The Lodge at Sea Island in coastal Georgia is named the No. 1 best hotel in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report, a nationally recognized publisher of consumer advice and information.
This is the second time the luxurious Lodge at Sea Island, located on the southeastern coast of Georgia on St. Simons Island (about 85 miles south of Savannah), is at the top of the list since U.S. News & World Report started doing this hotel ranking in 2011. The Lodge, ranked No. 1 in 2014, fell to the No. 2 spot last year. Previously, the 5-star hotel landed in the No. 33 spot in 2012, and fell to the No. 185 spot in 2013.
The list of the “2016 Best Hotels” is based on thousands of independent reviews from individuals and travel industry experts worldwide and evaluates over 2,500 hotels across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. To qualify, a hotel must be a 4-, 4.5- or 5-star property with at least 20 or more rooms.
Erin Shields, travel editor for U.S. News, said rankings are based on various research measures, which look at reviews by guests as well as awards given by industry leaders such as the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award.
The Lodge, reminiscent of an English country manor, features 40 guest rooms with expansive ocean views, surrounded by fairways of the Sea Island Golf Club. Even so, how did the Lodge beat out luxury hotels in Hawaii, Beverly Hills and Napa Valley?
“With this Lodge, they have a lot of personalized services — 24-hour butler service for guest rooms. A lot of travelers call out staff for being genuinely friendly and helpful. And then there’s a bevy of amenities: In the warm months, you have the pool and the beach area and three golf courses and lots of restaurants on site. They have a lot of amenities for travelers that provides a resort experience even if it is in a smaller town in Georgia.”
So how much does it cost to stay at the Lodge at Sea Island? According to TripAdvisor, the price range is $354-$712 based on a standard room. Go to the website at www.seaisland.com to check on specific rates and specials.
The Lodge at Sea Island is followed by the Jefferson, Washington, D.C., and ARIA Sky Suites in Las Vegas, a new addition to the top 10 Best Hotels in the USA. Other new additions to the top 10 list are Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu in Hawaii; the Peninsula Beverly Hills; Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas; Waldorf Astoria Chicago; and Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley, Calif.
The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman is the No. 1 Best Hotel in the Caribbean. Rosewood Mayakoba takes the top spot in the Best Hotels in Mexico rankings. For the third year in a row, the Ritz-Carlton Montreal is the No. 1 Best Hotel in Canada.
Other hotels in Georgia that fared well in the Best Hotels in the USA ranking include the Lodge’s sister property, the Cloister at Sea Island, which came in at No. 60; St. Regis in Atlanta, which took the No. 64 spot, and the Four Seasons Atlanta, which landed at No. 97.
The 2016 Best Hotels includes destination-specific rankings for hundreds of popular cities and vacation spots, from Las Vegas and Maui to Turks and Caicos and Puerto Rico. New York City has the most highly ranked hotels among U.S. cities, followed by Las Vegas and Chicago. New content and detailed hotel profiles allow travelers to search for hotels in the U.S. based on specific preferences, such as a pool, a fitness center or pet-friendly accommodations.
The Best Hotels methodology combines a hotel’s industry accolades with expert and guest reviews and hotel class ratings. U.S. News scored luxury hotels, identifying the top 10 percent in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean with Gold badges.