Mr & Mrs Smith latest report Modern Love details a shift from the outdated concept of a romantic trip with champagne, chocolate, rose petals and couples’ massages and onto a rousing notion of romantic travel – becoming more innovative, more exciting and more sensual with new experiences, surprise and plenty of wonder.

Nowadays, there is an increasing demand for authentic and immersive experiences, and the search for spiritual travel is also growing. This concept allows guests to focus on their inner exploration to examine themselves, and self-reflect.

We’ve outlined a list of our favourite itineraries that will allow active travellers to embark on an eye-opening off-the-beaten-track journey of self-discovery this year.

Walk Japan’s Kumano Kodo Pilgramage

The Kumano Kodō is a series of ancient pilgrimage routes that crisscross the Kii Hantō, the largest peninsula of Japan. The routes are registered as UNESCO World Heritage and played an integral part of the pilgrimage process, as pilgrims undertook rigorous religious rites of worship and purification. Walking the sacred Kumano Kodo is a fantastic way to experience the unique cultural landscape of Kumano’s spiritual countryside, offering an immersion into more than a thousand years of Buddhist history. 

Capella Ubud’s Confined to Quarters

Committed to maintaining excellence in the craft of hospitality, Capella Hotels & Resorts have launched Capella Curates. The series has been carefully cultivated by the expert team in each locale, to offer exclusive adventures, meeting interesting characters, experiencing whimsical traditions, and the opportunity to hone unexplored skills.

Capella Ubud’s Confined to Quarters is a life-changing Capella Curates experience, whereby couples can escape the humdrum of daily life with 24-hours spent in total solitude within their uniquely styled tent. The day begins with a traditional Balinese blessing ritual and yoga session, enabling guests to reconnect with one another and refocus. After a restful night’s sleep, made possible by the day spent in solitude, guests can take part in a sunrise purification ritual at the property’s Wos River Temple – a profoundly spiritual process designed to leave a lasting feeling of calm and positivity.

Scott Dunn’s Bhutan Itinerary

 Scott Dunn’s itineraries to Bhutan capture the pure energy and spirituality of one of the last true unspoilt countries on earth. As a Himalayan Kingdom of stunning natural beauty, travellers will discover the awe-inspiring sights – from lush-green rice paddies running alongside fast-flowing glacial rivers to the endless forested-mountains and the snow-capped peaks beyond.

Bhutan carefully manages the numbers of tourists to the country in order to preserve its unique culture and traditions, and so a trip to Bhutan ensures a remarkable vacation with a first-hand, intimate look into the secrets of this extraordinary country. A Week in Bhutan introduces the spiritual and cultural highlights, from experiencing the fascinating capital of Thimphu, home to Bhutan’s national animal in the Takin Preserve, to trekking towards Taktsang Goemba or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro. Tailored to travellers who wish to be accompanied, all itineraries in Bhutan are escorted by a driver and specialist guide. 

Located on 45,000-acres of untouched wilderness in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Reserve, Singita Castleton Lodge, the former home of Singita’s Founder Luke Bailes’ grandfather is steeped in history. The lodge, accommodating a maximum of 12 guests, has re-opened to showcase a recent design refresh to ensure guests enjoy the utmost exclusivity and comfort in the African bush.

With new wellness experiences on offer, the private villa boasts a brand-new yoga pavilion alongside its state-of-the-art and fully equipped fitness centre – which is accessed via a covered walkway through Castleton’s tranquil gardens. Guests can now also choose between double and single massage treatment rooms. As one of 2020’s wellness trends, Castleton Lodge ensures guests to reconnect with the great outdoors as well as each other, and the expansive deck provides uninterrupted views of the surrounding landscape. It also offers magical fireside dinners under a canopy of stars –the perfect backdrop for a taste of traditional local dishes, cooked by the on-site private chef.

The property’s impressive wine cellar has been expanded and is now conveniently located adjacent to the dining room and lounge. As a highly curated collection of South African finest vintages, it’s the ideal setting for pre-dinner tastings under the guidance of Singita’s knowledgeable sommeliers.

Many antiques and furnishings of the original homestead have been refashioned, adding authenticity to the living areas that extend outdoors onto deep, covered verandas overlooking a busy waterhole nearby, where game regularly gather to drink.

As part of Singita’s Private Villa Collection, guests staying at Castleton Lodge will enjoy the comforts of a private game-viewing vehicle as well as a full staff complement, which includes a Field Guide, private chef and host. Game drives, mealtimes and activities are organised daily according to the preference of each guests – allowing them to have complete freedom to choose the rhythm of their days. The perfect location for a bush escape for families and groups of friends, Castleton offers numerous opportunities for shared activities – from boules to tennis, cricket and a private pool, combining the best elements of an authentic safari with the rustic charm of a farmhouse.

Last night, V&VPR attended the annual Skift Megatrends event which looked into the future of travel in 2020. As the travel industry’s premier intelligence brand, Skift deciphered and defined trends for the coming year. Here are this year’s key themes:

Responsibility 

For years, the travel industry has known that its next big opportunity is Gen Z, as they are a travel-savvy generation and research shows that they are heavily involved in trip planning. This year, many of them are entering adulthood and will soon have the money and autonomy to take control of their own trips and companies need to make sure they entice them through environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. Therefore, the travel industry should be leaning towards transformative travel that gives back to the environment; for example, Dutch airline KLM’s ‘fly responsibly’ campaign, which encouraged customers to invest in its carbon-offset scheme, pack lighter, and even consider flying less!

Design

New concepts of urban living will start to evolve in 2020, ensuring cities are even more attractive destinations for both working, living and visiting. And so, hospitality brands need to rethink the role they play for both visitors and residents. Mixed-use developments that include restaurants, shops, offices, hotels and rental spaces are becoming increasingly popular as they provide a compelling experience for both residents and tourists – offering visitors a true ‘local experience’.  

Lifestyle 

Customer loyalty means more than simply giving them rewards, today it has evolved with consistent engagement, and so travel is evolving to embrace a membership model that touches on aspects of a traveler’s life beyond their trip. This year the travel industry will aim to engage guests through experiences that tie into emerging and existing lifestyles through subscriptions and memberships that put the customer first, such as loyalty programmes, to create lasting relationships with consumers. 

Experience 

Tourism boards and destination marketers are increasingly aiming to protect and not just promote destinations. Sustainable tourism has now come to mean tourism that local residents and stakeholders feel good about and increasingly, the travel industry is striving to ensure this. Skift predicts this shift will happen through the use of technology, data and participation in order to improve a traveller, and residents, experience of a destination whilst ensuring preservation. 

It was an incredible night of learning and networking, and we look forward to Skift Forum Asia happening in our home base of Singapore later this year. 

As the end of 2019 approaches, Scott Dunn has forecasted what’s hot and trending in 2020 within the world of luxury travel. The world is at our fingertips, and travelling to far-flung places has never been so easy. Scott Dunn predicts next year’s go-to travel destinations – hosting a plethora of luxury hotel openings, and plenty of natural wonder.

Israel is one of Scott Dunn’s up and coming destinations for next year, due to more flight connections between Asia and Israel than ever, and with the increased sophistication of Asian travellers. Travellers are wanting to delve beyond the footsteps of Jesus to visit Israel’s more remote locations, such as the Negev Desert. 2020 sees the opening of Six Senses Shaharut, Arava Valley – the new cliff-top lodge will provide unprecedented clarity of the Negev’s famed night sky. Guests are invited to partake in a range of incredible exclusive activities, from discovering Negev winemaking to journeying in a hot air balloon above the desert’s expansive rocky scenery.

Scott Dunn predicts a revival of destinations with bespoke itineraries that go beyond the typical tourist traps for guests to re-discover timeless destinations such as Greece. With journeys to the less-known islands of Naxos, Milos, Paros and Sifnos for a more authentic experience of Greece, visiting secluded bays, exploring traditional villages and sampling the local cuisine. Scott Dunn is one of just a few travel companies that curate itineraries on these hidden islands and organises exclusive experiences such as a private guided gastronomical tour of Naxos, off-road 4×4 explorations of Milos’ untouched beaches and ancient chapels, and speed boat trips to uninhabited Grecian islands.

With an increasing number of guests choosing to re-visit a destination, Scott Dunn curates itineraries for a deeper journey to rediscover an old favourite in a new light. China is often associated with its major cities and well-known historical sites, however for 2020 Scott Dunn is shining the spotlight on rural China. For a chance to escape city life, Scott Dunn allows guests to reconnect with nature and be fully immersed in the country’s landscape through a new partnership with Caravan Liotard. The camp is inspired by the French writer Constantin de Slizewicz and the traditions of the Tibetan caravans along the historic Tea Horse Road, the elegant bell tents invite travellers to indulge in the simplicity and beauty of the surrounding countryside.