For years now, I’ve been asking some of the smartest people in the travel world what to expect for years to come. These super-agents know what they’re talking about, listening to their clients’ interests, keeping their eyes on their own adventures around the world and keeping their fingers on the pulse of the industry.
But this uncertain year, as I got down to it, something came to my mind: what’s the big rush? These places are not going to evaporate. If the present moment doesn’t make sense, there will be a time in the years to come when it makes more sense than ever.
I have tapped a few of the people I register with each year. Tom Marchant co-founder of luxury travel company Black Tomato. Jennine Cohen is an advisor to the new adventure travel company Uncharted and co-founder of Women Travel Leaders. And Andrea Ross is a travel coach at the new Kaanect, which helps people travel more consciously. Here’s what’s (in alphabetical order) on their radar.
âBend is to Oregon, in many ways, what Aspen is to Colorado,â says Marchant: âWell-heeled, full of bustling restaurants and shops, surrounded by a true open-air mecca and backed by a talented artistic community. This laid-back, under-the-radar enclave is full of character and hosts a constant range of seasonal activities, from festivals to concerts, bike races to breweries. But it’s the natural world that really attracts fly fishing, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, and even exploring lava tubes to learn more about what makes the region’s soil so unique. Black Tomato’s new journey combines Bend and the Willamette Valley, with lava cave expeditions and helicopter tours.
Cambodia and Thailand
âAs Thailand officially opened in November, we see early 2022 as the optimal time to visit,â proclaims Ross, who has been based in Cambodia for many years. âBy then they will be really open with services available, but the crowds will not have returned en masse. Cambodia also opens this month, and the idea of ââseeing Angkor Wat without the crowds is amazing. I will say that we also want to bring travelers back to South East Asia to help the drivers, guides and communities on the ground. We look forward to bringing travelers back, both to enjoy these countries without the crowds, but also to positively participate in their regrowth and recovery!
Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland
âNext year marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Irish Constitution, and with it ‘a new wave of high experience and service is coming,â notes Marchant. âThe Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland’s most spectacular and iconic landmarks, is a sight to behold. Although the place has long attracted tourists, it was rarely a day trip as part of a larger itinerary. But there really is so much more to see, and this area is bursting with character, from local artisans, woolen mills and family owned distilleries to one of the best horse training establishments in the world. Warmth and authenticity radiate from every corner, and with the opening of an exciting new Relais & ChÃ¢teaux hotel in Spring 2022, there is no better time to visit this truly wonderful part of Ireland.
“Considered stable and secure, Costa Rica quickly recovered from the pandemic and continued to grow steadily last year in the luxury and adventure segments,” says Cohen. âSix Senses, One & Only and the new Nihi are all slated to open in Guanacaste, along with other global luxury hotel brands. Travelers flock to this “blue zone”, which is also known as one of the happiest countries in the world, to enjoy its microclimates, volcanoes, wildlife and beaches. But there are still places to see the authentic local flavor of Costa Rica which has put it on the map of one of the most biodiverse destinations in the world and a leader in sustainable travel in the first place. A great new way to access Costa Rica’s incredible wildlife is through the new Boena Wilderness Lodges, which are wholly owned by Costa Rica.
The Galapagos, Ecuador
âAfter a year of closure, the Galapagos are finally open and the marine and terrestrial fauna is more prolific than ever! says Cohen, âOne of the world’s most awe-inspiring seascapes just got better. The President of Ecuador even recently announced at the COP26 summit in Glasgow the extension of the Galapagos Marine Reserve by 60,000 square kilometers, which is a very important step for the protection of endangered marine species. Uncharted works with a range of yachts that support conservation efforts and initiatives, the most exciting being the Aqua Mare, the first true small luxury yacht in the Galapagos, with a low carbon footprint and a great guide to guest ratio.
âWe’ve long admired the beautiful Caribbean island of Granada for its under-radar appeal, with powdery shores and sensory stimulation on arrival, where the sweet air smells of sea salt, nutmeg and mace,â says Marchant. . âBut now more than ever, the massive popularity of the Caribbean makes Grenada the ‘go-to’ place to visit, with so much more to do than ‘fly and flop’ on the beach. Miles of unfettered beaches juxtapose with rich virgin rainforests that are ripe for intrepid experiences and opportunities to give back, with two notable luxury hotel openings, Six Senses and Kimpton, making it hot for tourists. years to come.
Mexico is many countries in one, and more than just sitting on the beach, âsays Cohen, who recently moved to the country. âWith thriving new artisans, modern and vibrant bazaars and markets, and a modern food scene, it’s hard to pass this gem of luxury travel and adventure that lies in our own backyard.â In addition, âMexico was the only country on the planet to keep its borders open during the global pandemic. As the rest of the world halted, Mexico flourished in a major way with the arrival of international digital nomads and the return of a new wave of young Mexican artists and entrepreneurs, bringing the country an influx of sophisticated international influence and attention. A large number of exciting new hotels will be opening soon.
âThere are more ways than ever to connect the vast landscapes of Patagonia,â notes Cohen. âBetween Chile and Argentina there are a number of new sustainable hotel projects from both major players such as [the ever-expanding] Explore smaller, lesser-known independent brands such as Barranco in Chile and Posta de los Toldos, which let you explore the emerging Azul region in Patagonia. And more and more new conservation initiatives will come online in 2022, such as Rewilding Patagonia. “
Puerto Rico Islands
âWhile the main island of Puerto Rico is lovely (and a quick and inexpensive flight from the United States), if you want a less developed destination, the Island of Vieques, off the east coast of the main island, is the perfect escape, âsays Ross. âAccessible by small plane or ferry, it’s as remote as it gets easy to get to! Horseback riding along the beach, snorkeling above beautiful coral reefs, kayaking in the world’s largest bioluminescent bay, you get the distant feeling of a tropical paradise with the ease of inland travel. I visited the kids in October and we just loved this sweet little island. â
âTransylvania is steeped in an extraordinarily rich history, and this year Romania welcomes its ninth UNESCO World Heritage Site, the RoÈia MontanÄ Mining Landscape. The region has recently received renewed interest from customers, and Romania is in fact the most biogeographically diverse country in the EU and one of the best places in Europe to view wildlife. A lack of luxury accommodation options has made Transylvania cumbersome for some travelers, but now that has changed. The newly opened Bethlen Estates, a luxurious and vividly revived ancestral mansion, is the place to stay. The original idea and vision of Gladys and Nikolaus Bethlen, the wife and son of the late Count Miklos Bethlen, they did their job to keep their ancestral ties alive and help preserve the region’s incredibly important biodiversity. rustic and upscale service and amenities make this one to watch.