Credit: Richard Phibbs

“Who better to trust than people you know?” our writers ask in this month’s 2012 Travel Forecast. The question is inspired by the glut of travel sites touting user reviews, warts—unreliable sources and less-than-expert opinions—and all. I like to think of Travel + Leisure’s annual roundup of the top hotels in the world, based on the results of our World’s Best Awards survey, as crowd-sourcing of a very different kind. The sources here are T+L readers, among the most experienced travelers there are, and the results have been carefully screened. If some hotels you love are missing, it may be because, as worthy as they are, they have not yet received broad enough support to qualify—another measure we take to ensure the stability and validity of our survey.

In this month’s “Hottest Travel Destinations of 2012,” the sourcing is internal, from the editors of T+L, who serve up a dozen lesser-traveled destinations, such as Xishuangbanna, in southwestern China’s Yunnan province, a culturally rich new spot for China hands. Also in the mix: the UNESCO World Heritage city of Guimarães, 3 1/2 hours north of Lisbon. Then there’s Salta, in editor-at-large Peter Jon Lindberg’s account of his rugged journey through the wine-rich backcountry of Argentina (“Road Trip: Salta, Argentina”), and the face-off between Rome and Naples in sagacious food critic Anya von Bremzen’s “Italy’s Best Pizza Town.” Back in the United States, Michael Gross reports on the extensive overhaul of L.A.’s esteemed Hotel Bel-Air and its buzzy dining outpost from Wolfgang Puck. Then we unveil the winner of another competition still: T+L’s first-ever online Best New Landmarks survey. Our expert travelers speak again, and the results may surprise you.

Finally, ever mindful of the pressures that weigh on us all as we set out on the journey through another new year, T+L editors provide a handy selection of ways that you can accomplish your resolutions doing something you love—traveling. Read on for ideas, and keep offering us your opinions; you belong to a crowd we trust.

Where to Find Me

Twitter: @nnovogro

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