The predictions for what will be the hottest destinations of 2012 are out! Conde Nast Traveller and the Travel Channel have each offered us 10 prospective hotspots, Travel & Leisure has given us 12, National Geographic Traveler has given us 16 and the New York Times has named a whopping 45 potential locales. There’s a lot of overlap among the lists, which is a good sign that the experts have gotten it right. I took a look at all four lists and compared them, so you didn’t have to… Here’s my take on what will be the hottest of the hottest, plus a few that are probably not too hot at all.
London: London, one of my all-time favorite cities, is always a hot destination in my book. But it made it onto all five lists this year for one big reason: The 2012 Olympics. There’s a reason to go to London if there ever was one (or to fervently avoid it if you don’t like crowds and don’t care about the games). Travel Channel offered another fantastic reason to go to London: The Warner Brothers Studio London Tour, aka the Harry Potter set. Get ready to explore Hogwarts in the spring!
Panama: Panama is clearly having its moment in the sun, and it’s a very sunny place to begin with. The New York Times led with Panama, National Geographic Traveler praised its Soberanía National Park and Travel & Leisure told us that Angelina Jolie has been sunbathing at Pedasi beach. Is it going to be the new Costa Rica?
Burma: Only two lists chose this one (CNT and NYT,which calls it Myanmar), but this is a good example of a place that is walking the fine line between undiscovered and discovered —for now. Now that people are no longer afraid to go there, Burma is experiencing a real tourism boom. The existing hotels are fully booked, and this may lead to construction of more hotels in the incredibly well-preserved Rangoon district, says eTurboNews.com. So like everything else, get there while it’s stil good.
St. Vincent: Two words: Buccament Bay. This five-star all-inclusive is definitely going to be the hottest family vacation for those who can afford it. Not only is it a gorgeous property, but you can take lessons at the Liverpool Football Club Soccer School, Pat Cash Tennis Academy, the Harlequin Performing Arts Academy. Rates include a flight in the hotel’s plane from Barbados. Travel & Leisure and the New York Times both listed this one.
Oman vs. Abu Dhabi: What’s the hottest Middle East destination? The experts are divided on this one. Conde Nast Traveller, Travel & Leisure chose ultra-modern Abu Dhabi for its new museums (branches of the Guggenheim and Louvre) and chic hotels, like the Yas Viceroy. Travel Channel and National Geographic Traveler prefer Oman because it’s retained its charm amid its growth. So why not go to both this year? They’re pretty close!
File These Under “Really?”
If you go to any of these, let me know… They’re not on my list for 2012!
Bentonville, Arkansas: T&L picked this one because Alice Walton, the young heir to the Walmart fortune, just opened a massive museum, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. But I still don’t think that’s going to lure people to Arkansas… Maybe if you’re in driving distance?
Oakland, California: The NYT puts this as #5. OK, I guess Oakland has experienced a resurgence, but there are so many great places around San Francisco (Half Moon Bay, Napa, Palo Alto, etc.) that I’d be hard-pressed to tell someone to devote too much time to Oakland during their stay.
Space: This was a bold choice from both the Travel Channel and the New York Times. Most people only barely tolerate flying in a conventional plane, so I doubt many will be willing to venture into this scary rocket. Plus it’s frightfully expensive and I’d sooner blow my budget at one of Sir Richard Branson’s other ventures on the Travel Channel list: Necker Island.