Virtuoso's luxe trends of 2014

By Jeri Clausing

*logoPicking the newest hot spots is a favored past time for travel media and travel planners and experts, and never are the lists more prolific than in January.

From The New York Times' just published  “52 Places to  Go in 2014” to Afar’s “Where to Go in 2014,” there is no shortage of new ideas for those looking for travel inspiration.

Among the favored lists for travel sellers is the annual Virtuoso Luxe Report, which identifies not only hot new spots for luxury travel but also trends in where, why and how the affluent will travel.JeriClausing 

This year’s just-released compilation reiterates a lot of what travel experts have been saying over the last few years: adventure travel and multigenerational vacations are among the top travel trends; Asia continues as a favored emerging destination; and luxury travelers are increasingly seeking unique experiences.

But the report also has a few surprises and some interesting realignments in its 2014 lists, which are based on an annual survey of its elite travel advisors.

The top emerging destination travel agents see in the year ahead: Cuba. It outranked Asian hotspots like Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Another interesting top 10 pick: Bhutan, which came in at No. 5, just behind the Galapagos Islands.

Italy maintains its dominance as everyone’s favorite country. Italy also retained its top spot for family travel, followed by England, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Mexico.

New York City regained its top rank as the favored domestic destination. (New York bumped Napa Valley/ Sonoma, which dropped to third.) Hawaii also finished strong, with the Big Island joining No. 2 Maui in the top five.

The main motivators for luxury travel, according to Virtuoso, are authentic experiences, rest and relaxation and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones; new additions to the list are rediscovering destinations and exploring new places.

A new category in the 2014 report ranks popular honeymoon destination: Italy, French Polynesia, Maui, the Maldives and St. Lucia topped that list. It closely resembles its list for favored destinations for romantic travel, which includes Italy, French Polynesia, Bali and France.

Luxury cruises are also identified as a top trend for 2014. The Mediterranean regained its top spot in that category, with Alaska dropping to No. 2.

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