20 2020 Must-Visit Luxury Travel Destinations
Check out the destinations that need to be on your “must” list this year!
Photo Credit: Bvlgari Hotels Resorts
The City of Light is home to some exciting new luxury updates as of late, which makes it a top spot for the jetset in 2020. Five-star hotels, including Hôtel Lutetia and JK Place, have opened on the Left Bank within the past 18 months, and now, Bvlgari Hotel Paris is slated to bright some glamour to the Right Bank this summer on the storied Avenue George V. The brand strives for synchronicity within its properties (Paris will be its seventh), and, like most of its predecessors, will feature a restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Niko Romito, a top-notch spa, pool and world-class gym, operated by Lee Mullins’ The Workshop. Soho House will open a Parisian location in Pigalle, France’s first Kimpton will open in the Opéra district and the LVMH-owned Cheval Blanc Paris will open on the banks of the Seine later this year in the former La Samaritaine building, with a restaurant overseen by three-Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Donckele. Meanwhile, billionaire art collector François Pinault’s new $170 million museum, Bourse de Commerce—Pinault Collection, is slated for a June opening.
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Galway is one of two destinations named as European Capitals of Culture for 2020, and luxury travelers who want to see (rather than see and be seen) will head here, to the dramatic Cliffs of Moher, the untapped beauty of Connemara and the breathtaking Aran Islands. The biggest draw this summer is Galway’s annual arts festival, which will run from 13-16 of July. This year’s headliners include The Pixies, Sinead O’Connor and The Flaming Lips. Stay at the g Hotel Spa or the historical Glenlo Abbey Hotel Estate for a magical stay that does not, sadly, include a gold pot at the end of a rainbow.
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Tokyo is the buzziest place in the world right now, in our opinion. It has the most Michelin starred restaurants of any city, a slew of tech-driven five-star hotels and a completely unique culture that you’ll be loathe to find anywhere else in the world. And now, on top of that, Japan‘s capital will host the 2020 Summer Olympics. In opposition to places like Hong Kong, where tourism has been rapidly decreasing, Tokyo’s tourism has been escalating at a magnificent rate, and new flight routes have been added to accommodate the influx of tourism from all over the world. One of its two airports, Narita, is even building a temporary terminal for that very reason. And of course, the hotel industry would be remiss not to capitalize on this opportunity, which is why an EDITION, the Kimpton Shinjuku and the city’s second Four Seasons will be opening in times for the Olympic Games at Otemachi.
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Another city benefiting from the Summer Olympics is Japan’s former capital city, Kyoto. No visitor here should miss the Arashiyama bamboo forest, the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, the awe-inspiring Nijo Castle and geiko—Kyoto-specific geisha. And though Kyoto is quite traditional, an Ace is opening here this spring (though even this hipster brand is taking tradition in hand—Kengo Kuma drew inspiration for the hotel’s design from local machiya shop-houses ), alongside the more typically luxurious Aman Kyoto (which has its own onsen). Both join the opulent Park Hyatt Kyoto, which launched last fall. Last but not least, travelers will want to visit two museums which embrace Japanese culture: the Fukuda Art Museum, which opened in October, focuses predominantly on Kyoto artists, while the Kyocera Museum of Art is slated to reopen this March following a three-year expansion.
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Beijing is a great place for luxury travelers this year—specifically, for the actual act of traveling. In September, China’s capital city saw the completion of a the world’s largest airport—a daunting, five-year, 7.5 million square-foot, $25 billion behemoth designed by the late Zaha Hadid. While Beijing’s 70 million annual travelers could visit for the airport alone, that would be silly given the culture that is rife here. In between visits to the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven and Qianlong Garden—which will open for the first time ever this year—rest your head at the new Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, which opened last March a short distance away from the Forbidden City, or the Bvlgari Beijing, a veritable Zen oasis located on the Liangma River.
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2020 is a significant year for American history—September 16 marks the 400th anniversary that the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth for America—and to celebrate, the waterfront city will have a year-long festival of events (which actually kicked off in November). But of course, the biggest draw for visitors to the U.K. is London—which will see a record number of hotel openings this year. The NoMad brand will open in the former Magistrates Court in Covent Garden, while the Edwardian Group will open its 350-room property The London in Leicester Square. Other highlights include The Guardsman in Westminster, which has the feel of a private members club, Nobu Hotel’s second London property, located in Portman Square, the lovely Mayfair Townhouse and Hyatt’s The Great Scotland Yard Hotel, which opened its door in the historic former home of The Met Police in Westminster this past December.
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This year, the storied Salzburg Festival celebrates its 100th anniversary, which means the festivities—which focus on classical music, opera and drama—will be even more extra than usual. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s birthplace will celebrate the centenary with concerts, plays, readings, Mozart and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s “Jedermann,” among other things. Stay at the storybook Schloss Fuschl, a Luxury Collection Resort Spa, nestled in Austria’s “Sound of Music” Salzkammergut region overlooking Lake Fuschl, for an additional dollop of local culture.
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When it comes to American cities, Washington D.C. wears the crown of cultural significance this year. 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, with museums including the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Women in the Arts launching special exhibitions related to this human rights milestone (which is especially important given that it’s an election year). Stay at the new Hotel Zena from Viceroy Hotel Group, a bold new cultural hub celebrating female empowerment through provocative art, design and relevant programming situated in Logan Circle, at the beginning of D.C.’s 14th Street corridor. The 191-room property, which is being marketed as an ode to feminine strength, is slated to open this spring.
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If you missed the worldwide tour of Tutankhamun’s treasures in 2018, you’re going to need to head to Cairo to see them, as it was the last time the artifacts would leave Egypt, according to the country’s officials. King Tut’s historical riches—as well as 30,000 treasures that have never been seen by the public—will be on display at Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in Giza, which is slated to open this year. While you’re there, stay at the exciting new St. Regis Cairo with a seriously sublime location—it’s on the Nile—when it opens in June.
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Singapore is officially the place that has it all. Visit in 2020 to check out the restoration of the storied Raffles Singapore (its Long Bar is where the Singapore Sling was created), a favored haunt of writers like Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling, which reopened in August after a two year renovation. Feast on Michelin starred meals at Hawker Centers or restaurants alike, as well as 11 of the 50 bars that made the World’s Best list, including Manhattan, Native, Atlas and Jigger Pony. Then, there’s the absolute breathtaking airport (yes, you read that right), Jewel Changi, which features a 130-foot-tall Rain Vortex, a 1,400-tree forest, robot parking attendants, a butterfly garden and more. Incidentally, Singapore Airlines also holds the title for the world’s longest commercial flight—from Newark—at 9,534 miles, which means that even its flight times are cutting edge.
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Photo Credit: Royal Atlantis
Dubai, one of the most luxurious cities in the world (as well as the one with the distinction of producing the first seven-star hotel in the world in its Burj Al Arab) is going to have a very, very big year. Its biggest event is the World Expo 2020, where 190 countries come together in one place to celebrate the tech-friendly future. This is a theme that’s predominant in 2020, as the Museum of the Future, a visionary cultural institution currently under construction, is slated to open. The wonders don’t stop there. A fantasy resort on The World, an artificial archipelago, will showcase showstoppers like underwater bedrooms and year-round snow, while The Atlantis’ bigger, better, more luxurious big sister, The Royal Atlantis, is also set to join the roster of over-the-top luxury hotels that call Dubai home, of which include the recently opened St. Regis Dubai and the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai.
British Virgin Islands
Rosewood Little Dix Bay
It’s been over two years since Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked their devastation on the British Virgin Islands, but the Caribbean isles are finally bouncing back with over 55% of their properties back in action. Oil Nut Bay was one of the first to reopen in early 2019, while Baraka Point Estate and The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas followed suit soon after. Rosewood Little Dix Bay opened just a few days ago on Jan. 6 following a four-year closure, while the South Sound Villa plans to reopen by Jan. 17. Sir Richard Branson’s private paradise, Necker Island, is slated to complete reconstruction this summer.
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Boston is also going big for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s sailing, and if you live here, you’re going to want to stay home. A slew of high-end and cultural offerings have been popping up in the Massachusetts capital as of late, including the tony Four Seasons One Dalton—which features an outpost of chic Japanese eatery Zuma—the hot new Encore Boston Harbor, an off-shoot of Steve Wynn‘s Encore at Wynn Las Vegas—as well as a permanent installation of Yayoi Kusama’s Mirror Infinity Rooms at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. The Langham Boston will reopen this summer after an extensive renovation, while The Newbury, in the home of the former Taj hotel on the corner of Newbury and Arlington, will open this summer.
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After being named the second European Capital of Culture, Rijeka, Croatia, wants the world to know that Croatian tourism is more than just visits to Hvar, Split, Zagreb and Dubrovnik. Here, travelers will be afforded the same breathtaking views of the Adriatic, the same culture, the same museums and the same fabulous restaurants as elsewhere in the country. So what edged Croatia’s third largest city towards greatness? That would likely be its extremely smart branding as “Port of Diversity,” which goes a long way in today’s social and political climate. To celebrate, the city will party like it’s 2020, with 1,000 official musical performances, literary events, art exhibitions, and a plethora of soirees. Visitors will be able to check out the multimillion dollar renovation of the Rijeka City Museum, as well as the flagship Kitchen of Diversity in the the Benčić complex, located in the new Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Stay at Costabella, Hilton’s new five-star resort, which features a 13,000 square-foot wellness area, when it opens in April.
Photo Credit: Joali
The Maldives might be difficult to get to, but once you’re there, it’s a real-life paradise highlighted by scuba-diving, overwater bungalows, island fare and a feeling that you’re truly getting away from it all. It’s no wonder that so many five-star hotels are popping up all over the area on their own private islands. There’s been such a surge in tourism in the last two years that it might be impossible to choose just one! Among the best are Joali Maldives, the Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi, Raffles Meradhoo, The Standard Hurvalhi, InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort, Baglioni Resort Maldives, LUX North Male Atoll, The Nautilus Maldives, The Residence Maldives and The Emerald Maldives.
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As we bid farewell to James Bond as we know him (sob, we’ll miss you Daniel Craig!) and simultaneously celebrate the 25th Bond film, “No Time to Die,” it’s a prime time to head to Bond creator Ian Fleming‘s Jamaica retreat, GoldenEye, where he actually wrote all of the Bond books. The resort also makes a prominent appearance in the latest film as an homage to both 007 and the man who wrote him. Another reason to visit the Caribbean island is the March debut of Eclipse at Half Moon, which is slated to be one of the most luxurious properties in all of Jamaica.
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Like the British Virgin Islands, St. Bart’s was ravaged by Hurricane Irma back in 2017, but the good news is that this playground for the rich and famous is back and better than ever. The iconic Eden Rock has returned following a two-year renovation, and there’s now some new game in town to give it competition in the form of Le Carl Gustaf. The Barrière property, which owns an operates Le Majestic in Cannes, has also brought back the infamous beach party spot Shellona with its laidback, je ne sais quoi brand of glamour.
Photo Credit: OneOnly Portonovi
The tiny Balkan country of Montenegro is finally being recognized as the Adriatic’s answer to the French Riviera, which is why some of the world’s top tier hotel brands have finally decided to build. And as we all know, if you build it, they will come. The Aman Sveti Stefan was the first haute hotel in the area, followed by the Chedi Luštica Bay in the summer of 2018. This year, the Ananti will open, as well as the highly anticipated European debut of the OneOnly brand with its OneOnly Portonovi. Located on the Bay of Boka Kotorska, this elegant hotel will have its own beach and jetty, as well as a spa run by high-end wellness and a spa run by Henri Chenot, a privately held company operating internationally and based in Switzerland that specializes in the health wellness and hospitality sector, favored by the rich and famous.
OneOnly Gorilla’s Nest
Photo Credit: OneOnly
For those seeking something different from the norm, Rwanda is that place. This Central African country has awe-inspiring scenery, excitement and adventure. Travelers shouldn’t miss the gorilla sightings at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park; chimps and the Canopy Walkway of the Nyungwe Forest; volcanoes and gorillas galore at the Volcanoes National Park; and Kigali, a memorial that shows just how far the African country has come since its government-sponsored genocide of the mid-1990s. Hotel brands have taken notice at how well the area has recovered: A second OneOnly property, OneOnly Gorilla’s Nest Lodge, a tented camp located in the foothills of the Virunga Volcano Range, joined its first Rwanda property OneOnly Nyungwe House in November. Similarly, experiential luxury brand Singita opened not one but two properties in late 2019 on the cusp of Volcanoes National Park: Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House.
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Talk about culture! 2020 will see the arrival of two festivals in São Paulo, Brazil’s financial hub: DGTL São Paulo, an electronic fest, and, Lollapalooza Brazil (yes, you read that right) in April. Music-lovers and party-goers alike will flock to the city’s sexy, open-plan Four Seasons, which opened in late 2018 and features the only heated indoor-outdoor pool in the city. The Four Seasons will have some stiff competition soon though, as both W and Rosewood hotels are opening properties in 2021 (the latter will feature interiors by Phillipe Starck AND have its own, supremely swish caviar bar).