Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Top 2006 New U.S. Hotel Openings

High concepts, condo-hotels and new classics—diversity in luxury is the theme for this year’s best new hotels in America. Hoteliers have been busy scaling the high-end hospitality mountain and planting their flags with the vow to deliver the very latest in design, technology and guest experience. New York City, naturally, made the list with two properties—one that claims to be an “entirely new genre of hotel.” Seattle gets a nod, as do Scottsdale, Minneapolis and Dallas. Fresh locations like Pismo Beach and Westlake Village, Calif.; Hawley, Pa; and Louisville, Ky., round out our top ten honorees, whose interpretations of hospitality translate to sigh-inducing encounters that are not only authentic but built to last.


Hotel Valley Ho

Touted as an urban resort, this retro hideaway in the heart of a popular desert city is one cool hotel. A mid-century classic that once catered to the celebs of Hollywood’s heyday, it languished for years before a savvy group of investors decided to breathe new life into the deteriorating property. Today, it features 194 guest rooms whose chic boutique interiors—worthy of Sammy, Frank and Dean—include glass-walled patios overlooking Camelback Mountain. Relax with American comfort food at the sleek Café Zuzu and then get your kicks with a kitschy tiki drink at the hotel’s Trader Vic’s bar.


Pismo Beach
Dolphin Bay Hotel & Residences

Gracing the bluffs above Pismo Beach, situated smack dab in the middle of the central California coastline, this beachy small residence hotel is all about casual luxury and Golden State ethos. The idea of home-away-from-home is taken seriously here, where guests can choose from 70 elegant one- and two-bedroom residences outfitted with gourmet kitchens, walk-in closets and the latest in home entertainment. Ocean views and archetypal sunsets cast a radiant glow on facilities that include the Lido Restaurant and La Bonne Vie spa. While away your time between specialty massages and sustainable dining with a drive north to San Francisco or a southerly foray to La-La land.


Westlake Village
Four Seasons Hotel, Westlake Village

Opened as of December 1, 2006, the latest from Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts exudes the same traditional elegance all its properties are known for. Located just north of Los Angeles and surrounded by soothing landscapes, i features the usual dining, fitness and business facilities, with a 40,000-square-foot mega-spa enhanced by the very different and forward-thinking California WellBeing Institute. Considered a luxury lifestyle facility, the Institute offers guests personal evaluation on a number of levels—the idea being that if you need to make a change, do so now so that you can live a longer, healthier and happier life. Wow!


21c Museum Hotel

Claiming to be America’s first museum hotel, 21c Museum Hotel in historic downtown Louisville is a one-of-a-kind venue. What’s a museum hotel, you may well ask? In addition to offering guests sanctuary in 91 rooms that come with their own iPods and sterling silver mint julep cups, this lovely small hotel exclusively commissions and displays works of 21st-century art by known video artists, painters, photographers, sculptors and multi-media artists. And, since this is the Kentucky Bluegrass State, you’ll also enjoy a selection of fine bourbons at the hotel’s lauded Proof on Main restaurant.



Declaring itself the country’s first art hotel, the Chambers came into existence with the renovation of two landmark revival buildings in Minneapolis’ historic downtown. Throughout this 60-room boutique property you’ll find displays of modern paintings, sculptures, photography, drawings and video art from the owner’s personal collection, considered among the top private collections in the world. The David Rockwell-designed rooms, generous in proportion and contemporary in concept, feature more art and all the comforts you’d expect of a stylish establishment. In the Chambers Kitchen, helmed by the inimitable Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the Asian-inspired dining is especially fine.


New York City
Blue Moon Hotel

A former tenement building in an area once pulsing with the quotidian hustle and bustle of street sellers, this new boutique hotel is part of the ongoing revitalization of the Lower East Side. Boasting a restored façade, brickwork and even fire escapes, it’s a standout among the trendy galleries and restaurants that inhabit this now fashionable Manhattan neighborhood. Each of its sixteen spacious guest rooms and six suites is named after personalities from the days of old New York. With whom would you rather spend the night: Al Jolson, Groucho Marx, Jimmy Cagney, or Sophie Tucker?


New York City
The Gramercy Park Hotel

The mastermind behind this highly anticipated hotel, Ian Schrager claims it defies categorization—and it is indeed inventive and lavish in design, eclectic features and an old European aesthetic filtered through today’s liberated lifestyles. The hotel impresses with 185 generously scaled guest rooms and suites—dramatic in color, singular in floor plan, and yielding a spirited ambience from their extraordinary blend of multicultural furnishings and varied styles. To be surrounded by all that otherworldly beauty would be enough for most, but guests are also treated to tons of original art, a private rooftop club, innovative spa and fitness facilities, a coveted key to Gramercy Park and—opening in January 2007—the Park Chinois from acclaimed restaurateur Alan Yu.


The Lodge at Woodloch

Pennsylvania’s lake region is the home of this refreshing new destination spa resort situated on 75 private estate acres. Once you’ve calmed your mind, renewed your body and connected with your inner self, you can connect with a tennis or golf ball at the championship club adjacent to the property. You’ll find yourselves at one with nature in your choice of 58 guest rooms designed to foster serenity and surrender. Plan your day around outdoor hikes, yoga and meditation, followed by a workshop in conscious living, a fireside chat with authors, poets and musicians, a psychic reading and organic dining at Tree.


W Dallas-Victory

A brand, spanking new Texas-sized building near Dallas’ downtown design district, this W property is striking both inside and out. Two hundred fifty-two guest rooms contain W’s typical upscale furnishings, while features range from a spa, health facilities, a rooftop infinity pool, the P.A.W.-Pets Are Welcome policy and W’s signature Whatever/Whenever Service. Dine on contemporary cuisine at the award-winning Craft, whoop it up cowboy-style at The Living Room Bar, and then materialize at the city’s newest late-night place to see and be seen, Ghostbar—bathed in ethereal blue lighting atop the building’s 33rd floor.


Hotel 1000

Hotel 1000 calls itself distinctive in a thousand ways—and we definitely agree. Design technology is the hallmark of this city hotel, whose 120 rooms and suites cultivate tranquility with features like electronic “do not disturb” signs, bathtubs that automatically fill from the ceiling, and artwork you can select according to taste for display on your hi-def TV. At the hotel’s The Golf Club, guests can play the game in a virtual setting on more than 50 world-class courses. Just step up in front of the huge projection screen, hit away with a real club, and see your performance stats register after each swing.

Other 2006 Notable U.S. Hotel Openings
1. The James Chicago - Chicago, IL
2. Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa - Las Vegas, NV
The Platinum Hotel and Spa - Las Vegas, NV
4. Night Hotel - NY, NY

Keyah Grande
- Pagosa Springs, CO

Hotel Palomar - Washington, D.C.
Pan Pacific Seattle - Seattle, WA

(Updated: 11/30/10 CT)

Sip your way through wine country with GAYOT's list of charming inns and resorts, featuring vineyards from Napa Valley to Long Island, New York.
Go off the beaten path and explore GAYOT's Top 10 Extreme Hotels, which feature one-of-a-kind accommodations for a truly unforgettable experience.