"The inexorable maturing that afflicts so many 'exotic' destinations, turning them into spectacle, then theme park, then mere gimmick" is a phrase I jotted down while reading journalist Max Rodenbeck's piece on Rabat, a lesser-known city in the much-touristed country of Morocco ("Capital Attraction"). Therein lies the crux of the problem for travelers and travel-magazine editors alike: the maturing is propelled by people like us, who seek out-of-the-way places and carry homenews of our discoveries—unleashing change in the process. If I believed the sequence was as inevitable and damaging as Rodenbeck describes, I would have a hard time doing my job.
The word news is key in this issue, as in every issue of T+L, whether in selecting our worldwide roundup of Next Great Beach Resorts (page 200) or in celebrating the projects and products—hotels and airports to sneakers and packing systems—that garnered top prizes in our second annual Design Awards. The mid-20th-century travel institution, Club Med, and its flagship in the Western Hemisphere, Buccaneer's Creek, on Martinique, is current again after its $60 million makeover ("Club Med's New Rx," by contributing editor Shane Mitchell); even walking tours have been updated for the 21st century. This month we test-drive an assortment of the best guides, from books to PDA's.
But some time-honored pleasures remain unchanged: at Charles Cecil's drawing school in Florence, where contributing editor Charles Maclean perfected his line ("Master Class"); and in Iowa, where a Depression-era culinary tic, ketchup-free burgers, was among the finds contributing editor Walter Kirn turned up in his antiques-and-collectibles quest ("American Pie"). And deep in Tanzania, novelist Brad Leithauser and his teenage daughter paused to observe another way of life among the Hadza and Barbaig peoples ("Africa Up Close"). Finally, there's that well-established South American playground Punta del Este, revisited by journalist and Uruguay native Horacio Silva ("The Party Picks Up"). To be sure, there are gimmicks galore—resorts, gambling, nightclubs— and for some travelers, this is exotic enough.