December 10, 2019
Expert: Yoshiharu Hoshino, CEO
Forecast: “International visitors are waking up to the health benefits of onsen bathing, an ancient Japanese spa therapy with bath houses utilising hot spring mineral waters from deep underground. There are etiquette rules when using onsen baths – such as removing clothing before entering – and, as such, some guests do prefer the privacy of their own in-room onsen. KAI, a brand of upscale boutique hot spring ryokan hotels with 15 properties across Japan, features private hot spring baths in many of its rooms, allowing visitors the luxury of onsen bathing in total seclusion.”
Sample trip: Stay at Hoshino Resorts KAI Sengokuhara (+81-50-3786-1144; www.kai-ryokan.jp/en/sengokuhara/), a contemporary art-themed Japanese ryokan with healing hot springs just two hours north of Tokyo in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Each beautifully appointed guest suite features a private onsen bath on its balcony overlooking the Hakone countryside. Stay overnight from £546 (¥74,000) per room (two sharing; two meals). Flights extra.
Expert: James Starkey, Marketing Director
Forecast: “The ongoing surge in bookings from customers looking specifically for dog-friendly getaways in the UK is remarkable – up 27% year-on-year and up 81% compared with two years ago – as people become less and less inclined to leave their four-legged family members behind when they go on holiday. This demand has, in turn, led to an expansion in the volume and variety of properties available, from cosy coastal boltholes with hot tubs to splendid country piles with open-plan luxe living and facilities galore.”
Sample Trip: Canine Cottages (01237 459821; www.caninecottages.co.uk) is a collection of over 2,000 of the UK’s finest dog-friendly self-catering properties. Puffin’s Nest (sleeps two, plus up to two dogs) is a delightful petite retreat in North Devon with spectacular sea views and the South West Coastal Path right on the doorstep. A three-night stay costs from £153 pp (£306 total). £20 supplement per dog.
Expert: Rémy Counil, Directeur Général
Forecast: “With the Greta Thunberg effect, travellers are really starting to look at how they can reduce their impact on the planet and turning to alternative methods of transport instead of flying. A 2012 study, commissioned by the Ski Club of Great Britain, showed that 70-80% of the CO2 emissions related to an Alpine ski holiday are from the flight. Luckily, travelling to the French Alps resort of La Plagne can easily be done by train, so snow sports enthusiasts can enjoy an active break in the mountains secure in the knowledge that they’ve done their bit for the environment.”
Sample trip: Depart London St Pancras on the Saturdays-only 09:45 Eurostar ski train to Aime la Plagne, arriving at 18:46, then travel 30-40 minutes by taxi or bus to La Plagne. Return fares from £160 pp. Stay at the four-star Hotel Le Cocoon in Plagne 1800 overlooking Mont Blanc, with outdoor Jacuzzi and Scandinavian kota dining huts, from £130 per night (B&B; two sharing). Contact La Plagne (+33 (0) 4 79 09 79 79; www.la-plagne.com).
Expert: Peter Hancock, CEO
Forecast: “Hotel guests are increasingly choosing hotels which are centres of excellence for food, wellbeing or off-grid adventures. Grantley Hall in North Yorkshire has an elite training facility (think underwater treadmill/altitude training) led by Guinness World Record rower Duncan Roy. Executive Chef and BBC Great British Menu winner Lisa Goodwin-Allen personally oversees Northcote’s Chef’s Table for 16 guests in Lancashire. Lucknam Park offers show-jumping lessons on its estate near Bath, Glenapp Castle’s Sea Safari takes guests by boat to remote Scottish islands for glamping with butler service and, at South Lodge, Botanica café’s plant-based menu includes the Wasted Burger, made entirely from the pulp of the morning’s juices.”
Sample trip: Grantley Hall (0800 089 3929; www.prideofbritainhotels.com) is a striking 17th century Georgian mansion with an ELITE luxury gym and wellness area housing a cryotherapy chamber and offering electro-muscular stimulation training. An overnight stay costs from £350 per room total/ £175 pp (two sharing), including breakfast and full gym access.
Expert: Lloyd Boutcher, Director
Forecast: “While it’s no secret that holidaying out of peak season helps travellers keep costs down and avoid tourist crowds, we’re starting to see people actively seek out trips in low season because of some of the secret benefits and more immersive experiences this can offer the visitor. The Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats, for instance, usually attract tourists in the dry season (May-Nov.), keen to get their iconic shots of the dry salt pans. However, travel in the rainy season (Jan.-Apr.) means seeing the magical sight of the pans coated in water, reflecting the surrounding landscapes. Visit the Amazon in wet season (Feb-May) and waterway navigation is easier, allowing people to travel further, there’s an influx of migratory birds, the trees are in bloom and mating season brings the jungle alive with noisy courtship sounds.”
Sample trip: AITO* member Sunvil Latin America (020 8758 4774; sunvil.co.uk) offers an 11-night Bolivia tour spending two nights in the Salar de Uyuni plus time in Santa Cruz, Sucre, Potosi, La Paz and Lake Titicaca. The cost is from £3,895 pp (two sharing), including flights (Gatwick/Heathrow), B&B, some meals, private transfers and private guided tours.
Expert: Chris Greener, Senior Southeast Asia Product Executive
Forecast: “We have seen a recent surge in the number of travellers craving authentic experiences and real adventures. Looking for more isolated, off-the-radar destinations, these visitors want to truly get beneath the surface, while also taking part in physical activities. Visit Vietnam and Laos for fantastic, lesser-known hiking options, including Pu Luong, Mai Chau Valley and the Nam Et Phou Louey National Park area. Trekking between two destinations, and staying in local village homestays along the way, will tick all the right boxes.”
Sample Trip: Trek Vietnam and Laos with AITO* member InsideAsia Tours (0117 244 3380; www.insideasiatours.com) from £3,580 pp (two sharing), including 10 nights’ hotel, guesthouse and eco lodge B&B (including two nights at the Pu Luong Eco Retreat), a one-night B&B homestay and two nights’ B&B jungle hut stay, 11 lunches, nine evening meals and airport and guided transfers. International flights extra.
Expert: Dudley de Parthog, Director Greece
Forecast: “Sunvil has seen an increasing desire from its clients to minimise their carbon footprint by using alternative modes of transportation to reach Greek holiday destinations. In light of this, Sunvil has introduced Greece by rail for 2020 – a series of holiday options using rail travel from London St Pancras (via Milan and Corfu or Igoumenitsa). The journey is a mini adventure in itself, with an opportunity to stop and explore multiple places en route. This new option will include stays on Corfu, Paxos, Parga, Sivota or Lefkas, with each trip tailored to suit individual requirements.”
Sample trip: AITO* member Sunvil (020 8758 4758; www.sunvil.co.uk) offers a nine-night trip, including one night’s B&B at the De La Ville Hotel in Milan and seven nights’ self-catering at the Kalami Bay apartments in Corfu, Eurostar (London to Paris), two train journeys (Paris to Milan and Milan to Bari) and an overnight ferry to Corfu, plus a one-way return flight (Corfu – London) and transfers.
Expert: Carolina de Capell Brooke, Product Manager, Morocco
Forecast: “Honeymoons are no longer a time for a couple to simply escape for some R&R à deux; increasingly, the bride and groom are looking to escape to sunnier climes in the company of their nearest and dearest – hence the rise of the ‘friendmoon’. Going away with close friends means that the couple can extend the celebrations even further, but also use the time to debrief/ re-live the nuptials and reconnect/ make memories with the most important people in their lives. Sought-after villas are large, luxurious and have additional features such as private chefs.”
Sample package: The exquisite 10-bedroom Dar des Roses Blanches, near Marrakech, sleeps 20 and is the perfect friendmoon base. A week’s stay with CV Villas (0207 261 5410; www.cvvillas.com) is priced from £579 pp (£11,574 total) and includes access to a private pool, magical gardens and daily maid and cook service. Transfers and flights extra.
Expert: Prini Holmes-Reilly, Head of Marketing
Forecast: “Despite a volatile economic and political climate, we have seen a consistent increase in demand for luxury travel experiences from clients who are prepared to pay a premium for adventurous itineraries that avoid mass tourism, make personal connections and can’t be accessed by the average traveller. Service remains a key requirement and, whilst five-star accommodation and other such comforts are always appreciated, it is customised arrangements and cultural immersion that now rank higher in terms of luxury holiday must-haves.”
Sample Trip: Jules Verne (020 3553 3722; www.vjv.com) has added 13 luxurious new Limited Edition tours to its worldwide programme, including an 18-day journey to Papua New Guinea. A Million Journeys costs from £9,895 pp (two sharing), including flights (Heathrow), 14 nights’ accommodation (four nights each in East New Britain and Mount Hagen, three nights in Lake Murray, two nights in Karawari and one night in Singapore). Three overnight flights. Departs 26 May & 22 September 2020.
Expert: Alistair McLean, Managing Director
Forecast: “As interest in sustainable travel rises, we’ve noticed that our clients are increasingly concerned with ways in which they can leave a lighter footprint on the environment while travelling. Finland continues to be a popular destination, offering excellent Northern Lights opportunities and varied winter activities, but it is important that we can adapt to offer the experiences that our clients expect in a way that is the least damaging to the local environment and regional communities. This trend is set to grow further still into 2020 and beyond.”
Sample trip: AITO* member The Aurora Zone’s (01670 785 012; www.theaurorazone.com) new Pyhä – Tailor Made trip includes accommodation at the carbon-neutral Sunday Morning Resort and offers eco activities, such as electric snowmobiling and fatbiking (extra cost). The trip costs from £1,265 pp (two sharing), including direct flights (Gatwick), transfers, three nights’ half-board accomodation, cold weather clothing and an Aurora alert system.
Expert: Maria Cook, General Manager
Forecast: “Whether it’s grandparents spending some of the family inheritance, a special anniversary or birthday treat, or simply a desire for more space and comfort in-flight, we’re seeing more and more clients opt for upgraded arrangements. Bookings for tailor-made, long-haul itineraries with business class flights, first-class rail and four or five-star accommodation are noticeably on the increase, with clients more than happy to pay for these extra benefits. The average duration of a tailor-made trip is now 16 days (compared to ten days in 2017), with Australia and North America topping the list of countries for 2020, bucking the previous year’s trend for South East Asia, where the £ goes a lot further.”
Sample Trip: AITO* member Ffestiniog Travel (01766 512 400; www.ffestiniogtravel.com) offers a 17-day tailor-made Australia in Style tour, with train journeys on the legendary Ghan, the Puffing Billy Railway and the Overland amongst its highlights. The price is from £14,100 pp (two sharing), including First Class BA flights (London), Business Class flights (Singapore/Darwin), B&B in five-star hotels, all-inclusive Platinum Service Cabin on the Ghan, Red Premium Class (Adelaide/Melbourne), First Class (Melbourne/Sydney), private sightseeing tours and other excursions.
*AITO, The Specialist Travel Association, boasts over 120 specialist travel companies providing an unrivalled collection of holiday ideas that cover every corner of the world. Consumers booking with AITO members can be assured of high-quality holidays, excellent personal service and full financial protection. Visit www.aito.com for further information.