By Jessica Nabongo
Our 2019 Wanderlust List is all about exploration with passion and purpose. What are the destinations? Take your pick. We selected these travel options with you—our reader—in mind: from serene beaches and stimulating cities to upstate country chic and veritable wonders of the world. And by the way, did you know that Utah now has three Michelin stars? Enjoy our guide, broken down into seasons to make planning a cinch.
A Wintry Entry
Are you looking for Olympic-grade slopes, five-star hotels and fine dining? Head directly to Whistler, British Columbia. From Vancouver International Airport, this well-known winter outpost is a 75-mile drive along the scenic Highway 99. Nestled in the foothills of Blackcomb Mountain is the Fairmont Chateau Whistler—known for its massive hearth in the lobby and outdoor soaking tubs. Nearby Bearfoot Bistro offers French cuisine; to tour the restaurant’s igloo-like vodka tasting room, we suggest you borrow a Canada Goose down parka.
It’s Always Sunny
Beat the winter blues with a week in vibrant Los Angeles. Aside from vitamin D, there is plenty to soak up in this west coast cultural capital. Indulge in restaurant hopping downtown (The New York Times recently deemed it “the most exciting food city” in America), taking brisk beach walks in Santa Monica, or viewing conceptual art at the newest arts space, The Marciano Art Foundation, housed in a former Masonic Temple. Be sure to check out the city's new football team, the L.A. Rams—or watch newly minted Laker LeBron James pick and roll at the Staples Center.
Japan a Go-Go
With the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world and temples dating back to the seventh century, Japan blends modernity with tradition seamlessly. Start in Tokyo, shopping in the bustling streets of Shibuya or Ginza, followed by dinner at Ishikawa (a three-Michelin starred kaiseki restaurant that offers a mind-blowing omakase). Stay at the sleek Aman Tokyo—atop the Otemachi Tower for surreal views—and hop on the bullet train south, stopping in Kyoto, the historic capital. Highlights include Kiyomisu-Dera, perfect for enjoying the cherry blossoms; Kinkaku-ji, or the Golden Pavilion; and Fushimi Inari-taisha, a glorious shrine with 10,000 orange torii, making it a photographer's dream. Wake up in Hoshinoya Kyoto, a luxury hotel accessed by boat, giving you the best of both the ancient and modern worlds.
Utah is the first and only US state to receive three Michelin stars as a designation. With Park City, Salt Lake City and five national parks, including the sublime Zion, Bryce, and Arches (more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches dot about), Utah feels like a hybrid of Mars and an urban enclave. Utah has a burgeoning artisanal food scene, including such hotspots as Salt Lake City's Provisions (try the braised rabbit pappardelle and the roasted chicories) or Park City’s High West Saloon, which makes craft cocktails with uniquely aged whiskey blends from their nearby distillery. The annual Savor the Summit—Park City’s largest outdoor dinner party, which spans Main Street and includes music and dancing—happens in late June.
Adventures in Africa
Nestled on the banks of the Zambezi River, Livingstone, Zambia, is an idyllic town with a plethora of wildlife activities. Check in at Sussi & Chuma, a Sanctuary Retreats property with 12 luxury tree houses connected by wooden walkways set on the shores of this majestic river. At sundown, indulge in hippo spotting and sip signature wines from nearby South Africa. Whether it is a sunset cruise on the Zambezi, an early-morning game drive to spot giraffes, zebras and elephants or a chance to get up close and personal with a white rhino walking safari, the possibilities are endless. Mosi-oa-Tunya (meaning “the smoke that thunders”), also known as Victoria Falls, is a majestic beauty that boasts the world's most massive sheet of falling water. If you dare, cross over to neighboring Zimbabwe to take in the view of the falls in all its glory and bungee jump 111 meters off of the Victoria Falls Bridge into the gorge formed by the Zambezi. If you remain in Livingstone, venture out to the famed Devil’s Pool atop the falls, which is considered the world’s most breathtaking infinity pool.
The Hudson Valley, just outside New York City, is the perfect respite from urban chaos during autumn. This rural region, which stretches from Westchester County to Albany, is composed of vineyards, orchards and farms, all surrounding the beautiful Hudson River. Head up to the valley for a hike or wine tasting or try one of the many restaurant offerings, such as the Amsterdam in Rhinebeck or Fish and Game in Hudson. The Tuscan-style Glenmere Mansion, perched on a hill overlooking a majestic lake, is a picturesque property sitting on a 150-acre estate. This boutique hotel boasts 18 uniquely styled bedrooms, a full-service spa (complete with a hammam) and a fantastic prix fixe that serves a Berkshire pork filet with smoked bacon and locally grown cabbage. This charming villa and gardens make a perfect romantic getaway.
The Allure of Mustique
Mustique is a low-key private island frequented by high-profile repeat visitors such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Tom Ford and Mick Jagger. One of two hotel options on the island is the Cotton House, which offers spacious rooms—some with plunge pools—with stunning beach views. Every Tuesday, people from around the island convene in the lobby lounge of Cotton House for drinks, and you never know who you might see. The Veranda is the perfect spot for breakfast, all-day drinking or a chef’s table dinner. Mustique also has a slew of private villas to rent for a more intimate vacation or celebration. (The luxe homes of the late David Bowie and Princess Margaret are available for lease.)