Top islands, hotels and airlines, oh my!
MAUI has unseated Kauai as the world's No. 2 island, as ranked by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine.
Then again, Maui and Kauai have danced at Nos. 2 and 3 for years.
T+L has released the largest chunks of its 12th annual World's Best Awards Reader's Survey, which will hit newsstands in its August issue on July 24. It ranks cities, hotels, islands, airlines, cruise lines, tour operators and safari outfitters; and car-rental agencies.
Bali leads the island list for the sixth year, but only by a hair's breadth, with 86.30 points versus Maui's 86.22. Kauai got 85.92 points, the same as the Galapagos at No. 4, but the magazine did not consider it a tie.
Wild swings are among the rankings for the World's Top 100 Hotels, such as the skyrocketing of the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul to No. 4 from No. 48 last year.
"There is always movement on the list," said T+L News Editor John Newton. "I think part of it is a polling reality."
The survey is taken by a slightly different group of readers each year, "and when more people see a destination, you're getting a bigger sample." he said. Surveys from travel industry professionals don't count.
The hotels list includes five in Hawaii including one in the top 10 -- the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island, up from No. 12 last year.
Halekulani is at No. 38, down from 19 last year; the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea is up to No. 50 from 91; the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, the Lodge at Koele is at 60, down from No. 44 and at No. 70 is the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, which did not make last year's list.
T+L gives Hawaii its own regional list, which this year is topped yet again by the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and followed by its mates on the Top 100 list.
Hualalai also has the top-ranked hotel spa in Hawaii, but the whole spa list won't be released or posted online until the October issue comes out in September.
Newton did not have data on how many people evaluated each property, but said enough readers have to evaluate a listee for it to be included in the rankings. If only one reader evaluated a particular hotel, but gave it 100 points in each criteria, the hotel would still not make the list, he said. Readers must limit evaluations to destinations visited or services used within the last three years.
Newton does not believe there is a direct correlation between reader exposure to advertising in T+L and the magazine's survey results. However, greater exposure could naturally make a traveler more likely to visit a destination or use a service, which is the point of advertising anywhere, after all.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org