Often, we equate the start of a new year with resolutions or goals we set for ourselves that we would like to accomplish before the end of the year… and 2019 is no different. So, we’ve pulled together a list of places you should consider visiting if you’re looking for ideas for your next vacation or if you need a few thought-starters to start planning your destination wedding or a fabulous honeymoon. From Bali to Switzerland, here are 10 destinations you should consider adding to your travel bucket list this year.
Looking for an exotic destination for your next vacation? According to luxury travel agent Ashley Les, you should consider a trip to Bali. “It’s the ideal destination this year because it’s a mix of adventure and relaxation, jungle and beach, plus it’s low cost so you can easily do 10 nights with air for about $5,000,” said Les. And couples planning their honeymoon will clearly understand why it made the top of our list of unique honeymoon ideas chosen by travel agents. A couple can be in a completely different environment within a few hours – from the Gili Islands’ beautiful private beaches to lush jungles and preserves (such as the Ubud Monkey Forest) to centuries-old Hindu temples and heritage sites.
If you’re contemplating a vacation or luxury honeymoon in Central America, you may want to consider Belize before it gets crowded. Last year, the Belize Barrier Reef System, the world’s second-largest barrier reef, was removed from the UNESCO World Heritage site danger list. The turnaround is due to the government’s move to fully protect the unique marine environment, it’s tough regulations to safeguard mangrove forests, and a ban on single-use plastic-foam cups and plastic products by Earth Day 2019. And on land, the Belizean government plans to pave the road to Caracol, the country’s largest Mayan site, to make the archeological site more accessible. New eco-resorts are taking advantage of the country’s stunning cayes and jungle hideaways, while travelers are discovering a part of Central America that’s relatively untouristed, safe and easy to reach.
Tourism is only expected to increase when the Giza’s $1.1 billion Grand Egyptian Museum makes its debut in 2020. For now, the country continues attracting luxury travelers with new high-end hotels like the St. Regis Cairo, scheduled to open this spring. The 36-floor tower overlooks Old Cairo and the Nile, and offers around-the-clock butler service. Luxury tour operators are responding to the uptick in visitors with new activities that cater to families. For example, Abercrombie & Kent can combine a river cruise along the Nile, camel rides and hands-on crafts for your next multi-gen vacation.
Travel agent Vicky Mathisen recommends Hawaii as a “no-passport-required” alternative to the Caribbean, especially during hurricane season. Every Hawaiian island has its own distinct flair and attractions. Maui offers luxury beachfront resorts and the epic Road to Hana. Oahu draws honeymooners with its urban-metro feel and world-class surfing. In Kauai, vacationers can explore jaw-dropping natural wonders by hiking to waterfalls, such as the cascading Wailua Falls. And outdoor enthusiasts will marvel at the lava-rock landscape at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. There’s so much to see and do, but one of our expert travel agents can help you plan your dream vacation to the Hawaiian Islands.
Every year, Italy is consistently on some of the top travel bucket lists, and this year is no exception. Travel off the beaten path away from the major cities to explore Matera, an 8,000-year-old city that is the 2019 European Capital of Culture. Located a 3-hour drive from Naples, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its honeycomb of cave dwellings that have been transformed into boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants and unique luxury hotels.
Consider taking an hour and a half flight from Bari Airport (near Matera) to Italy’s Piedmont region to experience Turin’s burgeoning art scene, vibrant nightlife and innovative culinary and wine scene. Taste some of the world’s most sought-after red wines in Langhe, Roero and Monferrato; stock up on decedent chocolates in Cuneo; and plan a cozy getaway to go hiking or skiing in the Maritime Alps. Travel agent Vicky Mathisen says, “Go for the culture and romanticism, especially now that honeymoons seem to be shifting away from popular beach locations.”
Getting to Kenya gets a little easier in 2019 for travelers who want to cross African safari off their bucket list. Americans will get the extra perk of having more direct flights to Nairobi from John F. Kennedy International Airport (NYC) via Kenyan Airways and from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport via Delta Airlines. Before you embark on your private safari in Kenya and Tanzania, spend a couple days exploring Nairobi, including a visit to local vendors to pick up authentic, handmade art, jewelry, ceramics and clothing at Kazuri, GoDown Arts Centre and Designing Africa Collective.
For travelers looking for a place to unwind and decompress, LGBT luxury travel specialist Michael Shane Stephens recommends Kerala, India because “they have the top resorts for ayurvedic treatments.” This 3,000-year-old holistic healing Indian treatment is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on the delicate balance between the mind, body and spirit. Kerala has more than 30 standalone wellness centers that specialize in ayurvedic treatments, and some luxury hotels have also adopted the traditional treatments.
For example, The Leela (in Kovalam) offers three different packages that focus on detoxification, rejuvenation, de-stress and wellness. Their lifestyle package aims to provide relaxation and rejuvenation along with reducing stress and purifying the blood by using herbal oils and medicines. The wellness package tones the body through weight management treatments, comprised of a body massage, herbal medicines and a special diet. And finally, the therapeutic package ensures the complete and intense care for ailments as recommended by a guest’s professional doctors.
This Portuguese archipelago – located off the northwest coast of Africa – is famous for the fortified wine that bears its name. Madeira will celebrate the 600th anniversary of its discovery this year! Explore its terraced vineyards, charming fishing villages, pretty pebble beaches and the culturally-rich capital of Funchal, home to the new luxurious Savoy Palace and chic Les Suites at The Cliff Bay. Adventure travelers are converging on Madeira, not only because of its warm year-round climate, but also its black lava pools, cloud forests, and 500-mile network of irrigation channels that serve as scenic hiking and mountain biking trails. “It’s safe, beautiful, the food is good, and it’s a quick trip from New York City (6 hours),” said Ashley Les. “You have wine, city, mountains and beach in a matter of hours.” And if you need another reason to visit Portugal, we recommend taking a look at our Portugal itinerary, which includes stops in Lisbon, Porto and the Douro Valley for a culinary experience you won’t soon forget!
Mexico is always a popular travel destination and there’s no sign of that changing in 2019. Last year, Los Cabos began taking steps to shake its reputation as a major spring break and party destination with the opening of new luxury hotels – such as the Viceroy Los Cabos, Solaz and Montage – offering upscale amenities and a deeper appreciation for local culture. Zadún (a Ritz-Carlton Reserve), Nobu Hotel Los Cabos, 1 Hotel and Four Seasons Los Cabos are all scheduled to open this year. Mexico City is also experiencing a booming indigenous culinary scene at restaurants like Masala y Maiz as well as an increase in hotel openings (Kimpton and Sofitel hotels).
Twenty minutes from Merida, the Chablé Resort & Spa, known for its world-class spa, is also drawing travelers for a relaxing retreat. Wine connoisseurs will be happy to know Valle de Guadalupe – 90 minutes south of the Mexico border – is now known as the “Napa Valley of Mexico.” In-the-know wine lovers are flocking to the area for not only the wine, but also for its fine dining restaurants and its annual Valle Food & Wine Festival, usually held the first week in October. With so many reasons to visit Mexico, you can consult one of Vacation’s expert travel agents to help you customized your dream Mexico vacation.
For wine connoisseurs, our luxury travel agents advise heading to Switzerland this year to experience a colossal celebration, Fete des Vignerons, in Vevey. This festival – held only 5 times a century – highlights the Lavaux region’s rich wine growing culture, traditions, and of course wines. “Switzerland has amazing wines that are near to impossible to find outside of the country because their production is so low, and they don’t use machines, so to export wine would make a single bottle very expensive,” said luxury travel agent Rani Cheema. “On top of its epic hotels and incredible culinary scene, I feel like the Swiss Tourism Board is really investing in making sure people know this tiny country is truly magnificent.”
Inspired by this article and want to speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan an unforgettable vacation anywhere in the world? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with an expert travel agent, who can customize the dream trip itinerary that you deserve.