In our search for the hot new destinations of 2012, Travel Agent reached out to our recent Top 25 Agents for their insights. Here is a sampling of the European destinations where your clients, especially your veteran travelers, will want to go next year—and beyond.
On land, Eric Goldring says that the small port town of Koper in Slovenia is a gateway to “absolutely breathtaking countryside, beautiful vineyards with unique wines and a state-of-the-art aquaculture farm, which raises sea bass that is incredibly delicate in taste.”
He also recommends the “sleepy Turkish village” of Islamlar, about 500 miles south of Istanbul on the Mediterranean coast and only a short boat ride to the Greek Islands. “There is a fantastic mix of luxury villas with all possible amenities and local rural farmers living side by side,” he says. Islamlar is popular for its trout farms and a dozen or so tiny restaurants that are little more than a balcony with a great view. Goldring likes the Place of Huysein.
|Istria, Croatia, has been called “the new Tuscany.”|
“It is one of those unique places that you have to be willing to travel to get to. And one needs to understand that its remoteness requires some compromises in cuisine, but the peace, tranquility, beauty and friendly locals make it truly memorable,” he says.
Jack Ezon, president of Ovation Vacations, notes that Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast represented 3 percent of his bookings in 2012. “Most clients have been drawn to the region by the recent press about its nightlife and opening of the Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro,” he says.
Helena Iorio, owner of HMI Travel Consulting, recommends some hidden gems in well-known areas for unique experiences. For example, while in France, oenophiles and foodies should visit L’Esperance, a former café/grocery store in the middle of the vineyards in Vezelay; La Coquillade, a hotel and restaurant in a vineyard in Gargas (Vaucluse); and the Chateau D’Audrieu, a castle listed as a historical monument in Bayeux. All three are Relais & Chateaux properties.
Farther south in the Cote d’Azur’s “less glitzy side” is what Iorio calls “the most picturesque place ever”: Eze, a fortified medieval village outside of Nice perched up high overlooking the Mediterranean. “In Eze, one should definitely stay at Relais & Chateaux’s Chateau de la Chevre D’ Or,” Iorio says. The property is accessible only by donkey, which carries clients’ luggage up the many steps.
Diana M. Hechler, president of D. Tours Travel, recommends taking a ferry ride along the Amalfi Coast to Positano, which “looks like someone designed a postcard first and then built the town to match it—small cafés, ceramic shops, resort clothing stores and everything climbing up and down the side of the hill.” For day trips in the area, she recommends visiting Capri, Amalfi (be sure to visit the cathedral and cloister) and the Greek temples at Paestum. Take lunch at the Villa Cimbrone in Ravello above Amalfi, followed by a stroll in the gardens.
“And you must have a sea-view room no matter which town you stay in, so that you always see the Bay of Naples glittering in the sunlight with Vesuvius dominating the skyline,” she says. “It’s all pretty magical!”
|Montenegro’s Aman Sveti Stefan resort has preserved the isle’s 15th century edifices.|