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Winners of 2023 Smart Travel Asia 20th Anniversary Best in Travel Poll

20th Anniversary Best in Travel Poll results 2023 - Smart Travel Asia magazine


What do travellers want? Service, service, service...

Readers opted for simplicity and local flavour. The demand was for service, service, service. Kudos to these doughty winners who emerged after vigorous scrutiny by a super-critical audience wearying of post-Covid staff shortages and sub-par standards.

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THE results of the Smart Travel Asia 20th Anniversary BEST IN TRAVEL POLL are in. While classics continued to excite, many opted for fresh faces, simplicity, and local flavour. Not all picks were at the top of the luxury spectrum. Winners ranged from marble-slathered palace hotels to friendly boutiques with knee-bumping furniture; from big thrumming cities to unassuming locations. Younger readers opted for contemporary products with a faster pulse while older readers stayed with nostalgic aspiration.

Our broad mix of frequent travellers —Zoomers, Millennials and Baby Boomers — emerging from years of frustrating lockdowns, were in the mood for the real essentials of travel — service, warmth, value. (Millennials proved to be increasingly brand conscious - but confusion about brand promise and identity was rife, especially amongst leisure travellers.)

{Staggered destination reopenings affected rankings with stronger cities lifting their products but muscle memory remained strong for some brands

Service has been hard to secure these days as hotels and airlines struggle to staff up and retrain personnel. Speaking of passenger frustrations on a flight to Japan, one reader wrote: "According to her [the cabin attendant], the airlines can’t find new recruits so they’ve been pulling people out of retirement or offering incentives to stick around." He adds: "While it’s great to employ people regardless of age, a few of the elderly attendants seemed too tired to do the work."

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There were complaints about excessive costs for hotels and food, and lost baggage on airlines. But chiefly, it was about waning service.

The poll ran through September 2023, open to a global audience without restrictions, via our website, newsletters, word of mouth, and airline and hotel referrals. We talked with focus groups across our network and sought editorial input. Affluent frequent travellers poured in from USA and Europe, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Australia. We received votes from South America and Latin America and even from embattled Russia and Ukraine. This is a true bird's-eye view from people who travel frequently to and within Asia.

Average travel stood at 10 trips annually (down from 14 in 2018) while a noticeably younger audience ranked key travel interests as: adventure/nature, culture/history, dining/nightlife, spas, shopping, family travel, and weddings. Business travel remained strong and conference travel intent had picked up.

THE SmartTravelAsia.com BEST IN TRAVEL POLL is a market research exercise that has run since 2005. This purely online magazine was launched in January 2003, the first of its kind in Asia. This is an independent, free, and fair poll with no nomination fees. We track anomalies and eliminate repeat votes and garbled entries. The drop-down menus provided on the polling page are purely a spelling check device. The spell check does not indicate a finite universe and voters are free to key in their choices. In severale categories, products (especially hotels) are bunched together as the scores are too close to call. This poll has done away with the customary TOP 25 Lists and opted for a TOP 10 that has narrowed ranks considerably.

Singapore Airlines, Best Airline in the world 2023
Top 10 Airlines
2023 Rank
1. Singapore Airlines
2. Emirates
3. Qatar Airways
4. Japan Airlines
5. All Nippon Airways (ANA)
6. Cathay Pacific Airways
7.  Garuda Indonesia
8. Korean Air
9. Air France
10. Thai Airways International
Singapore Airlines, Best Cabin Service worldwide 2023
Top 10 Airlines, Cabin Service
2023 Rank
1. Singapore Airlines
2. Emirates
3. Cathay Pacific Airways 
4. Qatar Airways
5. Garuda Indonesia
6. Japan Airlines
7. Bangkok Airways
8. Thai Airways International
9. Vistara
10. Air Astana
Bangkok, Best Holiday Destination in Asia 2023
Top 10 Holiday Destinations
2023 Rank
1. Bangkok
2. Bali

3. Maldives

4. Tokyo
5. Phuket
6. Goa
7. Koh Samui
    Siem Reap (Angkor)
8. Langkawi
    Danang & Hoi An
9. Palawan
10. Phu Quoc
      Raja Ampat, East Indonesia
Kudadoo Maldives, voted the Best Luxury Hotel in Asia for 2023
Top 10 Luxury Hotels
2023 Rank
1. Kudadoo Maldives
2. Buahan, A Banyan Tree Escape, Bali
3. COMO Uma Punakha. Bhutan
    Amankila, Bali
4. Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Bali
5. Aman Tokyo
    Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur
6. Raffles Singapore
    Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
7. The Peninsula Hong Kong
    Rosewood Hong Kong
    The Upper House, Hong Kong
8. Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok
    Bulgari Hotel Shanghai
   The St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
9. Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An
    Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono, Hokkaido, Japan
    Signiel Seoul

10. The PuXuan Hotel & Spa, Beijing
      The Siam Hotel, Bangkok
     Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental, Abu Dhabi

The Oberoi New Delhi,  ranked No.1 as the Best Business Hotel in Asia in 2023 reader poll by Smart Travel Asia
Top 10 Business Hotels
2023 Rank
1. The Oberoi New Delhi
2. The St Regis Bangkok
3. Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel Bangkok
4. The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai
    Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
5. The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
     Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
6. Rosewood Beijing
    Waldorf Astoria Bangkok
7. Park Hyatt Bangkok
8. Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok
    The Upper House, Hong Kong
9. Regent Taipei
    Fairmont Makati, Manila
10. Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
      Four Seasons Hotel Singapore
Ayana Resort and Spa Bali, ranked Asia's Best Spa Hotel in 2023
Top 10 Spa Hotels
2023 Rank
1. Ayana Resort & Spa Bali
2. Banyan Tree Phuket
    Kamalaya Koh Samui
3. Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
    Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
4. COMO Shambhala Estate, Bali
    Bulgari Resort Bali
    Chiva Som Hua Hin
5. Banyan Tree Samui
    Zannier Hotels Bai San Ho, Vietnam
6. Six Senses Samui
    Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa
7. The Royal Pita Maha, Bali
    JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa
8. Maya Ubud Resort & Spa
   The Peninsula, Bangkok
   Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel
9. Hyatt Regency Bali
    Pangkor Laut Resort
10. Tugu Bali
      The PuLi Hotel and Spa, Shanghai
      SO/ Bangkok
Soneva Jani Maldives, ranked the Best Family Hotel in Asia in 2023
Top 10 Family Hotels
2023 Rank
1. Soneva Jani, Maldives
2. InterContinental Bali Resort
3. JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa
4. Alma Resort Cam Ranh, Vietnam
    Centara Reserve Samui
5. Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa,
6. The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa
    Shangri-La Boracay
7. Grand Hyatt Bali
8. W Singapore Sentosa Cove
    The Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel
9. Santiburi Koh Samui
    Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa

10. Sofitel Sanya Leeman Resort
      Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok

Hotel Continental Saigon ranked the Best Value Hotel in Asia 2023
Top 10 Value Hotels
2023 Rank
1. Hotel Continental Saigon
2. Novotel Bangkok Ploenchit Sukhumvit Hotel
3. The Chow Kit - an Ormond Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
4. Jen Singapore Orchardgateway by Shangri-La
5. Aloft Kuala Lumpur
    Courtyard by Marriott Bali Nusa Dua Resort
6. Humble House, Taipei
7. Villa Nirvana, Ubud, Bali
8. The Funny Lion, El Nido
9. Jambuluwuk Oceano Seminyak, Bali
10. Colonel's Retreat, New Delhi
Emirates Business Class ranked Best in the World in 2023 by Smart Travel Asia readers
Top 10 Airlines, Business Class
2023 Rank
1. Emirates
2. Qatar Airways
3. Singapore Airlines
4. Cathay Pacific Airways
5. Japan Airlines
6. All Nippon Airways (ANA)
7. Garuda Indonesia
8. Thai Airways International
9. EVA Air
10. Delta Air Lines
AirAsia, Best Budget Airline in Asia 2023
Top 10 Budget Airlines
2023 Rank
1. AirAsia
2. IndiGo
3. Jetstar Asia
4. Scoot
5. Spice Jet
6. Cebu Pacific
7. Peach
8. Air Arabia
9. HK Express
10. Vietjet
Singapore Changi, voted Best Airport worldwide 2023
Top 10 Airports
2023 Rank
1. Singapore Changi Airport
2.Hamad International Airport, Doha
3. Incheon International Airport, Seoul
4. Haneda Airport, Tokyo
5. Munich Airport
6. Zurich Airport
7. London Heathrow, T2
8. Beijing Daxing International Airport
9. Hong Kong International Airport
10. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
        Mumbai, T2
Singapore, voted Best Asian City for Meetings and Business in 2023
Top 10 Cities for Meetings
2023 Rank
1. Singapore
2. Bangkok
3. Phuket
4. Danang
5. Langkawi
     Ho Chi Minh City
6. Seoul
7. Taipei
8. Kuala Lumpur
9. Manila
10. Hanoi
Aleenta Phuket Phang Nga, voted the No.1 Boutique Hote Asia 2023
Top 10 Boutique Hotels
2023 Rank
1. Aleenta Phuket Phang Nga Resort & Spa
2. Capella Ubud, Bali
3.  Amorita Resort, Bohol
    Tanah Gajah, a Resort by Hadiprana, Ubud, Bali
4. Wild Coast Tented Lodge - Relais & Chateaux,
       Sri Lanka
    Azerai Ke Ga Bay
    La Reserve 1785, Canggu, Bali
5. Hotel Indigo, Bangkok
6.  The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore
7. Hotel Proverbs, Taipei
8. TIA Wellness Resort, Danang
    The Library, Koh Samui
9. Sujan Jawai, Rajasthan, India
     Asai Bangkok Chinatown
10. MansionHaus, Goa
      SALA Khaoyai
      The Fleming, Hong Kong
      Diaoyutai Boutique Hotel Chengdu
Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, ranked the Best Conference Hotel in Asia 2023
Top 10 Conference Hotels
2023 Rank
1. Shangri-La Hotel Singapore
2. The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
3. The St Regis Singapore
4. JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach
5. The Westin Resort Nusa Dua Bali
    Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur
6. The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore
    The Athénée Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel,         Bangkok
7. InterContinental Bangkok
    Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
8. Conrad Bangkok
    Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
9. Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur
    Grand Hyatt Seoul
    JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong
10. Wynn Palace Cotai, Macau
      Raffles Jakarta
      Sunrise Kempinski Hotel Beijing
      Niccolo Chengdu
InterContinental Danang, ranked the Best Wedding Hotel in Asia 2023
Top 10 Wedding Hotels
2023 Rank
1. InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula
2. Amanpuri Phuket
3. Ayana Resort & Spa Bali
4. Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali
5. Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin
    Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
6. The Datai Langkawi
    Capella Bangkok
7. Waldorf Astoria Bangkok
    The Oberoi Udaivilas Udaipur
    Capella Singapore
8. JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa
   The Apurva Kempinski Bali
   The Athénée Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel,         Bangkok
9. Grand Hyatt Bali
10. Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok
      Trisara, Phuket
      Samode Palace Jaipur
Amankila Bali, ranked the Best Leisure Hotel in Asia 2023
Top 10 Leisure Hotels
2023 Rank
1. Amankila Bali
2. Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Bali
    Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at
        Chao Phraya River
3. Andaz Bali
    Patina Maldives
4. Dusit Thani Maldives
    Centara Reserve Samui
5. Shangri-La Boracay
    InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula
6. Azerai La Residence, Hue
7. SALA Phuket Mai Khao Beach Resort
    E&O Penang
8. JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa
    Regent Phu Quoc
9. The Standard Bangkok Mahanakhon
    Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi
10. The Chedi Muscat, Oman
      Rosewood Bangkok

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