Have you heard about maximalism?It’s a movement embracing art, design, music, and literature that is making its way into the discourse about hotels. There are indications that maximalism—a rallying cry for individuality, comfort, and function in hotel design, and against the "soulless" minimalism of the past—may be the hospitality industry’s equivalent of the culinary world’s Slow Food movement, with its advocacy of traditional regional recipes and unadulterated local ingredients. My advisers on the subject, T+L deputy editor Laura Begley and Craig Markham of Firmdale Hotels in London, directed me to such resources as, where you’ll find an impassioned essay on the subject. And who could object to more inviting, more sensory-stimulating hotel interiors that offer a genuine welcome and a distinctive sense of place?

Hotels are much on my mind this month—with the publication of our annual T+L 500 list of the world’s top properties, as well as special correspondent Peter Jon Lindberg’s feature on the re-creation of a modern classic, the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong ("Up in the Old Hotel"). You’ll also find Alex Shoumatoff’s account of returning to his illustrious family’s native city, Novgorod, with its stunning icons and churches ("Pilgrimage to Russia"); and FYI, I’ve been there, but I don’t think it’s where my last name originated. Family ties also played a role in writer Martha McPhee’s geological exploration of Hawaii ("Lava Land"), where she was accompanied by her father, Pulitzer Prize–winning author John McPhee, her siblings, and assorted offspring.

And, once again, we look ahead to what’s next, with our Travel Forecast 2007, in which we examine a range of subjects, from the development of Macau into an Asian Las Vegas, to the branding campaigns countries wage to attract visitors, to such emerging destinations as Istria and Quito. There’s also a special report by noted environmentalist and author Bill McKibben—the first in a series of pieces T+L will run this year—on an issue those of us who love seeing the natural treasures of the world must pause to consider: global warming. Maintaining the earth’s genuine welcome and distinctive sense of place—the maximalism of our surroundings—is all-important.