Oh, the places we’ll go. With a return to traveling the globe inching closer every day – Europe is opening its doors to vaccinated US travelers yay – these are the hotspots on our radar for 2021 that are Worth Traveling For – think spectacular scenery, buzzy cities, and thriving culinary scenes. Passports at the ready…
It’s hard to beat the vibrant energy and culture of Mexico. And don’t even get us started on the country’s breathtaking beaches like Cabo San Lucas and the crystal clear waters and must see to believe cenotes of Tulum. Beyond Mexico’s beautiful seaside resorts inland Mexico is rife with a deep sense of history, marvelous architecture, a burgeoning cuisine scene that is considered among the best in North America. Don’t miss Mexico City, a bustling, high energy city filled with thriving nightlife and cultural hotspots like Casa Azul, the childhood home of Frida Kahlo turned art museum. Merida, located in the Yucatan is another to add to the itinerary, thanks to its authentic local vibe, cobblestone streets, and colonial architecture. The colorful city is also the perfect gateway to explore the region’s cenotes and the ancient ruins of Uxmal. Discover Mexico’s best-kept secret in Valle De Guadalupe, where wine lovers will be greeted by rolling hills of vines under the Mexican sun. Foodies should also plan a trip to Oaxaca to indulge in its signature moles, Oaxacan cheese, and tlayudas (delicious meat-filled tortillas) and to discover the nearby petrified waterfall Hierve el Agua.
Where to stay in Mexico: In Tulum, the hip hacienda-style Casa Pueblo Boca Paila has stunning ocean views, a large pool with handcrafted Aztec tiles, and the coolest rooftop bar. We also love the jungle meets the ocean vibe at Hotel Encanto Acapulco and the luxury, all-inclusive seaside escape that is Blue Diamond Luxury Boutique Hotel along the Riviera Maya.
Texas is as enormous as it is diverse. An eclectic mix of old-world cowboy culture and new world buzz, the second-largest state in the US is loved for its climate, cuisine, and culture. Get your cowboy hat on and learn to swing a lasso at Fort Worth, where you can visit the stockyards and enjoy an authentic rodeo experience. For city lovers, the shopping, food, culture, parks, and gardens in Dallas and Houston will not disappoint. Then there’s Austin, the trendy nontraditional Texas town known for its thriving art scene, locally-owned boutiques, art galleries, and more food trucks and music venues than you can swing a lasso at. If you visit during the summer head to the underground spring-fed natural pool Barton Springs for a much-needed reprieve from the Texas heat. And it goes without saying no Texas adventure is complete without experiencing an authentic Texas BBQ for the beef brisket and smoked sausage alone.
Where to stay in Texas: One of Dallas’ hippest hotels, the Virgin Hotels Dallas is a modern eclectic mix of bright color and bold design statements from its patterned walls and carpets to their elevators with red mood lighting. Located in the Dunhill Design District, the designer hotel was created to inspire socializing, networking, and hanging out with the cool crowd. We also recommend the chic contemporary Hotel Zaza Dallas and The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek a sophisticated property in Uptown Dallas.
Oregon’s spectacular landscape filled with natural wonders like its beautiful coastline, Columbia River Gorge, the snow-capped Mt. Hood, volcanoes and glaciers, deserts, and dense evergreen forests makes it a must for nature lovers. Also one of the most environmentally friendly states in the U.S., outdoor adventures will love exploring Crater Lake National Park and Ecola State Park. If you prefer a metropolitan vibe, Portland, the largest city in Oregon is a laid-back, walkable city known for its parks, bike paths, microbreweries, coffee houses, and thriving art, theatre, music scene, and a great assortment of vintage shops. Oh and fun fact, Oregon is the place to enjoy delicious seafood like their famed Dungeness Crab.
Where to stay in Oregon: Located in the Willamette Valley (Oregon’s pinot country), The Allison Inn & Spa has walking trails through the gardens, vineyard, and valley, farm to table dining at JORY Restaurant, healing treatments at the onsite spa. When in pinot country, it only makes sense to enjoy the local wines.
Ireland might have a reputation for its dreary weather but the Emerald Isle is worth traveling for with its vibrant cities, rugged west coast with sweeping views of land and sea, grassy plains, coastal mountains, tranquil waterways, and underground caves. Then of course there is the country’s deep sense of history and tradition, from its lively music and dancing, picture-perfect thatched roof houses, over 30000 castles and castle ruins, traditional Irish pubs, and hearty home-cooked fare. To enjoy exactly that head to the iconic The Beach Bar, where you can enjoy a pint of Guinness and good old fashioned Irish stew. As for the top cities, add these to the hit list: Dublin (Ireland’s famed capital), Galway, Killarney (for its breathtaking countryside), Limerick (home to St. Mary’s Cathedral and beloved for its architecture), and the Cliffs of Moher. To be sure, to be sure.
Where to stay in Ireland: When in Ireland it’s befitting you should bed down in the historic grandeur of a castle. Dromoland Castle Hotel and Country Estate, a 450-acre estate with baronial façade and lavish decor is the ancestral home of one of the last High Kings of Ireland. Enjoy afternoon tea by a roaring fire and do live it up like royalty with a Tailored Dromoland Full Body Massage at the luxurious spa.
The Scottish Highlands is a bucket list travel experience thanks to its majestic mountains, romantic rolling hills, valleys, and lakes like the famed Loch Ness (home to the mythical loch ness monster). The cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow should also be on the must-see list and we recommend the scenic one hour drive between the two. In Edinburgh, visit the iconic Edinburgh Castle, stroll down the Royal Mile, wander through St. Gilles Cathedral, and if you’re there in summer be sure to book tickets to the Edinburgh Festival, to experience a vibrant collision of art, music, theatre, and culture. Glasgow also has a thriving music scene, stunning medieval architecture and is home to the Scottish Opera, Scotting Ballet, and National Theatre of Scotland as well as many a treasured museum. And let’s not forget the fare. Considered the “soul food” of Europe, tasting traditional Scottish dishes like Haggis (savory pudding made from sheep’s offal), black pudding, and howtowdie (a Scottish take on roast chicken served with spinach and poached eggs) is all part of the experience.
Where to stay in Scotland: Dubbed Scotland’s “glorious playground,” Gleneagles is a grand country estate in the Perthshire countryside. The lavish guest rooms are inspired by the meadows, mountains, rivers, and lakes of the surrounding area and it also happens to be home to two of Scotland’s top Michelin star restaurants and a luxurious spa.
Destination: Napa Valley, California
Stroll down Silverado Trail to come up close and personal with the over 400 wineries in California’s famed wine region. A short drive north from San Francisco, Napa Valley, aside from being home to some of the best wine tastings in the world, is a nature lover’s paradise. Explore and hike its beautiful valleys, kayak, and paddleboard on the Napa River, board the historic Napa Valley Wine Train for a scenic ride through the wine country and locally sourced American fare, and experience its thriving live music scene and shop its quaint boutiques and vintage stores. When in Napa make sure you order a charcuterie board to wash down your vino, ideally at the Pavilion, beside a romantic outdoor fireplace while cozying up under the stars.
Where to stay in Napa: Nestled among 28 acres of never-ending vineyards, Carneros Resort and Spa delivers the quintessential Napa experience. Stay in a private cottage with your own patio, an outdoor tub, and glorious views of the countryside.
If we had to sum up Brazil in one word it would be energetic, and eclectic (OK, that’s two words). Think of its sexy passionate people, gorgeous beaches, famous Carnival, pulsating cities, cult-like devotion to soccer, landmark architecture, the Amazon Rainforest, and gastronomy. São Paulo is a vibrant international city coveted for having some of the best cuisine in South America. It is also a must-see for its many architectural landmarks including the Municipal Theatre, modeled off the Paris Opera House, and amazing street art, murals, and graffiti especially in the open-air alleys of Beco do Batman. Rio de Janeiro is all about white sandy beaches like the famed Copacabana Beach, where witnessing the sunset with a Caipirinha in hand is always a highlight. Beyond the buzz of the city, Brazil’s ecotourism and biodiversity are equally as impressive. Adventure into the Amazon Rainforest in the country’s northwest to tick this natural wonder off your bucket list and don’t miss Iguazu Falls on a shared border with Argentina.
Where to stay in Brazil: Built from indigenous materials such as jacaranda and chocolate slate, you’ll find the Six Sense Botanique at the meeting of three river valleys in the heart of the Mantiqueira Mountains. We also recommend Belmond Copacabana Palace in Rio and Hotel Villa Bahia in Salvador.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Japan is the way high tech modern life blends seamlessly with traditional eastern customs and culture. From the slick skyscrapers and high-end shopping to tranquil tea ceremonies, ancient temples, kimono-clad geishas, and the magnificent Mount Fuji, Japan will steal your heart and leave you yearning to return. Tokyo is an exhilarating city known for its designer fashion, eclectic street style, pulsating nightlife, thriving art and culture scene, and endless sushi and sashimi restaurants which alone are worth traveling for. As Tokyo prepares to host the next Olympics, a slew of new upscale hotels and shopping centers have popped up around the country. A two-hour train ride from the bright lights of Tokyo will transport you to Kyoto, the cultural heart of Japan, where you can visit ancient Buddhist Temples, over 400 Shinto Shrines, and the pastel pink glory of the cherry blossom season. If all that’s not enough to inspire wanderlust Japan is also home to some of the world’s top ski destinations, like the resorts in Nagano.
Where to stay in Japan: Inspired by New York’s art and fashion scene, Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo evokes creativity through its bold fashion-forward design aesthetic, art installations, pop-up retail concepts, seamless blend of east meets west. Located in the trendy Shinjuku district, the famed skyscraper which pairs traditional with Japanese woodworking and elements with art deco details is just minutes from the Tokyo Metropolitan Building, Shibuya Crossing, Shinjuku Station, and the city’s hottest clubs, live music venues, shops, and restaurants. We also recommend Mogana in Kyoto and Shuhokaku Kogetsu a traditional Japanese property on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi.
Yes, the flight is long but the cabin fever pays off as soon as you land Downunder. As beautiful as it is enormous and diverse – Australia is geographically the size of the U.S. with 10 percent of the population – all of its five states and two territories have their own magical gems and there are far too many to name. Do believe the hype (but not all the hype about sharks, snakes, and spiders), Australia is sun-soaked, laidback, picture-perfect, and home to some of the most beautiful beaches and happiest people on earth (they don’t call it “The Lucky Country” for nothing). To see all of Aus, you really need a few weeks and you must visit Sydney with its spectacular harbor, iconic bridge and opera house, Bondi Beach and some of the best restaurants in the world. Food is a way of life here from trendy coffee shops and brunch spots, hip wine bars, modern Asian, huge Italian and Greek influence, and of course fresh, delicious seafood (fish and chips on the beach is a favorite past time. Melbourne is also a must-see and what it lacks in Sydney’s beaches (though you can drive the spectacular Great Ocean Road not far from the city) makes up in its chic European allure from the architecture to the fashion and yes again the food. As for natural wonders, again these are magnificent and plentiful. Think Uluru and ancient aboriginal rock in the red center and top end, tropical rainforests and scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland’s far North, the lush vineyards in South Australia’s famed wine regions, the dramatic sunsets and camel rides of Cable Beach and The Margaret River in Western Australia. Like, we said, we could go on.
Where to stay in Australia: The Sebel Quay West Suites offers elegant apartment-style luxury with stunning views of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, CBD, historic The Rocks district, and Circular Quay where you can catch a ferry to Northern Beaches. In Melbourne, The Langham with sweeping views of the Yarra River and city skyline is modern luxury at its finest.
Destination: Southern Cone
The Southern Cone is a region at the southern tip of South America that includes Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile and is the starting point for cruises to Antarctica. Exploring this amazing part of the planet is exhilarating and will expose you to vibrant Latin culture and cuisine, the eclectic cities of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Montevideo (Uruguay), and some of nature’s most spectacular scenery and natural wonders in the world you’ve probably never heard of. Discover nature’s paradise by adding Iguazu Falls, Torres del Pain National Park, Patagonia, and Cordillera de la Sal in the Atacama Desert, to your itinerary, and get set to see giant icebergs, snow-covered peaks, and jaw-dropping rock formations at the oldest driest desert in the world.
Where to stay in Argentina: Algodon Mansion is a hip boutique hotel in Buenos Aires’ popular Palermo district bordering the upscale residential neighborhood of Recoleta. The apartment-style suites come with oversized bathrooms each with spa showers. In Chile, stay at Tierra Patagonia to experience gaucho lead horseback riding in Torres del Paine, Chile. Our luxury hotel pick for Uruguay is Casa Zinc for its chic modern Latin casa vibe.
Destination: Southeast Asia
The exotic Southeast region promises to invigorate all your senses. Idyllic beach and jungle resorts, ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples, crowded cities filled with delicious street food, markets, noisy motorbikes, and spectacular scenery, tropical rainforests, and wildlife. One of the greatest joys of the region that includes the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Timor-Leste, Burma, Laos, and Brunei is how easy it is to travel from one country to the next. It’s impossible to list all of the must-see-to-believe destinations and experiences in SE, so we’ve highlighted just a few. Spend your days island-hopping through the Philippines, cruise the emerald waters, island inlets, and rainforests in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, scuba dive off Thailand’s paradise coast, explore Cambodia’s magnificent Angkor Wat temple – the largest in the world- and stay in the mystical jungles of Bali’s Ubud, where you can bathe elephants, visit a monkey sanctuary or enjoy the many ethical animal encounters. Luckily the excitement continues well into mealtime with the bucket list food experience in SE Asia taking place on low setting plastic stools just off a busy street. Street food is such an institution in this beautiful part of the world that Thailand and Singapore street stalls have earned Michelin Star ratings.
Where to stay in Thailand: A palm-fringed lagoon waiting to fuel your wanderlust, the Six Sense Laamu is home to very healthy hard corals, colorful reef fish, hawksbill and green turtles, reef sharks, and eagle rays. We also recommend The Fullerton Bay Hotel in Singapore, The Myst Dong Khoi in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Zannier Hotels Phum Baitang in Siem Reap, Cambodia, Matinloc Resort in El Nido Philippines, and the RuMa Hotel and Residence in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.