6 -min. read

It’s easy to get distracted by all the new hotels that have just opened… will open soon… may or may not open… or are nothing more yet than a rumour here and a knowing look there. Eight months into the year, scrolling through our Master List makes for an interesting check on what 2017 has and hasn’t delivered on that front.

But a barrage of new hotels also means that existing properties need to keep up. Whether inspired by direct competition or just because it was time for a little refresh, we’re all for keeping the upgrades coming. Here are three hotel renovations that span the globe – one in the Americas, one in Europe, and one in Asia – to get excited about.


Driving down the California coast on Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles is a quintessential American road trip, promising gorgeous scenery and dramatic views. Soon after Monterey and Carmel you’ll hit Big Sur, where one of the most glamorous places to spend the night will be reopening this autumn following a multimillion-dollar refresh: Ventana Big Sur.

Speaking of dramatic views, above is a rendering of the Meadow Pool and 7,000 square foot Ocean Meadow Lawn – not a bad place to spend an afternoon.

The 59 guestrooms and suites – which range from standard rooms to the 1,300 square foot Coast House – are sprinkled around the 160-acre property and many come with fireplaces and terraces or balconies, along with pretty much every amenity you can think of (and would expect) at this kind of resort. Walking sticks and lanterns encourage you to go out and explore the surrounding nature.

With its reopening, Ventana will become the first North American outpost of Alila Hotels (part of Two Roads Hospitality), known for its chic properties in Asia Pacific (China, Indonesia and India) as well as a more recent foray into the Middle East with Alila Jabal Akhdar Oman.

If getting closer to nature is what you’re after, Ventana now also offers a glamping option: 15 safari-style tents hidden among the towering redwoods that are big on romance and on amenities (yes, there is nightly turndown). Stay in one of the tents and you’ll have access to the Bath House with “teak-enclosed showers, heated floors, full hotel amenities, marble vanities, and restroom facilities” (though access to the hotel’s pools and other facilities does come with a $100 nightly charge).

The Social House is the heart of the resort with various spaces to relax and – you guessed it – socialise, with an “experience coordinator” on hand to help you sort out activities ranging from hikes to “mind-body-soul experiences” like drum circles and “quartz bowl energy sound baths”. Spa Alila and Pools is where you go for treatments, and besides the Meadow Pool there is the clothing-optional Mountain Pool with Japanese hot baths. Sur House restaurant relies on local ingredients to serve coastal cuisine, while the Glass House Gallery showcases work from local artists.


Moving from America’s Pacific Coast to the Mediterranean, we wrote about three new hotels coming to Barcelona back in February: The One, Almanac and The Edition. Obviously, Barcelona is on everyone’s mind at the moment due to the tragic events of last week, but we feel sure the popular beachside city will bounce back.

Of the three hotels, The One is still the only one to be actually welcoming guests – Almanac is accepting reservations from late September (with rates coming in at a hefty €400+ a night) and though The Edition finally has a landing page over at Edition Hotels, it sadly informs us that its opening has been pushed back to next year. Meanwhile, the W Barcelona, which transformed the city’s hotel scene when it first opened with its shimmery sail-shaped glass tower at the end of the harbour, has come out of a complete overhaul of its rooms and suites to let you know it’s ready for any new competition.

Blue and white dominate, with carpets “designed to represent a playful interpretation of the sea bed”. Pops of teal and rose gold show up in the furniture and accessories, with seating areas inspired by Spanish tapas culture to bring different elements together to create “a beautiful whole”. The lines on the walls are a lighting feature representing the city’s grid structure. The hotel will be home to the first W Sound Suite in Europe, a “private music studio and writer’s room for professional recording artists, studio musicians, as well as hotel guests, to record in style while on the road”.

Room categories will be familiar to W regulars – Marvelous Suites come with an outdoor terrace and Jacuzzi, while the Extreme-Wow Suite can have up to three bedrooms and three bathrooms and 360-degree views of the city and the Mediterranean.

Nothing is small-scale at the W (there are 473 rooms and suites) and the list of amenities and facilities is predictably extensive: a beach club; multiple pools; Bliss Spa; W Lounge; multiple restaurants; and, all the way up on the 26th floor, you’ll still find Eclipse lounge and club.


Ending our multi-content hop in a far more tranquil setting, this serene, minimalist space is the arrival courtyard at Amanwella, one of two Aman properties on Sri Lanka (its sibling Amangalla can be found inside the World Heritage Site of Galle Fort). A two-month refurbishment has spruced up the 30 suites and public spaces, which frame a white sandy beach on the island’s south coast (Amanwella combines the Sanskrit-word for peace with ‘wella’, Sinhalese for ‘beach’).

Sliding glass doors open each contemporary suite – they’re nearly 2,000 square foot each – up to both the entrance courtyard with plunge pool and to a private terrace with sun loungers and views of the coconut groves, beach and ocean. They come with light terrazzo floors, streamlined furniture and muted colours, all in an open-plan layout with freestanding soaker tubs.

The restaurant opens up to an outdoor terrace above the large multi-level pool, with palm trees and the surf beyond. Down on the beach there is a beach club with restaurant and water sports equipment; hammocks and a yoga platform are hidden away among the trees.

[All images / renderings from hotels featured]


Paul J DeVries
Paul J DeVries is a freelance travel writer and was previously a contributing editor for Based in London, he knows the city's hotel scene inside out, while also covering the latest in destinations around the world. When not checking out a new hotel, he checks in on the airlines and inflight products that get you there.

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