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Though Covid-19 forced hotel closures worldwide, some forward-thinking properties have used their time wisely over the past year to fine tune their already luxurious offerings. From top-to-bottom renovations, pop-up igloos and riverboats to solar power projects, art installments, and swanky new spa facilities, these boutique hotels are preparing to welcome guests to a new and improved post-pandemic stay. Say hello to a fresh take on the meaning of hotel upgrades…

Paseo 206 Boutique Hotel, Havana – Cuba

Sensitively restoring this classic Cuban mansion house to its former glory, the owners took their renovation works a step further this year by redecorating each of the ten suites which make up Paseo 206 Boutique Hotel. Particular attention has been paid to the Tropical Master Garden Suite, which boasts a brand new bathroom with Italian mid-century style black tiles, new curtains by high-end Italian boutique manufacturer Tendaggi, and palm-trees wallpaper to create the feeling of being immersed in the surrounding bamboos and foliage visible through the suite’s glass walls. A final addition to this room, along with the other suites, has been a specially designed leather and iron desk, crafted by the maestri artigiani of Florence – a bean-shaped Gió Ponti sofa completes the restyling.

In keeping with its art-centric location in the hip Vedado district, Paseo 206 has recently partnered with Italian based art gallery Galleria Continua, featuring works which will sit alongside the hotel’s existing permanent exhibition of Cuban contemporary artists.

Le Grand Bellevue, Gstaad – Switzerland

Recognising the need for socially distanced dining options, Le Grand Bellevue installed an oversized igloo set in their picturesque grounds as a winter pop-up restaurant, The Lodge which opened in December 2020. For the ultimate après ski indulgence, head straight from the slopes to the twin dining domes for a cosy yet exclusive way to end a snow-dusted day in Gstaad – the likes of homemade vegan potato truffle soup, warming organic carrot ginger soup, and beef bourguignon with creamy mashed potatoes feature on the menu.

Eichardt’s Private Hotel, Queenstown – New Zealand

Located in the heritage wing of Eichardt’s Private Hotel, the recently added Vault Spa offers a sanctuary to hotel guests and visitors alike. Starting life as a woolshed, Eichardt’s was originally built in 1862 and quickly became a first-class establishment due the discovery of gold in the region. The Vault is named after the original space where a neighbouring bank stored their gold, which lends itself to the hidden privacy of the new wellness area, a world away from outside the door. Featuring a private treatment room offering unique restorative treatments suitable for up to two people, separate private lounge room and large marble bathroom promising a serene experience for guests. Larger groups can make full use of the Penthouse hot tub, sauna, standalone bath, and expansive lounge deck with the most sought-after views in Queenstown.

Relais de Chambord, Chambord – France

Taking the opportunity to transform its tout cabanée, a traditional Loire riverboat, into a stylish suite which floats on the Cosson River with views of the magnificent Château de Chambord and its French gardens, Relais de Chambord has truly made the most of its spectacular riverside setting. Inside, it offers guests the same sleek, contemporary feel as the hotel. Designed by Stefania di Petrillo, the interior is elegantly dressed in wood and leather, creating an incredibly relaxing ambience in the utmost privacy. In the morning, after watching the sun rise over Renaissance turrets and chimneys, breakfast is delivered, specially prepared and waiting on deck, with France’s most picturesque castle as the backdrop. This unusual room benefits from all the comforts of a luxury hotel room, including a shower, air conditioning, heating and Wi-Fi.

La Sultana Marrakech, Marrakech – Morocco

La Sultana Marrakech is home to the largest rooftop terrace within the UNESCO protected Medina of Marrakech. Inspired by the hanging gardens of Babylon, the roof terrace is an elegant space featuring traditional Moroccan design with panoramic views of the Medina and the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains. This special setting now shares its space with the hotel’s newly opened Le Odette Rooftop Bar & Mezze, with food inspired from popular global cuisine matched with a large selection of signature cocktails flavoured with Moroccan spices.

Pädaste Manor, Muhu Island – Estonia

Seeing the year long lockdown as a travel reset, the owners of Pädaste Manor have long been committed to contributing to their local community and responsibly managing their environmental impacts. In keeping with their sustainable ethos, the 16th-century island haven confirmed its solar power plant project at the end of last year and have since started to install 100kW panels which are elegantly hidden from view, and will allow the hotel to be off-grid for over 40% of the time.

Ka’ana Resort, San Ignacio – Belize

During its nine month closure last year, Ka’ana Resort not only refreshed their facilities and grounds, but also gave their suites and villas a complete upgrade. Before the renovations, the Casita Suite was warm and inviting with a front porch and hammock as well as a small back porch with lounge chairs. Now, in addition to these cosy features, guests will enjoy a private garden complete with an outdoor soaking tub. Four-hundred square feet of private modern luxury, this suite boasts a spacious in-room seating area, a large bathroom with a newly added rainfall shower, and your choice of one or two queen beds. Adorned with local art and textiles, each suite has also been upgraded with new air conditioning for the highest levels of comfort.

DasPosthotel, Zell am Ziller – Austria

The Binder-Egger family have named their latest suite at DasPosthotel in loving memory of their father, SkyLoft Johann, which commands spellbinding alpine views from its penthouse floor setting. The East and West facing SkyLoft comes with a spacious balcony and SkyBath, and a light-flooded atmosphere thanks to panoramic windows. Like the rest of this eco-conscious lodge, the SkyLoft Johann has been furnished with natural materials, including modern pine panelling and an oiled oak floor.

Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort, Mykonos – Greece

Named after the Greek goddess of healing, the recently renovated and relocated Althea Spa Retreat at Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort overlooks the sacred island of Delos, and enjoys one of the sunniest spots in the Cycladic islands. Designed to bathe the wellness sanctuary in sunshine, which occupies over 8,000 square feet at ground level, the treatment rooms make full use of the natural light while shaded courtyards and a semi-caved thalasso pool give way to Aegean Sea views.

Hôtel Lou Pinet, Saint-Tropez – France

Since the 1950s, Saint-Tropez has held a special place in the hearts of artists. The painters were among the first to discover the postcard-worthy village and peninsula, before a whole host of writers came to be inspired by the unique light of the region. In the golden days of the fifties and sixties, the Tropezian peninsula became the summer annex of Saint-Germain-des-Prés with Boris Vian, Françoise Sagan and Bernard Buffet among many others. More recently, Hôtel Lou Pinet revived this beautiful tradition by welcoming a fine selection of works by contemporary artists. Personally chosen by the Pariente family, passionate about art from generation to generation, the creations are harmoniously integrated into the picturesque hotel grounds.

From the entrance, Ugo Rondinone welcomes guests with a cheerful cairn, a pile of stone blocks with fluorescent colours as saturated as
the sky of the French Riviera. During summer strolls, visitors can also come across two bronze columns by the British sculptor Toni Cragg. Emblematic of the artist’ work, who was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize in 1988, they are installed in the axis of the pool for a subtle yet statement aesthetic.

Gangtey Lodge, Phobjikha Valley – Bhutan

A world away from the everyday, Gangtey Lodge is an all-suite outpost overlooking Bhutan’s Gangtey (Phobjikha) Valley. Surrounded by mountains and forests, the Lodge offers guests spectacular views of this unspoiled landscape. Extending its already authentic Bhutanese culinary offering, the Himalayan hideaway now provides guests with a private dining experience with valley views at the new Woodshed, a secluded spot just steps away from the main lodge.

Hotel Splendide Royal, Rome – Italy

A 19th-century palace overlooking Rome’s Villa Borghese gardens, Hotel Splendide Royal will be opening 16 new suites this spring in keeping with its existing interior design which blends antique and modern touches with neutral tones. Picture walk-in wardrobes, Italian marble-covered bathrooms, light-flooded rooms and furniture crafted by the very best of the country’s artisans.

Hotel Casa Palmela, Setúbal – Portugal

Anticipating the post-pandemic trend for back-to-nature experiences and an increased guest demand for stand-alone accommodation, Hotel Casa Palmela have refreshed outdoor and indoor spaces as well as building a new two-bedroom villa. Continuing its ongoing environmental project, the 18th-century country house has installed a charging station for electric vehicles, and invested in outdoor spaces within its Arrábida Natural Park setting which are picnic-perfect or ideal for those seeking a quiet moment, surrounded by nature. Additionally, the hotel has redesigned and continued to grow its expansive garden areas, flower beds and paths. Adding to the existing family of horses and house dogs, animal interpretation areas have been built where different kinds of birds have been introduced, including geese, guinea fowls and ducks.

Las Alamandas Resort, Costalegre – Mexico

The colour-popping Las Alamandas Resort reopened earlier this year with a trendy set of renovated suites and a brand new villa, Casa Bougainvillea, bringing the resort’s total to 18 suites and eight villas. Casa Bougainvillea offers spectacular sunset views over the main Plaza Delfines and the hotel’s iconic fuchsia pink dome. Featuring two spacious, brightly decorated suites with white polished cement floors, Mexican arts and crafts accents, and bathrooms with generous double showers in shades of hot pink hand-painted tiles, the new ocean view villa is more contemporary in look and feel, while retaining the essence of Las Alamandas.

Additionally, the new La Palapa Beach Club, which can’t be missed thanks to a soaring traditional thatched palapa ceiling, is lighter and modernised with chic yellow and white details and exquisite stonework on the floor. There is an additional deck for sunbathing and to enjoy private dining surrounded by candles gazing out at the ocean. New wellness offerings include a new, intimate spa with a treatment room, steam room, and beauty salon, as well as a completely remodelled fitness centre.

Canaves Oia Suites, Santorini – Greece

Already home to an elegant set of suites carved into the island cliffs, Canaves Oia Suites are adding new Pool Suites with individual, infinity-edged pools overlooking the caldera, along with a two-bedroom Cave Villa. Each bedroom has an en-suite bathroom with rain showers and one of them comes with a beautiful bathtub. The villa’s vast living areas are stylishly yet comfortably furnished with a separate
dining area and fully equipped kitchen for your self-catering needs. Outdoors, you can soak up the Santorini sunshine on one of two large private verandas, before taking a dip in your private infinity pool.