There’s plenty to look forward to and dream about in 2019 — especially when it comes to travel. From unique accommodations to immersive local activities, here’s what to look out for and get excited about:
Mixed-Use Hotel Development
Expect more North America hotel development in sites that combine shopping, restaurants and entertainment opportunities like movie theaters, nestled alongside apartments, businesses and easy commuting options. At Assembly Row in Somerville, Massachusetts, The Row Hotel makes it easy for foreign and thrifty guests to get outlet shopping deals; go to the movies; grab Japanese, BBQ or Mediterranean food; and commute into Boston on the new Orange Line train tracks installed in what used to be a massive empty lot. In some cases, it’s actually easier getting into the heart of nearby Boston from here instead of schlepping it on the outdated Green Line train that runs in other corners of the city. The design and décor of The Row nods to the area’s past as a former Ford Motor Assembly Plant, with more modern and spacious rooms than what would be in city center, as well. Hotel dining brings the city right to your room, when one of the most-beloved North End (Boston’s Little Italy) restaurants opens its first outpost in early 2019.
In Toronto, new Hotel X features several restaurants, an art gallery, a beer garden, cinema and event spaces.
Millennials may have unlimited paid-time-off models at work, but few actually take the full two weeks they might have otherwise. And parents can save money and the stress of planning epic European adventures with quick jaunts across the pond. Enter the microtrip: quick journeys that make the most of three-day weekends and a slew of new direct, low-cost routes from carriers like Norwegian and Scandinavian Airlines. The latter’s Long Weekend Fares start at $499, with directs to Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm from seven U.S. gateways, including Boston, Newark, Miami and Los Angeles. Outbound travel is permitted Thursday or Friday, and inbound back to the United States the following Sunday or Monday. Norwegian’s direct East Coast routes to European cities like Paris and Glasgow (with similar flight calendars) can be scooped up for less than $300 round-trip without a checked bag.
Want to stay in a treehouse, yurt or former aircraft? You’re not alone. Smaller, outside-the-box accommodations are winning out over earth-toned, big-box hotels when it comes to the Instagram bragging rights game, and they’re also prime for making some really cool vacation memories. Canvas Hotel in Norway is a “hotel” on a small island in the middle of a lake, with shared dining and showers. Yurts have wooden floors, wood stoves for heating and beds. Tree Houses Hotel eco-resort in Costa Rica puts you at eye level with the monkeys you flew so far to see, all in the comfort of private bungalows. And houseboat hotels and rentals like Pantheos Top in Amsterdam really turn “visitors” into “locals.”
Airbnb isn’t just nameless and faceless anymore — the call for personalized service for leisure travel upped the ante when it comes to vacation planning. The brand’s Experiences are hyper-local, specialized activities led by residents of the host city. From sketching or photo tours to biking and surfing lessons, there’s much more than just getting out a guidebook and going it alone. The Paris Perfect model offers apartment rentals, along with different levels of concierge service in advance and upon arrival. While they won’t be in your apartment’s lobby, they can plan all of your activities in advance depending on what you choose from the site, or just fill out a questionnaire and local experts plan an entire tour with exclusive access to small-group tours of the Louvre, for example.
You don’t have to take an overseas flight to still get all of the ritz and glitz (or adventure!), and in many cases you’re still in the same time zone when you cruise in your own backyard. In 2018, boutique line Windstar started ramping up its lineup of cruises along the Eastern Seaboard, with brand-new itineraries like Southeast Canadian Explorations, Montreal to Boston, featuring Prince Edward Island and the landscapes of Anne of Green Gables, along with Postcard Ports of Cape Cod and Canada. Norwegian line Hurtigruten expanded its itineraries with Eastern Seaboard trips to New England’s Coastal Gems like Halifax, and Victory Cruise Lines has seen increased interest in its all-inclusive, 10-day Great Lakes Discovery tours.
Culinary Walking Tours
There’s no better way to get a taste for local culture than through food and drink, along with some fascinating context about the neighborhoods you’re visiting, architecture and socialization opportunities with locals. Secret Food Tours, for instance, expanded by leaps and bounds over the past year, with small-group experiences in cities like Lisbon, Tokyo and Dublin. Fit for many different age ranges and even dietary restrictions, it’s about three hours of immersion and is more than fit to replace a meal. Or, visit any major city like Madrid, and sign up for a free walking tour online (try Ogo); simply show up at easy-to-find locations and join up to 40 others for a three-hour stroll among the city’s top highlights, along with snack and restroom breaks. Most folks contribute about €10 per person at the end, but this pay-what-you-can-afford model attracts all walks of life and ages.
Last month, we spent three sunny days (and one rainy hour) at Loew’s Miami Beach Hotel, where I hadn’t been for more than 10 years. This oceanfront resort is perfectly located in walkable South Beach, just one block from Lincoln Road, two blocks from the new eateries in Time Out Market, four blocks from the Convention Center and an easy walk north or south to all the must-see shops and dining spots lining Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue.
There’s one in every family — an art lover, science enthusiast, avid outdoor person, cat fancier, foodie and city dweller looking for the perfect rural setting to chill and reflect. In Japan, one itinerary to satisfy a group with divergent interests is a bike, hike and ferry exploration of the Seto Inland Sea, contained within major islands Honshū (Japan’s largest and most populated island), Shikoku and Kyūshū.
By Hainan Airlines
Deep in southeast Alaska on the fringe of Tongass National Forest in Ketchikan, Cape Fox Lodge is the ideal launching point for an edgy, sophisticated adventure. Shared spaces and private accommodations at the stunning lodge reflect the surrounding wilderness, from the beamed pine ceiling and river rock fireplace in the lobby, to local touches such as native art in each of the guestrooms, suites and detached lodges.