Tom Marchant is the co-founder of luxury travel company and trip planner, Black Tomato, which delivers luxe experiences around the world via inspiring itineraries and access to the globe’s up-and-coming, remote destinations. Marchant’s finger on the pulse of travel trends and the world’s best in hotels, restaurants, destinations and honeymoons is unique and incomparable–and he’s sharing his expertise and curated lists of where to visit, stay, eat and more with BAZAAR.com.
The true wonder of travel inherently lies in coming face to face with the unknown and getting lost in the beauty of a place on the very brink of discovery. There is no more rewarding feeling than being among the first few to reach and explore a destination that others haven’t yet had the pleasure of witnessing. From remote islands to unexplored deserts and jungles teeming with wildlife, this glorious planet is constantly at the ready with new untapped destinations to make even the most intrepid traveler swoon in awe-struck delight. For the true adventurers out there, get out and discover this latest trove of unspoiled global treasures and find an inspiration all your own.
Puglia, the heel of Italy’s stylish boot, has a wonderfully distinct allure that can only come from its rural landscape and patchwork past of Norman, Spanish, Greek and Byzantine influences. The region is quickly rivaling Tuscany’s gourmet title, offering a glimpse into true Italian traditions and values. With miles of bountiful coastline, replete with verdant landscapes of olive groves and vineyards, this pristine region produces some of the country’s best, oft underrated wines and olive oils. Treat yourself to sensory overload and savor Puglia’s famed cucina povera, a stripped back, authentic style of Italian cooking focusing on simple, fresh ingredients and traditional cooking methods–it’s the slow-food movement at its best. The region is also home to incredibly unique lodgings like the fabulous hideaway, Borgo Egnazia, a stone-carved haven set amongst Puglia’s olive groves. The creation of one of the most inspirational minds in the hotel world, Aldo Melpignano, and his family, Borgo Egnazia is modeled on a traditional local Apulian borgo (village). Here, the cream-hued estate features romantic suites and villas that are decked out in calming tones and elegantly equipped to meet your every comfort. Also check out their gorgeous sister boutique property, Masseria le Carrube, only opened last year and already becoming the darling of hot hotel lists around the world.
For those seeking a “still relatively off the radar” escape, look no further than wild and virtually unexplored Madagascar. This thriving hotspot of biodiversity is a dream for naturalists and adventurers alike; the island is teeming with endemic wildlife, 80% of which can be found nowhere else on Earth. Unknown to most, Madagascar has some of the best beaches in the Indian Ocean. Check out Nosy Be, Madagascar’s most scenic coastal spot, where guests can spot humpback whales and lemurs on the shoreline. Located on the north-eastern coast of the island, Miavana is the perfect private escape. With only 14 private villas, staying at this luxurious eco-lodge will feel as though you’ve stumbled upon your own Robinson Crusoe haven. Think days exploring lush tropical rainforests and watching turtles nest on the deserted white sand beaches.
The Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh is one of the few places on Earth that remains virtually untouched and unexplored. Situated at an average altitude of 11,500 feet, Ladakh is crisscrossed by four mountain ranges, The Great Himalaya,The Ladakh, The Zanskar and The Karakoram. Boasting mesmerizing views at every turn, it’s one of India’s best kept secrets. Enjoy the calm serenity of the fresh mountain air, incredible views, and rich Buddhist heritage throughout the region. Guests in Ladakh can opt to stay in beautiful homestays like the Shakti Village Houses in unknown villages of the Indus Valley and remote luxury tented camps. Tour the city of Leh with local royalty, meet local monks, stargaze to your heart’s content and even catch a game of Ladakhi Polo, all while enjoying the ultimate escapist’s dream.
In contrast to the Italo-Spanish metropolis of Buenos Aires and the surrounding grassy Pampas, Argentina’s north-west boasts a strong Andean and spiritual heritage as a meeting point for South America’s indigenous communities. The region is famed for its spectacular scenery and richly colored landscapes–think red rock valleys, multi-colored and monochromatic hills and terra-cotta peaks magically set against stark blue skies. The diversity of this area makes it a haven for trekking, horseback riding, rafting, driving 4x4s and a plethora of other adventure activities. The city of Salta boasts some of the best preserved colonial architecture, attractive plazas and regional cuisine in all of Argentina, making it an off-the-beaten-track cultural gem. Feel like you’re being let in on a local secret as you step inside La Merced del Alto, in the heart of the Calchaquí Valley. Built as a traditional manor house with wide interior patios and tall galleries, La Merced del Alto is a beautiful reflection of its rustic surroundings in the heart of the Argentinian countryside.
Faroe Islands, Denmark
Located in the chilly waters between Scotland and Iceland, the Faroe Islands are a real retreat. The dramatic landscapes completely redefine the notion of an ‘untouched archipelago,’ giving travelers access to a wilder side of the Danish Kingdom. Rugged coastlines once considered Viking territory are home to natural wonders best explored via old fishing boats for a mystical effect. But the Faroes are also beginning to take their first steps towards modernization, with chic shops and Michelin-star restaurants serving up fantastic Faroese delicacies. A stay at Hotel Føroyar in the Faroese capital of Tórshavn is guaranteed to bring a true sense of peace. Featuring 106 rooms wrapped up under grass roofs, guests are guaranteed to be in awe over the mesmerizing views.
Situated in the heart of Central Europe, Slovenia’s Adriatic coastline, endless alpine lakes, and rolling fields of wildflowers and vineyards make it a wonder for the senses. Home to historic castles, picturesque alpine landscapes and Europe’s best emerging food and wine scene, Slovenia is an essential stop on any true European adventure. Visit the Goriška Brda Wine Region and stay in the Gredič Castle Hotel, set within the walls of a 16th century castle. Still retaining many of the castle’s original features, the opulent hotel oozes character and charm. For a culinary highlight, guests can explore the Soca Valley, home to chefs like Ana Roš. At the Hiša Franko Hotel–said to be the place where Ernest Hemingway wrote his bestselling novel, A Farewell to Arms–Ana strives to use locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create dishes that reflect the essence of the region.
The perfect destination for a wintry, remote vacation, Finland is drawing in snow-seeking travelers in with promises of the northern lights, husky sledging and snowmobiling. Rest up in the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort’s magical glass igloos and take in the northern lights from the warmth of your bed. When night falls, guests are treated to a delicious meal before wrapping up to head out on an Aurora hunt on foot, in a sleigh pulled by reindeer or horses, on skis or via snowmobile. Take a husky safari through the wilderness of the Finnish Lapland and stop off to take a stab at ice-fishing. Epic landscapes and a plethora of adventure opportunities guarantee a trip full of inspiring moments travelers won’t soon forget.
Guacalito De La Isla, Nicaragua
Perched on the Emerald Coast of Nicaragua, home to 30 miles of untouched beaches, Guacalito De La Isla is an authentic Central American haven. Be sure to stay at the Mukhul Resort, the brainchild of local entrepreneur Don Carlos Pellas, whose family invested their heart and soul into the region in an effort to preserve its beauty and share it with like-minded travelers. The name translates from the Mayan word for ‘secret,’ and it lives up to its status as a hidden gem; comprised of fairy-tale beach villas and ‘bohios’ nestled on the stunning, mile-long Manzanillo beach awash with light powdery sand and glorious Pacific sunsets. From surfing and ash boarding down volcanos, to nature and bike paths through pristine jungles where monkeys, iguanas and tropical birds abound, the opportunities for adventure here are endless. Here, the infinite pleasures of doing nothing are not be underestimated; simply lie back, relax and take in the panoramic views of the Pacific.
Malawai is celebrating 50 years of independence this year, and the country is investing in new accommodations, particularly exciting developments in the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, riding the success of the Majete Wildlife Reserve restocking program. There are a plethora of new flight routes in and around this classic, uninterrupted and crowdless safari country. Malawi has been able to escape the safari-suited ‘bush and beach’ crowd; here, you can get up close and personal with elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo without the distracting 4×4 chaos so common in Africa’s better known parks. Malawi has often been overshadowed by some of the bigger African countries, but it has recently seen a rise in popularity–so get there quickly to experience its unspoiled wonder. With its stunning lake (there are said to be more species of fish in Lake Malawi than any other lake in the world), pristine beaches and mountain hikes, it is rightly a must-see.
For travelers looking to get off the beaten track and go where few tourists have been before, there are few destinations that rival the Congo. A whole new kind of safari destination, the Congo offers luscious forests, rare and exotic wildlife and safe cities in between. The Congolese capital, Brazzaville, is known as ‘The Paris of Africa’ and is a must-see–boasting some of the safest and cleanest streets in Africa. Trek, kayak, and cruise through the heart of the Odzala-Kokua National Park and track endangered Western Lowland Gorillas before you wade through the Lango bais in search of Forest Elephants and Buffalo. Stay at Odzala Discovery Camps and unearth a leafy green paradise where you can get closer to nature than ever before. These three gorgeous camps in North-West Congo are all about stripped back luxury, and unleashing your inner explorer. For the true globetrotter, this is really adventure at its purest.
Salkantay Trail, Peru
Check out the Salkantay route for new ways to explore and trek in the Andes–aside from Machu Picchu. This route has not been overly-traversed by travelers visiting Peru, and it is an inspired route to hike near this beautiful area. In the Andean culture, the “Apus” (Gods) are the spirits that protect life and many are represented by mountains. The magnificent Nevado Salkantay (20569ft) is one of the most impressive Nevado of the Peruvian Andes, and it is a fundamental inspiration for this trek. If you do decide to trek to Machu Picchu, en route you’ll hit Aguas Calientes; plan to stay at the Inkaterra Hotel, a stunning little enclave that hangs over a verdant gorge and offers a respite for weary hikers.
Wadi Rum, Jordan
The forlorn desert landscapes of Jordan have long enticed travelers to trek through its unforgiving landscapes. Access the area’s hidden gems and Bedouin culture with Wadi Rum, a must on every adventurous traveler’s wish list for 2017. Planning a comprehensive trekking tour through this historic, otherworldly landscape is highly advised–it is the best way explore the very setting that scenes from the film Lawrence of Arabia were staged. This is definitely a cultural must; here, travelers can also experience seeing the seven jagged rock columns natural landmark from which T.E. Lawrence’s famed novel, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, takes its namesake. Thrill-seekers can tour via camel or jeep, stopping off at Bedouin communities and overnighting in luxury desert camps where traditional meals are served around a fire under the stars.
Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Isolated and undiscovered, the beautiful Mergui Archipelago is located in Myanmar’s far southern Tanintharyi Region. With pure white sand beaches, thick dense jungles and crystal clear waters, the archipelago is made up of 800 deserted islands, each beckoning adventurers with endless opportunities for exploration. Sail around this untouched string of islands and get lost in your own island paradise, at times not seeing a soul apart from the odd fisherman in a dugout canoe. Spend time with local inhabitants to gain insight into the indigenous culture of a region that has only been open to foreign tourists since the late 1990s. And, be sure to set one evening aside for the picturesque beach of Hasting Island, and savor the rare sight of a completely undisturbed location. A truly overwhelming experience, there won’t be a single light within view, as the monkeys shout and play in the surrounding jungle.
Lofoten Archipelago, Norway
This unrivaled polar wilderness offers the perfect base for skiing and trekking expeditions in the remote Fjords of Norway for intrepid travelers seeking the Northern Lights at their best. Sleeping on a luxuriously converted Scandinavian fishing trawler, travelers can sail around the Lofoten archipelago, a stretch of islands and Fjords that curve their way above the Arctic Circle, and are rarely visited by travelers. Explore the impressive mountains that dominate the landscape by foot and take in incredible views of the frozen wilderness’ steep jagged peaks and ocean. For a truly unique skiing experience, traverse down slopes of virgin powder, right to the water’s edge where a sailing boat awaits. While you’re out on the arctic waters, be sure to look up–the beauty of the Northern Lights is amplified from the water. Enchanting wildlife enthusiasts, the Lofoten islands have seen pods of Orca’s revisit the island this year, providing visitors with the chance to snorkel with these majestic creatures.
One of Africa’s most fascinating and culturally captivating countries has only recently become more accessible to intrepid travelers. The area has seen a wave of new experiential lodges in now more easily accessed remote parts of the country, offering travelers a chance to discover the cultural and natural wonders of Ethiopia (which is home to the most UNESCO world heritage sites of any country in Africa). Within this stunning backdrop, head on safari in search of the elusive Ethiopian wolf and fully immerse yourself in the local culture, savoring coffee and wild honey at local markets. For the adventurous, sojourn through the Denakil Depression where guests can trek via camels across lakes of salt, view volcanoes light up the night sky and climb the summit of Erta Ale for the ultimate sunrise vista. For accommodations, check out the unforgettable, rustic Bale Mountain Lodge and the breathtaking Simien Lodge, the highest hotel in Africa, perched above a UNESCO world heritage site.
Skeleton Coast and Namib Desert, Namibia
With the majority of travelers venturing south of Windhoek to the iconic Sossusvlei dunes, this remote far north region of Namibia remains so vast and pristine authorities have only recently allowed visitors to the National Park. Boasting a selection of new safari camps up in the remote desert, the Skeleton Coast beckons travelers to embark on exhilarating game drives with desert-adapted lion researchers, and fly over the hauntingly beautiful coast to explore the historic wrecks. Spot rare wildlife, such as the desert-adapted Rhino and Elephant, during a stay at the new Hoanib Camp on the Skeleton Coast. This wild and untamed part of the country is also where travelers can embark on a 100km trek along a never-before-attempted route, crossing a remote section of the Namib Desert and culminating at the region’s desolate shipwrecks.
Source from: BAZAAR.