Travel Inspiration

Trending in Travel: 2024's Must-Visit Spots

Advisor - Karen May

Travel Advisor

Karen May

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a luxe living room with green furniture and a stained-glass skylight

Image courtesy of Coquelicot, A Belmond Boat, Champagne

I'm kicking off 2024 with a heavy dose of wanderlust. As a Fora Advisor, I can tap into my community of fellow travel advisors for data-driven intel on trending destinations, and I’ve mapped out a 2024 Hot List with my take on where to stay.

In 2024, expect rising stars (hola, Panama), as well as tried & true classics in heavy-hitter destinations like Japan. Read on to learn what’s trending in travel this year (plus where to stay, of course).

1. Small(er) US Cities

illuminated pool on a fancy deck under a desert sunset sky

Image courtesy of Mii Amo

Why I chose it: Move over, LA and NYC: smaller cities are having a moment. Second-tier cities (that are sometimes overlooked) are an easy way to maximize a weekend trip. You can eat well, stay somewhere stylish and make it back to the office by Monday morning. Here are a few destinations popping up that get me stoked on domestic getaways. 

Hotel happenings: Austin has always been a hotspot for hip hotels, but now additional Texan cities are stepping up their game: Fort Worth recently welcomed Auberge’s Bowie House. I know that Houston technically isn't a small city, but worth mentioning while on the topic of Texas... The Thompson set up shop in downtown Houston (pro-tip: don’t miss the Thompson Denver, either).

Out west, keep an eye on MOLLIE, a newcomer to Aspen, and the headline-grabbing renovation of Mii Amo in Sedona. 

For East Coasters, New Orleans is back, big time. The hip Virgin Hotels New Orleans opened in 2021, and continues to welcome guests craving a vibrant Nola experience paired with good vibes and a cheeky sense of play. Nobu Hotel and Restaurant New Orleans are set to open at the end of this year, housed within the multi-million dollar transformation of Harrah’s New Orleans. And the Four Seasons, which launched quietly in the pandemic, is now a total hot spot. Look for a lobby full of athletes, power brokers, and well-heeled Tulane parents checking in. 

Speaking of universities, Charlottesville, Virginia has a Kimpton — finally a cool hotel in a college town ideal for a weekend of hikes, vineyards and history.

view of two beds with red trim through a turquoise closet door

Images courtesy of Virgin Hotel, New Orleans

Fora Perks at Thompson Houston:

  • $75 hotel / resort credit, welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & early check-in whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Thompson Denver:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & early check-in whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Mii Amo:

  • $100 spa credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & early check-in whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Virgin Hotel, New Orleans:

  • $25 daily food / beverage credit, welcome amenity, upgrade & late check-out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Four Seasons, New Orleans:

  • When you book Four Seasons with me, you'll enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities. I'll be pleased to give you more details.

2. San Sebastian + Biarritz

square white chairs on an outdoor terrace overlooking the sea

Image courtesy of Nobu Hotel San Sebastian

Why I chose it: Madrid and Barcelona may always be Spain’s busiest cities, but the destination I'm most excited about is farther north, and spans two countries. Ideal for the casual couple or girls' weekend away, the Basque Country is perfect for a multi-stop bender of Michelin-Starred meals, casual pintxos bars, surfing, art and, of course, new hotels. 

Hotel happenings: Nobu is at it again with a new property in San Sebastián — and good thing they got in now, as the Spanish city has announced that they’ll ban new hotels to protect against over-tourism. Not brand new, but still news-worthy is the Hotel Maria Cristina, a refreshed classic that reemerged from a $25 million dollar renovation completed in time for its 100th anniversary in 2012.

Moving north to Biarritz, Experimental Group brought not one but two properties to this seaside city: the Regina Experimental, a Belle-Époque beauty brought back to life, and Le Garage, a 27-room stunner in, yes, a former garage. Both are walking distance to shops, dining and beach-ing. Noteworthy as well is Hotel du Palais, a beloved resort that received a much-needed renovation, and is now managed by Hyatt. 

a white bathtub in a tiled bathroom with a black-and-white mural

Image courtesy of Hôtel Du Palais, Biarritz

Fora Perks at Nobu Hotel, San Sebastián:

  • $100 food / beverage credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Hôtel Du Palais, Biarritz: 

  • $100 food / beverage credit, welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

an outdoor terrace with round tables and chairs with striped pillows

Image courtesy of Hotel Maria Cristina

Fora Perks at Hotel Maria Cristina: 

  • $100 food / beverage credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

3. Panama

a pool on a wooden deck of a thatched-roof casita

Image courtesy of Isla Secas

Why I chose it: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Belize, I love ya. But Panama, which at times was overlooked, is now taking center-stage. This Central American country crushes the combo of city and seclusion: enjoy a weekend of culture and history in Panama City’s Casco Antiguo, followed by island escapes that the crowds haven’t found. Don’t sleep on the ease of access as well. Copa Airlines has frequent flights from around the US, which tend to be more affordable compared to other warm-weather getaways.

Hotel happenings:
Panama City’s top places to stay are two new properties, Hotel La Compañia and the Sofitel Legend. In a city once known for hotels that delivered on setting but stalled on service, you now have two fantastic options walking distance from anything you’ll want to do. 

Spend a weekend in the city, then fly west to David, the entry point to two private islands. Choose Islas Secas for the ultimate splurge-y hideaway in design-forward casitas (amongst the sexiest resorts I've seen popping up for honeymooners and their ilk). Or, Isla Palenque is a barefoot beach retreat with only eight beachfront casitas, plus a villa estate, for a laid-back luxury experience complete with wild monkeys swinging from the trees over the outdoor soaking tubs. 

a thatched-roof beachfront bungalow flanked by palm trees

Image courtesy of Isla Palenque

Fora Perks at Hotel La Compañia:

  • Welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo:

  • $100 food / beverage credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Islas Secas Private Island & Reserve:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at the Resort at Isla Palenque:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, welcome amenity, upgrade & late check-out whenever possible.

4. St. Kitts + Nevis

modern blue chairs in a sleek seating area with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the sea

Image courtesy of Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour

Why I chose it: If you fly it, they will come. I've seen the launch of new routes spark big trends (ahem, United and Mallorca), and now Jetblue is bringing its lift to St. Kitts. Reservations will follow. Even better, you’ll get a two-for-one: St. Kitts and Nevis comprise one country. Sample the hotels on one, then hop on over to the other to taste everything the islands have to offer.

Hotel happenings:
Despite the new route, the hotels themselves have been solid for years, while also being solidly challenging to reach. Here’s what you missed: the Park Hyatt St. Kitts, a contemporary beach getaway; the Four Seasons Nevis, a sprawling resort that’s amongst the more affordable hotels within the brand (get there now before that changes); Golden Rock, an off-the-grid eco haven on the slopes of Mt. Nevis; and Belle Mont, a farm-to-table hotel and restaurant that’s giving Blackberry Farm with Caribbean vibes.

bungalows on a beach in front of a lush green mountain

Image courtesy of Four Seasons Nevis

Fora Perks at Park Hyatt St. Kitts:

  • $100 food / beverage credit, welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Four Seasons Nevis:

  • When you book Four Seasons with me, you'll enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities. I'll be pleased to give you more details.

Fora Perks at Golden Rock Inn Nevis:

  • One complimentary garden tour, welcome amenity, complimentary bottle of prosecco, upgrade whenever possible.

5. Bucket-list Asia: Japan & Bhutan

cozy living room with a small pipe stove overlooking a lush valley

Image courtesy of Six Senses Bhutan

Why I chose it:  One is a bottleneck of pre-pandemic demand that’s never stopped, the other a mysterious mountain kingdom that’s on the rise: Japan and Bhutan are the two bucket-list destinations trending hard for 2024. Both are excellent options to experience something entirely new and out-of-the-box: uber-intentional culture, incredible food, regenerative isolation, meaningful traditions…I could go on and on, but you should just go. If you need any further convincing, it's worth noting that the current exchange rate from US dollars to Japanese Yen is very favorable right now.

Hotel happenings:
In Japan's capital, head to the Bulgari Hotel Tokyo, which gorgeously combines Italian and Japanese aesthetics. I also have my eyes on the much-anticipated Janu Tokyo, Aman’s sister brand (and the first to open of its kind). Janu Tokyo is slated to open early this year, and the property will offer guests a more social vibe and lower entry point — building the next gen of Amanjunkies starts now. 

In Osaka, Japan's second-largest city (after Tokyo), the Four Seasons is slated to open its doors this year. Four Seasons collaborated with notable design studios to imbue the urban retreat, which is spread across 10 floors in the city's One Dojima Project high-rise, with a sleek, soothing aesthetic. Even better, every room comes with an A+ view.

Venture to Kyoto for an immersive sojourn into Japanese culture. I love the rooms at the nine-suite contemporary ryokan The Shinmonzen (the sister property of Villa la Coste in Provence), with its contemporary flair and keen eye for art. For a property steeped in history, visit Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto, a recently opened 161-room resort that formerly belonged to the Mitsui clan for more than 250 years. The dream team of creatives who brought Mitsui Kyoto’s vision to life included Andre Fu, who oversaw The Upper House in Hong Kong.

For my skiers, I’ve seen you eying Niseko on the island of Hokkaido (the skiing is second to none – many tout the Niseko powder as the best in the world). Avid skiers have traditionally opted for the usual suspects (the likes of Vail or Aspen) — but 2024 is the year to prioritize the Japanese bucket-list trip. And with the Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono located in a prime slopeside location, there’s never been a better time to travel. 

In Bhutan, the Six Senses brand opened its fifth luxury lodge, Six Senses Bumthang, in early 2020. And in September of 2023, &Beyond opened Punakha River Lodge, the luxury travel company’s first lodge in Asia. Plus, Bhutan has recently reduced the daily travel fee, so it’s way easier to get there. Translation? Now is the time to go.

sleek hotel room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a green mountain

Images courtesy of Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono

Fora Perks at Janu Tokyo:

  • $100 food / beverage credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Four Seasons Hotel Osaka:

  • When you book Four Seasons with me, you'll enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities. I'll be pleased to give you more details.

Fora Perks at Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono:

  • $100 food / beverage credit, welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Six Senses Bhutan:

  • Complimentary massage, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

6. Australia

stylish restaurant with a bar and a checkered-tile floor

Image courtesy of Capella Sydney

Why I chose it: Australia has always been a go-to for adventurers, culture lovers and beachgoers alike. And with new hotels from some of my favorite hotel partners popping up throughout the country-slash-continent, its appeal has only grown.

Hotel happenings:
Melbourne is finally getting the attention it deserves. Last year, The Ritz-Carlton arrived in Melbourne. Early this year, the Standard will bring its cheeky charm to Victoria’s capital to debut a new concept called The StandardX; the first property will open in Melbourne's Fitzroy neighborhood. Last but not least, another one of my favorite (sustainable, ultra-chic) brands, 1 Hotels, will open its first Australian property in Melbourne. Needless to say, my bags are already packed.

In Sydney, Capella opened in spring 2023. I'm already dreaming of their ultra-elegant suites. In the Great Barrier Reef, the luxe Lizard Island Resort recently leveled up with the addition of The House, a three-bedroom villa. Plus, after damage from a fire, the paradisiacal Southern Ocean Lodge, on the coast of Kangaroo Island, reopened late last year.

In 2022, The Langham, Gold Coast opened its doors, marking it as the newest luxury edition to Australia’s holiday capital in 30+ years. Don’t let the building’s modern exterior fool you: the interior boasts a classic elegance. The property offers visitors a homebase just one step back from the beach that’s perfect for exploring the famous strip of golden sands.  

restaurant dining room with large red paintings and tables flanked by blue velvet chairs

Image courtesy of The Langham, Gold Coast

Fora Perks at The Langham, Gold Coast:

  • When you book Langham with me, you'll enjoy exclusive Preferred Partner amenities. Reach out to learn more.

Fora Perks at The StandardX, Melbourne:

  • You'll score VIP perks at the Standard hotels thanks to Fora's membership in Standard Secret Agent’s preferred partner program.

Fora Perks at Capella Sydney:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Lizard Island Resort:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

7. Greece

a collection of white square structures on a cliffside overlooking an infinity pool

Image courtesy of Cali Mykonos

Why I chose it: I get it: the Aegean is perennially a place people want to go. But, I'm over the teeming crowds and tourist traps. It’s less about Santorini, Mykonos and Athens — now is the time to venture to the islands you haven’t heard about yet. Plus, the Athenian Riviera has gotten a major upgrade with the introduction of One&Only Aesthesis, making it the prime escape located just outside of the city’s center. 

Hotel happenings: Don’t sleep on Corfu, where Angsana beckons all types of travelers, families included, or Kos, where the adults-only, super-sexy OKU Kos awaits with a clean geometric aesthetic, a private beach and locally sourced cuisine. 

Although Crete is larger than the other Greek islands, I love it for its down-to-earth vibe. You can’t go wrong with Domes Zeen Chania, designed to resemble a traditional Greek village. Or, check into Phaea Blue Palace, a new boutique property with more than half of the 47 rooms boasting private pools. Hint: look for Rosewood Blue Palace coming in 2025.

loungers surround a pool near white square buildings on a sunny day

Image courtesy of OKU Kos

Paros epitomizes the ideal Greek vacation: secluded laid-back luxury, a pervasive breeziness, a slower pace of life. Avant Mar, opened mid-2023, awaits, as does Cosme, a chic 40-room retreat with an appreciation for all things local. 

And rumor has it that the uber-chic Canaves properties are expanding to lesser-known islands, so keep an eye out.

Mykonos is anything but under-the-radar, but the chic eco-minded Cali Mykonos (which opened in 2023) is on the quieter side of the island, and it’s a much-needed breath of fresh air.  

Finally, One&Only, an expert in spectacular hotels in relatively untouched, distinctive locales, gifted Greece with Aesthesis, a stunner on the Athenian Riviera (translation: far enough from the crowds of Athens, but close enough for a day trip to see the sites). 

aerial view of a cliffside resort overlooking the ocean

Image courtesy of Angsana Corfu Resort & Spa

Fora Perks at Angsana Corfu Resort & Spa:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Domes Zeen Chania:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Cretan Malia Park

  • Welcome amenities.

a woman in a large sunhat sits on a stone wall overlooking the sea

Image courtesy of Blue Palace

Fora Perks at Blue Palace:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible. 

Fora Perks at Cosme, Paros:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

a white cube building on a sunny beach

Images courtesy of Cosme, a Luxury Collection Resort, Paros

Fora Perks at Cali Mykonos:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, welcome amenities, one complimentary beach club boat transfer, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at One&Only Aesthesis:

  • You'll score VIP perks at One&Only hotels thanks to Fora's partnership with One&Only Resorts.

8. Continental Classics: Paris & Florence

a whimsical colorful bar with blue bar stools. colorful wallpaper, and vibrant light fixtures

Image courtesy of Le Grand Mazarin

Why I chose it: New hotels and global events are drumming up enthusiasm for greatest hits destinations (and I'm not mad about it).

As Audrey Hepburn so famously said in Sabrina, Paris is always a good idea. A palpable energy will fill the City of Light all year, courtesy of the summer 2024 Olympics, with new hotels aplenty. And a trip to Paris just got sweeter, as the all-business La Compagnie airline continues to add routes, in addition to their daily flights from NYC. (Pssst: snag exclusive rates when you pair a La Compagnie flight with a stay at one of my favorite French getaways, Domaine de Primard.)

Florence, brimming with captivating art and architecture, is also always a good idea, especially when one of my favorite luxury brands is heading to the Tuscan capital.

Hotel happenings:
The Paris moment isn’t palace hotels; it’s all about bougie boutique properties with playful designs, cool bars and locations in more local neighborhoods. This is about seeing a different side of the City of Lights. I'm particularly excited about La Fantaisie, Paris, which opened in late 2022. Designed by the legendary Martin Brudnizki, La Fantaisie, Paris boasts a dreamy garden setting in the 9th arrondissement and is a stone’s throw from Grand Boulevards, Galeries Lafayette and Rue des Martyrs (well worth a visit for the Sunday morning flea market for vintage shopping and wine shops).

2023 brought the openings of the vibrantly chic Le Grand Mazarin, in the Marais, the opulent Hôtel Dame des Arts, in the Latin Quarter and the discreet Maison Delano, an 18th-century mansion with impeccable taste. Plus, the SO/ Paris opened in 2022 with a rooftop bar and artistic flare. (Pssst: while you’re in France, head to Auberge’s standout Domaine des Etangs in the French countryside, which makes a great complement to a visit to the city.)

A 15-room jewel box where each room is totally unique, Hotel 1 Place Vendome is in the heart of the city but is totally tucked away and private. Even if you want to be in the city center, there's now a spectacular, uber-private option to travel through a local lens.

Speaking of Auberge, the brand announced its foray into Europe’s Renaissance jewel, Florence. Collegio alla Querce, a collection of restored 16th-century buildings, is opening its doors in early 2024. The hotel’s terraced gardens, authentic Tuscan style and lavish outdoor pool have the industry buzzing already.

If you're daydreaming of shopping in Firenze, don't miss La Gemma, a new boutique property that opened in 2023 that is a stone's throw away from some of the city's best retail therapy locations.

a multi-story countryside château with a manicured lawn

Image courtesy of Domaine des Etangs, Auberge Resorts Collection

Fora Perks at Domaine de Primard:

  • Complimentary experience, welcome amenities, one-way airport transfer, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Maison Delano:

  • Hotel / resort credit, welcome amenity, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at SO/ Paris:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at Domaine des Etangs:

  • $100 food / beverage credit, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

9. Thailand

a close-up of a bed with orange pillows near a cylindrical black-and-white patterned lamp

Image courtesy of InterContinental Chiang Mai

Why I chose it: Two words: White Lotus.

In 2023, I saw Sicily bookings skyrocket due to the popularity of White Lotus. And the destination’s popularity isn’t going anywhere, especially with the announcement of the new Neos airlines direct flight from NYC to Palermo, starting summer 2024. Since the show’s creator Mike White is set to film this year in Thailand, I know the bucket-list destination will similarly soar.

Thailand offers a vibrant tapestry of experiences, from the bustling streets of Bangkok to the serene beaches of Phuket. From exploring ancient temples and savoring delectable street food to trekking (in style) through the lush jungle or beach, Thailand delivers.

Hotel happenings:
I can’t stop eyeing the much-anticipated Aman Nai Lert Bangkok, which opens this year. Expect spectacular Aman service and equally spectacular city views from the rooftop infinity pool. 

Speaking of Bangkok, Intercontinental has been quietly expanding and updating in the hub city, including a new luxe gem in the shape of InterContinental Bangkok Sukhumvit, and also as a meticulous renovation of InterContinental Bangkok that refreshed all 381 rooms. Also new and on my radar is the new InterContinental Khao Yai Resort, which opened in 2022. Designed by revered Bill Bensley, the hotel includes a series of historic train carriages restored into suites. Up north, the brand welcomed InterContinental Chiang Mai at the end of 2023 with a focus on local cuisine and welcoming Lanna charm.

A kid-friendly vibe in Phuket is possible, thanks to the 2023 opening of Le Meridien Mai Khao. Located on a quieter strip on Phuket’s northern beaches, the property is the secret to access adventure when you want it and peace and quiet when you need it (hello, kids’ club drop-off).  

Fora Perks at InterContinental Bangkok:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, welcome amenities, breakfast daily, upgrade & late check-out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at InterContinental Khao Yai Resort:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, welcome amenities, breakfast daily, upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Fora Perks at InterContinental Chiang Mai:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit, welcome amenities, breakfast daily, upgrade & late check-out whenever possible.

10. First-time cruises

white furniture sit on a chic wooden terrace decorated with plants and lanterns

Image courtesy of Coquelicot, A Belmond Boat, Champagne

Why I chose it: 2023 was the year that non-cruisers became cruisers, and I'm here for it. The trend isn’t going anywhere, and interest in cruising — especially on less stereotypical charters — is on the rise.

Cruise happenings: I'm big fans of Virgin Voyages, with its adults-only routes around the world. Virgin’s Valiant Lady is on its way to its newest home port, San Juan. Now the ship can visit the lesser Antilles, adding many new destinations to its lineup. The signature Scarlet Lady will also introduce longer itineraries across the Mediterranean, as well as a return to the home port of Portsmouth, United Kingdom.

Luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent purchased Crystal Cruises (now re-envisioned as simply Crystal). Expect a whole new level of luxury at sea in 2024 to the tune of a $150 million Italian refurbishing. Penthouses now sprawl across the upper floors for cruisers to relish in what can only be described as what feels like a luxury apartment at sea. Also new in the luxury cruising world is Explora Journeys, which welcomed its first guests in 2023 with the Explora I. Five more ships outfitted with penthouse-like accommodations are set to follow. And my eyes are on the Four Seasons yacht, which takes its maiden voyage in 2025 — and when reservations open up, they’ll go fast. 

red-and-black cruise ship in icy waters

Image courtesy of HX

And a hop, skip and river boat ride from Paris, I'm eyeing the Coquelicot, A Belmond Boat, Champagne. The newest addition to the fleet of Belmond river boats, complete with opulent suites, an indoor salon and a Champagne bar (mais bien sûr). 

For a Disney moment, I love the Disney Dream, which started sailing European itineraries this past summer (pro tip for grown-ups: escape your kids and head to the sprawling spas on board).

For an intimate and eco-friendly adventure cruise, opt for an expedition with the newly rebranded HX (Hurtigruten). The brand unveiled its much-anticipated voyages to West Africa in its inaugural season to the continent late last year.

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