No two ways about it — 2020 was a maelstrom for the travel industry. It’s faced many crises over the years, but none as all-encompassing and devastating as the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though this year has brought a seemingly endless drumbeat of bad news, there are reasons to be optimistic for the future of travel.
Despite the unprecedented challenges the hotel industry continues to face, chains around the world have continued to open properties — and plenty of amazing ones at that.
We’ve already taken a look at some of our favorite new hotels and the ones we’re most excited about opening next year, but let’s take a look at a few of the hotels you may not have realized opened in 2020, despite, well, everything.
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Thompson Dallas in Texas
The Thompson Dallas is the newest occupant in the First National Bank Tower — an iconic fixture in Dallas’ downtown skyline since it opened in 1961. The building has been renovated and restored, and many of the tower’s original architectural features have been preserved in the process.
The Thompson has 219 rooms and 52 suites, complete with modern-yet-timeless design. There are four options for eating and drinking including two restaurants on the hotel’s 49th and 50th floors by two-Michelin-star chef Danny Grant. Another restaurant and lounge, Catbird, is located on the 10th floor and has a large outdoor deck, providing a great spot for cocktails with a view of the city.
This hotel is a Category 6 World of Hyatt property, meaning a free night will cost you 25,000 points.
Luminary Hotel & Co. in Florida
Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the Luminary Hotel & Co. opened in September in downtown Fort Myers, Florida.
A major focus of this new property is dining. The hotel is home to five eating-and-drinking establishments, including a Southern restaurant called Ella Mae’s Diner, a rooftop lounge and the signature Silver King Ocean Brasserie.
Many of the hotel’s 243 rooms overlook the Caloosahatchee River and the hotel is adjacent to the Caloosa Sound Convention Center, making this property an anchor in a changing downtown Fort Myers.
This is a Category 4 Marriott Bonvoy property, meaning free nights will cost 20,000 points on off-peak nights, 25,000 on standard nights and 30,000 on peak nights, making it eligible for the 35,000-point free-night certificates that come with certain Marriott cobranded credit cards.
Montage Healdsburg in California
The brand-new Montage Healdsburg opened in early December amid strict coronavirus-related restrictions in California. If you decide to visit, whether now or later, you’ll surely be in for a treat.
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The resort spans 258 acres in the heart of wine country and features a yoga lawn in the middle of a vineyard, three dining options, an infinity-edge pool, plenty of wine-centric activities and an 11,500 square-foot spa.
While Montage hotels aren’t part of any traditional loyalty program, luxury hotels like these often participate in the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts program, which you can access if you hold The Platinum Card® from American Express (or its business version or the Centurion card). This program affords such benefits as room upgrades, daily breakfast for two, early check-in when available, guaranteed late checkout and an on-property credit (typically to the spa or for food and beverages). There are often even more lucrative promotions available through FHR as well, like a free third or fourth night.
This specific property isn’t yet showing as participating in the program, but that’s likely because it’s still so new, and will be added in the coming weeks.
Banyan Tree Krabi in Thailand
The Banyan Tree Krabi is a gorgeous beachfront property set in a hillside above the Tubkaek Beach near the resort town of Krabi, Thailand.
Many of the resort’s rooms have a sunset view over the Andaman Sea as well as private plunge pools, and wherever you are on property you’ll be treated to stunning views of the limestone formations rising out of the sea.
Guests have access to two restaurants, a beachfront bar, a kids club, a gym and a rainforest-themed spa.
Banyan Tree hotels are part of the Accor family, so they participate in the chain’s Live Limitless program. This means you can use points for a stay, though Accor’s program is unique in that you use points to reduce the room rate by a set amount. For every 2,000 points you use, you will receive 40 euros off the room rate, which is about $54 at the time of writing.
JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort and Spa in Australia
The JW Marriott Gold Coast opened just a few days ago in the seaside city of Gold Coast, Queensland. This property was formerly a Marriott-branded resort but got a complete overhaul and now has the designation of being the first JW Marriott property in Australia.
The spacious guest rooms reflect the hotel’s surroundings and are done in soft grays and blues. There are six outlets for dining, including the hotel’s signature restaurant Misono which features Japanese cuisine and an Izakaya sushi bar as well as a whiskey bar with an outdoor deck.
The resort also features both a saltwater lagoon and freshwater pool, as well as the Spa by JW, a kids program and more.
The JW Marriott Gold Coast is a Category 5 Marriott Bonvoy property meaning free nights cost 30,000 points on off-peak nights, 35,000 on standard nights and 40,000 on peak nights. This means the hotel is eligible for the 35,000-point free-night certificates on all but peak nights and for the 50,000-point certificates that come with cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card for all nights with award availability.
Grand Hyatt Nashville in Tennessee
This 591-room Grand Hyatt Nashville opened in October in the city’s new Nashville Yards development. The new property features an outdoor pool on its 5th floor and a rooftop lounge, which makes it one of the city’s highest.
The hotel’s signature restaurant, The Continental, is helmed by Sean Brock, a James Beard Award-winning chef.
The Grand Hyatt is adjacent to the trendy Gulch neighborhood, and within walking distance to many of the top attractions in the city including the Country Music Hall of Fame and Bridgestone Arena.
This hotel is a Category 5 World of Hyatt property, meaning a free night will cost you 20,000 points. Remember, too, that you can transfer points to Hyatt from Chase Ultimate Rewards. Points transfer at a 1 to 1 ratio, meaning if you see a property you’d like to book a night at this property on points, you can simply transfer 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points into your Hyatt account, where they’ll show up instantly.
Even though 2020 was a banner year in all the wrong ways for the travel industry, good things still happened. And judging by some of the properties that opened this year, despite the pandemic and near-collapse of travel, the future looks bright.
Featured image courtesy of the Banyan Tree Krabi/Facebook
SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.
And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.
These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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