Below is part one in a two-part series listing the hottest new and emerging luxury travel destinations in 2018. The list has been compiled by researching current and emerging travel trends across the most popular social media platforms and observing where the industries most influential travel writers and photographers are heading this year.
1. El Nido Palawan
El Nido is a Philippine municipality on Palawan Island. The area is known for its powdery white sandy beaches and coral reefs, which makes it an excellent diving destination or just a great place to kick back and find your chill. It’s a bit of a trek to get to El Nido, via Manila, but that’s what keeps the area so pristine.
El Nido Resorts offer eco-friendly luxury accommodation at different price levels to suit travellers on different budgets.
2. The Italian Dolomites
If you are looking for a more relaxed vibe on the slopes and fewer queues on the lifts then consider a ski trip to the Italian Dolomites, using the chic resort of Cortina as your base. The Italians love kids so this is a great luxury travel choice for families.
The scenery is sensational, and the Dolomites are just as beautiful in the summer when flowers are in bloom.
Base yourself at the luxury, five star Cristallo Hotel Spa & Golf Resort, part of the Leading Hotels of the World group, which has breathtaking views of the Dolomites.
3. Austria skiing
If off-piste skiing is your thing, then there is no better destination than the Alberg region of Austria. Head to the luxury resort of St Anton and rub shoulders with the A-listers. The après ski is first class, and the powder is as guaranteed as snow can be these days.
If budget is not a problem book yourself a room at the Tannenhof Hotel. Alternatively check yourself into the Das Mooses Hotel, a 700-year-old property that was formerly the summer palace of the Archbishops of Salzburg.
Nestled on the heel of the boot of Italy, Puglia is known for its distinctive “trulli” houses and kilometres of unspoiled Mediterranean coastline. In the last few years Puglia has emerged as a serious challenger to Tuscany for travellers in the know, and with fewer people, more sun and some of the best food you will find in the whole of Italy, whats not to love? Le Bonners should stay in the hotel Borgo Egnazia for a taste of the Puglian luxury lifestyle.
5. Gorilla trekking Rwanda
Rwanda is fast becoming one of the hottest luxury travel destinations in the world.
It’s taken a long time for the country to move on from its torrid past but travellers are now flocking to this diverse country, primarily to go on gorilla safaris into the county’s mountainous rain forest.
A number of some of the biggest hotel brands in the world are setting up shop in Rwanda, so there is plenty of choice emerging for the luxury traveller.
The Le Bon Lifestyle choice is Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge in the Volcanoes National Park.
6. Botswana safari
A favourite with the British Royal family (apparently Prince Harry took Meghan Markle there in 2017), Botswana offers a hugely diverse geographical landscape, with the lush, fertile plains of the Okavango Delta to the north of the country, and the semi-arid lands of the Kalahari to the south.
If you fancy following the royal trail, book yourself into Meno a Kwena (tooth of the crocodile), a luxury tented camp where you can experience a Kalahari safari fit for a king.
If watching the daily battle between a pride of lions and heard of buffalo sounds appealing, the luxury Duba Plains safari lodge in the Okavango Delta is the place to stay.
7. Natal Brazil
Some of Brazil’s best beaches can be found to the north east of the country in Natal province. Head to Praia De Pipa, about an hour and a half car transfer from Natal airport, where you can swim with wild dolphins by day and sip on Caipirinhas at night.
Pipa has a hippy vibe and reminds us of Koh Phi Phi about twenty years ago (i.e. before mass tourism invaded). Our favourite hotel is the fabulous five star Toca da Coruja, which even the most demanding luxury traveller would be happy with. The deluxe suites are simply to die for, complete with your own outdoor shower & freestanding bath, and filled with rose petals on your return from a hard day by the pool.
8. British Columbia
If its time away from the city and some head space that you need, then look no further than British Columbia in Canada. With 4.8 people per square kilometre, you can free yourself from the stresses of the rat race.
The scenery is spectacular with breathtaking natural landmarks such as Lake Louise, and the wildlife is just as impressive. Just make sure you stay a safe distance from the Grizzlies while getting those Insta photos 😉
Use the Sonora Resort, a Relais & Chateaux property, as your base for exploring the British Columbian wilderness.
Every man and his dog have been heading to Iceland over the last couple of years, but this small Scandinavian country is still worthy of our 2018 travel hotlist as it doesn’t seem to be falling out of fashion any time soon.
There are more geographic wonders than you can shake a stick at and with one of the lowest crime rates in the world Iceland is a great destination for all types of traveller. Just don’t expect to come back with much cash in your wallet…
Those looking for more of an adventure in the Icelandic wilderness should base themselves in the ION Adventure Hotel. If that feels a bit too remote, then the luxury 101 or Borg Hotels are a bit closer to civilisation in the capital Reykjavik.
Visit from November to March for your best chance of seeing the northern lights.
Regular readers will know we have a serious soft spot for Italy. We were engaged in Venice and married in Maratea, so to say we have a connection with the country is a bit of an understatement. Given how much we love our food and the Italian lifestyle, it’s a shock that we haven’t yet travelled to Italy’s culinary capital, Bologna.
An Italian food Mecca and university town, Bologna is young and vibrant and has a very picturesque old centre where you can while the hours away stuffing yourselves in its food markets and restaurants and washing it all down with a hearty red.
Luxury travellers are well catered for at the Grand Hotel Majestic “Gia Baglioni”.