Every day sees a much-hyped hotel opening. How to tell the dazzlers from the duds? We test-drove the year's most promising. The result: your worldwide guide to the best new accommodations, from Argentina to Zambia - including 14 under $200 a night.
The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs
You only have to step into this place to know that an American with taste and money to burn is behind it. Imagine a 4,800-acre high-security private estate on the east coast of the North Island. Add to it an immaculate par-72 championship golf course running along the cliffs and through marsh, woods, and farmland, three private beaches, two tennis courts, an infinity pool, a spa, a fitness center, and an immense lodge - minus the bedrooms - overlooking the golf course and the sea. Guests are assigned to one of the eight two-suite wood cottages, each set amid flourishing gardens and with panoramic views of the sea. Suites consist of a splendid bedroom and a big living area in cream, white, and beige tones, with wood shutters, cane and wrought iron furniture, and lots of textural contrasts in upholstery, cushions and throws. A fire springs to life at the press of a button. The spacious bathroom is for sybarites, with a soaking tub and twin sinks on opposite sides of the room. Far from being simply a golfer's paradise, the lodge has attracted many people who have never picked up a putter - with sailing, diving, deep-sea fishing, swimming with dolphins, and sight-seeing by private car with a guide.