Best Places to Travel in 2016

BHGYX4 main dock at sunrise in Placencia, Belize
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© Peter Donaldson / Alamy Stock Photo

The 50 biggest, buzziest destinations to visit this year include France’s new culture hub, a revived Hawaiian hideaway, and Mexico’s next great arts city.

36. Placencia, Belize

18 of 51

Belize is still great for backpackers—much like Costa Rica in the 1980s—but certain areas have also become bona fide retreats for the well-heeled. For years now, Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn has been drawing glamorous types to its cottages in the beach town of Placencia, on a little-known peninsula on the country’s east coast. But the secret is on the verge of getting out, especially with the late 2016 opening of Itz’ana, an ambitious farm-restaurant-retreat hybrid with 39 upscale villas—all within mere feet of the world’s second-largest coral reef system. The project, which is just down the road from Turtle Inn, is not just ambitious for its five-star creature comforts (rooms will have terraces with daybeds, waterfront views, and soaring ceilings). It’s also a stage for chef Mara Jernigan, of the immensely popular Limilita pop-up restaurant in Placencia, who will be using indigenous ingredients to spotlight Belizean agriculture and fine dining. (She’ll even have a personal fleet of fishermen.) Also on property: a Mayan-inspired spa using locally harvested rainforest botanicals, a room (and sommelier) dedicated to rum, and chartered yachts for sundown cruises. —Nikki Ekstein

BHGYX4 main dock at sunrise in Placencia, Belize

Best Places to Travel in 2016

36. Placencia, Belize

Belize is still great for backpackers—much like Costa Rica in the 1980s—but certain areas have also become bona fide retreats for the well-heeled. For years now, Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn has been drawing glamorous types to its cottages in the beach town of Placencia, on a little-known peninsula on the country’s east coast. But the secret is on the verge of getting out, especially with the late 2016 opening of Itz’ana, an ambitious farm-restaurant-retreat hybrid with 39 upscale villas—all within mere feet of the world’s second-largest coral reef system. The project, which is just down the road from Turtle Inn, is not just ambitious for its five-star creature comforts (rooms will have terraces with daybeds, waterfront views, and soaring ceilings). It’s also a stage for chef Mara Jernigan, of the immensely popular Limilita pop-up restaurant in Placencia, who will be using indigenous ingredients to spotlight Belizean agriculture and fine dining. (She’ll even have a personal fleet of fishermen.) Also on property: a Mayan-inspired spa using locally harvested rainforest botanicals, a room (and sommelier) dedicated to rum, and chartered yachts for sundown cruises. —Nikki Ekstein

© Peter Donaldson / Alamy Stock Photo
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