The experts at i-escape have put together their top travel predictions for the next year.
Which will inspire you?
There’s been a boom in popularity for the heel of Italy in recent months and we only expect this to continue into 2018. Previously overlooked by most visitors to the country, we’ve always championed the region for its rich history, authentic food, sandy beaches and, of course, the eminently Instagrammable trulli. Make a beeline for the picture-perfect coves around Polignano a Mare, or explore the stunning cave-town of Matera from the comfort of a converted 12th-century church. This restored boutique trullo near Fasano gazes out to sea from hillside terraces of almonds and olives.
Small but beautifully formed, Malta and its sister island Gozo are surrounded by sparkling blue seas and built on layer upon layer of fascinating history: their important setting on trade routes between Europe and Africa mean they have been fought over for millennia. This is being recognised in 2018 with Malta’s capital, Valletta, being awarded the badge of European Capital of Culture. The celebrations start with a huge fiesta in January and continue throughout the year with a vast array of events. These architect-designed city pads are a short stroll from the action, or for a more chilled-out break you can’t beat the warm welcome at this converted farmhouse in a sleepy village on tiny Gozo.
Swap sea and sand for the Austrian mountains and prepare to be totally wowed. A relaxing antidote to overcrowded Med beaches, the French, Italian and Austrian Alps are the hot ticket for lungfuls of fresh air, healthy hearty food, swimming in crystal-clear lakes and wholesome family hikes. Oh, and did we mention the spas? Total bliss. Directors Nikki and Aidan left this Alpine boutique spa hotel feeling utterly rejuvenated last summer and this Scandi-chic chalet hotel offers a mind-boggling array of free activities in the warmer months.
Those in-the-know are waving au revoir to the bustling Côte d’Azur in favour of neighbouring Languedoc, where the crowds are sparser but the towns and scenery are no less stunning. Visitors can go wild swimming at the Gorges d’Heric, visit a monthly book market at Montolieu, laze on the sandy shores of Plage de l’Espiguette, and enjoy a dinner of oysters plucked straight from Marseillan’s lagoon. Long weekends are a breeze at this adults-only B&B with endless views close to 2 airports and families looking for la belle vie won’t be disappointed at these elegant villas on a working domaine.
Hit hard in 2016-17 by national security issues, we predict (and hope) that Turkey’s popularity will pick up again next year. We especially love the coastal regions, where you can get a great-value break on uncrowded beaches, fuelled by the most delicious (and cheap) food. Wave goodbye to any January blues and hello to dreamy views across the eye-wateringly beautiful Kabak Bay at this intimate adults-only hideaway, and just 10 minutes from Bodrum airport this laid-back beach hotel is a spot we wish we could keep secret.
Wilderness and hinterland regions
Those with their ears to the ground will’ve noticed a trend towards vast open landscapes and marvelling anew at Mother Nature’s stunning creations. Fuelled by a longing to escape the stresses of modern life (bye bye, iPhone) and feel at one with nature, travel trendsetters are swooning over Namibia’s skeleton coast, Morocco’s southern desert dunes and the wilds of Joshua Tree National Park. This desert ranch retreat offers a kitsch base for exploring the rock formations of the latter. Keep your eyes peeled for a brand-new Moroccan desert addition – coming very soon to our collection.
On the eternal quest to find the next off-the-beaten-track gem, we expect savvy travellers to head for the lesser-known sister islands of major tourist hotspots. So, we’re talking Italy’s Aeolian islands, insider gems like Folegandros and Spetses in Greece, the sleepier Balearic island of Menorca, and Thailand’s Koh Yao Noi. Time to discover the next big thing (and show off about it a teeny bit on social media). When we posted about this gorgeous little hotel overlooking dazzling Agali Beach on Instagram, people kept telling us to keep a secret because they love it so much. Hidden in the pastures of sleepy Menorca, this hotel takes luxury very seriously indeed.
Adventure and authentic culture for kids
As technology slowly seeps into every aspect of our lives, and those of our children, we’re seeing a trend to escape the everyday and broaden the horizons of all family members. People don’t want to just fly-and-flop anymore, they want adventurous travel with their older kids: rainforest hikes, fly camping and responsible animal encounters like safari or snorkelling and diving. Children over 6 are made very welcome at this Costa Rican ecolodge set in primary rainforest, and the top-notch guides at this private South African game reserve will answer every question young inquisitive minds can throw at them.
Exploring the oceans and seas
The amazing Blue Planet blew our minds in both good and bad ways – the vast array of life in the seas is just astonishing, but the impact that humans are having on it is devastating. After yet another amazing series, we’re sure more people will want to discover the oceans for themselves next year, and more than ever understand the importance of trips being organised through responsible operators. (And thanks to Octonauts, our mini i-escapers are on the same wavelength – Attenborough got all his ideas from there, right?!). Guided shore snorkelling at this Australian tented eco-lodge reveals black-tipped reef sharks, green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles, while this coral-ringed island retreat off Zanzibar has zero ecological impact.
As increasing numbers of people are adopting a vegan lifestyle, the search for great vegan food while travelling is hotting up. We’re touting South India and Sri Lanka where you can feast on a dizzying array of multi-dish vegetable thalis served on fresh banana leaves. City hotspots Chiang Mai (Thailand) and Saigon (Vietnam) are also on our hit-list: fresh ingredients and beautifully balanced spicing mean you can find a delicious meat- and dairy-free meal on every corner. This gem of a hotel provides an oasis of calm amongst the bustle of Chiang Mai’s bustling night markets where you’ll find food stalls galore, and this small family-run B&B in a residential district of Saigon gives you an insider’s view into city life.
Start your next adventure at one of our boutique hotels and places to stay.