It’s time to announce the 12 top luxury destinations for 2016 spanning the globe for the wanderlust traveller. Each country satisfies either the “perfect beach” seeker or those desiring an authentic travel experience for the cultural adventurer. Embracing the notion that travelers are looking for more experiences then things, along with stress free options, it is no wonder these top destinations make the list. They offer honeymooners cities, hotels, resorts, restaurants and beaches that simply cant’ wait to be seen for another year. Sit back and escape with us as we look at travel expert Jack Ezon’s recommendations for the most alluring spots in 2016.
Making the list at number one, Cuba is likely to be on the top of every culture seeker’s it-list. Hotter than ever because of the loosening travel constraints and the fact that one must get there before the rest of the world invades this untapped country. With rousing rhythms, luscious landscapes and loquacious locals make charismatic Cuba a top travel destination for lovers of music, food, culture and life. Offering so much more than antiquated cars and coveted cigars, Cuba has a bounty of beaches, villages, farms and forests for travellers to explore.
With a new crop of luxury hotels that have opened to the luxury traveler, Vietnam has come of age. Over the top Aqua Expeditions on the Mekong ship sails through rural countryside of Vietnam and Cambodia for an up-close look of life in Southeast Asia virtually untouched by outside influences. This combined with new hotels like Nam Hai, Amonoi and Park Hyatt Saigon or the legendary Metropole in Hanoi, make Vietnam both a cultural and resort destination of choice in Asia. Sophisticated, hard-core travellers hankering after extraordinary vacation experiences are looking to the rivers of Asia — especially in the Indochina region where the Mekong and Irrawaddy cut through.
Another country visitors will be clamoring to will be Myanmar, Burma to witness first hand this incredible destination before it is altered by modernity. Ships can whisk travelers away to magical places like Bagan and to unmarked villages along the Irrawaddy River where souvenir shops do not exist. Guests of the Belmond Orcaella or Road to Mandalay stop in rural, remote areas peppered with exotic golden pagodas and warm, wonderful people are still unaccustomed to the western tourist.
This fascinating frontier remains on the list due to recently opened uber-luxe outfitters like Luxury Adventures and Luxe Iceland that can sweep honeymooners away over an active volcano by helicopter in the morning and then drive to an extraterrestrial moonscape for a picnic lunch served on the very best china, ending the day in the sparkling Blue Lagoon. Cool new boutique lodges like the Ion and the Hotel Borg now cater to upscale adventure enthusiasts who don’t want to sacrifice their marble bathrooms or hot stone massages for unique experiences.
Colombia is happening, and you will find Cartagena to be one of the cleanest, chicest, freshest, and most fun cities you have ever been to. Shops buzz like New York’s Soho circa 1990, with local designers and artists delivering anything from accessories to contour dresses you just can’t resist (and just won’t find anywhere else). Restaurants are fun and fabulous while nightlife rocks until dawn. It’s no wonder that the likes of Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons are flocking here to join the already stately Sofitel Santa Clara and a host of other memorable riad-style boutique properties like the Tcherassi Hotel + Spa.
Ibiza has matured, and with new restaurants like Cipriani and upscale hotels like Destino Pacha Ibiza, this classic Spanish resort is ready for its new close-up. Luxury revelers can choose from a $18,000/night private island resort just five minutes from the party scene or one of many serviced luxury villas. Bottles of Crystal go for $10,000/a pop at prime VIP tables overlooking the world’s best DJs. Trendy beach clubs rival Saint-Tropez’s best while mega-yachts horde slips by the dozen. There is no question that Ibiza is hot, hot, hot!
The beach towns of Puglia, situated in the boot of the Italian peninsula on the Adriatic Sea, have been Italian favorites for centuries. Now, Americans looking for a relaxing and authentic Italian coastal experience are getting wise to this largely undiscovered region. New luxury resorts like Borgo Egnazia deliver contemporary creature comforts (and attract uber-cool events like the wedding of Justin Timberlake) amidst ancient port towns and traditional trattorias serving simply perfect seafood and other local specialties.
This sizzling area is maturing. In Montenegro, exciting additions include the jewel-like Aman Sveti Stefan, the new Regent at the sparkling, just opened Porto Montenegro, and the much-anticipated One & Only Portonovi. In Croatia, Hvar’s nightlife and beach clubs continue to draw an upscale international crowd while Dubrovnik’s new boutique hotels like the Villa Dubrovnik cater to a luxury elite used to the Italian hospitality and comforts just across the Adriatic.
With &Beyond and Singita opening luxury lodges this year, Mozambique is prime for luxury travel adventurers. Unlike other game experiences, Mozambique offers game viewing by the beach, allowing you to do your Big-5 game drives in the morning and evening while surfing, diving or just chillaxing on the beach during the day.
Be on the lookout for new lodges in Sarawak, the new Orion cruise, and Gaya Island Resort this year, opening the most bio-diverse environment in the world to luxury explorers. Indeed, Borneo’s reefs offer more species than even Australia’s Great Barrier. Finally, who could pass up an opportunity to get up close and personal to this country’s native orangutans?
The Maldives take the beach dream to another level with palatial overwater villas and private island resorts sitting on lively coral reefs bursting with color and sea life. Pristine white sand beaches will spoil you for life as will the level of luxury at new resorts like LVMH’s new 45-room Cheval Blanc or the exclusive Velaa Island with its world championship golf course. For sports enthusiasts, One&Only Reethi Rah has everything from rock climbing to a full on football stadium while the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru is ideal for families looking for a more laid-back beach experience. Honeymooners will revel in the romantic Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, with the largest overwater villas in the Maldives.
Less than an hour from Venice, the beautiful beaches of Slovenia are catering to an international elite enjoying wide sandy beaches with a blend of Italian and Slovenian cultures and cuisine. Slovenia boasts one of Europe’s most sophisticated infrastructures, enabling guests to sit by the sea in the morning before hiking by majestic mountain lakes in the afternoon.
Photo Credits: Credited Properties, Flickr and Stockphoto