Top 10 Travel Trends Of 2011
Beach holiday? Been there, done that. Shopping holiday? Terribly passé! Medical tourism? Hah, not me! So what were travel-revolutionaries doing in 2011? Leaving smoking hot trails through the travel industry, is what! Diana Kotwal gives a recap of what was hot, where it was hot and why 2012 is still not too late to get there.
Lock up your smart phone on an unplugged vacation, learn to cook a brand new cuisine on a learning holiday, and bench press till infinity at fitness boot camp. Here are the top ten travel trends that are sure to become de rigueur this year. Book your ticket now, before the tourists do. Don’t say you weren’t warned!
Trend #1: Unplugged vacations
Technology addiction is getting out of hand. People buried under a small mountain of smart phones, tablets, laptops, MP3 players and GPS devices are slowly figuring out why they’re gasping for air. A ‘digital detox’ is offered by quite a few hotels around the world. You check in yourself, then check in all your devices and plug-ins, and you may just get a discount for doing so. Makes sense, since the rooms are also bereft of technology. Suddenly, you’ll find you’ve got time to look around, smell the fresh air and wonder if the sky was always that shade of blue. The downside? You can’t reach for your phone and quickly Google ‘colour of sky’. This trend is a sign of our times. And by the look of things, many tourists are happily signing up.
Teton Lodge and Spa, Teton Village, Wyoming, USA: This beautiful resort has enough eye candy to distract your eyeballs. A special package requires you to temporarily part with all your digital gadgets and in return, you spend time indulging in nature hikes and exotic spa treatments.
Prana del Mar, Los cabos, Baja, Mexico: Say goodbye to all your electronics, and a big hello to sun-kissed beaches, yoga studios, horseback riding, mountain hiking, lounging by the swimming pool or a relaxing range of spa treatments. Fair trade, don’t you think?
Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, British Columbia, Canada: It’s easy to say, “Blackberry who?” when you’re comfortably settled here. The digital detox package on offer includes horseback riding, hiking, meditation, a restorative herbal oil massage, a bundle of three books and three magazines and finally, an iPhone app that disables your phone for the duration of your holiday.
Trend #2: Glamping
Love the great outdoors as much as you love indoor plumbing? Go glamping. It’s a luxury camping trip where, at the destination of your choice, you can live it up in a yurt, a safari tent or a caravan that’s fully equipped with all the facilities of a hotel room. Read, air-conditioning, sanitation, chandeliers, private pools and perhaps even a waiter to serve you peeled grapes (if you like that sort of thing).
Some glamping trips are priced reasonably, some might damage your wallet a little. Either way, you don’t come home with stories that start with, “How did I get this rash? Well, there I was squatting in the bushes, and I picked up these innocent-looking leaves…”
The Mandala, Goa, India: You get to stay in a two-storey hybrid tent-house (known as a ‘touse’), equipped with a bathroom, double bed and a large balcony offering a view of a lake and other sights of Goa’s natural scenic beauty.
Selectcamp Le Pianacce, Castagneto Carducci, Tuscany: Enjoy the gorgeous Tuscan countryside from the comfort of a family-friendly luxury tent that offers a four-poster double bed, a free standing oval bath and a modern kitchen.
Serengeti Migration Camp, Serengeti, Tanzania: Here, the tents boast of leather armchairs, coffee tables, and private verandahs with rocking chairs where guests can sit, relax and marvel at panoramic views of the Serengeti.
Trend #3: Hospitality exchange holidays
The Internet has opened up new, interesting possibilities of holiday trends. Like websites that allowed registered members to swap houses. If you have a high sense of adventure, just pick a location anywhere on the planet, choose a host and move into their home for the duration of your holiday. It’s great for those who hate the formal, impersonal touches of a hotel and would rather experience the local lifestyle and culture first-hand. Sadly, you might have to do without a chocolate mint on your pillow every night. But at least you don’t have to worry about over-tipping the staff in an unknown currency.
Home Away lets you rent vacation homes directly from the owners. You can browse through their data base and see photographs and information about each home before you make up your mind.
Couch Surfing allows you to register and choose from a variety of couches to crash on across the world. In a bid to make travel even more accessible, Couch Surfing has safety systems and verification facilities in place, so chances of spending the night with a serial killer are highly limited.
The Hospitality Club caters to all kinds of travel needs. Whether it’s a room for a night or a tour guide, you’ll find everything you could possibly want here. Everyone is a volunteer, and you can sign on to be one too.
Trend #4: Fitness boot camp
It used to be something only celebrities did. Check into a fitness retreat or heath spa for a week, and promptly hit the red carpets without a spare kilo in sight. However, healthy holidays are catching on with many tourists opting for a well planned, organised break that knocks a few inches off. Whether it’s intense cardio mode or a spiritual yoga retreat, either way your butt gets whipped into shape. Added benefits are carefully structured diets and spa treatments. So now you can do exactly what the celebs do. Look fabulous after a supposedly decadent holiday and pretend it’s all to do with good genes. Wink, wink!
Bali Fitness and Wellbeing Retreat, Bali, Indonesia: In a week’s time, you’ll find out what you’re truly made out of. Meditation, yoga, Pilates, rice field trekking, beach runs, cycling, aqua training, kickboxing, tennis and squash…you’ll soon meet muscles you didn’t know you had.
1ON1 Fitness Holidays, Kodaikanal, India: This is a fitness boot camp that doesn’t believe in taking it easy. In their own words, “the mountain is your gym, the winding road is your treadmill and the forest is your training ground.” Don’t worry, they customise the boot camp according to your capabilities.
The Ashram, Calabasas, California: Yoga, hiking, massages, trekking, weight training, gourmet meals and celebrity spotting…this retreat is the ultimate in designer boot camps, and will ensure that you and your wallet return home considerably lighter.
Trend #5: The book lover’s holiday
Ever read a book and wished you could be there, right where the action is? This holiday trend grants that wish. Well, sort of… The action may be long gone by the time your visa is approved, your plane takes off and your baggage is claimed, but you can still visit the sights and, with the help of a wise, knowledgeable tour guide, take in the very essence of the place that inspired your favourite author.
Book lover’s tour, Edinburgh, Scotland: With a glass in your hand and a song in your heart, crawl the bars, sites and haunts of Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, J.M. Barrie, Sir Walter Scott and the birthplace of Sherlock Holmes.
‘Madeline’ tour, Paris, France: This tour based on Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline series, goes through the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Opera House, Pont Neuf, The Tuileries Gardens and the Luxembourg Gardens—all visited by the spunky little Madeline in her signature yellow-brimmed hat.
‘Harry Potter’ tour, London, England: The Warner Bros Studio Tours, as well as an air-conditioned tour of London, takes in all the film locations and inspirations of this iconic movie series.
Trend #6: The exotic and off-beat
At one point, international travel meant London, New York or wherever your aunt’s neighbour’s nephew had settled down with a spare bedroom. Now, more and more travellers find themselves willingly seduced by mystical, ancient cultures and their senses charmed by aromatic scents, spices and sights. They’re lapping up mythology and history like they’re Gummy Bears, and marvelling at monuments and old-world marketplaces with wide, childlike wonder. The best part of an exotic, offbeat holiday? The food. Nothing says ‘new experience’ like the fresh burst of wild, vibrant and often unfamiliar flavours on your tongue. Perhaps the still-beating heart of a cobra in Vietnam, sheep’s stomach (haggis) in Scotland, slow-cooked dog meat in Nagaland, or Poc Chuc, a Yucatan pork speciality in Mexico?
For a true flavour of Morocco, first visit the Medina district, with its endless maze of souks or bazaars. If you’re hungry, eat what the locals eat— hearty meat soup, fresh bread with fresh sausages and beef stew. You can also explore the museums, palaces, tombs and hammans to really experience Moroccan history.
This recently-discovered, breath-taking city is carved out of a rock and it’s safe to say, there’s nothing like it on the face of the Earth—little wonder that it was nominated as one of the new seven wonders of the world. One step through the city gates, and you’re instantly transported back 400 years, with 800 individual monuments on display that highlight Jordan’s finest ancient artistry.
This vibrant, salsa-loving (the dance form and the dipping sauce) city is such a treat for the senses. On one hand, you’ve got exciting nightclubs, brilliant colonial architecture and some incredible spicy food making up modern city life. On the other hand, they’ve still retained a 1950s charm in their quaint, old neighbourhoods and tucked away shops.
This enigmatic unspoilt and deeply spiritual mountain kingdom is often revered as the Land of the Peaceful Dragon. Bhutan’s spectacular mountain terrain, varied flora and fauna and ancient Buddhist monasteries are still relatively unexplored. Only a limited number of tourists are allowed to enter the country in order to protect its fragile environment and culture.
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