Is travel in your plans for 2019? If so, where should you plan a trip this year? We all have our favorite destinations and our bucket list, but I thought it might be fun to look at what the travel industry predicts to be the top destinations for 2019. Some of them are close and others are far away; some are a good value and some will empty your bank account. But even if a destination is out of reach, it's still fun to dream!
This southern Italian city, known for its cave dwellings, is making a major comeback. For decades the caves were uninhabitable and unsanitary, but over the last several years entrepreneurs have started restoring and transforming them into unique hotels. Matera will host a huge roster of events throughout the year. For the opening ceremony on January 19, a series of marching bands from the region of Basilicata and across Europe will parade through the city’s streets to kick off the yearlong celebration.
Georgia’s second city may be known for its charming squares and weeping willows, but this big small town is also full of contemporary design thanks to the Savannah College of Art and Design, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Travelers who want to see what it’s all about now have two new options: the Perry Lane Hotel, a member of the Luxury Collection featuring work by the college students, and the Alida, Savannah, a new boutique property in the emerging warehouse district.
The majestic Taj Mahal will emerge in 2019 from a yearlong restoration that polished its gleaming marble dome and turrets, which have been hidden under scaffolding for months. If you want to see it in all its glory, plan a visit between November and March, before monsoon season. Stay at the Oberoi Amarvilas, where every room has a view of the monument.
The Caribbean is making a comeback after last year’s devastating hurricanes, but perhaps the most highly anticipated comeback story is that of St. Barth’s. A favorite of the rich and famous, it was one of the hardest hit islands, with countless homes, luxury resorts, and infrastructure destroyed. Some resorts are already open again, but others are slated to open this fall. You can bet when they do, the island will be celebrating!
Barren landscapes and sand dunes may not be what most people expect to find in Southern Africa, but they show a whole other side of the region that’s becoming much more accessible. A slew of new lodges in Namibia moves the Southern African nation further up the luxury travel hot list. Omaanda, a collection of ten Owambo-style huts in a private reserve, the British Colonial–inspired tented camp Sonop, and the luxurious, eco-friendly Shipwreck Lodge, which opened on the Skeleton Coast are just a few to check out.
After last year’s destructive wildfires, Napa Valley is back and welcoming travelers with new luxury hotels. This fall, the Francis House opened in an 1886 home with just five luxurious rooms, and the Villa at The Estate Yountville—comprising two hotels, a spa, shopping, and a dining complex on 22 acres—completed a $45 million renovation. In 2019, Napa Valley’s first Four Seasons will open with 85 guest rooms, 20 villas, and its own vineyard and winery. If you go, be sure to check out Ashes and Diamonds, the next-gen winery with a mid-century modern–inspired tasting room and bold Cabernets that have landed on wine lists at top restaurants.
Following the runaway success of the movie, Crazy Rich Asians, Singapore is predicted to be one of the top travel destinations for 2019. It comes at a good time as the small nation is celebrating the bicentennial of its founding, Changi Airport recently unveiled its brand new terminal, and the iconic Raffles Singapore is set to emerge mid-year from a top-to-bottom renovation. It will join several other exciting new hotels, including the Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore in a renovated heritage building, Six Senses Duxton and Six Senses Maxwell, and three new hotels on Sentosa Island by Far East Hospitality.
Baja California Sur, Mexico
Mexico’s wild Baja California Peninsula has seen unprecedented growth and development, with more than $1 billion of investment in hotels alone. 2018 saw the opening of the Viceroy Los Cabos in May, Montage Los Cabos in June, and the Luxury Collection’s Solaz Resort in September, plus Garza Blanca Resort & Spa and the Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas which are slated to open this spring. Five more resorts by major brands, including Nobu, Park Hyatt, St. Regis, and Aman, are coming over the next three years. Now is the time to go and discover San Jose del Cabo’s growing Gallery District and the emerging culinary scene taking over Los Cabos.
If this Wonder of the Ancient World isn’t already on your bucket list, it should be. Early next year, the Petra Museum is slated to open, telling the story of this magical place. Travel to the Middle East is making a comeback, indicating travelers want to explore the region for themselves, beyond the media headlines. The travel ban proposed by President Trump in 2017 appears to have actually spurred interest in the region, with travelers wanting to learn about the countries they continually hear about in the news and make their own decisions about them.
This great city on Maryland’s eastern seaboard has a lot going on between a flourishing art scene and some new design-forward hotels. The Sagamore Pendry Baltimore has been the place to stay since it opened last year on the waterfront with a locally inspired design and dining by all-star chef Andrew Carmellini. It joins the Hotel Revival by Joie de Vivre, which opened this past May, and the Ivy Hotel, Relais & Châteaux’s only property in Maryland.
This tiny land-locked country bordering Austria and Germany is not on your bucket list? Now might be the time to add it, since the nation will celebrate its tricentennial with festivities and also opens the new Liechtenstein Trail, which spans the country. The kickoff birthday party will be held on January 23, a special exhibit at the Landes Museum will open in February, and many other events will follow through the end of the year.
Auckland, New Zealand
Recently inducted into the UNESCO Creative Cities network for music, this inspiring city will celebrate the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s voyage that put New Zealand on the map. A nationwide commemoration will celebrate the country’s dual heritage. SO/ Auckland by Sofitel is set to debut in November, and the Park Hyatt is slated to open its first property in New Zealand next year, bringing a whole new level of luxury to Auckland.
There’s never a bad time to visit Denmark’s capital, but 2019 brings compelling new reasons to plan a trip. The Museum of Copenhagen will open with a focus on the city’s history and architecture. The city also happens to be having a hotel boom, with seven new properties slated to open in 2019, including Hotel Ottilia in the old Carlsberg brewery.
Until recently, Van Gogh was this city’s claim to fame, but it’s been in the midst of constructing a massive new art center known as LUMA Arles. The complex, in a former industrial site, has been opening in phases and in 2020, its final stage will be completed. Consider going in 2019 to be among the first to see the new Arles. The new building of École Nationale Supérieur de la Photographie will open in September 2019, in December the Museon Arlatan will reopen, and three buildings by Annabelle Selldorf on the LUMA Arles campus are already open. A new design-forward boutique hotel called L’Arlatan offers a whimsical place to stay.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Getting a visa to visit Brazil used to be a major hassle, but a new e-visa system has made the process much more streamlined, and new flights by LATAM are better connecting the largest cities in the Americas to the rest of the world. Once you get there, you’ll find a huge art and design scene that proves the city’s not all business. There are plenty of established luxury hotels, as well as bars and restaurants.
Deep in the wilderness of Saskatchewan, this small city came onto the consciousness of art-loving travelers with the opening of the Remai Modern Museum. Now, Wanuskewin Heritage Park is being renovated, and its gallery space is undergoing an expansion, adding one more reason to consider making the trek to this remote part of Canada.
Exerpted from Travel & Leisure Magazine
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Ann Jones, CTC, MCC