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The world's best hotels 2003

A newcomer in Dubai sails into first place in a year that tested hoteliers' mettle--and brought out the best in many.

Dubai's dazzling, sail-shaped Burj Al Arab broke a couple of records in Institutional Investor's 23rd annual survey of the world's best hotels. The first hotel ever to debut at No. 1 in the rankings, the Arabian pleasure palace -- at 1,052 feet, the world's tallest freestanding hotel -- has an array of amenities fit for a sultan.

Burj Al Arab consists of nothing but suites, and each one boasts surround-sound movies. Even the smallest -- at a not-so-cramped 1,818 square feet -- has least ten phones. Club suites come complete with their own snooker rooms; the royal suite offers revolving beds. A simulated submarine ride shuttles guests to the Al Mahara seafood restaurant, where diners and denizens of the deep eye one another through aquarium walls.

Surprisingly, in a year of adversity for the hotel industry, 32 of the 75 hotels in our ranking managed to surpass last year's top score of 90.3 on a scale of 100. How did hotels that had to cope with war in Iraq, the ongoing threat of terrorism, a global economy in the doldrums and -- perhaps most damaging of all -- an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Asia manage to do so well? "They

learned from adversity to be more cost-conscious, flexible and accommodating," says Paul McManus, CEO of Leading Hotels of the World, a marketing group comprising 400 luxury hotels in 80 countries.

Financiers judge hotels by service, location, ambience, comfort and -- especially -- restaurants. Hotels that splendidly fill the bill of fare now exist in every region of the world. Lisbon's Four Seasons Ritz (No. 2) gets a Los Angeles investment adviser's nod for spacious rooms, panoramic views of the city's old tiled roofs and memorable food at the Michelin three-star Varanda. A New York money manager praises the "immaculate service" at the U.S.'s Ritz-Carlton Washington (No. 3), along with the guest privileges at the adjacent Sports Club/LA. Although the high-speed Internet in his room at the Four Seasons Chinzan-So in Tokyo (No. 9) is the chief attraction for a California investment executive, he also likes the 24-hour gym.

To compile its rankings, II surveyed more than 100 senior financial executives from 24 countries who spent an average of 65 nights in hotels during the past year. (One nomadic panelist logged 250 nights.) They were asked to rate hotels they had recently visited on a scale of one to 100, and the scores were tabulated according to a formula that assigns greater weight to the responses of the more frequent travelers.

To qualify, a hotel has to receive a significant number of votes. Even consistently well-rated hotels sometimes fail to secure the necessary quorum. That (and the SARS scare) explains the absence this year of a perennial on the list since 1981: the Peninsula Hong Kong.

The Top 75 Hotels

Rank Score

2003 2002 Hotel 2003 2002

1 - Burj Al Arab 97 -

Dubai

2 33 Four Seasons Ritz 95.9 83.9

Lisbon

3 - Ritz-Carlton 95.5* -

Washington

4 - Ritz-Carlton 95.5* -

Key Biscayne

Miami

5 34 Baur au Lac 93.9* 83.8

Zurich

6 - Peninsula 93.9* -

Los Angeles

7 6 Ritz-Carlton 93.8 88.2

San Francisco

8 3 Four Seasons 93.5 89.4

Chicago

9 - Four Seasons

Chinzan-So 93.3 -

Tokyo

10 24 Ritz-Carlton

(Four Seasons) 93 85.4

Chicago

11 46 Four Seasons George V 92.4 82.5

Paris

12 13 Mandarin Oriental 92.3 86.9

Hong Kong

13 57 Makati Shangri-La 92.2 81.4

Manila

14 35 Raffles 92.1 83.7

Singapore

15 2 Ritz-Carlton Millenia 91.9* 90.3

Singapore

16 31 Mandarin Oriental

Hyde Park 91.9* 84

London

17 17 Four Seasons 91.7* 86.6

New York

18 70 Grand Hyatt 91.7* 78.3

Seoul

19 12 Ciragan Palace

Kempinski 91.5 87.4

Istanbul

20 - Grand Hyatt Erawan 91.2 -

Bangkok

21 - Park Hyatt 91.1 -

Tokyo

22 45 Principe di Savoia 90.9* 82.6

Milan

23 5 Lanesborough 90.9* 88.2

London

24 - Phoenician 90.9* -

Phoenix

25 - Arizona Biltmore 90.7 -

Phoenix

26 4 Oriental 90.6* 88.6

Bangkok

27 - Arabella

Sheraton Grand 90.6* -

Frankfurt

28 54 Four Seasons 90.6* 81.7

London

29 8 Four Seasons 90.5*† 88.2

Singapore

29 - Beau Rivage 90.5*† -

Geneva

31 44 Four Seasons 90.5* 82.7

Washington

32 15 Bristol 90.4 86.7

Paris

33 10 Beverly Hills 90.3 87.4

Los Angeles

34 36 Claridge's 90.2 83.6

London

35 51 Conrad 90.1* 82.1

Hong Kong

36 43 Park Hyatt 90.1* 82.8

Sydney

37 11 Mandarin Oriental 90 87.4

San Francisco

38 - Four Seasons 89.9 -

Toronto

39 20 Shangri-La 89.8* 86.3

Singapore

40 25 Crillon 89.8* 85.4

Paris

41 18 St. Regis 89.7 86.4

New York

42 26 Peninsula 89.5* 85.1

New York

43 - Carlyle 89.5*† -

New York

43 62 Willard

InterContinental 89.5*† 80.6

Washington

45 38 Ritz 89.3* 83.5

Madrid

46 22 Ritz-Carlton Buckhead 89.3* 85.8

Atlanta

47 6 Ritz 89.1 88.2

Paris

48 39 Four Seasons 89 83.3

Boston

49 - Shutters on the Beach

Santa Monica 88.7 -

Los Angeles

50 - D'Angleterre 88.4 -

Geneva

51 - Imperial 88.1* -

Tokyo

52 37 Island Shangri-La 88.1* 83.5

Hong Kong

53 48 New York Palace 87.6 82.3

New York

54 50 Fullerton 87.4* 82.3

Singapore

55 - Adlon Kempinski 87.4* -

Berlin

56 - Four Seasons 87.3* -

San Francisco

57 65 Ritz-Carlton 87.3* 79.9

Hong Kong

58 - Grand Hotel 86.9 -

Stockholm

59 - Four Seasons

(fka Regent) 85.9* -

Sydney

60 67 Savoy 85.9* 78.8

London

61 - Royal Meridien

King Edward 85.9* -

Toronto

62 19 Villa Magna 84.9 86.4

Madrid

63 - Ritz-Carlton 84.8 -

Boston

64 - Richemond 84.6 -

Geneva

65 73 Waldorf Towers 84.5* 77.7

New York

66 60 Okura 84.5* 81.1

Tokyo

67 29 Sukhothai 84.4* 84.4

Bangkok

68 64 Hessischer Hof 84.4* 79.9

Frankfurt

69 27 Berkeley 84.2 84.7

London

70 61 Dorchester 84.1* 80.6

London

71 - InterContinental 84.1* -

Abu Dhabi

72 - Four Seasons 84.1* -

Milan

73 - Plaza Athenee 84 -

New York

74 32 Connaught 83.3 83.9

London

75 46 Pierre 82.8 82.5

New York

*Order determined by actual results before rounding.

†Actual tie.

The Regional Rankings

Regional Global

Rank Rank

2003 2002 Hotel Score 2003

Americas

1 - Ritz-Carlton 95.5* 3

Washington

2 - Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne

Miami 95.5* 4

3 - Peninsula 93.9 6

Los Angeles

4 3 Ritz-Carlton 93.8 7

San Francisco

5 2 Four Seasons 93.5 8

Chicago

6 9 Ritz-Carlton

(Four Seasons) 93 10

Chicago

7 6 Four Seasons 91.7 17

New York

8 - Phoenician 90.9 24

Phoenix

9 - Arizona Biltmore 90.7 25

Phoenix

10 15 Four Seasons 90.5 31

Washington

11 4 Beverly Hills 90.3 33

Los Angeles

12 5 Mandarin Oriental 90 37

San Francisco

13 - Four Seasons 89.9 38

Toronto

14 7 St. Regis 89.7 41

New York

15 10 Peninsula 89.5* 42

New York

16 - Carlyle 89.5*† 43

New York

16 21 Willard

InterContinental 89.5*† 43

Washington

18 8 Ritz-Carlton Buckhead

Atlanta 89.3 46

19 12 Four Seasons 89 48

Boston

20 - Shutters on the Beach

Santa Monica 88.7 49

Los Angeles

21 17 New York Palace 87.6 53

New York

22 - Four Seasons 87.3 56

San Francisco

23 - Royal Meridien

King Edward 85.9 61

Toronto

24 - Ritz-Carlton 84.8 63

Boston

25 23 Waldorf Towers 84.5 65

New York

26 - Plaza Athenee 84 73

New York

27 16 Pierre 82.8 75

New York

Asia

1 - Four Seasons

Chinzan-So 93.3 9

Tokyo

2 4 Mandarin Oriental 92.3 12

Hong Kong

3 18 Makati Shangri-La 92.2 13

Manila

4 11 Raffles 92.1 14

Singapore

5 1 Ritz-Carlton Millenia 91.9 15

Singapore

6 21 Grand Hyatt 91.7 18

Seoul

7 - Grand Hyatt

Erawan 91.2 20

Bangkok

8 - Park Hyatt 91.1 21

Tokyo

9 2 Oriental 90.6 26

Bangkok

10 3 Four Seasons 90.5 29

Singapore

11 17 Conrad 90.1* 35

Hong Kong

12 14 Park Hyatt 90.1* 36

Sydney

13 7 Shangri-La 89.8 39

Singapore

14 - Imperial 88.1* 51

Tokyo

15 12 Island Shangri-La 88.1* 52

Hong Kong

16 16 Fullerton 87.4 54

Singapore

17 20 Ritz-Carlton 87.3 57

Hong Kong

18 - Four Seasons

(fka Regent) 85.9 59

Sydney

19 19 Okura 84.5 66

Tokyo

20 10 Sukhothai 84.4 67

Bangkok

Middle East & Africa

1 - Burj Al Arab 97 1

Dubai

2 - InterContinental 84.1 71

Abu Dhabi

Europe

1 12 Four Seasons Ritz 95.9 2

Lisbon

2 13 Baur au Lac 93.9 5

Zurich

3 17 Four Seasons

George V 92.4 11

Paris

4 10 Mandarin Oriental

Hyde Park 91.9 16

London

5 4 Ciragan Palace

Kempinski 91.5 19

Istanbul

6 16 Principe di Savoia 90.9* 22

Milan

7 1 Lanesborough 90.9* 23

London

8 - Arabella Sheraton 90.6* 27

Grand

Frankfurt

9 19 Four Seasons 90.6* 28

London

10 - Beau Rivage 90.5 29

Geneva

11 5 Bristol 90.4 32

Paris

12 14 Claridge's 90.2 34

London

13 7 Crillon 89.8 40

Paris

14 15 Ritz 89.3 45

Madrid

15 2 Ritz 89.1 47

Paris

16 - D'Angleterre 88.4 50

Geneva

17 - Adlon Kempinski 87.4 55

Berlin

18 - Grand Hotel 86.9 58

Stockholm

19 26 Savoy 85.9 60

London

20 6 Villa Magna 84.9 62

Madrid

21 - Richemond 84.6 64

Geneva

22 24 Hessischer Hof 84.4 68

Frankfurt

23 8 Berkeley 84.2 69

London

24 22 Dorchester 84.1* 70

London

25 - Four Seasons 84.1* 72

Milan

26 11 Connaught 83.3 74

London

*Order determined by actual results before rounding.

†Actual tie.

The rankings were compiled under the direction of Senior Editor Jane B. Kenney with Researchers Barbara Bent and Michele Bickford. Contributing Editor Lois Madison Reamy wrote the overview.

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