MATERA – ITALY 

This Southern Italy city known for its cave dwellings is making a major comeback. For decades the caves were uninhabitable and unsanitary, but over the last several years entrepreneurs have started restoring them and transforming them into unique hotels like Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, a member of Design Hotels. Crowned a 2019 European Capital of Culture, Matera will host a dynamic roster of events throughout the year. For the opening ceremony on January 19, a series of marching bands from the region of Basilicata and across Europe will parade through the city’s streets to kick off the yearlong celebration.

 

SAVANNAH – GEORGIA 

Georgia’s second city may be known for its charming squares and weeping willows, but this big small town is also a hotbed of contemporary design thanks to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Travelers who want to see what it’s all about now have two new options: the Perry Lane Hotel, a member of the Luxury Collection with a gorgeous design featuring work by SCAD students, and the Alida, Savannah, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, a new boutique property in the emerging warehouse district.

 

NAMIBIA 

Barren landscapes and sand dunes may not be what most people expect to find in Southern Africa, but they show a whole other side of the region that’s becoming much more accessible. According to George Morgan-Grenville, Founder & CEO of luxury outfitter Red Savannah, “a spate of new lodges in Namibia moves the Southern African nation further up the luxury travel hot list.” He cites Omaanda, a collection of ten Owambo-style huts in a private reserve, the British Colonial–inspired tented camp Sonop, and the luxurious, eco-friendly Shipwreck Lodge by Natural Selection, which opened on the Skeleton Coast. Just this fall, Serra Cafema Camp by Wilderness Safaris emerged from an environmentally sensitive rebuild.

 

ARLES – FRANCE 

Until recently, Van Gogh was this Provençal city’s claim to fame, but it’s been in the midst of constructing a massive new art centre known as LUMA Arles. The complex, in a former industrial site, has been opening in phases and in 2020, its final stage—a shimmering tower by Frank Gehry—will be completed. Consider going to be among the first to see the new Arles. The new building of École Nationale Supérieur de la Photographie will open in September 2019, in December the Museon Arlatan will reopen, and three buildings by Annabelle Selldorf on the LUMA Arles campus are already open. A new design-forward boutique hotel called L’Arlatan offers a whimsical place to stay.

 

SAO PAULO – BRAZIL 

Getting a visa to visit Brazil used to be a major hassle, but a new e-visa system has made the process much more streamlined, and new flights by LATAM are better connecting the largest metropolis in the Americas to the rest of the world. Once you get there, you’ll find a burgeoning art and design scene that proves the city’s not all business. The Four Seasons Hotel São Paulo at Nações Unidas just opened this fall, joining more established luxury hotels like the Hotel Unique, which recently refreshed its rooftop Skye Bar & Restaurant.