Top Ten Takeaways from Virtuoso Travel Week
This past August I traveled to Las Vegas to meet with top luxury travel industry professionals at Virtuoso Travel Week. Virtuoso is an elite, by-invitation-only network of the best travel agencies, hotels, destination management companies, tour operators and resorts in the world, with over 100 countries across all 7 continents represented. Over the seven days I was there, I met with over 350 suppliers and learned about the best new hotels, experiences and travel trends for my clients. From must-see destinations to must-visit new resorts, here are my top 10 takeaways!
.1. Sustainable Travel is here to stay! The United Nations designated 2017 the year of Sustainable Tourism. More and more suppliers and hotels have made it their mission to pledge allegiance to sustainability without sacrificing luxury. This year a Bay Area hotel, Cavallo Point, won the award for leader in sustainable tourism. This lovely Sausalito property offers a perfect weekend escape for those looking to take advantage of all San Francisco has to offer but want the peaceful comforts of a quiet retreat to retire to at night.
2. Wellness Travel continues to grow. From a plethora of wellness-focused retreats in California and Arizona, you can also choose from a bevy of options in Europe and elsewhere. These luxury resorts have an assortment of spa treatments, fitness classes and healthy cuisine. Some personal favorites include The Ranch Malibu and Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa in Scottsdale.
3. Sri Lanka remains a top destination. Since the end of its Civil War in 2009, tourists have been flocking to this island destination to experience the exotic cuisine, breathtaking sights, unspoilt beaches and some of the best wildlife outside of Africa (Water buffalo, leopards and elephants are just some of the creatures you can expect to see). I am headed there myself in November 2017 and can’t wait to experience it for myself.
4. Welcome back to Big Sur! With the new Pfeiffer Creek Bridge now open, travelers seeking a Big Sur retreat will once again be able to visit both the Post Ranch Inn and Ventana Inn. The Post Ranch has been helicoptering clients in for the last few months while the resort was inaccessible by road. Ventana used the closures as an opportunity to renovate and also be offering a new glamping option! Fall and winter are gorgeous times to visit Big Sur, when the crowds are at a minimum.
5. For those who have been everywhere, an arctic safari may be in order! If you’re looking for the most ethereal and beautiful scenery on earth as well as magical wildlife (polar bears, walruses, and narwhals!) this is the trip for you. From glacier-diving to dogsledding to polar bear sighting, trips can be designed and customized specifically to your tastes.
6. Uncruise is still my favorite way to experience Alaska. If you are leery of the crowds that go hand in hand with large cruise ships but like the idea of exploring the Great Land while only having to unpack once, then Uncruise Adventures is for you! Uncruise utilizes small yachts (80 people max) and offers active cruise adventures to Alaska, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Panama, the Pacific Northwest and the Galapagos.
7. Everyone loves River Cruising. River cruises offer a smaller and more intimate experience than large ocean liners. Europe remains the largest market, but those seeking more exotic experiences can cruise the Mekong, Amazon or Irrawaddy river. Christmas Market river cruises through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland offer a magical holiday adventure perfect for families.
8. Looking for a new destination in Europe? How about Croatia and Slovenia. Though Dubrovnik has been a tourist favorite for years, the rest of Croatia and its neighbor Slovenia remain much less explored and have an abundance of breathtaking scenery and rich history to be explored. If you’ve done Italy, France, and Spain, this is the next region you must visit.
9. Yes, you can still travel to Cuba without having to take a cruise or travel with a group. I work with one of the few Cuba travel companies authorized to issue travel permits. They know Cuba in and out and together we can help plan an exceptional trip. It is a fascinating country and you should absolutely see it for yourself, but now more than ever, you must work with experts. Do not try to go at it alone.
10. People value experiences above things and travel remains one of the best ways to share the world with those you love most. A good and well-connected travel advisor provides you with access to the most unique and special experiences that turn into precious, lifelong memories.