First in Service News

2015 Top Ten Travel Destinations

International tourism hit a record high in 2014. It’s no wonder as the world is seemingly getting smaller. But there are still places off the beaten path to discover, as well as timeless classics. Here are our picks for a year’s worth of adventure, whether it involves food, culture, or the great outdoors:


Four years after its devastating earthquake, Japan is making a serious tourism comeback. Last year saw a record number of foreign tourists, due in part to the cheaper yen, but also to the astonishing beauty of the land and culture steeped in ancient tradition.  With more Michelin stars than any other city, Tokyo is considered by many as the gastronomic capital of the world.

South Africa
South Africa is irresistible for adventurers and lovers of fine food and wine. Where else can you enjoy seeing the Big 5 on a luxury safari, sample some of the best wines in the world, and explore cosmopolitan Cape Town and historic Johannesburg? It’s also Ebola-free. Read more about South African safaris in this newsletter.

We agree with Mr. and Mrs. Clooney on this one. Venice is a perennial classic for lovers of la dolce vita. For 600 years it has charmed visitors. With a choice of historic palazzo-turned-hotels, including the new Aman Canal Grande, it’s impossible not to be swept up in the romance of this Italian masterpiece.

While the beaches are beautiful, the real draw of this Central America country is the lush interiors. Trek through dense rainforest, stumble along Mayan ruins and explore jaw-dropping caves via inner tube. If you prefer the water, English-speaking Belize has world class diving and snorkeling.

The Arctic
This is a voyage of a lifetime. Who knows for how much longer? The polar bear and melting ice are on the front lines of the effects of global warming. In the summer months of July and August, a brief window opens up for continual daylight, allowing vessels to cruise around the islands and take in the rugged landscape and pristine wildlife – all with the comforts of modern luxury.

Along with being one of the most thriving, stable countries in South America, pencil-thin Chile is rich in natural beauty from north to south. From winery-hopping via stylish guesthouses in the Aconcagua and Colchagua valleys, to the marvels of Easter Island, to Patagonia and the Atacama Desert, the highest desert in the world, there is no shortage of adventure.

With a recent influx of five-star international hotels, Taiwan likely won’t remain under-the-radar much longer. Taipei is a vibrant capital, making it the perfect gateway to an Asia adventure. For nature lovers, the island is a dream come true, boasting Northeast Asia’s tallest peak, stunning gorges and rock formations, coral reefs, and the world-famous Sun Moon Lake.

There’s a reason why a new crop of adventure reality shows are invading the 49th state. Alaska deserves to be a star. It’s far more than a destination to visit on a cruise. With soaring glaciers, challenging climbs and exquisite wildlife, it really is the last frontier.  Thankfully, one with a range of luxury accommodations.

It’s been more than 50 years since trade embargoes halted US tourism to Cuba. Now with restrictions easing, there is no better time to visit the island, iconic for vintage cars, rhythmic tunes, stretches of golden beaches, and killer cocktails. Plus, it’s just 90 miles off the coast of Florida. This Caribbean gem won’t be frozen in time for much longer.

Eclipsed by its popular neighbor Croatia, tiny Montenegro, or “Black Mountain,” is poised to be a hot luxury travel destination itself. With an influx of foreign investment, and pending EU membership, it’s only a matter of time before mass tourism follows. There is so much to explore including a breathtaking Adriatic coastline, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, river canyons, and glacier lakes.

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