Every year, everyone likes to highlight the best “new” destinations. Just the other week, in fact, I filled out a survey for Virtuoso on what destinations my clients are asking for. From year to year the Virtuoso Luxe Report is pretty consistent. In any given year, there’s usually one or two new up and coming destinations that you must-visit, while the other four have been there; places are cycled out every so often.
Up and Coming Destinations
If it seems like everyone you know is travelling somewhere, chances are that it’s on that list. And, as I’ve said before, when you begin to hear about a new place – pay attention! Chances are, it’ll be on the Luxe Report (or already is).
Previous must-visit destinations on the Luxe Report include Iceland (still there), South Africa (one of the best places to go while the US dollar is strong), Japan (think summer AND winter), and Australia/New Zealand.
Here are just five of the newest up and coming destinations – and why I think you need to go now.
Western Australia makes up nearly one third of the country, yet it is the least populated state. It’s population, which is just over 2.6 million, lives primarily in Perth, the state capital located on the southwestern coast. Perth has some exceptional things to do, and some wonderful places to stay. But there is a lot more to WA, and their tourism board does a phenomenal job of showcasing the highlights. To name just a few: Ningaloo Reef and the Coral Coast, Broome, and the Kimberley region, all of which are unique.
Ningaloo Reef, for instance, is one of the world’s southernmost reefs, and is one of only two places in the world where you can swim with humpback whales. The Coral Coast, the long stretch from Cervantes to Exmouth, also boasts unique geological features at The Pinnacles, Shark Bay, and pristine white beaches. The Kimberley is one of Australia’s most remote regions, known for its rugged ranges, cavernous gorges, and isolated coastline. The best way to see the Kimberley is by expedition ship.
Travel Advisor suggestion: With the introduction of the London-Perth Qantas flight, Perth is more accessible than ever. I fully expect people to take notice. If you plan to combine Western Australia with Sydney or Melbourne, plan for at least three weeks in Australia to maximise your time.
Tucked on the southeast coast of Africa, bordered by South Africa, Tanzania, Swaziland, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, Mozambique isn’t on most people’s radar. In fact, it has some of the lowest tourism numbers in all of Africa, but the last few years have seen those rise. Mozambique, which only gained independence from Portugal in 1975, is still recovering from civil war. Yet Mozambique is an up and coming destination that rewards the effort it takes to get there. It is definitely a new adventure bucket list item.
The biggest draw for travelers to Mozambique is the natural environment and wildlife; there are five national parks, six wildlife reserves, and five other conservation areas. Lush palm trees, white sand beaches, and turquoise seas line the Indian Ocean coastline while the colonial towns have a charm all their own. The Quirimbas and Bazaruto archipelagoes feature coral islands, reefs with endangered species, colonial ruins, and mangroves.
Travel advisor suggestion: Getting to Mozambique from the US requires connecting at least once. For this reason, it makes sense to combine Mozambique with another African destination, like South Africa or Zimbabwe. Consider a post-safari stay at one of Benguerras Island’s luxury properties like andBeyond, Anantara, or Azura.
Boasting eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Sri Lanka is rising quickly on the tourism radar. This tiny country has four climate zones. Gorgeous beaches abound, as do highland forests, lush rainforests, and charming coastal towns. Ancient ruins, like the Anuradhapura palaces and Sigiriya, have some of the best preserved urban planning in the world. Once connected to the Indian mainland by a natural causeway, Sri Lanka is now only accessible by air.
From a travel perspective, though, Sri Lanka is easy to get to. There is a nonstop flight from London on SriLankan airways (oneworld alliance), while those of us in the US and Canada need to connect in either Asia or the Middle East. Take your pick from Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Singapore Airlines, Air India, or Thai Airways, among others.
Travel Advisor suggestion: Combine the Maldives or India with Sri Lanka for a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip. Rest assured that there are both luxury hotels and preferred luxury suppliers to cater to all your needs.
I’m cheating a bit, as I’ve already told you that Lisbon, Portugal is Europe’s best kept secret, but it’s worth reiterating. Other places in Portugal worth visiting are the Douro Valley, the central heartland between Lisbon and Porto, and both the Algarve and the Azores. Easy to get to, and very easy to love, Portugal beckons to travelers in search of great food and wine, rich history, and vibrant Old World cities. It’s also one of Europe’s most affordable cities, despite being on the euro, and the value is good.
I fully expect Portugal to continue its rise to stardom over the next twelve months as more people discover its charms. Go now to avoid the increasing crowds.
Travel advisor suggestion: For a comprehensive look at Portugal, consider a river cruise. While many people think of the Danube, the truth is that a Douro River cruise offers a great value for the experience. Think sipping port on the deck whilst passing wineries and tasting food prepared by world-class chefs, all while unpacking only once. Of course, spend a few days in Lisbon or Porto on either side.
Slovenia has been on my radar for about nine months now. It’s been on the luxury adventure travel radar for a little bit longer than that.
That’s not to say that Slovenia is unknown – far from it, in fact. It’s becoming more popular as people seek alternatives from overly-crowded Italy, Croatia, and Greece. At this year’s Virtuoso Travel Week, Slovenia had a huge presence. They co-hosted the Community Breakfast, met with advisors at meetings, and showcased the beauty of this Eastern European country.
This alpine country has it all, like thermal hot springs, mountain villages, Baroque architecture, and Slavic heritage. A member of both the European Union and the Schengen zone, Slovenia also uses the Euro and is one of the less expensive countries in the eurozone. It’s incredibly easy to get into; there are direct flights into Ljubljana from across Europe or train service from Vienna, Graz, and Venice.
Travel Advisor suggestion: Consider Slovenia’s rugged mountains for an adventure destination – with excellent wine regions and fairy tale castles thrown in for good measure.
As with all “what’s hot” travel lists, this up and coming destinations list is fluid; things change. But I work as a luxury travel advisor, and I regularly hear from experts who track these things. While there are certainly more than just five up and coming destinations, I expect these five to be on the mainstream radar within two years, if they’re not already.
Sarah is a luxury travel advisor and avid traveller. When she isn’t writing for Point Me To The Plane you can find her crafting custom itineraries for clients or exploring the far reaches of our wonderful planet. Read more about her adventures at The Girl With the Map Tattoo.