It's a timely moment that I write this letter announcing the 10th anniversary of Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards. In a few hours I leave for Istanbul to celebrate the launch of Travel + Leisure in Turkey. I will be staying at the Four Seasons there, No. 10 on our readers' list of the best hotels in the world. Like most of the other properties in the top group, on Bali, in Jaipur, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and South Africa, both the hotel and its location—a former prison in a city where Europe and Asia meet—could be called exotic. Along with their lasting impact on destinations and travel providers, the results of our annual awards survey also paint an illuminating picture of the travel interests and experiences of our readers, whose tastes evolve in significant ways. The places that have retained their top spots on our World's Best Awards lists for five years or more, such as New York City, the Galápagos, and the Ritz-Carlton, Cancún, have moved forward in their own ineluctable fashion, changing in the wake of 9/11, as the audience for adventure travel broadens, as the bar keeps getting higher for luxury hotels. More private, more unique, less well known are phrases that can be applied to many phenomena of taste these days—certainly resorts and far-flung destinations, but also sought-after wine vintages, clothing labels, and furniture designs.
This month we further recognize the developing landscape of travel in stories on Tibet, opening up to visitors after years of isolation, and on the inviting southern coast of Croatia, in the now peaceful Balkans. The innate grace and spirituality of Tibet and its people casts a spell on T+L contributing editor Pankaj Mishra, while editor-at-large Peter Jon Lindberg, in "Croat d'Azure", joins the fun-and-sun-seeking throngs cavorting on the unspoiled beaches and in the historic towns lining the Adriatic.
Fun is also the name of the game, along with entertainment and thrills, at America's casinos, as Jonathan Van Meter reports in "The New Casino Culture". But if you're after less risky pleasures, there's plenty to enjoy right here within the pages of T+L: Joel Stein's amusing, if bumpy, drive across America; a highly personal tour of the Vatican with Bob Guccione Jr.; Carol Wallace's Highland fling; river swimming through Texas Hill Country with Alice Gordon; and much more.
In my last 10 years at T+L I have seen countless changes in American travel habits, not to mention shifting boundaries that continue to redefine and shape our exploration of the world. One of the most exciting parts of my job is pointing the way to new destinations that you, our readers, may one day rank at the top of our awards list.