We’re getting excited about the prospect of finally heading off on holiday again. Nathan Collins, joint MD of Lichfield-based RB Collection, looks at some of the exciting new destinations and holiday options we can look forward to.
Despite significantly fewer holidays taking place over the past 12 months many hoteliers, destinations and cruise lines continued to work on exciting new properties, itineraries and experiences in the background. This means there are a lot of fresh opportunities ready and waiting for you.
Exciting new hotels
The Ikos brand has made a name for itself in Greece, offering a fresh approach to the all-inclusive model in Kos, Halkidiki and Corfu. I stayed at their Halkidiki resort a couple of years ago with my wife and two boys and was really impressed. Opening this year will be their first resort outside of Greece in Andalucía, Spain.
Their chic and stylish family-friendly resorts effortlessly combine five-star service with the ease and comfort of luxury all-inclusive. You won’t find any wristbands or long queues at buffets here. The quality of the food and beverages offered is superb and it was certainly a cut above many other all-inclusives I have stayed at.
New hotels like these in familiar areas such as the Marbella area don’t happen very often. It is refreshing to see Ikos take on the challenge in such a popular and vibrant resort. Just one hour from Malaga airport, it will no doubt be popular with British tourists who are already familiar with the area but seek somewhere new to try.
Over in the Balearic Islands, Ibiza welcomes two new luxury hotels this year. Famous for its nightlife and party weekends, the island also has a more sophisticated side with popular up-market beach clubs, sunset bars and now more luxury hotels on offer too. There are plenty of flights from the UK but its popularity and small size does mean we recommend booking early.
Six Senses are known for their resorts in Thailand, Oman and the Maldives but recently expanded into Cambodia, Portugal and China. This year the group plans to open in Ibiza and Israel. Their hotels always have dramatic locations and a real wow factor.
Their Ibiza hotel is located in the north east of the island above the crystalline waters of Cala Xarraca Bay. Like all their properties, the hotel is designed to reflect its surroundings seamlessly. Design elements are earthy and natural whilst comfort, wellness and relaxation play an important role. The hotel will be a unique sanctuary, away from the crazy wild side of the island. As a small island however, everything is within easy reach if you need a party fix.
Due to open this July, Six Senses Ibiza will be the talk of the town and we are really looking forward to visiting and showcasing it to our clients. We’ve stayed at some of their Thailand properties and they are really special indeed as they offer a unique take on modern luxury.
Staying with the laidback luxury theme is the new Oku Ibiza, just outside Sant Antoni. If you want to be closer to the action this will be a great option. The hotel continues the current luxury trend for moving away from gold taps and marble bathrooms, instead opting for earthy tones, inspired by Japanese design like their original hotel on the Greek Island of Kos.
Oku Ibiza has one of the largest pools on the island and 200 rooms which includes an ocean view penthouse and private four-bedroom villa. This is another unique new hotel for Ibiza. Combined with Six Senses and the Kempinski 7Pines which opened in 2018, we are reminded that Ibiza is one of the most aspirational luxury places to stay in the world.
Staying in the Mediterranean, we are excited to hear about the new Four Seasons San Domenico Palace in Taormina, Sicily. This iconic hotel dates back to 1896 and was really popular with our clients as well as famous names such as Oscar Wilde, King Edward VIII, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren. Four Seasons has totally refurbished this 14th century monastery. It’s close proximity to the town, stunning infinity pool and Four Seasons luxurious style and standards mean this hotel will no doubt attract a lot of attention this summer.
The chic Greek island of Mykonos welcomes an extraordinary ensemble of boutique villas that overlook the turquoise Aegean Sea. The Myconian Panoptis Escape has an exclusive, hilltop position, surrounded by the wild, natural sun-caressed beauty of Mykonos. This island sanctuary promises serenity in every sense. Think soft breezes, soul-affirming views, mesmerising sunsets and exceptional service. Bound by imaginative contemporary architecture, minimalist styling and artisan craftsmanship, everything about Panoptis Escape is the definition of less is more. I hope to visit Mykonos in June for my wedding anniversary and look forward to comparing it to our visit to the quieter Santorini a few years back.
New Rail Route
Over the Atlantic, the famous Rocky Mountaineer Railroad with its domed viewing cars has expanded from Canada south into the USA. The new scenic route from Colorado to Utah is a really exciting development for the company and we expect this to be popular. Many clients have already enjoyed the stunning journey through the Canadian Rockies and now have the opportunity to enjoy a different view and country with the same level of service and experiences.
The new itinerary is called Journey through the Red Rocks and offers two days of varying landscapes through Moab, Utah and Denver, Colorado. You will witness vast canyons, inspiring deserts, natural archways and enchanting hoodoos, the famous rock formations the area is well known for.
Many highlights best seen by train include Ruby Canyon, Mount Logan and crossing the Continental Divide. You can also add on pre and post extensions with options to start or end your journey in Las Vegas or Salt Lake City.
New Flights and Airline Innovations
Airlines have understandably been forced to reassess their schedules following the pandemic. This has resulted in a number of new routes too. Many of these are in anticipation to holiday demand this summer including Turkey, Cyprus and Greece, the latter of which has a number of new flights later into the autumn as holiday companies look to extend the summer season.
Birmingham welcomes a new direct service to Gibraltar as well as Athens which will be good news to cruise lovers as many Mediterranean cruises depart from the Greek capital. To fulfil demand to the West Country, there is a new Manchester to Newquay flight too. Long haul, Boston will be connected to Heathrow with a new service from United Airlines.
Emirates have responded to demand to allow passengers to purchase empty seats around them to have more free space if they wish. They are also in the process of rolling out their new Premium Economy cabin on select A380 services. Services from Birmingham are due to continue as they prove popular to connect holidaymakers to the Arabian Peninsula and onwards to Asia and Australasia.
Additional flights are also being laid on from Birmingham to Majorca from a number of airlines including Eurowings who launch their first holiday routes to the UK.
Finally, Aer Lingus are moving into the long-haul market from Manchester with a direct service to Orlando, Boston and New York.
Pre-pandemic, the cruise industry was literally riding a wave of huge popularity. Despite the pause in operations and some changes in fleets there are still many new ships, itineraries and product enhancements in the pipeline.
There are so many different types of cruise holidays now on offer, from large ships with endless things to do, to luxury liners offering more space per passenger, luxury yacht cruises that can access smaller ports and coastal routes to popular river cruises which can book up very early (especially on the Douro in Portugal).
The ultra-luxurious cruise line Regent Seven Seas recently announced they will position one of their ships in Barbados this winter instead of Miami. This move will certainly be attractive to UK cruises as they will be able to fly direct from the UK to the Caribbean island, bypassing the USA where their cruises usually depart from. I toured one of Regent’s ships last year and was struck by the vast amount of space onboard. The ships take around 700 passengers so a lot less than some of the larger lines.
Celebrity Cruises have adapted their board basis to be all-inclusive as a minimum. They offer additional packages to upgrade to, but all cruisers can now relax knowing their drinks, WIFI and gratuities are all included.
For those looking for a more adventurous cruise, destinations such as the Galapagos and Antarctica are seeing new ships and itineraries go on sale right up to 2023.
These smaller vessels and unique expert-led itineraries are always popular and following a year of paused operations it is no surprise they are on sale so far in advance to fulfil pent up demand. My fellow MD Oliver visited the Galapagos so can offer his take on the variety of ships and itineraries.
One of these purpose-built expedition ships is the Seabourn Venture. The first of the line’s two new Polar class vessels has only 132 suites with two custom-built submarines, kayaks and 24 Zodiac boats.
Smaller still, luxury yachts allow you to cruise smaller ports and coasts. In recent years these have been popular in Croatia and Montenegro as well as around the Greek Islands.
Emerald are well known for river cruises and are now offering itineraries on their new purpose built, 110 metre long, 5* luxury yacht. You’ll be one of only 100 guests onboard with plenty of space and a really personalised and intimate experience. Itineraries commence in 2022 and will explore the Adriatic Coast, Eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea, Western Mediterranean and in 2023 the Black Sea.
Closer to home and more imminent (pending government permission), a number of the large cruise brands such as P&O, Princess, Hurtigruten, Cunard and Fred Olsen have all announced plans for UK cruises this summer. This is another example of how the industry is adapting to consumer demand to stay closer to home for now.
Other new ships on the horizon include Virgin Voyages three new vessels: Scarlet Lady, Valiant Lady and Resilient Lady. Due to launch just before the pandemic, Virgin aims to disrupt the cruise industry offering their own take on the large cruise experience. Their uniquely designed ships offer a younger vibe.
As you can see, there are lots of developments in the world of travel and we are all gearing up for an exciting time ahead. The pent-up demand will no doubt mean many of the new offerings will be popular and book up early. My advice is to secure your places as far in advance as possible and at the time check the flexibility and conditions when booking which should now be much more favourable than before the pandemic.
To discuss your next special holiday give Nathan a call on 01543 258631 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to mention J’AIME.