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10 Unsung destinations to book for 2020

Do you know where to go in 2020? There are, of course, the usual suspects that you would anticipate hearing about, the destinations that are on the list every year because... they are the places that most Brits flock to for the summer sun, but what about the places that are up and coming? What about the places that are just starting to experience the travel development trend? What about the new places to discover!


This blog post is about shinning some light on those unsung places around the world, highlighting the exciting and giving a new perspective to some of the old favorites as well.

As we draw a close on 2019 we thought it worthwhile to shed some light on a few destinations so that as we embark on both a new year and a new decade, we can help to nurture those traveler lusts with something different, something special, something that is developing now - a great opportunity.


We have aimed to encompass a pretty broad destinations list. We have tried to provide something for everyone, whether that be the eco-tourism fanatics, the thrill seekers, the adrenaline junkies and the ultimate "chillaxers". We hope you enjoy!


Siargao, Philippines

A tear drop shaped tropical island, located towards the Southeast Philippines, fringed with pristine beaches, mangroves, great surf and of course, coconuts. Siargao is a destination that is somewhat untouched and is set to be the new rival for Bali.


At only a tenth of the size of Bali, its much smaller, however, for those that can remember back 30 years to the laid back still reasonably raw destination that it was, Siargao is like this today.


Fuel for your scooter is sold by the Coca Cola bottle and rice is dried for the masses by the side of the road. It is still very much undeveloped, but tourists are starting to make their way to this place.


Small boutique / independent hotels and small business are starting to set up here. 2019 saw the development of the Bulan Villas in the up beat area of General Luna and then there are the new homestays that are cropping up here and there. Nay Palad Hideaway and the sustainability-conscious Harana Surf Resort are two of the better places to stay on the island.


If surfing is not your thing or if you simply want to do something different for the day then venture out to the nearby areas of Daku, Guyam and Naked Island. Then there are the white sand beaches of Pacifico and Alegria found to the north.

Our best advice if you are considering this destination... go now, before it's too late. Last year there were only 2 flights per week, but the high season this year saw 12 flights a day landing.


Salvador, Brazil

Amazon fires were front and center for news reports this year and the outcome was that unsustainable logging, deforestation and mining could not / should not continue in one of the worlds most under threat ecological regions.


However, don't let this put you off travelling to Brazil as perhaps we should be supporting it more via the use of eco-tourism measures that are now in place. After all it provides sustainable employment for local people, which means that it wards off the threat of takeover by polluting big business and protecting the incredible biodiversity of the region.


After finishing a 5 year historical preservation initiative, which has in turn saved its UNESCO designation, the Afro-Brazilian Salvador is now more successful than ever. A new metro line has been installed to connect the city to the international airport, which means that it's easier for travelers to get around. Miami is now connected via a weekly direct flight with Latam and the Art Deco gems that can be found are pulling in the crowds.


2019 saw the Fasano hotel chain arrive in the city, which has added its finesse to a building that housed the headquarters of the A Tarde newspaper for 45 years.


Rabat, Morocco

Looking for the latest Art epicenter? The UNESCO-listed Rabat is Morocco's political center where the main languages are French, Arabic and English. The city has a buzz, that comes from more than just the blue "petit taxis" and it's certainly more than is generated by the spices found in the many cafes. The city is described as being more modern than Marrakech, but less busy than Casablanca. Spanish style gardens, European style pavements and city beaches that are filled with locals all doing their bit to add to the ambiance.


Now the city is changing. A new art scene has swept in and bohemian visitor attractions are being developed.


Launched in September this year, the inaugural Rabat Biennal offered a new perspective on the artistic nature and cultural past-time of the Global South, where Rabat was pinpointed as the launch pad. It's title, "An Instant Before the World". Spread across the city, from the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art to the historic C19 Rottembourge fort. The Biennale highlighted the multiple disciplines that are used to approach art from film makers and sculptors, to architects and performers, but with a dedication to the creativity of female artists such as the Palestinian installation artists Mona Hatoum.


Opening soon is the Ritz-Carlton Rabat. Located within an oak forest and surrounded by pristine manicured gardens, five restaurants, a spa, a hammam and ornate spaces, this property is due to open any day now (December 2019 / January 2020). We can't wait!


Kyoto, Japan

We saw the 2019 Rugby World Cup held in Japan this year, the first time the tournament has been held in Asia and the Big Ticket sporting scene doesn't stop there as it will also be the home of the 2020 Olympics. The land of the rising sun is seeing thousands of first-time visitors to it's island shores and hoteliers are literally jumping on the band wagon to accommodate the best of the bunch. Three notable additions to the Kyoto hotel scene are:


Hotel Fauchon - This Parisian Delicatessen brand will build it's second property in the central Shimogyo-ku district and it's rumored to host a bunch of izakaya pubs and the feudal-era Shosei-en Garden.


Ace Hotel - Set to open in the spring of 2020, this hotel chain has pointed at Kyoto for it's next property. Kengo Kuma is responsible for both the design of this building but also the National Stadium in Tokyo which will be used for the 2020 Games.


AmanKyoto - Ah Aman. Literally, the sound of the brand as you say it brings a warmth from within. High-end guests will find this offering no less seductive than any of the other properties around the world. Moss-carpeted meditation gardens and bucolic views across the monastery-dusted Mount Heidi, onsen bathing and cooking classes that exclusively highlight Kyoto-style dishes. Excellent!


The British Virgin Islands, Caribbean

Who doesn't love a great comeback story! Well, if you visit BVI you will certainly play a part in their epic return to being a fantastic Caribbean hideaway.


After suffering terribly in the wake of both hurricane Irma and Maria, BVI, a destination that is so heavily reliant on its touristic visitors, lost almost 90% of its tourism as a direct result of the damage. However, after 2 years of hotel renovations, reopenings, and all round community, these spectacular islands with their beautiful bays and teaming sea life are back on the rise.


Oil Nut Bay was one of the first hotels to reopen earlier this year. The resort is cast across 300 acres of the eastern tip of Virgin Gorda. They have added a few two bedroom villas and also put in a few suspended private pools (these are only accessible by either helicopter or boat transfer). Another exclusive property to note is the Guana Island. Host to seven beautiful golden sand beaches spread over 850 acres this hotel treats only a maximum of 35 guests at any one time to it's slice of paradise.


Lastly a note of goodwill about his destination. Calling the Voluntourists reading this post. You should check out the Seeds of Love charity founded in 2017. You might also want to find out more about the Beyond the Reef project too. Please let us Moethus Travel know if you are interested in joining the effort in 2020 as part of your time away.


I think it's fair to say that BVI has seen the worst that nature can throw at it and after bouncing back with enthusiasm and passion, these great islands should now see the return of tourists and holiday makers as their reward. Come on in, the waters great!


Kangaroo Island, Australia

70 miles off the coast of the South Australia mainland is Kangaroo Island. It boasts a craggy outlook contrasting against a cloudy turquoise sea, lush forests filled with eucalyptus trees and well fed koala's. If you were looking for a wildlife haven then you may just find it here with all the native species including, brown bandicoots, spiky short-beaked echidnas, the island’s very own sub-species of kangaroo, sea lions and sleuthing pods of orcas.


Despite all this, the island, which happens to be the 3rd largest of the islands around Australia, is quite undeveloped. Low-impact, high-end eco resorts are dotted around the island, such as the lovely Southern Ocean Lodge.


Earlier in 2019, Ecopia Retreat opened and the new Stowaway villas near Stokes Bay offer luxury with a hard edge. Summer 2019 saw the opening of the luxurious beach houses from Hamilton & Dune in Emu Bay. Their signature being 24-hour concierge service and views across the pristine, penguin-speckled coastline. Then there is the entirely off-grid, Oceanview Eco Villas, made using recycled jarrah timber.


Late 2020 will see the opening of a new eco-tent project on the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. This is a five-day, 40-mile trek that weaves its way through sugar gum forests and beautiful wildflower heaths.


Lebanon

Crusader Castles, mosaic-paved streets and great food, all mixed in with some fantastic heritage & history and you have a recipe that is best served to culture vultures.


As we are part of Travel Aware, Moethus Travel must preach the good word about following guidance regarding travel as issued by the British Foreign Office, which meant that this destination was previously off the menu. However, earlier this year the advice was changed and it is now deemed as being safe for travelers to visit. Great news!


Adventure Tour Operators are opening up new itineraries for Lebanon in 2020 and are looking to include such gems as the food culture, the pristine beaches and the ancient ruins for explorers and relaxers alike.


For more information about the sights that can be seen in Lebanon, the Bekka Valey and Baalbek please contact us as we'd love to tell you about the roman sites, the art culture that is appearing in Beirut, the cooking extravaganza that is sweeping through Tawlet and the Farmers market that can be found in Souk el Tayeb. And then of course there is the highest vineyard in the world that can be found at Ixsir, 1 of now 40 vineyards to be found in the Bekka Valley (there were only 10 back in 1980).


Islas Secas, Panama

If you can imagine a foot-print free island, virgin sand, crystal clear waters, Spanish forts, coffee farms, cloud forests, warm hospitable people and a culture that comes with distinctive flare.... but without the massive tourist numbers, then Panama is your go to!


The newly opened Islas Secas eco-retreat has given access to 14 small and rugged islands in the Gulf of Chiriqui on Panama's Pacfic coast.


This island retreat is located 30-35 miles off the coast of the Panama mainland and it provides the full eco-experience. Off-grid? Oh yeah! Accommodating just 18 guests at a time, residents will settle into their jungle casita escape surrounded by Toucans and tropical rainforest. There are 4 of these casitas and each is designed with the ultimate of privacy in mind. Each have an outdoor decking area, a plunge pool and a thatched-roof cabana.


If its wildlife that you're after then you wont be disappointed as the reef around Isla Secas is not only one of the largest in the Pacific, with crystal clear waters but the eagle rays, humpbacks, hammerheads and the endangered Ridley Turtles are all in attendance. You can use the paddle boards, snorkel gear and Seabobs to pay them a visit and with a dedicated on-site scuba instructor and Adventure concierge to hand, you're sure to see them all at their best.


Galway, Ireland

We couldn't do this list without featuring the 2020 European Capital of Culture.


Located on Ireland west coast, this city will literally welcome the world to its doorstep (pub doorstep), as it plays its fiddle and delivers experiences of community heritage and local art projects, pop-ups and culture cafes and, of course, "funambulism" workshops (tight-rope walking).


The new appointment is simply the next level for Galway as back in 2018 it was designated the European Region of Gastronomy, which gave it the exposure it needed to reach the foodies of the world. Another recipe for success has been forged, so it seems, but this time they've gone heavy on the culture ingredients.


Now, I remember hearing on an episode of River Cottage with Hugh Fearnley-Whittistal that "eating oysters was like making love to a mermaid". If that is true then there are going to be a lot of very happy people in Galway next year as they are home to the longest running Oyster festival in the world (c.65 years and still going). At the same time that this is on participants will endure the challenge of the World Oyster Opening Championships. You'll find a range of locally produced wines that pair well with the seafood as well as the seaweed shortbread, smoked fish and locally produced cheese & honey. Then there are the micro-brews.


New hotels will be arriving in 2020 as well, but one of the most notable will be the Dean Galway, which will be the sister property to the Dean Dublin, which hosts a moody, Brooklyn feel to it.


Pakistan

A land that has been plagued by threat of terrorism and Taliban, preventing the tourism industry from getting in to full swing for the last two decades, but ancient valleys and relaxed visa restrictions, along with a high-profile royal visit this year means that this destination is one that will become more accessible and more attractive in the near future.


Rivers and fields are watched from the peaks of towering mountains, and sights such as the highest polo field in the world in the Shandur Pass or the Kalash people with their cowrie-shell headdresses and outstandingly colourful clothes are all part of the diverse landscape that is Pakistan.


Lahore will deliver the sight of 100,000 worshipers within the confines of a 17th Century sandstone Badshahi Mosque and simple street corners offer Mughal-era architecture.


A recent focus on security measures saw the FCO lift it's advice against travelling to the north of Pakistan and in addition to this, the recently appointed Imran Khan vowed to increase international tourist numbers. This coupled with the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has brought a new life to the interest of Pakistan as a tourism destination.


For those that are looking for adventure and a view that hasn't changed since Mughal -times, this country offers peaks, gemstone mines, meadows that would be home to clans of fairy's and winding trails that are not so well trod. Interested in a self drive? Look up the Karokoram as it is truly one of the worlds most impressive highways.


We really hope that you've enjoyed the list. If you are interested in these destinations or any others, please contact Moethus Travel for more information.

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