When it comes to singling out the best vacation spots and compiling our annual year-end list of the places we’re most excited about in the coming months, narrowing down the field is easier said than done. We pore over press releases, tourism statistics, and our overflowing spreadsheets of hotel openings, restaurant debuts, and new flight routes before deciding where to go on vacation. We consider the anecdotal evidence: Where are our friends and families going on vacation? What vacation destinations are we seeing on Instagram? Which places seem to be part of today’s travel zeitgeist?
1. The Adirondacks, New York
One of America’s first vacation destinations, New York’s Adirondack Mountain region has been luring travelers since the late 19th century with clear lakes, pure air, and 46 high peaks to climb. You can still visit in classic style. Built in 1927, the Hotel Saranac reopened last year after a respectful renovation that brings a touch of urban grandeur to the charming town of Saranac Lake. Hidden in the woods outside of town, The Point is a sumptuous lakeside resort that occupies what was once a “great camp” belonging to members of the Rockefeller family.
2. Alberta, Canada
Jasper and Banff’s rugged, powdery trails should be enough reason to add Alberta to your winter travel wish list. But this year, happenings off the ski runs have made the Canadian province more exciting than ever. If you’re flying into Calgary, make a detour before hitting the slopes to see the month-old Snøhetta- and DIALOG-designed Calgary Central Library. Covered with 460 white hexagonal panels, it’s set to become an architectural icon. Culture hounds should visit Edmonton’s new Royal Alberta Museum, a $375-million, 419,000-square-foot institution featuring collections on indigenous cultures, a gallery dedicated to insects, and more
3. Alsace, France
This region in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains produces some of the finest wines on the globe. The stunning Villa René Lalique, whose restaurant has two Michelin stars, is the ideal place to start a sojourn. Visit top wineries like Domaine Weinbach and Maison Trimbach for world-class Gewürztraminers and Rieslings. At Au Trotthus, in Riquewihr, chef Philippe Aubron melds ingredients from France and Japan, where he spent 17 years — chanterelle soup with enoki and truffles.
4. The Andaman Islands
For anyone who’s ever fantasized about running away to a remote island, the Andaman Islands are the stuff of dreams. A chain of more than 300 islands (some sources cite as many as 572) strung between India and Thailand, they seem almost too perfect to be real, with unspoiled beaches, clear water, coconut trees, and tropical mangroves. Many of the archipelago’s islands are uninhabited or off-limits in order to protect the tribes who live there.
This past spring Armenians voted in a new, more liberal government. The resulting energy has made the country all the more inviting to travelers. The Alexander, part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, recently opened in Yerevan, giving the capital its first world-class hotel. And a number of new restaurants in the city, including Sherep, are breathing new life into Armenia’s ancient cuisine.
he coming year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and city’s jam-packed cultural calendar reflects its post-reunification renaissance. Exhibits and performances celebrating 100 years of the city’s pioneering Bauhaus architectural movement will roll out all year, starting in January with a ramped-up opening festival at the Akademie der Kunste, which will include lectures, dance and theatrical performances, and concerts.
7. Brisbane, Australia
Teasingly nicknamed Brisvegas for its sleepy mien, Brisbane has long been regarded as an outsize country town, a cultural vacuum overshadowed by Sydney and Melbourne. But that’s changing. The shift began with the mid-2018 opening of the W Brisbane, the first luxury property to launch in the central business district in two decades. Now, the city is unveiling the $140 million Howard Smith Wharves development, which brings a hotel and restaurants to an abandoned dockyard under the Story Bridge.
Most visits to Cambodia are centered around exploring Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor Wat — but now there’s a reason to head much further south, to an area that more accessible than ever thanks to the December 21 opening of Shinta Mani Wild. Set inside the remote South Cardamom National Park (a three-hour drive from Phnom Penh), this all-inclusive luxury camp with 15 tented suites is the brainchild of hotel designer Bill Bensley, who made it a priority to protect hundreds of acres of surrounding land and the wild elephants, gibbons, and other wildlife that call it home.
9. Cambridge, England
One of England’s two great university cities, Cambridge doesn’t wear its history lightly. It’s impossible to visit and not feel catapulted back in time, from the medieval maze of streets to the dazzling Gothic buildings of its colleges. Yet the city is also looking to the future: more than 4,500 science and technology firms have opened in the region over the past two decades. Cambridge now has a superb hotel to match. The University Arms, which opened last summer, is both an elegant homage to neoclassical style and a whole lot of fun, with book-filled suites that use famous Cambridge graduates like Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawkins as decorating motifs.