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Legend Awards 2021 Methodology

The 2021 Legend Awards.


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The Departures' Legend Awards seek to do one thing: find the best in recent, unprecedented luxury.

However, it goes without saying that vetting for Legend Awards 2021 looked different than it has in previous years. As a result of COVID-19 and subsequent travel restrictions, our focus skewed primarily domestic. This year, City Hotel Openings, Lodge and Resort Hotel Openings, Best Hotel Renovations, Private Adventure Experiences, Best Bars, Best Wellness Experiences, Over-the-Top Suites, and Best Ski Resorts—all of which are typically international categories—only feature honorees within the 50 American states. In light of the pandemic, we also shifted a few of our categories to honor the resilience within the travel and hospitality industries. That’s why in lieu of a Best Meal category this year, we chose to honor Chefs Making an Impact. And finally, we honed our methodology in response to how travel has changed in the last 14 months.

We weren’t jet setting this year, which is why we opted against our Editors’ Favorite International Cities category in favor of honoring our Favorite U.S. Road Trip Destinations. We also spent more time outdoors, which is why we’ve added our Over-the-Top Outdoor Experiences in the U.S. category. We were fortunate enough to vet all of the New Hotel Openings, Renovations, and Wellness Experiences in person, which is why we opted to separately honor New International Hotel Openings, which we have yet to see in person. For the categories we vetted in person, we started with a list of every hotel opening, and culled it, until finally, before sending our editors to experience the best in five-star hospitality. We left our hospitality and city advancement categories international—City Beautification Effort, Eco-Initiatives, Stunning Architecture, and our new Transformations We Admired From Afar category—because creativity and innovation were by no means halted amid the pandemic. We also reimagined our Cruising category to look ahead at 2022 itineraries and left our Best Private Islands category international, because aspiration and future trip planning is good for the travel soul.

From a timing perspective, Legend Awards 2021 specifically looked at travel, hospitality, architecture, culture, food, and beverage from April 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. For our timely categories—City Hotel Openings, Lodges and Resort Openings, Best Hotel Renovations, International Hotel Openings, Eco-Initiatives, Stunning Architecture, Over-the-Top Suites, Best Wine Releases, and Best Spirit Releases—the project had to be completed within our April 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 timeframe. For City Beautification Efforts, the project had to see ongoing work (and reach at least 60% completion) within the last year.

Each honoree across our 23 categories (which can be found at our Departures' Legend Awards landing page) are solely editor’s choice, based on the best first-hand or extensively researched travel experiences. Even for our evergreen categories, we paid particularly close attention to honorees’ noteworthy changes from April 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Every single honoree goes through a stringent vetting process, wherein our panel of travel editors weighs in on each selection.

Finally, the honorees are ranked in no particular order—each featured honoree is just as significant as the next. This is the third annual Departures' Legend Awards, and we’re already looking forward to the top-tier properties and experiences we encounter in the coming year.

Finally, the honorees are ranked in no particular order—each featured honoree is just as significant as the next. This is the third annual Departures' Legend Awards, and we’re extremely grateful to have produced these awards over the last three years. We want to say a very special thank you to our team—Deanne Kaczerski, Sean Flynn, Maya Kachroo-Levine, Alessandra Amodio, Sam Feher, and Madison Yauger—and our print partners, Jeffries Blackerby and Jackie Caradonio, as well as the editors and freelancers who contributed to the editorial work and hosted video, including Jonah Flicker, Ray Isle, Samantha Lauriello, Elizabeth Rhodes, Stacey Leasca, Randall Palmer, Jenna Blaha, and Eric Palmer.


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