A look ahead to 2022

Every twist and turn of the COVID saga can leave your head spinning, and while headlines about the omicron variant can be deflating, there’s good news too, with Merck and Pfizer pill treatments coming out that should help reduce COVID to an epidemic nuisance rather than the fierce and novel virus it has been. We’re always here to help answer any questions you may have about the latest travel requirements for your destination. Fortunately, there are new places opening their borders to tourism this month and in 2022 that will allow us to once again explore much of the world. With each protocol change that comes out, it’s abundantly clear that being fully vaccinated will open more doors for travelers.

Just in the last few weeks, places as far-flung as Fiji, India, the Cayman Islands, Madagascar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cuba, Grenada and Uruguay have begun welcoming foreign visitors. There’s a growing list of countries set to join them in 2022.

New Zealand has announced plans to reopen to fully vaccinated visitors from April 30, though among the protocols is a weeklong quarantine, so be prepared for that if you’re planning to head to that part of the world. Depending on how reopening goes, COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said, the quarantine requirement could be removed for visitors from certain countries throughout the year, so that’s something to keep an eye on for those longing to be 100% pure New Zealand.

Hong Kong is working on opening around mid-2022, making sure the densely populated metropolis is equipped to keep its citizens safe. “We maybe need half a year or so to develop an adequate vaccination rate, especially among the older people,” Lam Ching-choi, a member of the government’s working group on vaccinations, said in November. “Hopefully by then, we have opened up the border with China and we might have conditions favorable to open up the border to other places.”

Already testing a pilot reopening program on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia plans to fully open to vaccinated visitors in time to ring in the new year. As of mid-November, more than 75% of the country’s residents had been vaccinated, prompting hopes the full reopening could come before the Jan. 1 target. Malaysia has already opened a travel lane with neighboring Singapore so fully vaccinated travelers can pass between the nations without quarantine.

We look forward to many more borders reopening in the year to come, and we’ll keep you updated on announcements as they come. Given the still-high demand for travel in 2022 and forgiving cancellation policies, we still advise that if you have a destination in mind, you get something booked as soon as possible to secure the space. Stefany Di Manno Ceccato, Co-Founder/Dream Travel Designer at DMC Travel Tailor will help guide you through the process and recommend the right travel insurance to protect your investment. There are sure to be more travel changes in 2022, here’s hoping it’s mostly good news.

Big Events Coming in 2022

It’s been far from perfect, but we’ve been able to enjoy a lot more activities in 2021 than we did the year before. And while COVID is going to be part of life for a while, even more events are poised to happen in 2022. There can still be setbacks, such as more variants and cancellations like those of the Munich Christmas markets. That’s why travel insurance is so important. But there’s much to look forward to in the coming year.

The Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany, is scheduled to go from May to October after a two-year postponement. Interestingly enough, the play was started as a way to give thanks after a 17th-century plague receded. The tradition will continue with a hearkening back and a looking forward after another plague has disrupted the flow of life.

After a year delay, the Tokyo Summer Olympics went ahead, and just a few months later, from Feb. 4-20 the Winter Olympics will take place in and around Beijing. Athletes from 80 nations will compete in more than 100 events, with strict COVID protocols and no shortage of political intrigue surrounding the games. Beijing will be the first city to host both Summer and Winter Olympics, having staged the 2008 summer games.

On the heels of last summer’s continental championships, the World Cup is slated for its original dates in November and December in Qatar. The traditional Northern Hemisphere summer dates of soccer’s quadrennial world championship moved to avoid the worst of the desert heat. Temperatures should be in the 70s and 60s Fahrenheit during the tournament, far better than the 100-plus that would have greeted players and fans in July. Some lucky nation will take home a gift to remember from the final, which is slated for a week before Christmas.

Even the small island nation of New Zealand, which has been extremely careful about COVID,  has announced plans for fully vaccinated visitors to come starting April 30, though they will still have to quarantine for a week before being able to explore. More borders should open to travelers as well. Little by little, country by country, event by event, 2022 will usher in more of a return to a global world.

This year, we’re thankful for the grind, but you’d better book soon

We are over the moon to see many of our favorite destinations reopen to tourism this year, and we’re very much looking forward to more countries reopening next year. We’re willing to bet there’s a place or two you’re excited about returning to or visiting for the first time in 2022. The thing is, so is everybody else.

If you’ve tried booking a trip only to find it’s already sold out, you know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t, you wouldn’t believe how quickly things like cruises and group tours are selling out. In a normal year, you could book your summer vacation or festive trip a couple months out and not run into many issues. As you’ve probably guessed, this is not a normal year.

For summer 2022 and even for next year’s holiday season, the time to start planning your travel is now. Space is only going to get tighter, and 2022 is on pace to smash travel records as people go on the last two years’ worth of missed vacations in epic fashion. Revenge travel is real, and demand is sky-high. So, while you’re gathered with family and close friends at the Thanksgiving table, it’s a good idea to discuss the trips you want to take in the coming year. You don’t want to miss out.

With COVID entry protocols, passport renewal logjams and places filling up fast, there are so many more moving parts to going on your dream journey than you remember from the pre-pandemic era. The value that a good travel advisor brings has never been more important. We will do everything in our power to ensure your next trip is as spectacular as you’ve imagined these last couple of years. But you’d be doing us and yourself a favor if you start the process now.

We are so, so thankful to still be here, making dreams come true for our travelers. And we are ever thankful for you. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to spend our days doing what we love, even when it becomes challenging and complicated. There are countless unforgettable moments ahead. The time to start making them a reality is now.

Destination Spotlight: Israel

Israel has seen many civilizations pass through in its long history. Jerusalem is home to some of the most holy sites for three world religions. Tel Aviv is a vibrant, modern city that also houses UNESCO World Heritage neighborhoods. In short, there’s something for just about any interest in Israel.

A tour of the ancient city of Jerusalem is a journey through time. In the space of a few hundred you can visit a treasure trove of ancient and sacred sites. The Western Wall, the last remnant of the Temple complex, is routinely visited by devout Jews offering prayers. Atop the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock houses some of the earliest Islamic art and the spot where tradition holds the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. Not far away is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christian tradition holds Jesus was buried, and the Garden of Gethsemane, where he spent his last night on Earth in prayer. Below the Temple Mount runs a series of tunnels and archaeological excavations that unearth many aspects of life in scriptural times. Less than an hour outside the city is Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity.

In the country’s desert interior, the Negev contains unique landscapes, including at 1.8 million years, the oldest chunk of the Earth’s surface yet discovered. At the southern end, you’ll come to the resort city of Eilat, Israel’s outlet to the Red Sea. In the north of the desert in the ancient citadel of Masada, where Jewish rebels made a last stand against the Romans. The fortress overlooks the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the Earth’s surface at 1,200 feet below sea level and so salinated that most people float easily in it. At the top end of the sea lies Jericho, perhaps the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, with signs of settlement dating back 11,000 years.

In the north of Israel, Christians can explore Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, sites of Jesus’ upbringing and most of his Biblical ministry. The Mediterranean coast features the Crusader stronghold of Acre and the ancient city and modern cruise port of Haifa. Tel Aviv stands out amongst so much history as a cosmopolitan city, a nightlife capital that’s a hub of LGBTQ culture and home to the most vegans per capita in the world. Tel Aviv has some of the best beaches, urban or otherwise, in the world, and you never have to look far for a party.

King David Hotel Jerusalem

The preferred hotel for world leaders and celebrities, and the official venue for state occasions, the King David Hotel Jerusalem offers unrivaled views of Old and New Jerusalem. The Canaanite art deco rooms are legendary; guest rooms are warm and inviting (the best view is from the renovated rooms on the top two floors facing the Old City). Lovely gardens surround the lawns with adult and children’s swimming pools, a tennis court, and a play area. Dining in the richly appointed La Regence restaurant is a classic experience, as is the complimentary generous Israeli buffet breakfast. Enjoy free Wi-Fi in all rooms and public areas.

Beresheet

The Negev Desert covers nearly half of Israel, but perhaps no stretch is as dazzling as the dozen acres that encircle Beresheet. Built on the rim of Makhtesh Ramon – the world’s largest crater – the hotel masterfully blends into the silent landscape, with a scattering of one- and two-story buildings housing 111 contemporary rooms (be sure to book one with a balcony or with your own pool overlooking the crater). The gourmet restaurant, which serves locally sourced, organic cuisine, appears to be suspended above Makhtesh Ramon. Explore the crater on a safari or cycling tour, or simply appreciate its grandeur from the infinity pool.

The Norman, Tel Aviv

Expect a colorful stay at The Norman, Tel Aviv, set in the heart of the world-famous White City. It’s just seven miles from the airport to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of historic Bauhaus buildings, two of which comprise this inspired, 50-room hotel; look for original elements against an eclectic backdrop of hand-picked textiles, furnishings, and contemporary Israeli art. Check out the buzz in The Library Bar before dining on Japanese tapas. Take in stunning city views from the rooftop infinity-edge pool.

David Citadel

With an exceptional location, uniting ancient Jerusalem and new, the David Citadel gives you unequaled access to the holy city’s unique treasures. The hotel has 385 freshly renovated rooms and suites, with most rooms featuring a terrace with a breathtaking view of the Old City. Dine at the hotel’s famed terrace, where guests enjoy an exclusive Jerusalem outdoor view. The hotel spa offers rejuvenating treatments and a state-of-the-art gym with an outdoor pool heated year-round. The award-winning Executive Lounge is a perfect setting for leisure or business gatherings.

COVID-19 entry protocols

Travellers who have been vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Johnson and Johnson or Sinopharm vaccines within the last six months will be granted entry into Israel.

Additionally, travelers who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months will be allowed to enter Israel with proof of a negative PCR test performed at least 11 days prior to entering Israel. Travelers who have recovered from COVID and have taken at least one dose of a WHO-approved vaccine will also be admitted.

A return to France, which is just as lovely as you remember

Paris is always a good idea. Even now though you might notice some COVID precautions, and some more bicycles thanks to new bike lanes, it’s as always an excellent time to visit Paris.

“France is back, and Paris was buzzing,” says Largay Travel advisor Lydia Ganz, who recently led a group of advisors on their own tour de France.

The process for obtaining a COVID pass is very simple if you’re fully vaccinated, Ganz said, and it’s your ticket into restaurants and shops. You’ll also need advance reservations to enter museums, which still have limited capacity.

But Paris is still Paris. “It’s the same city,” Ganz said. “It didn’t feel any different.”

The hotels — including the stylish Fauchon hotel, with iconic Mansard roof, Eiffel Tower views and proximity to the Champs-Élysées — are almost completely booked, so you’ll want to plan ahead.

In about three or three and a half hours on the TGV, you can be down to Avignon and immersed in the simple pleasures of Provence. Avignon was the home of the popes for most of the 14th century, and the medieval city center including their palace, cathedral and a 13th-century bridge across the Rhône forms a UNESCO World Heritage site.

About 25 miles to the south in Les Baux, the Carrières de Lumières is a former that now hosts art shows, with famous paintings projected onto the ancient rocks and set to music (through Jan. 16 works from Cézanne and Kandinsky are featured). Just up the road is Saint-Rémy, where van Gogh was a patient at Saint-Paul Asylum and painted some of his best-known works, including “Starry Night.”

As you make your way to the Côte d’Azur, Relais & Châteaux properties such as Domaine de Fontenille and Château de Fonscolombe provide beautiful country respites to enjoy the sweet fresh air of the South of France.

The romance of the Riviera is impossible to escape in Antibes, especially if you’re staying at the Hôtel Belles Rives, where F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “Tender is the Night,” and visit the castle Picasso once used as a studio and is now a museum showcasing his work. Art from many periods is on display in the collection at Le Negresco in Nice, itself a work of art and monument to the Lost Generation and others who have found solace in a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais.

With the sunshine on your face and the sea breeze all around, you’ll know for yourself that France is back, and it’s always a good idea.

Destination Spotlight: Thailand

Having already reintroduced tourism to the popular islands of Phuket and Ko Samui, Thailand will allow fully vaccinated travelers to go anywhere in the country. Visitors must present a negative COVID test to enter the country, then test again on arrival and spend one night in a government-approved hotel to await results. When that test comes back negative, travelers are free to roam the entirety of this enchanted land.

A journey through Thailand encompasses spectacular beaches on the islands in the Andaman Sea and in the Gulf of Thailand, floating markets in Bangkok, beautiful temples and majestic elephants. It’s a spiritual journey even if you eschew the temples and worship only at the stalls of street food vendors.

You fly into Bangkok, a city of approximately 11 million residents, the central hub of the country, full of bustling streets and waterways along the Chao Phraya River. Must-sees are the Grand Palace, built in the 1780s when King Rama I moved the capital to what is now known as Bangkok, and the adjacent Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which houses a 15th-century statue of the Buddha (actually made of jasper) that has long been a symbol of the nation.

About 60 miles outside the city, a series of small canals leads you right into the heart of the busy Damnoen Saduak floating market. Vendors sell colorful fruits and vegetables from their boats, and you can grab a snack of noodles from one of the many cooks making street food, or should we say boat food.

South of the capital, Phuket, Ko Samui and the Phi Phi islands attract beachgoers seek out the clear waters and otherworldly landscapes. At times, the islands have become too popular, leading to a degradation of the beauty that brought people there in the first place. The Thai government has taken great care in recent years to restore and preserve the natural environment, at times closing certain islands to tourism.

Northern Thailand forms part of the Golden Triangle, where its border intersects with Laos and Myanmar. This is the land that gives us the famed Thai cuisine we know so well, and you can learn to make your favorites with a cooking lesson in classic Thai cooking. It’s also home to temples such as Wat Chedi Luang, which hundreds of years ago housed the Emerald Buddha that now resides in Bangkok. And of course, it’s the land of massive elephants, and you can walk alongside these gentle giants as they lumber through ancient forests in this golden land.

COVID-19 entry protocols

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would like to confirm that Thailand is all set to welcome fully vaccinated foreign visitors, including returning Thais and foreign residents, from the approved countries to enter the Kingdom by air with no quarantine requirements from 1 November, 2021.

  1. A Certificate of Entry (COE) or a proof of registration for entry Thailand via specified platform. Currently, the COE can be applied online https://coethailand.mfa.go.th/.

  2. A Medical Certificate with an RT-PCR lab result indicating that COVID-19 is not detected issued no more than 72 hours before travelling.

    • A Medical Certificate of Recovery is also required from those having a lab result with COVID-19 detected to show that that have recovered from COVID-19 no later than 3 months.

  3. An insurance policy, with coverage clearly identified as no less than US$50,000, which should cover the cost of the treatment and other medical expenses associated with being infected with COVID-19, including in-patient hospitalisation for the whole duration in Thailand. *Except for Thai citizens who are entitled to the national health insurance system.*

  4. A payment confirmation for no less than a 1-night stay upon arrival at the approved quarantine facilities (Alternative Quarantine – AQ, Organisation Quarantine – OQ, or Alternative Hospital Quarantine – AHQ), or SHA Plus-certified hotel.

    • The prepayment should cover both the 1-night accommodation, the required RT-PCR COVID-19 test, and an Antigen Test Kit (ATK).

  5. A Certificate of Vaccination (fully vaccinated).

    • For those fully vaccinated, proof includes a Certificate of Vaccination with a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) (see here) or the World Health Organisation (WHO) (see here) no less than 14 days before their travel date.

    • and a Certificate of Vaccination with at least one dose of the approved vaccine at least 14 days before their travel date.

    • Travellers under 12 years of age, travelling with their parents or guardians, are exempt from this vaccination requirement, but must have a Medical Certificate with an RT-PCR lab result indicating that COVID-19 is not detected issued no more than 72 hours before travelling.

  6. Undergo the entry screening (health screening and Immigration procedures) upon arrival at Thailand’s International Airport, and submit all the required documentation to the officials.

  7. Then proceed directly by the approved airport transfer to the pre-arranged COVID-19 test centre, or the reserved accommodation and undergo the required RT-PCR COVID-19 test on Day 0-1.

    • Travellers must download and install the specified alert application (MorChana), and must wait within the accommodation only for the test result, which should be available within the day.

    • If testing negative for COVID-19, travellers can go anywhere in Thailand

Where to stay

Rosewood Bangkok

Rosewood Bangkok’s visually striking design is inspired by the wai, the graceful Thai hand gesture of greeting. Such creative, cultural expression is emphasized in every element of this contemporary hotel and its 158 residential-style accommodations, which include a host of one-of-a-kind specialty suites and houses featuring plunge pools and expansive terraces. Dining options include the 19th-floor Nan Bei, serving authentic Chinese cuisine and sweeping views; an elegant European brasserie; and the upscale G&O café, with a farm-to-table ethos. The spa calms with ancient Thai healing rituals.

Banyan Tree Samui

Escape from all traces of the outside world at Banyan Tree Samui. Set above sapphire-blue Lamai Bay, the resort occupies its own secluded cove, so you can snuggle in a beachside cabana with nary another soul in sight. The 88 contemporary Thai villas are staggered about jungled terraces for optimal, gasp-inducing views; each has its own pool. Take an electric buggy up to Saffron restaurant for a spin on local cuisine; for added romance, reserve a private pavilion on the beach. Aquatic adventures include kayaking, windsurfing, and stand-up paddleboarding; or go snorkeling on the house reef of the resort’s private bay.

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort

Perched on a jungle ridge in northern Thailand overlooking the border with Myanmar and Laos, Anantara Golden Triangle immerses you in once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Wake up with Elephants in our unique transparent Jungle Bubbles. Enjoy the “Discovery package,” offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as round-trip transportation from Chiang Rai airport and an opium-museum visit. Choose your activities: walking with elephants, a three-country tour, a spa treatment, or a cooking class. Rest in luxurious accommodations: a Deluxe Three-Country View Room, Three-Country View Suite, or Three-Country View Family Suite.

Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai

A haven of well-being set in a valley of rice fields, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai offers 64 elegant pavilions with outdoor decks, as well as 23 residences ranging from one to four bedrooms, and 12 one-bedroom pool villas, each with gardens and a private pool. Inspired by the social harmony of Thailand, The Spa offers rituals based on ancient native herbs, spices, and oils. Indulge in private dining at the Orchid Nursery or a culinary journey at Khao, Rim Tai Kitchen, or Terraces. Wellness experiences, ranging from active to cultural, include lessons with an in-house yogi, rice planting, and cycling around Mae Rim Valley.