Tourism Australia, Southern Crossings receive top gongs from Virtuoso

Tauck, Switzerland Tourism, Emirates among annual award winners

Virtuoso concluded its 35th annual Virtuoso Travel Week with an elegant evening of recognition honouring individuals and entities that have gone above and beyond in the travel industry over the past year. The gala, which took place August 17 at Bellagio Resort & Casino on Thursday night in Las Vegas, shone a spotlight on the network’s most esteemed travel agencies, advisors and preferred partners.

Virtuoso’s professional travel advisors from 54 countries served as Best of the Best award voters. Editors of Virtuoso, The Magazine, the network’s award-winning flagship publication, lent insights to narrow the field of nominees for which the advisors voted. Winners will be showcased in the magazine’s November/December issue, reaching 200,000 affluent households.

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The Awards and winners were:

Best Hotel:

This award recognises an iconic hotel that epitomises excellence in luxury hospitality.

Winner: San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel / Italy

Perched on a rocky promontory high above the Ionian Sea, the iconic San Domenico Palace welcomes guests to a 14th-century convent with panoramic views of Mount Etna and an ancient Greek theatre where they can savor award-winning dining, unwind in the spa and swim in a clifftop infinity pool. Escaping into the Four Seasons world of timeless beauty is easy at this property – with the charming town of Taormina at its doorstep and the best of Sicily waiting to be explored.

Best New or Reimagined Hotel:

This award recognises a hotel that is either newly opened (within the last 12 months) or has re-opened after an extensive renovation resulting in a new hotel experience.

Winner: The Peninsula Istanbul / Turkey

The Peninsula, Istanbul

Set on the shores of the Bosphorus strait, The Peninsula Istanbul is began welcoming guests in February 2023 with open arms and epic views. Featuring classical-inspired architecture, The Peninsula Istanbul offers lush, landscaped gardens and swimming pools, one of which overlooks the Bosphorus. Guests can savor sublime local and international cuisine at a choice of sophisticated restaurants before indulging in the ancient Turkish tradition of hammam steam baths at the decadent The Peninsula Spa.

Hotelier of the Year:

This award recognises an experienced hotel manager who demonstrates unparalleled leadership and vision, an unrelenting passion for the industry, an engaged commitment to the network of Virtuoso travel advisors and an astute appreciation for detail.

Winner: Markos Chaidemenos, Canaves Oia, Luxury Resorts / Greece

Best On-site:

This award recognises an on-site partner who creates outstanding customized experiences.

Winner: Southern Crossings / Australia and New Zealand

For over 35 years, the expert travel specialists at Southern Crossings have been designing personalised, bespoke itineraries to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. With unmatched on-the-ground knowledge and a commitment to five-star service, the company works with a broad spectrum of discerning travelers, from honeymooners to multi-generational families.

Best Tour Operator:

Winner: Tauck / Connecticut, USA

A family-owned company for nearly 98 years, the Tauck Mission to “create authentic, enriching travel experiences that enhance people’s lives by broadening their knowledge and fulfilling their dreams.” With journeys across seven continents, in over 100 destinations and to over 70 countries, Tauck continuously finds new ways to enhance travel experiences that will be memorable for a lifetime.

Best Tourism Board:

This award recognises a tourism board partner that epitomises excellence and is highly engaged with the Virtuoso advisor membership.

Winner: Switzerland Tourism

Switzerland Tourism is dedicated to promoting the best of Switzerland’s nature, authenticity, sustainability and modernity, under the overall concept of “Swissness.” Working in close collaboration with local tourism partners and suppliers, its mission is to continue reinforcing Switzerland’s title as a global leader in sustainability

by encouraging travellers to use electric public transportation, solar-powered ski lifts, e-cars and much more.

Best Specialty, Insurance or Airline:

This award recognises a partner providing exemplary service focused on insurance, auto rental, private jet and other service partners.

Winner: Emirates

Emirates connects the world to, and through, its global hub in Dubai. Operating modern, efficient and comfortable aircraft, its culturally diverse workforce delivers award-winning services to customers across six continents every day on its fleet of nearly 300 aircraft.

Virtuoso Selected

Most Engaged Global Agency:

Collaboration is one of Virtuoso’s core values, and the winner of this award recognizes a Member Agency with the highest engagement based on agency participation within the Virtuoso network.

Winner: Q Cruise + Travel / Chicago, Illinois


The Luminary Award recognises a Virtuoso Partner that upholds the highest professional standards, serves as a leader in their industry and embodies the spirit of the Virtuoso network through their dedication and engagement. The recipient of this award exudes brilliance and sets a standard for others to follow.

Winner: Tourism Australia

Credit: Chris Allison, VP Americas, Tourism Australia/LinkedIn

Rising Star:

This award recognises the outstanding achievements of a new-to-industry Virtuoso Travel Advisor who demonstrates an exceptional level of production and engagement to the network.

Winner: Christy Menzies, Menzies Luxe Retreats, an independent affiliate of Brownell Travel / Darien, Connecticut

A special mention to FBI Travel‘s Yossi Nussbacher on being nominated for this category in 2023.

Ruby of Siam:

The prestigious “Ruby of Siam” is an honour with long-standing tradition within Virtuoso since 1987. It is presented to an agency owners or managers who selflessly give of their time, effort and wisdom to elevate Virtuoso’s collective reputation and perceived value.

Winner: Jaime Leon and Laura Asilis, Travelwise / Dominican Republic

Lead image: Tourism Australia’s team at Virtuoso Travel Week 2023

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