Bali is a living postcard, an Indonesian paradise that feels like a fantasy. Soak up the sun on a stretch of fine white sand, or commune with the tropical creatures as you dive along coral ridges or the colorful wreck of a WWII war ship. On shore, the lush jungle shelters stone temples and mischievous monkeys. The “artistic capital” of Ubud is the perfect place to see a cultural dance performance, take a batik or silver-smithing workshop, or invigorate your mind and body in a yoga class.
After being hit hard by the financial crisis, Bermuda is shaking itself out of stagnation and attracting a new generation of travelers. In 2014, the island won a bid to host the 35th America’s Cup, the high-profile international sailing race, which takes place this June. The promise of a flood of wealthy visitors—and a loosening of restrictions on foreign investment—has sparked a spate of development. Big news is the $100 million overhaul of the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, the island’s 132-year-old grande dame, whose revamped rooms have a fresh, contemporary look. The hotel has also added a stellar art collection, a spa, and a restaurant serving locally sourced fare from James Beard Award–winning chef Marcus Samuelsson. Elsewhere on the island, a St. Regis, a lavish Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and the Ariel Sands resort (backed by actors Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones) are in the works.
Slicker than graffiti-laden Berlin and edgier than Munich or Frankfurt, this booming port town has always been one of Germany’s most intriguing cities. Recent years have seen the banks of the Elbe River morph into an architectural wonderland, with icons such as Zaha Hadid’s River Promenade reshaping the landscape. The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg by Herzog & de Meuron, a concert hall featuring an undulating glass structure on top of a midcentury brick warehouse, will welcome visitors for its inaugural performance on January 11, 2017. Not far away, The Fontenay, a stylish grande dame, will open its doors in summer. The once-gritty isle of Wilhelmsburg is transforming into a hot spot, drawing comparisons to the similar-sounding Williamsburg in Brooklyn thanks to projects like IBA Hamburg – Energiebunker—a former air-raid bunker converted into an eco-friendly power source—WCW Gallery, and third-wave coffee shops like Kaffeeliebe.
A two-hour drive from Muscat, in the rocky contours of Oman’s Al-Hajar Mountains, is Jebel Akhdar, an area beloved for its astounding views, craggy wadis, and natural terraces. Come spring, a blanket of velvety pink damask rose blossoms shroud the hills with their romantic scent. From these blossoms, distillers produce soothing rosewater potions that are used in both spa treatments and cocktail menus. To best experience Jebel Akhdar, head to the recently opened Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar. The magnificent property is giving the region’s reigning boutique hotel, the Alila Jabal Akhdar, a run for its money. While both promise canyon-view infinity pools and post-hike pampering treatments, the Anantara’s splashy suites, six restaurants, and amenities (like a cliff-side private meal), are unbeatable.
Madagascar is sometimes overlooked as just another safari destination. But this massive island is home to thousands of species that are found nowhere else on earth—more than 90 percent of Madagascar’s flora and fauna are endemic—and with the threat of climate change and deforestation looming ever larger, this is one trip that shouldn’t be delayed. Reinstated Airlink flights from Johannesburg to Nosy Be have expanded access to the northern stretches of the country just in time for the April 2017 opening of Miavana, Madagascar’s most well-appointed property yet. Situated on the island of Nosy Anko, the eco-friendly resort includes 14 villas designed by Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, the architects behind similarly luxe African retreats like Chinzombo and Angama Mara. Between seaside pursuits, guests are whisked by helicopter to Ankarana National Park for lemur-spotting or Amber Mountain National Park to explore its waterfalls and crater lakes.
A wave of incredible new properties is bringing renewed attention to Central America’s largest country, which visitors flock to for rain-forest tours and snorkeling around surrounding islands. Fifteen miles south of Granada is the recently opened Nekupe Sporting Resort & Retreat. Nekupe, a native word used to describe heaven, is an intimate eight-villa resort spread across 1,300 acres on the mountainside. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer uninterrupted views of Mombacho, but the best way to experience the cloud-forest-covered volcano is hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Travelers seeking a beach escape should head to the new Meson Nadi hotel on the edge of Costa Esmeralda: a contemporary, Bauhaus-inspired, six-suite boutique with concrete tiles, handwoven hammam blankets, and gardens.
Kitesurfers have long made a playground of the breezy beaches of Paros, and no wonder: this sunshiny isle is a Cycladic triumvirate of sandy shoreline, history, and culture. Last summer the island debuted a new airport, opening it to larger aircraft and more vacationers. And the fishing village of Naousa, with its boxy white architecture and seaside tavernas, is increasingly sophisticated—check in to the modern, adults-only apartments of Porto Naousa or the elegant Seven Santa Maria, where six airy, all-white suites (and a separate villa) come with a private boat and skipper for exploring the island’s secret coves.
After years in Amsterdam’s shadow, the second-largest city in the Netherlands is stepping into the spotlight thanks to its burgeoning culinary and design scenes. Eye-popping architectural stunners such as the Modernist De Rotterdam have been joined by De Markthal, a mural-covered hall where 96 vendors hawk gourmet goods. You’ll find more locavore eats at Fenix Food Factory and Roffa Streetfoodbar, a smokehouse where virtually everything is locally sourced. Art is everywhere in this city—more than a thousand pieces, including sculptures by Picasso and Rodin, are scattered throughout Rotterdam. Be on the lookout for one of the newest pieces, Bobbing Forest, a surrealist installation of floating elm trees by art collective Mothership. The innovative, fun-loving spirit of the city is best embodied by its upcoming attraction, RiF010, an artificial wave park where surfers will be able to show off their skills in the Steigersgracht Canal.
A mélange of cultural and geographic influences has given this string of seaside towns on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast a uniquely European flavor, and recent upscale openings have turned the area into a bona fide resort destination. Last spring in the town of Mdiq, Sofitel debuted Tamuda Bay Beach & Spa, a 104-room hotel with a palette inspired by the mid-20th-century Côte d’Azur. It’s a lively contrast to the subdued Moorish aesthetic of Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay, a new all-villa resort 20 minutes north in Fnidek. But there’s more to the region than sun and surf: the nearby port city of Tétouan has several museums and one of Morocco’s best-preserved medinas. Head there now—with a Ritz-Carlton Reserve on the horizon, Tamuda Bay won’t stay under the radar for long.
The village of Vík is the southernmost village in Iceland, located on the main ring road around the island, around 180 km by road southeast of Reykjavík. Despite its small size it is the largest settlement for some 70 km around and is an important staging post, thus it is indicated on road signs from a long distance away. It is an important service center for the inhabitants of and visitors to the coastal strip between Skógar and the west edge of the Mýrdalssandur glacial outwash plain.