NEW YORK (TheStreet) — The average salary in the United States is around $51,000 — as it turns out, about the cost of one night's stay at the most expensive hotel suite on this year's list of the Top 101 Suites of the World.
Compiled by the New York-based private jet lifestyle magazine Elite Traveler, the list is now in its 13th year of highlighting suites that are regularly host to heads of state, rock stars, Hollywood royalty and fabulously wealthy entrepreneurs, suites where you'll find private lap pools or chandeliers dripping with diamonds.
"I've seen quite a few of them. They are fabulous," says Doug Gollan, co-founder and group president at Elite Traveler Media Group, who points out that the average square footage of the suites on the list is also far larger then the average American home.
"When you take a look at the average square feet of the suites on the list, it's just under 4,000 square feet," he says. "And the average American home is about 2,400 square feet, so these are 40% to 50% larger then the average American house."
The magazine gets help compiling the list from a handful of star athletes (who would know better about the most decadent suites in the world, right?) as well as travel industry leaders and noted bloggers.
Suites in 35 countries were included on the list, with the United States earning top honors — home to 20 of the best suites in the world. China ranked second, with 10, followed by the United Arab Emirates with nine. Mexico and England have six suites each on the list, and Switzerland rounds out the top five, with five of its own suites that must be seen. The cities of Dubai and London, with six each, are home to the most number of suites on the list.
The most expensive suite is in Geneva, at the Intercontinental Hotel. Just one night in the hotel's 7,000-square-foot Residence Suite costs $56,000.
Its east and west wings hold 11 rooms and a salon with wall-to-wall windows that provide outstanding views of Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc.
The largest suite on the list is the 34,000-square-foot Straffan House at the K Club in Kildare, Ireland. The private villa includes 10 bedrooms, an indoor swimming pool (and swim-up bar), a cinema, spa and wine cellar. A dedicated staff, including concierge and private chef, are part of the stay.
It's just $16,000 per night, which, compared with the other prices on the list, seems like a bargain.
"The cost of all of this is relative," Gollan points out. "Is it worth the money to pay $6 for a coffee at Starbucks? For the people who are spending the money on these suites, it's the same ratio to their net worth as the person who goes to Starbucks and spends $6 on coffee."
Thirty of the suites on the list cost more than $10,000 per night, Gollan says.
The Jewel Suite by Martin Katz, at the New York Palace, is $25,000 per night. To say that this 5,000-square-foot suite is opulent might just be an understatement. It includes a 20-foot diamond waterfall chandelier and floating crystal jewel boxes that house creations by Martin Katz — known as jeweler to the stars.
"I think part of the idea was a lot of [Martin Katz's] customers come to New York, and so this suite was a great way for the hotel to gain a higher awareness with the Hollywood jet set," Gollan says. "The design is very much influenced by his aesthetic."
For a suite to be considered for the list it must be nominated by the magazine's celebrity panel, or be newly constructed or renovated. Each year the magazine begins with between 350 and 500 recommendations for consideration and whittles them down to 101 winners.
After 13 years of compiling the list, there is one thing Gollan knows for sure: These suites are not white elephants, used only by travel journalists and to gain notoriety for the hotels. They are actually being rented regularly and used by the clientele they are intended for, he says.
In fact, there are more such suites being built then ever.
"The rich are getting richer, wealth has been growing exponentially at the top, and the reason hotels are investing in these type of suites is there is really a demand," he says. "Now a lot of hotels have five to 10 of these type of signature suites of the caliber we need in order to be considered for the list. There are more choices then ever for the well-to-do."
"I met one lady who had the list tagged with 3M flags," Golan says. "She had one flag for suites on the list she had already stayed at, one flag for suites where she had reservations and a third flag for the suites she was thinking of going to."
The cost to spend one night at each of the 101 suites on this year's list would set you back $796,238, Gollan says.