above: The master suite at Casa Malca top right: Gucci gets in on resort fun-in-the-sun bottom right: Welcome to Casa Malca – Photographs: left and bottom right, Casa Malca; top right, contributed
What do Mongolia, fine art and the Panama Canal share? They are surprising bedfellows in the travel trends for the coming year. The most significant trend over the last three years—dealing with uncertainty—is here to stay. But the good news is that there are plenty of new adventures awaiting you. First, there’s some lingo you’ll need to know.
New travel experiences include “bleisure” (blending business and leisure travel), “set-jetting” (think White Lotus season two in Sicily) and “collabs” (fashion, art and hotels all in bed together). Here’s a quick rundown to help you feel extra hip at the next cocktail party.
We spoke with Amanda Frasier, president of ratings for Forbes Travel Guide, who tells us, “We see business travelers emphasizing work-life balance and making a business trip an extended travel experience.”
The pandemic gave us Zoom and the ability to work remotely. As a result, more Americans are taking their vacation days, even if they have to occasionally work.
Several governments worldwide have created Digital Nomad Visas. Simply put, these allow you to work remotely in a country without paying local taxes for a specified period of time. But you need to do more than just show up with your laptop and call yourself a digital nomad.
The application process varies by country. For example, you can live in Antigua for two years and work your way around the islands’ 365 beaches. To qualify, you must own a “location independent business” and/or work remotely for a company based outside Antigua and Barbuda. You need to earn at least $50,000 annually and have a travel/health insurance plan.
According to a trend report by Expedia, 39 percent of global travelers have booked trips based on films or streamed shows. To wit, Sicily was overrun last summer by Jennifer Coolidge wannabes. If you haven’t watched White Lotus, this is your cue to finally stream it.
Millennials and Gen Z also rely on social media to plan travel in a way their parents don’t. According to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council and Deloitte, almost 40 percent of travelers in their mid-twenties or younger use social media platforms to plan holidays, compared to 29 percent for older generations.
Mongolia, for example, has experienced a tourism boom of young travelers drawn by the #gobidesert hashtag. Mongolia’s tourism board set its sights on attracting a million tourists annually and launched a digital campaign targeting travelers aged twenty-three to forty.
Over the past several years, almost half of the country’s tourists have been under forty. This is likely because grown-ups don’t want to sleep in yurts with yaks. But with Genghis Khan getting a namesake $650 million international airport, a direct U.S. flight and a slew of new luxury lodging, that will soon change. Sorry kids, but your parents will probably ruin Mongolia for you.
The younger set may be looking for Insta-worthy destinations, but the adults in the room are looking for the next hotspot before it actually becomes a hotspot.
While everyone knows someone who’s recently been to Cartagena or Croatia, you’ll soon know someone who’s been to Casco Viejo, Panama City’s brightly colored historic downtown. Panama is a heady combination of sexy skyscrapers, UNESCO heritage sites and easily reachable wild islands.
Copa Air offers five-hour nonstop flights to Panama City from New York; the U.S. dollar is one of the national currencies and the Isla Secas resort, just off the coast, was named Best Resort and Best Island in Central and South America in 2023 by Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.
We’ll see you there.
Art and travel have always been inextricably linked in the luxury world. Find an expensive boutique hotel that’s well-loved by the jet set, and you’ll likely find a private art collection worth more than the building itself.
The venerable Ocean House recently hung an impressive set of Bemelmans. If the name rings a bell, but you can’t place it, Ludwig Bemelman illustrated the famous Madeline series; he also painted the murals in his namesake piano bar at the Carlyle Hotel in exchange for rooms when it opened in the 1940s.
The new Bemelmans Gallery at Ocean House is the most extensive permanent private collection of work by Ludwig Bemelmans on public display in North America. Owners Chuck and Deborah Royce went to great lengths to pull together a never-before-seen assemblage of his work.
You don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy it. But if you book the singular Bemelmans suite, you’ll wake up amongst original pieces of his artwork and a view of the Atlantic.
In Tulum, art collector Lio Malca bought Pablo Escobar’s abandoned mansion and reimagined it as a beachfront boutique hotel with expensive contemporary art dotted around the property. Works from noted artists like Kaws, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and others sit watch over the lobby and beach.
Boutiques in the French Riviera weren’t just selling designer togs last summer. Several beach clubs were transformed into high-fashion infused spots with products like Dior ice cream, Dolce & Gabbana towels and Valentino sun loungers.
Two trends collided when the Four Seasons in Sicily partnered with Dolce & Gabbana for the most instagrammable pool décor on the continent. If the Riviera isn’t in future travel plans, the Beverly Hills Hotel will likely host a Dior pop up next summer, and you can snag your own Dior surfboard, yoga mat or just enjoy a cone of Dior ice cream. We’re told the flavors were coconut, pineapple, mango and money.
Photographs: 1by1step – stock.adobe.com; saravut – stock.adobe.com; all others contributed