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Udaipur voted world's best city in travel poll

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Udaipur, known as the “Venice of the East”, was voted the world’s best city for travellers in 2009 in an online poll by Travel + Leisure magazine, trumping last year’s winner Bangkok.

Tourists stand at the City Palace in Udaipur, in the desert Indian state of Rajasthan January 16, 2009, file photo. REUTERS/Vijay Mathur

The island of Bali in Indonesia topped the Galapagos to be named best island in the annual poll, in which casual and laid-back destinations prevailed.

Magazine readers also voted Bushmans Kloof Cedar Mountains, in South Africa, as the world’s top hotel while Singapore Airlines grabbed the best airline award again.

Nancy Novogrod, editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure said this year’s poll reflected changing travel interests in a challenging economy, with Udaipur, famous for its canals and palaces, a current tourist favourite for well-heeled Westerners.

“Value, intimacy, service, and discovery are top priorities. As for that so-last-August-sounding word, luxury, it’s all about enclaves that shelter stealth wealth,” she said in a statement.

Novogrod said dramatically sited outposts ranging from Jade Mountain in St. Lucia to San Ysidro Ranch in California featured highly this year.

Value ratings for a number of top-ranked cities -- Udaipur, Cape Town, Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Chiang Mai, and Luang Prabang -- were sky-high while other far-flung cities also made a strong showing.

However, favourites such as New York City, Florence, Rome, and San Francisco remained in the top 10 overall.

The results were complied from votes by magazine subscribers in an Internet poll which went live between January and March. Travel + Leisure will honour winners on July 21 in New York.

The complete “World’s Best Awards” is available on Following are some highlights:

Best city - Udaipur, India

Best hotel - Bushmans Kloof Cedar Mountains, South Africa

Best island - Bali, Indonesia

Best cruise line (large ships) - Crystal Cruises

Best cruise line (small ships) - The Yachts of Seabourn

Best international airline - Singapore Airlines

Best domestic airline - Virgin America

Best tour operator - Austin-Lehman Adventures

Best car-rental agency - Sext

Best destination spa - Mii amo, A Destination Spa at Enchantment, Sedona