A Look Ahead at Europe Travel for 2016

The Fontenay will be the first ultra-luxury hotel to open in Hamburg in 18 years.
The Fontenay will be the first ultra-luxury hotel to open in Hamburg in 18 years.

Half of travelers surveyed by MMGY Global for its 2015 Portrait of American Travelers expressed an interested in vacationing in Europe during the next two years. While Italy and England continue to hold onto the top two spots (with France, Germany, Ireland and Spain also ranking high), a few countries that didn’t make the “top 20” are making some noise. The European Tourism Commission’s 2015 3Q “Trends & Prospects” report shows that Iceland was a top performing destination, with foreign visits growing by 26.8 percent, based on the first eight months of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014. Over that same time, visits to Romania grew by 17.8 percent, Serbia was up 12.7 percent and Montenegro saw an 11.9 percent hike.

On the tour front, the United States Tour Operators Association’s executive committee reported at the recent USTOA conference in Chicago that, in light of the terrorist attacks, their companies would modify (not cancel) itineraries following careful consideration. This means agents and their clients can still look forward to new and exciting Europe tour products in 2016.

As always, the year ahead will also see new round of hotels in Europe. Check out these top properties that are already creating a lot of buzz.

The Fontenay, Hamburg: In fall 2016, The Fontenay will be the first ultra-luxury hotel to open in Hamburg in 18 years. It will sit on Lake Alster within a 10-minute walk to the city center. The concept of  architect Jan Stormer of Stormer Murphy and Partners is to make the hotel look sculpture-like, so it mirrors the fluid lines of the lake and surrounding park. The Fontenay’s design is created by fusing three circles that created the high atrium and the guest floor corridors, which will both be filled with natural light.

The guest rooms will have floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies with views of the lake (major selling point). The interiors will boast warm colors, parquet wood flooring and tall ceilings to maximize space and light. Guests can dine at two restaurants, one all-day option and another offering cuisine from a Michelin-starred chef. However, the luxe touch guests will enjoy the most is the rooftop bar with views of the city.

Il Sereno Lago di Como is an ultra-luxe hotel being built on the shores of Lake Como, Italy.

Il Sereno Lago di Como is an ultra-luxe hotel being built on the shores of Lake Como, Italy.

Il Sereno Lago Di Como, Lake Como, Italy: Il Sereno Lago Di Como is one of the most talked about hotel openings that is set to debut in Europe in spring 2016. This ultra-luxe hotel is currently being built on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, following the success of Le Sereno St. Barth. Il Sereno Lago di Como is being positioned as the most posh hotel on the lake, and it also will have views of the southern Italian Alps. The hotel will have a contemporary, relaxed feel and will be created by Milan-based designer Patricia Urquiola. She also designs for B&B Italia, Baccarat, BMW, Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands. Il Sereno Lago will also have its own docking facilities and custom boats for transportation around the Lake Como. If this hotel follows the popularity of the St. Barth’s location, we suggest booking one of the 30 oversized suites well in advance. The penthouse will have a private terrace, garden and rooftop lap pool.

Those not booking the penthouse can still enjoy the 60-foot-long infinity pool that will be located just in front of the lake. The pool will be surrounded by a sundeck where food and drink will be served; it’s also a neat place for weddings, we say. For more outdoor fun, Il Sereno will also have gardens designed with secret passage ways.

The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest: The Ritz-Carlton brand has positioned itself for an exciting 2016, following an in-depth renovation, The Elizabeth Park Hotel, Budapest, a Ritz-Carlton Partner Hotel will reopen as The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest in spring 2016. At the top of the new additions will be The Ritz-Carlton Club, new suites and updated and redefined dining lineup. The  hotel will be on St. Erzsebet Square with views over St. Stephen’s Basilica. Guests will be only a short distance from the shopping district.

The Ritz-Carlton, Hotel de la Paix, Geneva: This Swiss hotel will reopen in 2016 after a major renovation as well as a changeover from the Hotel de la Paix, after signing an agreement to become a Ritz-Carlton Partner Hotel. Part of the renovation plan is to adjust the amount of rooms to an intimate 75. This hotel was originally built in 1865 and has played host to historical moments like the international arbitration tribunal for the Alabama Claims in 1872. And the hotel has also housed famous guests like Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco. This promises to be the place to stay in Geneva in 2016.

The Ritz, Paris: After a three-year, top-to bottom renovation, The Ritz Paris is finally expected to reopen in March. The revamp, which we hear from our Paris correspondent Mary Winston Nicklin is costing around 200 million euros, will include designs from artisans and restoration artists who plan to bring The Ritz into the 21st century. Rumors surrounding the hotel include that the hotel is updating the Grand Jardin with new flowers and trees and, we expect the guest rooms will receive some much-needed updates. One thing is for sure, this is one of the most anticipated openings of 2016, and all eyes will be on the hotel in the coming months.