If travel is not on your list of new year resolutions then it definitely should be! For me, there is nothing more invigorating and healthy than to travel – experiencing new cultures, new foods, new sensations and getting some valuable perspective on the world. Lorna and I have our favourite places, and we do go back to them, time and again – Val Thorens in the French Alps where we are at the moment, and beautiful Beaulieu sur Mer on the French Riviera where we keep our boat – but we also enjoy exploring places that surprise us and keep us on our toes. I am always on the look out for interesting trips to take – and as the owner of a luxury travel company I keep an eye firmly on travel trends and up-and-coming destinations. So, before you make your travel plans for 2016 take a look at my hot tips for the new year around the world …and then maybe change them!
Iceland, Arctic, Greenland
Extreme and isolated destinations are set to be big this year, offering a different kind of relaxation to a lazy week on the beach. Adventure, big scenery and wildlife spotting are the big draws – tour the Gulfoss waterfalls, geysirs and Pingvellir National Park by jeep in Iceland or go kayaking past icebergs and whales in Greenland. Or try an Arctic or Greenland cruise if you want to see some wild spaces from the comfort of a cabin.
Romania’s most famous destination is Transylvania, the corridor that borders Hungary, and one of Europe’s last unspoilt wildernesses. Here you can still see bears and wolves, roaming landscape straight out of a Grimm Brothers’ fairytale. Hire a tracker and explore, hiking past onion domed churches and spires rising out of dark woods. Count Kalnoky’s Guesthouse is a stylish stay – with a real Transylvanian count (not Dracula!).
Yet to hit mainstream travel, Mongolia offers a slice of adventure and authenticity that many other destinations can lack. From riding horses on the Steppe to hanging out in the capital Ulaanbaatar or glacier walking in the Yol Valley, these amazing experiences are still largely undiscovered by tourists. The most authentic way to stay here is in a ger, or yurt – even better stay with a local herder family and learn about local culture.
With 8000 species of wildlife that are just not found anywhere else on Earth (including lemurs), the island of Madagascar off Africa’s southeast coast is a natural wonder of rainforest, reef and beaches that remains relatively unexplored by tourism. Highlights not to miss include the Ambohimanga, a hillside complex of royal palaces and the Avenue of the Baobabs, a dirt road lined by amazing 1000-year-old trees.