Virtuoso Travel Week 2017: As part of the elite travel consortium Virtuoso, Pique Travel has access to some of the best worldwide partners, unique experiences and travel knowledge available in the industry. In August every year, thousands of Virtuoso travel partners descend upon Las Vegas to shop for the upcoming year of travel. In fact, we like to compare it to fashion week runway shows, where the likes of Saint Laurent, Chanel, and Dior present next season’s looks. Here, Virtuoso travel partners – including hotels, cruise lines, and tour operators – fly in from around the world to talk about what’s new in the world of travel.
After a star-studded opening session at Virtuoso Travel Week 2017, Pique Travel designers spent the week meeting with travel professionals from all over the world. A total of 5,670 attendees from 103 countries conducted more than 327,000 one-on-one meetings (the equivalent of 2.9 years!) throughout the week, discovering what’s new with hotels, cruise lines, airlines, and destinations around the world.
Here are some of our favorite travel finds from the week:
- Lindblad Expeditions’ new ship, Quest, launched this month in Alaska; another new ship, Venture, is set to arrive in June 2018. Also new: a partnership with Exhale Spa on sailings around Espiritu Santo in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Cruises will offer beach yoga, snorkeling, and kayaking, plus onboard Exhale Spa experiences such as yoga and Pilates. They have also launched the National Geographic Global Explorers program, starting in the Galápagos, where kids have the opportunity to shadow National Geographic photographers, engage in discussions, take classes, and more.
- Quark Expeditions will launch their most stylish, luxurious ship yet, the World Explorer, in December 2018. The company’s innovative itineraries include the North Pole; the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, a camp 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle where you can watch thousands of beluga whales nursing their babies and frolicking in the water; and the North Pole Express, a chance to fly from Norway to the Barneo Ice Camp and the North Pole for one night, landing on a runway made of ice.
- The typical Greece itinerary for Eclectic Greece by Kyvernitis Travel includes Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, and occasionally Crete. But the Virtuoso tour connection mentioned two islands growing in popularity for visitors: Naxos, where Anthony Bourdain recently explored, and Paros.
- Swiss Travel, a Virtuoso on-site connection in Costa Rica, cited more requests for voluntourism in the country, a way to combine vacation with social work. It’s especially popular for families and multigenerational groups. Still, the number one requested activity is zip-lining.
- You can see the fjords of Norway by boat, but Virtuoso tour connection Norwegian Adventures Asrecommends a road trip to get up-close to the stunning fjords. Also on the trip: visiting the undiscovered small villages and farmhouses of western Norway.
- Abercrombie & Kent Australia says the Kimberley region of Western Australia is a hot spot for American travelers who want to see untouched landscape. The region is the same size as Illinois, but only about 50,000 people live there.
- The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is a unique stop in the city, with thousands of pairs of shoes (plus Napoleon’s silk socks) on display, spanning centuries and civilizations, plus celebrity footwear worn by Princess Diana, John Lennon, and Robert Redford.
- Perhaps the most anticipated hotel reopening of the year is Rosewood’s Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, unveiled in July after a four-year renovation. Occupying one of Paris’ most dramatic, historic positions on the Place de la Concorde, the hotel’s new signature suites – including Suite Marie-Antoinette and Suite Bernstein – are especially stunning. Save some room in your suitcase: Every room includes a “salon-grade hairdryer.”
- Half Moon in Jamaica’s Montego Bay is undergoing a $75 million renovation, adding two restaurants, three bars, and 57 new rooms and suites (which will replace 44 old ones). The Half Moon Equestrian Centre continues to be very popular, offering rides and swimming with horses.
- The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes’ claim to fame is that it is “minutes from the magic, miles from the madness” of Walt Disney World. The resort’s new seaplane (which launched in June 2017) takes guests on a 30-minute sightseeing tour to lakes on property and nearby natural surroundings.
- Normandy’s Chateau d’Audrieu, built in 1715, just underwent a total renovation, taking it back to eighteenth-century style with all the creature comforts of today. Stay in a castle room or suite, or climb up to the luxury tree house perched near the property for garden views.