By Patrick Griffin Americas Specialist

The ultimate travel wish list. We’ve all got one. A list of destinations we really must travel to and experiences we want to have while on holiday around the world. The more we discover, the longer ours gets. If you’re looking for some serious inspiration, try our suggestions for the seven top destinations to travel to in 2018 and the 50 essential experiences you can have in them. From dining and wine experiences to close-up wildlife encounters, ways to explore a city and opportunities to meet some extraordinary people, here are the world’s most remarkable travel destinations and experiences. As a bonus, we’ve also included an impossibly glamorous journey that’s being taken to new heights of luxury in the new year… 


Perennially popular, and for good reason, Italy has a powerful allure. Containing 20 regions as different as 20 countries, Italy offers a lifetime’s exploration. A pleasant Mediterranean climate, hospitable people, sumptuous landscapes and thousands of years of art and culture place a luxury holiday in Italy firmly at the top of any savvy traveller’s wish-list. And that’s before you even mention the food. Travel in 2018 to explore less well-known areas such as the famously photogenic Aeolian Islands before word gets out, discover ‘the new Capri’ and be ahead of the curve by uncovering the subterranean charms of Matera before it is crowned European Capital of Culture in 2019…next year may be your last chance to outpace the crowds.

Things to do in Italy

  • Explore the Amalfi Coast in a classic sports car. Or on a Vespa. Or via a private gozzo tour
  • Take a hot air balloon flight over the rolling hills of Chianti
  • Let your top guide bring alive the eerie remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum
  • Explore the sublime seascapes of the Aeolian Islands on a gullet-style tall ship
  • Discover Sardinia’s pristine beaches from the deck of your private yacht
  • Shine a light on the underground labyrinths, chapels and dwellings that make up Matera and even stay in a restored (luxury) cave
  • Board a timelessly elegant Riva to cruise on Lake Como
  • Lose yourself behind a mask in Venice during Carnival
  • Enjoy after-hours access and a behind-closed-doors visit to the Sistine Chapel
  • Look for truffles in the Abruzzo with a local and his dog or learn the secrets of perfect pasta from a family

Envisage how much you’ll enjoy La Dolce Vita…

Travel with us to Italy

Visit the beautiful Amalfi Coast

South Africa

Beaches and mountains, wildlife and wine, culture and cosmopolitan cities... South Africa has many reasons to visit. What’s more, with 2018 being the year of an official programme of events ‘Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018: Be the Legacy’ there will be sporting, educational and artistic events to look out for that honour the legendary leader. Coupled with a favourable exchange rate, there’s never been a better time to visit South Africa.

Things to do in South Africa

  • Get close to the Big Five and more on private game drives in specially adapted 4WD vehicles and led by expert guides
  • Get your adrenaline flowing while cage-diving with great white sharks
  • Take to the air to watch whales or time your trip to catch the sardine run
  • Appreciate the spectacle of Table Mountain from the air during a helicopter flight
  • Take a road trip along the Garden Route
  • Immerse yourself in the country’s recent backstory with a trip to Robben Island for a history lesson by one of Mandela’s cell-mates
  • Meet top chefs and expert sommeliers for an authentic braai, private cookery class or personal wine tasting

Reflect on how varied your experience will be…

Travel with us to South Africa

Lions of the Eastern Cape

New Zealand

For a quarter of a century, well before it became the backdrop to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy, New Zealand was a must-tramp destination for walkers and people who wanted to experience the country’s incredible landscapes. With the construction of a new Great Walk to open in 2019 there’s more reason to visit. It’s not just about lacing up big boots though and New Zealand continues to offer rarefied luxury in remote locations, balancing adventure and creature comforts like no other country can.

Things to do in New Zealand

  • Spend your days setting your pulse racing with adrenaline activities from quad-biking and paragliding to white-water rafting and jet boating
  • Trek among the country’s incredible landscapes or walk on the Franz Josef Glacier
  • Go on a road trip through the central highlands
  • Take to the air above the Huka Falls in a helicopter
  • Get up and close to dolphins on a cruise in Akaroa
  • Cruise on the South Island’s fjords and Sounds
  • Stay in luxury lodges and some seriously stylish country escapes, including some accessible only by helicopter
  • Discover the grapes and vintages of award-winning vineyards with a leading wine maker
  • Let a Maori elder prepare a traditional hangi feast on your behalf

Imagine the stories you’ll swap. 

Travel with us to New Zealand

Explore the beautiful Milford Sound


Famed for its historic isolation and close-preservation of traditional culture, Bhutan has long been an insider’s holiday destination, with only a few people exploring its Buddhist monasteries and wild spaces. Although likely to remember a secret spot to discover, it’ll be easier to access as of 2018 with the opening of a new runway at the international airport and the arrival of a cluster of Six Senses luxury lodges to complement the exceptional properties from Aman and COMO already confounding perceptions of having to rough it while exploring the breathtaking Himalayan landscapes here.

Things to do in Bhutan

  • Ascend the steep trail to the legendary Tiger’s Nest Monastery perched above the Paro Valley
  • Take to the air in a helicopter to explore the dramatic landscapes of the Punakha Valley or access the base camp for Bhutan’s most sacred peak
  • Trek the high plateaus of the Himalayas
  • Go horse riding through dense pine forests
  • Raft the exceptional white-water
  • Look for tigers from the back of an elephant or track leopards, black bears and red pandas in the national parks and reserves with a top guide
  • Meet the local people personally and attend a demon-masked dance or let them introduce you to the national sport, archery

Think how adventurous you’ll feel...

Travel with us to Bhutan

The Tiger's Nest Monastery is nothing short of sublime


Cambodia continues its emergence as a Southeast Asian essential destination in 2018 with the creation of a new nature sanctuary, the Shinta Mani Wild, which will stand in the country’s endangered wildlands, surrounded by rivers and waterfalls. As well as the next level glamping opportunities that will be available overlooking the river here, look out for a new property on Krabey Island being opened by the people at Six Senses, which will be just right for a dose of barefoot luxury.

What to do in Cambodia

  • Discover the incredible architecture of Angkor Wat on an exclusive, private guided tour
  • Travel further and delve deeper into the history of the site on a cycle ride or scenic flight, helicopter trip or hot air balloon journey over the temples
  • Catch sunrise at the complex or watch sunset while feasting on Asian flavours overlooking the royal pool at Sra Srang
  • Let a monk bless you and your onward journey
  • Catch a mesmerising Apsara dance
  • Meet artisans and crafts maker
  • Explore the sobering sites associated with the Khmer Rouge in the company of a local
  • Discover Phnom Penh on a cyclo tour with a local guide
  • Get close to wildlife in the forests and watch for river dolphins on a luxury Mekong River cruise

Envision the tales you'll tell!

Travel with us to Cambodia

Ta Prohm temple at Angkor Wat just demands exploring


The slither of land that makes up Chile lies in isolation behind the barrier of the Andes, separated from the rest of South America (and indeed the world) by the Atacama Desert to the north, Patagonian wilds to the south and Pacific Ocean to the west, ensuring it has always had its own character and culture. With the launch of new direct flights though it has never been more accessible and, with 2018 marking the 200th year since independence, there has never been a better time to travel to its increasingly hip capital, Santiago, raise a Pisco Sour and toast one of the continent’s most exciting, dramatic destinations.

Things to do in Chile

  • Take yourself off-the-beaten path to discover hot springs, salt flats and hidden emerald lakes
  • Get your heart beating by rafting along some of the world’s best white water or kayaking through dramatic fjords
  • Explore the Patagonian steppes on foot or from the air in a private plane, helicopter or hot air balloon
  • Go on a road trip or epic motorbike journey along the Carretera Austral
  • Surf the waves at Pichilemu
  • Cruise the ice-choked southern fjords
  • Track pumas in Torres del Paine and watch whales among the islands
  • Master world-class vintages by exploring boutique wineries and enjoy a private tasting at a leading winery
  • Travel to Easter Island to eyeball a moai and marvel at their mysterious origins

Consider how daring you'll sound...

Travel with us to Chile

See the phenomenal Pukara de Quitor up close

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Okay, so it isn’t a destination as such, but travel on the luxurious train as it rolls across Europe is a travel wish list essential and, in 2018 you’ll be able to do so in ever more serious style. With the launch of three new Grand Suites on the service, not only will you be able to enjoy glamorous travel from the Golden Age, but you will be able to sleep in a double bed (rather than a bunk) and freshen up for dinner in your own en suite, with the only showers on board the train (all other cabins share facilities and historically there have been no showers on board). What’s more, with the release of the newly imagined Murder on the Orient Express film and the increasing realisation that you can take the Orient Express to cities such as Paris, Vienna, Verona and even Istanbul as well as Venice, now’s the time to secure your seat.

Things to do on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

  • Board the train to be transported back to the Golden Age of travel
  • Meet your personal cabin steward
  • Dress up to the nines and mingle with fellow passengers in the bar car
  • Sip pre-dinner signature cocktails or toast your departure with vintage champagne
  • Enjoy a four-course culinary adventure in the beautifully restored restaurant car
  • Once you’re done with fine dining enjoy a digestif
  • Discover your cabin has been discretely converted into a sleeping compartment
  • Wake to discover a new horizon and possibly a different country as well
  • Take the chance to discover some of Europe’s most enchanting and cultured cities or follow the original rail route to Istanbul on a once-yearly service

Picture how glamorous you'll feel...

Travel with us aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

The bar car is a splendid, Art Deco throwback with elegantly-dressed travellers experiencing the Golden Age of travel