The Big Easy turns the Big 3-0-0 this year, and in this city where the good times roll, the parties will be epic — think citywide art shows, supersized Mardi Gras parades, and a festival of lights using landmark buildings as backdrops. Thirteen years after Hurricane Katrina, there is much to celebrate: The Central Business District, once a dead zone after dark, now crackles at all hours thanks to four new hotels (the Ace, Troubadour, Catahoula, and NOPSI), each with its own rooftop bar. The neighborhood is also home to new restaurants like Maypop — a Vietnamese-Creole joint from acclaimed chef Michael Gulotta. Another area coming to life is the three-mile riverfront, where a renovated Spanish Plaza will reopen this spring. More riverfront updates, including a new Four Seasons Hotel, will roll out in the next few years. Toast the tricentennial at the Sazerac House, a French Quarter museum dedicated to the official cocktail of New Orleans, opening later this year. —Allison Entrekin
In March 2017, Travelers agreed to acquire UK-based Simply Business from Aquiline Capital Partners for approximately $490 million. Simply Business is a leading U.K. distributor of small business insurance policies, offering products online on behalf of a broad panel of carriers. It has more than 425,000 microbusiness customers covering more than 1,000 classes of business, and was named “Best Company to Work For” by The Sunday Times in 2015 and 2016. The transaction adds to Travelers' digital capabilities.
Saint Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co. was founded March 5, 1853, in St. Paul, Minnesota, serving local customers who were having a difficult time getting claim payments in a timely manner from insurance companies on the east coast of the United States. It barely survived the Panic of 1857 by dramatically paring down its operations and later reorganizing itself into a stock company (as opposed to a mutual company). It soon spread its operations across the country. In 1998 it acquired USF&G, known formerly as United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company, an insurance company based in Baltimore, Maryland, for $3.9 billion in stock and assumed debt. By buying USF&G, they went from the 13th to the eighth largest property and casualty insurance company in the United States. Through economies of scale between the two companies, and a difficult business environment, they downsized the company substantially over the coming years by selling certain business units to focus on more profitable business units.
The jewel of the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is home to more than 1,200 islands, but travel between them has long been dictated by expensive yacht charters and sluggish public ferries. In 2018, that’s set to change, now that UberBOAT, from the popular ride-sharing app, has launched on-demand transfers and private tours along the Dalmatian Coast. Hit the high seas in the direction of Šolta, a hilly isle a mere nine nautical miles from Split (the second-largest city in Croatia).
Florida vacations can be anything you want them to be. Whether your idea of a great time is camping in a nature preserve, building sand castles, shopping at outlet or boutique malls, trying local cuisine at fine restaurants, tubing down rivers or riding roller coasters, tailoring a trip to your own level of adventure or relaxation is easy when you visit Florida. The state is filled with things to do, people to meet and places to explore, and each region, city and neighborhood has carved out its own identity, suiting a variety of visitors of all ages.
Although the former Soviet republic might seem remote, Uzbekistan once sat at the very center of the world. In the first millennium, no traveler could pass from Asia to Europe without stopping in the Silk Road strongholds of Bukhara and Samarkand, and as a result these cities evolved into rich cultural centers. For intrepid travelers, today’s Uzbekistan is a promised land: a Muslim-majority nation that’s both safe and affordable, with few tourists and an abundance of well-preserved mosques and harems. And since the death of authoritarian president Islam Karimov last year, the new regime has taken steps toward reform that have given both Uzbeks and the international community reason for optimism. Improving relations with Iran could soon bring a rail link to the Persian Gulf, and in 2016, the Afrosiyob high-speed-train line began connecting the country’s major cities. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan should benefit from the so-called Iron Silk Road, or Trans-Asian Railway — a Chinese-funded network of routes knitting together Beijing and Europe — once a segment connecting the country through Kyrgyzstan is completed. Book a customized journey with Exeter International, which specializes in the region. —Heidi Mitchell