Five Trendsetters on Their Most Anticipated 2023 Travel Destinations
The old’s been rung out, the new’s been rung in. We’re now all looking out on the year ahead, thinking about what it might hold, and where it might take us. This latter question, we realize, is quite literal for a lot of people, particularly with the tide turning on travel restrictions and peace of mind slowly being restored to the masses. 2023 is forecast to be the year when, for better or worse, travel will make a full return to its pre-pandemic patterns.
To get an idea of what this rebound might look like on an individual level, we surveyed five of our frequent-flyer friends—Daphne Seybold, co-CEO and CMO of Sky High Farm Universe; writer and journalist Mark Ellwood, editor-at-large of Robb Report; travel expert David Prior, co-founder of the travel platform Prior; architect Stephanie Goto; and stylist Jessica Willis, fashion director at The Cut—about their most anticipated destinations this year.
From the Gion district of Kyoto, to the coastline of Oaxaca, to the alpine landscapes of the Himalayas, the locations they picked reveal two trends that seem to have taken hold during the pandemic: a seeking out of total novelty and wonder, as well as a desire to return to familiar places—ones that evoke a sense of home—but that may have been out of reach during the tumult of the last three years.
Here, Daphne, Mark, David, Stephanie, and Jessica on the places they most hope to venture to this year.
Daphne Seybold, co-CEO and CMO, Sky High Farm Universe
“I had the good fortune of visiting Oaxaca, Mexico not that long ago, and it really stuck with me as a place where there’s an amazing cross section of cultural activities, but that also offers R&R and a reprieve from the daily grind. I spent time in Oaxaca City, and there are a lot of very famous squares there—zócalos, as they call them, where they sell all of their renowned arts and crafts—and there are a lot of architectural and historical landmarks there, too.
When I travel, I don’t like to be siloed away from the activity in the city. It’s really important for me to go and absorb the sights, the sounds, and also the local food. I don’t really shy away from trying it all—I think it’s really important for it to be an immersive experience.
In Oaxaca, there’s Puerto Escondido, which is the main coastal town, or city, if you will, and if you travel a little further south, there’s an area called Mazunte, which I was very fortunate to stay in. It’s actually somewhere my husband and I are looking at staying at again, but in one of the sister properties. There’s a house there called Casa Chicatana. It’s this beautifully designed single-family house by Ignacio Urquiza, and it’s ensconced into the side of the mountain, looking down onto the beach side. There’s a private swimming pool—it’s an open-air experience, very much nestled in nature. It was really pretty spectacular, and the whole structure is yours. The experience is wonderful because you’re living amidst it all, but then also, the home provides a chef, and there’s a staff on site that prepares delicious local fare.
About a two-hour drive from Mazunte is a hotel called Hotel Escondido, near Casa Wabi, which is a Tadao Ando–designed cultural center. It’s this beautiful, sprawling exhibition space with various installations from various artists, and with primary structure that Ando designed in the format that we’re used to from him. Just down the street, I had a wonderful experience that I’d definitely like to return to. It was an omakase restaurant called Kakurega, and it’s in this thatched-roof hut. It’s open-air, with about twelve seats—and the chef there [Keisuke Harada] is Japanese. There’s this really skilled blending of flavors of Japanese omakase with the local sort of fare and ingredients. There’s a lot in that whole area that is pretty special, and that feels somewhat untouched and untapped. It’s been preserved beautifully as a cultural center, and really maintains its natural beauty.”
Stephanie Goto, architect
“I really think it’s back to what’s familiar, and for me this year, that means Japan. Certainly, I know Japan is on everyone’s list, but this trip is personal for me. During the pandemic, I created my first project in Japan, in Kyoto. It’s opening, actually, as we speak. I designed the Jean-Georges restaurant inside a modern nine-room luxury inn, The Shinmonzen, designed by Tadao Ando, with whom I worked with on a project in New York fourteen years ago. This April, I will return to Japan, both to see my project, but also to go back to my heritage and maybe to discover things from a newfound perspective. I’ll also be visiting with my godson and his entire family, so it will be a big return to the home country.
I’m most excited to immerse myself back into the core of Kyoto, where my project is, along the Shirakawa River in Gion, the heart of Kyoto’s historic geisha district, and also to visit my favorite Tofukuji Temple and the magical gardens of Shigemori Mirei. The scale of the traditional architecture, the foot bridges, the textures, the details, and the scents all evoke a unique Japan-ness that cannot be replicated anywhere. Seeing the craftsmen and watching their hands working with materials from nature, of nature—that’s what the heart of Japan is to me.
I’m also looking forward to visiting the studio of Takuro Kuwata, whose work I collect. And I’ll be heading just three hours north, to Tatayama in Toyama prefecture, to spend time with my dear friend Richard Geoffroy, the former chef de cave of Dom Pérignon, who has created a sake brewery there for his new sake brand, IWA. I also hope to travel with my godson to Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. I grew up going there when I was about his age, and it reminds me of my grandparents who lived there. A childhood taste memory is the haskap berry confections from Morimoto. The berry is a type of honeysuckle that tastes like blueberry, raspberry, and rhubarb. I used to ride my bike there to buy them. Now you can travel to Hokkaido by bullet train in about four hours. My memories of Hokkaido are of its incredible natural beauty, its sense of openness, and of course, the produce and the seafood. It’s really the elemental qualities of Japan that I’m looking forward to more than the newest and the greatest—just going back to my ancestor’s heritage. It’s really a homecoming, to reconnect but most importantly to rediscover Japan’s true beauty.”
Mark Ellwood, writer and journalist
“The place that I’m most excited to visit is somewhere I’ve never been, and I admit that with pride and shame in equal measure: Mallorca. Fascinating island. To Europeans, it’s a real shorthand for ‘fly and flop.’ Brits go there for guaranteed sun and package holidays. But there’s a whole lot more to it. It’s really a bit like Tuscany on the interior, and it’s got a secret, very high-end side. Next year, United is adding a direct flight from Newark to Palma, which is the main airport in Mallorca, which unlocks it for most of the East Coast in quite an easy way.
Also, two amazing new hotels are coming. One is called Son Net, which is basically an outpost of Finca Cortesin in Andalucía—it’s going to be a seventeenth-century estate turned into this glamorous country getaway. Then Virgin—Richard Branson—has got Son Bunyola, which is an old finca on some eight hundred acres, that they’re adding new buildings to and really building out. So we’ve got two new luxury hotels coming, a new direct flight, and a real sense that Mallorca is on the cusp of getting a different reputation. Menorca, which is its sister island, has already been commandeered by the gallery Hauser & Wirth—they have a spot there. Definitely sort of literati.
I really want to stay at both of those hotels I mentioned. I’m not super outdoorsy, but this mountain range called Serra de Tramuntana is a real biking hub, and I would really like to take a bike ride through there. Mallorca is really about the countryside the same way that Tuscany has fabulous food, country hotels, and the sense of all those package holidays with sardine-like sun loungers on the beach. I think Mallorca is going to be extra buzzy and busy this summer, and I want to be part of it.”
Jessica Willis, stylist and fashion director, The Cut
“I really want to go to Tokyo. I went there probably eight years ago, when I was in a very different place financially. It was my first time going, and it was amazing. There were so many different islands in Japan that I wanted to travel to, particularly the art island [Naoshima], that has [several museums designed by] Tadao Ando that I wasn’t able to visit. So now, I want to go back and do a re-do. Now that it's open, Japan is my number one spot to go back to.
The first time I went, I wasn’t able to travel around—I had to stay just in Tokyo. So this time, I want to go around the countryside in particular and visit some of the onsen spas. My really good friends Joanna and Monique [Kawecki], who run the travel magazine Ala Champ, host me when I go there—they’re Australian and moved to Japan and just know everything about everything there, and they put me on to a bunch of different places to go. Also, when I was in Paris, I went to this amazing restaurant called Ogata, and they have a location in Kyoto that I really want to visit.”
David Prior, travel expert and co-founder, Prior
“For me, picking a destination is a bit like picking a favorite child, but I’d probably say the Himalayas. The whole band is fascinating to me: from Bhutan to Sikkim, to Nepal, to Ladakh. I’ve been to Ladakh and Nepal, and they are just these extraordinarily beautiful, lush and dry realities. A lot of the Himalayas, particularly Nepal and Bhutan, were sort of hermit kingdoms during Covid, but they’re about to have another moment. Bhutan in particular is about to have a lot of exciting openings.
The Himalayas is a destination, I think, that’s uniquely suited to the moment, because there’s been a bit of a shift, globally, toward this compartmentalized idea of wellness and spirituality. Post-pandemic, people are thinking about traveling in a new way—about traveling further and deeper. The Himalayas really have it all: landscape, culture, as well as a wellness experience, whether spiritual or physical. Without sounding too trite, it’s really an internal journey, outside. It’s also a place that’s very welcoming—there’s no terror or fear associated with it—but it’s still a place that takes you out of your comfort zone in a lot of ways.”