If you want to stay ahead of the crowd next year, veer off the beaten track. Head for these four up-and-coming destinations... before they make everyone else's list.
For a little bit of French flavor without the long flight (and the bonus of year-round sun), head for the eastern Caribbean to Guadeloupe. This French territory is actually made up of several islands, each with its own character. Explore rainforests, coral reefs, and the still-active volcano, La Soufrière, on the main island of Basse-Terre, black-sand beaches and colorful markets on Grand-Terre, and rum distilleries on Marie-Galante. The outer islands of Les Saintes, Petite-Terre, and La Désirade are all still relatively untouched and home to gorgeous, pristine beaches.
While St. Barts, which was formerly a part of Guadeloupe, has been a favored stop on the jet-set circuit for years, Guadeloupe has somehow stayed off the beaten track. With Norwegian Air beginning service to the French Caribbean in December, it won’t stay that way much longer.
No, that’s not the Alps. The above picture shows the Caucasus Mountains, shot from the sophisticated Rooms Hotel in the unlikely location of Kazbegi in the Republic of Georgia, just south of the Russian border. Kazbegi’s Gudauri resort area boasts sublime ski conditions worthy of the Aprés Ski crew, and is fast becoming a world-class destination for heli-skiing.
If adrenaline is not your bag, head south to the luxury Black Sea resorts in Batumi (the country’s party central) or to the gem that is the capital city, Tbilisi, steeped in history and home to atmospheric winding streets and Neo-Classical architecture. A strong art, fashion, and cultural scene is taking root in Tbilisi, led by the designers behind Rooms — the country’s first luxury design hotel, which last year opened a second outpost in the capital — art collectives such as Project Art Beat, and by the entrepreneurs behind Tbilisi Fashion Week, now in its seventh year.
3. The Faroe Islands
The otherworldy beauty and accessibility of Iceland has become a double-edged sword: the tiny island country is bursting at the seams with tourists. Our advice? Head a little further south to the pristine Faroe Islands — midway between Scotland and Iceland and reachable via Reykjavík, Edinburgh or Copenhagen — which are still relatively undiscovered by mass tourism.
Craggy volcanic mountains, sparkling fjords, and abundant birdlife will satisfy your thirst for the great outdoors, but make time to discover the chic side of the archipelago, too. As you might expect of a Nordic country, design runs in the islanders’ DNA and is expressed in the products found at Öström design store and eco-luxe hand-knit clothing line Gudrun & Gudrun. And, if you’re still raving about Copenhagen’s Noma, you might be surprised to learn that the Nordic Prize declared KOKS, located in Hotel Føroyar in the Faroese capital, Torshavn, best restaurant in the Nordic countries last year.
If you’ve danced tango in Argentina and partied at Carnival in Brazil but skipped neighboring Uruguay, you’ve missed out. Though small in size, Uruguay has such a range of options for all kinds of travelers that it’s a mystery that it has stayed off the radar for North American travelers for so long.
The glitzy Atlantic Coast resort of Punta Del Este (often nicknamed “St. Tropez of South America”) is famous amongst the South American and European jet set for its nightlife and beaches. In stark contrast to the glamour of Punta, the Rocha region, around two hours north, boasts bohemian beach towns and a laid-back attitude. Looking for something in between? José Ignacio is 40 minutes north of Punta and offers the thrill of that resort but on a much smaller scale. Located there is one of the country’s best hotels, Playa Vík, famed for its art collection, as well as one of the continent’s best-rated restaurants, the breezy seaside parador La Huella.
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