The Ultimate Trips to Start Planning for 2021

The old saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” has never rung so true as it does now. Even if we don’t actually get around to booking that trip, just knowing we could (time and money permitting) is a wonderful thing. 

So while we may not be able to hop on a train or a plane in the next few weeks or months – we can dream – and we can plan for the good times. Here are some suggestions to keep your armchair travelling firmly forwards – from Chile to Myanmar, to Rwanda to the British Virgin Islands…

Swim with Manta rays in the Maldives…

Committed to protecting the environment that surrounds the resort, InterContinental® Maldives Maamunagau Resort has recently launched two integrated partnerships with the Manta Trust and Ocean Group.

The Manta Trust Partnership has been created to conserve a large area in the Raa Atoll, a previously unmonitored area and now a UNESCO protected biosphere. With a record number of manta sightings recorded in the Maamunagau Lagoon, including many juvenile manta rays, the area has become one of the most important nursery sites in the country. As well as engaging daily snorkel excursions where guests have the chance to swim with the mantas, the Manta Trust-led programme, “Adopt a Manta” allows guests of InterContinental Maldives to name new mantas and track them as they migrate around the Maldives. 100% of the funds generated by the “Adopt a Manta” programme go directly to the Manta Trust, which funds a holistic approach to protecting manta rays.

Every one of the 81 villas and residences have uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean and come complete with a terrace overlooking the ocean or lagoon with a private pool and butler. There will be six restaurants and bars, including an interactive Teppanyaki experience and wood-fired pizzas at the Italian all day deli.

Explore the world on the ocean – and under the ocean…

Cruise line Seabourn adds Seabourn Venture to its fleet in June 2021, a sleek and luxurious – expedition ship, built for diverse environments to PC6 Polar Class standards and will include a plethora of modern hardware and technology that will extend the ship’s global deployment and capabilities. With just 132 luxurious suites, Seabourn Venture ship will take adventurous travellers to a range of remote destinations around the globe – from the Amazon to Antarctica. 

A new and exciting offering will be two custom-built submarines carried onboard, providing an unforgettable view of the world beneath the ocean’s surface. Each battery-powered sub will carry six guests and a pilot, who will guide the journey up to 300 metres beneath the surface to explore sunken wrecks, reefs – and view marine wildlife in its natural habitat.

Sip vintage wine in one of the world’s most famous wine cellars on the French Riviera

Enjoy a glass of vintage wine in the very spot Winston Churchill toasted the reopening of Hôtel de Paris wine cellar in 1945 after World War II with a bottle of rum from 1811.  Carved out of the rock in 1874, the Hôtel de Paris wine cellar is one of the most private spots in Monte-Carlo, set beneath the flower gardens storing 350,000 bottles of wine. Guests can enjoy a bespoke wine tasting led by Gennaro Iorio, who has been the Wine Cellar Master since 1993. Notable bottles include a Petrus (1945) and a Chateaux d’Yquem, dating back to 1890.  

Following the tasting, guests can spend the night as royals by checking into the fabulous Princess Grace II suite at Hôtel de Paris. Indulge in everything that epitomises Monte-Carlo with helicopter transfers and a suite with two terraces, two sitting rooms, a kitchen and a study. Hôtel de Paris offers an enchanting ambiance from the moment guests step into the palatial lobby. The hotel has long been a favourite for royals, politicians and celebrities, and the secrecy surrounding its famous guests have become part of Hotel de Paris’ legacy.

Explore India’s Golden Triangle in style

The Golden Triangle has a firm spot on many people’s bucket lists and ITC Hotels, offering authentically Indian hotels in some of the country’s most exciting and dynamic cities, has the perfect itinerary for guests to tick it off in five-star luxury.

New Delhi with ITC Maurya – Begin this once in a lifetime trip at ITC Maurya, in the diplomatic enclave of Delhi.  Exemplary service and warm hospitality is woven into Indian traditions, and The expert concierge team provides guests with insider advice on how to navigate the hustle and bustle of India’s capital.   A firm favourite is the Food Sherpa Trail with the hotel’s chef – dive deep into the Walled City of Old Delhi or Connaught Place in Lutyen’s Delhi. For a flavour of the bustling markets of cosmopolitan Delhi, choose the South Delhi Food Trail or the Street Food Trail.

Agra with ITC Mughal – Set in 23 incredibly private acres of luxurious gardens and designed as a tribute to the great Mughal builders of India’s history, ITC Mughal is the perfect base from which to visit the Taj Mahal – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. ITC Mughal is the only Indian hotel to have won the Aga Khan Award for Architectural Excellence.  and expresses the luxury of a royal refuge. After a day of exploring the Taj Mahal, unwind in the hotel’s exceptional Kaya Kalp spa, offering Ayurvedic treatments bespoke to each guest.

Jaipur with ITC Rajputana – Discover the famed chaupars, or town squares, in the walled city of Jaipur, which last year was recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Designed to be a commercial capital, the city today maintains local artisanal traditions. ITC Rajputana is located just half a kilometre from the city centre, and the hotel’s regal-influenced design and gardens echo the city’s history.

Dive with whale sharks off a remote archipelago

Wa Ale is a privately-owned eco-tourism project on the 5,000-acre island of Wa Ale, in the Lampi Marine National Park in the Myeik Archipelago, Myanmar. This intimate and luxurious retreat, offering only 14 rooms (beach villas and treetop villas) sits in a beautiful protected cove overlooking a pristine beach and majestic rock formations.

Wa Ale’s remote location means the archipelago is a truly private playground for its guests – hosting only 28 guests at one time. The island is the ideal escape, naturally tailored for the adventure travellers with a love of exploring unchartered aquatic and jungle habitats. From diving with whale sharks, trekking through tropical rainforests, diving spectacular reefs including Black Rock (the newest dive area which guests can now access from the resort in 2020), kayaking through the mangroves and century old forests – the opportunities are limitless.

The Lampi Marine National Park offers a diverse range of wildlife including 20 mammal species, 200 bird species and more. Wa Ale is the home to a multitude of indigenous land animals including monitor lizards, smooth coated otters, pythons, civet cats, gibbons, mouse deer, macaques and the near extinct pangolin. Often, guests sitting and having breakfast at the Pavilion can spot otters playing in the river, just metres away! In the air, guests can spot hornbills, unique to the archipelago, white-bellied sea eagles, white kites, kingfishers, eastern reef herons and emerald doves – to name a few. In the water, the marine life is of incredible variety including whale sharks, dolphins (often hundreds in a pod at a time!), eagle and manta rays, ribbon eels and of course the turtles which nest on Wa Ale every year.

Soak up the history of the Spice Islands

Combining cosmopolitan flair with rustic character, the Zanzibar archipelago, off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean, is often referred to the “Spice Islands.” Today, whilst the words “Spice Island” conjure up exotic images of sun-soaked beaches, kaleidoscopic sunsets and turquoise waters and some of the best diving in the world, Zanzibar will also surprise and delight guests with its unique multicultural experience.

Stay at The Residence Zanzibar and visit to a local spice plantation – a wonderful way to learn more about and sample its legendary spices. Meanwhile, nature lovers can explore the Jozani Forest Reserve, which is home to a number of rare creatures including the Red Colobus Monkey. Once you return to The Residence Zanzibar, the culinary excursion continues with a meal at The Dining Room, with a menu offering Omani and African flavours infused with local Zanzibar spices.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda

With the recent opening of One & Only Nyungwe House in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda is in the spotlight as one of the top places to visit next year. As such, The Luxury Holiday Company has paired this new opening with Virunga Lodge, to offer travellers the rare opportunity to come face to face with Rwanda’s mountain gorillas.  Seeing gorillas in their natural habitat is an uplifting, even spiritual experience, and after trekking through the jungle, guests will spend an unforgettable hour with these magnificent creatures.  A host of additional once-in-a-lifetime experiences are also included along the way, from tracking chimpanzees in Nyungwe National Park to sipping sundowners on the shores of Lake Kivu. It’s all brought together with private transfers, expert-led tours, delicious meals and stays in some of Rwanda’s most luxurious hotels and lodges.

Discover the Amazon in ultimate luxury

From spotting the legendary pink river dolphins to sipping sundowners on the observation deck while the sun sets on the Amazon River – Aqua Nera brings guests closer than ever to one of the most remote regions in the world, all from the comfort of a five-star floating hotel. The vessel will operate on three-, four- and seven-night itineraries to ensure complete flexibility and the ability to adapt to guests’ travel plans. Aqua Nera’s itineraries will depart from the Peruvian port of Iquitos before meandering through the various rivers of the Peruvian Amazon, visiting remote Amazonian towns and villages along the way. Expert naturalist guides will be on board to offer bespoke experiences such as intimate wildlife encounters in the world’s most biodiverse rainforest.

With a guest to staff ratio of 1:1, these expeditions ensure maximum intimacy and privacy, as well as the opportunity to access unexplored tributaries. The award-winning Peruvian Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino will continue his role as consulting chef on Aqua Nera. Known for using local Amazonian ingredients in his innovative Peruvian cuisine, Chef Schiaffino’s menu will be a wonderful addition to his already highly acclaimed Aria Amazon menu. Whether it be foodie enthusiasts, wildlife aficionados or those in search of their latest adventure, a voyage on the Aqua Nera is set to be a once in a lifetime experience.  

Celebrate the artistry of Rome

No visit to Rome is complete without discovering the artistic beauty and legacy of renowned artists that can be found in every corner of the “Eternal City”. With the new “Facelifting Caravaggio” experience at Rome Cavalieri, guests visit an artistic laboratory, where they will learn the various techniques that are used to restore beautiful works of art to their former glory. Uncover a painting by Caravaggio, considered the father of the 17th-century Naturalism movement and, supervised by an expert restorer, learn the secrets of how to give life, light and colour to his masterpieces once again.

Rome Cavalieri is a luxury hotel set within 15 acres of beautiful private parkland with world-class design, art and dining, alongside arguably one of the best panoramic vistas of Rome from its position at the top of Monte Mario. The hotel is home to a museum-worthy collection of artwork including paintings, rare tapestries, French period furniture and sculptures. Highlights include three original Giambattista Tiepolo paintings, Andy Warhol dollar signs in the Penthouse Suite and Robert Indiana’s ‘Jack, Juke, Eat and the American Dream’ on permanent show in the Planetarium Suite. Rome Cavalieri is also home to La Pergola, Rome’s first and still only three Michelin-Star restaurant by acclaimed Chef Heinz Beck, offering creative Mediterranean cuisine with breathtaking views from the top floor of the hotel.

Thrilling escape to Chile staying on an organic farm…

In the heart of dramatic Araucanía, Chile’s gorgeous Lake District and the gateway to Patagonia, lies andBeyond Vira Vira.  Araucania is the homeland of the Mapuche people, where glacial lakes mirror the frosted tips of volcanoes and lush flora abounds in the surrounding national parks where monkey puzzle trees grow.

Immersed in a spectacular, forested 22-hectare estate, lies andBeyond Vira Via, a magnificent 5-bedroom Hacienda and lodge with 6 suites and 12 villas. From here, guests have sensational views of the Villarrica Volcano framed by enormous windows. The estate is also home to a modern working farm, organic vegetable garden and state-of-the-art cheese factory. Freshly grown produce is sourced from the farm and used to create Chilean-inspired farm-to-table menus. Guests are very welcome to pick fresh produce along with the chef before he cooks them – or just relax in two outdoor hot tubs.  

This is a thrilling adventure haven. There are myriad adventures on the doorstep, hosted by knowledgeable and engaging guides: from trekking in the national parks; horseback riding in the cordilleras; scenic helicopter flights over the Villarrica Volcano; skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or snowmobiling in winter. The list is seemingly endless with fly fishing, mountain biking, and a variety of water sports. All excursions are specifically tailored according to guests’ interests and fitness levels.

Desert Island Bliss

The British Virgin Islands is an archipelago of 60 picture perfect islands just east of Puerto Rico. Fifteen of the islands are inhabited, with the main islands consisting of Tortola with the capital Road Town, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. With consistent trade winds making the BVI some of the finest sailing grounds in the Caribbean.

This year, the British Virgin Islands have seen a number of highly anticipated hotel and villa openings as well as transformations to many of the islands. With an environmental focus as a key factor in these reopenings and renovations, the BVI and its people continue to prioritise sustainability and nurturing the beautiful environment.  Necker Island has installed wind turbines that have enabled the island to run on up to 90 percent renewable energy and Bitter End Yacht Club will continue sustainability efforts by opening a new marina this summer, made from upcycled materials. Others, such as Guana Island and Anegada Beach Club focus on sustainable culinary efforts, creating organic gardens on their islands, which produce food for the restaurants.