Rising above its associations with the annual hot-air-balloon festival, Albuquerque will this year set out to prove itself as a fully-fledged destination. The Sawmill District, just north of the historic Old Town, is being revived as a creative center, anchored by the arrival of the Hotel Chaco. The design of this boutique property, which opened in April, is inspired by the state’s indigenous culture, with handmade Navajo wool textiles and pueblo-inspired motifs. Come spring, downtown ABQ will also see the arrival of a new entertainment hub: the $40 million One Central, which will have a sleek bowling lounge, as well as upscale stores and restaurants. And just outside town, visitors will soon be able to experience the striking Sandia Mountains in a nail-biting new way. The proposed Mountain Coaster, an alpine sled-style ride that plunges riders down the mountainside in a total vertical drop of 380 feet, is due to open this fall. Getting to Albuquerque is becoming even easier, thanks to new nonstop flights from major U.S. cities via Southwest, United, and Alaska Airlines. —Melanie Lieberman
U.S. travelers have historically overlooked Mauritius in favor of other Indian Ocean destinations like the Seychelles and Maldives. That could all change, though, now that this remote, idyllic island some 1,200 miles off the African coast has become easier to reach. A flurry of new airline services launched at the end of 2017: KLM began servicing Mauritius from Amsterdam, and British carrier Thomas Cook Airlines introduced biweekly flights in November. Upon arrival, travelers can take in dreamy lagoon views from the newly reopened One&Only Le Saint Géran, fresh off a multimillion-dollar renovation. Every room and suite now has a private terrace or balcony, marble baths with cascade showers, and sophisticated teak, stone, and leather accents. Guests can also look forward to updated dining experiences — like lunch spot La Pointe, which grills fresh-caught seafood over firewood and coconut embers, or open-air restaurant La Terrasse, which offers Mauritian specialties. Unchanged at Le Saint Géran is its aura of exclusivity, thanks to the resort’s unique position on a private peninsula jutting out from the island’s eastern shore. —Melanie Lieberman
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