The diligent work has been done, the lawyers have signed off and the CEO has sent you packing: It's time to seal the deal.
But make no mistake: Where you stay, dine and do business says as much about you as your hard work does. These hotels and restaurants have the best service and, luckily for you, are the most pampering.
Tanuja Kulkarni, an agent at the New York City-based travel consultancy ProTravel, who specializes in planning luxury business trips, says, ''Luxury is the most important thing for high-end business travelers.'' And "finest" for business travelers means more than most-opulent.
- In pictures: Top business deal-making spots
- In pictures: World's top power dining spots
- In pictures: world's most expensive hotel suites
The top hotels for business also have to have services and amenities that make doing business easier--for example, an on-site translation service, a concierge to help arrange logistics or a business center that stays open 24 hours.
Business travelers are "crunched for time and want anything that helps them from a time perspective,'' says Adam Weissenberg, national managing partner of the Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure practice at Deloitte & Touche.
''Staying in a hotel near the business center of the city that can essentially function as an office is key.''
Locating the right restaurant in which to close a deal, land a client or negotiate a contract also matters.
''A lot of important business happens over lunch or dinner, and executives want to make sure they're eating in the right places,'' Weissenberg says. "[The restaurants are] usually different from the places where you would take a client for pure entertainment purposes.''
What is the hallmark of such a spot?
Weissenberg says it's a restaurant that offers outstanding service--where you, if you're the host, can be assured of getting the best table and of being warmly acknowledged by the maitre de. The presence of local business celebrities or high-level politicians may also be a plus. Food quality, of course, matters too, as does proximity to the business district.
- In pictures: Expert tips for business travel safety
- In pictures: High-tech hotels for business travelers
To identify the best hotels and best deal-closing spots for business travelers around the world, we started by asking two organizations--The National Business Travel Association and SH&E, an international aviation consulting firm--which cities are the ones most often visited by such travelers.
In the U.S., New York City ranks No. 1, according to NBTA.
Those coming to the Big Apple on business might stay at the New York Palace in Midtown. Its 893 rooms have views of either the New York City skyline or St. Patrick's Cathedral. Rooms also have oversize marble baths, high-speed Internet access and three phone lines each. The staff is multi-lingual, and the convenient business center has computers, printers and fax machines.
Want to close your deal over lunch in the company of media moguls and hedge fund managers? Do so at Lever House, an architectural classic where you can dine on black bass sashimi with lime and chili threads or a salad of hearts of palm and lobster.
If you're heading to Asia, Hong Kong is your most likely destination, given that it's the business hub of the continent. Check into the Peninsula, which overlooks Victoria Harbor and is located in Kowloon, the city's business district. Flat-screen televisions, marble baths, silent fax machines, large desks and dual-voltage power plugs are in each of the 300 rooms. For getting around town, use one of the hotel's 14 Roll-Royces. You can even transfer from the airport by helicopter.
To cinch your business deal, book a table at Pierre, a French restaurant run by three-star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire. Located on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, it features stunning views of Victoria Harbor. We recommend (among their specialty cocktails) the Earl Grey Martini. Ditto the $190-per-person nine-course tasting menu.
In London, Claridge's should be your hotel choice. The business areas of Hyde Park, Bond Street and Park Lane are all nearby. The 203 rooms have marble baths, Floris toiletries and separate tubs and showers. The hotel has wi-fi, and you can access the Internet through the television. At your request, a printer can be set up in your room. Laptops are available on loan.
The British European Le Caprice is the best spot to do business at lunch. High profile politicians and business leaders frequent it, since it's located near Parliament. Recommended dishes: salmon fishcakes and deep-fried haddock with mint pea puree.
Business travel may not always be fun. But if you follow our advice, you'll be comfortably housed and well fed while getting the job done.