Where to Go in 2021
Bloomberg Businessweek|January 11, 2021
THE GLOBAL ECONOMY NEEDS A TRAVEL REBOUND. YOU COULD USE ONE, TOO. AS SOON AS IT’S SAFE, MAKE YOUR PLANS COUNT WITH 24 IDEAS TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME
NIKKI EKSTEIN

RESTORE THE ENVIRONMENT

BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO REEFS IN THE MALDIVES

WHY NOW Rising temperatures have made coral bleaching a pervasive and ongoing threat, ever since more than 90% of Maldivian reefs died out during the 1998 El Niño event. The trailblazing effort known as Marine Savers has been a critical lifeline for this ecosystem and inspired similar projects across the archipelago. Staffed by 10 marine biologists at the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, the group lets guests help build and install “frames” on which new coral can grow. The hotel’s bungalows are perched over the water and have sea-gazing lofts, large-screen TVs, deep soaking tubs, and outdoor showers—leaving you in better shape than when you arrived. Return the favor by pitching in.

LEAVE NO TRACE IN COSTA RICA

WHY NOW When Costa Rica began its Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) program in 1998, it was a world’s first. Today its Earth-friendly hotels have rippled into something of a global standard. A massive overhaul of CST criteria planned for 2021 will inspire hoteliers to raise the bar higher and acknowledge those who already have. Take your pick of these new five-star openings: Origins Lodge, a jungle hideaway with treetop villas; Nayara Tented Camp, a glamorous, safari-style resort surrounded by a sloth sanctuary; or Kasiiya Papagayo, which holds just seven suites on 123 beachfront acres. All have been built with lowor no- impact construction methods. Meanwhile, the government released a carbon footprint calculator last November to encourage tourism offsets. It’s also moving to protect 30% of its land under official conservation programs and encouraging other countries to do the same.

TOAST A GREENER FUTURE IN CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY

WHY NOW Four years of devastating fires haven’t dimmed Napa and Sonoma’s luster as one of the plushest, lushest—and greenest—wine regions around. Sonoma became the most sustainable viticultural area in the world in late 2019 after 99% of its vineyards were certified as such by third-party auditors, and Montage brought the town of Healdsburg a new level of luxury stay when it opened in December. Its 130 bungalows are partially solar-powered, most with ample terraces and outdoor showers. Get in on the spirit with a zero- emissions vacation: Restrictions in Burgundy and Tuscany mean that bike trip operators including VBT, DuVine, and Backroads are doubling down on high-end Golden State adventures. When the Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley makes its debut early this year in Calistoga, guests not only can roll up their sleeves and help harvest the property’s organically farmed vineyards, they’ll have front-door access to bike the 47-mile Vine Trail, which will eventually link the valley from the Vallejo ferry terminal to Calistoga.

COMMUNE WITH NATURE IN SWEDISH LAPLAND

WHY NOW The tiny new destination hotel in remote northern Sweden, Arctic Bath, has a negligible environmental footprint, in part because it barely touches the ground. Inspired by old timber- transporting practices, architects Bertil Harström and Johan Kaupp designed the property to float on the Lule River in the heart of icy, gorgeous Lapland, a veritable winter wonderland with reindeer herds and vast pine forests. The circular main structure resembles a woodland giant’s crown; nearby, a dozen cabins poke playfully from the water or perch on stilts ashore. In winter the whole thing freezes in place, affording gorgeous views from the private decks. The restaurant serves local game and aquavit and is heavily influenced by indigenous Sámi cuisine. Despite the bracing temperatures—it’s below freezing half the year—most of the action is outdoors, whether snow biking, moose watching, or dog sledding under the northern lights. There’s also a plunge pool at the hotel’s center, but don’t use it to warm up: It’s cut right into the ice.

CATALYZE CHANGE IN ISCHIA

WHY NOW Italy is eternally magnetic, a place so universally beloved that its early devastation from the pandemic was mourned around the world. Now, with borders slowly reopening to international tourism, it’s time to return. Head first to the island of Ischia, which sits opposite Capri in the Gulf of Naples. Italians favor its rugged landscape, millennia-old thermal baths, enchanting beaches, and literary pedigree. (Homer mentioned Ischia in “the Iliad.” It also had a star turn in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels.) The destination holds special appeal for walkers: Some of the best spots to eat and drink are accessible only by cliffpaths. That proclivity for all things natural inspired hotels such as Mezzatorre to band together. Their sustainability-oriented version of “build back better” includes plans to develop electric-car-sharing programs for visitors and reduce carbon footprints through an updated set of best practices.

REWILD THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

CONTRIBUTE TO RESEARCH IN ANTARCTICA

WHY NOW A total solar eclipse in December will bring every ice-breaking ship as far south as possible, to witness a phenomenon that only comes every decade or two. While the event itself will last only minutes, several expedition outfitters are creating hands-on opportunities to fill the rest of your days. Throughout the polar travel season (austral summer), passengers aboard Ponant’s hybrid-electric, natural-gas-powered Le Commandant Charcot can get an immersive scientific experience, retrieving instruments from glacial waters or assisting researchers with data collection. Or choose your own adventure when you charter one of Pelorus’s expedition- grade megayachts. In concert with its eponymous foundation, the British outfitter can send ornithologists or marine biologists on your expedition, so you’ll come home with not just incredible photos but also the satisfaction of helping contribute to the scientific record.

CHAMPION BIODIVERSITY IN ECUADOR

WHY NOW The Amazon, the Andes, the Galapagos: It’s hard to believe they’re all represented in one tiny, multifaceted country that’s roughly the size of Nevada. Start your exploration inland at the new Cotopaxi Sanctuary Lodge, named for the world’s tallest and most active volcano. Its eight lavishly appointed suites and bubble tents are the gateway to 7,500 acres of privately owned and protected grasslands filled with Andean pumas, wild horses, and speckled bears. To the east, Intrepid Travel is offering four-day Amazonian jungle trips guided by Indigenous families who know where to find caimans, sloths, and anacondas. Tack that onto the country’s most iconic bucket-list item: a Galapagos cruise. Even those are getting greener (and more luxurious) thanks to Quasar Expeditions’ forthcoming M/Y Conservation, an entirely carbon- neutral, 10-cabin vessel with a first-of-its-kind silent engine. It means those on board will be able to appreciate the area’s wonders without disturbing its natural order.

PREVENT POACHING IN SOUTH AFRICA

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