The top 21 trips to take in 2017
Robb Report presents the most exciting jaunts, journeys, and adventures for the year ahead.
From an around-the-world culinary crusade to a Maldivian surfing safari, _Robb Report_ presents the most exciting jaunts, journeys, and adventures for the year ahead.
River to rails in Peru
For its mix of ancient and contemporary culture, Andean and Amazonian adventure, Peru has been a popular pick on top-destination lists for the better part of a decade. This year, however, the South American country is simply not to be missed, with new luxury options that are making it easier than ever to explore its varied riches — by river, by rail, and by trail.
Make the mighty Amazon your starting point, with a 4-night cruise aboard Aqua Expeditions' newly refurbished Aria Amazon (aquaexpeditions.com). The 16-suite vessel ventures along the legendary river and its black-water tributaries, with two-per-day skiff excursions to spot wildlife — pink dolphins, piranhas, anacondas, macaws — visit villages, and, for more adventurous guests, maybe even stop for a swim.
When it's time to head for higher ground, the new-for-2017 Belmond Andean Explorer (belmond.com) promises a luxurious link to Peru's most popular mountain destinations.
The 68-passenger sleeper train, which is scheduled to launch in May, will travel from Arequipa in the south to the high-altitude Lake Titicaca in the east to the ancient capital of Cusco, pampering guests along the way with alpaca blankets in the cabins and pisco sours on the observation car's open-air deck.
After disembarking in Cusco, continue your adventure at Explora Valle Sagrado (explora.com), a 50-room lodge that opened in July near the Sacred Valley's Urubamba River. Explora's first lodge outside of Chile, the Valle Sagrado offers off-the-beaten-trail treks in the surrounding Andes peaks, as well as day trips to the must-see Machu Picchu and lesser-known Incan sites. - Bruce Wallin
Making room in Malibu
The 35.4-kilometre squiggle of Southern California coastline that is Malibu receives 15 million tourists annually — despite having a total of only four small hotels. For 2017, however, new offerings along the beaches and in the wild hillsides are making the city more accommodating to overnight guests, without sacrificing any of its storied exclusivity.
Scheduled to open early this year, Nobu Ryokan (nobuhotels.com) is an 18-room Japanese-style inn from the Nobu Hotels group. The beachfront retreat — set next to Malibu's wildly popular Nobu restaurant — channels its ryokan lineage with custom teak soaking tubs surrounded by sea pebbles in the accommodations, no two of which are alike.
To keep up with its Carbon Beach neighbour, the 47-room Malibu Beach Inn (malibubeachinn.com), by far the largest of the city's four existing hotels, commissioned Waldo Fernandez for an art-filled redesign that was completed last year and included an expansion of the hotel's restaurant. (The property is planning to develop new villas nearby).
Also on Carbon, the so-called Billionaire's Beach, London's Soho House group has opened Little Beach House Malibu (littlebeachhousemalibu.com), a private club where even current Soho House members need to apply for privileges.
In the Malibu mountains, wellness retreats offer a counterpoint to the beach's sybaritic escapes. Newcomers include the intense XPT (xptlife.com), a $US5000 (about $A6625), 3-day training program created by husband-and-wife athletes Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reece and conducted at their home.
The serene Ranch Malibu (theranchmalibu.com), in a remote canyon at the northern end of the city, offers private cabins, acclaimed vegan cuisine, and relentless boot-camp regimens. - Michalene Busico
Cuba from sand to city
This is a golden moment in Cuban history — one in which the thaw has begun, but the long-isolated country has yet to be forever changed. Seeing it all now is imperative. And though a stampede of hotel chains is waiting in the wings to make a mad rush at development, there is only one surefire way to see the entire country in high luxury right now: Hop aboard the superyacht St. David (stdavidyacht.co.uk; available through Cuba Educational Travel, cubaeducationaltravel.com) for a 7-night itinerary from Havana to Cayo Santa Maria and back.
The journey — which is bookended by two vibrant nights in the capital city, where passengers can soak in the local flavour at landmarks like the historic Hotel Saratoga — will drop anchor among unspoiled mangroves and coral reefs from Bahía de Cabañas to Cayo Jutías.
While at sea or in port, St. David offers plenty of diversions with six staterooms, three decks, an outdoor cinema, a water-sports centre, and a clubby lounge where the Cuba libres and mojitos will no doubt flow well into the wee hours. - Jackie Caradonio
On safari in Zimbabwe
There's an official motto in Zimbabwe that says, "Everything that flies has to land." The adage seems particularly fitting these days, as the southern African country — which for years has been plagued by political repression, economic hardship, and rampant poaching — is at last making a return to the safari circuit. "We are seeing tourism that we just didn't see 4 or 5 years ago," says Henrietta Loyd, founder and co-owner of the UK-based travel company Cazenove + Loyd (cazloyd.com).
The influx is due in part to new antipoaching efforts, which have resulted in the return of wildlife and, with it, Zimbabwe's world-renowned safari guides. "There is also more investment coming back to the country," Loyd says, citing new and renovated lodges — among them camps from Singita, and Beyond, and Wilderness Safaris — as well as infrastructure improvements like the recently opened international terminal at Victoria Falls Airport. Indeed, one of Africa's original safari destinations is finally coming in for a landing—and tempting a new generation of travellers to do the same. - Laurie Werner
Foodie frenzy in Melbourne
Melbourne already has one of the most exciting food-and-wine scenes in the world, but for a week in April, it will become the centre of the culinary universe. The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards (theworlds50best.com) will bring the most prominent chefs from around the globe to the Australian city for the 2017 ceremony — and the public is invited to join in the festivities.
The main awards presentation will be held at the Royal Exhibition Building on April 5. Events open to the public include panels featuring chefs Massimo Bottura of the current No. 1 restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, and Daniel Humm of the No. 3 restaurant Eleven Madison Park in New York.
VIP tickets will be available for some of the week's activities, with opportunities for one-on-one time with chefs and revelry at post-awards receptions. The awards festivities will coincide with the 10-day Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (melbournefoodandwine.com.au), which draws more than 250,000 people for tastings, gastronomic spectacles such as the World's Longest Lunch (a single table down Lygon Street in Melbourne's Little Italy for 1600 diners), and master classes with 50 Best luminaries David Thompson and Gastón Acurio.
For the full immersion, stay at the official 50 Best lodging, the new QT Melbourne (qthotelsandresorts.com), where amenities include a restaurant from former Rockpool chef Paul Easson and a shop selling handmade Japanese knives. - Michalene Busico
Sprucing up Santorini
Scattered above the lapis-lazuli waters of the Aegean Sea, Santorini's whitewashed resorts are an almost clichéd picture of paradise. But it appears even paradise can be improved upon, as several new and recently renovated retreats on the fabled Greek isle are giving new life to the caldera-top experience.
Travellers returning to the 21-room Grace Santorini (gracehotels.com) this season will find the hideaway immaculately restyled, with contemporary interiors punctuated by Greek Statuario marble and punches of purple and baby blue. The resort is also set to debut an extensive spa and wellness facility and two sprawling suites with private plunge pools and terraces.
Nearby, the new Cavo Tagoo Hotel Santorini (cavotagoo.com) is bringing a trendy vibe to local barefoot luxury with 13 breezy suites adorned with minimalist furnishings, a sweeping pool deck with floating daybeds, and a sleek Ibiza-inspired lounge overlooking the caldera.
Perhaps most alluring this season is the island's new Erosantorini (erosantorini.com), an exclusive-use estate that opened in October on 1 hectare high above the sea. The all-inclusive villa, which sleeps 14 guests in four suites, promises pampering and privacy at every turn with a wine cellar, a personal chef, a yoga pavilion, a spa, an outdoor cinema, an infinity-edge pool, and excursions that include sailing and archaeological tours. - Kathryn Romeyn
Come back to the Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands, long known primarily as a tax haven, are emerging as the latest laidback but luxurious escape thanks to a new wave of development that, more than a decade after Hurricane Ivan, includes extraordinary and distinct resorts.
Opened in November on Seven Mile Beach, the Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa (seafireresortandspa.com) represents an architectural departure for Grand Cayman but also stands as the vanguard of a new wave of upscale development transforming this destination into an epicenter of laidback luxury.
At the long-established luxury leader, the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman (ritzcarlton.com), a new 743-square-metre penthouse is the Caribbean's largest, featuring three bedrooms, a screening room, a chef's kitchen, and a breathtaking wraparound terrace with a 180-degree vista of blindingly blue water.
And on Cayman Brac, the beachfront Le Soleil d'Or (lesoleildor.com) offers guests the absolute privacy enjoyed by castaways but without the deprivations. Essentially a farm with a boutique resort and spa attached, the relaxing retreat specialises in farm-to-table cuisine of exceptional quality. - Brett Anderson
Moving on up in Lower Manhattan
Lower Manhattan has traditionally been a spot for suits and tourists (and tourist traps) but lately, going downtown — way downtown — has a new air of cool.
The all-the-way-south neighbourhood stretching from Chambers Street to the bottom of the island has found itself in the midst of a micro-Renaissance, becoming an of-the-moment district where celebrity chefs, luxury hotels, and world-class architects are elevating the scene.
First came the social-media catnip of architect Santiago Calatrava's awe-inspiring Oculus (panynj.gov), a sculptural shopping centre featuring high-end shops like Salavatore Ferragamo, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Tom Ford.
Next it was interior designer Martin Brudnizki's turn to add some edge to the buttoned-up neighbour-hood, revamping Beekman Street's historic Temple Court building into the Beekman, a Thompson Hotel (thompsonhotels.com). Opened in September, the property was an instant hit, both for its velvet-and-crystal décor and its restaurants by Tom Colicchio and Keith McNally.
Just opposite City Hall Park is Lower Manhattan's latest reason to look up and check in: Robert A. M. Stern's 82-story 30 Park Place (thirtyparkplace.com), which opened in September, houses a collection of over-the-top condominiums and the slick 189-room Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown (fourseasons.com).
The latter, Manhattan's second Four Seasons–branded property, brings with it an outpost of Wolfgang Puck's steak house Cut with a sultry scarlet lounge where stylish New Yorkers — and yes, suits and tourists — mingle every night of the week. - Jackie Caradonio
Around-the-world food flight
Gastronomes, get ready: This May, TCS World Travel is sending 52 wayfaring foodies on the trip of a lifetime. Designed in collaboration with René Redzepi — the chef of Copenhagen's Noma restaurant and founding father of New Nordic cuisine — the 19-day Around-the-World Culinary Journey (tcsworldtravel.com) begins with 3 days in Seoul before carrying on to eight more palate-pleasing destinations across Europe and Asia.
The itinerary for the trip features far more than just memorable meals. In Tokyo, travellers can take a sushi-making class with a local master and forage the countryside with chef Shinobu Namae of the Michelin-starred L'Effervescence.
A stop in Florence offers lessons with a fifth-generation Tuscan butcher; in Paris, it's a Champagne-and-oyster-fuelled cruise across the Seine; and in Copenhagen, Redzepi will give travellers behind-the-scenes access to his legendary kitchen. Throughout the journey, passengers will travel aboard TCS's private 52-seat Boeing 757 and stay in Four Seasons hotels and resorts. - Sandra Ramani
From savannah to sea in Tanzania
The safari/beach combo has hit a new high in Tanzania. The East African country — lauded both for its wildlife conservancies and for its Indian Ocean islands — has new luxury options on both fronts.
Asilia upped the safari game in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area with the opening of Highlands (asiliaafrica.com; available through Scott Dunn , scottdunn.com), an eight-tent camp set on the slopes of the extinct Olmoti volcano. The lodge's Plexiglas domes are a brilliant departure from traditional safari accommodations, maximising views of the crater below and the starry night skies above.
Asilia's excursions are also a break from the norm: In addition to the usual Ngorongoro game drives, the camp offers hikes to other craters, far removed from the tourist buzz. Shortly after Asilia's launch, the eight-bedroom Entamanu Ngorongoro (nomad-tanzania.com) made its debut on a secluded perch along Ngorongoro's rim, giving luxury-seekers another chance to spy wildlife from on high.
Meanwhile, post-safari respite can be found at the new Thanda Island (thandaisland.com), a 8-hectare exclusive-use retreat within the Shunyimbili Island Marine Reserve. - Jackie Caradonio
Quiet time in the Yucatán
The mega-resorts of Mexico's Riviera Maya are making way for more intimate options up and down the region's sparkling Caribbean coastline. Hotel Esencia (hotelesencia.com) underwent an inspired renovation after its acquisition by the American art collector Kevin Wendle, emerging with 29 art- and light-filled rooms located along what is arguably the area's best beach.
The update included the addition of two villas that have their own private stretches of sand and can together accommodate groups from eight to 22 people. New villas are also taking shape at Rosewood Mayakoba (rosewoodhotels.com), which in November added eight multi-bedroom residences — ranging from 745 to 1860 square metres — to its collection of 130 lagoon and oceanfront suites.
Just next door, Andaz Mayakoba (andaz.hyatt.com) was scheduled at press time for an end-of-2016 debut. The 214-room resort, which is set on 239 hectares of beach and jungle, includes 41 suites with plunge pools.
Those in need of a break after all that beach and pool time can head inland to the new Chablé (chableresort.com), a 40-villa, 300 hectare destination spa where "shamanism meets luxury" in the jungle outside Mérida. - Bruce Wallin
Setting sail in the Seychelles
There's a new way to experience the Seychelles islands — and it's 20 metres underwater. Seated in a U-Boat C Explorer 3, travellers can venture below the Indian Ocean's surface, scuttling alongside neon fusiliers and black-and-white-striped sergeant majors.
The flying-saucer-like submersible darts in and out of coral clusters and speeds past streaks of pink, blue, and green before returning to the mothership: Crystal Cruises' new Crystal Esprit (crystalcruises.com).
Long a leader in luxury ocean cruising, Crystal ushered in a new era with last winter's launch of the Esprit. The yacht is part of an ambitious plan that calls for everything from riverboats in Europe to a private jet for around-the-world journeys.
The 31-suite Esprit — which will spend January through March island-hopping in the Seychelles — embodies Crystal's new direction, offering an experience more akin to that of a charter yacht than an all-inclusive ocean liner.
There is Château Lafite Rothschild in the wine cellar, butler service for every spacious stateroom, and, of course, plenty of high-tech water toys like the U-Boat submersible at the ready. A staff of 91 takes care of a total of just 62 guests, facilitating everything from outings on the yacht's cherry-red Wider 32 tender to Champagne-and-caviar lunches.
That Esprit is setting sail in the Seychelles — a 115-island nation located some 1600 kilometres off the east coast of Africa — is a by-product of not only Crystal's new focus but also the yacht's nimble size.
The country's isolated setting in the middle of the Indian Ocean makes it a rare stop on any cruise itinerary, and its small coves and lack of ports render its islands mostly inaccessible to larger ships. But the seascape is no hindrance to the Esprit, whose 3-metre draft allows it to anchor in the shallow waters off even the smallest isles.
The lithe vessel is never long at sea on a typical itinerary, zipping from isle to isle. On the island of Curieuse, passengers can plant trees as part of Crystal's reforestation project. On the private nature reserve of Aride Island, they can climb to a high granite peak while dozens of frigate birds circle overhead.
And off of Big Sister Island, they can snorkel along an expansive reef alive with parrot fish, blue-and-yellow surgeonfish, and striped clown tangs. Of course, the most compelling view of this underwater world is from the passenger seat of the U-Boat C Explorer 3 — a vantage reserved exclusively for Esprit guests. - Laurie Kahle
Centennial in Helsinki
Finland is celebrating a century of independence this year with everything from symphonies and contemporary-art exhibits to mobile saunas and massive snow castles. But the real reason to head to the easternmost Scandinavian country in 2017 is the food.
Long overshadowed by the New Nordic heavyweights of Copenhagen and Stockholm, the Finnish capital of Helsinki has quietly had its own culinary awakening in recent years. Established restaurants like Chef & Sommelier (chefetsommelier.fi) and Ask (restaurantask.com) are starting to gain international recognition (and Michelin stars), while new spots such as Finnjävel (finnjavel.fi) are bringing innovation to the Nordic scene.
Opened last spring in a high-design setting, Finnjävel features the experimental dishes — liver casserole with lingonberries, hay-smoked perch — of co-chefs Tommi Tuominen and Henri Alén.
Across town, on the southern tip of the Helsinki peninsula, diners are flocking to Löyly (loylyhelsinki.fi), where reindeer meatballs, seafood bakes, and other local dishes pair with a truly Finnish amenity: The restaurant is located within a bold new architectural landmark that houses three saunas and wooden decks overlooking the Gulf of Finland.
Promising to be the next culinary hot spot in Helsinki, chef Filip Langhoff's Jord (restaurantjord.fi) was scheduled at press time to open in December as the bistro-style "little sister" to Ask. A highly anticipated sibling is also in the works on the hotel front: Opening this summer, the St. George (stgeorgehelsinki.com) is a 150-room property from the owners of Hotel Kämp (hotelkamp.com), Helsinki's most opulent address. - Kenneth Nars
Into the Wilds of Japan
Tokyo is famous for its futuristic cityscape, but travel just beyond the Japanese capital and you'll find snowcapped mountains and volcanoes, bamboo forests, sparkling lakes, and ria coastlines that stretch for miles.
Travellers now have new reasons to heed the call of Japan's wild, including the recent debut of the country's first luxury-camping resort, Hoshinoya Fuji (hoshinoyafuji.com).
Nestled among the red-cedar forests at the foot of Mt. Fuji, the property offers an upscale outdoors experience with open-air balconies, personal chefs, and guided excursions like canoeing trips on Lake Kawaguchi and hikes through the mysterious forests of Aokigahara.
Last March, in the verdant mountains of Ise-Shima National Park, Aman debuted its version of wilderness luxury with a 24-suite hot-springs resort overlooking Ago Bay. Guests of Amanemu (amanemu.com) can explore the reserve's rocky coastlines with treks along the UNESCO World Heritage–designated Kumano Kodo trails.
Offering further incentive to discover the country's hidden corners is GeoEx's ( geoex.com) customisable Japan Tip-to-Toe trip, which explores the Kamikochi Valley, the Japanese Alps, and the 132-metre-tall Nachi Falls. - Irene Rawlings
Abu Dhabi's new state of art
Abu Dhabi has been hard at work refining its image. Amid the dizzying array of glitz and glamour in the city, an unprecedented art scene is emerging as part of a master plan to make it a world capital of culture.
In true Emirati fashion, Abu Dhabi is going for broke in building a cache of new museums and performing-arts centres. Central to the plan is Saadiyat Island (saadiyatculturaldistrict.ae), an estimated $US27 billion (about $A35.8 billion) isle that will soon be home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi (louvreabudhabi.ae).
The Jean Nouvel–designed masterpiece, scheduled to debut this year, will showcase a collection of more than 300 works ranging from a 16th-century sculpture of a wounded Christ to Picasso's rarely exhibited Portrait of a Lady, beneath a spaceship-like dome of woven steel.
Joining the outpost of Paris's beloved institution on Saadiyat will be Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Norman Foster's Zayed National Museum, and the late Zaha Hadid's Performing Arts Centre.
Works from the Guggenheim's permanent collection are already on exhibit at the nearby Manarat Al Saadiyat cultural centre. The high-minded initiative appears to be catching, with luxury hotels like the Rosewood Abu Dhabi (rosewood.com) and Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island ( fourseasons.com) investing heavily in private collections of their own.
The latter property, which opened in October, displays more than 2,000 works ranging from pop art to paintings of Abu Dhabi's forever-in-flux skyline. - Jill K. Robinson
Uruguay for Asado and Tannat
The land of Tannat may finally be having its moment. Like Chile and Argentina before it, Uruguay has gradually emerged as a first-rate food-and-wine destination, a process that peaked last March with the debut of Bodega Garzón (bodegagarzon.com).
Owned by the Argentine billionaire Alejandro Bulgheroni, the high-tech winery takes Uruguay's little-known varietals, chief among them the national grape of Tannat, to new levels.
The $US100 million project, which includes a restaurant by fellow Argentine Francis Mallmann, is located in rural Garzón, roughly 50 kilometres north of the coastal resort of José Ignacio. It is garnering attention as much for its estate-grown wines and olive oils as for its exclusive wine club, which, for a $US180,000 (about $A238,500) fee, allows members to blend their own vintages.
Mallmann is no stranger to these parts, having opened his own restaurant and hotel just 11 kilometres away in 2004. Last year, the chef renovated his estancia-style Hotel Garzón (restaurantegarzon.com), offering diners who make the pilgrimage for his spectacular asado cuisine a comfortable place to spend the night.
Farther north, in the town of Salto, the Swiss hotelier Peter Wirth (whose résumé includes New York City's Waldorf Astoria Towers and Rome's Hotel Hassler) opened Casa Wirth (casawirth.com) in July. The colonial mansion on the banks of the Uruguay River is home to just five guest rooms and an outdoor restaurant specialising in asados. - Nell Mcshane Wulfhart
Elevated adventure in Utah
The remote craggy cliffs and sandstone narrows of Utah's national parks have traditionally been the domain of experienced backpackers. This year, however, weekend warriors can access even the most isolated stretches of red-rock terrain with the St. Regis Deer Valley's (stregisdeervalley.com) outdoor exploration series.
Created with the Utah-based Elevated Adventure Company (elevatedadventurecompany.com), the bespoke trips take resort guests from Park City via private jet to geological treasures like the sprawling Canyonlands National Park, the majestic Arches National Park, and the Great Basin for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and more.
A Canyonlands adventure might include scrambling over outcroppings crammed with loose rocks, wriggling through keyhole-like tunnels, and rappelling down cliffs — all in a single venturesome day.
St. Regis guests can also cycle through the prehistoric formations of Moab and, for a true backpacker experience, overnight in the Great Basin. Of course, every weekend warrior will eventually finish the journey in comfort at the resort, which features a Remède Spa and Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant. - Carolyn Meers
Chasing waves in the Maldives
The Maldives is legendary among wave hunters. Shaped like a string of pearls, the long chain of islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean meanders through some of the world's best — and most difficult to access — surf breaks.
Promising an over-the-top tour through this surfer's paradise is the brand-new Four Seasons Maldives Private Island at Voavah, Baa Atoll (fourseasons.com).
Opened in December, the 2-hectare resort — an exclusive-use property with just seven villas and suites — has partnered with the Aussie outfitter Tropicsurf to curate an epic surfing safari.
Travelling aboard the Four Seasons' 19-metre Horizon yacht, participants can paddle out at Jails, Cokes, and other secret breaks with one of Voavah's equally famous coaches, who include former world champion Sunny Garcia.
Four-night surfing packages are priced from $US280,000 (about $A371,000) for as many as 20 guests and include a total takeover — PADI dive centre and all — of Voavah. - Jackie Caradonio
Class of the Caribbean
If the celebrity playground of Mustique isn't exclusive enough for you, it's time to try Canouan. The Caribbean upstart, located roughly 27-kilometres southwest of Mustique in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is poised to replace its better-known neighbour as the country's elite isle. In October, the long-awaited Pink Sands Club (pinksandsclub.com) debuted on Godahl Beach with 32 over-the-top suites and villas.
The rose-hued resort sits at the heart of the island's recently launched Canouan Estate Villas & Residences (canouan-estate.com), a luxury community covering two-thirds of the 8-square-kilometre island and featuring a Jim Fazio–designed golf course, four restaurants, and a clutch of villas available for rent.
Ensuring that jet-setters arrive in style is a newly expanded 1800-metre-long runway that can accommodate private aircraft as large as a Boeing 737. For those wishing to make their Canouan arrival via yacht, an 80-berth marina is set to debut later this year. - Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
Wet and wild in Nepal
Little appears to have changed in Nepal's Terai lowlands over the last century. Rough-hewn dirt roads wind in and out of lush thickets of jungle, passing through tiny Tharu villages clustered with shaggy grass-topped huts.
Locals — women dressed in colourful skirts and men wearing woven hats — drift up and down the Rapti River, bathing, washing clothes, and gathering reeds for trade. And deep within the golden grasslands of the Chitwan National Park, Bengal tigers, greater one-horned rhinoceroses, and elephants still roam.
Just opposite the park, however, change has come in the form of the region's first luxury safari lodge, Meghauli Serai (tajhotels.com).
Opened last April, the Taj Safaris property might have seemed out of place in the long-enduring landscape if it weren't so carefully conceived: Sixteen thatch-roofed villas outfitted with Tharu artifacts and hand-painted murals nestle almost imperceptibly in the grassland.
Creature comforts include a Jiva spa offering ayurvedic treatments and an infinity-edge pool that appears to pour straight into the Rapti. Still, the true luxury of Meghauli Serai is its total immersion, from early-morning tiger treks and rhino safaris to evening canoe rides alongside wild gharials and swamp francolins.
Afternoons can be spent riverside with the locals; one in particular — the lodge's resident elephant, Anjali — might even join you for a swim. - Jackie Caradonio
Zurich's new cool
Zurich, the Swiss city known for finance and buttoned-up formality, is loosening its tie and showing its edgy side. Leading the way in the city's cooldown are new and established hotels that are breaking with stuffy traditions.
Among the unorthodox newcomers is Kameha Grand Zürich (kamehagrandzuerich.com), an Autograph Collection hotel that opened in 2015 in the emerging Glattpark district.
Conceived by the design world's enfant terrible, Marcel Wanders, the hotel is a veritable wonderland of avant-garde style, featuring cheeky nods to Swiss culture such as lamps that resemble oversize cow bells and sofas shaped like giant Toblerone bars. Last spring, the 95-room Atlantis by Giardino (atlantisbygiardino.ch) made its debut in one of Switzerland's most important postwar modernist buildings.
The Los Angeles–based firm Hirsch Bedner Associates adorned the interiors of the Y-shaped structure with furnishings by Patricia Urquiola, Armani/Casa, and Brabbu; outside, a swimming pool at the foot of the Üetliberg mountain offers a laidback spot for a swim.
Zurich's legendary Dolder Grand has also joined the movement with the debut of its Saltz restaurant (thedoldergrand.com), a vibrant red-and-blue venue designed by the artist Rolf Sachs. And bringing a modern edge to Old Town is the Marktgasse Hotel (marktgassehotel.ch), a 39-room boutique property blending Scandinavian minimalism and Italian maximalism in a pair of 15th-century structures. - Jackie Caradonio
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