Here we’ve rounded up some travel trend predictions from the experts for 2024, check out the best destinations for every kind of travel next year
ASHDOWN FOREST & SURROUNDING AREAS, EAST SUSSEX
Reasoning: Known most famously as the home of Winnie-the-Pooh and the One Hundred Acre Wood, Ashdown Forest is the idyllic green lung of East Sussex, boasting 6,500 acres of tranquil wooded areas, rugged heathland, protected habitats and wildlife, and glorious, far-reaching countryside views, with miles of hiking trails to enjoy.
The quaint surrounding towns and villages offer a bounty of activity, adventure and local produce, from the Forest Row Music & Arts Festival in June, to Beer Festivals and Gala Weekends on the heritage steam Bluebell Railway. Learn all about A.A. Milne’s famous creation at the Pooh Corner Museum and tea rooms in Hartfield, explore the acres of historic landscaped gardens, lakes and woodland at Sheffield Park Gardens, tour the Bluebell Wines Vineyard, and taste its famous Ashdown Stills, or stock up on farm-fresh produce and delicious bakes at Tablehurst Farm; there is so much to see and do!
Sample Trip: Stay at Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club, in the heart of the forest. Set in 186 acres of lakes, secret gardens and woodland trails, the hotel features 106 bedrooms and suites, each room named after a tree species found in the hotel grounds or the forest. There are two exquisite restaurants, the fine-dining Anderida and the new, informal Forest Brasserie, as well as a recently-refurbished Country Club with indoor pool, fitness studio and a range of treatment rooms, tennis courts, golf course and numerous jogging and cycling trails. Stay overnight from £199 per room (two sharing), including breakfast. Call Ashdown Park to book on 01342 824988 (www.ashdownpark.com).
Reasoning: Kirker bookings to Switzerland for 2024 are already up 300% compared to this time last year, and the trend shows no sign of abating. With UEFA’s Euro 2024 taking place in Germany, and the 2024 Olympic Games being hosted by France, Switzerland offers a welcome respite from the crowds expected to flock to these countries over the summer months.
For UK travellers, the appeal of both Switzerland’s on-time rail timetables and its immaculate towns and cities is hard to resist, especially when you combine them with the world’s most spectacular mountain scenery, engineering marvels, high-calibre international art and music scenes (both Zurich and Geneva boast acclaimed opera and ballet companies), and increasingly well-respected gastronomy and wines. Plus, if you fancy practising your French or German over the summer, both languages are spoken in Switzerland, as well as excellent English…
Sample trip: Specialist tour operator Kirker has expanded its offering to Switzerland for 2024, including its first Swiss wine tour, visiting Lake Geneva and the Lavaux wine region – one of the world’s best-kept secrets, with less than 2% of its production being exported due to high local demand. Departing 26 August 2024, the four-night trip costs from £3,689 pp (two sharing), including return flights from Heathrow to Geneva, transfers, 4-star accommodation with breakfast, three dinners, two lunches, all sightseeing and entrance fees, and the services of the Kirker Tour Expert, wine specialist Jonathan Ray.Call AITO* member Kirker on 020 7593 2288; www.kirkerholidays.com.
Reasoning: Trend reports for 2024 have highlighted increased demand for travel during the low and shoulder seasons; holidaymakers are seeking both to avoid the crowds and affordability. Andalucia is a front-runner with its mild winter, wildflower-strewn springtime for walkers, magnificent autumn harvests and a host of festivals and cultural events. If you haven’t already been persuaded by Andalucia with Michael Portillo – a new TV series, currently showing on Channel 5 – this beguiling area of Spain is a land that invites you to get under its skin – culturally, emotionally, and historically.
Perhaps explore the region by e-bike, take a cookery course, or enjoy a private tour of the Alhambra Palace…? Spain’s high-speed rail service is one of the best in the world. Connections within Andalucia are excellent, which makes multi-centre holidays – including Seville, Cordoba, Malaga, Granada and Jaen – an absolute breeze. The attraction of Andalucia for foodies is strong, and the variety excellent, including tapas bars, farm-to-fork restaurants, and Michelin-starred dining experiences.
Sample trip: A seven-nighttrip, taking in Seville, Jerez de la Frontera and Cadiz, costs from £1,103 pp (two sharing), including return flights (with baggage), accommodation with breakfast, all train travel, and transfers. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8758 4722; www.sunvil.co.uk.
Reasoning: 2024 is set to be a hot – in more ways than one – year for Japan’s capital. With a raft of exciting new openings and cultural events in the calendar – from a new Edo-themed onsen spa complex on the site of the famous Tokyo fish market, to the new futuristic lifestyle complex of Azabudai Hill, a permanent location for teamLab Borderless, a digital art museum in Tokyo, and the development of the Shimokitazawa neighbourhood, with its new boutiques, cultural attractions and eateries – there’s so much to explore in Tokyo over the next year.
Sample Trip: Make your base the new OMO5 Tokyo Gotanda (opening 11 April 2024), a stylish city-centre base in the heart of the bustling Shinagawa Ward, occupying the high-rise floors of the brand new Gotanda JP skyscraper. The hotel’s 188 rooms are inspired by the bustling eateries of Gotanda, with neon signage, exposed brick walls and retro designs; varying room types include an “OMO House” for up to six guests, featuring a kitchen. There is also an OMO Base communal lounge on the 14th floor, lush green Sky Garden with city views, all-day OMO Café, Dog Garden and Go Kinjo Neighbourhood Map for planning local sightseeing. OMO Ranger guided tours showcase the local area of Gotanda including its renowned dining and nightlife, from udon noodle shops and quaint French bakeries to karaoke bars. Stay overnight from 28,000 JPY (approx. £152) per room per night (room only, including tax). hoshinoresorts.com/en/news/10/2023/110198/.
Complex multi-country trips – Latin America – Costa Rica and Panama
Expert: Joe Johnson, Sunvil Latin America
Forecast: Many of Sunvil’s enquiries for trips in 2024 and beyond are for complex and lengthy itineraries.
In particular, there is a marked increase in the number of multi-country bookings. Post-Covid, demand was driven by single-country trips, but there is now a much stronger tendency towards adventure, along with the confidence to combine several countries within one holiday without fear of border closures.
Sample Trip: Sunvil’s brand new and exclusive 16–night expedition to Costa Rica and Panama, which combines two enchanting countries within Central America, is proving popular. In Costa Rica, traverse the verdant jungles of Tortuguero and Sarapiqui, immersed in a world teeming with rare wildlife and cascading waterfalls. Indulge in the allure of Boquete, a quaint town celebrated for its coffee plantations and panoramic mountain vistas. And surrender to the sheer beauty of Punta Banco’s gilded beaches and crystalline turquoise waters. Then, in Panama, learn about the remarkable engineering works of the Panama Canal, venture into the lush expanse of Soberana National Park, and uncover the historic Mira Flores Locks on the canal, the closest ones to Panama City. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8758 4774; www.sunvil.co.uk.
Unusual sleepout experiences – with Expert Africa
Expert: Chris McIntyre, Managing Director
Forecast: “There is an increasing desire, amongst travellers, to feel as much a part of an environment as possible, rather than simply visiting a region. A number of safari camps are offering new, overnight immersion experiences – some of which are quite astonishing, in fact. At Usangu Expedition Camp in Tanzania, for example, Star Cube tents take your extremely remote location to the next level; island beach retreat Manta Resort, also in Tanzania, has a three-storey underwater edifice, anchored 250 metres offshore, featuring a submarine bedroom surrounded on all sides by panoramic windows; and in Kenya, new safari camp Ishara has a Starbed, set on a wooden platform overlooking the Maasai Mara, where guests enjoy a private dinner, and a sumptuous breakfast the following morning.
Sample Trip: AITO* member Expert Africa (020 3405 6666; www.expertafrica.com) offers a four-night stay at Ishara from £6,500 pp (two sharing), including all meals and most drinks, one night in the Starbed, private safari activities, use of high-end camera equipment, and return internal flights from Nairobi Wilson Airport to Maasai Mara. International flights can be arranged at additional cost.
A combination of land-based tours and cruise itineraries – Sunvil
Expert: Rachel Jelley, Sales & Marketing Manager
Forecast: Travellers are no longer satisfied with solely a land-based tour or a cruise; instead, they are looking for the best of both worlds, ie to combine the two. Sunvil recognises this need and offers a number of trips doing just that…
Sample trip: MV Quest cruises in Norway – a high-standard, small expedition ship introducing you to a great variety of Arctic highlights in one trip. What is unique is that programmes can be tailor made each day according to forecast weather, local knowledge and the location of wildlife. And, owing to the smaller size of the vessel, it has the ability to go where other cruises cannot, meaning that all the nooks and crannies of the Norwegian fjords can be covered.
In less than a week, you can spot whales, try dog sledding, and chase the glorious Northern Lights.
The Arctic Fjords, Northern Lights and Huskies Expedition combines an overnight stay in Tromsø, the Aurora capital of Norway, with a five-night cruise along the Norwegian coastline. This is a dramatic voyage, including the Arctic fjords, the beautiful Lofoten Islands, riding the Arctic Train, husky dog sledding, an introduction to understanding the indigenous Samí people, and an exclusive Viking immersion experience.
Operating between 2 February and 13 March 2024, the six-night trip costs from £3,561 pp (two sharing), including return flights (Gatwick), B&B in Tromsø, five nights’ accommodation on MV Quest in an ocean-facing cabin with full board, transfers, and activities as described. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8758 4722; www.sunvil.co.uk.