Travel is now truly global. A few years ago, coverage in Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report of places like the Maldives seemed rather self-indulgent. Why would Americans fly halfway around the world for a white-sand beach and superior snorkeling? That was then. Today resorts like the Cheval Blanc Randheli have become bucket list staples. If there is a theme for where to travel in 2018, it seems to be "the more remote, the better."
Madagascar, also in the Indian Ocean, has turned up on my radar, chiefly because of the new Miavana island resort. The country has long been famous for its lemurs, endangered by the indiscriminate felling of the rainforest, but now it appeals to an audience apart from one of hardy wildlife aficionados. People with the time and the money want to experience places that still seem exotic, unexplored and relatively out of sync with the 21st century.
Hence, the sudden interest in remoter areas of Tanzania, such as the Ruaha National Park and the Selous Game Reserve, as opposed to heavily touristed areas like Ngorongoro and the Serengeti. In neighboring Rwanda, Bisate Lodge provides a glamorous new base camp for gorilla safaris in the well-known Volcanoes National Park, while the recently opened One&Only Nyungwe House offers chimpanzee viewing in a pristine area 130 miles to the south.
Economic growth continues to reduce the number of untouched areas in Asia. Laos used to be a sleepy backwater. No longer. But the country that is currently experiencing the most-rapid expansion of upscale tourism is Cambodia. This year will see the debut of Six Senses Krabey Island, but the new resort that I am most eager to visit is Shinta Mani Wild, a luxury lodge and private wildlife sanctuary — for gibbons, bears, elephants, even tigers — created by renowned international designer Bill Bensley.
Wildlife is also the draw in the Pantanal, a vast tropical wetland in southern Brazil, where normally nocturnal jaguars can frequently be seen hunting in daylight. However, the country of the moment in Latin America seems to be Bolivia, where adventure-travel options are becoming increasingly sophisticated. The Chilean company, explora, known for its exceptional wilderness lodges, now organizes traversías (journeys) of up to 10 days’ duration through the dramatic and untouched landscapes of the altiplano.
Getting off the beaten track in Europe is a little more tricky. But I’m told that Bucharest, the capital of Romania, now has hotels that are potentially of a Harper standard, and I hear frequent eulogies to the exquisite and unspoiled countryside of Transylvania. Britain’s Prince Charles has been actively involved in the preservation of the region’s traditional architecture and he now owns two farmhouses in the Carpathian Mountains — in Viscri (a World Heritage site) and Zalánpatak — which offer superior bed-and-breakfast accommodation. The property in Viscri also contains a training center for rural crafts and traditional skills.
Alas, these days a primary motivation for travel seems to be “See it before it’s gone,” which doubtless accounts for the sudden popularity of trips to the Arctic. Summer cruises to Norway’s Svalbard archipelago are routinely sold-out. And it is even possible to view polar bears and beluga whales at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, located 500 miles inside the Arctic Circle on the shore of the Northwest Passage. Not a hideaway in the traditional sense, I concede, but one that seems somehow in tune with the times.