If there is one advantage of the cold, uninspiring winter weather it’s that it forces us to think of warmer weather, and crystallises our plans to head abroad to white beaches and cocktails and world class hospitality and food later in the year.
Sites such as http://howtospendit.ft.com/ will provide inspiration for potential spectacular destinations for the new year, but you can’t go everywhere: Australia and New Zealand, Madagascar, Costa Rica and many others missed the cut in our choice for five of the best for 2016.
A piece on luxury in Abu Dhabi could run into several thousand words on its own and the capital of the UAE shows no signs of losing its lustre, with 3.7m guests visiting in the first 11 months of 2015, representing a rise of 18%.
In Dubai, the new St Regis Hotel has been built on the site of the city’s oldest hotel,
The Metropole, with inspiration from New York’s famous Astor family, while other lavish additions to the hospitality scene in the next two years include the Viceroy (477 guest rooms and 222 signature residences), Bluewaters Island (complete with the world’s largest ferris wheel) and the extended Jumeirah Al Naseem boasting a mere 26 swimming pools.
If you can’t get excited about the paradise world of Bora Bora, Moorea, Rangiroa and the other near-120 islands in the South Pacific, then there really is little hope. More exclusive than the Caribbean and Seychelles, Tahiti is packed with hidden secrets such as two-storey overwater bungalows in the South Pacific (at the Hilton Bora Bora, currently being renovated) and Le Meridien and its private lagoon with turtle nursery and sanctuary.
If you’re willing to wait a few years, the new $3bn Mahana Beach resort promises to be a spectacular new addition to hospitality in the region.
Those who visit Italy tend to fall in love with its history, its landscape, its diversity and its cuisine, and it remains one of the most requested European countries. Venice remains forever enshrined in romanticism and curiosity (and the Biennale continues to create those spectacular pavilions from across the world), while the beauty of The Dolomites, Corsica, Sorrento and Rome are well-known.
So what’s new for 2016? The Chianti wine region between Florence and Siena is 300 years old this year and will boast one stage of the 2016 Giro D’Italia cycle race, on May 15, while the fabulous five-star Mandarin Oriental Milan continues to present the city in its best light after opening a stone’s throw from La Scala in 2015. Visits To Le Marche, and its villages and beaches, are also increasing.
No single guide can sum up the rich bounty of delights that America offers, or explain the differences between Hawaii, Alaska, Louisiana and Massachusetts. The 50 states each boast a huge range of luxury hotels that range from upscale metropolitan palaces to stunning ranches in the desert dust.
The itinerary of a great US holiday depends on your idea of fun, but here’s a quick snapshot of three divergent ideas for this year: Direct flights to Salt Lake City launch in May, Florida could gain its first underwater hotel later this year, and Las Vegas is gaining a new 20,000-seater arena in April which will host 100 events a year.
Don’t just expect to turn up in Antarctica with no planning, as cruises only tend to arrive during the tourist season – the UK winter – and they often sell out quickly. It’s possible to get a taste of one of the most brutally beautiful environments in the world for a day by flying from Australia, over the landscape with a glass of wine in the warmth of the cabin, and then returning to Oz. A cruise from Australia or South America, meanwhile, will see your boat share the waters with elephant seals and penguins before guided excursions across snowy, spectacular land.