Travel is all about self-discovery and while destinations may appeal to one person for specific reasons, there’s an abundance of eye-opening journeys to be explored for every interest. For art lovers to foodies to wellness enthusiasts and more, here are experiences from around the world to put on your radar for 2024 that appeal to different tastes and styles.
Health, Wellness & Longevity
Released on Netflix on August 30, 2023, “Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones” examines five destinations around the world where people are living to 100. Author Dan Buettner collaborated with National Geographic and scoured the world to find where people live much longer than average. Through his travels, he unveiled Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya, Costa Rica as Blue Zones with the highest rates of living centenarians. These five spots share some similar elements — a plant-based diet, natural movement, and putting family first — that have been proven to promote longevity and health in residents. If you’re interested in exploring what life is like in one of these Blue Zones, put the car-free, seaside town of Las Catalinas in the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica on your radar for 2024.
Las Catalinas, Costa Rica
Among its many wonders and enchanting landscapes, Costa Rica is home to the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste, a region that epitomizes the possibility of living life to its fullest and recognized as an extraordinary area known as a “Blue Zone.” Inside this transformative province lies Las Catalinas, a purposefully designed, mostly car-free town that embodies the very essence of living life well. The town’s founder, Charles Brewer, had a profound vision of creating a vibrant community centered around a balanced lifestyle, where health, sustainability, fun, work, and fulfillment converge harmoniously.
The concept of “Well-Living at Las Catalinas” finds its parallel in the Blue Zone lifestyle, a groundbreaking discovery that has unveiled five regions around the world where people live exceptionally long lives, often reaching the remarkable age of 100 years. The tangible benefits of the Well-Living lifestyle become apparent in the remarkable health, happiness, and low stress levels of its residents. Drawing inspiration from the time-honored traditions of Costa Rica, Las Catalinas embraces principles deeply ingrained in the routines that have been scientifically proven to promote longevity and contentment. Las Catalinas has artfully crafted a way of life that pays homage to the lessons learned from the vibrant community of the Nicoya Peninsula.
Taking cars out of the equation means people spend more time outdoors on foot (or on bike) getting from one place to the next. Since its inception, the car-free, coastal town of Las Catalinas has been influenced by the New Urbanism movement of building highly walkable neighborhoods, towns, and cities. Car-free public realms invite natural sociability offering opportunities to get to know your neighbors, interact with visitors and connect with the community. Nature is an essential part of a web of physical and mental well-being providing spaces and opportunities to socialize and connect with the natural world.
Creating opportunities for better balanced living with a greater connection to nature is at the forefront of the coastal town of Las Catalinas. Las Catalinas began conceptualizing a compact master plan in 2006 that set out to implement a better way of living for the people who live, work and vacation there. Almost totally car-free, the town and its textured hardscapes encourage maximum human-to-human interaction in a setting that harmonizes people with nature. Coming in November 2024, Las Catalinas will open La Rambla, an innovative commercial center offering a dynamic mix of services, dining options, offices, retail spaces, and residences, all designed to change the way people live, work, and enjoy life. Being part of La Rambla enables businesses to gain access to a premier destination where their employees can also live in a healthier and more sustainable way. With a significant permanent resident population in Las Catalinas, La Rambla presents an exceptional opportunity to live a balanced lifestyle combining living and work. For more information, visit www.lascatalinascr.com.
Emotional & Mental Wellbeing
Despite a rapid rise in holistic wellness in the last decade, most people still link wellness to the physical self with some recent interest in mindfulness, while emotional and mental health are largely ignored.
Ananda in the Himalayas, India
Located in a Maharaja’s palace estate surrounded by a 100-acre forest nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas and overlooking the ancient Ganges River valley, Ananda in the Himalayas is a multi-award winning, destination spa and wellness retreat. Ananda’s wellness programs, which integrate traditional Ayurveda with classical Yoga and Meditation introduced an entirely new platform of Emotional Healing and therapy just last year. Emotional Healers with expertise in spiritual healing, hypnotherapy, and energy work help guests understand their challenges from a deeper level of awareness to create a life of emotional balance. Expanding the range of traditional healing techniques are Oriental therapies including Acupuncture, Cupping, Moxibustion, Tibetan Kuu Nye and other practices to rebalance and center the physical and energy systems.
By helping people release past toxic or traumatic impressions, this retreat aims to rediscover one’s true self, while allowing guests to invest in and connect with yourself. In this beautiful week together in the heart of the Himalayas, guests revisit and release some of their biggest emotional blocks and rediscover their own energy through powerful processes that combine Spiritual Hypnotherapy, Regression, Yoga, Meditation and Energy Healing. In a serene setting conducive to healing and transformation, the experience will combine profound Eastern Spirituality with Western behavioral sciences to help participants facilitate the ultimate journey – to their inner self.
Issues including unexplained pains, aches, nightmares, inability to manage weight, lingering insomnia, anger management, chronic stress management, past or childhood traumas, grief, low self-esteem, can be treated effectively using emotional healing modalities. Ananda in the Himalayas now offers Emotional Healing Sessions as part of all comprehensive wellness programs. These sessions include complete assessments with holistic healing experts, personalized therapy, counseling, and coaching leading to ongoing engagement for tangible results. These emotional healing sessions can be applied to benefit all areas of one’s life – physical health, emotional and mental wellbeing, work, and relationships. For more information, visit www.anandaspa.com.
Sustainability & Eco-Conscious
Many parts of the travel industry are finding ways to become more sustainable and eco-friendlier. Whether it be leading hotels, cruise ships, or even whole cities’ local transportation structures, they are finding ways to cut their carbon footprint, to help local communities therefore positively impacting the whole planet.
Calabash Cove Resort and Spa, Saint Lucia
As one of the only properties in Saint Lucia to offer a Vegan menu, Calabash Cove Resort and Spa has recently added new vegan and vegetarian dishes based on the seasons. With its ability to accommodate most dietary restrictions, the culinary team is constantly upgrading its vegan and vegetarian offerings with new items. The resort also now only serves sparking and drinking water in glass bottles and much of the restaurant’s food and beverage is sourced locally focusing on local farmers and fishermen. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Windsong Restaurant offers an eclectic menu inspired by Asian cuisine using the freshest, local ingredients in every dish. Calabash Cove Resort and Spa now offers an all-vegan dinner for the first time ever. The vegan dinner menu features dishes including Yellow Split Peas Soup with sweet potato, Tempura Cauliflower Bites, Sesame Braised Eggplant, Pan Seared Tofu, Vegetable Stroganoff, Grilled Cinnamon Pineapple and more. The culinary team at Windsong Restaurant can accommodate guests’ special diet needs and personal requests. The restaurant offers diverse vegetarian and vegan dishes with an international flare. Calabash Cove Resort and Spa is a Caribbean gem offering seclusion, beauty and mesmerizing views at every turn. Its 26 villas feature old Caribbean charm coupled with luxurious resort amenities of today.
Along with being completely plastic-free, some other notable green features the intimate resort offers include: all hot water is generated by solar energy and there are no oil or gas heaters on property, energy saving LEDs in all light fixtures, operate own on-site water treatment plant and recycle the water for irrigation, timers for all pool pumps, collect rainwater, no disposable food containers or disposable cups and glasses, lunch boxes made from recycled material, straws made from degradable paper, no disposable plastics like cutlery or plates, all produce sourced from local farmers whenever possible, collect used kitchen oil and send to a commercial laundry and Saint Lucia Distillers on island – it is used as fuel to heat laundry water or fire a distillation still, extremely seldom fog grounds for mosquitos to allow birdlife to flourish, grass cuttings are mulched back into the ground and composted, kitchen waste is collected and given to a pig farmer and more. For more information, visit www.calabashcove.com.
Art, History & Culture
Art can be used to convey the local culture, heritage, and history of the destination. Hotels often showcase artwork that represents the region’s traditions, landscapes, or iconic landmarks. Art has the ability to spark conversations and create dialogue among guests.
Bettoja Hotels, Italy
Everyone knows that Rome is the best place to experience the history of Europe, but some may not know that a variety of fine works of art made by renowned Italian artists are preserved throughout the three hotels of Bettoja Hotels, the largest family-owned hotel group in Italy. Nestled in Rome’s historic city center, within walking distance from Rome Termini Station top tourist destinations, the 4-star Hotel Mediterraneo offers authentic Art Déco hotel accommodation with breathtaking views over Rome. Located in a listed building and distinguished by its 1930’s original décor, Hotel Mediterraneo is the ultimate city retreat.
Designed by Art Deco architect Mario Loreti in 1938, it sits on top of Esquilino Hill, the highest of Rome’s Seven Hills, offering unparalleled views of Rome. The hotel takes its name from the Mediterranean Sea, and the marine theme can be admired throughout its 11 floors and 242 rooms. The marble busts of Roman emperors and mosaics depicting the story of Ulysses adorn the hall. The entire interior is dominated by luxurious materials such as wood and marble and the walls are adorned with imposing mosaics. The main hall is completed by a marvelous staircase built with cantilevered blocks of marble – which is still studied by architects today. Upon entering the breakfast hall, guests are surrounded by exquisite marine themed decorative elements such as carved oak figureheads depicting tritons and mermaids, with a stylish bar designed by Loreti featuring an alabaster countertop. This beautifully lit lounge room displays a large parchment map of the Mediterranean Sea and an inlay of precious woods.
Since the end of the 19th century, Hotel Massimo d’Azeglio has welcomed guests in a well-preserved and authentic “Fin de Siècle” atmosphere. The heritage building has hosted a variety of illustrious historical figures: the King of Serbia, the WW 1 air force hero Francesco Baracca, Benito Mussolini, General Diaz, Louis Armstrong, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Fausto Coppi, Mascagni and many others. Thanks to its charming and historic atmosphere, Hotel Massimo d’Azeglio continues to attract distinguished visitors. This historic hotel in Rome contains an important collection of artifacts, including prints from the Risorgimento, an autograph of the Count of Cavour, a romantic painting painted by Massimo d’Azeglio himself, “La Vendetta”, his own self-portrait, and many portraits of the historical figures that have contributed to the unification of Italy. For more information, visit www.bettojahotels.it.
Gastronomy & Culinary
At the heart of cultural exploration lies the culinary dimension, a vibrant and integral aspect of discovering a local culture through its food and culinary traditions.
Naya Traveler, Global
Naya Traveler crafts extraordinary journeys that transcend the ordinary, offering a wealth of immersive experiences that allow travelers to deeply engage with the culture of every country. From fine dining experiences at Michelin-starred establishments one evening to exploring the vibrant tapestry of street food scenes, the heart and soul of a country can be uncovered in the places where locals frequent. Naya Traveler has seen an exciting surge in requests for gastronomic experiences, with a keen focus on both Spain and Japan, two culinary wonderlands that continue to captivate food enthusiasts.
Spain: Nestled in the heart of the Basque Country, San Sebastian is a must-visit for any self-proclaimed foodie. This city boasts the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants per capita, making it a true gastronomic haven. Our clients immerse themselves in the vibrant pintxos (Basque tapas) culture, embarking on delightful bar-hopping journeys to savor innovative pintxos creations. Additionally, they indulge in a traditional Basque cider house experience, complete with cider tastings and hearty, communal meals. Beyond San Sebastian, our travelers also crave culinary adventures in iconic Spanish cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Andalucía. In Barcelona, for example, they master the art of paella through hands-on cooking classes while relishing panoramic Mediterranean views.
Japan: Japan remains a perennial favorite for foodies worldwide, thanks to its rich culinary traditions and innovations. In Tokyo, our clients dive deep into sushi-making workshops, where they learn the delicate art of crafting sushi under the guidance of master chefs. For those seeking a true Tokyo experience, a visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market provides an early-morning spectacle of seafood auctions and the freshest catch of the day. Kyoto enchants with its spiritual cuisine and the serenity of traditional tea ceremonies. Osaka, the culinary heart of Japan, beckons with its vibrant street food scene, where our travelers are eager to get lost and discover all the delicacies this city has to offer. Founded in 2016, Naya Traveler offers tailor-made experiential journeys to a curated selection of destinations steeped in ancient traditions and customs. For more information, visit www.nayatraveler.com.