Every summer, the travel industry gathers not in New York, Paris or Milan, but in Las Vegas for a week-long industry conclave so influential that it’s been dubbed the “Fashion Week of the travel world.”
More than 6,000 hospitality industry insiders, including hoteliers, destination specialists and travel advisers, gather to mingle and discuss the upcoming year’s trending topics.
The conference, Virtuoso Travel Week, focuses on travelers who are high fliers, both in terms of number of trips per year (8.6) and total annual spend ($128,000). And, of course, we had a front-row seat to see what the experts had to say about what will be big for 2019 and beyond.
Hot Off the Runway
In terms of year-over-year growth in bookings, areas like Turkey, Egypt and Morocco are seeing the most interest. Many of these destinations are trending thanks to an influx of luxury properties, high-end services and recently settled political climates. If you’re considering a trip, hotels such as Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Royal Mansour Marrakech and the imperial Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul offer the sumptuous, locally flavored stays you’ve dreamed of.
Other places growing in popularity include India, Brazil and Indonesia, all of which boast particularly rich cultural offerings. In Bali, for instance, you can look to Five-Star Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan or Four-Star Banyan Tree Ungasan Bali, both of which were recently named to Forbes Travel Guide’s Verified List of the world’s most luxurious hotels.
Advisers also called out Portugal, renowned for its design, food and culture — or, as one expert joked, “the perfect place to go when you’ve already done Italy a dozen times.”
Others mentioned Kenya, which is increasingly more attractive for New York-based travelers, thanks to a new nonstop JFK-to-Nairobi route with a host of carriers.
And it should come as little surprise that the Caribbean is also back and better than ever following massive rebuilding efforts from hurricanes Maria and Irma last year. Hotels like the just-reopened Five-Star Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico and Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France (returning in December) received top-to-bottom updates, while others like Anguilla’s Cap Juluca (which debuts in November under new management by Belmond) will effectively be brand new.
When you’re on the go with a crew in tow, experiences are clearly the best option. But instead of the usual Disney World or all-inclusive beach getaway for groups, families are being much more adventurous. This might mean an excursion to Iceland, which is easier than ever to get to thanks to economical carriers like Wow Air (visit the new luxury resort The Retreat at the Blue Lagoon); a safari in Tanzania; or a cruise to the Galapagos on one of the wealth of small, luxury-expedition-focused cruise lines, such as Silversea.
Children are also playing an increasingly larger role in travel planning — it’s not uncommon for whole families to discuss what makes the ideal trip.
Longtime Favorites Made New Again
Trends aside, never discount ever-popular destinations. Italy, France, Japan, South Africa, Israel and Germany remain top countries to visit over the winter holidays and beyond.
It’s easy to see why — Italy has nearly 50 Star-Rated properties in cities like Milan (Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Milan), Venice (Five-Star Belmond Hotel Cipriani), Rome (Five-Star Hotel de Russie, a Rocco Forte Hotel) and Florence (Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Firenze). And in Tokyo, you’ll find 19 Rated hotels (The Peninsula Tokyo).
One area that will remain hot next year is Instagram. The social media platform continues to take the industry by storm, making “insta-tourism” as much a part of global travel as passports. Younger explorers are making entire trip plans based on photogenic spots captured on Instagram.
Pro tip: If you want the perfect shots, schedule a session with Flytographer, a vacation photography service available in more than 200 destinations worldwide that took its first images in 2013. Even more people will lean on these professionals for new profile pics, engagement photos and other snaps that spark likes in 2019.
For a Perfect Trip, Plan Ahead
Last-minute travel, while exciting, can also lead to high price tags and disappointment, especially if a favorite room or excursion is sold out or unavailable.
Like fashions that debut a full season before they go from runway to shelves, travel is a treat best enjoyed with a little planning and the anticipation of what’s to come.