September: Milan, Italy
The destination: Milan has become one of the world’s leading fashion centers, and during Fashion Week (Sept. 22-30) you’ll see the all-important spring collections as you sit side-by-side with celebrities, famous fashion editors and the world’s top designers. Grand Hotel et de Milan—after a day of taking in the shows in your Christian Louboutin stilettos, you’ll relish the chance to relax in a bath. Insider info: Tour the Teatro alla Scala, the famous opera house. It’s only a short walk from the hotel.
The destination: The “Golden Triangle”—Dehli, Agra and Jaipur—provides a perfect tour of Northern India. And travel agents agree that October is the best time to visit. Exotic and colorful, the region is a cornucopia of palaces, gardens and shrines. Tour the Taj Mahal and be sure to stay at the Lake Palace hotel in Jaipur. Situated in the middle of Lake Pichola, it’s one of the most romantic hotels in the world. We love enjoying a private dinner for two on a floating pontoon. Insider info: Book your trip through New York’s International Ventures & Travel, Inc. Victor Biswas, the company’s president, can provide you with a wealth of advice and ideas.
November: New York City
The destination: Autumn in New York is so wonderful they write songs about it. So what if the city is crowded and hectic? We like being jostled by sable and mink. And the shopping is at its best, with stores stocked up for the holidays. Gucci, Hermes and Vuitton, oh my! Their flagship stores are as good as it gets. But our favorite is Bergdorf Goodman. The jewelry boutiques on the first floor are fantastic, and BG—the new restaurant on the seventh floor—features exotic salads and décor by Kelly Wearstler. Insider info: Don’t miss Rizzoli’s Bookstore, right around the corner on 57th Street, with the world’s best collection of luxury coffee table books.
December: Miami’s Art Basel
The destination: Miami’s Art Basel is the sister show of Art Basel Switzerland, and this hotbed of contemporary art has become the U.S. art event. This year’s Art Basel will be held Dec. 6-9. The main exhibit at the Miami Beach convention center is a must-see, says Ramses Serrano, owner of Sarasota’s Sonnet Gallery. He urges Art Basel-goers to check out other exhibits, too. “There are events in different hotels,” he explains. “Sometimes whole floors will be reserved for smaller exhibitions that you can wander through.” Inside info: Check into a suite at the Mandarin Oriental and eat at least one meal at Norman’s, home of chef Norman van Aken’s award-winning “new world” cuisine.
The destination: Dubai, the Las Vegas of the Middle East, is the United Arab Emirates’ most rapidly growing nation, and by far the most luxurious. What better way to set the tone for the year ahead? You must stay at the Burj Al Arab hotel—60 stories high and shaped like a billowing sail—and experience Ski Dubai, the Middle East’s first indoor ski resort. Insider info: Dubai has one of the largest gold retail markets in the world. Shop Deira’s Gold Souk area and the Gold and Diamond Park on Sheikh Zayed Road if you plan to spend serious money on jewelry.
February: Carnival in Rio
The destination: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the greatest celebration in the world transforms an entire city into a nonstop party. Carnival is held just before Lent begins (a party followed by piety). It’s a spectacle of samba, outrageous costumes and infectious high spirits. No matter how dignified you are, we guarantee you’ll end up dancing in the street. Book a room at the world-famous Copacabana Palace, where Carnival’s most exclusive ball is held. Insider info: Brazilian jewelry is to die for. Take time out to visit H. Stern, the Tiffany’s of Brazil.
March: St. Lucia
The destination: Springtime in the Caribbean guarantees perfect weather, and still-unspoiled St. Lucia has experienced a recent renaissance. We love the Jade Mountain Resort, featuring suites with a missing fourth wall—instead, the room opens to the outdoors—and private, infinity-edge pools. You have a jaw-droppingly beautiful view of St. Lucia’s Piton mountains and the Caribbean Sea. TV, radio and Internet are banned. Insider info: A sunset yoga class on the resort’s Celestial Terrace is a blissful way to end your day (or start your night).
The destination. Sultry Bali is the ultimate beach getaway, worlds away and seductively romantic. The Bulgari Hotel, a 59-villa resort near Pecatu, offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean and is the perfect mix of local Balinese culture and luxury. Unwind in the spa and dine at Sangkar, which offers magnificent Balinese cuisine and a fantastic view from the edge of a cliff. Insider info: Reserve the Bulgari Villa, with three bedrooms, a home theater, state-of-the-art kitchen, private lap pool and full service quarters.
May: Cannes Film Festival
The destination. Vive la vie Francaise and jet over to Cannes for the world-famous film festival and the splendors of the French Riviera. The 2008 festival is scheduled for May 14-25 and will feature some of the world’s best films as well as some of the world’s most beautiful people—you’ll want to be seen there. And you’ll also want to be seen at the Hotel du Cap, a celebrity haunt in its own right. Lie beside its famous swimming pool and count the stars. Insider info: Sneak away from the festival and take a trip to the Galerie Maeght in Saint-Paul, which houses an important collection of 20th-century European art.
June: Queen Mary 2
The destination: Cunard’s brand-new Queen Mary 2, a luxury ocean liner, makes anything on the old Queen Mary look like tourist class. And June is historically when the American aristocracy sailed off to Europe for the summer. The ship’s Balmoral and Sandringham suites are the poshest, each with 2,249 square feet of sybaritic luxury, including a living room, two marble baths and a two-story staircase. Dine in the Queen’s Grill or the Todd English Bistro. Your suite has a dining room, too. Insider info: For extra convenience, Cunard will charter a private jet for the return trip. Cost of suite and jet: $100,000 for two.
July: Thanda Private Game Reserve
The destination: Thanda means “love” in Zulu, and we love the Thanda Private Game Reserve in Zululand, South Africa—it’s luxury safari at its best. And July is the perfect time to flee muggy Sarasota for an exhilarating wild landscape. Stay in a tented, “non-electric” camp for an authentic (but still ultra-luxe) experience, and be sure to explore the myriad recreational activities the resort has to offer, from game drives to kayaking. Insider info: In the morning, enjoy a traditional bush breakfast in the heart of the South African wilderness—but don’t worry, Thanda rangers will keep animals who may want to share with you away at arm’s length.
August: Aboard The World in Dubrovnik, Croatia
The destination: The World is a cruise ship with a luxurious twist: posh condos that passengers can rent or buy. In August, the ship sails to Dubrovnik, Croatia, which has become red-hot with hip travelers because of its spectacular seaside beauty and unspoiled character. Stay on board—the apartments have up to six bedrooms and state-of-the-art amenities. Spend your days exploring cobblestone piazzas, red-tiled houses and the islands of the sparkling Adriatic Sea. Insider info: Don’t miss the fresh-caught sea bass with cuttlefish-ink sauce and Swiss chard at Dubrovnik’s fabulous Atlas Club Nautika.