Every year at this time, Forbes.com looks back at some of the best resorts we have visited in the past year. We've been plowing through the fifty or so resorts we highlighted last year, and every time we dig deeper into our archives narrowing down the list becomes harder. Every resort that is featured as a Destination of the Week is superb. Each one has the hallmarks of a fantastic resort--great design, great service, excellent food and beautiful location.
Some, however, stand out more than others. What makes a great resort, well, even greater than the competition? Some of it has to do with location, and the exotic always catches our eye. Pangkor Laut is located on a remote island in the straits of Malacca, off the eastern coast of Malaysia. Apart from the appeal of the remote location, the resort itself is eye-popping, with individual huts built on stilts over the water. Ana Mandara in Vietnam is another favorite. The small, stylish resort is right on one of Vietnam's best beaches and serves up authentic Vietnamese food, with most of its herbs and vegetables grown right on the property. Since UAL's United Airlines just launched the first direct service from the U.S. to Vietnam, interest in the country will be heating up next year.
There were also plenty of stand-out resorts located a bit closer to home. The new Calistoga Ranch in northern California is a chic tree house hideaway that offers guests mud baths, gourmet food as well as proximity to vineyards. The Chanler at Cliff Walk in Newport, R.I., is another favorite resort from 2004. The hotel is the only mansion from this turn-of-the-19th century millionaire's resort to be converted into a hotel.
We hope that some of these resorts have sparked your interests and will inspire a visit in 2005. Click here to see the places that sparked ours.