From seeking tailor-made stays to not being put off by quarantines, Globetrender shares the insights of six travel industry insiders who reveal how they will be journeying in the year ahead.
Oliver’s Travels, co-founders Oliver Bell and Ravi Sabharwal
Oliver Bell says: “If you’ve got airmiles then now is a good time to use them as there is much more availability than usual (typically it’s quite hard to find flights that suit on the dates you want to travel). Most airlines are offering free cancellation if you can’t fly due to Covid so I’m booking Bali with a Singapore stopover for the summer holidays knowing that I can easily cancel at zero cost.”
Ravi Sabharwal says: “I will be visiting France again in 2021. My family were able to head off for a brilliant week at our exclusive Chateau Le Brun in July. I have confidence we will be able to return to another similarly quirky and wonderful abode at some point this peak season. I would encourage travelling with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle as we were able to travel quickly, safely and observing social distancing measures.”
Pascale Lauber and Ulrike Bauschke, owners and designers of Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa in Ostuni, Italy
“In 2021 we hope to be able to travel to Asia. We love the Asian culture, food and the quality of accommodation. It is somewhere that we can refuel on design inspiration. The need for quarantine won’t stop us, we will keep travelling as much as the restrictions will allow us and encourage others to do the same where they safely can.
“We would advise people to consider Puglia as a destination for the year ahead. It offers plenty of space, two amazing seas and so much more. Here and other destinations that are not overcrowded such as Australia or the Alps.”
Onur Takmak, founder and CEO of ONEE Luxury Travel, a new B2B booking platform
“While travel will likely continue to look different in 2021, I am steadfastly optimistic that we will see a resurgence of personal travel in the coming months. When looking at where to travel in 2021, a huge factor is considering how to minimise the risks of exposure.
“Like many, this coming year I find myself opting for more isolated escapes that are lesser known or populated and can promise comfort, security and safety.
“For me, private stand-alone villas, estates and private islands promise tranquillity and peace of mind, all the while guaranteeing high quality standards, service and safety measures. Personally, I can’t wait to get back to Greece, Barbados and Scandinavia with a handful of close family and friends.
“There are several considerations that travelling will require for the foreseeable future, including methods of travel and which destinations have kept cases down, have good healthcare systems and measures in place for testing.
“Obviously, it is important to continue to follow government announcements around new travel restrictions and corridors. That said, as telecommuting becomes the norm, working from abroad has never been so appealing (or easy).
“We have already seen a huge uptick in extended vacations – particularly long-term villa rental holidays – made even easier in some countries with the introductions of new short-term working visas.
“Frankly, if I can go to Mexico for a month and continue to work, why not? Regardless of whether or not there is a 14-day quarantine upon return to the UK.
“I would advise that when planning your next trip for 2021, you seek advisory assistance. Tailor-made stays organised by industry experts promise luxurious escapes in high-end accommodation with plenty of amenities, high-quality standards, and safety.
“Well-advised travel has never been so important in my opinion and working with an agent or tour operator helps assure that your bases are covered in the event of an emergency on the ground or cancellations need to be made prior to departure.”
Phil Aird-Mash, CEO of Inspiring Travel Company
“I’m very confident that with advances in testing and treatment (plus all the excellent airline and hotel hygiene policies that we’ve already seen), we will be able to return to widespread travel in 2021 and do so confidently to a wide range of destinations. For me, the Maldives is the ultimate social distancing destination.
“It’s luxurious isolation, and nothing represents idyllic holiday recuperation and relaxation more than sharing a water villa with your nearest and dearest. The villa having a slide right into the Indian Ocean – like at Soneva Fushi, for example – is a highlight.
“The Caribbean, like so many destinations, relies heavily on tourism for their local economy so I can’t wait to get out and start supporting our partners and friends again. ITC has a deep heritage in the Caribbean, and so getting out to Antigua and visiting our wonderful team and suppliers is incredibly important.
“Enjoying the hotels, beaches and hospitality again is something I can’t wait to do – it’s also where I honeymooned, so holds a bit of a special place in my heart.
“I think after repeated lockdowns, there’s going to be a huge desire to travel in 2021. Finding availability for your dream destinations, experiences and hotels will be tricky, with everyone looking to escape their sofas all at once.
“My top tip would be to book with tour operators who can provide the flexibility and reassurance needed most in these times, and also get the best deals and guaranteed availability thanks to industry contacts. Make sure you don’t miss out on experiencing all the things we love about travel that we’ve all been dreaming of for so long.”
Nigel Franklyn, Spa Whisperer and co-founder of Moss Wellness Consultancy. His next project is the holistic wellness retreat, King’s Mansion, Goa
“In 2021, most of my travel will be for work – to India and South East Asia. But I will keep my vacations local – Italy, France, Portugal, Greece and Spain.
“I think Europe generally has a more clear and manageable path to controlling the pandemic and making visitors feel more at ease. Greece, for example, has a 17-page government regulation mandate issued by the Tourism Ministry that has so far managed to keep C19 numbers down and tourists safe, and I think that same kind of controlled response is clear throughout Europe.
“When you are on vacation, you should have faith that the hotel has the information and tools it needs for regulatory safety management, and that information and those tools come from a well organised governmental response.
“Key travel drivers for travel have changed now. People are asking themselves if long-haul travel is essential. Medical wellness destinations are seeing a gradual positive response from international guests because they tend to favour positively on the side of essential travel.
“Travelling with a purpose – especially work or wellness – is less affected by the general anxiety of going too far from home, so I think these trips are the ones to prioritise.
“From a purely practical perspective, my best piece of advice is to understand the pandemic climate, in the country you’re departing from and arriving in – you might be able to travel to a particular destination, but will you be able to get back home?
“I’ve had a few experiences this year where I’ve had to cut my trip short for fear of not being able to get home without quarantine, or at all – I think this is going to continue to be a question mark over the next months, so preparation is key.”
Ivaylo Lefterov, development director for the Svart hotel in Norway
“It goes without saying that we all are itching for the day when we can get on a plane to explore and enjoy different adventures and destinations. On my bucket list for sure would be rediscovering the old continent. Europe, in many ways, still has plenty of interesting and undiscovered corners and safe destinations. In a world where cancellations happen and travel restrictions change all the time, choosing a short-haul destination makes it easier to find a way back home if necessary.
“Living in Portugal has made me appreciate the small, quaint fincas and pousadas even more during the pandemic. The beaches are spectacular and laid back – the slower pace of life suits me well. Six Senses Douro Valley or the Craveiral Farmhouse in Alentejo are both great choices.
“Italy is always a must – there are some spectacular places, like Capri, Amalfi, Puglia and Taormina. Spending some time there last summer was incredible, life felt somewhat normal. The hotels and the staff were incredible, especially at Villa Carlotta in Taormina.
“They were prepared and everything was spectacularly clean and the staff made you feel safe and appreciated all the time. Other favourites include the beautiful art hotel Asmundo di Gisira in Catania or Casa Angelica, my long time favourite in Amalfi.
“Equally, less discovered destinations like Bulgaria, which was one of the countries with the lowest Covid cases. When I visited this summer, life really felt normal with very low infections during the summer and with less restrictions you can really enjoy the beautiful beaches, the incredible spas and the great food and wine.
“Once you remove yourself from the stereotypical mass all-inclusive locations there is an abundance of unspoiled nature, beaches, thermal baths and beautiful hotels. At the Cliff Obzor Bay, Sevtopolis Rose Valley and St Konstantin and Elena you get to experience a very different and pleasant holiday.
“And of course there are the Nordics; exploring the Fjords of Norway and the buzzing streets of Stockholm and Copenhagen. My favourite spot in Stockholm is the AtSix hotel. In Copenhagen, the new Copenhagen Villa is a great choice and in Oslo, Americanlijenen is fantastic.
“Being an urban junkie, I have had to adapt my travel habits and discover some more remote and safe places. As we don’t know when we will be able to fully enjoy travel again I suggest traveling by car, which is a safer option and gives you that road trip experience. Pick hotels that have lots of outdoor space and terraces, with great spa facilities.
“My choice for 2021 will be oriented on wellness and wellbeing. Covid gave us an opportunity to rethink the way we do things and how we holiday so I will be looking at places with my wellness programme in mind and at places where I can work remotely and stay longer, taking advantage of the staycation.”