Like most travel magazines out there, Global Traveler conducts a readers’ poll each year asking for opinions on who is doing the best job in the airline and hospitality industries. The readership there is high-level executives who frequently travel the world on business, tacking on a few days before or after to have some fun. A lot of them are at elite level with their favored airline or hotel chain, so they know what it’s like at the front of the plane and on the executive floor.
This survey is interesting though because they only publish the top pick for each category—no als0-rans. Worldwide, Middle Eastern and Asian airlines were the clear winners in most categories and the best airline in North America was certainly not a U.S. one (and I’d put money on “never will be.”) Here are the results for Latin America, only one being a head scratcher:
Best Frequent Flyer Award Redemption (Worldwide): LifeMiles from Avianca
Best Frequent Flyer Bonus Program (Worldwide): United Airlines
Best Airline in Central/South America: Avianca
Best Airline in Mexico: Aeromexico
Best Hotel Club Floor: Ritz-Carlton Club Level
Best Lifestyle Hotel: Andaz [See our review of the new Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica, pictured above]
Best Hotel Rewards Program & Best Frequent-Stay Bonus Program: Intercontinental Hotels Group
Best Frequent Stay Customer Service, Americas: Hilton Hhonors
Best Frequent Stay Elite-Level Program: Marriott Rewards Platinum Elite
Best Hotel Chain in Mexico: Fiesta Americana
Best Luggage Brand: Briggs & Riley
In the frequent traveler credit card awards, there was a split between United Mileage Plus Club Card from Chase (3 wins), Marriott Rewards Visa Signature Card from Chase, and the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express. Personally I think the Citi American Airlines one is better for Latin American because you can use those points on LAN, but that did win for “best benefits.”
The one result I found really baffling though was that Sheraton Hotels won, as they have every year, for “Best Hotel Chain in Latin America.” I can’t for the life of me figure out how this keeps happening. Apart from the newish one in Mendoza, the Sheratons in these countries are old, outdated convention hulks that are rarely even in the top-5 of best places to stay in the city. There are some great sister hotels with the Westin banner, but this is one result where the readers really don’t know what they’re talking about. Sure, there’s a lot of fragmentation and nobody has a very big footprint across the whole region, but let’s hope year 11 breaks the trend.