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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
Last summer, the museum expanded its artistic footprint by over 130,000 square feet, making it the largest contemporary art space in the country. The new Building 6 houses long-term installations by artists like James Turrell, Louise Bourgeois, and Jenny Holzer. Two new museums are still in the works for North Adams, both spearheaded by former Guggenheim director Thomas Krens. At the Global Contemporary Art Museum, curators will work directly with artists to acquire and commission site-specific pieces, while the Extreme Model Railroad & Contemporary Architecture Museum will showcase works by the likes of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, all built in miniature as part of an elaborate model train system. Design is also top-of-mind at Tourists, a modern take on the roadside motel that’s set to open this summer. The resort — situated on 55 acres at the convergence of the Appalachian and Mohawk Trails — will have 48 rooms, each with floor-to-ceiling windows that put the focus on surrounding vistas. —Fiorella Valdesolo
Of all the islands that make up Italy’s Aeolian archipelago, Salina is arguably the most alluring: it is not yet a celebrity haven like its neighbor Stromboli, where Giorgio Armani, Domenico Dolce, and Stefano Gabbana have homes; and it’s not yet overrun with the luxury yachts of affluent soccer players like nearby Panarea. That the isle has stayed blissfully unspoiled for this long eludes those who know of its imposing natural beauty — steep mountains blanketed in blossoming trees and wildflowers, small villages speckled with olive and lemon groves, fig trees, and miles of terraced Malvasia vineyards. The Relais & Châteaux property Capofaro Malvasia & Resort is one of Salina’s finest places to check in to, thanks to its secluded location, private beach, Tasca d’Almerita wines, and restaurant spotlighting local flavors (think wild fennel, orange, and caper leaves). Once you’ve settled in, skip on over to the town of Lingua to watch the sun set on the Marina Garibaldi, and order the best almond granita of your life at the Da Alfredo waterfront café. —Rocky Casale
History buffs and intrepid travelers have long been attracted to Jordan and its famous archaeological site of Petra, a “lost” citadel dating back 2,000 years. And despite political unrest in the broader region, the country remains a safe destination to discover the wonders of the Middle East. After playing out Indiana Jones fantasies amid the rose-colored, rock-cut façades of Petra’s famous landmark, Al Khazneh (the Treasury), set out to unearth the nation’s other historical attractions. In the lesser-known city of Jerash, 170 miles from Petra, you can see the ruins of an ancient Roman settlement, including the second-century Hadrian’s Arch, while in the protected desert wilderness of Wadi Rum, you’ll find some 25,000 rock carvings that trace the early development of the alphabet.
The Greek highway system has seen several recent upgrades, with a new route making the 2,000-year-old olive trees and lesser-visited ruins of the Peloponnese, the country’s southernmost swathe of mainland, more accessible. Completed in late 2016, the new A71 highway from Lefktro to Sparta shaves off two hours of driving time from Athens, and has also connected the Lefktro region to nearby Kalamata Airport, about 90 minutes away. Meanwhile, ports have been expanded at Gytheio and Katakolon — the latter a stopping point for the Viking Star, which launched in 2014. Farming is still integral to the region, and agritourism resorts like Eumelia constantly refresh their food and wellness-themed workshops, in addition to serving local dishes like maniatiki pasta with dry mizithra cheese, and moustokouloura, or cookies made with grape molasses. Goddesses seeking more temple-like accommodations should head to Porto Heli, on the eastern side of the Peloponnese, where everyone is talking about Amanzoe’s new Villa 31, a serene space with grandstand views of the surrounding coastline that contains a unique installation by light artist James Turrell. —Adam Harney Graham
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