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1. Bags with brains

From suitcases funded like start-ups to bags that can be tracked from your phone, luggage went high tech in 2015. The BlueSmart, which comes complete with a device-charging battery and digital scale, has a companion app that syncs its GPS location to your phone. The Space Case (due out in early 2016) adds a Bluetooth speaker, turning your carry-on into the ultimate mobile entertainment system. Big names are also on the case: Samsonite and Samsung are working on bags that can be tracked anywhere worldwide.

2. Accommodations with a conscience

New hotels are being good neighbours by joining forces with their community. At the Skwachàys Lodge in Vancouver, owned and operated by the Vancouver Native Housing Society, all profits go toward subsidizing the 24 live-work studios that occupy the first four floors of this six-storey building. In Newfoundland, architect Todd Saunders worked with local community members and international designers to ensure that the Fogo Island Inn was true to its origins. The inn also provides much-needed employment for islanders, and its profits go back into the Shorefast Foundation, directly benefiting the local economy.

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3. Sleep-inducing hotels

In 2015, getting beauty sleep while travelling was never easier. In Quebec City, Le Monastère des Augustines offers sleep regeneration and wellness packages that include a holistic health consultation, reflexology and a neuro-energy massage. At the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, the bedside radios use quantum harmonics technology to help relieve stress and insomnia by synchronizing brain hemispheres through sound. And at London’s Corinthia, you can sleep like a queen (literally) on a royally appointed Hypnos bed in a soundproof, blacked-out room.

The penthouse of Freehand Chicago

4. Hostel takeover

Haute hostels – a mainstay of the hospitality landscape in Europe for nearly a decade – are making a move stateside. Generator, a British brand with design hostels scattered across 10 European hubs, is about to close the deal on a building on Collins Avenue in Miami, a five-minute walk from Freehand Miami. One of the only U.S.-owned names in the high-end hostel game, Freehand just opened its second location this summer in Chicago.

5. Faster food

Airport restaurants are becoming automated to ensure that the passenger experience before and between flights is quick and seamless. Travellers can now both order and pay using secure iPads and other tablets instead of waiting for dining staff to take an order or wrap up a meal. Such devices, which also allow customers to browse the web and check on flight status, are now in use at Wondertree in London’s Heathrow, at Sakae Sushi in Singapore’s Changi and at Corso in Toronto’s Pearson.

6. Small-batch sips

More travellers are touring and buying from small-batch vintners and distillers who create singular and sophisticated products with distinctive flavours. One of our favourites that made its mark in 2015 is France’s Ruppert-Leroy, which produces a slightly tart champagne from a single parcel of land, infusing low-dosage bubbles with subtle notes of peach and pair. Also try Quebec’s Les Subversifs, who tinkered with gin’s traditional mix of dry botanicals and added parsnip to their Piger Henricus, creating an artisanal gin that has a slightly bitter taste and a floral aroma. 

The Guangzhou Opera House (Photo: Eugene Lim)

7. Second cities, Chinese-style

While Beijing and Shanghai are long-established trade and travel destinations, 2015 saw an increase in popularity for China’s second cities. Guangzhou is primarily known as a business hub, but its speedy growth has set a new standard in luxury and sport travel. You can book a plush stay at the brand new Park Hyatt Hotel or catch a game of the increasingly popular Evergrande Football Club team, which continues to attract top football stars from Europe to its matches. In Wuhan, visit the design-forward Wanlin Art Museum, which opened this past May, or hit up the year-old Wanda Movie Theme Park – a $1.14-billion indoor amusement centre built to compete with Disney and Universal.

8. Home cooking

Newly established and increasingly popular apps, such as Feastly, EatWith and CookApp, let travelling foodies avoid tourist-catering restaurants and overbooked hot spots by seeking out local amateur or professional chefs. Users can reserve a seat at a stranger’s dinner table to enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal (usually paired with wine) in the company of other sociable gourmets. Some apps work the other way too, so the culinary minded can sign up to host dinners in their homes.

9. Plush rides

Today’s professionals are less interested in slow-paced, leisurely sports like golf and more likely to spend their vacation on two wheels. Cycling not only lets you keep fit without logging hours at the gym, but it’s also a convenient way to destination-hop when abroad. Book a luxury tour with Butterfield and Robinson, Trek Travel or DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co., which lead multistop bike rides in destinations around the world – from California to Costa Rica – complete with top-notch boutique accommodations and Michelin-starred dining experiences.

10. Deck the food halls

The latest food halls aim to bring together a collection of the best in local retail and restaurants in one location. Megamarkets like Eataly (in Chicago and New York, with a new location at the World Trade Center in the works) have seen immense success in recent years. Atlanta’s Ponce City Market, in the landmark Sears, Roebuck & Company building, has an outdoor bar in a converted train boxcar and spots to buy everything from cocktail bitters to biltong. Portland Mercado is the Oregon city’s first Latino public market, showcasing Cuban, Colombian and Argentinian flavours. And at Markthal Rotterdam in the Netherlands, designed by SuperDutch architects MDRDV to look like a giant horseshoe, you’re bound to come across some lucky finds.



Getting There

Air Canada is Canada's largest domestic and international airline, serving more than 200 airports on six continents. Air Canada provides scheduled passenger service directly to 63 airports in Canada, 52 in the United States and 86 in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America.

Comments… or add another

Gail Brewer

Friday, December 11th 2015 11:09
I am getting more and more clients yearly interested in adventure travel..very exciting!
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