Ignacio Maza and Jean Newman Glock
“Where to go” travel lists are ubiquitous. Everyone has one, top ten lists are click-bait on social media but how can you trust that they are not driven by advertiser dollars? #itscomplicated
The conventional wisdom is that you can’t trust any of us who write about travel while accepting free trips. When Ignacio Maza and I decided to write our list for 2019, we included our own personal choices without an eye to who had or might invest monies in Signature Travel Network as the result. And no one did as far as I know. So, by some measure, it might be seen as a failure. But it was our most read content ever, so maybe not. We hoped to balance the sizeable media “scare” coverage for destinations like Egypt and Mexico and to pivot some travel attention to destinations that were providing what we found unique and fulfilling as travelers. We hoped to inspire a wider reach of travel choices and highlight some rising ( or rerising) stars. Read on if you wish, knowing we are (and will always be) hopelessly biased, but then travel is so personal.
Thank you Seatrade Cruise News for summarizing our presentation at Signature Travel Network’s Owners’ Meeting below, better than I could. You can find the original article here or below.
Where are you going in 2019?
The Road to Lalibela, Ethiopia
“Egypt tops Signature’s picks of ‘Where to go in 2019’
by Anne Kalosh (Reproduced by permission of Seatrade Cruise News.)
Which destinations are emerging as ‘must go’ in 2019?
A&K’s top-selling group destination
Egypt leads the pack, with the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, the chance to visit Nefertari’s tomb—the finest in the Valley of the Queens—and Nile cruising’s rebound, according to the experts at Signature Travel Network.
‘Without question, now is the moment to visit Egypt,’ said Jean Newman Glock, Signature’s managing director, communications and public affairs and a top travel influencer. ‘Travel is on the upswing, with 3 million visitors in 2016 and 5 million in 2017.’ Egypt is Abercrombie & Kent’s top-selling group destination in 2019.
‘Now is the year to go before riverboats are once again rafted six deep along the Upper Nile,’ Newman Glock said.
Authenticity and uniqueness
‘Every year, we look for destinations that are emerging, for different reasons. We search for authenticity and uniqueness, for the next frontiers in travel,’ Signature EVP and luxury travel expert Ignacio Maza said.
Besides Egypt, the 2019 picks are: Bolivia, Fiji, Abu Dhabi, Sri Lanka, Tasmania, Ottawa, Ethiopia, Puebla (Mexico), the Azores, Antwerp and Anguilla.
Bolivia offers South America’s most innovative cuisine in La Paz, stunning landscapes, endless biodiversity and ‘best of all, no crowds,’ Maza said.
Fiji, which Newman Glock called ‘the happiest place on earth,’ offers the world’s fourth largest barrier reef, exceptional beaches, diving, new world-class resorts and traditional village life.
Abu Dhabi makes the list. ‘Everyone’s been to Dubai. Abu Dhabi’s goal is to become the cultural capital of the Arabian Peninsula,’ Newman Glock said, citing the new Louvre Museum, as well as cultural exchanges led by Imams, desert adventures and over-the-top hotels.
Sri Lanka lures with the best Asian safaris including the chance to see leopards, archaeological sites, beaches and wonderful people, Maza said.
‘Rising star of Australia’
Tasmania is ‘the rising star of Australia,’ according to Maza, with Hobart’s vibrant dining scene and modern art galleries, while the interior offers natural beauty and opportunities for hiking and biking plus a new lodge.
Ottawa made the list because ‘Justin Trudeau lives there,’ Newman Glock quipped. Other draws of Canada’s capital: wonderful museums, the Rideau Canal and a fabulous winter festival.
There’s tremendous interest in Africa, the Signature experts said, and Ethiopia is another pick, ‘especially for travelers who have been everywhere.’ It’s the source of the Blue Nile, was home to the Queen of Sheba and is the original source of coffee.
Back to Mexico
‘We need to lead people back to Mexico,’ Newman Glock said. Puebla, 2.5 hours from Mexico City, has some of the country’s finest colonial architecture, a new Baroque Museum, Talavera pottery and exceptional cuisine.
The Azores, meanwhile, are Portugal’s best-kept secret—nine unspoiled islands, each different, Maza noted. Affordable and heaven for outdoor adventures, the Azores are less than a five-hour flight from New York.
Antwerp in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, has much to offer lovers of history, art (including Rubens), design, fine dining and Instagram-worthy architecture. Plus, Maza said, ‘the world’s greatest chocolate.’
Caribbean comeback story
Anguilla in the British Virgin Islands rounds out the list as ‘one of the comeback stories in the Caribbean’ following last year’s hurricanes. Some of the Caribbean’s best dining and 33 white sand beaches are draws. Resorts have been renovated and enhanced. News of the Belmond Cap Julaca to reopen in November drew applause from the Signature owners.
‘That’s where I’m going to be,’ Newman Glock said, pointing to a photo of a chaise lounge on the beach.
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