The hottest places to travel in the year ahead
The Big Five aren’t the only animals that are worth travelling for when it comes to African wildlife. Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, is a paradise for wildlife lovers. It’s a biodiversity hotspot with about 75 per cent of the species living on Madagascar to be found nowhere else on Earth – the island was marooned when supercontinent Gondwana broke up 180 million years ago. In the island’s forests, half the world’s chameleons and 28 species of lemur are to be found. Last June saw the opening of Miavana on the private island of Nosy Ankao, finally bringing luxurious accommodation to Madagascar’s shores. This 14-bedroom beach resort is set within a protected marine area for underwater wildlife spotting as well as above. Expect other luxury properties to follow soon. Travellers, too, are taking note, in 2016 the island welcomed 293,000 visitors – up from 244,000 in 2015. At A&K, Madagascar has seen an increase of 179 per cent in revenue and 120 per cent increase in bookings compared to same time last year (2016 vs 2017). It is also showing positive signs for a continuation of this trend in 2018 with revenue and bookings up 16 per cent compared to same time last year (2017 vs 2018).
A five-night holiday including flights, accommodation and helicopter transfers from £13,500pp. Valid for departures January to December 2018. Call 01242 386 462
For years, Ibiza has been known as Europe’s dance mecca. In recent years though, things have subtly changing on White Isle as the island evolves and chills out. Millennials, in search of a new scene, are opting to club elsewhere, DJs are exiting their residencies and famed clubs like Space are closing their doors. In response, opening on the island are a new wave of high-end hotels to welcome a new breed of slightly older guests. These thirty-somethings former ravers are still making their annual pilgrimages, though now with their children in tow. Those who partied until dawn are now flocking to hotels such as newly opened Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay – a game-changer for the island – to having a tranquil holiday on this beautiful island.
A seven-night holiday including flights, accommodation and private transfers from £1,435pp. Valid from 01 May-14 October 2018. Call 01242 386 500
There’s been a buzz around the state capital of Tennessee since the Nashville TV series, starring Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere, hit our screens in 2013. Just like the show, Nashville at its core is all about the country music scene, but in the same way artists such as Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum have helped shift perceptions about the music scene, Nashville is no longer just about the Grand Ole Opry and cowboy boots. Renamed ‘Nowville’ by American GQ, the city has undergoing a renaissance in recent years. Formerly shabby neighbourhoods like 12 South and East Nashville are being regenerated. Behind this gentrification, hip new residents have flocked to the city in recent years. The foodie scene is also thriving thanks to artisans like those at work at the likes of Five Daughters Bakery. In May 2018, British Airways will launch direct flights from London Heathrow to America’s self-proclaimed ‘Music City’ – making it easier for travellers to reach the beguiling birthplace of country music and America’s new capital of cool.
A three-night holiday including flights, accommodation and private transfers from £1,350pp. Valid for departures 4 May to 30 June 2018. Call 01242 386 474
Thailand and Vietnam have traditionally stolen the spotlight in Southeast Asia, but 2018 the star of the show is going to be Cambodia with new hotels springing up reflecting this shift in tourism hotspots in the region. New openings include a 40-pool villa resort by Six Senses on the private island of Krabey; the all-villa, private island resort of Alila Villas Koh Russey, in the Koh Rong archipelago, made famous by the first of this ilk, Song Saa; and Shinta Mani Wild Private Nature Sanctuary by Bangkok-based, Harvard-alumnus architect and landscape designer Bill Bensley. Known as ‘the king of exotic luxury resorts’, Bensley is behind some of the most spectacular resorts in Asia. He’s been named one of the world’s top 100 designers in both Time Magazine and Architectural Digest. Due in mid 2018, Shinta Mani Wild is a radical new concept in accommodation in Cambodia – a luxurious tented camp, located in one of the most unspoiled wildernesses in the region, in a wildlife corridor connecting Bokor and Kirirom National Parks, along a two mile stretch of waterway. There’s even talk of guests zip-lining into reception – a thrilling entrance. No longer will travellers just dip into this country to do Angkor Wat and Phnom Penh, Cambodia is finally claiming its position as a standalone tourist destination.
16 night holiday including flights, accommodation and transfers from £4,850pp. Valid for departures April to October 2018. Call 01242 386
Argentina is having a moment. In a continent that was all about Brazil, eyes and expectations are turning south to Argentina. Valentine’s Day 2018 will see the inaugural Norwegian Airlines nonstop flight from Gatwick to Buenos Aires. In addition, Norwegian is opening a subsidiary to fly domestic and regional services in Argentina’s interior, opening up this destination like never before. Plus, it’s less expensive than ever – the government is waiving the value-added tax on lodgings in an effort to encourage tourism. With restaurants like Tegui in Buenos Aires dishing up culinary wonders, Argentina’s food scene is getting noticed. The country was crowned South America’s leading culinary destination 2017 at the World Travel Awards. Now’s the time to explore Buenos Aires; bright spark Salta in the northwest with its surrounding vineyards and boutique estancias; the Iberá Wetlands, where you can go on the gaucho trail and swim with horses; or explore the epically beautiful Lake District.
A 12-night holiday including flights, accommodation and private transfers from £5,540pp. Valid for departures February to August 2018. Call 01242 386 476
This ancient country is awash with optimism right now. There are new hotels openings to entice, such as the 39-storey St Regis in the heart of old Cairo. New tombs are being discovered regularly – a trio of rock-tombs were unearthed in 2017 125 miles south of Cairo and another on the left bank near the Valley of the Kings believed to the resting place of a goldsmith. Most excitingly, just beyond the Great Pyramids of Giza, in the basement of Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum, the world’s largest archaeological museum will open in 2018. Tutankhamum’s chariot and funeral bed are amongst the big-ticket items that will be on display. “A bucket-list destination for centuries, there has never been a better time to travel to Egypt,” says Geoffrey Kent, A&K’s founder, chairman and CEO. “Not only is the country buzzing with renewed confidence, but its many fabled sites are free of crowds and open to in-the-know travellers. The experience for tourists in Egypt right now is as welcoming and upbeat as I’ve ever seen it, but the ability to see the pyramids without crowds won’t last long.”
A ten-night holiday including flights, accommodation, 2 full days private sightseeing in Cairo and private transfers from £3,430pp Valid throughout 2018. Call 01242 386 463
The Indian Himalaya
The hottest destination on the Indian subcontinent of the moment is Ladakh and the Indian foothills of the Himalaya. Ladakh is located in northern reaches of India’s highlands, its mountain walking trails offer an alternative to the Nepalese Himalaya. The hottest hotel in the region is the Oberoi’s Wildflower Hall resort in nearby Shimla. The ideal spot for a true digital detox – unplug at this mountain retreat. Big-cat lovers will enjoy staying at the five-room Snow Leopard Lodge in what was the home of a top leopard tracker. Located in the small village of Ulley in Ladakh, seeing ibex, urial, wolf, Himalayan fox, vulture, golden eagle as well as snow leopard is highly likely.
A seven-night holiday including flights, accommodation and private transfers from £xxxxpp. Valid for departures February to August 2018. Call 01242 386
For years, Montenegro has been quietly attracting savvy travellers looking for an Adriatic beauty spot, minus the crowds, but suddenly all eyes are turning to this country in the Balkans, with some even dubbing it ‘the new Croatia’. With even more hordes arriving at Croatia’s shores, thanks to the Game of Thrones effect, Montenegro’s charming towns, pretty countryside and beautiful beaches are more appealing than ever. The yacht set are loving the (relatively) new, multi-million marina in Tivat. The area’s grande dame Aman Sveti Stefan will soon be joined by the 140-room One&Only Portonovi, which is due to open in 2018 at the entrance to Boka Bay.
A four-night holiday including flights, accommodation, 1 full day guiding and private transfers from £2,339pp. Valid throughout 2018. Call 01242 386 500
There are island paradises and then there is the Seychelles – granite and coral islands, made up of lush forests, black-rock formations and some of the world’s best beaches. And from 24 March 2018, it’s going to be easier than ever before to get to the 115-island nation in the western Indian Ocean. Described as a game-changer for the Seychelles tourism scene, British Airways are set to fly nonstop from Heathrow to Mahé twice a week. And when you get there, the newly opened Six Senses Zil Pasyon, located on the private island of Félicité, is wowing guests. In addition, around the time these new flights land, 71-room Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches will open its jetty to the first guests.
A seven-night holiday including flights, accommodation, half board and private transfers from £5,390pp. Valid for departures 12 May to 14 June 2018. Call 01242 386 482
No longer just known for its eponymous devil, Tasmania is renowned as Australia’s newest gourmet hotspot thanks to its rich produce and innovative chefs like Steve Cumper and Alistair Wise. The Michelin guide is even said to be taking note. But the stellar food is just one reason to visit. Hobart is emerging as a hub of cool. The taste-making team behind luxury hotel Saffire Freycinet just opened a new ‘story-telling’ hotel in Hobart. When MACQ 01 opened its doors on the city’s waterfront, it instantly made its mark. Hobart’s Musuem of Old and New Art is also a huge draw. The museum’s annual cultural festival, MONA FOMA, has been garnering praise since its inception in 2008. In addition, MONA’s owner has announced he is expanding his Tasmanian empire. Details of a mammoth 172-room, five-star hotel on the MONA site, have been released. Dubbed HOMO (Hotel MONA), it will be inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge. Expected to cost AUD$300m, it will take three years to build. Tasmania is primed and ready take its rightful place on the Australian tourism scene.