With a dramatically altered narrative, here are 12 travel experiences that explore the joys of authenticity
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.
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.
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.
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!
2017’s biggest travel trend is due to be holidays catered to solo women travellers with a focus on safety and ease of travel.
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.
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.
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.’