January is typically a month of fresh starts and new beginnings, most often characterized by New Year's resolutions. But this year, instead of grumbling about eating less or quitting smoking, we'd rather focus our mental energies on doing something we know we can achieve: planning trips to places we most want to go in 2005.
There are plenty of new hotels from which to choose. Two resorts that caught our eye in the U.S. are The Alluvian in Greenwood, Miss., and the new El Monte Sagrado, an eco-friendly resort, in Taos, N.M. Mississippi is an overlooked destination, but with the opening of a new boutique hotel in the heart of blues country, we expect that to change. Potential guests should try to plan their visit around the legendary B.B. King's annual concert. Taos is always a popular destination, but the new El Sagrado resort goes beyond just pampering to offer a cooking school, as well as proximity to a huge array of activities.
Whether you prefer small boutique resorts or larger chains, there are also a handful of new accommodations to consider in the Caribbean. The Ritz-Carlton, a division of Marriott International, is set to open a new resort in the Cayman Islands later this year. Highlights will include a restaurant from Eric Ripert of New York City's four-star Le Bernadin, as well as a Greg Norman-designed golf course.
Barbuda--the smaller half of the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, and part of the British Commonwealth--is coming back into the spotlight thanks to the opening of The Beach House, a stylish--but casual--21-room resort. The island of Barbuda offers some of the best diving in the Caribbean, with over 200 shipwrecks to explore.
If you prefer to travel to an even more exotic destination, consider Oman, which is generating a lot of buzz. If you've already visited Dubai and want something more low-key, Oman offers miles of beaches and scuba diving, as well as souks and ancient monuments. With the opening of The Chedi, Muscat now has its first ultra-luxury boutique hotel. Likewise if you've already been on safari and are looking for something new, Camp Jabulani in South Africa offers elephant safaris, which give visitors an up-close look at the region's wildlife.
These are just a few of the new hotels around the world which have caught our eye--and our imagination. We hope it sparks yours as well.