CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA (October 16, 2012) Known for rich history, well-preserved architecture, a celebrated restaurant community and mannerly people, the Charleston area has been named both Top U.S. City and Top Destination in the World by Cond Nast Traveler 2012 Readers' Choice Awards. This is the second consecutive year the historic coastal destination has received the No. 1 U.S. City ranking.
"We are tickled pink, just like some of Charleston's historic antebellum homes," says Wild Dunes Resort Managing Director and Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Chairman Frank Fredericks. "The Cond Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Award is based on six criteria and takes time to complete, which is a reflection of the voters' thoughtful effort to recognize their favorite destinations."
To receive the Readers' Choice Top City Award, a destination must have the strongest composite appeal, which is calculated by averaging scores from the survey's six categories: Atmosphere/Ambience, Culture/Sites, Friendliness, Lodging, Restaurants and Shopping. With a rating of 86.7, No. 1 Charleston is in the company of noteworthy cities, including No. 2 Cape Town, South Africa (84.8); and No. 3 Florence, Italy (83.3).
"This recognition is absolutely wonderful news for our city," says Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. "It is also an acknowledgment of the pride and care that our citizens give to our city. This is a testament to the warm and generous spirit of hospitality shown to all visitors by our residents. The people of Charleston are honored to once again be named by Cond Nast Traveler's Readers Choice as No. 1."
In 2012, the number of Readers' Choice Survey participants hit an all-time high with more than 47,000 submissionsa considerable increase over the 27,000 participants in 2011.
"I travel to a lot of places, and it's hard to find people who are more welcoming and friendly and charismatic than the people you find in Charleston," says Director of Consumer News and Digital Community Wendy Perrin. "I've been to Charleston 3 times in the past ten years, and what I remember best, besides the Lowcountry hospitality, is the cuisine. It's world classespecially that 12-layer coconut cake!"
Evaluating a city's friendliness, one of the six categories, stands out as particularly personal as it is based entirely on real, first hand experience. According to President of Kiawah Island Golf Resort and Charleston Area CVB Immediate Past Chairman Roger Warren, the tradition of extending a warm welcome is the exact reason Charleston distinguishes itself from so many other places.
"For those of us fortunate to live and work in Charleston, hospitality is more than a pleasant smile," says Warren. "Friendliness is the cornerstone but having trained, knowledgeable professionals at every level to provide outstanding customer service is what sets Charleston hospitality apart and makes us memorable."
Over the past year, the Charleston Area CVB has recognized individuals who embody the friendly spirit, such as Cody Buchanan of Kiawah Island Golf Resort, who filled jars with sand and seashells as a souvenir for a family dealing with terminal cancer. Buchanan's "random act of hospitality" is one of many such stories highlighted on CharlestONLY.com, a virtual showcase of the sights, sounds and flavors found only in one place: Charleston, South Carolina.
Launched on the eve of Charleston's 2011 Readers' Choice Top U.S. City Award announcement, CharlestONLY.com was revamped in anticipation of the 2012 Top U.S. City Award and now features a new high-definition video that showcases the Charleston area's distinctive sounds along with an insider's blog and special lodging packages offered by the 2012 Readers' Choice Award-winning inns, hotels and resorts.
According to Cond Nast Traveler, "Kiawah Island rings up its best-ever score (88.0), and Charleston is now not only your favorite U.S. city but your favorite anywhere, with an impressive eight hotels scoring above 90.0. Only New York, with ten, has more."
The Charleston area's 2012 Readers' Choice Award-winning properties include:
RESORTS - SOUTH - TOP 20#3 - The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island Golf Resort (#42 - Top 100 Hotels in the World)#19 - Wild Dunes Resort
HOTELS - SOUTH - TOP 50#3 - French Quarter Inn (#25 - Top 100 Hotels in the World)#4 - HarbourView Inn (#50 - Top 100 Hotels in the World)#5 - John Rutledge House (#88 - Top 100 Hotels in the World)#8 - Planters Inn#9 - Market Pavilion Hotel#11 - Restoration on King#14 - Charleston Place Hotel#16 - Elliott House Inn#38 - Mills House Hotel
The Cond Nast Traveler 2012 Readers' Choice Awards Top U.S. Cities include:
#1 - Charleston, South Carolina (86.7)
#2 - San Francisco, California (83.8)
#3 - Chicago, Illinois (83.6)
#4 - Santa Fe, New Mexico (82.0)
#5 - New York, New York (81.6)
#6 - Honolulu, Hawaii (80.4)
#7 - Napa, California (79.1)
#8 - New Orleans, Louisiana (78.4)
#9 - Seattle, Washington (78.2)
#10 - Boston, Massachusetts; Carmel, California; Savannah, Georgia (tied at 77.6)
Charleston first appeared on the Cond Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards list of Top U.S. Destinations in 1993 with a sixth place ranking, and it appeared at the top of the list for the first time in 2011.
"I've been all over the world and Charleston is the most beautiful city I've ever seen," remarked Emmy Award-winning comedy writer and Charlestonian Stephen Colbert as he accepted the 2011 award on behalf of the destination. To view the entire clip, visit charletstonly.com.