International luxury travel network Virtuoso®
is answering the question on everyone’s minds: what are the hottest upscale destinations for this year’s holiday season? Acknowledged as a prominent trend prector in the industry, Virtuoso has sourced data from its warehouse of more than $35 billion in transactions to disclose the top destinations for the coming fall and holiday period. Luxury travelers are remaining true to European favorites, while turning their attention to warmer climes as the weather shifts at home. They also are seeking out more exotic locales worldwide, including a boom for African countries.
The Virtuoso Top 10:
The most popular fall and holiday travel destinations based on future bookings.
3. United Kingdom
4. South Africa
9. New Zealand
The Top 10 analysis: Europe’s unrivaled popularity for summer travel continues into the fall. Travelers are enjoying lower average daily rates (ADRs) at Virtuoso partner hotels in major European cities as summer ends. In particular, Paris is down two percent ($1,087), Rome is six percent lower ($949), London is down seven percent ($704) and Barcelona comes in 15 percent lower than summer rates ($596). London and Barcelona in particular represent great value to travelers this fall and holiday season, as they are respectively 21 and 43 percent below the average ADR for Virtuoso partner properties in Europe, which is $853. Also noteworthy: Mexico’s appeal as a warm-weather getaway for Americans and Canadians holds fast despite Zika cautions. Australia and New Zealand are always favored destinations once the Northern Hemisphere cools. In spite of continued Middle East unrest, Israel’s popularity is undiminished. It is a sought-out destination not only for its religious significance, but also for its history, food, culture and adventure experiences.
The Virtuoso Hot 10:
The countries that have seen the largest percentage of growth in year-over-year bookings.
1. Kenya (+59%)
2. Iceland (+56%)
3. Saint Martin (+39%)
4. China (+35%)
5. Ecuador (+34%)
6. Japan (+32%)
7. South Africa (+28%)
8. Tanzania (+27%)
9. Croatia (+25%)
10. Jamaica (+23%)
The Hot 10 analysis: Africa continues to surge in popularity, a continuation of the trend Virtuoso noted for summer travel. With sales up 28 percent year over year, Africa is the only continent to post such an increase. Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, all strong safari destinations, will benefit from a projected 17 percent increase. According to Virtuoso’s travel advisors, safaris are particularly appealing for multigenerational family trips with plenty to see and enjoy for travelers of all ages. Iceland has been a growing favorite in recent years, and its prominent showing on the Hot 10 proves that its popularity is extending into the fall. China has been trending upwards with luxury travelers over the past few years. While travel there is steady year round, the last quarter of the year is the most popular time for visitors, aided by ADRs that are five percent below average. Select Caribbean and South American destinations continue to see growth, with Saint Martin, Ecuador and Jamaica experiencing double-digit increases over last year.
Data is drawn from Virtuoso’s United States and Canadian-based travel agency members and reflects future travel for September through December 2016. The Top and Hot 10 lists represent international travel only, so neither the U.S. nor Canada is mentioned. The findings were announced during the annual Virtuoso Travel Week event taking place in Las Vegas.
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Written by Cynthia Drescher, Conde Nast Traveler
Bypass the selfie stick swarms for a luxury ride to the less touristed sections of the Great Wall, courtesy of the Opposite House Beijing.
Imagine hiking the Great Wall, from tower to tower, in quiet solitude—no throngs of tourists competing for your view, or stopping mid-stride to take a selfie. The moment goes from obligatory—”a China must-do”—to a lifelong memory.
It’s more than a fantasy: We recently took a guided and chauffeured tour organized by the Opposite House, an ultramodern hotel in Beijing’s energetic Sanlitun district. With the help of a registered guide, fluent in both English and Mandarin, and a chauffeured Audi A6, we were able to bypass the popular, overrun Badaling section of the Wall to explore less-touristed stretches—Mutianyu, Huanghuacheng, Simatai, or Jinshanling—free from bus groups and souvenir hawkers.
We traveled in air-conditioned comfort, nodding off during the hour-and-a-half ride to the outskirts of Beijing, completely free from the headache of public transportation and a rigid schedule. Due to crowds, a visit to the Great Wall can be as nerve-wracking as it is awe-inspiring; but our ability to dictate everything according to our individual interests (photography), time frame (a few hours before a business meeting), and energy level (relaxed) removed all potential frustrations. It let us just be there in the moment, experiencing one of the world’s great wonders.
Beyond sharing the history of the Great Wall, our guide helped set up photos, remained patient whenever we got into Snapchatting, and even rode the Mutianyu section’s famous toboggan track exit from the Wall with us. On the way back into Beijing, bellies grumbling, we requested a stop at the city’s infamous Wangfujing Snack Street, where our guide negotiated with local food vendors to make our dream—a lunch of scorpions-on-a-stick—a reality.