other ‘sweet’-themed perks, like a “Sweetest Movies of all times” film playlist, a “Sweetest Spotify songs ever” music playlist and a bathtub along with plenty of bubblebath to really get the party started.

Interior designers Anna Pirkola and Kirsikka Simberg are behind the design of the fun suite, which is a feminine, Nordic-style cocoon splashed with various shades of pink and decked out in 1930s-era vintage furnishings.

“Valio Jäätelöfabriikki aims to make you happy. To many, ice cream is a break from the daily grind. We wanted to create a small, surprising experience around delicious ice cream. This luxurious hotel suite and our beloved ice creams are a match made in heaven,” said Valio’s ice cream business manager. We tend to agree, and it seems Finns do, too – they consume the most ice cream in Europe per capita, making Helsinki a natural choice for an ice cream-themed suite.

The Sweet Suite opens on 1 March, and will close at the end of September.

Now, who’s hungry?

WA’s Rottnest Island Has a New Glamping Resort

Rottnest Island

The new resort is a sustainable, eco-luxe property set on the sands of Pinky Beach

Western Australia’s picturesque island of Rottnest, just off the coast of Perth, has its first glamping experience.

Tucked away behind the dunes of Pinky Beach, Discovery Rottnest Island has recently opened as an eco-style glamping resort offering 83 ‘eco-tents’. Ranging from three by three metres for a Standard Tent to 6.3 metres by 6.3 metres for a Deluxe Dune tent, all tents at Discovery Rottnest Island are equipped with a kitchen, ensuite bathrooms and a private deck and come equipped with biking facilities. Deluxe Dune tents are the most luxurious of the range, and have sweeping ocean views and a larger decking area. Dune tents also include a walk-in robe with a double vanity and come completely furnished. Winding boardwalks along the beaches connect each of the tents.

Surrounded by coastal landscapes and the cityscape of Perth in the distance, Rottnest has long been a weekend playground for local Perthies thanks to its shallow, white sand beaches and secluded coves, and a laid back island vibe that makes the spot feel removed from the rest of the world. A protected nature reserve, Rottnest island is one of the only places in the world you can find the quokka, a small wallaby-like marsupial. The island is also car-free, with bicycles the preferred mode of transport around the pretty isle.

At the heart of the new property is Pinky’s Beach Club. Set below the Bathurst Point Lighthouse, the protected Pinkys Beach is a favourite sandy spot among locals and daytrippers from Perth and is an ideal poolside destination for taking in WA’s famous sunsets. The new Beach Club serves up locally-inspired dishes and cocktails along with the top Margaret River wines, while the nearby seafood-focused restaurant, Thomsons Rottnest Island, serves up fresh Western Australian produce sourced from local producers and suppliers.

Discovery Rottnest Island has launched boasting a low environmental impact and a sustainability focus that extends to guest experience – one that is centred around enrichment and connection to the surrounding environment.

Access to Rottnest Island is by ferry. Bookings can be made here.

Mandarin Oriental Opens First Middle East Resort in Dubai

Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai - Tasca Terrace (L)

Mandarin Oriental’s new resort in Jumeira, Dubai is officially open, holding the status of being the closest beachfront resort to both Downtown Dubai and the financial and business districts

The Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai has opened a stone’s throw from the water’s edge in the heart of Dubai, introducing the Mandarin Oriental brand to the Middle East.

The property, designed by acclaimed international designer Jeffrey Wilkes, features spacious and elegant guest rooms and suites, most with private balconies and terraces offering views of the pristine ocean or the dynamic city skyline. The resort’s 256 elegant rooms and suites combine contemporary décor with guest-centric technology to accompany its staggering views.

The resort has six unrivalled restaurants and bars, including two signature restaurants: Tasca by Portugese celebrity chef Jose Avillez and Netsu, a Warayaki-style Japanese steakhouse by Aussie-born chef Ross Shonhan.

The hotel is the closest beachfront resort to Dubai’s financial and business districts and boasts exceptional meeting and event facilities, including a 650-square-metre glass-walled ballroom with a beachfront terrace and an expansive private Bridal Room.

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai focuses on locally inspired experiences such as holistic rejuvenation and relaxation treatments, and all nine treatment rooms feature individual changing and bathroom facilities – some with private terraces overlooking the ocean.

There is also a state-of-the-art Fitness Centre and a Little Nomads kids’ club with a range of fun activities for younger Mandarin fans.

To celebrate the opening, Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai is offering an enticing New Wave of Luxury package, which includes a daily credit of up to AED 1,100 that can be spent throughout the resort.

Voting is Now Open for the 2019 Gold List Awards

Luxury Travel Magazine is pleased to announce voting is now open for the 15th annual Gold List awards

The Gold List awards celebrates the best in luxury travel in Australia and around the globe, as voted by our readers. With voting now open, this is your opportunity to have your say and nominate the best five-stars resorts and hotels, luxury rail journeys, ocean cruises and high-end tour operators across 12 categories.


How to Vote

  • Start your voting process by clicking on the link below and remember to include the location of the property you nominate for your vote to count (eg. ‘Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour’, not just ‘Sofitel’).
  • Please note that to be eligible to go in the draw to win one of three prizes (announced soon), you must fill out at least one category in the questionnaire, as well as the final question.
  • Voting closes 5pm Monday 8th April 2019. Winners will be announced Thursday 30th May 2019 in the winter issue of Luxury Travel Magazine.

Viking Cruises Announces 161-Day World Voyage

By Staff Writer

Viking Cruises has announced an epic, 161-day worldwide voyage in 2020/2021 that will sail to six continents and 75 ports – including six the cruise line has never visited before.

Setting sail on December 14, 2020, the Viking World Cruise aboard Viking Sun, an award-winning vessel, will depart from Miami and take passengers on to the Caribbean islands and then the South Pacific before various ports in Asia, including Hong Kong and Bangkok. Guests will then voyage to the Middle East with ports in Oman, Jordan, Egypt and Israel followed by a journey through the Mediterranean before Viking Sun makes its final berth in London.

Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen is calling the voyage one of “the most immersive and culturally enriching itineraries available”.

Luxury cruise companies across the board have upped the ante on their shore excursion offerings in the past few years, responding to traveller demand for deeper destination immersion, and Viking’s new worldwide voyage is no exception. There are 13 overnight stays in various cities scheduled throughout the worldwide journey.

“We are a destination-focused travel company, and it has always been our priority to help our guests connect to the destination,” added Hagen, suggesting guests will be able to delve into a more immersive cultural experience on board Viking Sun.

Viking World Cruise highlights include:

  • Oahu (Honolulu), Hawaii : At this new port location guest can enjoy beautiful beach walks on Waikiki, or historical landmarks such as Pearl Harbor.
  • Kauai (Nawiliwili), Hawaii: Known for its beautiful botanical gardens, guest can admire the lush vegetation the island has to offer or follow the path of explorer Captain James Cook. For art lovers, this island also boasts one of the largest collections of bronze sculptures.
  • Moorea (Opunohu Bay), French Polynesia: Known for its beauty, cuisine and fusion of European and Asian culture, travellers can enjoy the landscape from a catamaran or on land with the locals.
  • Hue (Chan May), Vietnam: With castles, temples and citadels spanning dynasties, history buffs can immerse themselves in legends of long-fought battles, while foodies will can satisfy their cravings in the traditional food market.
  • Mumbai, India: The bustling city of Mumbai is the financial, commercial and entertainment capital of India. While in port, guests can learn about the iconic activist Gandhi or enjoy the Hanging Gardens, one of the prized few parks found in the city.
  • Istanbul, Turkey: Known as the destination ‘where East meets West’, experience this historic city that straddles two continents and explore a wealth of religious sites such as the spectacular Blue Mosque or the legendary Hagia Sophia
  • London (Greenwich), England: Guests will end their sailing in the historic Royal Borough of Greenwich, London on the Thames River, allowing easy access to the regal capital’s iconic sights including the Tower of London, House of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

In addition to the Viking World Cruise, Viking is also offering a 141-day voyage, Viking World Discovers, departing from Los Angeles on January 4, 2021 and visiting 27 countries and 66 ports.


The Details

Pricing for the 2020-2021 Viking World Cruise starts at $85,995 per person and 2021 Viking World Discoveries starts at $75,995 per person. Prices includes Business class international airfares, transportation to and from the ship, gratuities and service fees, visa services and a beverage package. Details can be found

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Reveals Spas on Board New Expedition Ships

By Staff Writer

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has revealed details of the spa and fitness facilities that will be onboard the cruise line’s three new expedition ships. HANSEATIC nature, HANSEATIC inspiration – the company’s international expedition ship – and HANSEATIC spirit will all feature a ‘wellness deck’ on Deck 8 with an extensive Ocean Spa conveying the company’s wellness philosophy, “Inspired by nature”.

The 235-metres spa will focus on nature in everything from the ingredients used in treatments to the design of the treatment rooms. Floor-to-ceiling windows will give guests access to a spectacular, constantly changing landscape, which in turn will be reflected by the colours, tones and shapes used in each space. The spa will feature an outdoor area for relaxing, a Finnish sauna, a steam sauna, hydrotherapy shower and ice fountain as well as a hairdressing salon.

When it comes to treatments, the spa will only utilise sustainable products incorporating natural ingredients produced by Vinoble, Hyapur, John Masters Organics and Nailberry. The “Inspired by nature” philosophy will also be mirrored in the vegan formulas and the use of local produce, with no chemical or synthetics added to any products.

Next door to Ocean Spa will be a 100 metre-squared fitness area featuring state-of-the-art equipment and a fitness studio with a glass front which can be fully opened out on to its own outdoor area. Floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows throughout ensure nature is always on display while cruising through the icy scenery of the polar regions or the warmer waters of the Amazon.

A fitness trainer is also on hand on each ship for personal training classes, pilates and Antarctic sun salutation sessions. The sports facilities on board are based on the three pillars of relaxation, balance and strength.

Continuing on past the fitness area guests will find the spacious Sun Deck with the pool area covering about 630 m2 and a flexible canopy ensuring the area can be used come rain, show or shine.

HANSEATIC nature will be the first of the three, new Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ expedition ships to set sail on its maiden cruise on 13 April 2019, and will be aimed exclusively at the German-speaking market. In October it will be followed by the launch of its international, bilingual sister ship, the HANSEATIC inspiration and then by the HANSEATIC spirit in 2021, which will also be aimed exclusively at the German-speaking market.

These small, first-class expedition ships will feature cutting-edge technology and the highest ice class for passenger ships (PC6). They can accommodate up to 230 guests, or 199 guests on Antarctic cruises.

Retractable glass balconies on the Sun Deck give guests the feeling of hovering directly above the water and guests can stand on the foredeck of the ship to be closer to the action – even closer than the captain.

For bookings, enquiries or to request a brochure, click here.

This Fishing Tournament is at One of the World’s Most Exclusive Lodges

Huka Lodge surrounding landscape of Lake Taupo.

In partnership with

The exclusive Huka Lodge Fly Fishing Tournament will serve up a whole lot more than world class fishing in 2019. 50 lucky participants can also expect a gourmet taste journey through France and a rare whisky tasting

Fishing fans and nature lovers, this one’s for you. New Zealand’s iconic luxury lodge, Huka Lodge in Taupo, has announced a fly fishing tournament taking place over three days this August.

And it isn’t just any old fishing competition.

The inaugural, exclusive Huka Lodge Fly Fishing Tournament was created in celebration of the story behind the famous lodge’s beginnings.

In the 1920s an avid Irish fisherman by the name of Alan Pye arrived in Taupo, New Zealand with a one track mind: he had heard tales about the size and fighting spirit of the magnificent Rainbow and Brown trout being caught in the numerous streams, rivers and lakes of Taupo. It didn’t take him long to realise the legends were entirely true, and he immediately set about purchasing land in a prime position that would give him perfect access to this fishing heaven. He chose a spot on the banks of the Waikato River, upstream from the mighty Huka Falls and established a simple fishing camp that quickly became known for its exceptional angling and generous hospitality.

The rest, as they say, is history.

In 2019, this exciting and exclusive three-day angling event, which is available to a maximum of 50 guests, will be an action-packed adventure both on land and on the water.

All participants in the tournament will be guided by a team of experienced and knowledgeable local guides thanks to a partnership with Lake Taupo’s premier outdoor experience provider, Chris Jolly Outdoors.

Fly fishing will take place in over 25 of the best spots, in the amazing crystal-clear rivers and streams around Lake Taupo, and for those wanting to brush up on their technique ahead of the tournament, individual fly-casting tuition will be available at the Lodge on the day of arrival.

Returning to the lodge at the end of each day of fly-fishing, relaxing activities await for the 50 lucky guests. A delicious five-course dinner prepared by Executive Chef Paul Froggatt will be served up on the first night, but not before an aperitif from the Champagne station presented by Louis Roederer.

Guests will also experience a tutored ‘Highland Tasting’ by Tom Fastier, the Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador for New Zealand, featuring seven aged and rare whisky releases that have never been tasted in New Zealand before and never will again.

And if a champagne station and limited release whisky tasting session isn’t exclusive enough for you, one evening will be dedicated to a ‘Tour de France of Wine’ dinner with Ben Longhurst, Wine Ambassador from Eurovintage, who will closely collaborate with Chef Paul to create a stunning food and fine French wine journey. Starting in famous Champagne, your gastronomic and oenological travels will take you on an extraordinary passage from Burgundy to Alsace, through the Rhone Valley and finishing in Bordeaux.

The Huka Lodge Fly Fishing Tournament will build to a grand finalé with a Prizegiving Dinner hosted by Al Brown on the last night. An impressive tournament prize pool will be up for grabs featuring the finest fishing rods by local heritage brand Kilwell Sports Ltd, worth over NZ$13,000.00, NZ$2,500 worth of Rodd & Gunn products and a Helisika helicopter adventure. There will also be prizes awarded daily, as well as a special goodie bag for all participants to take home.

The Huka Lodge Fly Fishing Tournament will take place on 29th, 30th & 31st August 2019. Bookings can be made at

The Details

Rates include all activities, as detailed, associated with the tournament, vehicle transfers for fishing, guides, fishing licences, full breakfasts, pre-dinner drinks and canapés, five-course dinners, use of all lodge facilities and return Taupo Airport transfers.


Junior Lodge Suite

  • Single occupancy – NZ$1,980.00 + GST per night
  • Double/twin occupancy  – NZ$1,220.00 + GST per person, per night

Owner’s Cottage

  • Eight guests, in four suites, on a double/twin occupancy basis – NZ$1,520.00 + GST per person, per night

Alan Pye Cottage

  • Four guests, in two suites, on a double/twin occupancy basis – NZ$1,520.00 + GST per person, per night

Other accommodation configurations can be arranged, please contact Huka Lodge to discuss your requirements