The Trips We’re Most Excited About

Where are we actually going in 2020?

The Trips We’re Most Excited About

The new “Aqua Blu” explorer yacht will sail through the Raja Ampat islands in Indonesia.

Courtesy of Aqua Expeditions

The start of a fresh decade feels so full of possibility. What will the next 10 years of travel bring? The more I travel, the more places I want to go. It’s exciting, but also overwhelming. Let’s start with this year. We’ve read many “where to go in 2020” lists, but I’m curious where we’re all actually going.

Now that I’m in London, I am most excited to explore more of Europe and this island where I live. That means visiting new-to-me places like Marbella, Lyon, Copenhagen, and Puglia and old favorites like Berlin, Florence, and Amsterdam. In England, I have trips planned to Somerset and Cornwall in the next few months. In fact, I could very happily explore only Britain this year. I’m excited about so many hotel openings, but talking to Sir Rocco Forte got me eager to plan a trip to Sicily to see his newest property, Villa Igiea, opening in Palermo this summer. And I’m dying to see the refreshed Rosewood Little Dix Bay and Eden Rock in St. Bart’s.

I asked several top luxury travel experts where they are most excited to go, and there was some overlap: Turkey is a hot spot, and so is the new Aqua Blu, a “long-range explorer yacht” that Aqua Expeditions will sail in Indonesia. Here’s what’s great about those trips and some more spots where luxury travel experts are planning to go.

Aqua Blu sailing, Indonesia

“I am most excited about sailing on Aqua Expeditions’ new vessel, Aqua Blu. I will be going on a 12-night sailing, one of only three 12-night combination Spice Islands and Raja Ampat itineraries that she will do next year. It will be so exciting to see this part of the world by a luxury super yacht.”
John Galante, SmartFlyer; member of AFAR’s Travel Advisory Council (TAC)

“I will sail with family on Aqua Blu in Raja Ampat. It’s Aqua Expeditions’ owner Francesco Galli Zugaro’s yacht, so I know it will be amazing, and ever since I saw pictures of Raja Ampat on social media, I fell in love. I knew it was the perfect winter trip for my family, who loves to dive, paddleboard, fish—we love anywhere where you don’t have to wear shoes.”
Malaka Hilton, Admiral Travel International

“I am excited about the cruise from Ambon in Indonesia to the Spice Islands onboard the brand-new Aqua Blu: swimming with whale sharks and discovering intriguing native tribes, active volcanoes, and rare and unusual marine habitats.”
Thomas Roost, Coastline Travel

Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda

“In June, we are trekking with the gorillas of Uganda. (We will go to Rwanda in 2021 to do the gorilla trek with clients again.) We’ll start in the Serengeti Plains, staying at Serengeti Safari Camp and Serengeti Bush Camps and then stay at Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge in Uganda. We’ll end with some R&R at Joali in the Maldives.”
Malaka Hilton, Admiral Travel International


A gorilla family at Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge

Courtesy of Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge

“In Rwanda, I can’t wait to see the gorillas! I’ve done safaris all over Africa and have been chimp trekking in Tanzania, but seeing the gorillas in person is on my wish list. Not only that, but Rwanda has risen from its devastating history and is now considered a safe and peaceful place. There are new luxury hotels which have opened, such as Singita Kwitonda in Volcanoes National Park, named for a silverback gorilla. One&Only Gorilla’s Nest and Bisate Lodge by Wilderness, also in Volcanoes National Park, are both set in the forest and give us two more sophisticated lodges from which to explore.”
Katie Cadar, TravelStore; member of AFAR’s TAC


“I am looking forward to returning to Turkey after a long absence. I want to catch up with friends and colleagues at the great hotels in Istanbul. I want to revisit historic sites in Istanbul that have been recently renovated and enhanced and experience Cappadocia for the first time, including the morning balloon ride, a must. I am also looking forward to visiting Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s rising star, especially UNESCO World Heritage landmarks in Samarkand, Khiva, and Bukhara.”
Ignacio Maza, executive VP, Signature Travel Network; member of AFAR’s TAC

“After a grim couple of years, I am most excited to return to Turkey in 2020. As far as properties, the Bodrum Edition hotel is high on my list for its design, dramatic views, and prime Aegean location.”
Kristen Pike, KK Travels Worldwide; member of AFAR’s TAC


“I am most excited about my first ski trip to Courchevel 1850 in the French Alps. I look forward to staying at L’Apogée Courchevel, which is an Oetker Collection hotel. I’ll be traveling there at the end of January because it’s the ideal time for nice snow before the slopes get crowded in February. It’s an easy destination to pair with the charming and gourmet foodie town of Lyon, which is an easy two-and-a-half-hour drive from Courchevel. This is truly the ultimate skiers’ playground. Courchevel is the glamorous heart of Les Trois Vallées. What’s more, there is a lift system linking to Meribel and Val Thorens, where guests can enjoy access to one of the most exciting and extensive ski areas in the world.”
Tom Ho, Protravel International


Skiing in Courchevel, France

Photo by Shutterstock


“My first trip of the year is a postholiday long weekend with my husband and some dear friends at the Malliouhana in Anguilla. I have yet to visit following its restoration from Hurricane Irma and am particularly eager to experience the renovated spa and rediscover the island itself, hopefully getting to play golf at CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa and enjoy dinner at the new Belmond Cap Juluca. While in the Caribbean, I also want to get to the Rosewood Little Dix Bay in the British Virgin Islands in the second quarter of 2020.”
Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, Valerie Wilson Travel; member of AFAR’s TAC


Relaxing on the beach in Anguilla at Malliouhana

Courtesy of Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection


“In April, I am headed back to Italy to visit my regular favorites, particularly the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco. Italy is one country I am always thrilled to visit again and again, especially with friends, to see what is new and exciting. The Castiglion del Bosco is known for its villa experiences so I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to stay in one, enjoy the Italian countryside, and partake in cooking lessons, wine tasting, golf, and more.”
Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, Valerie Wilson Travel; member of AFAR’s TAC


“One of the most exciting things for me about travel in 2020 is getting ‘back in the game.’ I am a mom of three kids under the age of 10, and now that my kids (ages 10, 7, and almost 4) are a bit more self-sufficient (and by self-sufficient I mean they can go to the bathroom by themselves, pour a bowl of cereal, and they can pick up a phone and call me if needed), I have more opportunity to travel again. My first trip of 2020 is JL Bar and Ranch. This is a gem in Texas, represented by Janine Cifelli. I am excited to channel my inner Billy Crystal, à la City Slickers.”
Julie Danziger, Embark Beyond

Southern India

“In 2020, my travels are all about personal exploration and spending time with family. Being a wellness and yoga junkie, I’m excited to make my way to southern India in March. It’s the birthplace of the practice, so having the opportunity to immerse myself in that culture and life practice is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Karen Magee, vice president, Partnerships & Leisure Services at Tzell Travel Group

“India is one of my favorite destinations and having done the Golden Triangle, I am anxious to learn more about southern India and visit in 2020. India is so exotic and fascinating. I am hoping to visit Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Kerala. These undiscovered parts of India offer visits of the temples and hopefully a cruise of the Backwaters.”
Leslie Tillem, Eltee Travel Group, a division of Tzell Travel Group


Hampi in southern India is known for its ruined temples

Photo by Shutterstock


“On my list for every year is Scotland. As an avid golfer, Scotland is my true happy place. Gleneagles is a fantastic property north of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Its tagline is ‘A Glorious Playground,’ and it truly is. It is home to three championship golf courses and has a variety of other activities, such as shooting, an equestrian center, cycling, archery, whiskey tasting, and much more, making it suitable for families, couples, or just meetings. The property, service, attention to details, and amenities are truly exceptional.”
Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, Valerie Wilson Travel; member of AFAR’s TAC


“I am very excited to visit London this winter. London is not out of the box, but it’s a true luxury hotel playground with no shortage of things to do, plus a food scene that has transformed the city over the past decade. My colleague and I will bring our daughters who have not been, and I always say experiencing a city with someone for their first time is just as exciting as when you first visited that city for your first time. I am SO excited to experience it as a preteen tourist!”
Julie Danziger, Embark Beyond

Cabo San Lucas

“Closer to home, I’d like to head down to Cabo San Lucas, as there are so many new hotels there. Cabo is evolving with more and more luxury hotels into such a stylish destination. With the Ritz-Carlton Reserve Zadun, the new Four Seasons at Costa Palmas, the Amanvari on the East Cape, the Montage, plus the always and ever wonderful Las Ventanas and One&Only Palmilla, there are endless hotel options for a quick getaway.”
Katie Cadar, TravelStore; member of AFAR’s TAC


A casita at Amanvari in Los Cabos

Courtesy of Aman


“I am truly looking forward to an upcoming trip to Asia in 2020, visiting Singapore and Bangkok in conjunction with an advisory board meeting. Raffles Singapore just completed a massive two-year renovation in 2019, and I am so excited to see how they incorporated modern touches into the extensive history of the hotel and hopefully get a tour with the resident historian, Leslie Danker. Maybe even a stop at Nihi Sumba!”
Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, Valerie Wilson Travel; member of AFAR’s TAC

>> Next: The 6 Luxury Hotels I’m Most Excited About in 2020

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