In the past 20 years, London’s center of gravity has shifted back to the east, where the city’s history began as a Roman garrison on the north bank of the Thames. Previously run-down districts such as Clerkenwell suddenly started to become fashionable, and towers sprouted from areas that had been razed in World War II. New luxury hotels have opened in places where it would once have seemed extremely improbable: Rosewood London on High Holborn; Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, which is on the South Bank; and now Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square. The 100-room property is housed within an imposing Beaux-Arts building, the former headquarters of the Port of London Authority, midway between the West End and the City of London financial district and a 10-minute walk from Tower Bridge. When it opens on January 26, it will offer three restaurants — one overseen by French three-star chef Anne-Sophie Pic — and an 18,000-square-foot spa designed to reflect London’s ancient Roman history.
In June, Lindblad Expeditions will launch its first ever custom-built ship, the National Geographic Quest. Currently under construction in Seattle, the 100-passenger expedition vessel has been designed to explore remote regions while providing an enhanced level of comfort. Twenty-two of the 50 cabins have balconies, and eight can be reconfigured into four suites for families. In addition to Zodiacs, the ship will have a fleet of 24 sea kayaks. State-of-the-art expedition technology will include an ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle), a video microscope and a bow cam and hydrophone for watching (and listening to) whales and dolphins. The inaugural voyage will depart on June 26 for a 13-day cruise along the coastline of British Columbia to Alaska.
Located 1,000 miles north of Chile’s capital, Santiago, at an elevation of 8,202 feet, explora Atacama was the original upscale resort in the remote desert oasis of San Pedro de Atacama. (I also recommend Awasi Atacama nearby.) In October 2015, the property was badly damaged by fire. It has now been restored and will reopen in January 2017. Set on a 42-acre estate, the resort has 50 rooms, whose design takes its cue from indigenous adobe homes. Four interconnected swimming pools are complemented by sauna and steam bath facilities, plus open-air Jacuzzis. Guests hike beneath the 19,423-foot Licancabur volcano and go on mountain bike and horseback excursions. One of the driest regions on earth, the Atacama Desert has night skies of astounding clarity; explora Atacama boasts its own private stellar observatory.