What do women want — in a leading hotel? The New York-based Luxury Institute has provided WWD with its Luxury Brand Status Index: Most Prestigious Hotel Brands. The index is an average of four indices: Quality, Exclusivity, Social Status and Self-Enhancement, presented on a 0 to 10 point scale. The Luxury Institute surveyed more than 1,600 wealthy people (51 percent were women whose median net worth was $1.1 million) about which hotel brands they preferred. What were the female respondents' favorites? "It's clear that women love more boutique brands with intimate places and smaller venues," said Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of the Luxury Institute. "All of these brands are known for their superior service and sophisticated experience, but the top-ranked brands tell us that women are also looking for that sense of security — sort of a home away from home."
Luxury Brand Status Index score: 8.58
"This is a classic, old-world brand that women hold in high regard because it has a great pedigree, and there's a sense of mystery and adventure to this brand's properties," Pedraza said. Orient-Express includes romantic luxury hotels, resorts and restaurants such as the Hotel Cipriani in Venice; Hotel Splendido in Portofino, Italy; the Villa San Michele in Florence; the Mount Nelson in Cape Town; Bora Bora Lagoon Resort in French Polynesia (left), and the Observatory Hotel in Sydney. On the domestic side, destinations such as the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans; Charleston Place in Charleston, S.C., and Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, Va., are owned by Orient-Express. The luxury brand, which also owns and manages train companies, cruise lines and restaurants such as the 21 Club in New York, was founded over 25 years ago.
2. SMALL LUXURY HOTELS OF THE WORLD
LBSI score: 8.5
More than 440 hotels (74 new this year) across 70 countries comprise this brand, which is currently recommending on its Web site: the Baby Grand Hotel in Athens, the Mansion Hotel in Shanghai and the Gaia Hotel & Reserve in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. "The challenge that every luxury hotel brand faces in today's increasingly competitive climate is how to inject that element of surprise and deliver beyond travelers' expectations, whether it be a stunning and unexpected location, exceptional service or the vast array of experiences that guests encounter," chief executive officer Paul Kerr said. One of its most unique locations is The Raj Palace in Jaipur, India's oldest mansion (left). The palace recently has been renovated with every modern amenity — many of the 29 rooms and suites are furnished with rare artifacts and priceless antique furniture.