Top Travel Trends of 2010
From underground supper clubs to virtual reality “trips,” the new year promises exciting and innovative discoveries for the traveler.
It's true—we travel to relax, to see new places, shop in hot design cities, and eat and drink till we drop. But we also travel to connect—to people and to places, to history, landscapes, food, and traditions. And in 2010 the desire among travelers for authentic experiences is stronger than ever.
At the same time, we find ourselves bound together in new and unpredictable ways by technology—by the always-on, real-time, status-updating frenzy of social media, backed by the power of our smartphone cameras and iPhone apps. So this is the way we travel now: in search of connection, and yet already connected.
But is connectivity always a good thing? Yes, you can ask your friends and followers for restaurant advice and travel tips for your vacation in Barcelona, and yes, you can look at a million photos and video clips on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Street View. A detailed itinerary has its appeal, but we are also losing touch with the magic and mystery of travel. One of the reasons we travel, after all, is for the thrill of discovery.
In counterpoint to high-tech social networking is the enduring appeal of the book fair, places where readers and authors meet face-to-face. Literary festivals, like music, theater, and other live events, are thriving not in spite of the Internet but because of it—more and more, travelers are seeking out real connections, real people, and one-of-a-kind experiences.
While more and more shopping experiences are moving online—including trunk shows and even sample sales—there are still those items that you can find only in person, on the road. We catalogued unusual keepsakes—real discoveries around the world, items found in street markets, hardware stores, and pharmacies rather than gift shops. They're not necessarily pretty or kitschy but are old-fashioned and solid. More than anything else they reflect the places they're from—and therefore are truly authentic souvenirs.
This year's trend report also includes our picks of emerging destinations and new places to stay, including an easygoing new beach hotel in Florida, the Postcard Inn on the Beach; the new Hotel Le Corderie in Triste, Italy; and Keswick Hall in Virginia, where guests can help make wine, and bring a bottle home. Plus: a 3-D simulation of Florence and Venice, a new green city in India, and the enduring appeal of French cooking.
Remaking Historic Markets
After recent makeovers, three historic markets have become go-to spots for sampling regional cuisine.
Madrid: Madrileños have been packing into the glass-and-iron Mercado de San Miguel (mercadodesanmiguel.es) since its ultramodern update.
Best Find: La Fromagerie, owned by a Frenchman who devotes his life to the pursuit of rare Spanish cheeses.
Washington, D.C.: Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market (facebook.com/Eastern-Market) recently reopened in a refurbished 19th-century brick building. On weekends, more than 100 vendors and farmers sell everything from gourmet meats to seasonal fruits.
Best Finds: Imported sopressata at Canales Delicatessen and buttery cupcakes at Fine Sweet Shop.
Singapore: Built to resemble traditional Malay timber houses, the just-revamped Geylang Serai Market, in Singapore’s Malay enclave, now has so many options that you could eat there for a month without sampling the same dish twice.
Best Find: A breakfast-time bowl of mee soto—chile-laced chicken soup with rice vermicelli—at Warong Solo. —Jennifer Chen
Luxury Train Travel
Luxury train travel is booming worldwide, and two of the most exciting debuts are in India. Rolling out this month, the Maharajas’ Express (91-22/6690-4747; the-maharajas.com; six nights from $11,200 for two, all-inclusive; September–April) travels four cross-country routes in an early 20th-century train that mixes timeless details such as wood-paneled dining cars and 24-hour butler service with modern technology—LCD televisions; climate-controlled cabins. On the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels (royal-rajasthan-on-wheels.com; seven nights from $8,260 for two, all-inclusive; September–April), you’ll journey through the northwestern state aboard a 38-cabin train with jewel-tone, fabric-covered walls and large panoramic windows, perfect for viewing the Thar Desert. —Jaime Gross
Exploring Hot New DestinationsJosé Ignacio, Uruguay
This tiny beach town on the southern coast is poised to become the next Punta del Este. Last year, Estancia Vik (doubles from $750) debuted to much fanfare; now sister property Playa Vik (doubles from $700) promises to do the same with its stylish beachfront villa. Near the town’s main square, you’ll find the year-old Arbol Casa Loft (doubles from $360), a casual six-room property with a private pool. —Shane Mitchell, Ian Mount, and Valerie Waterhouse
Exploring Hot New DestinationsTrieste, Italy
Although long popular with writers like James Joyce, this northern Italian port city has remained off the global traveler’s map, until now. At the intimate Hotel Le Corderie (doubles from $210), the 15 modern and airy rooms overlook a quiet street on the outskirts of the historic center. Check out the hotel’s vast collection of Trieste-themed novels, including works by native writer Paolo Rumiz. The recently redone Starhotels Savoia Excelsior Palace (doubles from $200) has 142 rooms that mix original Belle Époque accents (plasterwork friezes; Murano glass chandeliers) with contemporary wenge-wood wardrobes. —Shane Mitchell, Ian Mount, and Valerie Waterhouse
Exploring Hot New DestinationsHangzhou, China
Roughly 100 miles southwest of Shanghai, this ancient city is known for its Buddhist temples and pagodas. Last month, Banyan Tree (doubles from $368) opened 72 waterfront suites and villas in the Xixi National Wetland Park. Hotelier Adrian Zecha’s Amanfayun (doubles from $333) will launch later this spring, followed by a new Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou (rates not available at press time), where 78 guest rooms will overlook the historic West Lake. —Shane Mitchell, Ian Mount, and Valerie Waterhouse
Hotels Selling Homemade Goods
Properties across the U.S. are building elaborate gardens to harvest herbs, vegetables, and even wine. The best Part? You can take the finished products home.
Products: Therapists pick sage, lavender, and lemongrass in the garden for the spa’s signature beauty scrubs and lotions. Doubles from $199.
Products: Each fall, guests gather on the 600-acre property to crush local grapes for the hotel’s new custom-made Chardonnay and Petit Verdot wines. Doubles from $395.
Products: Honey comes from the on-site beehive, and cherries (along with other fruits and vegetables) are grown in the 2 1/2-acre garden to produce jam. Doubles from $650, all-inclusive.
Products: Chef Mark Timms cultivates organic thyme, mint, lavender, onions, carrots, and cabbage for dishes at Norma’s, the hotel’s restaurant. Doubles from $195. —Nora Zelevansky
Underground Supper Clubs
Underground supper clubs in Europe are giving travelers the chance to share an intimate meal prepared by a private chef. Here, our favorites.
On weekends in Paris, guests gather at Hidden Kitchen (dinner for two $240), where Seattle transplants Braden Perkins and Laura Adrian cook a seasonal 10-course tasting menu in a secret location announced via an e-mail that you receive after you book.
Don’t miss chefs Montse Moreno and Xavi Manero’s 14-person get-togethers at Kokun (dinner for two $162), their apartment in Barcelona’s hip Gràcia neighborhood. Best dish: Iberian pork confit. —Nathalie Jordi
Online Trunk Shows
Online trunk shows are popping up on the Web faster than the click of a mouse. On our radar: laviva-home.com, where owner (and former T+L staffer) Laura Aviva sources textiles and artisanal objects from all over the world. “The things we surround ourselves with are more than simple decorative objects—they should represent soul and history,” she says. Bolivian rosewood bowls, hand-embroidered Mexican bedspreads (pictured), Chilean ox-horn spoons, and Aviva’s latest favorite, vintage Kuba cloths from Congo, are just a sampling of available goods (from $85), all guaranteed to inspire wanderlust. —Mimi Lombardo
Traveling Using Social Media
With so much information at travelers’ fingertips, they now rely on computers and smartphones instead of paper maps or asking locals. They sign on to Skype and video chat—for free—with family members back home, survey restaurant scenes with TwitPic, and consult well-trafficked blogs when deciding which hotel to book.
Bohemian Beach Hotels
Travelers looking for peaceful getaways are booking quiet, beachfront hotels, like the Postcard Inn at Florida’s St. Pete Beach. With few partygoers, VIP rooms, or open-all-night clubs, these bohemian hotels offer visitors the chance to trade stilettos for sandals.
Books may be old-fashioned in the age of Twitter, but readers and writers are flocking from all over to attend increasingly popular book festivals. From South Asia to southern California, travelers are gathering this year to celebrate the printed word.
Why buy a tacky snow globe when you can bring home a local soap? This year, forgo the usual souvenir suspects and pick up something more authentic: day-to-day items that the locals actually use.
Visiting Newly Green Cities
As more cities take measures to shrink their carbon footprints and build eco-friendly buildings, one city in India took it a step further: architect Ajit Gulabchand designed and constructed an entirely green city. This could very well be the future of city-building.
Taking Virtual Reality “Trips”
Forget video and photography—the next step to previewing a destination involves virtually touring. No, it’s not a replacement for the real deal, but new technology will let users virtually tour cities and historical landmarks. Some programs can even explore ancient cities.
Reinventing French Cuisine
Young French chefs are reexamining the legacy of haute cuisine. Finding freedom of culinary self-expression, they’re putting French cooking on an exciting new path.