Kiwi Experts: Carrie Harrison-Ell’s 5 Favorite Hotels

Guest Editor:
- Carrie Harrison-Ell, Senior Vice President of Hotel Programs for Kiwi Collection and mother of three; she is an expert on family travel. Carrie’s not-so-secret pleasures include: romantic trips to Siena, wine and cheese pairings and everything about the Mayan Riviera.

Where in the world do our well-traveled Kiwi Experts most like to overnight? Every Thursday, a different expert dishes on their five favorite hotels of the moment. Up next is Carrie Harrison-Ell, our SVP of Hotel Programs and family travel guru (she’s mother to three energetic youngsters).

1. SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California
You can visit this hotel 100 times and still see something new each time. I’ll bet you didn’t even notice there were monkeys in their logo? Surprise! I love Philippe Starck’s design here. It’s a very eclectic mix, and every room or piece makes you think… or smile. The restaurant, Bazaar is truly amazing. The tapas—thanks to the genius mind of Jose Andre—are as unique as the décor. What other five-star restaurants do you know that serve chocolate covered Pop Rocks in an Alice in Wonderland-type brasserie?

2. Montelucia Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona
Absolutely breathtaking, that was my first impression. I’d seen the images, but there is nothing like seeing this resort in person. Nestled in the heart of Paradise Valley, its Moroccan-Spanish-Italian design blend is complemented by a stunning view of Scottsdale’s treasured Camelback Mountain. Surprisingly, it feels like a small European city, boasting intricate architecture and dancing waterfalls (one of which is likened to Spain’s Alhambra fountain, no joke). Add to all that, beautiful swimming pools and luscious gardens with orange trees.

3. Hotel ZaZa, Houston, Texas
By far the most unique hotel I’ve visited. Their themed rooms are unlike anything you’ve seen, a mixture of high-end elegance and exciting originality. The Magnificent Seven Suites are must-see—from the Rock Star Room filled with original rock and roll memorabilia, to the Black Label Room touting a top-floor outdoor hot-tub with a breathtaking view.

4. The Hazelton Hotel, Toronto, Canada
Conveniently situated in the hottest part of town, Yorkville, the location is perfect. So are the rooms. Even a standard room at this hotel has had no expense spared. All rooms boast large marble bathrooms with exquisite soaker tubs, robust showers and heated floors. And there’s smart technology throughout. Turn every light on or off with the touch of a button (no searching through your room for mystery switches), and the drapes close automatically too.

5. Rosewood Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Situated in the new golf resort in the Mayan Riviera, the property is stunning. Finished with fine woods throughout, the overall architecture takes your breath away. Plunge pools, outdoor showers, expansive beach areas, and golf courses nearby are all part of the experience. I recommend renting a spa suite that comes with its own personal massage room and a private entrance for your masseuse.

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