Published on March 21st, 2018 |
by Ozlem Avcioglu
Best Places to Travel in 2018
Travelers today are more aware than ever of all the world has to offer. It’s thrilling to be confronted with so much possibility. I have traveled already to some of them and the rest is on my list too.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
This year, Buenos Aires becomes a hub for art, sports, and politics: the inaugural Art Basel Cities program, the Youth Olympic Games, and the G20 will all take place in the city, beginning with the multi-year Art Basel initiative. Though the Argentinean capital is already home to an eclectic collection of galleries, Art Basel Cities promises to elevate Buenos Aires’ reputation in the global art scene by offering professional support for local artists, as well as lectures and workshops throughout the year to draw art lovers to the city. The Art Basel Cities House, situated on Basavilbaso 1233, was opened to members of the public, from November 2-5, with engaging conversations on a range of specially curated topics, professional workshops and coaching sessions as well as a music program.
The southern Villa Soldati neighborhood has seen significant development in anticipation of the events, with new housing, parks, and sports venues that will breathe life into the area. Tegui, an eight-year-old restaurant in trendy Palermo, was recently named one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants
The Moroccan city has attracted an artistic crowd since the 1960s, when everyone from Yves Saint Laurent to Mick Jagger fell for its vibrant sensory landscape. Now the city’s cultural scene is being reinvigorated, thanks to two landmark happenings in the world of art and design. First came last October’s launch of the YSL Museum — a striking geometric building next to the Jardin Majorelle, which Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, bought and restored in the 1980s. Marrakesh has had an art biennial since 2005 — the next is slated for 2020 — and the city is home to a number of well-regarded galleries. But the arrival of 1:54, which has editions in London and New York and draws names like Billie Zangewa and William Kentridge, is set to position the city as a hub for African art. There’s also hotel news. Oberoi is poised to open its third African property here, a lakeside resort surrounded by citrus orchards. And Royal Mansour has added a 6,450-square-foot pool flanked by seven air-conditioned cabanas.
Nagano, a land of chilled soba noodles, steaming onsen hot springs and perfectly powdery snow, hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics, but is only now emerging as an international travel destination.
Spurred by the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, a series of new and improved hotels have emerged in the mountains around the city, among them the revamped Risonare Yatsugatake, which celebrates winemaking and evokes Italian mountain villages.
Openings also include KAI Alps, a luxury inn-style Ryokan near the famed Omachi Hot Springs in northern Nagano and the Scandi design-inspired House of Finn Juhl ski hotel, hidden away in the mountains of Hakuba.
Yet another option is the new Karuizawa Marriott Hotel, which balances English-language services with Japanese aesthetics for a relaxing result — clean lines, neutral colors and in-room onsens.
If the impeccably groomed ski slopes of the Hakuba Valley aren’t enough of a draw, there’s the history, culture and relaxing hot springs of the all-natural Nagano area, or the beautifully preserved 17th-century Matsumoto Castle.
The small, central African country has been surfing a tide of good news stories in recent years as it distances itself from a troubled past with glowing accounts of its amazing volcanic landscape, clean streets, stable government and efforts to preserve endangered mountain gorillas.
The plan for gorilla trekking aims a more upscale market, catered for with the opening of new premium lodges, including One&Only’s Nyungwe House, and help supercharge the country’s tourism economy.
Verdant national parks such as Akagera, Volcanoes and Nyungwe Forest are home to safari favorites including lions, hippos, crocs and rare primates.
In 2017, Akagera completed its Big Five list with the triumphant reintroduction of eastern black rhinos after they vanished 10 years ago.
Throw in pleasant year-round temperatures of about 27 Celsius and direct flights from London and Rwanda could become one of the most tempting luxury year-round escapes on offer.
Fiji is home to some of the world’s most spectacular scenery — powdery beaches fringed with palms, crystalline waters with colorful reefs, and rugged coastlines covered in greenery. But the islands’ new crop of luxury accommodations is making a case for the archipelago’s man-made phenomena as well. At the exclusive, family-owned Kokomo Private Island Resort, which is spread across 140 acres of dense tropical rain forest and white-sand beaches, guests will have their pick of 21 beach villas (among the most spacious in Fiji) and four hilltop residences featuring infinity pools and walled tropical gardens. The Great Astrolabe Reef, which is teeming with kaleidoscopic corals and exotic marine life (like reef sharks, rays, and dolphinfish), is in the resort’s backyard. A Six Senses debuts on Malolo Island. Set on a private beach, the boutique property will offer the brand’s namesake spa and wellness offerings (including yoga, meditation, and nutrition and sleep counseling), plus a restaurant with ingredients sourced from the resort garden. Also slated to open in 2018: Nihi Fiji, from hotelier James McBride and Christopher Burch.
Rising above its associations with the annual hot-air-balloon festival, Albuquerque will this year set out to prove itself as a fully-fledged destination. The Sawmill District, just north of the historic Old Town, is being revived as a creative center, anchored by the arrival of the Hotel Chaco. The design of this boutique property, which opened in April, is inspired by the state’s indigenous culture, with handmade Navajo wool textiles and pueblo-inspired motifs. Downtown ABQ will also see the arrival of a new entertainment hub: the $40 million One Central, which will have a sleek bowling lounge, as well as upscale stores and restaurants. And just outside town, visitors will soon be able to experience the striking Sandia Mountains in a nail-biting new way. The proposed Mountain Coaster, an alpine sled-style ride that plunges riders down the mountainside in a total vertical drop of 380 feet, is due to open this fall. And Santa Fe is only 1 hour drive away.
Of all the islands that make up Italy’s Aeolian archipelago, Salina is arguably the most alluring: it is not yet a celebrity haven like its neighbor Stromboli, where Giorgio Armani, Domenico Dolce, and Stefano Gabbana have homes; and it’s not yet overrun with the luxury yachts of affluent soccer players like nearby Panarea. That the isle has stayed blissfully unspoiled for this long eludes those who know of its imposing natural beauty — steep mountains blanketed in blossoming trees and wildflowers, small villages speckled with olive and lemon groves, fig trees, and miles of terraced Malvasia vineyards. The Relais & Châteaux property Capofaro Malvasia & Resort is one of Salina’s finest places to check in to, thanks to its secluded location, private beach, Tasca d’Almerita wines, and restaurant spotlighting local flavors (think wild fennel, orange, and caper leaves). Once you’ve settled in, skip on over to the town of Lingua to watch the sun set on the Marina Garibaldi, and order the best almond granita of your life at the Da Alfredo waterfront café.
Few destinations have the year-round appeal of Banff, located in Alberta, in the Canadian Rockies. As the country emerges from its highly touted 150th anniversary, the timing is ideal to take in the natural beauty of the oldest national park in Canada.
Whether passions tend toward skiing and snow-shoeing or kayaking and mountain hiking, Banff is unrivaled for all lovers of the great outdoors. Though Banff National Park welcomes four million visitors each year, it never really feels over-crowded, save perhaps for the peak months of July and August.
The Fairmont Banff Springs is a national historic site, and resembles a medieval castle right out of a Disney film (“Frozen,” perhaps?). It’s an ideal and luxurious base from which to experience the best of Banff. And if you’re wondering how Banff got its unusual name, it is named for Banffshire, Scotland, the birthplace of two of the original directors of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The Northern Lights are on display much of the year, but between February and April, the breathtaking Aurora Borealis colors are at their most vibrant. In the fall, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival
Down by the country’s border with Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and the region of Tibet, Yunnan delivers everything from snowy mountains to sub-tropical rainforest. There’s the cascading rice terraces of Honghe Hani, the ethereally colored waters of Blue Moon Valley and some of the world’s deepest gorges — little wonder it’s said to have inspired mythical “Shangri La.”
The province is also China’s most ethnically diverse. It’s home to 25 of the country’s 56 recognized ethnic groups — each with a distinctive cuisine and culture. Named a UNESCO World Heritage natural site in 2003, Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the world’s deepest canyons. Whitewaters of the mighty Yangtze River roar beneath cliffs that tower up to 3,790 meters high.
For proof of Abu Dhabi’s burgeoning status as the cultural capital of the Middle East, look no further than Saadiyat Cultural District, which is quickly becoming a treasure trove of world-class art and groundbreaking architecture. The multibillion-dollar initiative has already resulted in one major project, the Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened in November 2017. The museum has quickly become the premier creative beacon in the Emirates. Work is under way nearby on the Zayed National Museum, by Norman Foster; the Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre, by Zaha Hadid Architects; and the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, which when completed will be the largest Guggenheim museum in the world. The city’s hotel-building campaign is also in full swing: this year Marriott debuted a 400-room hotel in the Al Forsan sports center, and next year will see the opening of the Abu Dhabi Edition and Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas.