Where are we going in 2018? Here are my personal favorites from Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2018.
The Moroccan city has attracted an artistic crowd since the 1960s, when everyone from Yves Saint Laurent to Mick Jagger fell for its vibrant sensory landscape. Now the city’s cultural scene is being reinvigorated, thanks to two landmark happenings in the world of art and design. First came last October’s launch of the YSL Museum — a striking geometric building next to the Jardin Majorelle, which Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, bought and restored in the 1980s. Then, in February, the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair will debut at the storied hotel La Mamounia. Marrakesh has had an art biennial since 2005 — the next is slated for 2020 — and the city is home to a number of well-regarded galleries. But the arrival of 1:54, which has editions in London and New York and draws names like Billie Zangewa and William Kentridge, is set to position the city as a hub for African art. There’s also hotel news. Oberoi is poised to open its third African property here, a lakeside resort surrounded by citrus orchards. And Royal Mansour has added a 6,450-square-foot pool flanked by seven air-conditioned cabanas. —Flora Stubbs
Grenada, known as Spice Island, remains one of the Caribbean’s under-the-radar gems, even though it’s got what every traveler wants: uncrowded beaches, preserved rain forests, and a lively local culture and cuisine. The island, which was spared from last fall’s brutal hurricane season, is poised to attract new luxury travelers when the Silversands Hotel opens in March 2018. The first major resort to open on Grand Anse Beach in 25 years, Silversands will offer 68 rooms and suites, nine villas, and the longest pool in the Caribbean. After a recent renovation, the beloved Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel is now part of Relais & Châteaux, only the fifth hotel in the Caribbean to be invited to join the celebrated hotel group. Getting to the island is a cinch — JetBlue added daily service from New York City last year, and Grenada is now a port of call for 33 new cruise ships — and visitors will soon have even more options for high-end stays, with Kimpton Kawana Bay and the Levera Beach Resort both in the works.
Salina Island, Italy
Of all the islands that make up Italy’s Aeolian archipelago, Salina is arguably the most alluring: it is not yet a celebrity haven like its neighbor Stromboli, where Giorgio Armani, Domenico Dolce, and Stefano Gabbana have homes; and it’s not yet overrun with the luxury yachts of affluent soccer players like nearby Panarea. That the isle has stayed blissfully unspoiled for this long eludes those who know of its imposing natural beauty — steep mountains blanketed in blossoming trees and wildflowers, small villages speckled with olive and lemon groves, fig trees, and miles of terraced Malvasia vineyards. The Relais & Châteaux property Capofaro Malvasia & Resort is one of Salina’s finest places to check in to, thanks to its secluded location, private beach, Tasca d’Almerita wines, and restaurant spotlighting local flavors (think wild fennel, orange, and caper leaves). Once you’ve settled in, skip on over to the town of Lingua to watch the sun set on the Marina Garibaldi, and order the best almond granita of your life at the Da Alfredo waterfront café. —Rocky Casale
With its recent 150th anniversary celebration, pop-culture cred (Drake, Ryan Gosling, and Justin Bieber have Canadian roots), and charismatic prime minister, the Great White North has finally begun to receive the international recognition it deserves — and Toronto has been preening itself for this lead role. Luxe properties and forward-thinking restaurants have been popping up across the city: there’s Queen Street’s historic Broadview Hotel, which reopened in the burgeoning East End with guest-room details like vinyl turntables and burgundy velvet drapes, and the stylish Bisha Hotel downtown, where the likes of Lenny Kravitz and celebrity chef Akira Back have lent their design and culinary expertise. In stereotypically modest Canadian fashion, Brothers Food + Wine — one of the city’s most exciting new openings — is housed inside a tiny, nondescript space just above the Bay Street subway station, but dazzles with seasonal dishes like crispy steelhead trout with braised gem lettuce and yogurt-and-caper sauce. Next up: in Spring 2018, the Museum of Contemporary Art will move into a century-old former factory in the Junction Triangle. —Jennifer Salerno
The Emerald Isle has seen a rush of American visitors recently, spurred by favorable exchange rates and increased airlift. If you haven’t yet made the trip, now’s the time to go. Adare Manor, a hotel set in a grand 19th-century mansion on 840 acres of rolling County Limerick countryside, reopened in November after an 18-month overhaul. The picturesque estate now has a new 42-room wing, a redesigned golf course, and the first La Mer Spa in the British Isles. Ireland’s whiskey scene has been quietly blooming for the last decade, and recently historic estates have embraced the trend. In August, Slane Castle in County Meath opened its new distillery to the public, and later this year, the iconic Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow will debut its own craft facility. In Dublin, Pearse Lyons, a wealthy Irishman with Kentucky-bourbon bona fides, recently opened his namesake distillery in the former St. James’s Church, and more whiskey destinations with visitor centers are soon to come from the Dublin Liberties and Roe & Co. And now that Luas, Dublin’s light rail system, has finally completed its latest expansion, getting around the city is a breeze — the $433 million project has linked two lines and added new stops near many of the city center’s most popular sights. —Lila Battis
It’s one of the world’s great wine capitals, and like any great vintage, Mendoza is only getting better with age. Start your tasting tour in the Uco Valley, where Casa de Uco’s vineyard-view eco-villas will debut this year. Head down the road to to Vines of Mendoza’s Winemakers’ Village for small-production wines from the likes of Corazón del Sol and SuperUco, and to dine at winery Bodega Monteviejo, where renowned Spanish chef Nadia Harón cooks up Mediterranean-tinged fare inspired by the wines. In Maipú, wineries like Club Tapiz and Trapiche are giving visitors a true taste of the local terroir, using produce grown on the vineyard grounds in their restaurants. Back in town, plot your return trip over a pie at Francis Mallman’s year-old pizzeria, Orégano. With new direct flights from Lima, Panama City, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo, and low-cost carrier Norwegian Air plotting dozens of new routes, tacking a Mendoza stop on to your next South American itinerary will be a breeze. —Sorrel Moseley-Williams
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv has attracted a lot of attention for its nightlife and creative culinary scene in recent years. These days its center of gravity has shifted south, to the site of the ancient port town of Jaffa (technically part of the city itself). This month, the Setai opens in a former Ottoman prison; a new W Hotel housed in a 19th-century former convent and pilgrims’ hospice is scheduled to open in March. It’s just the latest in a growing list of upscale hotels, restaurants, and boutiques to arrive among the winding streets of this former fishing village. Jaffa’s once-shabby flea market is now populated by a number of high-end antique dealerships, which sit alongside trendy cafés and bars — many offering live music into the night. Don’t miss Maskit, an iconic Israeli fashion house known for its embroidery that has been recently reincarnated after closing in the 1990s. Numerous interesting chefs have also set up shop among Jaffa’s churches, mosques, and archaeological sites. Try Beit Kandinof, a restaurant housed in a 17th-century building, where creative dishes like artichoke-and-pesto bruschetta are served alongside local art exhibits. —Sara Toth Stub