The Winners of The World Boutique Hotel Awards 2017 have been announced, so I decided this is a great time to review their websites and see how the pros are doing it.
The winners of the Boutique Hotel Awards 2017 were announced on November 9th at the glittering Awards ceremony held at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall, London. The ceremony brought together an array of boutique hotel owners, travel and lifestyle press and travel industry influencers from all four corners of the world.
There are 12 different categories with regional winners and World’s Best winners. In this post I’m going to take a look at the 13 World’s Best winners, in the order that they are presented in the official press release. Here they are:
Boutique Hotel Awards 2017: World’s Best Boutique Hotels
- World’s Best Beach or Coastal Hotel: Qualia, Whitsundays, Australia
- World’s Best City Hotel: The Serras Hotel, Barcelona, Spain
- World’s Best Classic Hotel: The Chester Grosvenor, England
- World’s Best Culinary Hotel: Vila Joya, Algarve, Portugal
- World’s Most Inspired Design Hotel: Ca Maria Adele, Venice, Italy
- World’s Best Honeymoon Hideaway: Carpe Diem, Santorini, Greece
- World’s Best New Hotel: Kensho, Mykonos, Greece
- World’s Best Relaxation Retreat: Castello Di Guarene, Italy
- World’s Most Romantic Hotel: Aenaon Villa, Greece
- World’s Most Sustainable Hotel: Cottars Safari Lodge, Nairobi, Kenya
- World’s Best Wellness Spa: Lefay Resort & Spa, Gargnano, Italy
- World’s Best Private Villa: Over Yonder Cay, The Bahamas
- World’s Best Private Villa: Coco Prive, Kuda Hithi Island, Maldives
I don’t know why there are two winners in the World’s Best Private Villa category.
World’s Best Beach or Coastal Hotel: Qualia, Australia
Tucked away on the tropical, eucalypt-filled northern tip of Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef, Qualia is comprised of 60 timber-and-glass villas.
- A rarely seen menu with thumbnails for each section.
- Terrible website performance: an average loading time of 7 seconds.
PageSpeed Score: F – 46%, YSlow Score: D – 61%.
- They don’t link to social media accounts from their website, even though they have over 55,000 Instagram followers.
World’s Best City Hotel: The Serras Hotel, Spain
A five-star hotel in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, Serras offers 30 large, chic rooms and cuisine prepared by Michelin-starred chef Marc Gascons.
- Fantastic photography.
- Nearly perfect website homepage.
- Great website performance: an average loading time of 3 seconds.
PageSpeed Score: A – 96%, YSlow Score: A – 91%.
- I think that all call to action buttons should have a consistent style, especially when they link to the same page. The one at the top is yellow, the one at the bottom is black. Why?
- I think it is a bad idea to center align the drop-down menu items.
World’s Best Classic Hotel: The Chester Grosvenor, England
Housed in a fine example of the Tudor architecture for which the English city of Chester is renowned, the Chester Grosvenor was established in 1865.
- Good website performance: an average loading time of 3 seconds.
PageSpeed Score: B – 89%, YSlow Score: C – 74%.
- I think the homepage is a little overwhelming: too many blocks, buttons, thumbnails, etc. Maybe analyze the performance of secondary blocks and remove the ones that don’t convert?
- The padding in some blacks of content is insufficient.
World’s Best Culinary Hotel: Vila Joya, Portugal
Chef Gebhard Schachermayer works his gourmet magic at Vila Joya in Albufeira, on Portugal’s Atlantic coast.
- A minimalist homepage focused on photography.
- The WORST website SIN of all: auto-playing music on the homepage. NO, NO, NO!
- Bad website performance: an average loading time of 4 seconds.
PageSpeed Score: E – 57%, YSlow Score: E – 51%.
World’s Most Inspired Design Hotel: Ca Maria Adele, Italy
In 2004, Venice-born brothers Alessio and Nicola Campa transformed a Venetian palazzo into an artfully decadent boutique hotel.
- Beautiful photography.
- Personally I don’t like icon menus without a visible text label, it only slows down navigation.
World’s Best Honeymoon Hideaway: Carpe Diem, Greece
Carpe Diem Exclusive Boutique Resort in Santorini, brings together a leading luxury hotel, coupled with the onsite Althea Boutique Spa and 270 Degrees Restaurant, to welcome you to the best possible holiday experience; one of true exclusivity, lavish honeymoon suites and Greek hospitality. This all-suite, adults-only boutique spa hotel offers a holistic experience just for two; a sophisticated escape from the ordinary to be cherished as a memory for many years to come.
- In my view this is a nearly PERFECT hotel website.
- Can’t say anything bad without nitpicking too much.
World’s Best New Hotel: Kenshō, Greece
The Kenshō luxury hotel in Mykonos is a brand-new awarded hotel and is here to offer you a unique journey, creating with you memorable experiences of stay, relaxation and rejuvenation in Mykonos. Inspired by the endless blue colors of the sky and the sea, Kenshō combines the high quality services and goes beyond the standards, for a truly luxurious hospitality experience. The hotel is overlooking the spectacular Ornos Bay, a desirable location close to the town center of Mykonos.
- One more perfect hotel website (also from Greece and also using WordPress).
- Nothing to complain about, it is exactly what a hotel website should be.
World’s Best Relaxation Retreat: Castello Di Guarene, Italy
The palace was built in the eighteenth century, a fantastically ambitious project conceived by local nobleman Carlo Giacinto Roero.
Today, the palace continues to make people’s dreams come true. Preserved as it was in its heyday, with all its works of art intact, it is now also home to a top-class hotel. An essential stopping point in any itinerary of the Baroque highlights of Piedmont, it stands out among the very best places to stay in the region.
- A well organized, beautiful and intuitive hotel website.
- Nothing to complain about.
World’s Most Romantic Hotel: Aenaon Villa, Greece
Once Santorini becomes your destination, it will become your island destination for life. Once you visit Aenaon Villas and experience the enchanting atmosphere and warm hospitality of this amazing place, you will want to come back time and time again.
Blending brilliant whitewashed surfaces with the island’s age-old volcanic stone, we created a traditional complex of luxurious villas whose beautiful stonework evokes a feeling of rough grandeur. The result proves that respect for tradition can coexist in perfect harmony with the luxuries of modern amenities.
- Beautiful photography is used to sell the experience.
- The menu is the weakest part of the website with plenty of room for improvement.
- I would prefer to have some sort of control over the slideshow: arrows or bullets.
World’s Most Sustainable Hotel: Cottars Safari Lodge, Kenya
Calvin and Louise Cottar established Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp in the mid-nineties. The camp is situated in a timelessly unspoiled setting with sunset views stretching to distant horizons of the Masai Mara and the Serengeti plains covered in boundless game.
The Camp has its own 6,000 acre private conservancy and is situated one kilometre from the Masai Mara game reserve. The location provides easy access for day and night game drives to the Masai Mara game reserve and the conservancy, game walks, and cultural interactions with the Masai community.
- An original, old-school website header with custom graphics.
- Unless this is the intended effect, the website feels very dated.
- The homepage’s footer is broken: none of the arrows are doing anything.
World’s Best Wellness Spa: Lefay Resort & Spa, Italy
Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda is located in Gargnano in the heart of the spectacular and renowned “Riviera dei Limoni”. 11 hectares of natural park, surrounded by gentle hills and natural terraces rich in woods and olive groves overlooking a spectacular view of the lake.
- Beautiful photography.
- I’m not a fan of small font sizes and low-contrast typography colors. Is the purpose to make me squint when searching for an address or a booking link? Then job well done.
World’s Best Private Villa: Over Yonder Cay, The Bahamas
Welcome to Over Yonder Cay, luxury and privacy at its finest. We welcome parties from 2 to 30 guests in four uniquely designed villas, all with private beaches and breathtaking views. A former remote fishing outpost, the island has been transformed into a unique eco-friendly haven for those seeking authentic and sustainable barefoot luxury.
- Perfect usage of a video on the homepage, it immediately sets the right mood.
- Fantastic photography.
- Good content structure with numerous pages about facilities and activities.
- Terrible homepage title meta tag: “Home – Over Yonder Cay”. It is terrible because it contains zero valuable keywords. Compare it to the entry below: “Maldives Private Island, Exclusive Maldives Resorts”.
World’s Best Private Villa: Coco Privé, Maldives
Amid the lush and untouched virgin islands of Maldives lies a hidden world entirely unto itself. A place where no one can find you, and there is no one to hide from.
Independently owned and locally operated by a Maldivian family, this island is a labour of love imbued with warmth and thoughtful details you simply won’t find elsewhere.
Have the island all to yourself or bring along the ones you love. Your time here can be as quiet or as madcap as you wish.
- Fantastic photography.
- I would have liked a separate “Our Villas” page, where you can quickly compare them, similar to the content in the Factsheet PDF file.
A Quick Summary of the Winners’ Websites
|European Winners||9 out of 13|
|Websites with a full width slideshow intro||13 out of 13|
|WordPress CMS is used on||5 out of 13|
|Websites linking to social media accounts||10 out of 13|
|Websites linking to Instagram||8 out of 13|
|Websites linking to Tripadvisor||3 out of 13|
There are some common stylistic choices for all these websites, which hotel website designers could use as a starting point.
- A full width slideshow/hero image is used by all winning websites.
- WordPress is the most popular CMS.
- Most properties link to Social Media accounts, Instagram being widely used.
- Most properties don’t link to TripAdvisor.