1. Relive the glamour of old-world train travel
Take the time to savour the idyllic beauty of the Japanese countryside by hopping on a train, where you can find joy in a slower pace of life. “Train travel tells a story of history and heritage, especially in this age of fast, mass and accessible travel,” says Chang Theng Hwee, managing director of Country Holidays.
The exceptional Twilight Express Mizukaze, which launches in spring 2017, will meander through the stunning mountain ranges of western Japan and have stopovers in quaint towns such as scenic Miyajima, famed for its “floating” shrine gate. In addition, the trip includes exclusive experiences, such as the viewing of private art collections, tours of shrines conducted by priests, as well as visits to local artisan workshops, such as an iron-making factory and a traditional kiln.
On board the 10-car train, which takes only 30 passengers a trip, travellers get to indulge in exquisite washoku (Japanese cuisine) by acclaimed Japanese chefs Yoshihiro Murata and Hajime Yoneda, who are known for using locally-sourced ingredients in their dishes.
2. Immerse yourself in rich Andalusian heritage
The freewheeling spirit of Spain has always enamoured Asian travellers. So in 2017, the travel experts at Quotient TravelPlanner recommend that you take a deep dive into this unique culture with a trip to the Andalusian region in southern Spain. The city of Seville is gearing up to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the birth of Ano Murillo, a celebrated Spanish artist whose works were strongly influenced by Seville culture.
To get your adrenaline flowing, score a VIP experience to the MotoGP at the famous Circuito de Jerez, where the world’s best motorcyclists gather to show off their skills on sleek, two-wheeled machines.
Oenophiles will also be excited to learn that this region is rapidly gaining accolades as the wine capital of Spain, with the Rioja region offering excellent reds and whites. What’s truly unique, however, are the famed fortified wines, especially the sherry from the town of Jerez de la Frontera. Sample some VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry) aged for more than 30 years when you take a private tour at one of the most famous sherry producers in Spain and cap it off with a gourmet sherry-pairing lunch.
3. Get away from it all
To truly escape the madding crowd, it is sometimes necessary to traverse the farthest corners of the planet. Country Holidays recommends Fogo Island, which is located just off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, and checks all the right boxes for the discerning traveller on a retreat.
The remote island offers picturesque craggy shores and its lush boreal forests are home to wild caribou, foxes and beavers. In spring, private excursions to admire migrating whales and drifting icebergs can be arranged, while during autumn, the island is almost carpeted in more than two dozen varieties of edible berries.
Ensconce yourself in this stunning environment with a stay at Fogo Island Inn, which features 29 suites that offer floor-to-ceiling views of the sea and sky. Designed by Newfoundland-born, Norway-based architect Todd Saunders, the building is made with natural materials and draws inspiration from local architecture. With fireplaces, cosy communal spaces, wood-fired saunas and outdoor hot tubs on the roof deck, this is one dream destination where you can reconnect with nature—and yourself.
4. Explore the great outdoors
There is only one place in the world where you can paraglide with Andean condors—and that is in Andean Patagonia in Argentina. With activities such as hiking, skiing and fishing at one’s fingertips, this region has long been a playground for intrepid outdoor lovers.
Combined with luxury lodges and hospitable estancias (ranches), this location is fast becoming the go-to destination for travellers who want it all, according to Quotient TravelPlanner experts. Other bespoke activities include horseback-riding with Argentinian gauchos (the cowboys of South America’s grasslands or pampas), chocolate-making with expert chocolatiers and kayaking expeditions in the wild.