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
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.
In 2004, the St. Paul and Travelers Companies merged and renamed itself St. Paul Travelers, with the headquarters set in St. Paul, Minnesota. In August of that year, it was charged of misleading statements associated with the merger. Despite many assurances from CEO Jay Fishman that the newly formed company would retain the St. Paul name, the corporate name only lasted until 2007, when the company repurchased the rights to the famous red umbrella logo from Citigroup and readopted it as its main corporate symbol, while also changing the corporate name to The Travelers Companies.
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To better accommodate the millions who visit Iguazú Falls, a UNESCO site of 275 mighty waterfalls straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil, nearby Cataratas del Iguazú Airport is being modernized and enlarged. Within Iguazú National Park, the Ecological Jungle Train, which takes visitors on a 25-minute journey to the epic Devil’s Throat cascade, is converting from gas to environmentally friendly electric trains. Starting this February, travelers will be able to bed down at the long-awaited Awasi Iguazú resort where 14 rainforest villas will each have plunge pools and guests will have access to a personal excursion guide and 4WD vehicles. Expect visits to native Guarani tribes, river kayaking, and jungle treks led by a resident biologist. Selvaje, an upscale 12-room lodge, will also open early this year and will offer a menu of couple-friendly activities, from picnics to spa treatments. For the ultimate in romance, though, Argentinean travel outfitter Mai 10 (run by Travel + Leisure A-List Agent Maita Barrenechea) can arrange private dinners alongside the falls under the light of a full moon. —Nora Jean Walsh
Tel Aviv has attracted a lot of attention for its nightlife and creative culinary scene in recent years. These days its center of gravity has shifted south, to the site of the ancient port town of Jaffa (technically part of the city itself). This month, the Setai opens in a former Ottoman prison; a new W Hotel housed in a 19th-century former convent and pilgrims’ hospice is scheduled to open in March. It’s just the latest in a growing list of upscale hotels, restaurants, and boutiques to arrive among the winding streets of this former fishing village. Jaffa’s once-shabby flea market is now populated by a number of high-end antique dealerships, which sit alongside trendy cafés and bars — many offering live music into the night. Don’t miss Maskit, an iconic Israeli fashion house known for its embroidery that has been recently reincarnated after closing in the 1990s. Numerous interesting chefs have also set up shop among Jaffa’s churches, mosques, and archaeological sites. Try Beit Kandinof, a restaurant housed in a 17th-century building, where creative dishes like artichoke-and-pesto bruschetta are served alongside local art exhibits. —Sara Toth Stub