Representatives of travel companies including Crystal Cruises, Virgin America and National Car Rental will this week have the chance to celebrate their top rankings in Travel + Leisure's annual reader poll with Peninsula Grill's Ultimate Coconut Cake.

The magazine this Thursday is hosting an awards ceremony in New York City, and selected the downtown restaurant to handle dessert duties.

"We will be serving slices of the 12-layer cake to several hundred gala attendees -- giving them a taste of Charleston!," writes Hank Holliday, owner of Peninsula Grill and Planters Inn, which was named Top Small City Hotel in the continental U.S.

Other Charleston items on the banquet dessert menu include pecan pie from Magnolias and cookies from Grey Ghost Bakery.

Holliday two decades ago purchased the Planters Inn building, which houses Peninsula Grill. "Needless to say, I am very proud of the kind, talented, and dedicated people that make the Planters Inn such a special place, and this honor is really for them and the hospitality they provide every day," he says.

The coconut cake, which has been the subject of intense media ardor, was created by Peninsula Grill's founding pastry chef, Esthe Steffinelli. According to Holliday, the cake has been further "refined" by current pastry chef, Claire Chapman. It was trademarked in 2012.

Travel + Leisure conducted its reader survey between December and March, inviting reader participation through the print magazine, online edition and e-newsletters. Voters also selected Charleston as the best city in the continental U.S.; it finished second in the worldwide category, placing below Kyoto, Japan and above Florence, Italy.

For a complete list of winners, visit