Credit: Richard Phibbs

Two big ideas have converged in this and every January issue for the past nine years—the T+L 500, our annotated list of the top 500 hotels and resorts out of the many thousands listed in the magazine’s World’s Best readers’ poll, and our editors’ annual overview of the year ahead. I admit that exhaustive hotel listings may not strike every reader as the building blocks for a big idea, but presenting solid and reliable service content, based on the judgment and experience of people in the know (in this case, the combined opinions of T+L’s savvy readers), along with good writing and transporting photography, is the holy grail for travel magazines. As for divining trends, that’s what we do instinctively and with relish to advance our mission: to make navigating the world easier and more irresistible for our readers and ourselves.

So what’s the word for 2011? Let’s call it a relaxation not of standards but of barriers, as evidenced by Adam Sachs’s attraction to locals; Peter Jon Lindberg’s romance for the casual; Justin Peters’s mild obsession with a newfound travel companion—his iPhone; and the unlikely coming together of Bill Marriott Jr., whose company oversees 3,500 hotels, and Ian Schrager, the boutique impresario, to create the Edition brand that recently debuted in Honolulu.

There’s much more about trends and destinations in this issue, from Singapore to Park City, Utah, and even Lhasa, Tibet. You’ll also find our 2011 Travel Tip Sheet, devised to help you make sense of the new travel lexicon, and all the issues, terms, and strategies you need to make your way in the world. In addition, Mark Orwoll offers his insights on getting the most out of your frequent-flier miles.

Those of you who downloaded Travel + Leisure’s Holiday Travel edition for your iPad will be glad to know that our latest iPad app is available at the iTunes Store early January. You’ll find digital enhancements of the T+L 500, including videos, audio, and sortable listings, along with many-layered listings of your favorite hotels.

Finally, 2011 is an important year for Travel + Leisure, marking the magazine’s 40th anniversary. I was recently asked to come up with a truism for a speech at an awards presentation, and no doubt I’m still thinking along those lines when I point out that the old adage, the more things change, the more they stay the same, is demonstrably untrue.

Where to Find Me

Twitter: @nnovogro