Last year it was Antwerp. This year's undisputed European capital of cool is Copenhagen. Style-setters will be combing the countless sleek furniture shops such as just-opened Illums Bolighus (10 Amager Torv; 45/3314-1941), with its four floors of furniture, fabrics, lamps, and glass. They'll be hanging out in cafés with sixties-retro interiors like the new Pussy Galore's (30 Skt. Hans Torv; 45/3524-5300), and they'll be staying at the world's first designer hotel: Arne Jacobsen's 1960 Radisson SAS Royal Hotel, just given the grooviest of redos by German-Iranian designer Yasmine Mahmoudieh (1. Hammerichsgade; 800/333-3333; doubles from $267).
2. TREVISO, ITALY
The small town of Treviso, in the northeast of Italy, is often described as a mini Venice because of its canals. Now it's emerging as Italy's newest center for artists, art lovers, fashion designers, and filmmakers. The emerging Casa dei Carraresi Gallery (33—35 Vicolo Palestro; 39-0422/513-160) will exhibit 120 works by Monet from September 2001 to February 2002. The liveliest haunt in the vibrant food scene is Toni del Spin (7 Via Inferiore; 39-0422/543829), serving Venetian cuisine. In nearby Catena di Villorba, the fashion house Benetton has just opened Fabrica (Via Ferrarezza, Catena di Villorba; 39-04/226-161), an experimental-arts center designed by Tadao Ando.
Our spies Down Under are reporting that Tasmania is the next hot eco-travel destination. Encompassing much of the western half of the island, Cradle Mountain—Lake St. Clair National Park is a dream of glacial lakes, alpine moorlands, and rain forests. Hard-core adventurers sign on for the six-day walk with Cradle Mountain Huts (61-3/6331-2006; from $832 per person), which includes overnights in spartan cabins. On Tasmania's east coast, Freycinet National Park has vast white beaches and pink granite mountains. "Tassie" also has some of Australia's best B&B's, many of which have taken over 19th-century Georgian mansions. In the horsey northern part of the island, the new Calstock Country Guest House (Lake Highway; 61-3/6362-2642; doubles from $143) is surrounded by formal English gardens.
4. SAN JUAN
In Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, a beautification program is nearing completion. Thousands of trees have been planted around town, and new parks feature sculpture commissioned from the island's top artists. The art museum has been renovated and will be drawing crowds with its indigenous installations and its about-to-open nuevo latino restaurant, Pikayo (299 Avda. de Diego; 787/721-6194; dinner for two $100). In RÌo Piedras, there's a new shopping market modeled after Puerto Rico's great 1950's Modernist buildings. And the fifties-style Caribe Hilton (Los Rosales St., St. Gerónimo Grounds; 800/468-8585 or 787/721-0303; doubles from $295) has been given a glam- orous overhaul.
5. PORTLAND, OREGON
Trendy restaurants, clothing shops, and art galleries are popping up along the streets in the Pearl District, the next place to see and be seen in Portland, a city reaching new levels of cool. A slick streetcar, under construction, will link downtown to the Pearl and Nob Hill. After a $20 million expansion last summer, the Portland Art Museum (1219 S.W. Park Ave.; 503/226-2811) will be making news again this year. It has just acquired renowned art critic and Modernist collector Clement Greenberg's private collection, which will open to the public in July.
6. EGYPT'S RED SEA
With some of the world's best diving, Egypt's Red Sea coast first drew the hard-core scuba set. Next came a rash of hotels catering to European package tourists. With this year's openings of three luxury hotels, the Egyptian Riviera is about to change its image.
- On the western shores of the Red Sea, south of the overdeveloped resort town of Al Ghurdaqah, the Oberoi group's Sahl Hasheesh (800/562-3764; doubles from $250) takes over a private beach backed by craggy mountains. The 104 rooms are the last word in Arabian chic, decked out with bedouin carpets and objets d'art.
- Perhaps the Egyptian Riviera's best known town, Sharm el Sheikh was the site of a recent Middle East peace conference. Sharm, at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, has just welcomed a handsome new Ritz-Carlton (Omel Seed; 800/241-3333; doubles from $220).
- And in late 2001, Four Seasons Resort Sharm el Sheikh (800/332-3442) will up Sharm's luxury ante even further with a resort made to resemble an ancient Nubian village.
One man is single-handedly transforming Guadalajara, Mexico, into a destination of international stature. Jorge Vergara, the ambitious founder of the nutritional supplement manufacturer Omnilife Group, is funding a $200 million complex that will include a museum, stadium, hotel, concert hall, and expo center. The sprawling mini-city will feature buildings by some of the world's leading designers, including Daniel Libeskind (creator of Berlin's Jewish Museum) and Jean Nouvel. The JVC Center's first building, a convention center, should open in October.
Berlin's rebirth continues to grab headlines, but Germany's 800-year-old Saxon capital, Dresden, is quietly regaining its status as one of Europe's premier cultural meccas. Devastated by merciless Allied bombings near the end of World War II, Dresden went on to suffer the further indignity of 45. years of hard-line Communist rule.
But things are starting to turn around. The once-fabulous inner city is slowly being restored, including its landmark cathedral, the Frauenkirche—an undertaking so monumental that many thought it impossible. At the same time, the city's cultural attractions have never been more vital, what with 30 museums, two major symphony orchestras, the 450-year-old Kreuzchor boys' choir, and the legendary Saxon State Opera—based in the Semper Opera House, where Wagner and Richard Strauss debuted some of their most famous works.
Dresden's alternative clubs and
cafés are centered in Neustadt, the late-19th-century tenement district. Among the crop of about-to-be-discovered hangouts: Frank's Bar (80 Alaunstrasse; 49-351/802-6727); Café Rialy (24B Bischoffsweg; 49-351/804-4292),
a particular media favorite; and Kunsthof (70 Alaunstrasse; no phone), a happening courtyard filled with cafés, restaurants, and galleries.
Dresden's hotels have also brightened. The grandest accommodations can be found at the Kempinski Hotel Taschenbergpalais (3 Taschenberg;
49-351/49120; doubles from $200), built in 1709 by the legendary Saxon ruler Augustus the Strong. The hippest rooms, however, are at the Art'otel (33 Ostra-Allee; 49-351/ 49220; doubles from $150), with interiors by Milan designer Denis Santachiara and site-specific works by acclaimed local
artist A. R. Penck.
As other islands have flashed in and out of vogue, Barbados has spent the past decade somewhat overlooked and decidedly underrated. But now people are buzzing about this West Indies classic. First off, there's the island's location in the far southeastern Caribbean, well outside the hurricane belt. Then there's its burgeoning culinary scene. The village of Holetown has become a kind of restaurant row, with places like the Mews (Second St.; 246/432-1122; dinner for two $125), which serves French—West Indian fusion dishes. The biggest news of all: after three years of renovations, Sandy Lane (St. James; 246/444-2000) is about to be reborn as one of the world's most glamorous getaways. Right now, 1,200 workers—including tilers from Turkey and stonecutters from Germany—are hard at work putting the finishing touches on the property, with its just-built 47,000-square-foot spa and its two new 18-hole golf courses. When the hotel opens later this spring, rates will be upwards of $1,000 a night.
10 THE LOT, FRANCE
There's a lot to like about the Lot, a delightfully undiscovered département in southwest France, south of the Dordogne and north of Toulouse. Largely agricultural, the Lot is a sleepy area best known to the outside world for its foie gras and black truffles. Until now, the major challenge to the Lot has been getting there, since the autoroute from Paris currently terminates at Souillac, some 40 miles north of Cahors, the capital. But an extension should be completed by the end of this year, opening up the region to travelers.
Although it's home to three Relais & Châteaux properties, including the sumptuous Château de Mercuès (Mercuès; 33-5/65-20-00-01; doubles from $165; opens for the season in April), many travelers prefer to go native and stay in self-catered accommodations. Simple cottages called gîtes can be had for as little as $300 a week through Loisirs Accueil (33-5/65-53-20-90; email@example.com). The company also rents out houses, starting at $1,000 a week.
The Lot is named for the wide river that runs through it. Much of the waterway had been closed to navigation for more than a century, but a scenic 43-mile stretch has recently reopened, allowing adventurous travelers to explore the region aboard self-driven houseboats from Locaboat Plaisance (33-3/86-91-72-72; from $750 a week). The river is lined with cliff-hugging medieval villages, such as Luzech, Bouziès, and St.-Cirq Lapopie—the last considered one of the most beautiful towns in all of France.
Something's happening in Toronto, where architects Rem Koolhaas, David Oleson and Petra Blaise, and graphic-design guru Bruce Mau, have won a commission to build a park. Hip boutiques and sophisticated restaurants now crowd Yorkville Avenue and the newly trendy Warehouse District. Closed for eight years, the Windsor Arms (18 St. Thomas St.; 877/999-2767 or 416/971-9666; doubles from $295) has just reopened with a chic new look.