Travelers was founded in 1864 in Hartford. It was founded to provide travel insurance to railroad travelers at a time when travel was far more risky and dangerous than today, hence the name. Along the way it had many industry firsts, including the first automobile policy, the first commercial airline policy, and the first policy for space travel.[9] In 1954 it established the world's first privately owned weather research facility, the Travelers Weather Research Center, the first organization to make weather predictions using probabilities ("20% chance of rain"). By the early 1990s, Travelers was predominantly a general property and casualty insurer that also happened to do some travel insurance on the side, and it quietly exited its original business in 1994. What was left of Travelers' travel insurance business was acquired by three former employees and is now known as Travel Insured International, a Crum and Forster Company.
In 1998, the Travelers Group merged with Citicorp to form Citigroup.[10] However, the synergies between the banking and insurance arms of the company did not work as well as planned, so Citigroup spun off Travelers Property and Casualty into a subsidiary company in 2002,[12] although it kept the red umbrella logo. Three years later, Citigroup sold Travelers Life & Annuity to MetLife.[13] In 2003, Travelers bought renewal rights for Royal & SunAlliance Personal Insurance and Commercial businesses.[14][15]
Many of Travelers' ancestor companies, such as St. Paul and USF&G, are technically still around today, and still write policies and accept claims in their own names (under the overarching Travelers brand name). As is typical of most insurers in the United States, Travelers never dissolved the various companies it acquired, but simply made them wholly owned subsidiaries and trained its employees to act on behalf of those subsidiaries. This is a common risk management strategy used by U.S. insurance groups. If any one company in the group gets hit with too many claims, the situation can be easily contained to that one company (which is placed in runoff and allowed to run its policies to completion), while the remainder of the group continues to operate normally.
Landlocked Laos might be quieter than Southeast Asian neighbors like Vietnam and Thailand, but 2018 could transform the country into the region’s next hot spot. Wattay International Airport, in the capital of Vientiane, is set to complete a terminal expansion to accommodate more international links next year, but the biggest changes are foot in the UNESCO World Heritage–inscribed town of Luang Prabang, in central Laos. This serene riverside spot lures travelers to its golden Buddhist temples, French-colonial architecture, hiking trails, nearby elephant sanctuaries — and now, glamorous new digs. Last year, the design-forward Azerai opened inside a century-old French-colonial building that was formerly an officer’s quarters. The debut concept from Aman Resorts founder Adrian Zecha has airy, light wood interiors that nod to local culture in their use of batik textiles and Laotian artwork. There’s also an 80-foot swimming pool in a tree-shaded central courtyard. The upcoming Rosewood Luang Prabang aims to be a destination in itself. Opening in mid 2018, this highly anticipated resort will feature pavilion-style villas, luxury tents, and a spa that seems to float above the jungle. —Kate Springer
Visitors may want to return to the Belgian capital in 2018 to visit two cutting-edge museums. The Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art opened in the once-infamous Molenbeek district’s old Belle-Vue brewery this past spring, to showcase contemporary art from around the world. There’s also the Citroën Cultural Centre, a new collaboration with Paris’s Centre Pompidou, which will launch its first exhibition in May. The edgy JAM Hotel, an industrial-chic property with exposed brickwork and concrete beams housed in a former art school, is the perfect place for culture-lovers to stay. Don’t leave town without paying homage to Belgium’s UNESCO-recognized beer culture at youthful breweries like Brasserie de la Senne or Brussels Beer Project, both of which are shirking brewing traditions in favor of more experimental microbrewery techniques. —Meredith Bethune

Just an hour and a half north of Melbourne, Nagambie Lakes is one of Australia’s oldest viticulture areas, with some vines dating back to the mid 19th century. This part of Victoria has long been considered a great day-trip destination for its outdoor activities — waterskiing, rowing, and sailing — and renowned wineries. Now there’s reason to linger, thanks to the November debut of the Mitchelton Hotel, a 58-room resort and spa at Mitchelton Winery. With its fine-dining restaurant, the Ministry of Chocolate, and 5½ miles of trails circumnavigating the vineyard, it’s the perfect base for a weekend in the region. Start your trip with a tasting on-site — Mitchelton is known for its Riesling — before venturing to other nearby wineries like Tahbilk, which has been producing quality vintages since 1861, and Goulburn Terrace, which specializes in natural wines. Other popular local vintners include McPherson Wines, David Traeger Wines, and Box Grove Vineyard. —John Scarpinato

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