Hospitality Awards: Editors' Choice 2022


Over the course of 2021, we were reminded time and time again that the most important part of a travel experience is the people. Distinctive architecture, stylish interior design and lavish amenities are all worthy attributes, but no hotel or restaurant receives an Andrew Harper recommendation without having staff members who are warm, efficient and sincere. Providing this sort of service in the current circumstances is more difficult than usual, but nevertheless, we encountered numerous exceptional individuals who rose to the occasion.

Chef of the Year: Mauro Colagreco

Ceto, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France
Mirazur, Menton, France

Mauro Colagreco, chef at Ceto and Mirazur, France
Mauro Colagreco, chef at Ceto and Mirazur, France - Matteo Carassale

It was in 2021 that Mauro Colagreco became one of the most influential chefs in France. He joins a new generation of younger 40-something chefs who are seizing the reins as the old guard retires. At his new restaurant, Ceto, in The Maybourne Riviera hotel on the Côte d’Azur, Colagreco has boldly plotted a new course for French haute cuisine based on the pleasures of healthy eating and environmental sustainability. The spectacular talent of the Argentine-born chef had already won him three Michelin stars for his restaurant Mirazur in Menton. And now he’s rebooting Mirazur with a menu that stars vegetables from the organic gardens he tends himself nearby. “During the lockdowns, I spent a lot of time in my gardens, and I became fascinated by the impact of the cycles of the moon on plants. They really have a big impact on how a vegetable matures and tastes, so I started creating dishes to showcase these vegetables at their very best on a grid of the lunar cycle,” Colagreco explains. “It may sound crazy, but it really works. One way or another, the cooking of the 21st century will be closer to and more respectful of nature.” 

Read our full review of Ceto »

Staff of the Year: Belmond Castello di Casole

Casole d'Elsa, Italy

Belmond Castello di Casole has great physical beauty, but just as impressive is its welcoming and highly thoughtful staff. Before we even arrived, the concierge provided prompt and helpful service via email. Once we checked in, every interaction with the employees was a pleasure. In the spa, for example, my cheerful therapist spoke excellent English and provided the best massage I’ve had in recent memory. When I casually expressed interest in seeing the hotel’s art gallery, the concierge immediately called the curator to find out when I could visit. In the restaurant, I mentioned how I enjoyed my glass of the Castello di Casole wine, Sì di Sì, and at checkout, we received a bottle to take home. I asked the front desk to have the valet bring around our car, but he had already done so. Throughout our stay, service was friendly, attentive and anticipatory.

Read our full review of Belmond Castello di Casole »

Sommelier of the Year: Victor Bigot

The Maybourne Riviera

Sommelier Victor Bigot, The Maybourne Riviera, France
Sommelier Victor Bigot, The Maybourne Riviera, France - The Maybourne Riviera

Victor Bigot has had a rapid and spectacular professional ascent, including stints as head sommelier at the Airelles Courchevel hotel and a sommelier at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes. Now he has taken on the challenge of being head sommelier for the new Maybourne Riviera hotel. Judging by his brilliant wine-by-the-glass pairings with our lunch tasting menu, plus his charm and eagerness to share his knowledge, he has an impressive future ahead of him. Memorable pairings included Domaine “Andre et Mireille” Tissot Savagnin 2017 served with a grilled oyster with wilted sorrel leaves and thin ribbons of lardo di Colonnata. This was followed by a surprising glass of Domaine Comte Abbatucci “Faustine” 2020, a fine Corsican red wine with a nose of red fruit tempered by aromatic herbs, which accompanied sea bream, grilled baby leeks and green garlic sauce.

Read our full review of The Maybourne Riviera »

Most Innovative Hotelier: Count Benedikt Bolza

Castello di Reschio, Lisciano Niccone, Italy

Count Benedikt Bolza
Count Benedikt Bolza - Philip Vile

Simply adding modern comforts to an 11th-century castle is difficult enough. But architect Count Benedikt Bolza and his wife, Donna Nencia, have transformed the Castello di Reschio from a crumbling fortress into a sumptuous pleasure palace. Indeed, the 36-room hotel on the edge of Umbria now ranks as one of the most stylish hostelries in all of Italy. Everywhere one turns, there is a visual feast, whether in the romantic indoor-outdoor gourmet restaurant, in the Eiffel-inspired Palm Court conservatory lounge, beside the unique mirrorlike pool or in the extraordinary spa within the vaults of the former wine cellar. It was here I met Benedikt’s father, the impeccably dressed Count Antonio Bolza (I, alas, was in my bathrobe). He made the rounds at aperitivo hour, contributing to the sense that we were attending a Gatsby-esque house party. The jazz combo that accompanied our dinner one night further enhanced that feeling, which, together with the striking design, was quite a compelling combination.

Read our full review of Castello di Reschio »

Best Guide: James Kirisia

Ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya

Our guide, James Kirisia, of Ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya
Our guide, James Kirisia, of Ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya - Photo by Andrew Harper editor

On safari, you may spend eight hours a day with your guide in the close proximity of a vehicle, so it helps to get along! Often you become quite good friends — a sudden and unexpected intimacy that can provide a window into an utterly different world. James Kirisia at Ol Donyo possessed the first necessary quality: a genuine enthusiasm for wildlife. Safari guides go out into the wild twice a day, every day, for years. Some become blasé. Others will sit for hours, peering through their binoculars, quietly explaining the fine details of animal behavior. When I arrived at Ol Donyo, Kirisia picked me up at the airstrip. On the drive to the lodge, we came across a male cheetah on the hunt. Even though we were on a transfer, not a game drive, Kirisia cautiously followed the cat for over an hour and a half, giving me one of the best cheetah sightings I have ever had. Ol Donyo is built on a private concession leased from the local Maasai people. Throughout my stay, Kirisia offered insight into not only tribal life but also the intricate connection between revenue from wildlife tourism and community development. It was impossible not to feel inspired by the efforts of Ol Donyo’s owners, Great Plains Conservation, and the associated Big Life Foundation in preserving habitat and endangered species, while supporting health and education projects that are transforming African lives. Kirisia proved to be a knowledgeable, perceptive and an entirely delightful companion. Spending three days in his company was a pleasure and privilege.

Read our editor’s full itinerary in East Africa »

By Andrew Harper Editors Andrew Harper editors travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who the editors are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.

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