Monday, 27 February 2017
January / February 2017
Roads Less Traveled
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A tourism insider details the next hot destinations

ImageDavid Steward ’79 is president and CEO of ShermansTravel Media, which publishes travel news and advice, and distributes vacation deals. CAM asked him to share his insider tips on some emerging, less-touristy places that might tempt his fellow Cornellians.

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“Greenland is not much thought of as a destination—but Iceland, which is a relatively modestly scaled island not far away, has become very popular. Greenland is a bit of the Iceland experience, but off the beaten path. To get there you fly via Iceland or Denmark. And there are no passable roads or rails, so you get from town to town either by flying, or there are a couple of lines that offer cruises departing from Iceland. You can do a tundra safari where you see whales, polar bears, caribou, and walrus. In addition, you have activities like dogsledding, hiking, kayaking—and what I think is definitely on most people’s bucket lists, the Northern Lights.”



Image“This is for somebody who has maybe been on a classic safari or two but wants a new experience: a gorilla safari. The places to see mountain gorillas are really Uganda and Rwanda. Some amazing luxury options are now available, but it’s not like you go plop yourself in a hotel; these are luxury camps, and you arrange your trip through a tour operator or guide.”



Image“When people think of Panama they always think of the canal, but one of the really outstanding things is they have these pristine islands: Coiba and the San Blas Islands. A lot of people over the last decade or so have been to Costa Rica, and some to Belize. This is something a little different than the classic Central American or Caribbean options. Another would be Panama City.”



Image“This is a new sailing; it’s by Crystal, which is a fine luxury cruise line. It’s a cool trip for someone who’s done a lot of cruising and is looking for something new, or who has done a lot of traveling but is looking for that unique ‘bucket list’ experience. But the sad story is that the reason that cruising the Northwest Passage has become possible is because of global warming. Even five or ten years ago a large ship couldn’t get through—but with temperatures rising, the ice is less thick.”




“One of the things that makes Ethiopia unique versus much of Africa is that it was never colonized by Europe, so many of its historical sites remain intact. It is a rugged country, split by the great Rift Valley, that has everything from rock-cut Coptic Christian churches dating from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries to Aksum, the ruins of an ancient city with obelisks, tombs, and castles. On your way to Indian Ocean resort islands like the Maldives or Seychelles, Ethiopia can be an interesting stop; in Addis Ababa, the capital, you’ll see some sights that none of your friends have seen.”



Image“This is definitely for your more adventurous traveler. People may not think of Iran in terms of travel—and certainly not likely in terms of skiing. But there’s a resort called Dizin about forty miles north of Tehran where the snow conditions are fantastic—great powder that rivals the Rockies. There are no real luxury accommodations on the mountain, but hotel building has been going on in Tehran at a blistering pace, so you can always stay there.”



Image“A number of areas in the Middle East, like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have become luxury hotspots, and Oman is the new getaway in that category; companies including Shangri-La, Six Senses, and Ritz-Carlton have resorts there. What’s interesting is that you can get there fairly cost-effectively. There are a number of Middle Eastern airlines that fly to Muscat from the East Coast for under $1,000 round-trip.”




“Obviously, Italy is one of the world’s premier travel destinations. The heel of the ‘boot’ is Puglia, which has become popular for people who want to be a little off the beaten path. Calabria—the toe—is kind of the new Puglia, and it’s a great area. It’s traditionally one of the poorest regions of Italy, and like other less wealthy areas worldwide, they haven’t had a lot of development, so they tend to be more authentic and less touched by tourists. Calabria has some lovely towns, like Tropea and Scilla along the Tyrrhenian coast. There are no big-brand luxury hotels, but great options for rental villas and more quiet boutique hotels.”


NOTE: Due to political and social unrest, the U.S. State Department has issued recent travel advisories for Iran and Ethiopia; Steward advises visitors to those—and any—destinations to “stay informed, assess any government warnings, and make a decision based on their individual needs and tastes.”

Photos: Greenland, Icarmen12; Iran; Alexander Mazurkevich; Oman, Jprichard; All Ethiopia, Dmitry Chulov, Others provided.

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