THE HOTTEST DESTINATIONS OF 2019
As the host nation of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympics, Japan will be in the collective travel consciousness for the next two years. Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima will always be popular but to experience the culture and escape the crowds, try lesser-known regions such as the mountainous Iya Valley, known as the Tibet of Japan; the islands of the Seto Inland Sea; and the hiking haven of Tohoku.
After a six-month closure (during which it underwent a thorough clean up), one of the Philippines’ most famous islands has just re-opened. Expect the white-sand beaches and aquamarine waters to be far less busy and far more serene (there are now number caps for the island). Beach parties are forbidden, the casinos are gone and fireworks are not allowed after 9pm. Additionally, hotels and resorts must pass new environmental rules set by the government, single-use plastics are banned and there’s a state-of-the-art monitoring system that provides real-time data on the water quality around the island. In short, it’s returning to the idyllic tropical holiday destination it once was.
Arizona has plenty of extraordinary scenery but none as imposing and impressive as The Grand Canyon. In 2019, the Grand Canyon National Park will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Many events are still in planning, but it’s worth timing your visit for the Grand Canyon’s Founders Day celebration on 26 February, which will include cultural demonstrations, an oral history booth and an evening of speakers discussing the relationship between Grand Canyon and the park’s 11 traditionally associated tribes.
In 2019, the city’s – and perhaps the world’s – most iconic hotel, Raffles Singapore, will reopen following a two-year makeover. But, more importantly, Singapore will embark on the bicentennial celebration of the arrival of Stamford Raffles, the man who set the wheels in motion for Singapore’s metamorphosis into a modern metropolis. Expect special exhibitions from the Asian Civilisations Museum, National Museum of Singapore, National Gallarey of Singapore and National Library Board; a series of historical installations (called Find Your Place in History Trails) set across the city; a new historical showcase at the Fortin Canning Centre; and a new edition of the I Light Marina Bay festival.
5.NORTH OTAGO, NEW ZEALAND
It’s no secret that New Zealand excels at luxury lodges and now there’s another stellar option in the mix. The Lindis in the Ahuriri Valley, North Otago, opened in November 2018 in a region considered one of the world’s top fly-fishing spots. Not into angling? There’s hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and more
6. THE MALDIVES
This notoriously expensive archipelago in the Indian Ocean was once the playground of the rich and the famous, but a spate of new mid-range stays have made it affordable for everyone: try Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort, Reethi Faru Resort, Oblu Select at Sangeli and the soon to open Lux North Malê Atoll.
7.LOS CABOS, MEXICO
The breezy vibe, sultry glamour and natural beauty of this swanky Mexican resort precinct gets another boost in 2019, thanks to a slew of new high-end hotels: Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Nobu Hotel, and Vidanta East Cape.
8. WESTERN CANADA
Western Canada is all about adventure and in 2019 there are even more exciting ways to experience it. Try the The Josie at Red Mountain, the first ski-in, ski-out hotel to open in Canada in more than a decade. Or test your nerves high above the slopes on Whistler’s Cloudraker Skybridge, the tallest suspension bridge in North America, and some 2000 metres above sea level. Or get back to nature at Ocena House at Stads K'uns GawGa, a floating wilderness lodge in Haida Gwaii, with its own in-house spa.
9. NEW YORK, USA
In 2019, visitors to The Big Apple will enjoy new cultural highs. There’s The Shed on the High Line on Manhattan's west side, a multi-disciplinary transformable gallery and performance space, which will be able to respond to artists’ needs and requirements. MoMA will unveil its new expansion, which will increase the available exhibition and gallery space by almost a third. In spring, Thomas Heatherwick’s climbable monument up of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, will open for plenty of Instagrammable moments; followed closely by the new 2400-square-metre Statue of Liberty Museum, a vast improvement on the current museum, found on the second stage of the pedestal.
10. THE LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE
There are grand chateaux, elegant gardens and quaint villages but the Loire Valley will be even more fabulous in 2019, as the region marks the 500th anniversary of three major Renaissance events that shaped its history: the death of Leonardo da Vinci at Amboise, the start of the construction of the Château of Chambord and the birth of Catherine de’ Medici. The planned cultural program, which will spread across the region, and taking place mostly from May to September, includes special exhibitions at several chateaux, an international architecture competition and a travelling showcase mixing contemporary art, music, guided tours and banquets.
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