Our 2018 travel list celebrates the hotel debuts and game-changing restaurants, alongside little-explored destinations on the brink of change. We’re supporting beloved places still recovering from natural disasters and championing responsible tourism across the globe. From the Azores to Mauritius, read on for for all the spots we can't wait to discover in 2018.
The Azores, Portugal
An archipelago of nine volcanic islands off Portugal’s west coast, the Azores is little visited by American travelers, but that's about to change thanks to Delta’s new direct flights from NYC to Ponta Delgada on the main island of São Miguel. With a flight time of just over five hours, it’s also one of the fastest ways into Europe — a boon for multi-stop Euro trippers. Logistics aside, the Azores is conjuring beat-the-crowds fever for its emerald beaches and shimmering blue lakes and wealth of adventure activities, from waterfall hikes and volcano climbs to forest treks and whale spotting. Make your base the island of Sao Miguel and check into the stylish Hotel Do Colegio in Ponta Delgada, then spend your days discovering the area's ancient fishing villages and 15th-century churches.
On the farthest southeastern tip of England, Cornwall is classic summer holiday destination for staycationing Brits and has been attracting a new crop of international travelers thanks, in part, to the success of PBS’s Cornwall-based Poldark series. This year should lure more visitors than ever with the recent reopening of the Tate Museum’s Cornish outpost, Tate St. Ives, after a £26 million expansion, and an improved overnight train service from London called the Night Riviera Sleeper. Match all the new additions with some classic Cornish experiences, from a Sunday roast overlooking Falmouth harbor at the revamped Star and Garter pub to surf lessons on Polzeath beach. Build sandcastles on the tidal beach at Crantock in the summer and don’t miss a cliff walk to Port Isaac for a pint at the Mote pub.
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Formentera, Balearic Islands, Spain
Just a 30-minute boat ride from Ibiza, Formentera is a world away from its party-loving island sibling, where the to-do list is a roll call of pristine beaches, and the best meals are found in the quiet chiringuitos. But the smallest and quietest of the Balearic Islands will make a splash in 2018 with the relaunch of Gecko Hotel & Beach Club on one of the island’s most popular beaches, Platja de Migjorn. Hotelier Pablo Carrington (see: Cap Rocat in Mallorca and Torralbenc in Menorca) is behind the revamp that’s ushered in a midcentury-modern style, a strong focus on yoga and wellness, and a buzzy beach club.
Mexico City, Mexico
After a devastating earthquake in September 2017, Mexico City is throwing the spotlight on its best and brightest to celebrate its status as the World Design Capital in 2018 — the first city in the Americas to receive the title. The yearlong program will include eight dedicated events and ongoing local projects on responsible design, and draw a new wave of visitors to the city's public arts programs, white-hot culinary scene (reserve your seat at Pujol now!), and transforming neighborhood of Juarez, where most of the action is happening.
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Caribbean islands may still be reeling from a devastating hurricane season, but the message from each is the same: see you soon. Islands still in recovery, including the BVIs and USVIs, are seeing guests return to their shores via yacht charter companies while hotels on St. Barth’s, St. Martin, and more are pushing reservations to late 2018 or early 2019. But for all the devastation, more than 20 islands were unaffected or have already recovered, including the Bahamas. The archipelago has experienced a serious hotel boom with the long-anticipated opening of both the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar and the 229-room SLS Baha Mar, as well as the Rosewood Baha Mar, set to open in June.
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Spin the globe to the Africa, look for Madagascar off the southwest shore, then squint to make out neighboring Mauritius, a tiny, 720-square-mile gem in the Indian Ocean. Famed for its white sand beaches and abundant marine life, Mauritius is more affordable and accessible than ever. Check into the revamped One&Only Le Saint Géran, which reopened on December 1st with a new beachy-chic look, a third swimming pool, spruced up private residences, and a host of restaurants including an artisanal bakery and a pan-Asian eatery with vistas of the lagoon. Should you decide to leave the property (though we get it if you don't!), the island has plenty of diversions beyond sandy stretches: view rare birds among the ebony trees on nature walks in the National Park, swim with dolphins, explore the Casela eco-adventure park, or book a rum tasting and distillery tour.
After declaring bankruptcy in 2013, Detroit is making a comeback with a wave of hotel and restaurant openings, improved transportation, and revamped green public spaces. Most of the new hotels occupy gorgeous heritage buildings, including Aloft, with its $92 million restoration of the Neo-classical David Whitney Building, and the soon-to-open Element Detroit, which plans to transform the landmark 1925 Metropolitan Building into a 110-room boutique and retail complex. Other highly-anticipated debuts: the Detroit-born lifestyle brand Shinola's first hotel and an outpost of West Elm's new hospitality brand. The city's culinary offerings are growing, too, with buzz-worthy spots in Corktown and in the renovated GAR Building, and the arrival of a Founders Brewing Co. satellite in Midtown’s South Cass neighborhood.
The oldest of Hawaii's eight islands has landed in the spotlight after new direct flights and top-to-bottom makeovers of some of the region's best resorts. Kauai's much-loved Coco Palms will reopen on the Coconut Coast in Kapaa just before summer with a new restaurant from chef Jean Marie, 350 refreshed rooms, adventure tours, and more. The Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection, has also been spruced up to include a poolside bar and grill, and a 350,000 gallon saltwater lagoon pool with a water slide for the kiddos (or adults). Keep an eye out for new affordable routes on Southwest Airlines from major hubs across the US.