Cambodia are so 2007. Now, Laos is shaping up to be Indochina's next hot
spot. Ancient sites like the Wat Phou temple complex and the capital city of
Vientiane are drawing culture seekers. Luxury teak houseboats are
cruising down the Mekong. And global nomads are heading to
Luang Prabang to sample the Laotian tasting menu at 3 Nagas (www.3nagas.com)
or hang out by the infinity pool at the seriously upscale Résidence Phou Vao
Bargain-seeking tourists have long flocked to Lisbon, typically among the
most affordable of European cities. But now the Portuguese capital is also
emerging as a cultural force. The new Berardo Collection Museum (www.berardocollection.com),
in the historic
Belem district, boasts a major trove of modern and contemporary art.
Designer hotels like Fontana Park (www.fontanaparkhotel.com)
and Jerónimos 8 (www.almeidahotels.com)
are attracting style-savvy travelers. And the Design and Fashion Museum,
scheduled to open in late 2008, will go a long way toward cementing the
city's avant-garde status.
Tunisia is undergoing a
Morocco-like luxury makeover. A new wave of stylish boutique hotels,
often in historic town houses, has cropped up alongside this North African
beaches and age-old medinas, drawing increasing numbers of well-heeled
travelers. The Villa Didon (www.villadidon.com)
in Carthage, for one, has a restaurant originally run by
Alain Ducasse. Indeed, TripAdvisor ranks Jerba, a resort island off
Tunisia's southern coast, as the No. 1 emerging spot in 2008.
Flying to the sugar-white shores of Mauritius is about to get easier.
Virgin Atlantic just began nonstop flights from
London to this tiny coral-ringed island off the coast of
Madagascar, and it also recently became a hub port for Indian Ocean
excursions by the
Cruises. Meanwhile, new hotels are opening up, including a Four Seasons
resort, Anahita Mauritius (www.anahitamauritius.com),
that features four restaurants, three beaches and an ayurveda
Move over South Beach. The iconic Eden Roc Resort (www.edenrocresort.com)
and Fontainebleau Miami Beach (www.fontainebleau.com)
— faded glitterati hangouts designed by
Morris Lapidus — will reopen in 2008 after multimillion-dollar
renovations, returning Mid-Beach to its former glory. Future neighbors
include Gansevoort South, a W Hotel and a Mid-Beach outpost of the members-only
SOUTH BEACH, MIAMI
Not to be outdone, South Beach will also welcome a red carpet of designer
hotels: the Angler's Boutique Resort (www.theanglersresort.com)
Gianni Versace's former decorator Wallace Tutt; the Tides South Beach (www.tidessouthbeach.com),
revamped by the design star
Kelly Wearstler; and the Mondrian South Beach (www.mondriansouthbeach.com)
by the Dutch design superstar Marcel Wanders. Meanwhile, Nicky Hilton's much-hyped
dreams of running a hotel has ended up in bankruptcy court — and the auction
The 2004 tsunami, a fragile ecology and a recent bombing have done little
to dampen a hotel boom in this island-nation of about 1,192 coral islets in
the Indian Ocean. Among the high-end hotels expected to open next year is a
Regent Hotels & Resorts (www.regenthotels.com)
with 50 villas, many set over the water, allowing guests to observe the rich
marine life while still lying in bed.
It's too early to predict, but recent heavy rains have some flower
bloggers already speculating about a dazzling spring bloom in Death Valley
next year. Death Valley is home to more than 1,000 species of wildflower,
and in that special spring after a wet fall and winter, the brown desert
landscape is carpeted with Technicolor fields of blossoms.
The ultra-exclusive French
skiing village of Courchevel may be overrun by Russian billionaires
these days, but that has only fueled the resort's consumption of Cristal
jeroboams and high-ticket hotels. The sumptuous Hotel de Charme Les Airelles
this month following a $31 million renovation, and, late next year, Le
Padisha ups the ante with rustic-chic apartments starting at 1.3 million
euros, or $1.95 million at $1.50 to the euro.
It's on and off (and on again) for Libya. Four years after the
United States government lifted a ban on American travel, this socialist
North African nation is going green. The eldest son of Col.
Muammar el-Qaddafi, the leader of Libya, is developing a carbon-neutral
resort along the country's pristine Mediterranean coastline, home to stellar
Greek and Roman ruins and endangered seals. Luxury hotels and
golf courses are planned, as well as a new airport in Tripoli. But red
tape remains. Tour operators have canceled trips because of visa holdups,
and last month planeloads of European tourists were turned away under an odd
rule that requires foreign passports to be translated into Arabic.
Dalmatian Coast has become a new Riviera, Hvar has become its St.-Tropez:
a tiny village that fills with yachts and international partyers over the
summer. While the waterfront Carpe Diem (www.carpe-diem-hvar.com)
remains the island's night-life center, narrow stone alleys are lined with
chic cocktail lounges and hotel terraces, including the rooftop pool at the
new Adriana hotel, Croatia's first Leading Small Hotels of the World member
Maybe it is the lasting memory of the gay icon
Elizabeth Taylor's scandalous affair with
Richard Burton during his filming of “Night of the Iguana” in the early
60's, but Puerto Vallarta is becoming gayer by the year and is now poised to
Mexico's leading gay beach. There are now some dozen gay-friendly hotels
and a glut of bars and clubs clustered along the aptly named Zona Romantica.
With a nickname like the “Hamptons of
Germany,” it's only a matter of time before jet-setters discover the
North Sea island of Sylt. Known for its nudist beaches, reed-thatched houses
and designer stores, the T-shaped island has long been popular with German
celebrities, particularly television stars and sports figures. But now
getting there is a simple hop from London and a dozen other European cities,
thanks to the low-cost carrier Air
The verdict is in. The Next Prague is ... Prague. Stag parties have moved
on, bohemians have left for cheaper rents, and youth hostels are being
squeezed by luxe hotels. Joining a new Mandarin Oriental next year is the
Augustine, converted from a monastery and other buildings into a Rocco Forte
and the just-refurbished Hilton Prague Old Town (www.prague-oldtown.hilton.com),
with a buzzing restaurant opened by
If you've been to Quito,
Ecuador, there's a good chance you were heading to the Galápagos. But
Quito, the colonial capital perched 9,200 feet up in the Andes, is no longer
just a whistle stop. The city's crumbling historic center, one of Latin
America's least altered, has been reborn after a seven-year, $200 million
renovation. And a crop of upscale hotels has arrived, including a JW
making Quito a glorious new center in the so-called Middle of the World.
There's more to Liverpool than just the
Beatles. Next year, this industrial city celebrates its 800th birthday (and
its designation as European Capital of Culture), as it trots out everything
and everyone, from Turner Prize artists to young emerging bands like the
Zutons. But make no mistake: The headliner is
Paul McCartney, who is returning to play the “Liverpool Sound” concert
at Anfield Stadium on June 1 (www.liverpool08.com).
gardens, lederhosen-wearing hipsters, hybrid Mercedes-Benz taxis. No
wonder Monocle magazine recently named Munich the world's most livable city.
The Bavarian capital might get shortchanged when compared with Berlin in
terms of liberalism and creativity, but Munich has a robust economy that
stimulates high fashion, cutting-edge cuisine and cushy living — not to
mention a new
Jewish Museum (www.juedisches-museum.muenchen.de),
79 years in the making, and a posh new hotel in the heart of the city, the
Charles, from hotelier Rocco Forte (www.charleshotel.de).
What Axis of Evil? Upscale tour operators are tiptoeing into Iran next
year, offering trips that explore the ancient country's Persian treasures
and olive-green desert plains. Next spring, the luxury cruise liner
Silversea will make stops in the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas on its
Dubai to Dubai cruise. And
California-based Distant Horizons (www.distant-horizons.com)
is organizing two 18-day trips that start in Tehran and then weave through
the once-forbidden countryside, including stops in Shiraz and Isfahan.
Prices start at $5,390 per person.
All those rolling fields of green. The cypress-lined fairways. It's
surprising that there aren't more golf links in Tuscany. For better or worse,
a new course has just opened for guests at the Terme di Saturnia resort (www.termedisaturnia.it
) in southern Tuscany. The nine-hole course covers 247 acres surrounded by
wheat, sunflowers, oats and olive groves — that is, until the next nine
holes go in.
Just when you thought the Caribbean island of Anguilla couldn't get any
fancier, the Kor Hotel Group is opening the Viceroy Anguilla — the latest
offshoot of its Viceroy brand (www.viceroyanguilla.com)
— in the spring. The hotel will have 172 luxury accommodations, a 15,000-square-foot
spa and beach clubs set along 3,200 feet of private waterfront.
Bogotá might be remembered for its death squads and gang violence, but
this Colombian megalopolis — the fourth-largest city in
South America — is cleaning up its act and drawing tourists with its
cultural diversity and colonial charms. A new Hilton hotel is being built,
and three U.S.-based airlines — JetBlue, US Airways and Spirit Airlines —
recently applied for the chance to offer direct flights into Bogotá.
PLAYA BLANCA, PANAMA
Playa Blanca is about to hit the tabloids. Nikki Beach, the très chic
beach club in South Beach and St.-Tropez, is opening a gated resort in the
fishing village on the Pacific coast of Panama (www.nikkibeachpanama.com).
The developers are already calling it the “sexiest project in Panama.” Less
fabulous families need not worry. Superclubs (www.superclubs.com),
the all-inclusive resort, is also dipping its toes into Playa Blanca with
the 300-room Breezes Panama, scheduled to open in 2009.
The former home of Cleopatra is rising. Alexandria was among the ancient
world's greatest cities, but it had fallen into oblivion. Now a string of
new monuments is bringing the so-called Pearl of the Mediterranean back. A
gleaming $200 million library, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (www.bibalex.org),
resurrects the ancient library in steel and glass. A new Four Seasons (www.fourseasons.com/alexandria)
stands in the stately Stan Stefano plaza. And throughout town, the city
pulses with new shops and upscale cafes.
A faded spring-break haven on Mexico's Pacific coast, Mazatlán has been
drawing American retirees and second-home buyers to its less-crowded beaches
and cheap real estate. Few tourists show up, partly because there are few
hotels. That's changing. A half-dozen resorts are now in the works,
including Diamond Beach, a $1.2 billion development with high-rise hotels, a
golf course and condominiums.
St. Lucia's upscale progress marches on. After the arrival of eco-hedonistic
resorts like Jade Mountain and Discovery at Marigot Bay (which just launched
a solar-powered ferry), big-name resorts with $1,000 rooms are on the way.
Scheduled to open next year are the Residences at Ritz-Carlton (www.theresidencesstlucia.com),
the Westin's Le Paradis (www.leparadisstlucia.com)
and the RockResorts' the Landings St. Lucia (www.thelandingsstlucia.com).
There's even a private jet terminal in the works.
In addition to being one of the world's most expensive cities , Oslo is
burnishing its reputation as a design and
architecture center. Next April, the futuristic National Opera House (www.operaen.no)
will open at the head of the Oslofjord, sheathed in white marble. It will be
joined by two new design hotels: Thon Hotel Gyldenlove (www.thonhotels.com
) and Grims Grenka Hotel (www.grimsgrenka.no).
Marketed as the first five-star gay hotel in Latin America (but also “heterofriendly”),
Axel Hotel Buenos Aires (www.axelhotels.com)
confirmed what many gay travelers already knew: the Argentine capital is
becoming South America's next party capital. Situated in the bohemian-chic
neighborhood of San Telmo, the 48-room hotel features Eames furnishings, a
gymnasium and a poolside bar.
Rimini's nine-mile stretch of sand along the Adriatic Coast once
attracted holiday crowds. But the birthplace of Fellini has been reborn as
Italy's bling party capital, drawing style-conscious Romans to its raging
club scene, cool boîtes and designer hotels, most notably the new DuoMo
designed by Ron Arad.
Madonna. Safarigoers tended to overlook Malawi, but that has changed
since she began her effort to adopt a 1-year-old boy from this tiny African
country that lies within the Great Rift Valley. Next July, the luxury lodge
is set to open 10 villas on spectacular Lake Malawi, home to rare cichlids
and pied kingfishers.
The sleepy Honduran island of Roatán, known for scuba
diving and fishing, is waking up with big plans, with both Royal
Caribbean and Carnival building new cruise terminals there, and the
Westin Resort & Spa Roatan scheduled to open in mid-2008.
Since gaining independence in 1975, Mozambique has moved from a war-torn
society to one of
Africa's economic success stories. Now its 1,500 miles of pristine
coastline is being fashioned into a “fair trade” tourist destination. High-end
lodges with low-environmental impact are being built along the Bazaruto
Archipelago, home to endangered sea cows, staghorn coral and mangrove
forests. Farther north, the Guludo Beach Lodge (www.guludo.com)
offers nine luxurious tented bandas along the beach, with proceeds going
back to the local village.
32. KUWAIT CITY