Buenos Aires, Argentina
The sophisticated Argentine capital gets rave reviews for good reason: it combines a fine history with an ever-changing embrace of the present. The city’s literary-feeling bares notables (“heritage bars”) and its recently restored Teatro Colón, one of the best venues in the world for opera, testify to its longstanding contributions to art and culture. But examples of fresh creativity are also everywhere, from contemporary museums and graffiti murals to the latest batch of innovative restaurants—which stick to late hours, by the way, and serve much more than the traditional steak and Malbec. Meanwhile, the city’s strong fashion scene makes it a good one for shopping—for leather goods in particular. Hotel-wise, few can compete with the elegant Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires, a Fine Hotel & Resorts property, which is part Belle Epoque mansion and part 12-story modern tower; or with the Park Tower Buenos Aires, a property in The Hotel Collection, and its 23 stories of tastefully appointed rooms.
Whitsunday Islands, Australia
The glories of this 74-island chain more than compensate for the time it can take to get there. Situated off the northeastern coast of Queensland, the Whitsundays boast ultrafine sand beaches and some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling. The azure waters here are sheltered by the 1,500-mile Great Barrier Reef, one reason the Whitsundays are such a great bet for sailors—including capable but unlicensed captains, who will find it surprisingly easy to rent a boat. Lodging options range from no-frills camping on rugged Hook Island to the InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, a new addition to Fine Hotels & Resorts, which recently emerged from a $90 million renovation with 166 stylish rooms, eco-friendly amenities, and a royal assortment of tropical gardens and swimming pools.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands are dwarfed by neighboring Cuba and Jamaica—Grand Cayman, the largest of its three islands, is just 22 miles across. Though it lacks size and topography, this user-friendly archipelago beckons with sapphire-blue waters and a playground atmosphere. It’s a British overseas territory, albeit one where US dollars are accepted alongside local currency and about half the residents are expats. These ingredients add up to a lively bar scene in the capital of George Town, although a visitor can just as easily succumb to the mellow comforts of a Seven Mile Beach resort, such as the laid-back luxury of 266-room Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa, a Fine Hotels & Resorts property. No matter which island you’re on, aquatic activities abound: nighttime kayak excursions among luminescent plankton in Bio Bay, interactive snorkeling in Stingray City, jet-ski safaris to Rum Point, and diving in the lesser-visited islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman—a couple of the best scuba spots in the Caribbean—are just a few examples.
China’s most populated city is buzzing with big-spending energy, even if its history—its cosmopolitan interwar “Jazz Age” in particular—remains a key part of its reinvention. A former Buddhist temple is now a late-night cabaret, and contemporary-art museums have sprung up inside the Bund’s Art Deco landmarks as Shanghai tries to give Beijing, the nation’s traditional cultural center, a run for its money. The restaurant scene here is scintillating, with Chinese cuisine reaching new heights and expat chefs taking quirky risks they might never get away with back home. Two recent additions to the ever-expanding crop of new luxury hotels: the 145-room The Shanghai EDITION, new to Fine Hotels & Resorts, which impresses with the brand’s typically modern combo of light wood and white marble, and the W Shanghai The Bund, new to The Hotel Collection, which offers whimsical décor accents and eye-popping views of Pudong’s futuristic skyline from its stylish rooftop bar. Meanwhile, on the city’s western outskirts, the 336-room InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland (also new to Fine Hotels & Resorts) sits majestically in an abandoned quarry, generating serious science-fiction vibes with its system of cliffside elevators and underwater rooms and restaurants.
It’s not just about the famous pyramids. The Egyptian capital’s great mosques and churches and other, humbler icons speak to the layered history that make this ancient desert city unlike any other—and the former “Paris of the Middle East” remains a bargain-hunter’s dream. You can eat well for the standard price of an espresso, especially if you patronize street vendors for khushari, a tasty macaroni-and-lentil dish, and fresh fruit juice. At the other end of the spectrum is the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence, a Fine Hotel & Resorts property, where the spa’s Dead Sea salt scrub provides welcome relief from the dry heat and traffic jams of the city. The luxurious Fairmont Nile City Cairo, a property in The Hotel Collection, features an outdoor “Sky Pool” which pairs perfectly with Cairo’s quintessential sunsets. There’s also the locally preferred form of relaxation: sitting outside a café, sipping mint tea and blowing great aromatic puffs of smoke from a sheeshah pipe. Those prepared to haggle will want to scour the souks—starting with 14th-century Khan el-Khalili—for silver, spices, and hand-painted pottery. More fair-trade boutiques have been popping up lately, too, a welcome advance in a city whose charms often have more to do with the past. Lastly, Egypt’s archaeological significance is surging right now; with the recent discovery of 30 ancient, perfectly preserved mummies along the Nile River, visitors have even more reasons to flock to Cairo. The colorful wooden coffins will be displayed in the Grand Egyptian Museum in nearby Giza before the end of 2020.
The French Riviera
Few places conjure glamour quite as instantly or universally as the Côte d’Azur. The yachts and movie stars are there, alright, even if they are less likely to factor into your trip to this storied stretch of the Mediterranean than other scenic and cultural attractions. Start in Nice, which is one of the most beloved cities in France for good reason: museums devoted to Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse and the 2.5-mile Promenade des Anglais, which has been a top people-watching thoroughfare for around two centuries, are among the highlights, and the ceviche at Peixes puts the overpriced seafood of nearby tourist-trap restaurants to shame. As for the smaller towns, hiking through the cliffside village of Èze is one great way to spend a day. Splaying out on the crowded beaches of St. Tropez, a glass of chilled rosé in hand, is another. And consider these suave alternatives to renting a villa: Turn-of-the-century Cap Estel, a celebrity favorite situated on its own five-acre peninsula and a new addition to Fine Hotels & Resorts; and the Five Seas Hotel Cannes, a design-forward property in The Hotel Collection with a rooftop pool and an uber-convenient location in the heart of Cannes.
The Italian Alps
Italy’s northern mountains are dazzling. Valle d’Aosta, which feels more French, and the Austrian-flavored Dolomites region to the east, both impress with jewel-toned lakes and sawtooth peaks—not to mention Roman ruins, museums, and other cultural attractions that complement the abundance of outdoor pursuits. For upscale alpine cuisine, book at St. Hubertus, where chef Norbert Niederkofler has earned three Michelin stars for the wonders he works with local herbs in spring, fresh berries in summer, and foraged mushrooms in autumn. The region itself has a multi-season appeal as well: it’s a primo ski destination in winter, when Milanese weekenders help make the après scene at Val Gardena and Cortina d’Ampezzo among the most stylish in Europe, but the fall foliage and summer hiking-and-cycling options are also superb. Le Massif, Courmayeur, a new addition to Fine Hotels & Resorts, is an 80-room hotel in the chic town of Courmayeur, boasting sleek nouveau-chalet environs and priority access to an affiliated slope-side restaurant with great views of Mont Blanc from the terrace.
Though it’s often overshadowed by Tokyo, Japan’s third-largest city is fast becoming a name-brand destination. Reason number one? The restaurant scene, which offers punchier flavors than you’ll find in the capital and arguably a more sociable dining atmosphere. You can easily spend a week tracking down rare seafood delicacies and savory okonomiyaki pancakes at all manner of street stalls, tucked-away cafés, and Michelin-starred restaurants like Kashiwaya, where the seasonal cooking is recognized to be among the world’s finest. The InterContinental Osaka, a new addition to Fine Hotels & Resorts, is a haven for pampering, featuring 5-star dining and an elegant spa—the hotel is a perfect setting to unwind after a long day of exploration. For non-culinary attractions try a visit to the city’s iconic moated castle, which shares the skyline with glass skyscrapers—and Kyoto, whose ancient shrines and temples are a 15-minute bullet train ride away.
Kauai, Hawaii, United States
Smaller and less crowded than neighboring Oahu and Maui, Kauai has managed to keep much of its prehistoric wilds intact. Only a fraction of the 550-square-foot island’s territory—arid in the south, lush in the north—is accessible by paved road, making Kauai a paradise for the adventurous traveler. If you’re willing to hike or to muscle a four-wheel-drive vehicle down dirt tracks, you’ll be rewarded with some of the emptiest and most pristine beaches in North America. Also check out the Sleeping Giant trail, a challenging 3.6-mile hike whose payoff is glorious 360-degree views of the island. Easier to reach are some of the old sugar-plantation towns, which offer a host of funky shopping and dining options. Kauai also has excellent golf courses and plenty of scenic places for sipping sunset mai tais. One of them is The Lodge at Kukui'ula, a new addition to The Hotel Collection, which boasts its own farm and an 18,000-square-foot spa. Another is the 602-room Grand Hyatt Kaua`i Resort & Spa, a Fine Hotels & Resorts property situated on 50 beautifully landscaped acres including a white-sand stretch of Shipwreck’s Beach.
Montana, United States
America’s fourth-largest state is known for its miles of “Big Sky” country, even if parts of Montana aren’t feeling quite as empty as they used to. Real estate in Missoula and Bozeman has been booming lately, as proximity to the outdoors bring quality-of-life refugees streaming in—and a blossoming of brewpubs, vintage boutiques, and creative restaurants to cater to them. The latter town is an ideal gateway to Yellowstone National Park, and both are hubs for Southwestern Montana’s blue-ribbon trout streams. The ice fields and arctic-blue backcountry lakes of Glacier, one of the country’s most popular national parks, await about four hours north. There’s plenty of Old West charm to be found in southwestern Montana, too: check out the beautifully preserved ghost town of Bannack and the non-ghost town of Ennis, which has gold-rush-era roots and is situated along the Madison River, a favorite waterway of the fly-fishing crowd. And save your best pair of dungarees for The Ranch at Rock Creek, a Fine Hotels & Resorts property, where the activities are abundant and the lodging options range from glamping to antiques-filled log cabins.
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