We fast-forward to the year ahead to see where some of the hottest hotels will be opening and what destinations will be buzzing across the world.
Expect celebrations, special ceremonies and street parties across the UK on the weekend of 8-10 May, held to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day, when World War Two fighting in Europe finally came to an end. To mark the occasion, the government has changed the traditional first Bank Holiday Monday of the year to a Friday… Cue lots of confused Brits looking for something to do!
London is never short of a new opening or two, and highlights of 2020 will include the arrival of slick US brand NoMad. A 91-room hotel is being embedded into the Grade II-listed Bow Street Magistrates’ Court and Police Station in Covent Garden. The building’s original courtroom will be reimagined as a space for events, while a museum with rotating exhibitions will honour the history of the Metropolitan Police Force.
Also coming to London in the spring is The Londoner – located in Leicester Square, the hotel will have 350 guest rooms and 35 suites, a rooftop bar, subterranean spa experience and private screening rooms.
New in Majorca for summer 2020 will be a hotel on the west of the island, the 304-room Zafiro Palace Andratx in Camp de Mar, a pretty village sheltered by mountains and close to a Blue Flag beach, with the stylish yacht club of Port d’Andratx also nearby.
Meanwhile in the south-east of the island, the owners of Palma’s acclaimed Sant Francesc will be launching Can Ferrereta (pictured above) in Santanyi this spring. The 31-room hotel is within a historic 17th-century mansion and will display an exciting collection of contemporary Spanish art.
Borgo 69 is a new collection of individually designed one- to three-bedroom villas opening in spring in Tuscany. Set just outside the historic village of Pozzo, the concept is created by the team behind Fontelunga Hotel & Villas, with the focus on providing high-end self-catering around a communal pool, organic vegetable garden and boutique deli restaurant, Emprio Di Ines, which will also host twice-weekly dinner parties.
Also in Italy, it may have opened to much fanfare around its incredible wellness offering, but Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti is now ready for its first stylish ski season too. Set in Pinzolo, within the ski area of Madonna di Campiglio, guests can access 150km of slopes, four snowboard parks and make use of a single ski pass valid for the entire area, the biggest in Trentino.
Black Tomato also highlights the recent Unesco decision to list the nearby Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene: hills full of fizz? What’s not to like?
Meanwhile, Carrier tips a more unusual option for a lux getaway in 2020 – Bulgaria. The operator is backing the Relais & Chateaux Zornitza Estate in the south of the country, complete with vineyard, eco-farm, beehives and truffles. There are 10 other wineries close by, as well as Pirin national park, a Unesco World Heritage Site known for its glacial lakes.
Meanwhile, Steppes, Wild Frontiers and Black Tomato both say Armenia should be on everyone’s radar – especially those who want a Silk Road fix, as well as oenophiles, as the country is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world.
Athens could grab more of the spotlight thanks to work finally starting on Hellinikon, flagged as Greece’s number-one development and said to be a transformational project.
A vast redevelopment of land around the old airport will mean an entirely new Athenian Riviera, including a 1km public beach, aquarium, yachting marina, high-end hotel, huge park, aviation museums, restaurants and cycle paths all reached by a well-connected network of public transport.
But until all that’s ready (it’s going to take several years), we’re liking the look of the new A77 Suites by Andronis; there are just 12 suites, giving a wonderful vibe of privacy yet close to all the action in Plaka.
And the recent run of luxury hotel openings in Greece looks set to continue apace in 2020, with the arrival this spring of the 199-room Angsana Corfu, including private pool villas, a fine-dining restaurant headed up by Michelin-starred chef Ettore Botrini, and an Angsana Spa and infinity pool. The hotel will open year round and is close to Corfu’s Old Town.
Also in Corfu, MarBella Collection’s third property, MarBella Elix, opens in June in Parga, close to Perdika village. There will be 146 rooms, four restaurants, three bars and a wellness centre.
For the first time in the brand’s history, Scenic is getting ready to take guests on a luxury tour of Iran in 2020.
Starting and finishing in the capital, Tehran, the two-week itinerary takes in the Sa’dabad Palace complex; offers the chance to see Iran’s prized Crown Jewels at the National Jewellery Treasury; an optional caviar-tasting experience; Shiraz, famed for the ancient Vakil Bazaar and the Pink Mosque; and the Silk Road city of Isfahan.
The Persia Unveiled tour starts from £4,895pp, based on a 6 September, 2020 departure. Scenic is also featuring Oman and Israel for the first time.
Moving over to the UAE, World Expo 2020 will be the largest event ever staged in the Arab world, welcoming 190 participating countries and millions of visitors during its six-month run, which begins in October. Taking place in Dubai, the Expo could also be combined with a visit or stay in other emirates such as Abu Dhabi, a 50-minute drive away and home to the now world-famous Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Marrakech will become the first African Capital of Culture in 2020, awarded thanks to its substantial haul of architectural, artistic and cultural legacy. On our list to see in the city is Musee Yves Saint Laurent and the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden – Marrakech’s first museum of African art – opened in 2018.
And where better to stay than the iconic Royal Mansour Marrakech (pictured), which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020 with two new restaurants – Sesamo, by the Michelin-starred Alajmo brothers, and The Nest, an elevated private dining space overlooking the new 1.5 hectares of gardens.
Also new in Marrakech later in the year will be Cenizaro Hotels & Resorts’ La Maison Arabe, a reworking of the 1940s restaurant that was the first in the Medina to be accessible to foreigners. Famous visitors included Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, before it became a riad with 32 rooms, and Cenizaro will now put its stylish stamp on it. The group will also be opening The Residence Douz, their second property in Tunisia, later in 2020.
Chiva-Som International Health Resort is planning to launch its first project outside of Thailand, using its tried and tested philosophy to open the Zulal Wellness Resort in Qatar later in 2020.
Hailed as the “Middle East’s first full-immersion wellness resort”, Zulal will also be the first centre for Traditional Arabic Integrative Medicine (TAIM); the 120-room resort is in Khasooma, a coastal location in the north, an hour from Doha.
We’ve got our eye on South Africa’s first “tented wine farm experience”, Boschendal’s Tented Camp, which will offer a new way to enjoy the Cape Winelands. Opening in the next couple of months in the heart of a 4,500-acre working estate (there are already cottages on-site to stay at), there will be seven tents built with all the creature comforts. The property promotes sustainable farming with plenty of produce grown for its two restaurants.
There’s likely to be little let-up in the growing popularity of Uganda and Rwanda as people continue to add “see gorillas” to their bucket lists. There are said to be around 1,000 mountain gorillas in the area now, but the task is also to convince people that these incredible creatures are not the only reason to visit these beautiful countries.
Travellers can also see the Big Five, and visit three Unesco world heritage sites in Uganda, says Volcanoes Safaris (Bwindi Lodge in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest pictured), as well as potentially spotting rare tree-climbing lions in Ishasha, in Queen Elizabeth National Park; golden monkeys in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; or chimps in the Kyambura Gorge wetland, which Volcanoes purchased in 2019 in order to safeguard these creatures.
Meanwhile, Rwanda will be in the spotlight as it prepares for an official visit from the Prince of Wales in 2020. Who knows, maybe he and Camilla will stay at the just opened One&Only Gorilla’s Nest…
There’s another reason to visit the white sandy beaches of Mozambique in 2020 with the arrival mid-year of Azura Marlin Beach on Benguerra Island. Previously known as the Marlin Lodge, it currently has 10 villas, including a two-bedroom family villa with pool, while the reception area, watersports centre, spa and pool are being redeveloped, with Azura Retreats also adding a further 10 rooms.
For clients who want more than the “next big thing” and crave the place “no one else is going to yet”, Angola could be an option. Next year will see the launch of Natural Selection’s new flying safaris to the country. Tipped as the first of their kind, the trips will follow the tributaries that feed the Okavango and Kwando rivers and wetland systems from their sources in the Angolan Highlands.
The trip is pitched as “a conservation journey of discovery and learning through one of the most remote wilderness areas on the planet”. Accommodation is in dome tents with dinner cooked on the fire and accompanied by experts from National Geographic.
Abercrombie & Kent, among many others, predicts Egypt will have its time in the sun again in 2020. “After the tumult of recent years, Egypt is making a deserved return to form,” says A&K managing director Kerry Golds.
One of the big drivers for business will be a visit to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), scheduled to finally open in 2020. GEM will be the world’s largest archaeological museum, including 30,000 artefacts never exhibited in public.
Visitors will be able to see a gilded sarcophagus that was stolen by an international smuggling ring in 2011; the 2,100-year-old artefact was recovered and returned to Egypt in September.
If that wasn’t enough of a reason to visit the country, suggest clients follow in the footsteps of Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, as Kenneth Branagh is directing a remake of Death on the Nile. A&K also suggests exploring the river in a less dramatic way, on the just refreshed Sanctuary Nile Adventurer.
Hudson Yards drew a lot of New York attention in 2019 with the arrival of the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Vessel sculpture and the next big thing will be Edge, said to be the Western Hemisphere’s highest outdoor observation deck.
Edge is set to open on 11 March and will have a record-setting height of 1,131 feet. Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and extending 80 feet from the 100th floor of 30 Hudson Yards, views from Edge will extend to up to 80 miles.
The attraction will be open until midnight, so we’ll be up there late for the champagne bar, operated by London-based Rhubarb Hospitality Group. Rhubarb will also operate Peak, the restaurant, bar, cafe and event space on the 101st floor.
We’ll be getting our political hat on for a visit to Washington DC, where the hot new hotel opening is Riggs Washington DC (above).
It gets its name from the historic building it sits in, once home to Riggs National Bank, or the “Bank of Presidents”.
It should open in the spring in the Penn Quarter and, as well as its 180 rooms, there will also be a European brasserie-inspired cafe and a bar by the London-based Mr Lyan team: we'll be at the Silver Lyan bar exploring the “rich history of cultural exchange in America” in cocktail form.
Washington DC was also recently named the number-two city in the world for travellers in 2020 by Lonely Planet, thanks to its iconic museums and monuments and a thriving food scene.
Moving down to the Caribbean, and Carrier heralds the British Virgin Islands, having shown incredible resilience and now making an impressive comeback following the impact of Hurricane Irma.
After losing most of its accommodation, many of the luxury resorts and hotels are now open again or will be reopening shortly. Rosewood Little Dix Bay will be reopening in January, having been closed for four years, and is now also aiming to be the most sustainable hotel in the Caribbean.
Also on the renewal theme, St Barths’ hotels have their red carpets rolled back out ready for high-end guests, says Carrier, including the only property in the Caribbean with Palace distinction, Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, and Eden Rock.
One of Lonely Planet’s must-visit countries for 2020 is Costa Rica, which recently declared the Miravalles Volcano national park-Jorge Manuel Dengo its 29th national park.
Miravalles Volcano national park-Jorge Manuel Dengo has also been awarded the UN’s highest environmental honour: 2019 Champions of the Earth.
With all this in mind, Hayes & Jarvis has introduced an 11-day Mystic Jungle tour (from £2,899pp) including an “ant tour” in Sarapiqui to learn more about the life of this leaf-cutting insect; and Rincon de la Vieja – close to the Miravalles park, with visits to volcanic hot springs and zip-lining.
Another Lonely Planet top tip is Uruguay, thanks to its whale- and dolphin-watching, gastronomy and fine wines.
Virgin Atlantic launches its first ever flight to South America in 2020, starting a daily service to Sao Paulo on a Boeing 787-9 beginning 29 March, in partnership with Brazilian airline GOL.
Elsewhere in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro has been hailed Unesco’s world capital of architecture in 2020 and will have plenty of events and cultural celebrations planned, says Hayes & Jarvis.
A solar eclipse in Argentina on 14 December 2020 could excite some clients; it will be visible from just a few South American countries and Northern Patagonia will be plunged into darkness in the middle of the afternoon.
A&K’s 12-night Patagonia Explored itinerary is designed to immerse clients in this vast and varied landscape, from £6,300pp.
A slew of new luxury and lifestyle hotels are coming to the hip Canadian city of Toronto.
In early 2020, a 13-storey Ace Hotel opens in the Fashion District, showcasing 124 rooms. And after nearly two years of renovations, Toronto’s reinvented Park Hyatt is set to reopen in the summer, with 220 rooms and suites, a world-class restaurant, fully refurbished spa and a roof lounge. Also in the summer, 1 Hotels Toronto will be the first hotel in Canada for the eco-luxury brand when it opens on King Street West.
2020 also marks 100 years since Ontario’s Group of Seven, Canada’s most important and beloved 20th-century artists, formed.
The famous painters’ work was inspired primarily by the landscapes of Algonquin Provincial Park and the whole province will commemorate the anniversary with a range of celebrations, exhibitions and events.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) also has a celebratory year – its 10th anniversary of being at its TIFF Bell Lightbox HQ; audiences will be able to enjoy special programmes and events to help celebrate the occasion.
We would all no doubt hope Sri Lanka continues its recovery into 2020 to retain its position as the desirable hotspot it was before the events of Easter 2019.
As A&K says, it’s “brimming with ancient treasures and a rich cultural heritage – all ringed by the palm-fringed beaches of the Indian Ocean”. UK nationals can enter the country on a visa-free, no-cost basis until the end of January.
Thailand is never short of a hotel opening or two, and we’ve got our eye on the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok (pictured above). Designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, the 299-room hotel will be welcoming guests from 1 February; it has two infinity pools overlooking the Chao Phraya river as well as six dining options. Elsewhere, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is declaring 2020 as the year of responsible tourism as it looks to deal with overtourism.
Carrier has its eye on Bhutan for 2020, saying the country is benefiting from “fantastic connections via Thailand and Singapore, and is also easily accessible through India, and a great combination with Nepal”.
A new andBeyond property, the Punakha River Lodge, with just nine rooms on 50 acres of land, is also slated for an October opening in Bhutan.
Six Senses will continue the phased introduction of its lodges in the country – Six Senses Thimphu, Six Senses Punakha, Six Senses Paro and Six Senses Gangtey are open, while Six Senses Bumthang is scheduled to launch this spring.
Como Hotels & Resorts – which has two hotels in Bhutan, Como Uma Punakha and Como Uma Paro – is also planning a travelling luxury camp for up to 12 people in the country.
Lux Resorts & Hotels is getting ready to complete its series of properties along China’s 3,000km-long Tea Horse Road, which winds through the mountains to the Tibetan Plateau. Lux’s latest boutique retreat in Dali will allow travellers to further uncover the ancient trading route, combined with the group’s other properties in Lijang and Benzilan.
In 2020, Lux will also open a pioneering resort on the edge of the island of Phu Quoc, off Vietnam’s south-west coast with 146 rooms and built completely over water.
The buzz around Japan and the Rugby World Cup has been phenomenal and it looks set to continue, as Tokyo prepares to host the Olympics from 24 July to 9 August.
In the meantime, there are great new hotels to explore in Japan such as Aman Kyoto and Park Hyatt Kyoto, plus Hinode Hills Niseko Village, a 79-room hotel that’s perfect for ski and snowboarding on powdery snow, and stunning Mount Yotei views.
As if Bali didn’t already have a plethora of luxury hotels, Raffles is the latest brand to throw its elegant hat into the ring. Raffles Bali is slated to open in April in Jimbaran Bay with 32 private pool villas dotted among 56 acres of tropical backdrop.
Later on in 2020, the brand will also make its debut in India, with the arrival of the Raffles Udaipur in December. Often referred to as the “Venice of the East”, Udaipur is in the western state of Rajasthan, and the hotel will occupy its own private island in the middle of picturesque Udai Sagar Lake. With 101 suites, a pool and sprawling gardens, this will be one not to be missed.
2020 looks set to be another exciting year for high-end cruising, including the launch of Crystal Endeavor (pictured), Crystal Cruises’ first custom-built expedition ship, in August.
It will have naturalists and expedition leaders Boris Wise and Eva Molin Westerholm overseeing as many as 22 expert guides.
The ship will accommodate just 200 guests, with butlers on hand, Nobu Matsuhisa’s Umi Uma & Sushi Bar, mud rooms and a full-service spa.
Also new will be Silversea’s Silver Origin launching in July and replacing Silver Galapagos.
The all-suite, 100-guest Silver Origin is pitched as “the most elegant ship to ever sail the region” and is Silversea’s first ship specifically designed for a destination.
Elsewhere, Aqua Expeditions will be showcasing its new ship Aqua Blu, with seven-night itineraries in Raja Ampat; Bali-Komodo national park; and Ambon & Spice Islands.
Carrier also predicts expedition cruising will be a big hit in 2020, especially to Antarctica.
Meanwhile, A&K tips the Arctic Circle as a popular 2020 choice, offering sailings on the exclusively chartered Le Boreal (a Ponant ship); a 14-night Grand Arctic Voyage takes in Svalbard, Iceland, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. The price? A mere £51,285 per person.