Today (January 4, 2021): My 2021 trips that I am most excited about.
At the end of the past year, I reflected on my most memorable travel experiences of 2020. But now that 2021 is finally here, it’s time to look forward and share with you 10 great trips that I am planning for the coming year and that I am looking forward to share with you in my Wednesday blog posts (which always feature a flight trip reports or luxury hotel reviews) and on my YouTube channel. Please note that because of the pandemic, I have temporarily ceased taking holidays and I am planning most of my trips for the second half of 2021, when hopefully travel restrictions will have become a thing of the past.
If you have some tips and suggestions for my upcoming trips, please share them in the comments section below!
10. EXPERIENCING UNITED AIRLINES’ NEW POLARIS BUSINESS CLASS
United Airlines used to be my carrier of choice for transatlantic flights, although I shifted to Delta since the introduction of Delta’s awesome Delta One suite (I’ll publish my review soon). I’ve flown a dozen of times on United’s Boeing 777s and Dreamliners, but so far, I never got a chance to try out the carrier’s new Polaris Business Class seats. I was supposed to fly to New York on a United Boeing 787-9 featuring the new Polaris seats last spring, but that trip was postponed to this year. Named after the North Star, United’s Polaris Business Class offers a “reimagined, sleep-enhancing, departure-to-landing experience.” Each suite-like pod features a do-not-disturb sign, mood lighting, one-touch lumbar support, several storage areas, multiple surfaces for simultaneous working and dining, a HD entertainment screen, direct access to the aisle, 180-degree flat-bed recline and electronic privacy dividers.
9. STAYING AT SWITZERLAND’S MOST LUXURIOUS HOTELS
Switzerland is a small landlocked country right in the heart of the Alps, bordered by Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Liechtenstein. The country’s ravishing mountain scenery, rural villages, glitzy ski resorts, pristine lakes, and green rolling pastures offer unbeatable winter adventures and summer outdoor experiences. The variety of different sights to see in Switzerland is incredible, ranging from giant glaciers, epic mountains, and wild rivers, to vibrant cities, world-class museums, and scenic train journeys. Luxury hotels are in abundant supply in Switzerland, and include Alpine retreats and stylish lakeside resorts. I have previously stayed at The Dolder Grand (Zurich) and The Chedi Andermatt (Alps), and in 2021 I am going back to Switzerland to try out some of its greatest hotels, such as The Gstaad Palace, The Bürgenstock Hotel, Park Hotel Vitznau, InterContinental Davos, and Hotel Villa Honegg.
8. FLYING FIRST CLASS WITH OMAN AIR
I’ve previously flown First Class with Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates, but there’s one Middle Eastern airline that is still on my bucket list: Oman Air. In 2018, Oman Air installed a highly acclaimed First Class product on its Boeing 787. The new suite is designed with extra tall, soft closing sliding doors and canopy behind each headrest to ensure absolute exclusivity. Center seats also enjoy adjustable dividers at the touch of a button. The suite comes with a host of personalization features, intuitively controlled through touchscreen panels. The cabin itself embraces Omani design heritage for a distinctive interior that is inherently Oman Air. The unique arch shape on the feature wall and on each private suite door is inspired by the architectural form of the Omani archway – as seen from centuries old forts to the iconic modern Royal Opera House in the capital city of Muscat.
7. BEING AN AMAN JUNKIE IN NEW YORK CITY
Opening its doors in spring 2021, Aman New York will bring the serenity of Aman – one of the world’s most exclusive hotel brands – to the Big Apple. The Crown Building on Fifth Avenue building is one of the most expensive city blocks in the world, overlooking Central Park. The fourth through tenth floors of the building will be occupied by the new Aman hotel, while the 11th floor and above will be transformed into 20, Aman-branded residences, crowned with a five-story penthouse that is priced in excess of US$100 million. The new Aman will also encompass an extraordinary three storeys Aman Spa, with a dramatic indoor swimming pool surrounded by fire pits and daybeds as its centerpiece. Two Spa Houses will provide guests with an all-encompassing spa journey, encompassing a double treatment room, sauna and steam rooms, and an outdoor terrace with cabana, daybed and fireplace.
6. ENJOYING ISLAND LIFE IN FRENCH POLYNESIA
The lush strip of land called Bora Bora lies in the South Pacific Ocean’s most mesmerizing lagoon and has, as you probably expect, some pretty awesome beaches. Luxurious bungalows nestled over ridiculously clear waters with Mount Otemanu as a tropical backdrop put Bora Bora in the bucket list of many travelers. I am planning a week-long (return) trip to Bora Bora in October, which should be the end of the dry season. I will stay at the St Regis and Four Seasons resorts, both of them representing the best French Polynesia has to offer in terms of accommodations. I will also stay at The Brando Resort on French Polynesia’s private island of Tetiaroa – an atoll composed of a dozen small islands surrounding a sparkling lagoon 30 mi (50 km) northeast of Tahiti. It was in this natural wonderland that actor Marlon Brando settled down and finally found his home (hence explaining the name of the resort).
5. TRYING OUT BRITISH AIRWAYS’ NEW A350 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
While British Airways’ Business Class raised the bar worldwide two decades ago with the introduction of the first fully lie-flat seat and an innovative “Ying/Yang” seat plan, the carrier’s Business Class product and mediocre service were quickly outclassed by some of its competitors. However, British Airways dramatically enhanced its onboard experience over the past year, with improved catering (from DO&CO), excellent bedding, and stylish amenity kits, which rivals the best in the skies. In 2019, the airline also introduced a new suite concept onboard its A350 planes and some refurbished B777 aircraft, with direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy, luxurious flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, 18.5-inch entertainment screens, and 40 % more storage space per seat. I finally hope to fly onboard British Airways’ A350 in 2021 (as my 2020 trip onboard the A350 was cancelled).
4. RAINFOREST & BEACH ADVENTURE IN COSTA RICA
Costa Rica is an eco-paradise and one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It is also one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, containing about 5% of the world’s species. Fortunately, a total of 25 percent of the national territory is preserved as national parks. The country offers majestic volcanoes, idyllic beaches on the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, as well as exhilarating jungle landscapes, all without traveling long distances. Costa Rica is also a frontier on eco-friendly and sustainable tourism. In 2003, I visited Costa Rica as a student, staying at hostels and camp sites, but now I will re-visit the breathtaking scenery of the country “in style.” During my holiday, I will stay at several of the country’s top lodges and resorts, including Lapa Rios, Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagoya, Nayara Tented Camp, and Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo.
3. FLYING ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS’ FABULOUS NEW BUSINESS CLASS
All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest airline, has collaborated with famed architect Kengo Kuma and leading British designers Acumen to roll out a total of twelve completely redesigned Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. At the heart of ANA’s new product investment is a brand new seat design for Business Class called “THE Room.” Inspired by modern, multifunctional Japanese living spaces, THE Room offers flexible doors for personal privacy that can be adjusted to share the space with fellow travel companions – from dining together with the family to conducting meetings with colleagues. With a wide sofa which is double the width to previous Business Class seating, THE Room represents one of the largest Business Class seating environments in the skies. I will try out THE Room in autumn on the London to Tokyo route (if international travel has resumed by then).
2. AN EPIC JOURNEY THROUGH NAMIBIA
In autumn 2021, I will embark for a road trip in the southern African country of Namibia. Few countries in the world can match Namibia’s sheer natural beauty. Not only is the country world-famous for its exceptional wildlife, game reserves and safari lodges, but the landscapes of its coastline and deserts are some of the most photographed and gasped over in the world. My journey will cover all of Namibia’s highlights: I will hike in the Fish River Canyon, spot wildlife in Etosha National Park, and watch the sun rise over the world’s highest dunes in Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert. En route, I will stay in some of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife lodges, including the ultraluxe Zannier lodges, the recently revamped &Beyond Sossuvlei Desert lodge, and the fabulous Hoanib Skeleton Coast Lodge (managed by Wilderness Safaris) in Namibia’s remote area of the Kaokoveld.
1. A RETURN VISIT TO THE MALDIVES’ ULTIMATE LUXURY HOTEL: SONEVA JANI
This year, I am returning to my favorite resort in the Maldives: Soneva Jani (so you can expect some more Soneva clips – this time in 4K UHD – on my Youtube channel). Located on an uninhabited five-island cluster in the Noonu Atoll, the Maldives’ most exclusive resort is fringed by pristine beaches, blanketed with lush tropical greenery, and surrounded by a 5.6 km (3,4 mi) lagoon of crystal clear waters. Each one of the massive overwater water villas has its own private lap pool and some villas feature slides going directly from the top deck into the Indian Ocean. The highlight of the villas is the retractable roof in the master bedroom, which slides back at the touch of a button so you can lie in bed and stargaze. The resort’s selection of experiences caters to every kind of traveler and includes everything from nature walks and spa treatments to lazy picnics and beyond.
Contact me to get complimentary Soneva ambassador benefits at Soneva Jani (e.g. upgrade, resort credit, and a personalized Soneva experience).