Growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta, 5-Star hotels were a distant idea for me. They are hidden somewhere in the glittering skyscrapers downtown, next to the Buckhead mansions and classy nightclubs, but I never stepped foot in one. I was certainly missing out.
Forbes Travel Guide announces its Star Award winners twice yearly. This year’s winners include 76 hotels and 28 restaurants. As for 5-Diamond Awards, the AAA reviews more than 30,000 lodgings annually, but less than one-third of one percent make the list. Although the systems have vague universal requirements, these hotels are at the top of the food chain for sure.
My first experience with a 5-Star, 5-Diamond resort came a few weeks ago when I visited Kohler, Wisconsin–a picturesque town built around the Kohler factory. I knew the resort was top notch just by the way everyone already seemed to know my name when I walked in.
What made this place 5-Star, 5-Diamond? It might have been the unique décor in the rooms, each themed around people like John Coltrane or Helen Keller, or the sheer size of the rooms, or the fact that the lights inside the bathtub changed colors. I write about these incredible designs and products daily in my work, but experiencing them firsthand truly made me appreciate how luxury design is meant not just to pamper but to inspire.