American hotels make 'gold list' survey

Sunday, January 8, 2006

NEW YORK -- Four Seasons hotels in Chicago and Hawaii, and inns in Vermont, Mississippi and on the California coast, were the top-scoring places to stay in the United States in the annual "Gold List" survey published by Conde Nast Traveler.

The magazine's January issue lists hundreds of properties around the world, using a survey of 28,000 readers who rated hotels and resorts for design, location, rooms, activities, service and food.

In the United States, only five places had an overall score above 95 (out of 100). The Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, Calif., was recommended for its clifftop views of the Pacific, California cuisine, spa and "close-to-perfection" rooms. The Monmouth Plantation in Natchez, Miss., which offers 30 rooms in an 1818 Greek Revival home, features period antiques, Southern food, a "charming" staff and activities like hot-air balloon rides. Twin Farms in Barnard, Vt., has suites and cottages on 300 acres of hills that burst with wildflowers in the warmer months. The Four Seasons in Chicago, in a great location for shopping the city's Miracle Mile, was also lauded for its decor, service and views of Lake Michigan, while the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on Hawaii's Big Island won points for decor, staff, its location on the Kona-Kohala Coast, and a golf course in a black lava field.

By category, Twin Farms and the Little Palm Island Resort & Spa in Little Torch Key, Fla., took the top two spots for best design and best rooms. Keswick Hall at Monticello, in Keswick, Va., was No. 3 for best design, while the Lodge at Sea Island in Georgia was third for best rooms.

For the best hotels by location, the Inn at Thorn Hill in Jackson Village, N.H., the Lodge on Little St. Simons Island and the Watermark Hotel & Spa in San Antonio, Texas, were the top three.

For activities, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, the Sundance Resort in Sundance, Utah, and the Lodge at Pebble Beach, Calif., headed the list. The Four Seasons on the Big Island also won the No. 2 spot for best service, with The Peninsula in Beverly Hills, Calif., taking top honors in that category and the Four Seasons in Chicago at No. 3.

Honors for best food were awarded to the Jackson House Inn & Restaurant 100 in Woodstock, Vt., and The Point in Saranac Lake, N.Y. Tied for third were Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn., and The Wauwinet in Nantucket, Mass.

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