Once again, we were proud media partners of this year’s New York Times Travel Show. 2018 marked their 15th year anniversary of this fun-filled event held in New York City at the Jacob Javits Center every year.
This year from January 26-28, 2018, over 550 exhibitors representing more than 170 destinations showed up in full force to show off their latest and greatest. I love this event because of the diversity of offerings you can discover each year, from unique safaris in Africa and India to spiritual trips in Asia and Egypt to food tours in southern Europe, desert treks in the Middle East and diving expeditions in Australia. From cruising, meditation, yoga and wine to skiing, adventure treks and luxe properties, you’ll learn it all.
2018 New York Times Travel Show
As always, the New York Times Travel Show had seminars and sessions throughout the course of the event, which included globe-trotting tips from a huge variety of experts across all sectors. One of my favorite parts of the show is their cultural performances which they have on a stage close to the front of the venue.
There is also the ability to savor tastes from the world’s most delicious destinations, one of the best parts of traveling outside your comfort zone.
Cultural Performances From Around the World
I always try to catch as many of the performances as possible, largely because seeing dancers in motion and hearing cultural music is such a wonderful way to be transported back to a beautiful memory I had in a country.
New Stuff I Love
Even though you can cover the New York Times Travel Show in a day, I always find that I need more time if I want to have meaningful conversations with the people who are creating magic across the globe.
It is currently slated to be a 12 day trip and takes you through some of the so called Holy Land, including monasteries, like Saint Paul and Saint Anthony Monasteries, the Church of Zaitoun, Sakha/Kafr El Sheick, Samanoud, Abou Hinnis, the Church of Gabal El Teir, Saint Catherine Monastery and others.
In Guatemala, be awed by the colorful carpets of Holy Week, learn about the pilgrimages to the Basilica of Esquipulas, home of the Black Christ, visit the tomb of Saint Hermano Pedro and learn about the Maya rituals performed by the Xamanes.
While several American Indian tribes called Big Sky Country home for centuries, today Montana has seven Indian reservations and 12 tribes. Big Sky Country is a spiritual experience between the land and learning about ancient traditions and customs. You can also head to Dancing Spirit Ranch and walk the labyrinth. Or, simply sit in nature and meditate while you forest bathe among the trees.
Food, Wine & Photography
While there are many reasons to visit Malaysia, one of the big ones should be food. I extended my stay in Penang many years ago just to eat for an extra five days – yes, really! It’s that good — Singapore too.
I learned about a new photography workshop happening in northern Portugal by Portugal Photography Workshop, produced by Barbara Nelson. I’ve always wanted to go on a photo tour and what a better location than beautiful Portugal. I loved my time in Lisbon and the Algarve.
The Algarve offers whitewashed fishing villages on low cliffs overlooking sandy coves. The region’s western Atlantic coast and rugged interior are less developed.
The Finger Lakes region for example, offers some great wines to test (I am a fan of New York state Rieslings because they’re on the dryer side – see my foodie and wine guide) as well as a growing number of craft beer tours in upstate New York. We also loved our family trip to Lake Placid, where we spent most of our time on the water, waterskiing, canoeing, kayaking and tubing.
Beaches & Serenity
The Philippines has many stunning beaches where you can relax and get away from it all. A few spots high on my list to visit include Palawan, Cebu and Boracay. While there is plenty of culture here too (worth checking out is the Taoist Temple in Cebu City), the beaches are simply breathtaking.
Boracay is a small island in the center of the Philippine archipelago — think tropical picture postcard paradise! The island offers many pearl-colored sandy beaches lined with coconut palm trees. You can also dive and snorkel here and there are stylish wellness oases, restaurants and cafes as well.
While I still haven’t been to Tahiti, it’s high on my “must-do” list, so I always get updates from the Tahiti marketing team. It looks like there will be a new direct route from San Francisco with United starting in October.
Aruba is a magical spot too and there’s no shortage of wonderful things to do in nature here. See my Adventure & Beach Guide from my trip last year. Curacao is such a wonderful spot for R&R as well as food/wine btw – you’d be surprised.
One of my favorite spots in Central America for vibrant culture was Guatemala. I love the people, the dancing, the food, the history, the ruins, the art and more. The list goes on and there’s a wealth of things to do there.
Culturally, they have a number of archaeological sites like Tikal, the symbol of the Maya culture, El Mirador and Yaxha in Peten and more. You can discover traditions, rituals and customs of 23 ethnic groups in Chimaltenango, Huehuetenango, Totonicapan, San Marcos and more. There are also a number of museums and folklore festivals throughout the year, including the Rabin Ajau Festival in Coban, All Saints Day in Santiago and the horse races in Todo Santos.
Japan should be on everyone’s list. Even though I’ve only been to Japan once, I’d happily return again and feel I could visit once a year and not get enough of its beauty, food and culture.
Be sure to read our guides on Tohoku, Hakodate, Kyushu and Nakasendo Way. Sure, Tokyo is amazing and a must visit, Japan has so much culture and beauty throughout the country, be sure to venture north and explore.
If you think that Indonesia‘s biggest gem is Bali, think again. Sure, Bali is magical for wellness and spirituality, but for culture, exploring Java and other parts of Indonesia will surprise you. Be sure to read our guide on Off the Beaten Path Spots in Indonesia.
Louisiana in America’s South is rich with culture and we’d love to head to Cajun Country (it’s on our list for 2018-2019) to take in some of the fabulous food, culture and music down there.
You’d be shocked at how many dance halls and live music venues there are in the greater Lafayette area, from theaters that represent Rendez-Vous des Cajuns, a Zydeco Hall of Fame, Cowboys for live music and country bands. There are also some great saloons, traditional dance halls where you can kick your heals up to Zydeco, Cajun, Country and Blues and lounges where you can listen to some of the industry’s greats. Check out this site for more on the area.
Speaking of the south, the backroads of the Mississippi Delta is a place I’ve been wanting to explore for years. We hit Clarksdale a couple of years ago and loved the blues and food scene there and would most definitely return.
We love the idea of taking a back road tour to explore the music history, from DeSoto County, where you can get a taste of the biker lifestyle and then hit the road on a Harley and Greenville where there’s heritage, culture and outdoor adventure. There’s also Yazoo County which is home to the world-famous Bentonia blues, and Ubon’s Barbecue.
At this year’s New York Times Travel Show, the Czech Republic Tourism folks had an event which I sadly missed. The Czech Republic has beautiful scenery throughout the country and many medical and wellness spas worth checking out, however it is also rich in cultural heritage.
Known for its art, culture and glass (be sure to read my article on Moser Glassworks in Bohemia – it includes a video on how they make it in the factory). And, it’s capital city is magical if you haven’t been – read my Culture & Arts Guide to Prague.
I met Sarah Sockbeson who is an Artist and Penobscot Basketmaker who was educating visitors about traditional basketmaking in the Visit Maine booth. They’ll be showing off baskets in May 2018 at the upcoming Inaugural Abbe Museum Indian Market in Bar Harbor.
Tanzania isn’t just about safaris and nature, although if you venture that way, be sure to book time in the bush and hang out with giraffes and elephants – they will change your life. There’s a whole lotta culture in Southern and Eastern Africa as well.
Curious on Tanzania offer great treks for culture enthusiasts, with trips coming up to the Zanzibar Film Festival in July, an African Culinary Tour in October, and a really great music festival in February 2019, among others. Be sure to check them out for a list of fun things they are planning this year and next.
Nature & Adventure
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Africa and love wildlife, safaris and time in the bush. After all, I spent a great chunk of time in South Africa and Kenya and have driven from Cape Town to Nairobi.
There are tons of companies offering tours of course and I visited at least ten of them, but wanted to give a call out to Explore Plus Travel for some of the trips they’re offering to various parts of Africa, including Rwanda, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa. Note that we have never taken one of their tours or safaris, so can’t speak to the experience, but we loved their energy at the show.
Mara Ways Tours and Travel also offers some great trips and excursions, from national parks and conservation areas to safaris across game reserves – think Maasai Mara, Amboseli National Park, Samburu National Reserve and others. Africa Travel Holidays has more information.
Want a great nature trip for families? Check out Rawah Colorado Wilderness Ranch. Although we haven’t been, it sounds like a perfect stay for people interested in a combination of luxury and rustic. Want to go without kids in tow? Part of August and September, it’s open for adults only.
As I mentioned above, the Czech Republic offers a number of medical spas and hotels in the countryside – I have reviewed several of them in our Czech Republic section — you can also find them in our Hotels Section. See this piece on Karlovy Vary which is also a beautiful site seeing area as well.
I hung out at the Slovakia booth learning about some of their incredible spas and wellness properties as well. Eastern Europe in general is known for its medical spas and wellness hotels. For example, there’s Piestany Spa, Smrdaky Spa, Rajecke Teplice Spa, Nimnica Spa and Brusno Spa among others. Lucky Spa is a great choice if you want to bring the family — it is located at the border of two highly scenic regions in Slovakia — Orava and Liptov.
In the Guadeloupe Islands, they’re holding a natural healing retreat in March 2018, where you wake up to yoga at sunrise each day. The end of the day is their Yin and Restorative Yoga and Sunset Mindfulness Meditation. The beautiful nature of the island is so incredibly restorative. More information can be found here.
We now have a new section on Cruises and hope to expand its coverage over the next couple of years. I was able to meet up with some of the top cruise companies, both on the salty sea and down some of the most infamous and historical rivers. I’ve personally never been on a river cruise and have always wanted to go, even before it started becoming so popular in the last few years.
Cunard will be adding a fourth ship to its fleet this year. Other news from them includes event cruises that celebrate the worlds of fashion, astronomy, genealogy and more. In 2019, Cunard will offer routes to Alaska as well as a new night sail from Tokyo to Vancouver, which will explore northern Japan as well as the Russian district of Sakhalin before heading to Alaska and British Columbia.
Crystal is working on a number of redesigns to its Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity ships. They’ve also added river cruises. Joining the Crystal Mozart, all four Crystal river ships offer butler service for every room category, plush king-sized beds, walk-in closets, dual vanity in the bathrooms and more. The Crystal River fleet is expanding and they offer amazing itineraries along the Danube, Rhine and Main Rivers.
Princess Cruises will debut several new and returning itineraries in 2018 and 2019. There are new 12 day sailings to Alaska round trip from Los Angeles and new in 2018, Island Princess will feature calls to Icy Strait Point, a remote wilderness experience.
For the first time in four years, Princess will offer summer sailings to the Caribbean and new in 2019 will be cruise offerings to Greenland and Iceland. We love Iceland, so be sure to check out our Iceland section for great stories and coverage of my trip and from other writers.
I also met with the folks at Scenic and Emerald. Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours offers both ocean and river cruises and Emerald Waterways is known for its truly all-inclusive river cruises and won an Editors Picks from Cruise Critic for best value in 2017. Their custom built Star-Ships offer more space per guest than most other vessels on Europe’s waterways.
Ama Waterways is on my hot list as I’ve always wanted to review one of their river cruises. Known for luxury cabins and great itineraries, you can take a river cruise with them to a number of fun destinations in Europe, Asia and beyond. They also offer wellness cruises and given our strong focus on wellness, we’d love to experience and review one.
Royal Caribbean has two ships going to Cuba in 2018 — Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas. The added sailings and new experiences at the ports of Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos on the southeast coast offer some fun options for adventure seekers and those interested in Cuba’s deep history and culture.
There’s no shortage of luxury hotels around the globe, including in cities you’d least expect to find one. On our radar currently is the Salamander Hotel line, which has many beautiful properties in Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Virginia.
I also learned about Al Bait in Sharjah, which is a 53 room luxury hotel spread over 10,000 square meters in the United Arab Emirates. Its rooms, restaurant, spa and wellness facilities are incorporated into heritage buildings that are more than a half century old.
It is slated to open this year and is part of the Emirate’s largest and most ambitious historical preservation and restoration project known as Heart of Sharjah. The heritage project – planned over a 15-year period and targeted for completion by 2025 – seeks to revitalize the district and introduce travelers to its storied past.
I also got an update on the latest and greatest from Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, but still haven’t stayed one of their properties. Outrigger Hotels is Honolulu-based but its hotels, condominiums and vacation resort properties are scattered throughout Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region. We’d love to review one in the future.
I also learned about Elegant Hotels, a luxury collection in the Caribbean. They have properties in St. Lucia and several properties in Barbados, including Treasure Beach which is relatively new. I still haven’t been to Barbados so would love to review a couple of their hotels in the near future. Hodges Bay Resort & Spa in Antigua is slated to open in July 2018.
Networking & Great Italian Dinners
Each and every year, whether I’m synching up with old friends in the industry or making connections with new ones, there’s always a random dinner that evolves.
And, at least once during the long weekend, we land at a classic Italian restaurant, sometime in SOHO, Little Italy or the lower east side, and sometimes in mid-town. While NYC restaurants are often over priced, you can find some real gems and homemade pasta, which makes it easy for a large group, some of which may be vegetarian.
New York City by Night in January
I’d add that while there’s no doubt that January can be bitterly cold in the Big Apple, the skies are often crystal clear at night, making for great night views from roof deck bars.
It’s even lovely from the street. Note a view I had on a leisurely walk home from a restaurant one evening and this was taken on my iPhone.
Where to Stay
I’ve been to so many shows and conferences over the years at the Javits and stayed in dozens of different hotels. There’s a Doubletree, a Courtyard Marriott, a Hilton (Parc 55) and a Wyndham nearby in the lower priced options of renowned brands, but if you want to go luxury, there’s not a lot of choices unless you cab it, which is a hassle if the show is big enough where the cab lines can ruin an evening.
We stayed at the Renaissance New York Mid-Town during last year’s New York Times Travel Show and it is a lovely luxe stay (especially if you get a suite which we had — see our review) and although it’s not around the corner from the Javits, it’s still walkable especially if the weather is reasonable.
Also worth checking out is the YOTEL in the budget business travel category (though we typically review luxury properties as regular readers know) however this new concept hotel which is more known in urban airports, is growing in popularity. And, most importantly, it’s a 7-8 minute walk from the Javits. See our review. Below is the view I had from my room on the 26th floor.
For more information about the New York Times Travel Show, visit their website. Each year, we have ten or so passes we can give away to the New York Times Travel Show, so if interested in attending next year and can make it to New York City, let us know.
Be sure to check out our coverage from last year of the New York Times Travel Show and other events. Links below.
Other Great Articles You May Enjoy
- The New York Times Travel Show 2017
- The New York Times Travel Show 2016
- Wellness Travel Makes a Splash at the New York Times Travel Show
- The New York Times Travel Show 2015
- The 2017 Travel & Adventure Show for Nature & Adventure Enthusiasts
- The 2016 Travel & Adventure Show