Robb Report tips hat to the tops among hotels, spas, villas and golf courses

Robb Report tips hat to the tops among hotels, spas, villas and golf courses
A luxurious swimming pool forms part of Tarkuni, the Oppenheimer family's retreat set amid a sprawling South African game reserve. The family is now inviting the public to stay in its five villas. (Dook)

If you will settle for nothing but the finest, here are four places, chosen by the Robb Report as tops in their class, to add to your list.

The June issue of the magazine is devoted to its annual "Best of the Best" awards. In the “Journeys” section, editors and writers chose first-place honorees in four categories: hotels & resorts, spas, villas and golf courses.

The list’s top hotel is the 84-room Aman Tokyo, the Singapore-based chain’s 27th property, which opened in December.

The Aman Tokyo

The Aman Tokyo tops the Robb Reports' list of best hotels for 2015. The magazine praises its successful fusion of tradition and modernity. (Jackie Caradonio)

“The hotel is an elegant aerie that soars above the competition with its stellar service and perfectly executed fusion of tradition and modernity,” the report said.

“Though magnificent in scale, the space is an intimate haven where kimono-clad attendants serve afternoon tea, and a massive vase of cherry blossoms is arranged in the customary manner of ikebana,” the art of Japanese flower arrangement.

The list’s favorite spa is Villa Stéphanie in Baden-Baden, Germany. It is named for Napoleon Bonaparte’s adopted daughter.

“In January, the grande dame of the German spa town of Baden-Baden ushered in an even more rarefied -- and rejuvenating -- era with the debut of the new Villa Stéphanie wellness center,” Robb Report said.

Villa Stéphanie, which opened in January, is reported to have raised the bar in the spa resort town of Baden-Baden, Germany. (Jackie Caradonio)

“Customized programs – the results of fitness tests, body analyses and personal preferences – can be as rigid or as relaxed as spa-goers desire, ranging from personal training and nutrition coaching to massages and facials.”

More on wellness: Going on vacation and returning healthier | A guide to wellness vacations | Look beyond the price | Select hotels' and resorts' wellness programs

Perhaps the most exotic listing is Tarkuni, the winner in the villas category. A limited number of guests can savor the luxury of this place, built in 1998 as the private retreat of the Oppenheimer family within the Tswalu Kalahari game reserve.

The Oppenheimers, associated with De Beers Diamonds, are among the richest people in the world.

“The five-suite estate sits amid 250,000 acres of savannah grasslands and red sand dunes, offer­ing a maximum of just 10 guests a seemingly unending playground shared with the black-maned lions, antelopes, meerkats, cheetahs, and other wildlife of the Kalahari,” Robb Report said.

“Guests arrive at Tarkuni in a suit­ably stylish manner via the Oppenheimers’ Pilatus PC-12 jet, which lands at a private airstrip.”

The property opened in September.

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Located in central Washington, Gamble Sands is described as a course that appeals to golfers of all skill levels. (Laurence Lambrecht)

Among golf courses, Gamble Sands near Brewster, Wash., about 140 miles northwest of Spokane, placed first. The course, set among apple orchards and sand dunes, opened in August.

The course has proved “successful at building a simulta­neously fun and formidable course for both high and low handicappers,” Robb Report said.

“Along the way, golfers of every ability will enjoy the panoramic vistas of the Cascade Mountains and Columbia River.

“In short, there is simply no way to go 18 holes at Gamble Sands without smiling.”