If you’ve caught the travel bug, this post may spread that infection — don’t say we didn’t warn you. Let’s cut straight to the chase, shall we? Here are the top 10 destinations you need to add your 2015 travel list.
Looking ahead to winter 2015, book your room now and be among the first to see the refreshed Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay. A postcard-worthy beach retreat set on Larry Ellison’s private island of Lana’i, the resort continues to raise the bar for island chic. The sixth-largest island in Hawaii, Lana’i is not as tourist-trampled as Oahu and Maui, hence its beguilingly retro charms. The Oracle founder has a passionate vision for the island, with major transformations ahead. Whether you go now to discover it pre-development, or later to explore expansions, this island is a big talking point in the luxury sector. The polished perfection of Four Seasons hospitality starts with a swish new lounge at the Honolulu Airport (HNL) where cosy club chairs and complimentary top shelf treats replenish you after a long journey. You can also check into your room, saving you precious beach time once on the ground. Undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, the resort will debut the final phase by end of year, which will include new guest rooms designs by Todd Avery Lenahan. The new NOBU Lana’i has been an instant hit and a freshly renovated spa is winning raves. Four Seasons Resorts Lanaʻi reflects the spirit of old Hawaii, featuring Manele Bay and The Lodge at Koele. Guests can enjoy two exceptional resorts on one island – a quintessential beach escape and a charming upcountry lodge offering cultural engagements, challenging water and land activities, and world-class golf and tennis.
Sure, Oakland wants us to stop calling the city the Brooklyn of the West. We don’t blame them; this is a historically diverse city with its own brand of quirks and charms that today booms with civic pride, edgy art, and superb food. A city that has long stood in the shadow of nearby San Francisco, Oakland now boasts its own entrepreneur success stories and real estate strides. Oakland is finally having its own moment beyond organic coffee, double-wide designer strollers, and gluten-free options. Be sure to check out Bocanova in Jack London Square for the best margaritas and homemade guacamole in town. Stroll along Lake Merritt in the early evening, taking in the urban sanctuary. Temescal is one of the city’s coolest hoods by far, and our fave haunt is a series of quaint shops housed in converted horse stables on 49th Street. Crimson Horticulture Rarities is a must see gem; their floral designs lean towards vintage romantic with an offbeat approach to texture and colour. For nearly 100 years, Oakland has been synonymous with cool.
New Zealand’s South Island interior —with its world-class wines and gold-rush towns— only recently entered the international spotlight, thanks to a visit from royal jetsetters Will and Kate in 2014. Fringed by a rosy-hued mountain range and nestled on serene Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge is one of best reasons to put Queensland on your 2015 list. The hotel boasts 11 residential-style suites and is close to the adrenaline junkie capital of New Zealand. Sleek, soaring spaces and innovative cuisine are as spellbinding as the crisp alpine views. Go for the more remote villas at the edge –suites 7 or 9– for the feeling that you have Matakauri’s monumental views all to yourself, with beds and baths oriented in prime positions to soak it all in. We especially love the fireplace, walk-in wardrobe, and private deck.
The panda capital of the world is drawing a broader range of travelers with a new 72-hour no-visa policy, making it easier for foreigners to pop into one of Chengdu’s three major breeding facilities. Be wary of the biting cold, best weather runs June to October. Go for the giant pandas, stay for the heavenly experience of the most celebrated openings here: Temple House. Situated in the heart of Chengdu, Temple House embraces the historic Daci Temple that was built a thousand years ago in the Jin Dynasty, adorned by historical bamboo frames and traditional step stones reminiscent of a bygone era. London-based Make Architects wraps a three-dimensional woven façade of timber and brick around the hotel and it’s absolutely stunning. Make this newest Swire House Hotel in an ancient temple your base for exploring the 4,000-year-old ancestral lands of the giant panda. Drink in the delights of the hotel’s cool indoor pool and inventive cocktails at Jing. We have enjoyed epic cultural experiences with the House Collective, including The Opposite House, The Upper House, and The Temple House. This group of small, highly individual properties is setting a new standard in Asia Pacific’s golden age of hotels.
If you’ve been dating a US passport holder and have longed in vain to show off your Havana street cred (or simply the way you look so damn fine in linen), this is your year for Cuba. This hedonistic rendezvous is now possible thanks to President Obama’s announcement of sweeping changes to US-Cuba relations. Reduced travel restrictions are making it easier than ever for Americans to get their swerve on in the homeland of fine cigars. Tour groups like Insight Cuba and Smithsonian Journeys operate under the “people-to-people” license focused on cultural exchange — the status Jay-Z and Beyoncé tapped for their much-buzzed anniversary trip in 2013. G Adventures’ new Sailing Cuba itinerary explores the Canarreos Archipelago, with massive flocks of flamingos and parrots overhead and marine life out of a Pixar movie below. Meet jazz musicians, take in the Havana Art Biennial 2015, and go truly localvore at one of the many paladar — restaurants operated out of a family home. The best news for the gastro-tribe? Basque chef Andoni Luis Aduriz and Mexico’s Enrique Olvera have recently announced plans to collaborate on a dining hotspot in Havana.
In the ancient city of Muscat —which lies on the Gulf of Oman— the air is heavy with frankincense, white villas and medieval fortresses fan out into the distance, peppered with gold-domed mosques. Oman is still ruled by a Sultan, who has made it one of the most stable countries in the region. The most notable debut on the hotel scene is the recent unveiling of the spectacular Alila Jabal Akhdar resort. Perched 2,000 metres above sea level, the new jewel overlooks a dramatic gorge, offering sublime views of the Al Hajar Mountains. This Oman retreat is the epitome of luxury and high design, a haven for adventure travellers and nature lovers. With two Anantara properties and a Kempinski on the way, there will be more options than ever in 2015 for experiencing Oman’s natural bounty, from the stark desert to stunning coastline.
Far from the clogged beaches of Punta Cana, be among the first to experience Cap Cana’s newest luxury oceanfront resort Alsol Tiara Collection, opening June 2015. We’re most excited about the oversized swim-up suites with expansive views of the water. Talent in the kitchen is all lined up with three restaurants, three bars, a deli cafe, and glamourous free-form pools. It also features the nearby Jack Nicklaus Signature experience at the exclusive Punta Espada Golf Club, the top-ranked golf course in the Caribbean and Mexico. Bound to lure in discerning sun worshipers, the lofty design ushers in the sunlight from every angle, creating pools of brightness at every turn. Later in 2015, Aman Villas will become the second Caribbean outpost from Singapore-based Amanresorts and their first golf-integrated location. A far cry from the island’s cookie-cutter all-inclusives, this is bound to bring balance to the area’s tourism offerings.
Peru made our 2015 list, we admit sheepishly, due to our Testino obsession. Sign up for this once-in-a-lifetime program: Discover Peru’s Vibrant Heartland (where Mario Testino got his sense of colour). Only 12 travelers may join noted Peruvian scholar and archaeology expert Hugh Thomson and local guide Efraim Valles on a highly personalized visit organized by bespoke travel specialist cazenove + loyd. These insiders will unlock the extraordinary art and culture secrets of Peru, staying in the finest hotels along the way. The small entourage will travel from Cuzco to the Sacred Valley with mule trail hikes, ancient crop circle explorations, and a visit to the Salineras salt pans. Then onto the charming town of Ollantaytambo to enjoy a lively local music festival, followed by a historic train ride to the lost capital of the Incas, Machu Picchu. Wrap up in cosmopolitan Lima with an exclusive visit to Mario Testino’s non-profit Museo Mario Testino and philanthropic MATE foundation that supports emerging Peruvian artists, with the grand finale of a private dinner with the Museo’s curators (May 21- 29, 2015).
Prince Edward County
This wee wine-producing hamlet is a haven for heirloom farmers, artisanal food producers, and the creative class. The biggest news in Prince Edward County? Impresario Jeff Stober’s Drake Devonshire. A four-hour drive from either Montreal or Toronto, this lakeside retreat is a high-design spinoff of the urban success story of the Drake Hotel in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood. Eleven stylish hotel rooms and two expansive suites compliment seasonal menus featuring farm and lake-to-table dining, an inventive cocktail program, and PEC wines. A retreat for all seasons, the hotel’s art installations, cultural programming, and events are the main draw. In addition, the stellar concierge has established connections with the top experiences the county has to offer. They can hook you up with insider access to the 40-plus area wineries, or recommend a detour to Sandbanks Provincial Park, a true white-sand beach with sweeping dunes.
This is a great year to tour Chad with Africa’s Conservation Heroes & Michael Lorentz of Passage to Africa. Not a romanticized safari circuit, this rugged adventure “goes beyond the infinity pool” to explore Chad’s Zakouma National Park, one of the last strongholds of wildlife in central Africa. Managed by conservation-committed African Parks, the group has been fighting poachers since 2010 and is working to restore Zakouma’s decimated elephant population from its current count of 450 to pre-poaching numbers of 4,300.
Which of these top 10 destinations is on your vacation list? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.