Perhaps you were enchanted by the strange quality of light or delighted by a detail, such as saying “see you tomorrow” in that country's language. As we look to the year ahead—our 30th anniversary—we want to bring this unabashed joy to travel again.
But joy, of course, cannot always be planned. It needs space to unfurl and asks that we be present enough to follow where it leads. To inspire bright-eyed wonder, we’ve selected destinations for you to dream about. These special places are home to a new crop of hotels with beautiful, forward-looking spaces, inspiring missions, and strong local connections that encourage you to delve into their rich cultures, communities, and natural surroundings. So, this year we invite you to dream, to give yourself time in a destination—to be a good traveler when you get there—and to revel in the joy that comes when we connect to a new land.
Warm striped, turquoise waters curl into barrels and crash against powder soft sands, framed by sheer cliffs. Lombok’s southern coast is an incredible coastline of startling bays and lush mountains whose immediate beauty is undeniable. While the divine beaches of Gili Islands in the north have attracted both local and intrepid travelers, Lombok’s southern coast is slowly emerging as a sustainable alternative to the neighboring island of Bali. Various initiatives and teams of dive schools are working together to help rejuvenate damaged reefs, protect those reefs from further erosion, and educate fishermen about safe fishing practices.
New developments on the island are focused on sustainable constructions such as Somewhere Lombok, the passion project of sisters Claire and Valia Gontard whose Indonesian roots brought them back to Lombok to create a place that’s energy, water, and waste efficient; that works with locals; and that grows vegetation to prevent land erosion. It is also a place where you behold mesmerizing views of the Are Guling Bay below, a world-class surf spot. Step inside and discover a big communal space that encompasses a reception, restaurant, lounge, bar, lawn, and pool, all speaking to the modern traveler. Taking a page from their father Nicolas Gontard’s book, whose desire to leave the world a better place has seen him open a nonprofit school in the Philippines, the Franco-Chinese sisters also plan to offer the island’s inhabitants opportunities for growth through community projects.
Further along the coast in the secluded Ekas Bay, Innit Lombok is the work of acclaimed Indonesian architects Andra Matin and D-Associates led by Geogorious Supie Yolodi and Maria Rosantina. Accessible by land or sea, the seven-beach-house property intrudes as little as possible on its natural habitat, so much so that you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the beach and the sand-floored living areas on the ground floor. The small fishing village inhabitants who have always lived on the site have been enveloped into Innit’s journey, working and learning new skills during construction, and now supplying the hotel’s restaurant with freshly caught seafood. All in all, this surfer’s paradise is unbeatable for its untouched prettiness discovered as each hilltop reveals bay after gorgeous bay.
If you’ve watched Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, you know what Bad Gastein, in the Austrian Alps, looks like. In fact, Anderson styled the hotel in the movie after the Grand Hotel del Europe on the Kaiser Wilhelm Promenade. It is in this, the original grand hotel that stars such as Liza Minnelli and Ray Charles have performed. Going back, the German Emperor Wilhelm I, Thomas Mann, Gustav Klimt, and Empress Sissi, all came to Bad Gastein because of the landscape, the thermal baths, and the nearby healing caves (which stimulate the metabolism of cells). In its heyday, the destination has seen nobility, high clergy, intellectuals, industrialists, and film moguls reside here during their summer holidays. The popularity of the Monaco of the Alps, as some described it, declined postwar, and from the 1970s its beautiful Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau buildings fell into disrepair.
With good ideas and a lot of passion, artists, architects, and restaurateurs are striving to awaken this magical place from its slumber. And they’re succeeding. The culture festival Sommer.Frische.Kunst, founded by Andrea von Götz, has been running for 12 years, come summer, in parallel to the Salzburg Festival; and this year for the first time, it was accompanied by an art fair, the art:bad gastein, which took place at a historic power plant next to a waterfall. The festival's artist-in-residency program has brought an impressive roster of artists, such as Jorinde Voigt, Jonathan Meese, and Lars Eidinger, to town. This year, a wooden sculpture by contemporary German conceptual artist Olaf Holzapfel was built in collaboration with local carpenters in Sportgastein.
At our soon-to-open member hotel, the cōmodo, the Berlin-based artist Jeppe Hein will hang a large installation in the lobby. “Here in Bad Gastein, history is repeating itself a bit,” says cōmodo architect Barbara Elwardt. “For more than 40 years, the magnificent buildings in Bad Gastein faded away. There is now this new beginning in a picturesque mountain setting. That’s probably why people like me and younger people are just rediscovering Bad Gastein. It feels to me like Berlin used to: crazy and lively, a spirit of optimism in a historic setting.”
“You can eat breakfast on the coast in the sun in a t-shirt and then drive 45 minutes up to 1,300 meters and ski—that in a nutshell is Montenegro. The combination of the Adriatic and the mountains is fascinating,” says Henning Schaub, General Manager of Mamula Island hotel. Indeed, this tiny destination, which is regularly overlooked by travelers who go for its flashier Balkan cohorts, such as Greece, Croatia, and Slovenia, is being favored by those seeking a low-key getaway with great beaches, stunning nature, a fascinating mix of cultures, and an excellent Mediterranean cuisine.
Like Georgia, Montenegro is a fascinating melting pot of cultures going back thousands of years to the ancient Illyrians, then Greeks and Romans, to the Slavs, the Byzantines, the Venetians, and the Ottomans. Centuries of multicultural connectedness is seen in its mix of architecture like the preserved Venetian walls of historic towns like Kotor, the centuries-old stone buildings topped by terracotta roofs in Perast, or the Austro-Hungarian fortresses such as the one in which Mamula resides. Montenegro’s delicious cuisine, similarly, is an aromatic melding of Eastern Mediterannean flavors where black risotto with cuttlefish—a relic from the Venetians—is just as home as stuffed grape leaves, moussaka, baklava, and further inland, meat cooked ispod sača (under a cast-iron bell for maximum flavor and juiciness). The country is also abuzz with new fine dining restaurants entering the scene, such as Nobu and Mamula’s Kamena, overseen by French-Canadian chef Erica Archambault, a rising star from the Michelin-starred Septime, in Paris.
There is no denying however that nature is the country’s wow factor—from green lakes to the blue Adriatic coast to massive mountains in the north. Head to the Durmitor mountains and Biogradska Gora national park to hike in dramatic landscapes; to Lake Piva, towards the Bosnian border, for its bright blue waters and craggy gray mountains; or to anywhere on the coast really for its spectacular seaside scenery.
Wind whistles through an otherworldly landscape strewn with giant boulders on the sparsely populated island, proudly announcing why Tinos was the home of Aeolus, the Greek god of wind. Just a half-hour ferry ride from Mykonos, Tinos’ wild marble-carved beauty makes it a quiet hit for those who looking to get away from Greece's Cycladic big hitters. There are villages of marble, such as Pyrgos—its known for its sculptors—where all you hear along its narrow, tilted streets is the sound of chisels. But it’s the abandoned marble quarries all over the island that are the most impressive sights with their towers of the raw stone creating a unique geological profile. At the Koumelas quarry, a natural marble pool is set among gigantic marble cuts.
But it isn’t just marble that dazzles on this Cycladic Island. Tinos’ food is the best in the Cyclades, as are the island wines, drawing stone and salt minerals deep into the grape. There are wineries, such as Domaine de Kalathas on the east of the island that produce phenomenal natural wines, and Volacus winery in the southeast for organic wines. Raki (made from grape stems and skins) is especially good on Tinos. The many family-run tavernas in the rural parts serve divine dishes made with ingredients grown, reared, or foraged by them, while the restaurants close to town are experimenting with Greek ingredients in new ways.
Our latest Greek island utopia, Pnoēs Tinos is a three-villa property—each with its own pool and garden—that blends perfectly into the landscape. The light-flooded, airy white villas designed as modern cubes ranging from 73 to 140 square meters, have two bedrooms and a hammam-style bathroom. Works by the artist Alexandra Papadimoulis also turn the villas into small galleries. The private garden brings the Mediterranean landscape right into the house. In general, nature plays a special role at Pnoēs. The herbs from the hotel's garden can be found at breakfast with local products, and the Mediterranean landscape invites you to take long walks and hikes or swim in secluded bays.
After a long hiatus, Japan has reopened its doors and we’re excited to traverse the unique landscape of this dazzling land again. Slower and more deliberate in pace than Japan’s bigger metropolises, Kyoto is an atmospheric city that makes you feel like you’re in a different time. Nestled on the banks of the crystal clear Kamo River and within walking distance of major city attractions, Genji Kyoto skilfully brings together the city’s duality of tradition and innovation. The hotel's Wa design concept ensures that a harmonious aesthetic is woven through the contemporary western style furniture crafted by talented local craftspeople, the warm washi lighting, and the tranquil Zen gardens. The hotel also draws on the Tale of Genji, a masterpiece of Japanese literature, which took place in the Heian period in Kyoto. Genji Kyoto’s rooms are adorned with thematic paintings by young Kyoto artists making use of the motifs and metaphors in the novel.
While Tokyo grabs deserved attention, we’d like to draw yours to one roughly an hour north by train, namely, Maebashi the capital of the Gunma prefecture. Surrounded by stunning mountainous terrain, Maebashi offers a different experience of Japan, both in terms of nature and culture. In a Bilbao-type move, the city radically transformed a former department store into the Arts Maebashi with an arresting exterior of perforated curved aluminum panels that enfold the original structure as if to dress the building in new clothing.
Drawing on the city’s budding art and culinary scene, the Shiroiya Hotel is a destination in its own right with artworks by local and international standouts, such as Leandro Erlich, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Kengo Kito, one of Japanʼs most innovative contemporary artists based in Gunma Prefecture. Shiroiya’s restaurant takes a creative approach to the local produce and celebrated cuisine under the supervision of Hiroyasu Kawate, the owner-chef of Michelin-starred French restaurant Florilège, in Aoyama, Tokyo. Housed in a 300-year-old Ryokan which was a popular destination in Maebashi for writers, artists, and celebrities, the new Shiroiya once again serves as the city’s creative living room.
A gem in Africa, this gorgeous island echoes with calls of exotic birds, bats, and insects, reverberating with the sound of its tropical choir. Mauritius’ magic lies not just in its unparalleled natural beauty but also its incredible mix of African, Indian, Chinese, and French cultures. This mix makes for a delicious Creole cuisine that’s heavy on seafood, as well as some of the most gorgeous people on the planet.
To explore the wild side of Mauritius, head east. In what feels like a world away from the buzzing nightlife of the north—this tiny island is only 61 kilometers long and 45 kilometers wide—the east coast is dappled with unchanged sleepy villages, swathes of raw beachfront where locals and surfers gather, sugarcane fields, mangroves, and lagoons. It also where pockets of creativity peek from hidden corners for those in the know, such as the EKLA showroom, a tropical modernist’s paradise, or the one-of-a-kind restaurant and gallery space Le Café des Arts, set in beautifully restored sugar mill that houses the foundation of Matisse’s last student, Maniglier.
On this peaceful coast lies the new adults-only Salt of Palmar, a heady mix of colors, stories, customs, sounds, and flavors on the beach. Designer Camille Walala was inspired by the warm shades, such as yellows, peaches, and bright blues of the houses dotting the island, as well as the riad style of the hotel’s existing structure to create its dramatic centerpiece—a fountain in the middle with Buren-style black and white stripes. The hotel’s restaurant and rooftop bar tell the story of Mauritius through locally rooted, globally influenced cuisine and creative cocktails inspired by the island’s mountains. For the ultimate blissful tropical paradise experience, there’s nothing quite like a pool bar.