Geoffrey Kent, Abercrombie & Kent’s chairman and founder, spends around 270 days on the road every year. In this month’s exclusive column for LUX, he pins down some of luxury destinations that will be trending in 2018 and gives his insider tips on where to stay and what to do
Armenia is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Known as the “Land of Churches”, it’s scattered with magnificent monasteries, ruins full of relics and centuries-old cathedrals. The now-defunct Kingdom of Armenia was the first country on the planet to adopt Christianity. It’s said that two of the apostles – Thaddeus and Bartholomew – spread the religion’s ideas northwards from the Holy Land to Armenia after Jesus’ crucifixion.
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During my recent visit, the many highlights included visiting UNESCO-listed Geghard Monastery and Zvartnots Cathedral, the Hellenistic-style temple of Garni and Khor Virap, from which there are magnificent views of Mount Ararat. Whilst at Khor Virap, I particularly enjoyed partaking in the tradition of releasing doves in the hope they’ll fly to the mountain’s summit.
The “Pink City”, Yerevan is one of the world’s oldest inhabited cities. It’s home to the Yerevan Brandy Company, which has been producing cognac since 1887. During World War II, Stalin apparently shipped cases of Armenian cognac to Winston Churchill, who first tasted the spirit at the Yalta Conference.
Though small, Montenegro may be the next major thing in the Balkans. With some wondering if it’s the ‘next Croatia’, the country’s tourism star is on the rise thanks to the development of a new multimillion-dollar marina on Boka Bay. When it opens in 2018, Portonovi will lure the Adriatic’s yachters to shore with its siren’s call. The marina’s lifestyle resort will include Europe’s first One&Only resort, a yacht club and an Espace Chenot spa. I’ll be cruising around Montenegro on a superyacht this September, docking at Portonovi and attending a private opera on an islet in Kotor Bay, which is on the World Heritage List.
In my experience, most travellers touch down in Santiago and head straight out of town – north for the stark beauty of Atacama or to the wild expanse of Patagonia down south. In this sliver of South America, which will celebrate 200 years of independence from the Spanish Empire in 2018, there’s so much in between.
Long overlooked, Santiago is worth pausing in. The food scene is piping hot, with restaurants like Boragó at the fore. More and more design-centric boutiques are popping up. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s all framed by the stunning surrounding Andes. With BA’s relatively new nonstop flights to Santiago, it’s more accessible than ever.
Once you’ve finished exploring Santiago, I recommend heading to Patagonia to stay at one of my favourite hotels. The Explora Lodge provides some of Earth’s ultimate views. Sitting at the breakfast table on a clear day, the view is one of the most beautiful you’ll ever see – with glaciers, snowcapped mountains and the lake. The trouble is you must get lucky. I’ve been there several times and you might get horizontal snow when it’s windy so that you can’t see more than a foot ahead of you.
Rudyard Kipling, Disney and the UK’s close ties to the subcontinent obviously have had an indelible effect on our psyches. India’s appeal is evergreen and the classic introduction to this colourful and captivating country is the ‘Golden Triangle’ – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Before travellers visit the tangled jungles of Madhya Pradesh, the tranquil backwaters of Kerala or the Bollywood sets of Mumbai, the Golden Triangle is essential India.
Most just dip into Agra for the Taj Mahal, but with the famed mausoleum under restoration-related scaffolding at the moment, there are new cultural attractions emerging. Famed architect David Chipperfield is collaborating with New Delhi-based Studio Archohm on the Mughal Museum. Located near the Taj, this modern marble palace is due to open any day now. I like contemporary architecture so I’m very excited about this.
This isn’t the first time Egypt’s been on my ‘where to go next’ list, but it’s back because this ancient country is buzzing with renewed confidence. It’s been a bucket-list destination for centuries, but there has never been a better time to travel to Egypt. There are new hotel openings to entice, such as the 39-storey St Regis in the heart of old Cairo.
New tombs are being discovered regularly. A trio of rock-tombs were unearthed 125 miles south of Cairo and another was found on the left bank near the Valley of the Kings. And most excitingly, the world’s largest archaeological museum, the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) will open in 2018 in Cairo. Not only that, but its many fabled sites are free of crowds and open to in-the-know travellers. The experience for tourists in Egypt right now is as welcoming and upbeat as I’ve ever seen it, but the ability to see the pyramids without crowds won’t last long.
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