A year ago, travelers were still flying high, booking deluxe ocean-view suites without a second thought. Today luxury is a six-letter word that most tourists are resigned to living without, instead seeking special deals and bargain promotions. Faced with little choice, most hoteliers have tried to accommodate them; in New York the average daily rate year-on-year fell 30.1 percent in September, according to Smith Travel Research. But a select group of premium hotels around the world are bucking the trend, expanding rather than curtailing their indulgent offerings.
La Mamounia Marrakech's iconic 210-room la Mamounia, reopened after an extensive restoration, seduces big spenders by creating experiences that satisfy East-meets-West fantasies. It has a massive spa, fancy restaurants, and clay tennis courts. But the hotel also offers an exquisite hammam, or traditional steam bath; tennis clinics with the legendary player Henri Leconte; and a culinary package that includes a tasting tour of Marrakech, as well as face time with and meals by the hotel's Michelin-starred chefs (from $775 per night; mamounia.com).
Capella Built on Singapore's Sentosa Island, the Capella bills itself as part of the world's first "six-star" hotel brand. The 1880s colonial building seamlessly blends with modern additions that house the 112 guest rooms, a Chinese fine-dining restaurant, and the Auriga Spa, which overlooks cascading pools and the sea. The hotel keeps high-end travelers happy by including amenities in the room price, rather than adding extra costs. In addition to a free, well-stocked minibar, free Wi-Fi, soaking tubs, and natural bath amenities, guests have access to a personal assistant (from $535 per night; capellasingapore.com).
Aman New Delhi's newly opened Aman is building its client base by creating a sanctuary inside one of the world's most populous cities. The 31-room, 36-suite hotel's aesthetic incorporates the luxury chain's trademark subtlety, but the property stands out by engineering the kind of serenity that only money can buy in a bustling metropolis: each of the 31 standard rooms has its own plunge pool and terrace. Guests can enjoy a yoga class in the historic Lodhi Gardens or opt for a guided "spiritual journey" to various Sikh and Hindu holy sites within the city (from $550 per night; amanresorts.com).
The Mark Hotel The suits behind the $140 million New York City hotel clearly saw no reason to cut back on their budget. Redesigned by Pierre Passebon and his partner, Jacques Grange, the ultraluxe hotel features 149 rooms and suites distinguished by an art deco–influenced look and contemporary works of art. The hotel distinguishes itself by providing a level of service unparalleled by other city properties. Some of its more unusual offerings include multilingual secretarial support and airplane charters, but non–business moguls can enjoy the Frédéric Fekkai Salon and soon-to-open restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten (from $825 per night; themarkhotel.com).
In a competitive market, these small properties aim to offer better value than their bigger brethren, hoping to woo the wealthy who are still willing to spend but expect something more than travel as usual.