14 for '14? Sounds like a set of Mitchell Johnson's bowling figures from the recent Ashes debacle (one for the chaps there) but on this occasion referring to our predictions for the 14 destinations that are going to be big news in 2014.
The Alentejo, Portugal
Kicking off, we have Portugal, a place on the up and up. Lisbon and Porto are brilliant short break cities, and the Algarve is a summer classic, but we're most excited about the Alentejo region - wedged between the capital and the south coast. Alentejo is home to beautiful cork oak forests, elegant wine estates, beautiful unspoilt beaches and some cracking hotels including L'And and Ecork, where you can laze by a pool, enjoy tastings of (seriously under-rated) Portuguese wines or go riding. And then there's Comporta, Portugal's best kept secret and the beachfront hangout for hip Lisbonites as it's only an hour from the capital and even less from Evora in Alentejo.
It being January, you might well be sick of cold turkey, but hot Turkey awaits and it's getting hotter all the time with new hotel openings in Istanbul and on the Bodrum Peninsula (including a Mandarin Oriental later this year). Temperature-wise, things warm up early and the Aegean remains warm well into October.
Next stop Africa and celebrating 50 years of independence in 2014 is Zambia, one of the most sophisticated safari destinations around and the undisputed home of walking safaris. New in the last year is Chinzombo, a camp in the South Luangwa that takes bush bling to previously unseen heights in the country. And, London bus style, another luxury lodge - Anabezi - is opening soon in the Lower Zambezi Valley. More on this opening as we hear it.
Better known and more widely visited than Zambia, Tanzania still has some surprisingly unsung spots including The Selous. We say surprisingly because a game reserve the size of Switzerland really should be on everyone's radar, shouldn't it? Well, we suspect it will be soon, so we recommend beating the inevitable migration.
Switching now to a continent-sized country that's on everyone's lips at the moment, the US of A. The New York weekend and Californian road trip are as popular as ever but there's a definite trend towards exploration of all that lies in between. Miami is becoming something of an American Ibiza, the staggeringly beautiful National Parks are popular like never before and even Hawaii, not exactly the easiest place to get to, is becoming a honeymoon destination of note. (ps: that amazing photo of the seacliffs is Hawaii)
We're off again, and this time to Asia and the hot new destination, Indonesia. Look beyond Bali and Lombok (delicious as they are) and the likes of Java, Flores and Komodo offer volcanoes, fascinating local cultures, outstanding diving and even dragons. With over 13,000 islands to explore, luxury yachts are the way to get to the further flung spots.
Elsewhere in Asia, Sri Lanka is the gift that keeps on giving, and offers a wonderful Indian subcontinental experience in many of the months when India itself is off limits. The combination of culture and coast is super-alluring as are the delightful boutique hotels popping up along the beautiful beachfronts of the south.
Another Asian A-lister is Japan, still one of our absolute favourites and somewhere that should be on everyone's bucket list. There are also some misconceptions to set aside - yes, it's possible to blow the doors off a sizeable budget but there are ways and means to explore this fascinating country without breaking the bank.
Heading even further east (and a little bit south) we reach New Zealand, wallowing in yet more free publicity thanks to the latest Hobbit movie. Those hairy feet might not be real, but those sweeping dramatic backdrops most certainly are, and this remains a long haul legend, and one benefitting from a new generation of contemporary lodges.
Belize & Peru
We're also still loco for Latin America and predict big things for Belize in 2014. There are revamped lodges, hip new beach hotels and - for the first time in ages, surprisingly - connecting flights between Cancun and Belize City, making a Mex-Bez combo that little bit easier. Across the continent Peru is all about Incas and Nazcas but now there's a beach retreat string to the country's bow; Mancora, a small town with endless beaches, ideal surf conditions and hip hotels.
And so we come to the leftfield selections. We are introducing two new destinations (so far) for 2014, Albania and Israel, and hopefully welcoming back another in the shape of Iran. Probably best not to try and combine those last two in one trip, obvs, but we have high hopes that the embargo on tourist visas to Iran will be dropped later this year, and we strongly urge anyone with an interest in the Middle East to explore this extraordinary country. We love it, and guarantee you will too. As for Israel, we're not quite sure why this most interesting and diverse of destinations wasn't on the books years ago. From the compellingly contrasting cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to the stark Negev Desert and biblical references galore, this is a destination with a real buzz about it right now. It's even somewhere to take the children. Finally, to Albania. We have had huge interest in Romania, and suspect Albania might also appeal to anyone interested in Europe history, ancient cultures and dramatic landscapes. It's also incredibly good value.
So there you have it, a whistlestop tour around the hotspots for 2014, but we also know and love a whole host of other beautiful, intriguing and downright brilliant destinations. Please take the time to browse the new website and do give us a call to discuss anything and anywhere.