The Departures' Legend Awards seek to do one thing: find the best in recent, unprecedented luxury.
However, since we started vetting our Legend Awards honorees, the world of travel has been disrupted to an unimaginable degree. The properties featured as Legend Award honorees—across our 24 editor-selected categories—are not taking reservations at this time. For the most part, the restaurants we’re honoring have ceased operations for the time being. The airlines we’re honoring have grounded their Boeings and A350s or pivoted to transporting medical supplies and essential personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It breaks our heart to say that, of course, now is not the time to travel to these cities, experience these hotels, and dine at these exceptional restaurants. But we’re looking ahead to when we can, and hope these awards inspire you to do the same.
For our timely categories—which are Best New City Hotel Openings, Best New Luxury Resorts and Lodges, Best Hotel Renovations, Cities with the Best Beautification Projects, and Best Wine and Spirit Releases—we only considered entries from May 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. This means that all the new hotels, resorts, and lodges opened or completed their renovation in that time frame. It also means our favorite wine and spirits were released in that time frame, and that the beautification projects saw ongoing work between May 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020.
We shortened our Legend Awards consideration period by a month because of COVID-19; we look forward to visiting the hotels and restaurants that would have opened this spring, and potentially honoring them next year. Further, some of the experiences we’re honoring this year, including restaurant pop-ups and world cruises, were halted mid-way through because of the coronavirus pandemic. In our eyes, however, this does not diminish the legendary experiences they started and will continue to offer when their operations can resume.
We are in awe of the resilience the hospitality industry has shown during this time and are continuing to support them in any way we can. When possible, we encourage our readers to support hotels, restaurants, and the travel industry, whether that means buying gift cards to or ordering delivery from these legendary restaurants, or planning future hotel bookings. You can even contribute to verified charities directly benefiting our favorite restaurants, like the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Relief Fund, or initiatives founded by honorees, like José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen, which is mobilizing restaurants to help communities in need.
Each honoree across our 24 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’ new and noteworthy programming between May 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020. Every single honoree goes through a stringent vetting process, wherein our team of editors—all the way up to our Digital Executive Editor and Editor In Chief—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 second annual Departures' Legend Awards, and we’re already looking forward to the top-tier properties and experiences we encounter in the coming year.