And with that, another incredible year comes to a close. The mind unavoidably travels to modest Christmas gatherings and quiet champagne toasts at home as 2021 draws to a close. What could happen in 2022? To the vacations we might finally get to cross off that bucket list, whether it’s seeing the Scottish countryside from a luxurious train fit for a king or soaking in the same ochre-hued New Mexico environment that enchanted Georgia O’Keeffe for years. Or to ancient haunts that we can’t wait to see with new eyes and a clearer mind. Alternatively, there are several fantastic new hotels waiting to greet us with warm hospitality and luxurious accommodations. These are still uncertain times, but we can dream—and tentatively plan—for the future. Below, are the best destinations to put on the travel list for 2022.
Napa Valley, California
Even those who aren’t wine connoisseurs can find enough to do in Napa. In reality, grapes account for just 9% of the region, leaving the rest—including 53,000 acres managed by the Napa Valley Land Trust—open to a variety of outdoor activities such as bicycling, hiking, and visiting hot springs. The Four Seasons Napa Valley, which debuted in November and is the only resort in the area to be situated within an operating vineyard, is brand new to Calistoga. A new Auberge Resort named Stanly Ranch will open in February, with just 78 cottage rooms, all with outdoor terraces and fire pits, spread out on a 700-acre private ranch that goes back to the 19th century.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is unquestionably one of the most unusual towns in the United States, with a rich Native American heritage, strong Spanish influences, and a thriving art scene that includes the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and Canyon Road, a stretch of art galleries with a broad range of works (think: Fernando Botero sculptures, handwoven Navajo rugs). Then there’s Ghost Ranch, a 21,000-acre refuge near Abiquiu (an hour’s drive from Santa Fe) that so inspired O’Keeffe that she resided there for forty years and portrayed its landscapes extensively in her art. Bishop’s Lodge, a renowned 150-year-old landmark that Auberge Resorts rebuilt into a luxury facility lying on 317 acres abutting the Santa Fe National Forest, is worth a visit simply to see. It beautifully pays homage to the city’s Southwestern heritage with activities like sunrise horseback riding and guided pueblo tours.
DADO DANIELAGETTY IMAGES
Rejoice, members of the new marijuana aristocracy. Malta has just become the first European Union country to legalize marijuana. Not a fan of marijuana? Malta is a magnificent archipelago that has served as a filming location for a number of period epics, including Gladiator and Troy, as well as Munich and Murder on the Orient Express (and FOMO-inducing Instagram backdrops). And, having been invaded by the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Normans, the Kingdom of Aragon, the French, and the British in the past, the Mediterranean country has a diverse history, culture, and architecture.Stay in the Xara Palace, a former 17th-century palazzo that is now a Relais & Chateaux and Mdina’s lone hotel.
Overtourism in Hawaii has become a big topic in recent years (and will become even more so in 2021 as the picturesque state’s borders closed), and one that was wonderfully satirized in HBO’s The White Lotus. So, how can tourists visit Hawaii while being ethical? To begin, avoid adding to the stress on Maui by traveling to Lanai, which is considerably more distant. Oracle entrepreneur Larry Ellison purchased 98 percent of the island for $3 billion in 2012 with the goal of turning it into an elite getaway.He then spent another $450 million building the Four Seasons Lanai, filling it with museum-quality art and Malibu Farm and Nobu branches, as well as all the amenities you’d expect from a 5-star seaside resort. Without children and a desire to reconnect with your mind, body, and soul? Then head inland to the Sensei Lanai, a 24-acre sanctuary of tropical flora and green hills where the wellness-focused program may include horseback riding, meditation, forest bathing, thermal body mapping and sleep analysis, and deep soaks in Japanese onsen baths, with all meals provided by Nobu.
New York City
After being severely impacted by the pandemic in 2020, New York City has been slowly but steadily regaining its former status as a vibrant and dynamic metropolis. By February, a fresh new Ritz-Carlton will open in Manhattan’s NoMad district, handily filling the void left by the NoMad Hotel’s unexpected demise earlier this year. The Ritz will hire José Andrés, a celebrity chef who will build a branch of his popular DC hotspot Zaytinya as well as a high-end restaurant named the Bazaar later this year. The 250-room hotel will also feature one of the most sought-after hotel features in New York: a rooftop bar.
In 2022, Queen Elizabeth will celebrate her platinum jubilee, and while seeing all of the official celebrations that will erupt around Buckingham Palace in June is reason enough to visit London, how about paying tribute to the UK’s longest-reigning monarch with a pilgrimage through her beloved Scotland? It’s easy to see why she spends every summer in the Highlands, resting at Balmoral Castle, her favorite palace. But first, marvel at Edinburgh’s unusual combination of medieval and Georgian buildings, and then book a night or two at the Balmoral, a Rocco Forte hotel (not to be mistaken with the queen’s palace), for 5-star treatment and Michelin-starred gastronomy. Then it’s on to the Scottish Highlands and Braemar, which is close to the queen’s Balmoral, to stay at the Fife Arms, a former Victorian-era coaching inn that was completely transformed by art world power couple Iwan and Manuela Wirth into an absolute jewel box of a property bursting with more than 16,000 works of art. Not sure how to drive on the opposite side of the road? The Royal Scotsman, a Belmond Train, is perhaps the most luxuriously outfitted way to take in the gorgeous scenery.
Charleston, South Carolina
Foodies, history enthusiasts, and architecture nerds will love Charleston (musts: Husk and Fig’s modern take on Southern cuisine, 167 Raw and the Ordinary’s amazingly fresh oysters and shellfish). It’s also likely one of the South’s most contemplative cities, attempting to address its terrible and difficult past (be sure to check out the South Carolina Historical Society Museum and the Gibbes Museum of Art for important lessons). The opulent Charleston Place, a Belmond Hotel, is a stronghold of sumptuous Southern hospitality with more than 400 rooms, all decorated with sophisticated features like mahogany beds and marble baths, right in the heart of the city.
Big Sky, Montana
In recent years, a luxury western ranch excursion has become a near-obligatory rite of passage for a specific segment of the population. Montage is the most recent company to embrace this opportunity, having opened the doors of a large new resort in Big Sky, Montana, on December 15, becoming the first luxury ski hotel to be developed in this stunning location. The setting is unrivaled. The Spanish Peaks mountain range is located 45 minutes north of Yellowstone National Park. And what about the to-do list? Snowshoeing, horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and the list goes on: direct access to Big Sky resort’s 5,800 acres of ski slopes and a championship golf course built by Tom Weiskopf.
In terms of European cities, Madrid’s many charms are difficult to match. Beautiful old-world architecture, blue-chip museums, delicious gastronomy, stunning parks and gardens, terrific shopping, a delightful locals’ attitude, and royal clout abound in Spain’s capital. Villa Magna, another old grande dame in need of a refresh, has recently reopened as the Rosewood Villa Magna, similar to how the renowned Ritz adjacent to El Retiro Park was recently turned into a Mandarin Oriental resort. The hotel, which is located in the posh Salamanca neighborhood, includes 154 rooms that are all built to resemble a contemporary Spanish villa, as well as a trademark restaurant run by Michelin-starred chef Jess Sánchez.
Las Vegas, Nevada
What goes on in Vegas? That depends on your personal preferences. With world-class dining, shopping, and lodging options, you’d have to go out of your way to have a bad day in the iconic city. For starters, Adele has confirmed a residency in Vegas beginning in 2022, giving you even more reason to visit. If you really want to immerse yourself in the Las Vegas experience, rent a room at the Cosmopolitan, which is located in the middle of the strip and is surrounded by luxury.
The hotel offers a wide choice of must-try restaurants, including Momofuku, Scarpetta, and Blue Ribbon, as well as spacious rooms and suites with a contemporary twist, providing a tranquil respite from whatever may occur.
Another fantastic choice? The European-inspired Bellagio Hotel and Casino features exquisite dining options including Le Cirque and the Mayfair Supper Club, as well as is close to some of the world’s top luxury shopping.
There are many compelling reasons to visit Ireland, whether you are a history enthusiast, a literary fan (it is after all the home of William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Sally Rooney), or simply enjoy the outdoors and golf. Regardless of your interests, the island is mild throughout nearly the whole year, providing amazing experiences such as gorgeous drives along the coast, picturesque national parks, and even the rare possibility to witness the Winter Solstice. However, Adare Manor, located outside of Limerick, is a must-see. The Earls of Dunraven used to live in the Neo-Gothic house, but now it’s a 5-star luxury resort surrounded by fascinating medieval ruins, meandering gardens, and wooded walks where you may forget yourself in the nicest manner imaginable. The resort provides a broad choice of sports from falconry and golf to clay shooting and fishing, not to mention magnificently appointed guest rooms with Georgian-era furnishings.
Travelers have been flocking to Bermuda for years, and it’s easy to see why. The beautiful pink sand on the pristine beaches is famous across the world, and getting there is a breeze—just a 90-minute trip from New York City. On the island, two new hotels provide the pinnacle of luxury. The first is the St. Regis Bermuda, which will welcome visitors in the summer of 2021 and is situated on a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Expect a mix of avant-garde design with a touch of local flavor, as well as the refined details that the St. Regis brand is known for. Are you also staying on a world-class property? For visiting families, there is a golf course, a state-of-the-art spa, and a specialized children’s club.
The Loren at Pink Beach, a premium boutique hotel on Tucker’s Point, is also brand new on the island. It’s the ideal coastal refuge when you want to truly vanish into the sun and sand, with only 45 rooms featuring panoramic views and a Sisley Spa.
The tranquil cobblestone city of Geneva, on the western side of Switzerland and encircled by the Alps, is worth a visit for its views of Mont Blanc alone. While the international financial powerhouse is home to both the United Nations and the Red Cross European headquarters, it also provides for a nice slow-paced retreat, or dare we say, a fantastic respite while on a work trip.
The Woodward, the Oetker Collection’s newest treasure, should be first on your list if you come. Built-in 1901, the property has been reinvented by Pierre Yves Rochon and now includes two Michelin-starred restaurants, L’Atelier Robuchon and Le Jardin, a Guerlain spa, and stunning vistas. There’s a reason it’s referred to as the lakeside home of Haute living.
Palm Beach, Florida
Palm Beach might be compared to the Riviera, while Cannes is to Eastern Florida. For the greater part of a century, it’s been the holiday home and haunt of Swans—with a capital S. And, with the recent influx of New York hotspots like Le Bilboquet and La Goulue, it almost feels as if NYC has been relocated to the sandy palm beaches.The Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, known for its low-key environment and relaxing elegance, is the ideal spot to take a break. Not only is the hotel close to popular performing arts venues, but the surrounding region also offers wonderful shopping and dining options if you need a break from the hotel’s five-star spa and seven-acre private beach. It’s the kind of place where you can’t help but want to go back for more once you’ve seen it.
Nambiti, South Africa
While travel to Southern Africa is currently prohibited because to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, a safari in South Africa is still on the bucket list—just double-check travel advisories before booking.
What makes the wait worthwhile? The Nambiti Game Reserve’s soon-to-be-opened luxury safari in one of Africa’s most biodiverse locations, The Homestead. The tailored safari experiences at The Homestead are also designed with conservation and sustainability in mind, as seen by the twelve suite “super luxury” eco-lodge accommodations that are totally solar-powered. Menus are created by world-renowned chefs, and the food is prepared using locally sourced products, all in the hopes of making a positive impact on the environment and on those who visit.
Lake Como, Italy
It should come as no surprise that the gliteratti travels to the gorgeous region of Northern Italy year after year (which also recently made appearances in The Morning Show, Succession, and House of Gucci). It’s no surprise that the area never goes out of vogue, what with the ruins of ancient villages, sumptuous houses, and, of course, the stunning lake.
Summer is when the region shines brightest, and 2022 is the ideal year to celebrate it at Villa Passalacqua. The majestic mansion is the sister property to Grand Hotel Tremezzo and was erected in the 18th century by Count Andrea Lucini Passalacqua (both Napoleon Bonaparte and Winston Churchill have been known to visit). Consider this: Paolo, Antonella, and Valentina De Santis built 24 suites while keeping the original framework in mind. Swimming on the lake, an open-air gym in the olive grove, vintage boat trips from a private dock, farm-to-fork cuisine, and beautifully kept gardens are all available at Villa Passalacqua.
No, it’s not Dirty Dancing, but the Borscht Belt has seen a significant increase in tourism in the previous two years. The hilly region of Southeastern New York is once again an it-destination for the Tri-State area throughout the summer, for leaf peeping in the fall, and even during the winter months, thanks to new hotels and inns and a plentiful supply of AirBnbs.You’ll find your days are packed with a broad variety of exciting opportunities, whether you’re taking a fast spin around Kaaterskill Falls, traveling into Hudson for some antiquing and a snack at Lil’ Debs Oasis, or simply taking in everything the region has to offer with a scenic drive. The Eastwind Hotel and, of course, Scribner’s Catskill Lodge are fan favorites, but Callicoon Hills is a great way to tap into the region’s classic resort origins.