Hotel Spotlights

10 Bucket List Destinations for 2021

As we continue moving through these uncertain times, our Hot List takes a different tone this year. We are still leaning into dreaming, but now there’s some hope on the horizon, so these are the places we are earnestly hoping to see in 2021. Whether able to get there or not, we’re there in spirit. In our presence or absence, the beauty of these destinations never falters.

Maldives

Given all the travel plans put on hold last year, everyone’s bucket lists have gotten grander in the interim. One of the grandest adds is The Maldives—especially now when the words “private” and “remote” are more sought after than ever. Resorts here, such as Gili Lankanfushi, The Nautilus Maldives and the new Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi take those adjectives and then double down on luxury. Private pools, personalized menus, concierges dedicated to any whim—it’s Disneyland for discerning adults.

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Utah, United States

The unofficial anthem for travel heading into 2021 is still The Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces” and, in the U.S., the Mountain States really deliver on that. Whether it’s winter skiing or summertime trail rides, Utah has a spectacular spot for nearly every kind of outdoor endeavour. A 3,500-acre ranch nestled in the Wasatch Mountain Range, The Lodge at Blue Sky is one place to practically do it all, or wind down in the desert at the out-of-this-world Amangiri, a favorite of celebs including Justin Bieber and the Kardashian-Jenners.

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St. Barthélemy

Only just recovering from hurricanes Irma and Maria before the pandemic hit, The Caribbean could use some love once the world opens up again, and we could benefit from all its balmy beaches. With its French flair, sophisticated St. Barts is top of the list. At the Christian Liaigre–designed Le Sereno, each breezy suite comes with its own private pool, but there’s also a freshwater one right on the beachfront where one can while away the day swimming and gazing at the impossibly turquoise Grand Cul-de-Sac.

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Bath, England

Binge watching the latest season of The Crown and the brand new Bridgerton late last year sparked next-level cravings for U.K. countryside retreats. Should the opportunity present itself, fans can step right into one of the sets. Standing in for Regency-era London, Bath, England was one of Bridgerton’s primary filming locations, and specifically, the highly recognizable exterior of The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. While the rooms have been contemporized since the building was erected in the late 1700s, they still retain some Old-World touches, such as poster beds and elaborate wallpapers—and if these walls could talk they’d spill far more secrets than Lady Whistledown.

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Punta Mita, Mexico

Within a 1,500-acre peninsula on the Pacific, Punta Mita is an enclave of secluded estates and top shelf resorts. Private and pristine but surprisingly accessible—it’s just a 45-minute drive from the Puerto Vallarta International Airport—it’s precisely the sort of easy yet over-the-top weekend getaway to go for when one is ready to fly again. There’s the St. Regis and other beloved hotel brands, but for those seeking a more boutique, barefoot luxury vibe, there’s the 12-suite Imanta Resort a little farther down the road.

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Italy

Watching Italians sing from windows and balconies during lockdown made everyone fall in love with Italy all over again. Tapping into la dolce vita—the wine, the romance, the pasta—when safer travel returns will be paramount. Spacious, picturesque places will be the first stop, such as the Italian Alps or the Tuscan countryside. Perhaps a late summer wine weekend in the Chianti Classico region at Borgo San Felice or pre-Christmas pampering at Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti while the trees are dressed in white. Either way, the word “bellissima” will be joyfully overused.

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Costa Rica

With sustainability as the new travel standard, Costa Rica has never looked better. Ahead of the eco-tourism curve, the country recently received recognition from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council making it extra official. Plot that first safe escape to one of the Casa Chameleon properties here, Mal Pais or Las Catalinas. Both boutique resorts serve up verdant coastal views from villas with private plunge pools—and don’t feel bad leaving the kids at home, they’re adults-only.

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Atlantic Canada

The four provinces dotted along Canada’s Atlantic Coast—Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland—are as rugged and windswept as they are vibrant and soulful, thanks to their position fronting the cold, frothy Atlantic Ocean and a cultural fabric of First Nations and the English, French and Scandinavians who later settled here. Looking out onto that vast ocean, Fogo Island Inn and Fox Harb’r Resort have that room to roam we’ll all require as we venture out again.

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Botswana

A resounding yes to more wild, abundant nature in 2021, and the Okavango Delta in Botswana is teeming with it (it’s been called the closest thing to Eden). A small but luxurious safari camp is perhaps the most alluring reintroduction to travel. In the Moremi Game Reserve, which contains approximately 40 percent of the Okavango, post up at Abu Camp or Belmond Eagle Island Lodge and wish on the starry skies above that a rare cheetah or rhinoceros spotting is in the cards—that would make all the waiting worth it.

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Close to home

As the world waits for vaccinations to roll out, the safest place to travel is still one’s proverbial backyard. Head to that five-star hotel in your city you’ve always wanted to staycation at or take a weekend road trip to that luxurious lakeside resort in the country with all its open space. This year, we continue to celebrate those places nearest and dearest to us—whether that’s in North America, Europe or Asia and Australia.