A new year means new destinations. What’s hot? What’s not? Here is where I would absolutely go in 2008…
1. Dubai: With 23% of the world’s cranes helping to build the world’s tallest building, best hotels and largest shopping malls, Dubai parades its fantasy to an ever more dizzying tune. Treat yourself to the ultimate indulgence–a stay at the only 7-star hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab. I just got back and miss my two butlers and Rolls Royce Phantom and driver…
2. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania: Why kill yourself zooming across the flat Serengeti plain when the Big 5 are all stuck together in a single, beautiful crater? There is no better safari destination than this Crater, full of all the animals you want to see, including the rare black rhino (there are 9 in Ngorongoro), and legions of lions (we saw 11 in one day including 2 babies, and two young amorous adults in flagrante delicto!).
3. Cartagena, Colombia: If you want a beautiful Caribbean beach, why go east when you can go south? The historic town is stunning, the ambiance romantic and sultry, and the accomodations can be quite lavish.
4. Jordan: I’m calling it Middle East light: it has all the charm and history of the Middle East under the enlightened regime of a true progressive. Feel safe and secure as you blow your mind with sites from the Old Testament, ancient Romans, Crusaders and that most fabled rose city, Petra, perhaps the world’s most beautiful monument.
5. Croatia: Hip beaches, the Euro vibe, refreshing natural beauty…Croatia has it all. Its dramatic coastline rivals any for sheer attractiveness, and the talent on the beaches and in the nightclubs rival a fashion catwalk. To shop, to dine, to see and be seen, Croatia is IT.
6. Belgrade, Serbia: This is not your grandmother’s Paris! Amazing nightlife, the beautiful people flock to outdoor cafes and clubs. European but with an eastern flair including its Cyrillic alphabet, Belgrade will entice you with its prime locale on the Danube.
7. Zanzibar: This up-and-coming exotic beach destination is not quite developped, not yet. Whether you’re a honeymooner looking to get lost in this tropical paradise or a back-packer looking for a cheap bungalow, Zanzibar’s bar-none, breathtaking beaches will satisfy even the most discerning of beach-combers, and with a nightspot or two dedicated to its hometown hero Freddie Mercury, you can always kick back with a brew.
8. Panama: With a water system that our country built and a currency called the dollar, for Americans, going to Panama is like, well, not going anywhere at all. With all the attractions that neighboring tropical Costa Rica offers, Panama also boasts that once-in-a-lifetime experience of the Canal, that marvel of engineering. And you can drink the water!
9. Southwestern South Dakota: Have you not been to this fabulous corner of the plains? This part of the state will amaze with the largesse of its offerings: Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, Everwood, Custer State Park, the Crazy Horse Monument, and Sturgis’ infamous motorcycle rally. Great for rockin’ road trips as well as family getaways, you will soon sing South Dakota’s praises.
10. Sapporo, Japan: Come for the brewery and stay for the Snow Festival! Enjoy tremendous spas (onsens) where you can soak in steamy natural mineral baths surrounded by snow. The Snow Festival celebrates that famous Japanese attention to detail as locals erect dazzling live art perfectly carved in snow blocks.