• Thursday, August 17, 2017

Top Places to Visit in 2014

Top 10 Travel in 2014
January 29, 2014

You love being on the cusp of travel; you had your suite booked at the new Four Seasons St. Petersburg way before the opening gala announcement (they’re keeping you updated on their Moscow property as we speak). Not to mention, your latest bucket list adventure to Easter Island makes for particularly good cocktail fodder. But at the same time, there’s something kind of relaxing about letting someone else pursue the new for you. You can’t be on top of all things travel, all the time. But we can. And we are.

This year, we consulted our trusty board of Global Tastemakers – supermodels, hedge fund managers and an ex-supermodel-turned-hedge-fund-manager (for real) – to see where they’re headed. The result: Galavante’s Top 10 List of 2014 – our guide to the hottest places to travel, right now. You know how you used to swap insider travel recs with your friend with the standing reservation at Graydon Carter’s latest venture? Well, this is like having 100 friends with standing G.C. ressies, sans the tit-for-tat. So just sit back and enjoy your milk-braised pork shoulder, because as far as travel goes, you should be good for the next 12 months. Drumroll, please…

1) St. Barth’s

Good for: Couples and groups of friends looking for a hedonistically good time. 

Why now: This winter’s sub-zero temperatures and record snowfall make St. Barth’s more ideal than ever. Don’t get us wrong – this is still a vacation spot for the ultra elite. Russian billionaires, titans of industry and Hollywood’s A-list are all completely at home. But in recent years, more of the working and aspiring jet set have been digging deep for a chunk of change to splurge on the shores of the Isle de France and Eden Rock - St Barths. This is an idyllically good time, with the best in hotels, food, scene and drinks. There’s a reason why it’s a repeat destination, and one of our Tastemaker favorites. Check out our interview with St. Barth’s locals for insider tips on how not to break the bank.

2) Aeolian Islands

Good for: Couples looking for major romance and groups of friends with access to a very large boat. For the record, that actually means yacht, but everyone who’s anyone knows that those who actually own yachts call them boats. Because modesty is everything.

Why now: Because once in your lifetime, you should see the astoundingly beautiful sight of an active volcano erupting beneath the cloudless starry sky. Never heard of the Aeolian Islands? Neither had we, until a Burmese billionaire in St. Moritz tipped us off. This remote, totally unspoiled area of the world is a series of seven volcanic islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea. There’s little luxury on the islands in terms of hotels, but if you don’t have access to a mega yacht (yet), Think Sicily will hook you and your entourage up with a elegantly lavish villa so you can take in the culture, food, wine and beauty of this island. Speaking of food, because of the volcanic soil, everything from the olive oil to the tomatoes is known to have a particular intensity in its flavors. It doesn’t take much to make a simple red sauce pasta dish that will totally blow your mind.

3) Berlin

Good for: Couples, groups of friends, families and single travelers looking for a major dose of culture, history, art, food and clubbing – all the good things in life.

Why now: The upcoming 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is just an excuse to head to Berlin, though the commemoration events in November will be poignantly reflective for a country that was once physically, economically and politically divided. As a city, Berlin is massive – it’s about eight times the size of Paris, with a unique energy combining classic cobblestone streets with sleek architecture that makes you feel like you’re on the cutting edge of travel. Berlin has rapidly evolved over the past five years to rival the major tourist destinations – it’s packed with diversions, from walking the historic street of Augustrasse to shopping with international collectors for contemporary art to techno clubbing. The chic and in-the-know post up at the Soho House, where you don’t need to be a member to stay as a guest in the hotel. As for food, it’s a far cry from a Berlin schnitzel fest. Highly styled restaurants and cafes like the Grill Royal and Restaurant Tim Raue are making Berlin a destination for food.

4) Brazil

Good for: Couples, your entourage, families, business and single travelers looking to have a chaotically good time. 

Why now: Besides being a place that knows how to party, Brazil is featuring the World Cup this year (making it the fifth country to have hosted it twice), and is fast preparing for the upcoming Olympics in 2016. Dozens of new hotels and updated transport routes are being developed around the country to accommodate athletes and fans of both. With Brazil in the international spotlight, the 2014 Rio de Janeiro Carnival, which kicks off at the end of February, is going to be a big one. They’ll provide the caipirinhas and music. You bring the feather headdress and signature dance moves.

5) Sicily

Good for: Couples, groups of friends, families and single travelers seeking the simplicity of Italian life. 

Why now: Perhaps it’s those 8am meetings or your thrice-weekly Booty Boot Camp commitment. Or maybe you’re just battling a fierce addiction to Snapchat. Whatever the case, the simple life sometimes sounds very appealing – especially when it involves a week in Sicily. Here, it’s all about an old-school Italian experience sans the over-indulged oligarchs and pretense. Sicily feels like a country unto itself – the geography is diverse and spread out over a large area, requiring at least a week if not ten days to explore on an aggressive itinerary. Even in the summer, you can find yourself in a snowstorm atop Mount Etna in the morning, and on the beach at the Villa St. Andrea in the afternoon, taking the hotel boat out for a dip. You know, the simple pleasures in life. Check out our inside scoop on Sicily.

6) Montenegro

Good for: Couples and groups of friends looking to go off the beaten path of summer travels along the Adriatic Riviera. This is a perfect trip to pair with Croatia. 

Why now: Because this is the cutting edge of oligarch travel, and the Aman Sveti Stefan is still one of our favorite resorts in the world. That, and the fact that everyone should experience a Montenegro sunset, when the sky becomes a deep purple and hot pink, and the mountains turn black. It’s one of the more moving sights in a lifetime. It’s completely unspoiled – albeit for the 60 miles of coastline being developed for yacht slips. While this Adriatic getaway is still relatively rural, its up-and-coming glamour has the vibe of a VIP room in the French Riviera. Real estate moguls take note: Montenegro is prime for investment.

7) Myanmar

Good for: Couples and groups of friends seeking the road less traveled in a culturally fascinating, politically questionable and visually stunning country. 

Why now: If there is a cutting edge of travel, Myanmar is it. This is the most authentic Myanmar that you'll probably get to experience, before development comes in and modernizes the country. Sure, things like ATMs would be helpful, in lieu of bringing a stack of crisp American bills, but that’s just part of the experience in a place with very little infrastructure. The upside is seeing places like the ancient city of Bagan with its distinct temples, lush green landscape and stunning lakes. Not to mention the long stretches of beach. Time your visit right for their New Year celebration, which is a four-day extravaganza during which everyone throws water at each other – the ultimate water fight. It’s like a childhood dream come true.

8) Vietnam and Cambodia

Good for: Couples and friends, who can splurge on a two-week vacation of a lifetime.

Why now: If you haven’t yet been to Vietnam & Cambodia, now is the time to plan this lifetime trip. It’s a far way to go if you’re traveling from the U.S., so make the most of that plane ticket (Business Class minimum to save your sanity) and combine these distinct countries. If you’ve already been, chances are you’re plotting your return for more of the five star hotels (hello Four Seasons, Aman, Park Hyatt and Banyan Tree), elephant rides through the jungle, exotic foods, cooking lessons and exploration unspoiled ruins.

9) Mexico – Tulum & Careyes

Good for: Couples, groups of friends, families and single travelers looking to soak up the sun, relax and take in some yoga classes at sunset. 

Why now: In the Yucatán Peninsula south of Cancún in Mexico, Tulum is trendingamong celebrities, from Demi Moore and her latest barely legal boyfriend to Kate Bosworth to Alexander Skarsgård. As an eco-friendly destination, Tulum relies on sun and wind to power its low-key luxury resorts. Once a place where hippies converged, it didn’t take too long for the wealthy to decide they wanted to seek the meaning of life and escape to its white-sand beaches. Soon after that, bikini boot camp set up shop, so now you have a pretty solid (and fit) bourgeois bohemian contingent wandering the pedestrian-friendly towns. Careyes, between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, kicks exclusive up several notches. Originally founded by an Italian banker and open by invitation only to his friends, Careyes is now an ultra-exclusive private community. (Think Seal and Heidi Klum in happier days.) But it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Apparently, the coveted membership opportunity to shell out several million dollars for a palatial spread is greatly improved if you’ve committed most of the seven deadly sins. Which basically means that these people know to party.

10) Oman 

Good for: Couples and groups of friends looking for exotic adventure and Middle Eastern culture. 

Why now: For years, well-heeled European travelers have made Oman their holiday destination, and we Americans are just starting to catch on. In the Middle East, where modernity and skyscrapers claiming the title of largest in the world dominate, Oman has held steady and retained its exoticism, natural beauty and its strong cultural pride. You will sooner see a rush to buy a goat in a dusty open-air market than you will see a line outside the Chanel store in a massive air-conditioned mall. The Chedi Hotel in Muscat is a stunner, with its Moorish architecture and longest pool in the Middle East. And, to further explore the country, set up at the Six Senses Zighy Bay in the Musandam Peninsula. Few places in the world compare to the rugged beauty of Oman.