Today: My 2022 trips that I am most excited about
I wish you all a happy, safe, healthy and prosperous 2022! In these challenging and divisive times, we all could benefit by reminding ourselves of the powerful words of Martin Luther King Jr: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
At the end of the past year, I reflected on my most memorable travel experiences of 2021. But now that 2022 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. Several of these trip were due to take place in 2021 but were postponed because of the pandemic. Let’s hope that new viral waves and/or restrictions won’t stand in the way of our travels in 2022, so we can all start dreaming, planning and traveling again (to live life to the fullest).
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 (which I reviewed here). 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 FAMOUS LUXURY HOTEL: GSTAAD PALACE
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 2022 I am going back to Switzerland to try out its most famous hotel: The Gstaad Palace. Perhaps best known as the Bernese Oberland’s winter paradise, Gstaad Palace is a favorite among discerning travelers and has presided over Gstaad since 1913, with splendid views of the Swiss Alps.
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 2022, 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. 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 2021 trip onboard the A350 was cancelled).
5. FLYING IN A LUFTHANSA BOEING 747 TO MIAMI
IMHO, the Boeing 747 is the most elegant airplane ever designed. The four-engine jet features a distinctive upper deck shape, which has earned it the nickname “Jumbo Jet”. It has been 50 years since the first Boeing 747 was delivered to Pan Am, and more than 1500 of the iconic aircraft have been built since then. Its ability to carry more than 500 passengers on longhaul routes truly opened the age of modern jet travel, bringing with it new possibilities and destinations. Unfortunately though, the Boeing 747 is a dying breed since most airlines have phazed out the aircraft during the pandemic, now choosing for more fuel-efficient and cost-effective widebody aircraft. Lufthansa is one of the last airlines still flying the Boeing 747, and if all goes well (and there’s no aircraft swap), I’ll travel on the carrier’s Boeing 747-8 this spring in Business Class on the upper deck (Frankfurt to Miami route).
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. 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 trip to Bora Bora in September (a trip that was postponed twice because of the pandemic). 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).
1. A RETURN VISIT TO THE MALDIVES’ ULTIMATE LUXURY HOTEL: SONEVA JANI
Last year, my Maldives trip was cancelled due to the pandemic, but this year, I am returning to my favorite resort in the Maldives: Soneva Jani. 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 with uninterrupted Indian Ocean views. Each one of the phenomenal water villas has a private lap pool and opens to its own stretch of lagoon, with some villas featuring slides going directly from the top deck into the lagoon below. The highlight of the villas is the retractable roof in the master bedroom, which slides back at the touch of a button so that guests can lie in bed and stargaze. One year ago, Soneva Jani added Chapter Two to its portfolio of luxurious water villas, and introduced a whole new all-inclusive way to experience the best of the resort with Soneva Unlimited.
During my Maldives trip, I will also try out some other ultra-luxurious resorts: Raffles Maldives Meradhoo, Velaa Private Island, Soneva Fushi, and Anantara Kivahah. So you can expect several 4K UHD videos about the Maldives’ most luxurious properties on my Youtube channel in 2022.
Contact me to get complimentary Soneva ambassador benefits at Soneva Jani (e.g. upgrade, resort credit, and a personalized Soneva experience).