TRAVEL

With a dra­mat­i­cally al­tered nar­ra­tive, here are 12 travel ex­pe­ri­ences that ex­plore the joys of au­then­tic­ity

India Today - - CONTENTS - By FAIZA SUL­TAN KHAN

The days when travel meant traips­ing around mu­se­ums in ma­jor me­trop­o­lises be­fore eat­ing an in­dif­fer­ent meal in a five star ho­tel are far be­hind us as the buzz­word for 2017 ap­pears to be “au­then­tic”. Not too au­then­tic, mind you, ide­ally the insider knowl­edge of the lo­cal but wrapped up in the gos­samer skein of lux­ury. As our idea of com­pan­ion­ship evolves to mean some­times just our­selves, 2017 hol­i­days rely on the lo­ca­tion to pro­vide you with the ex­pe­ri­ence and not just a back­drop to a con­ver­sa­tion. So whether you’re head­ing out to find a great eat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, a new cul­ture, an old civil­i­sa­tion, or a way to cen­tre your­self and re­con­nect, here are some of the hottest spots in which to do it this year.

Cusco (Peru)

The jewel in the crown of In­can civil­i­sa­tion, the head­quar­ters of the Span­ish con­quest and a coun­try of breath­tak­ing va­ri­ety, Peru is the most re­cent ad­di­tion to the well-in­formed trav­eller’s reper­toire. Whether it’s Peruvian wine and ce­viche among the or­nate Span­ish baroque of Lima’s his­tor­i­cal cen­tre, and a pri­vate lux­ury tour to the In­can am­phithe­atre at Mo­ray among the rolling greens of Cusco and the le­gendary ci­tadel of Machu Pic­chu, this year’s flavour is def­i­nitely Latin.

Go­ing Green

With mil­len­ni­als as the group with the great­est dis­pos­able in­come, no trend is as per­va­sive this year as ecofriendly lux­ury travel.

Seoul (South Korea)

Long over­looked in favour of Ja­pan, the dis­cern­ing trav­eller has dis­cov­ered of late that South Korea is more than just Gang­nam Style. Last year saw the first South Korean Miche­lin guide as gour­mands dis­cov­ered a so­phis­ti­cated and del­i­cate cui­sine; with jaw-drop­ping her­itage sites including 11 UNESCO listed sites, trav­ellers can ex­pe­ri­ence the un­shake­able seren­ity of the eight-cen­tury Bul­guksa Tem­ple Com­plex and the colour­ful three-month-long cherry blos­som fes­ti­val.

Na­maqua­land (South Africa)

Le­gend has it that when God was cre­at­ing the world, he dropped his en­tire pock­et­ful of seeds onto Na­maqua­land near the bor­der of South Africa and Namibia. Field upon field of it blooms like no other part of the world. In keep­ing with the har­mony of the site, the place to stay is the Ou­drif eco-re­sort in Clan­william, com­pris­ing stylish straw bale cot­tages with ev­ery con­ve­nience with strik­ing views of the sur­round­ing scenery. Con­sider hik­ing trips, long ram­bling na­ture walks and fly fish­ing in pris­tine nearby rivers. The rec­om­mended nightlife is stargaz­ing.

Less is more

Think small when it comes to ho­tels and resorts, if it books more than 12, chances are it’s not in fash­ion.

Paris (France)

Some places never go out of style. The City of Lights is an ever-evolv­ing global cap­i­tal, where not a month goes by when a food or fash­ion trend doesn’t seize the in­ter­est of the French cap­i­tal. The cur­rent must-try restau­rant is Daroco, an Ital­ian-style trat­to­ria in Jean-Paul Gaultier’s former ate­lier; pop into Mokonuts at teatime, a French, Le­banese and Ja­panese in­spired bak­ery for some lab­neh fol­lowed by se­same miso cook­ies. Al­ter­na­tively, walk down the wide-tree lined boule­vards to­wards a brasserie of­fer­ing you es­car­gots, croque mon­sieurs and steak frites fol­lowed by a dessert which is in it­self a work of art. Au revoir tristesse, bon­jour Paris!

Fly­ing solo

2017’s big­gest travel trend is due to be hol­i­days catered to solo women trav­ellers with a fo­cus on safety and ease of travel.

Gangtey (Bhutan)

This may be the year to visit the an­cient king­dom as it finds it­self on lists of the world’s most de­sir­able des­ti­na­tions. Un­wind with sweep­ing views of Gangtey Valley in one of the only 12 rooms on of­fer at the ex­clu­sive Gangtey Lodge, which of­fers guests the chance to learn the

tra­di­tional Bhutanese art of archery and also take part in morn­ing prayers at the lo­cal monastery. They can also stay on site admiring the mod­ern but richly ac­cented dé­cor of their rooms, the eth­nic ex­pe­ri­ence of the restau­rant and the dense green be­yond the win­dows as the memories of hur­ried ur­ban life slip away.

Tax­ila (Pak­istan)

San­skrit, for City of Stone and al­legedly the site of the first ever recita­tion of the epic Ma­hab­harata, Tax­ila sat at the cross­roads of the an­cient world’s ma­jor trade routes and boasts ru­ins from em­pires including the Ar­chaemenid, the Mau­ryan, the Kushan and the Indo-Scythian. Ran­sacked many times, it is still a trea­sure-trove of Indo-Greek or Gand­hara sculpture, including but not limited to some of the most beau­ti­ful rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the Bud­dha and a sub­limely peace­ful Dhar­mara­jika stupa. A sa­cred site for Bud­dhist tourists, Tax­ila is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and is a fifty minute drive from Pak­istan’s cap­i­tal city, Islamabad.

The Hamp­tons (USA)

Re­live your child­hood, with a twist, by book­ing a space at The Tree­house in New York’s most ex­clu­sive sub­urb. This up­scale tree­house re­sort of­fers six peo­ple lux­ury liv­ing ex­pe­ri­ences including yoga classes and other tai­lored ex­er­cises of­ten util­is­ing the sur­round­ing woods. This eco-re­treat is lo­cated on an en­tirely sus­tain­able site, with a fo­cus on a de­li­cious, nu­tri­tious gas­tro­nom­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence as well as fit­ness.

Amalfi Coast (Italy)

The sheer beauty—vis­ual and gas­tro­nom­i­cal—of the Amalfi Coast could never cease to be­witch trav­ellers just the Sirens be­witched Odysseus at that very spot in an­cient times. One of the most cov­eted lo­ca­tions on the coast this year is the Grand Ex­cel­sior Vit­to­ria. Its book­ings are helped by a cur­rent travel trend: family run es­tab­lish­ments. Not only is it charm­ing be­ing taken care of by a warm Ital­ian family, I sus­pect the baby grand pi­ano in the foyer doesn’t hurt.

Stay­ca­tion

With hours long se­cu­rity checks, not to men­tion the cost of travel and the in­con­ve­nience of pack­ing, stay­ing in is the new go­ing out. Turn your home into a ho­tel by un­plug­ging the phone, re­fus­ing to do any er­rands and stay­ing in bed as long as you wish. I call this ‘a week­end.’

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