About the Academy

The World’s 50 Best Hotels Academy is the mechanism used to create The World’s 50 Best Hotels list. None of the employees of any of the sponsors associated with the awards votes or has any influence over the results. The Academy comprises 580 members, each selected for their expert opinion of the international hotel scene, with a 50/50 gender balance.

To create the Academy and give it a fair representation of the global hotel scene, we divide the world up into nine geographical regions. Each region has a chairperson appointed for their knowledge of their section of the hotel world. These Chairs each select a voting panel – ensuring a balanced selection of hoteliers, journalists and experienced luxury travellers.

Aside from the Academy Chairs, all voters are anonymous. A minimum of 25% of the panel is renewed each year.

Learn more about how the voting works

The Academy Chairs


  • Cecilia Núñez

    Cecilia Núñez

    Academy Chair for: Latin America, inc. Caribbean

    Núñez is a travel journalist with a voracious appetite for cuisine. Over her 22-year career, she has visited more than 70 countries writing articles for national and international travel magazines. She spent six years working on the travel section of Reforma, one of Mexico’s top newspapers, followed by her current post as Food and Travel Mexico's editorial director, which she has held since 2013. She led and produced Food and Travel’s radio programme and also provides global commentary on gastronomy and destinations on various radio stations and podcasts. She runs the Food and Travel Mexico Reader Awards and the American Express Hospitality Awards.

  • Danielle Demetriou

    Danielle Demetriou

    Academy Chair for: Japan and South Korea

    Demetriou is a British writer who moved from London to Japan in 2007. She travels extensively across Japan – from snow-flecked Hokkaido to subtropical Okinawa – writing stories about architecture, design and culture as well as reviewing new hotels. Her writing is published widely, including Condé Nast Traveller, The Daily Telegraph, Wallpaper*, Travel+Leisure and Architectural Review. Her book projects include contributions to Phaidon's Japanese Interiors. She lives in an old machiya in Kyoto.

  • Isabella Sullivan

    Isabella Sullivan

    Academy Chair for: Middle East & Africa

    Born in South Africa, raised between Cape Town and the UK and now based in Dubai, Sullivan has covered travel, lifestyle and F&B for close to a decade. She is the founder and editor of Near+Far – the Middle East's newest luxury travel publication – and a former editor at Condé Nast Traveller Middle East. Prior to her move, she worked as a journalist on travel publications in London, launching her own media platform aimed at re-romanticising slow travel in 2020. Growing up in hotels and surrounded by a family of hoteliers, she is passionate about the industry and the magic these establishments can create.

  • Jeninne Lee-St John

    Jeninne Lee-St John

    Academy Chair for: Southeast Asia

    Lee-St. John, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia’s editor-in-chief, loves living in Bangkok, though she wishes it were also on a beach. She’s especially interested in food with a good backstory, new ways to define luxury, regenerative travel, wellness – from ancient to cutting-edge – and weird wine. She worked at Time in New York and London, has a masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a bachelors from Williams College. Born in Washington, D.C., she has lived in Southeast Asia since 2009 and is known among friends as the queen of bubbles.

  • Kee Foong

    Kee Foong

    Academy Chair for: China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan

    Foong is a freelance writer who has set foot on all seven continents yet remains in awe of how much of the world is left to explore. He was previously editor of the LUXE City Guides and Discovery magazine, and his work appears in publications such as Travel+Leisure Asia, SCMP, Tatler and Design Anthology. He believes that there’s no place like home, except where there is a fabulous hotel involved.

  • Lauren Ho

    Lauren Ho

    Academy Chair for: Europe

    Ho is originally from South Africa and has spent the past 20 years residing in London, while simultaneously living a nomadic life and travelling the world reviewing luxury hotels and exploring destinations as a travel writer, consultant and copywriter. She was previously the travel editor of Wallpaper* magazine for 14 years and is now a contributing editor at Country & Town House while working as a freelance writer for publications including The Daily Telegraph, Robb Report, Condé Nast Traveller and House & Garden among others.

  • Michael Harden

    Michael Harden

    Academy Chair for: Oceania

    Michael Harden has been critiquing and writing about restaurants, bars and hotels for more than two decades. Prior to writing about and commentating on the hospitality industry, he worked in it for 15 years in Australia, Europe UK and US. He is the Victorian and Tasmanian editor for Australian Gourmet Traveller and is the author of numerous books exploring the social, historical and cultural aspects of the hospitality industry.

  • Yolanda Edwards

    Yolanda Edwards

    Academy Chair for: US and Canada

    Edwards is the founder and editor of Yolo Journal, a quarterly travel lifestyle publication, and a weekly newsletter. Previously she was the creative director of Condé Nast Traveler in the US, where she garnered many design awards, and the executive editor at Martha Stewart Living, where her team won the General Excellence Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors. She lives between Brooklyn and Rome with her family.

  • Zinara Rathnayake

    Zinara Rathnayake

    Academy Chair for: South Asia

    A freelance journalist and social media manager in travel and food, Rathnayake is always on the move looking for new adventures and stories. She currently divides her time between India and Sri Lanka and her work has appeared in The New York Times, BBC Travel, Singapore Air, CNN Travel, Hong Kong Airlines and Saveur among others.