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Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report

Hideaways of the Year

Each year at this time, we single out some of the world's most captivating hideaway hotels and resorts for special recognition. To be initially considered for our annual awards competition, properties must be relatively intimate in size and be located in peaceful and scenically pleasing surroundings. Moreover, previous recipients are ineligible to repeat as award winners for a three-year period. Distinctive country house hotels and resorts compatible with these basic qualifications are then judged for their all-round comfort, non-commercial character and passionate commitment to personal service. Also taken into consideration: the recent firsthand guest experiences of Hideaway Report readers.

Properties are not evaluated solely by means of a quantified checklist. During incognito inspections, of course, we note the general decor, design, cleanliness and upkeep of lodgings and public lounges; staffs are judged on esprit de corps, attentiveness, friendliness, thoroughness and efficiency; food on ingredients, inspiration and presentation; grounds on overall appearance and maintenance, and so on.

Ultimately, however, we rely on the 'Q factor' — the intangible summary impression that instinctively separates the good from the truly enchanting. Some of our award winners are grander than others, but each exudes an inviting sense of warmth and charm conducive to a relaxing stay.

On behalf of all of us at Harper Associates, we wish you and your family a very joyous Christmas season and the promise of a whole new year of wonderful hideaway discoveries.

Richard Harper Andrew Harper

Associate Publisher Editor & Publisher

• Harper Hospitality Award — Scotland's relaxing and unpretentious Isle of Eriska manor house-estate overseen by a charming staff, who instantly make you feel right at home. Tel. (44) 1631-720371.

• Best New U.S. Resort-Hotel — The distinctively designed Lodge at Torrey Pines, overlooking the sea and famed Torrey Pines Golf Course near San Diego. Tel. (858) 453-4420.

• Best New Suburban Retreat — Luxurious San Clemente Palace, secluded on its own Venetian island 15 minutes by launch from St. Mark's Square. Fax (39) 041-244-5800.

• Best New Wine Country Inn — Napa Valley's stylish Milliken Creek, a 10-room boutique inn set along a serene wooded stretch of the Napa River. Tel. (707) 255-1197.

• Hotel Room of the Year — The grandly restored Victorian "Turret Suite" at historic Castle Hill Inn (Newport, Rhode Island), which affords spectacular 360-degree views of colorful Narragansett Bay. Tel. (401) 849-3800.

• U.S. Comeback of the Year — Casually elegant Quail Lodge, a Monterey Peninsula icon that has bounded back to top form following a $25 million renovation. Tel. (831) 624-2888.

• European Comeback of the Year — Enhanced by an 18-month restoration, Athens' Grande Bretagne has regained its title as one of Europe's great hotels. Fax (30) 210-322-8034.

• Best U.S. Resort-Hotel Restaurant — Hoku's at Honolulu's Kahala Mandarin Oriental, specializing in creative Asian-International dishes from a kiawe wood grill, fiery hot woks and a tandoori oven.

• Most Unique Hotel No.l — Mexico's luxurious Quinta Real, which imaginatively incorporates the remains of an ancient bull-fighting arena in the remarkably preserved colonial city of Zacatecas. Fax (52) 492-922-8440.

Most Unique Hotel No. 2 — Turkey's Yunak Elveri, whose artfully conceived lodgings are hewn from 5th-Century cave dwellings carved into the surrealistic rocky landscape of Cappadocia. Fax (90) 384-341-6924.

• Most Unique Hotel No. 3 — India's beguiling Lake Palace, a white marble fantasy of domes and turrets set on a rock in the middle of Udaipur's scenic Lake Pichola. In U.S., Tel. (800) 448-8355.

• Most Ornate Value-Priced Hotel— La Casa de la Marquesa in historic Queretaro, Mexico. Brilliantly colored frescoes and dazzling tilework cloak its "Moorish baroque" interior, where the Imperial Suite goes for $215! Fax (52) 442-212-0098.

• Must-Play U.S. Golf Experience — The pair of ethereal courses at Oregon's Bandon Dunes resort that truly evokes Scotland's legendary seaside links. Tel. (541) 347-4380.

• Must-Play International Golf Experience —The awesomely scenic, never crowded, Pebble Beach-like links at New Zealand's 22-suite Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, highlighted by six dramatic cliffside holes. Fax (64) 9-405-1901.

• Sport Fishing Lodge of the Year — Exhilarating Nimmo Bay in British Columbia, where you can fly or spin fish for plentiful Pacific salmon and trout in pristine wilderness rivers reached via the resort's helicopters. Tel. (250) 956-4000.

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