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
Once a sleepy second fiddle to Southern culinary powerhouses like Charleston and Nashville, Greenville is stepping into the limelight with hot new restaurants. The town will soon be home to an outpost of Sean Brock's heirloom-crop-focused Husk and a food-centric market hall called the Commons. Other recent additions include modern Italian spot Jianna from Michael Kramer (the opening executive chef of McCrady's in Charleston, pre-Brock) and the moody speakeasy lounge Vault & Vator. It's an impressive collection of quality restaurants for a city of just over 67,000.
Couples retreats are common along the coastal areas and several luxury hotels offer “pet packages” for those who choose to bring their pups. Sample local beer at one of the many breweries located throughout the state, many of which offer behind-the-scenes tours, along with dozens and dozens of fine wineries as well. Stay in a cabin where Wi-Fi signals are nil or enjoy a modern urban hotel with dozens of fine restaurants, trendy bars and cultural landmarks within walking distance.
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
Three high-ranking Travelers are sent back by the Director to put Grace on trial for violating protocols, overwriting a person who was not assigned to be her host, and sabotaging the Grand Plan. Mac and the team must give testimony at the trial that will determine if she should be overwritten or not. Meanwhile, the Faction is trying to replenish its numbers by overwriting people with the stored minds in the Quantum Frame. It transpires the trial was staged by the Director to flush out a Faction member from within the three Travelers judging Grace, which it successfully does, this leading to Mac's team securing the Quantum Frame.
Almost all of the Earth's islands are natural and have been formed by tectonic forces or volcanic eruptions. However, artificial (man-made) islands also exist, such as the island in Osaka Bay off the Japanese island of Honshu, on which Kansai International Airport is located. Artificial islands can be built using natural materials (e.g., earth, rock, or sand) or artificial ones (e.g., concrete slabs or recycled waste). Sometimes natural islands are artificially enlarged, such as Vasilyevsky Island in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, which had its western shore extended westward by some 0.5 km in the construction of the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg.
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, skerries, cays or keys. An island in a river or a lake island may be called an eyot or ait, and a small island off the coast may be called a holm. A grouping of geographically or geologically related islands is called an archipelago, such as the Philippines.
Finland’s Archipelago Sea is the world’s largest, with 25,000 miles of shoreline and innumerable islands. Still off the beaten track for international tourists, who gravitate toward Helsinki in summer and Lapland in winter, the archipelago is the well-kept secret of the Finns, generations of whom flock to family-owned islands. And there’s never been a better time to join them, with increased airlift — including transatlantic flights on Norwegian Air starting around $350 — and a burgeoning food and beverage scene in nearby Turku, Finland’s medieval capital. (Start at the Kauppahalli, or market hall, where the salmon is as fresh and flavorful as a summer tomato.) The archipelago has a subarctic glamour, with eerie, sunlit summer nights and dark winter days, its rocky, tree-lined islands dotted with storybook wooden cottages. Hike, bike, or drive the islands; or hole up on one all your own. —Molly McArdle
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. 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.
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