Travel Plus Leisure readers rank the best

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Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards readers’ survey is an annual, impartial reader survey that allows Travel + Leisure readers to share their opinions of their favorite travel finds.

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Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards readers’ survey is an annual, impartial reader survey that allows Travel + Leisure readers to share their opinions of their favorite travel finds. Nancy Novogrod, editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure, today announced that Bangkok, Galápagos Islands, and Virgin America are first-time overall winners in Travel + Leisure ’s 2008 World’s Best Awards readers’ survey.

Among the four first-ever regional hotel winners are Triple Creek Ranch in Montana, No. 1 in the U.S., and One & Only Ocean Club in the Bahamas, taking the top spot in the Caribbean. New York City is named best U.S. city for the eighth consecutive year, and Savannah, Georgia, makes its debut on the list of top 10 cities in the US and Canada. Vieques, named best island in the Caribbean, is a regional No. 1 newcomer this year.

Novogrod said, “We’re delighted to welcome so many new winners this year. Nature—and adventure—was clearly a draw in the selections of the Triple Creek Ranch, in Montana, and the Galápagos Islands. California hotels won big, taking five of the top 10 spots in the Continental US and Canada. Hotels in Ireland also made a great showing—they occupy the second-highest number of spots in the Top 50 Hotels in Europe list, after Italy. And Virgin America came on strong in its very first year of service, winning the prize for Best Domestic Airline.”

Virgin America – Best Domestic Airlines

Virgin America, the California-based airline that is reinventing domestic air travel, took the top honors as “Best Domestic Airline” in the prestigious Travel + Leisure Annual World’s Best Awards readers’ survey.

“We’re delighted to welcome so many new winners this year,” said Nancy Novogrod, Editor-in-Chief of Travel + Leisure. “Virgin America came on strong in its very first year of service, winning the prize for Best Domestic Airline.”

Airlines are rated by Travel + Leisure readers in several categories – cabin comfort, food, in-flight service, customer service, and value.

“Virgin America was launched just last year with the goal of creating a different kind of airline – one built around providing an upscale, innovative, high-value customer experience for smart travelers in the urban destinations we serve,” said Virgin America chief executive officer David Cush. “So, we couldn’t be more honored to take the top award as Best Domestic Airline from Travel + Leisure’s readers – those who fly the most and expect the very best in design, comfort and service in all their travel choices.”

“These awards are certainly not a finish line,” Cush said. “It shows that we are moving in the right direction, but our goal from the start was to design an airline by listening to what travelers actually want. We’ve already implemented customer suggestions taken from our seatback video-screens from some of our very first August 2007 flights. We may not be the biggest, but we aim to be the most innovative, customer-facing and best in the domestic airline market.”

Crystal Cruises – World’s Best Large-Ship Cruise Line

With its highest score in five years, Crystal Cruises has been voted the “World’s Best Large-Ship Cruise Line” for a 13th consecutive year. The ultra-luxury Crystal Cruises is the only cruise line, resort or hotel to have won the prestigious award each year since the awards’ inception. Crystal’s 2008 World’s Best score of 90.67 marks the highest score of any cruise line – large and small. This score ranks Crystal with the survey’s most highly-noted hotel in the world. Readers were asked to rate cruise lines on cabins, food, service, itineraries/destinations, activities and value.

“We are extremely honored and gratified that the authentic warmth of Crystal’s extraordinary staff, our seamless luxury and unparalleled attention to detail make for such a treasured experience for so many discerning Travel + Leisure readers,” says Crystal Cruises’ president Gregg Michel. “This is a tremendous validation of the continual investments we make in our ships, the meaningful personalized programs we’ve introduced, and Crystal’s winning formula of superior service, choices, space and quality.”

Crystal Cruises’ luxurious, award-winning fleet consists of the 940-guest, 50,000-ton Crystal Symphony and 1,080-guest, 68,000-ton Crystal Serenity, which cruise worldwide on itineraries of seven to 106 days. In November, the line is upping its luxury quotient as several staterooms are eliminated to make way for more posh Penthouses. Within the past two years, the luxury line completed a stylish and sophisticated redesign of Crystal Symphony and expanded the opportunities to personalize one’s experiences ashore with “extreme luxury” shore experiences, an increased collection of boutique Crystal Adventures(R) and thoroughly customized Crystal Private Adventures throughout the world.

Based on the success of restaurants featured on Crystal Serenity, Crystal also tapped famed master chef Nobu Matsuhisa to launch his cuisine in transformed specialty restaurants aboard Crystal Symphony. Silk Road and The Sushi Bar were completed in the spring, subsequent to travelers’ completion of the survey. Ultimate wine experiences showcasing rare vintages were introduced in late 2007 and additional culinary refinements are being rolled out in 2008. Fitness, wellness and cultural enrichment continue to be a major focus.

Michel added, “In this challenging, competitive travel environment, this rating means a lot to today’s travelers. When they part with their hard-earned vacation dollars, they want the assurance that they’re getting the best.”

The complete 2008 results, including the Top 100 Hotels Worldwide, Top 100 Hotels in the Continental U.S. + Canada, and Top 10 Cities in the World, are featured on now and in Travel + Leisure’s August issue, available on newsstands July 22, 2008.

The Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards winners for 2008, including Virgin America’s Cush, will be honored in New York City on July 24, 2008, at an awards luncheon at the Four Seasons Restaurant, followed by a gala event at Hudson Terrace that evening.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.