It is that time of year to look to NEXT year.
We attempt to forecast which cities will be at the top of everyone’s flight search history, where the most exciting hotel openings will happen and which countries will emerge from the periphery to be the hottest new destinations for intrepid travelers.
But for the last two years, this has felt like an increasingly challenging task. Sure, we can see where airlines are doubling down on service and where popular hotel brands are breaking ground. But after so many false starts and squashed travel plans, I think we all know that divining the future — particularly in the travel industry — is more art and inspiration than science.
Travelers are eager to return to their favorite destinations and discover new ones, but the ongoing pandemic has made it more difficult than ever to plan anything.
Still, we keep our sights set on what’s next, because sometimes that’s all you can do: Keep looking ahead. As another challenging year comes to a close, these are the destinations we’re most excited about — the ones that fill us with optimism and give us all something to anticipate.
New York City
Few destinations in the U.S. have made a comeback quite like New York City. So many people speculated that it might have met its untimely end during the prolonged pandemic when Broadway temporarily closed its curtains and some of the city’s most iconic hotels and restaurants shuttered.
But simply step onto a subway platform and you’ll immediately feel that the city’s energetic pace is back. Despite its extended shutdown, the city is eager to welcome tourists from across the globe. If you haven’t been to New York City since the onset of the pandemic, you’ll find a spate of new attractions, including a mind-bending new observation deck in midtown Manhattan and a park comprised of concrete platforms that look like lily pads floating above the Hudson River.
There are also a number of hotel openings on the horizon that will make Manhattan the most talked-about borough in the city. In addition to the long-awaited Aman New York, The Ritz-Carlton is taking reservations for its second Gotham location in the NoMad neighborhood starting in May 2022.
For travelers craving wide-open spaces within the continental U.S., there are few better places to visit in 2022 than the Cowboy State, which is famous for its world-class skiing, freewheeling Old West culture and stunning national parks.
In 2022, Yellowstone — the country’s first national park — will celebrate its 150th anniversary with indigenous art exhibitions, free tours on the park’s iconic yellow buses and other events and activities. Plus, domestic airlines have been doubling down on Wyoming and other national park gateways since 2020, making it easier than ever for travelers to reach this destination.
No matter where you’re traveling in Wyoming, you’ll want to book accommodations far in advance. In addition to classic park lodging, such as the Old Faithful Inn, and luxury hotels, like the relatively new Cloudveil, an Autograph Collection property, travelers can consider a luxe chalet from onefinestay, which expanded to the mountain town of Jackson Hole this ski season.
The southernmost continent is an inhospitable, wintry desert. Getting there has never been a particularly easy task, but with the reopening of borders in South America, it’s possible once again for travelers to visit and, in many cases, check off their final continent.
The Antarctic travel season, which kicks off during the austral summer, is just resuming and will continue into early 2022. There’s only a fraction of the number of usual vessels calling on Antarctica this season, but more than ever will come here next season, meaning travelers will see even more wild, undisturbed scenery and wildlife.
Though coronavirus protocols continue to complicate travel, many people may find an expedition cruise here takes some of the guesswork out of that. Not to mention, travelers don’t need to be too worried about coming into contact with the virus in this uninhabited stretch of ice and rock.
Debut cruise line Atlas Ocean Voyages is chartering an A330 to get travelers directly from Orlando to Ushuaia, Argentina, where its first vessel, World Navigator, embarks. Travelers who sail with Silversea have the option to fly directly to King George Island on Antarctic Airways this season. Or, cruisers could sail on Lindblad Expeditions’ new National Geographic Endurance, which can be booked with World of Hyatt points instead of cash.
When United announced it would fly to five new European destinations in 2022, the airline’s senior vice president of international network and alliance, Patrick Quayle, said the expansion was about connecting travelers with “new, unexpected places.” Among them, the fjords of Norway via Bergen (BGO), to which the airline will start flying from its Newark (EWR) hub starting May 20.
Both first-time and returning travelers will have new places to stay throughout Norway, including Sommerro, a reborn Art Deco landmark in Oslo that will boast 231 rooms and residences and the capital’s first year-round rooftop pool. There are also reports that the long-awaited Svart hotel in the Arctic Circle will welcome its first guests next year.
Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
Fans of Dubai and Abu Dhabi should set their sights on the northernmost emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, which is home to its own array of superlative attractions and five-star hotels, including the forthcoming Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah with overwater villas and an InterContinental slated to open in February.
Once there, travelers can enjoy a spate of over-the-top diversions, such as record-breaking fireworks shows and the world’s longest zip line, which whisks travelers down 1.76 miles of the tallest peak in the United Arab Emirates at heart-thumping speeds.
Florida continues to be a top destination for travelers, and in 2022, Orlando will be at the center of this attention.
Disney’s 50th-anniversary celebrations continue into the new year with an exciting lineup of new attractions, events and developments, including the launch of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. This highly anticipated immersive hotel experience will be complemented by the opening of Disney Vacation Club resort studios at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Disney enthusiasts can also look forward to the opening of the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction and enhanced technology throughout the parks with “Hey, Disney!” and MagicBand+.
Increased airlift from a number of major airlines will also make it particularly easy — and far more comfortable — to fly to Orlando in 2022. Even international airlines are getting in on the action: Aer Lingus has launched nonstop transatlantic flights from Orlando (MCO) to Manchester, England (MAN).
You don’t have to be flying to Disney World to get excited about traveling to this city in Central Florida. By the end of 2022, the high-speed rail company Brightline is expecting to finish its connection between Orlando and Miami.
Luxury travelers have plenty of reasons to plan a visit to Montenegro next year. This small Balkan country with a thread of beaches along the Adriatic Sea is a great alternative for travelers seeking a crowd-free version of Croatia. Check out One&Only Portonovi (the brand’s first resort in Europe), which opened in May 2021, and Aman’s new sister brand, Janu, which will debut at Sveti Stefan in 2022.
Travelers who want to visit destinations before an influx of tourists should travel here soon, as a luxury hotel with residences, Fairmont Smokva Bay Resort, is also in development for early 2023.
Want to explore the region? Book a flight on the country’s new national airline, Air Montenegro, which just launched this year. Flights are available between Montenegro and Serbia, Germany, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
United Airlines began its thrice-weekly, year-round service to Accra, Ghana (ACC), from Washington, D.C. (IAD) in May, making it easier for travelers to visit this nation in West Africa.
Ghana is an awe-inspiring gateway for travelers eager to return to the continent thanks, in part, to it being at the center of the heritage travel movement. Every visitor should consider a pilgrimage to ominous Cape Coast Castle, overlooking the Atlantic, to see the so-called “Door of No Return” where many enslaved Africans were forced onto ships bound for the Americas.
These days, the country’s capital, Accra, is home to one of Africa’s liveliest music scenes, with numerous clubs and other venues hosting concerts by up-and-coming artists. You don’t have to venture far for some of the continent’s best surfing, either, at Kokrobite beach.
You can even explore some of Africa’s lesser-known (and therefore far less crowded) national parks and reserves encompassing everything from grasslands and woodlands to lush rainforests teeming with monkeys and crisscrossed by canopy footbridges.
With so much uncertainty still clouding the travel landscape, many adventurers are seeking solace in familiar, long-loved destinations such as Italy, which is one of the most booked destinations in Europe for next year.
Even frequent visitors may be lured by major hotel openings from some of the top brands, including the intimate 65-room Rosewood Porto Cervo on the island of Sardinia. In Rome, IHG is transforming an early 20th-century property on the Via Veneto into an InterContinental. The capital city will also welcome outposts from Bvlgari, Six Senses and Edition Hotels in 2022.
Travelers might even be able to catch a flight on the nation’s new flag carrier, ITA Airways, which takes the place of the now-defunct Alitalia. It will welcome a fleet of new Airbuses in 2022 and is focusing on connecting the East Coast of the U.S. to Milan and Rome.
For years now, Mexico has landed on TPG’s list of hottest upcoming destinations. Though it may not be surprising or new, it’s a destination that continues to evolve. Throughout the pandemic, Mexico has been consistently welcoming to tourists: Unlike so many nations around the world, it never shut its borders to visitors.
As a result, it’s really no surprise that Viator found that, compared to 2019, bookings for hot spots on both coasts (such as Tulum and Cabo San Lucas) have increased by double digits.
In 2022, a new round of fresh hotels and resorts from a number of our favorite brands will welcome travelers for the first time, including Amanvari on Baja’s East Cape, the Waldorf Astoria Cancun and the Hilton Tulum All-Inclusive Resort. An Edition hotel is also slated to open in the popular Riviera Maya resort development.
When Canada finally reopened to American tourists, the excitement was palpable — and that wave of energy will continue into 2022. Consider a stay at the forthcoming Ace Hotel in the city’s Fashion District or the W in Yorkville, which is expected to open this spring.
Toronto will also be at the center of Canada’s cruising comeback, which won’t start until April 2022. At this time, the first eastern Canada cruise on the schedule from a major line, Viking, is a 12-night voyage from New York to Toronto embarking on April 18, 2022. By April, it will have been about two years since cruise ships called on Toronto.
In a time of so much uncertainty, it’s impossible to say when tourism to Australia will return to something resembling normal. After all, the nation has attempted to reopen in fits and starts, and is still only allowing citizens, residents and their family members to visit without quarantine.
But the decision to relax entry restrictions on Nov. 1 is an important signal that the return of tourism to Australia could be on the horizon. There will be so much to experience when the time comes, particularly with regard to high-end places to stay from the major hotel brands.
Next year, the W brand will return to Sydney, and a Kimpton crowned with a rooftop bar will open in the city as well. In Melbourne, a Ritz-Carlton is expected to open in the West Side Place development. And for travelers who want to splurge with cash, a 169-room Langham will welcome guests to the country’s Gold Coast. After years of anticipation, The Tasman, a Luxury Collection Hotel, is officially opening its doors in a historic building in the heart of Hobart as well.
Travelers who are already thinking about how they’ll get to Australia should consider flying with United Airlines and Virgin Australia, as both airlines just announced plans to launch a codeshare partnership in 2022.