Virtuoso, the international network of luxury travel agencies, took the pulse of its members who were busy taking the pulse of their clients to find out just what’s driving dreams in travel for 2015. The result? A bucket list of the top ten travel experiences Americans aspire to have this year, if not some time in their lifetime.
European River / Canal Cruises – The extreme popularity of river cruising continues unabated. What’s new? A focus on families: river cruise lines are offering dedicated sailings, shore experiences, on-board programs, and even ships configured to target family groups.
World Cruises – Virtuoso Tip from Janet Lavern, travel advisor, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: “World cruisers are often seasoned travelers who have already been to some of the ports of call and done the typical excursions. A Virtuoso travel advisor can arrange for a local guide to dig deeper beyond the tourist sights to discover something completely new.”
Multigenerational Travel – Virtuoso Tip from Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch: “One of the smartest things you can do, if you have the means, is take your kids to China, India, or Brazil. These countries will influence much of the business being done now and in the future, and kids who have insight into these cultures, who learn to adapt in unfamiliar surroundings early on, and who gain an understanding of the world around them, will have a certain advantage when it’s time to enter the workforce.”
Exploring the Greek Isles – Virtuoso Statistic: Travel to Greece is back on the rise, even placing it on Virtuoso’s list of top 10 summer destinations as well as the Hot List of fastest-growing destinations. Overall, travel to Greece is up 41 percent, with 58 percent of Virtuoso’s bookings occurring from June through August as travelers head to their favorite isles: Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, and Rhodes.
Australia’s Highlights – Virtuoso Statistic: Australia is the fastest-growing destination for luxury travelers, according to Virtuoso sales data. Bookings are up 137 percent from the same time period last year.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast – Virtuoso Tip from Vicky DiMichele, travel advisor, Willoughby, Ohio: “Springtime along the Amalfi Coast, specifically on Capri, is my favorite time to visit. There are some amazing restaurants, such as Ristorante Michel’angelo, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping district. At Da Paolino Lemon Trees Restaurant, guests dine at tables in the middle of an actual lemon grove!”
Ireland’s Castles and Countryside – Virtuoso Tip from Kimberly Georgi, travel advisor, Memphis, Tennessee: “Whether you play golf or not, a trip to Old Head Golf Course is a must. Set on a peninsula with breathtaking views atop steep cliffs of the blue Irish Sea on three sides, Ireland never looked so enchanting. Stop for a pint at the outdoor bar and catch a panoramic view of green fairways that drop sharply into the ocean where your caddy might be heard saying, ‘You won’t be playing that ball, Laddie.'”
A Month in Provence – Virtuoso Tip: Rent a villa for a live-like-a-local experience. Villa concierges can manage everything from pre-stocking the kitchen to organizing live music shows.
Galapagos Islands Expedition – Virtuoso Statistic: Ecuador is the fastest growing destination – as well as the most popular – in South America, according to Virtuoso sales figures for summer 2015. Travel to the country is up 84 percent from last year.
Tahitian Overwater Bungalow – Virtuoso Tip from Laura Crafton, travel advisor, New York, New York: “My favorite activity in Bora Bora is a boat trip to swim with the rays and reef sharks with a beach barbecue afterward. After a morning of adventure there is nothing better than eating fresh coconut and feasting on delicious Tahitian cuisine while relaxing on a private motu.”
A quick preview of Virtuoso’s winning nominees for Hotel of the Year this year (winners of the all the nominated “best of” categories to be determined at annual conference in August) makes a great guide for any travel bucket list:
- Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Galway, Ireland
- The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India
- Finca Cortesin Hotel, Golf & Spa, Andalucia, Spain
- Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin, Germany
- One&Only Palmilla, San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico