2018’s new culture hits
The LVMH theme park
The luxury brand behind Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs is launching a $70m, Jules Verne-inspired theme park in Paris this autumn. We didn’t see that coming…
With more than 100,000 artefacts, including King Tut’s mask, the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza could well be 2018’s most exciting opening.
Another reason to visit: 2018 sees the world’s most expensive painting, the $450m Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci, arrive at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The new art frontier
L’Atelier des Lumières, which opens in Paris in April, will take you inside great works of art. State-of-the-art projectors will cast images by the likes of Klimt, Bosch and Bruegel onto the walls, immersing visitors in the paintings. Well, it beats craning over the shoulders of the crowd in front of the Mona Lisa.
The new travel frontier
Attention all adventurers: one of the world’s most breath-taking journeys is once more back in play. Thanks to the re-opening of the Nepalese-Tibetan border, which had been closed in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake, the overland route from Nepal to Tibet is again accessible – and it’s well worth the trek. “It’s time to head back before everyone else does,” says John Telfer of adventure travel company Explore. “Although visitor numbers are on the up, I’d recommend travelling sooner rather than later to benefit from quieter trekking trails and less crowded historic sites.” Those towering Himalayan peaks will always be there, but now is an especially good time to visit the area. Life is returning to normal for most Nepalese after the quake – and they could use some business. “It’s estimated half a million people are directly employed in the tourism industry in Nepal,” says Telfer, “with many of their dependants directly affected by any downturn in its fortunes – so your visit will very much help the country get back on track.”
The luxury fixer on where to unwind
Jennifer Atkinson, CEO of ITC Travel Group
“I don’t often give myself permission to relax, but I spent an amazing few days at a Swiss wellness resort this year, the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz. Besides that personal favourite, I’m predicting high demand for luxury trips to the Far East. As a region, it’s culturally rich, great value for money and offers transformative and exciting experiences. There’s a lot of investment in the region, particularly at the five-star end of the market. We’ll be expanding our own business into the Philippines and Japan in 2018.”
2018’s top stop-offs
Out of Africa
Introducing 2018’s newest safari hotspot: Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park. The new Wild Coast Tented Lodge is a sub-Saharan-style camp that puts you in close – and luxurious – proximity to leopards, elephants and monkeys.
New Orleans turns 300
Louisiana’s French-founded port has seen an influx of boutique hotels and round-the-clock bars in recent years, and 2018’s tricentennial is the perfect excuse to visit.
Hotel hot list
2018’s finest new stays
Your own private island
With 14km of soft-sieved sands reserved just for its guests, the plush new Four Seasons Resort Seychelles on Desroches Island is perfect for those chilled castaway fantasies.
The oasis within an oasis
The new Oberoi resort in Marrakech is long-awaited for very good reasons. Not only does the 25-acre property look stunning – a modern-day pasha’s palace surrounded by citrus orchards and olive groves – but it also boasts a huge spa – 2,000m2 – situated on an island in the middle of a lake.
Times Square 2.0
If things get quiet at New York’s Times Square it’s only because we’re speechless after seeing the spanking-new Times Square Edition in Midtown. Extraordinary style in a unique location.
We’re looking forward to seeing how boutique chain Grace’s new five-star shakes up the ski crowd in St Moritz. It’s the first luxury bolthole to open in the Engadine Valley for a while.
Set on the stunning Athens Riviera, The Four Seasons Astir Palace may look like an upmarket resort hotel, with three pools and two private beaches, but it’s just a stone’s throw from Athens.
The world’s most glamorous train journey, the Orient Express, is raising the bar yet further, with three stunning grand suites opening in March 2018.
The rise of the robot hotel
Those fearing a robot uprising should look away now. H.I.S, the Japanese company behind the world’s first automaton-run hotel, Henn-na in Nagasaki Prefecture – with some 250 bots, automated receptionists and luggage carriers – is set to open 10 sister hotels across Japan before September. “This is the future,” says H.I.S’s Allen Jongkeun Lee of the £200m investment in Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka and Tokyo. “No staff costs, no breaks. It drives costs down for us and for guests. The robots are evolving too. They started off speaking Japanese, but have now been programmed to speak Korean, Chinese and English.”
Shanghai’s hotel scene is set for a stylish boost in 2018, with the arrival of at least a dozen banner-waving hotels. Among them are the Shanghai Edition; Capella’s Jian Ye Li, a tribute to the city’s 1930s shikumen architecture; The House Collective’s 111-room The Middle House; just-opened Amanyangyun, a collection of 26 Ming and Qing dynasty houses; and Anantara’s Shanghai Minhang Hotel with a sky garden. Add to that the St Regis Shanghai Jingan, Bellagio and the W, all of which have just opened their doors. These new landmarks are embracing the city’s commercial heritage. “The historic Shanghai Chamber of Commerce, which was originally built in 1916, is incorporated into the hotel’s gardens,” says Vincent Billiard, GM of the Suhe Creek-located Bulgari Hotel. “It’s been returned to its former glory and houses a magnificent 480m2 ballroom with triple-height ceilings and a fine-dining Chinese restaurant.” And did we mention the 180º rooftop bar and Maserati transfers?
The networking guru on where to be seen in 2018
Hugo Campbell-Davys, founder of Urbanologie
“We have 15,000 members who value privacy, discretion, luxury and immersive cultural experiences – and 2018 has plenty going on. First on my radar is Nobu Restaurant Marbella. Last year’s opening in Ibiza was huge and I expect similar things from this sister restaurant. Similarly, the One&Only resorts have long been among the world’s best, and the reopening of Le Saint Géran on a private peninsula in Mauritius is set to make a splash. Monaco also remains constantly on the move. Two places to watch for are a branch of London’s Coya restaurant and a must-see place from Italian millionaire Flavio Briatore.”
Opening this April in Edinburgh, MV Fingal is part of a new breed of floating boutique – or is that boatique? – hotel. The 1960s lighthouse tender has been transformed into a 23-room Art Deco pad that will remain berthed in the Scottish capital. Also on the horizon: Ritz-Carlton is set to offer bespoke voyages on a fleet of luxury yachts.
On the menu
2018 food heroes
i/ Alain Ducasse comes to Beirut
Beirut’s food scene is about to receive a massive boost as the French master chef with 21 Michelin stars opens in Le Gray hotel.
ii/ The return of Thomas Keller
The chef who put the US on the fine-dining map with The French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in New York, is to open a more relaxed but no doubt equally brilliant concept restaurant at the iconic Surf Club hotel in Miami. Surf’s up, as they say…
iii/ Noma 2.0 and René Redzepi
Danish trailblazer Redzepi’s latest trick at his soon-to-reopen Copenhagen restaurant, Noma is a calendar menu, focused on only three seasons (seafood, veg and game).
iv/ Akira Back’s Seoul food
The Las Vegas chef who combines Japanese cuisine with accents of his Korean homeland is going even more international in 2018 with openings slated for Dallas, Dubai, Singapore, Hanoi and Bangkok.
Japanese dude food
You expect Japanese on-the-go food – sashimi, ramen – to be delicate and wholesome, but the latest culinary trend to emerge from the land of the rising sun is downright dirty. “Japan has some incredibly delicious stuff to eat, with that potent, super-savoury flavour called umami,” says Michael Booth, author of The Meaning of Rice and Sushi and Beyond, who predicts that the world will soon be waking up to the likes of deep-fried tofu, kushikatsu – deep-fried meat cutlets – and takoyaki – unhealthy dollops of octopus-loaded batter covered in heart-stopping BBQ sauce. “Umami is addictive, it makes you crave to the point of madness. You find it in takoyaki, okonomiyaki, unagi, kushikatsu and yakitori. For years I’ve wondered why there isn’t an okonomiyaki restaurant on every high street in the world.
The travel expert on his favourite city
Tom Hall, editorial director, Lonely Planet
“I happened upon Seville after seeing some of the bigger-named cities in Spain, and spent my time there kicking myself I hadn’t made it sooner. Cycling in the early evening along handsome avenues and exploring deep into the city’s medieval heart must be one of the greatest experiences, not just in Spain, but in all of Europe. It was made the sweeter by the succession of astonishingly good tapas bars that I’d spent the afternoon touring. The city’s cathedral, the Alcázar palace and the historic lanes glow in warm light by day and take on an exceptionally magical atmosphere as the lights go down. When you factor in it’s a two-hour, 20-minute high-speed train ride from Madrid, the pieces start falling into place for a visit, which if you’re anything like me, swiftly lead to plans for another.”
German chef Yannick Pfeiffer’s high-stacked, architecturally precise Feiner Herr pancakes are taking Berlin by storm. “Berlin is a great place to try new stuff,” says Pfeiffer of his creations, which combine ingredients such as beetroot in batter, served with dark chocolate and coconut flakes. Pancakes are big on the street everywhere now it seems, from Tokyo where pancakes on a stick are currently the thing to London where Taiwanese pancakes are all the rage.