While travel might not be a reality right now, you can’t stop us dreaming about holidays to take when we can board a plane to foreign shores once more. From underwater museums to starchitect-designed hotels and the latest foodie trends, we’ve shortlisted 13 of the most notable openings and travel experiences to check out in the future.
The remote Baa atoll, a Unesco Biosphere Reserve on the western edge of the Maldives archipelago, recently welcomed The Nautilus resort. As the only Relais & Châteaux hotel in the country, the new address skips all the usual gimmicks (sorry, no underwater restaurants here) in favour of low-key boho-luxury. Choose a beach or overwater villa – each with a dedicated butler – and then make your own adventure. It’s all about flexibility: eat breakfast whenever you want, order off-menu, enjoy spa treatments on the beach, join a morning yoga class, swim with manta rays and whale sharks, or just drink champagne in bed.
Super Nintendo World
Where: Osaka, Japan
Ready your 1-Up Mushrooms: the first Super Nintendo World theme park area is set to open at Universal Studios Japan later in 2020. Devoted to all things Nintendo – think Mario, Luigi, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Yoshi and friends – this ’90s joyride feels like a real-life video game, promising immersive games, rides and restaurants. By donning ‘Power Up Bands’ and connecting with the park’s dedicated app, guests can tap into augmented technology to hit blocks and collect coins – just like Mario.
Where: South Island, New Zealand
With its surreal landscapes and pristine nature reserves, New Zealand is one of the world’s best trekking destinations – and it just got even better with the opening of the South Island’s Paparoa Track, one of the country’s 10 designated Great Walks. About 3.5 hours northwest of Christchurch by car, the 55-kilometre path takes three days to walk one-way, or two days to mountain bike. The scenery is spectacular: you’ll pass karst rock formations, cross dramatic suspension bridges and watch the sun set over the Tasman Sea. Well ahead of your trip, be sure to book bunks at designated Great Walk huts – they’re basic but comfortable, with cooking facilities, toilets and fresh water.
The Great Southern
Where: Adelaide to Brisbane, Australia
If you love slow, romantic rail travel, this one’s for you: Australian luxury train operator Journey Beyond recently introduced the Great Southern route to its network. Offering world-class dining and stylish accommodation, the three- to 12-day rail journeys trace the southeastern coastline for an idyllic mix of wine, culture and natural scenery. The signature six-day Coastal Adventure package, for instance, kicks off in Adelaide’s wine country, before stops in the Grampians to admire ancient sandstone mountains, Canberra for an arts and heritage tour, and Coffs Harbour for a beach break or round of golf. Finishing off the week, you’ll spend a day exploring Brisbane, then venture off the coast to Moreton Island to meet some dolphins.
ME by Melia
Where: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai is no stranger to ultra-luxe digs, but the new ME by Melia takes hospitality to the next level. Part of the cube-like Opus building, designed by the late Zaha Hadid, this swanky design hotel is down the street from the Burj Khalifa – and yes, you’ll enjoy uninterrupted views of the world’s tallest tower. Revolving around Hadid’s famously fluid, minimalist design aesthetic, ME by Melia features an outdoor pool, sleek spa and 187 rooms and suites with your choice of a soothing ‘desert’ or ultra-dramatic ‘midnight’ colour palette.
Where: New York City, US
The highest observation deck in the western hemisphere recently opened in New York’s Hudson Yards development in western Manhattan. Dubbed ‘Edge’, this 345-metre-high observation deck promises a trendy champagne bar and 360-degree views that stretch from the High Line to Central Park and the Statue of Liberty. But it’s not for the faint-hearted: attached to the 100th floor of the 30 Hudson Yards tower, the dizzying deck extends 24 metres out into the air, with angled glass walls and a peek-a-boo glass panel underfoot that’ll make you feel like you’re floating over Manhattan. For the best snap, walk to Edge’s easternmost point, where a small glass deck big enough for one person will ensure uninterrupted selfies and skyline views.
Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection
Where: Paris, France
Paris will flex its cultural muscles once again with a new landmark museum in 2021. This time, French billionaire François Pinault, founder of the Kering luxury fashion group, has teamed up with Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando to transform the city’s former stock exchange into the Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection. Located near the Louvre, the private museum will showcase more than 5,000 contemporary works from blue-chip artists like Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Cindy Sherman, alongside video installations and a 300-seat auditorium for screenings and performances. Come for the art collection but stay for the dramatic 19th-century architecture. After meticulous refurbishments, Ando has breathed new life into the Medici columns, double spiral staircases and graceful central cupola.
Where: London, UK
The Londoner, which debuts later in 2020, couldn’t be in a better location: smack in the middle of Leicester Square and the West End’s vibrant theatres, boutiques and restaurants. Overlooking the square, rooms feature muted, earthy tones, wood panelling and pops of contemporary art. There’s plenty to do across the 16-storey property, from two screening rooms to a rooftop bar with firepits, a ‘gastro tavern’, live music, a subterranean spa, and six eclectic restaurants. Brownie points: The Londoner is set to be one of the greenest hotels in the country, boasting innovations such as a ‘liquid film’ that will cut back on evaporation and energy loss from the pool.
Ace Hotel Kyoto
Where: Kyoto, Japan
Launched in Seattle in 1999, Ace Hotels has become synonymous with minimalist interiors, local artwork and heritage architecture. So it’s no surprise that the brand earmarked Kyoto, Japan’s capital of culture, for its first Asia outpost. Prolific Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and Los Angeles-based Commune Design have turned the historic Kyoto Central Telephone Company Office into the stylish 213-room Ace Hotel Kyoto, opening later this year. Sleek and serene, the hotel features a central courtyard garden, handmade wooden furniture and buoyant artwork by 98-year-old Samiro Yunoki, a master of katazome (fabric-dying). Rooms include tatami mattresses, while suites include private onsen-style baths.
Infusion On Long
Where: Cape Town, South Africa
Over the past two years, South Africa has started to relax its cannabis laws. THC (the main psychoactive compound in cannabis) remains illegal to sell or use in public; however, the non-psychoactive ingredient CBD, known for its calming and pain-relief effects, is fair game. Sensing a budding opportunity, Infusion On Long opened at the beginning of this year as Cape Town’s first CBD cafe. Located in the buzzing city centre, the restaurant serves Mediterranean-style seafood platters, salads, pastas, smoothie bowls and refreshing cocktails – all with an optional dose of CBD.
Where: Washington DC, US
Love language? The Planet Word museum, which opens soon in the US capital, invites you to take part in multisensory exhibitions like a towering Word Wall, activated by the sound of your voice.
Museum of Underwater Art
Where: Queensland, Australia
To raise awareness about reef conservation, underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor has created the Museum of Underwater Art, a series of submerged art installations, coral greenhouses and education centres along the Great Barrier Reef. Mind, you’ll have to don a wetsuit and be comfortable scuba diving to check out the museum when it opens later this year.
Museum of the Future
Where: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Housed in a stainless-steel monolith, the Museum of the Future, due to open later in 2020, will explore modern issues like climate change, medical breakthroughs, blockchain and artificial intelligence via multimedia experiences.