All this talk about the Mayan calendar and the end of the world got our Startle.com editors thinking about the hotels we’d most like to visit before we, well, kick the bucket. Thankfully the Mayans were wrong and we’re all still breathing (phew!), but nonetheless, our well-traveled staff members each compiled a list of his or her five must-visit dream hotels. From an ice hotel in Sweden and eco pods in the Alps to the white sand beaches of Bora Bora and the Maldives, we hope our hotel bucket lists inspire your own wanderlust within.
1. Burj Al Arab, Dubai. Landing on the helipad on the 28th floor of the Burj Al Arab in one of the world’s most prosperous cities would be the perfect start to a Dubai experience. The hotel is huge — towering 1,053 feet in the air — and resides on its own manmade island right off the famed Jumeirah beach. All of the 202 suites have views of Dubai and the coast. Every suite also has rain showers and Jacuzzis, as well as a reception desk on each floor. But I would get out of the room to explore the amenities, especially the six restaurants; I’d also take advantage of the unlimited guest access to the Wadi Wadi Waterpark, just a short walk away.
2. The Gibbon Experience, Bokeo, Northern Laos. Not only does The Gibbon Experience give me the chance to stay in a canopy-level tree house and to explore the forests of the Bokeo Nature Reserve in Northern Laos, but the cost of my stay goes toward protecting this area and its wildlife — including the eponymous gibbons monkeys. Plus, chilling in a tree house for a few days isn’t the only adventure to be had — the tree houses are accessible only by zip lines, and using them is an essential part of the wilderness experience.
3. Park Hyatt Tokyo. I fell in love with this hotel after it played host to Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray in the 2003 film Lost in Translation, and ever since, I’ve always wanted to pay the hotel — and Tokyo — a visit. Sitting on the top 14 floors of the Shinjuku Park Tower, Park Hyatt Tokyo’s rooms offer gorgeous views of the city, as does New York Bar and New York Grill on the 52nd floor, where many scenes of the movie were filmed. I couldn’t leave without taking a dip in the 47th-floor pool with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows and views of Mount Fuji.
4. The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Summer is by far my favorite season and nothing’s better than a coastal visit to the South this time of year. Warm weather, a sandy beach and an ocean view room at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort sounds just right. And it’s only a half-hour away from one of my favorite cities — Charleston, S.C. — making this an ideal destination. While I’m not cooling off in the ocean or pool, I’ll be serving up aces on the tennis court or getting a massage in the Five-Star spa.
5. ARIA Sky Suites, Las Vegas. There’s no place quite like Vegas and it doesn’t get much better than a luxe suite with some of the best vantage points of the Strip. The 2,060-square-foot, two-bedroom penthouse at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star ARIA Sky Suites would be the perfect place for my friends and me to get ready to hit the town. I’d feel like a VIP here, too, thanks to the personal concierge service and immediate seating at ARIA Resort & Casino’s Café Vettro. Plus, I’d take advantage of ARIA’s amazing amenities like the Four-Star spa, complete with infinity therapy pool to relax in before my night out in Sin City.
Photos Courtesy of Jumeirah International LLC, Hyatt Corporation and ARIA
Tags: ARIA Sky Suites, bucket list, Burj Al Arab, Dubai, Laos, Las Vegas, Park Hyatt Tokyo, The Gibbon Experience, The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, world travel