Size matters-whether you're in a resort looking at elephants, or simply looking for an elephantine resort. That's the takeaway from this year's list of Africa and the Middle East's 25 Best Hotels, as chosen by the Forbes Traveler 400 board of experts. These luxury-travel gurus judged nearly 800 top-notch hotels on the quality of their rooms, service, decor, cuisine, public areas, recreational options and location. What did they tell us? That, at least in Africa and the Middle East, there's a clear preference for behemoths-whether it's the wildlife in Africa or the wild larger-than-life structures of Arabia.
Nearly half of this year's entries are remote lodges located in various parks, game preserves and wilderness areas in southern and eastern Africa; several distinguish themselves with luxurious service in remote locations. At the Savute Elephant Camp inside Botswana's Chobe National Park, for example, guests can enjoy complimentary laptops and fully stocked mini-bars while viewing the elephants and lions.
One Forbes Traveler 400 board member praised the "amazing, warm, even loving" staff, while another called it their "top elephant experience." The Royal Malewane, located in South Africa's Kruger Park, aims even higher, offering helicopters and executive jets to allow for incognito arrivals and departures while viewing the Big Five game.