As any Fortune 500 executive knows, business is now more global than ever. But even though corporate profits have been surging, business travel is only now starting to come back: U.S. spending in the sector is expected to rise 5.1% in 2013, to $268.5 billion, vs. a measly 1.8% increase last year. As business travelers retake the skies and venture farther afield to fast-growing markets like China, India, and South America, we decided to try to find the best new digs for the road warrior dollar. What follows is our shortlist of the best new — or in some cases, newly renovated — hotels in markets ranging from Washington, D.C., to Hyderabad. The only rules: The properties had to have opened or been renovated in the past four years; they had to be great; and the cities had to be booming.
Shanghai: Four Seasons Hotel Pudong
Opened: September 2012
Go for: The views
Remember the views from the top floors of that Shanghai skyscraper that was the setting for the nail-biting combat scene in Skyfall? Some were shot from this new Four Seasons, the second of three of the hotel’s properties to open in China last year and its second location in Shanghai. This glittering urban oasis in the Lujiazhui financial district, occupying floors 30 to 39 of the new 55-story 21st Century Tower, features 187 rooms that offer sweeping city views and art-filled interiors inspired by Shanghai’s 1920s and ’30s Art Deco period. Dinner meetings can be held in the five private dining rooms at the hotel’s Shàng-Xí Cantonese restaurant. For a break, hit the Flare spa — or your own residential-style private bar, stocked with ingredients and recipes to make the hotel’s signature cocktails.
Brazil: Fasano Boa Vista
Opened: August 2011
Go for: The setting
The newest jewel in the crown of the Brazilian Fasano family of hoteliers, this countryside resort may be the ultimate setting for a corporate retreat for companies looking to tap Brazil’s growing economy. Located on a farm about an hour’s drive from São Paulo, it’s light-years away from the concrete-wasteland vibe that pervades the country’s capital. Like other Fasano properties, the resort’s contemporary design bears the imprint of Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld, who made use of wooden furnishings and natural light to seamlessly integrate the property into its lush surroundings. There are 27 deluxe apartments and 12 suites; boulevards lined with century-old trees encourage guests to embrace the natural beauty for which Brazil is famous. Other features include two 18-hole golf courses, a polo field, riding lessons, tennis courts, soccer fields, and a private heliport.
San Francisco: Hotel Zetta
Opened: February 2013
Go for: The high-tech touches
The only property opening this year in San Francisco’s notoriously tough-to-crack hotel market, the latest addition to Viceroy Group’s Urban Retreat collection aims to hit a note of tech-geek chic. All rooms have Obsess G-Link Connect docking stations, which wirelessly stream music, movies, and the like from mobile devices to the rooms’ 46-inch Samsung smart TVs, while meeting rooms have built-in A/V and permanent whiteboard and corkboard walls. “Work hard, play hard” is the hotel’s not-so-subtle mantra: A mezzanine “playroom” is outfitted with a pool table, shuffleboard, and the latest gaming consoles, and chandeliers crafted from recycled eyeglasses and metal dog sculptures round out the singular, oh-so-S.F. aesthetic.
India: Park Hyatt Hyderabad
Opened: March 2012
Go for: The lobby
Located 15 minutes from central Hyderabad, India’s high-tech hub, this new Park Hyatt outpost blends India’s ancient heritage with the modern innovation the region is known for. Starting at 485 square feet, the 185 guest rooms are the largest in the city, with hand-inlaid walnut floors and marble bathrooms with freestanding oversize tubs and rain showers. The hotel features Hyatt’s residential-style meeting concept, the Manor, with facilities designed to reflect the entertainment spaces of private homes. It’s also the first hotel in town to offer fully serviced luxury apartments for extended stays. Memorable touches include large indoor gardens — designed to maintain air quality — that nod to India’s exotic and enduring allure, and the hotel’s dramatic lobby, a light-filled atrium with a 27-foot sculpture that seems to float just above the surface of a reflecting pool.
Dallas: The Joule
Go for: The spa
Part of the ongoing resurgence of downtown Dallas, this new property occupies a revitalized 1920s landmark building and is already undergoing a Texas-size, $78 million renovation to be completed this summer. Original works from artists including Andy Warhol adorn the walls, while perks include free car service within a five-mile radius and Neiman Marcus’s personal shopping department available on speed dial from the in-room phones (a little 1%, perhaps, but Texas does lead the country in job creation). The rooftop Joule Poule with its 2,000-plus-square-foot terrace affords spectacular views of the Big D skyline, while post-renovation, the property will have 14,000 square feet of event space and a two-story subterranean ESPA spa, the wellness chain’s first in the state.
Miami: The James Royal Palm
Opened: November 2012
Go for: The restaurants
This oceanfront South Beach newcomer to the booming Miami hotel scene, formerly the storied Royal Palm Hotel, is a study in the low-pretense, high-style cool that is luring the city’s diverse business clientele away from downtown. With a palette of creamy blues and greens paired with natural elements (such as wood platform beds), the nearly 400 rooms blend coastal comfort with modern touches. The property offers some of the best hotel cuisine and cocktail offerings on trendy Collins Avenue, with two restaurants, a chic lobby lounge, an open-air cocktail bar, and a coffee bar, while 10,000 square feet of event space can accommodate meetings for up to 300. Three pools (two swimming, one plunge) and beach access provide a post-work respite, with complimentary fruit galore (some tequila-soaked!) and Kindles and iPods for lounging poolside.
Paris: Shangri-La Hotel
Opened: December 2010
Go for: The décor
The first European outpost of the storied Hong Kong-based chain, the five-star hotel is an auspicious debut: Housed in the former private palace of Prince Roland Bonaparte — grandnephew of Napoleon — in the chichi 16th arrondissement (directly next to Apple’s Paris offices), it melds the building’s fabled French history and the hotel group’s Asiatic roots to stunning effect. The chain spared no expense, and while that’s reflected in the room rates, aesthetic-minded execs will feel they got their money’s worth. Redone by the celebrated interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, the 81 rooms and 27 suites are decorated in soothing shades of blue, white, and ecru and feature luxurious touches such as silk-threaded wallpaper and marble bathrooms with heated floors; some have a direct view of the Eiffel Tower from the bathtub. Wi-Fi and broadband throughout are de rigueur, while the indoor pool is Paris’s largest. The hotel’s three restaurants offer stylish settings for client meetings — and, bien sûr, haute cuisine: The revered French restaurant guide Gault & Millau recently named the hotel’s executive chef, Philippe Labbé, 2013 chef of the year.
Boston: Revere Hotel
Opened: April 2012
Go for: The event space
Reimagining the space formerly occupied by the Radisson Boston, this luxury boutique property — the go-to hotel for the local offices of Sony, Barclays, and Nokia — sits just off Boston Common, within walking distance of both the financial district and Newbury Street. Its 365 modern guest rooms are handsomely appointed and baths are stocked with Skoah natural skincare products, while the 35,000-plus square feet of meeting and event space are a sleek and stylish cut above the norm: The sixth-floor Gallery resembles an artist’s loft, with exposed brick walls and paintings and sculptures throughout, while the spacious Theatre 1 boasts Italian leather seats for 208, perfect for product rollouts and speaking engagements. Coming this month: Rooftop at Revere, an “urban oasis” complete with private cabanas, specialty cocktails, and seasonal snacks. That’s what we call Boston Strong.
Washington, D.C.: The Jefferson
Renovated: August 2009
Go for: The history
Our congressional leaders may be paralyzed by gridlock, but our nation’s capital is booming by any other measure. A top-to-bottom, two-year renovation has restored this boutique hotel to its former Beaux Arts grandeur while adding modern-day touches. The elegant, stately public spaces like the Book Room and the Cabinet Room offer ample options for quiet meetings, while housemade mixers and herbal-infused spirits are shaken and stirred to perfection at Quill, the hotel lounge that’s well suited to a casual meet-up. If it’s discretion and secrecy you’re after, the regal Parlor Board Room is equipped with glass doors that tint instantly for privacy.