Yes, it's a new year! Time to dust off that luggage and resolve to explore more of the world. The same old beach scene can get pretty tiresome, though, so maybe this is the year to try something fresh and exciting, like one of these under-the-radar or recently rediscovered destinations that promise unique experiences and memory-making adventures worth traveling for.
Hideaways.com names its "go-now" destinations for savvy, sophisticated travelers Portsmouth, NH-(January 2014)-It's a new year, and for all those with a renewed resolve to get out there and see more of the world, traveling to any of the "go-now" hot spots named by Hideaways.com will ensure a unique and memorable travel experience.
"We consulted our travel crystal ball to find places on the verge of discovery, or prime for rediscovery, in 2014," says Mike Thiel, founder and president of Hideaways International Inc. "Our 'Top 12 Hottest Travel Spots for 2014' are either well-kept secrets or enjoying a renaissance of sorts. And each celebrates those special things, like unspoiled beauty, that set them apart from every other place."
Here's a little insight into why each destination made the list:
1. Nicaragua: Safe and welcoming, this Central American country offers delights like hundreds of small tropical islets with sandy cove beaches, rolling hills with cloud forests, colonial towns with churches and museums, and new and noteworthy accommodations, like Mukul Resort & Spa.
Copacabana Palace Hotel.
3. Ecuador: The second-smallest country in South America, Ecuador has massive appeal, both as an affordable destination and as a paradise for nature lovers (think Amazonian rainforest, snow-capped Andes, Galapagos Islands), with plenty of restaurants, historic sites, and accommodation options.
4. Mexico City: Mexico's capital city will delight with its fascinating architecture, vast collection of museums, exceptional restaurants, and more than 300 neighborhoods (orcolonias). Combine a stay here with the back-to-nature attractions of up-and-coming Riviera Nayarit on the Pacific Coast, for a combo city and seaside escape.
5. Canouan Island: This year, the Caribbean island of Canouan begins improvement projects costing more than $11 million, including a new ring road, commercial jetty, and community wharf. These will improve the sleepy island's infrastructure, but they'll also attract more travelers, so visit soon! Try the laid-back, beachfront Tamarind Beach Hotel & Yacht Club for an unplugged holiday.
6. South Korea: Unlike its East Asian neighbor to the north, South Korea is quite hospitable, offering a fascinating blend of old-world tradition and high-tech futurism. In addition, "The Korean Wave," or hallyu, has popularized South Korea's music, culture, and food - experience it all at the source.
7. Russia: As the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics, all eyes are on Russia. Despite its questionably "open" arms, this Eastern European/North Asian country continues to fascinate travelers, making it ideal for land-based vacations - enjoy a stay at Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg - and river cruising with lines like AmaWaterways and Viking River Cruises.
8. South Africa: The world glimpsed the heart of South Africa's people after the recent death of President Nelson Mandela. Experience this warmth for yourself, as well as the country's diversity: safaris to whale-watching, fine dining to wine tastings, and Cape Town city to natural wonders like Victoria Falls. Don't miss a stay at the iconic Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, followed by an exciting adventure with Orient-Express Safari Camps in nearby Botswana.
9. Norway: Riding a wave of popularity inspired by Disney's animated film, Frozen, this Scandinavian country shares an inviting and unique Viking heritage - a most enchanting way to experience Norway is with a cruise along its coast, like the "Northern Lights" winter trip with Hurtigruten.
10. Croatia: This Eastern European country offers modern delights like sport fishing and golfing as well as authentic glimpses of the past, especially along Croatia's famed Dalmatian Coast. Choose from a plethora of private villa rentals and live like a local. The nearby and formerly isolated country of Albania provides something rare in this day and age - a glimpse into an unspoiled culture that is only now beginning to taste the fruits of tourism.
11. Scotland: In 2014, Scotland is hosting the Year of the Homecoming, the Ryder Cup, and the 2014 Commonwealth Games, while still offering experiences like world-class golf. In this U.K. country, rent a cottage, stay in a country home, or get pampered at a luxury retreat like The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh.
12. Vancouver: This vibrant city on Canada's west coast is easy to get around and get to know. Plus, Vancouver has a long list of great things to do, from outdoor recreation to gambling. Made for more than a quick layover, both the Shangri-la and Hotel le Soleil are exceptional venues from which to explore the city.
"Let's face it, a 'hot' destination is only hot if you discover it before the crowds," says Mike. "And each one of our hottest spots offers a special something worth experiencing this year. My best advice? Go now, before the rest of the world discovers these little secrets!"