Pack Your Bags: 5 Travel Experts Share Their 2023 Dream Destinations

While the past few years have not been kind to travel enthusiasts, thanks to stay-at-home orders and challenging airline issues, those with a serious case of wanderlust are starting to hit their stride anew. If you’re in the market to plan a getaway, we checked in with five scouted travel experts for their recommendations on your next adventure. Whether you’re looking for a West Coast wine weekend or a Central American adventure, read on to see where these luxury travel advisors are heading off to next.

Staying in the States

Lake TahoePhotography courtesy of Edgewood Tahoe Resort.

LAKE TAHOE & NAPA, CALIFORNIA // “Lake Tahoe is a wonderful destination for summertime recreation and relaxation. My favorite resort there is Edgewood, which has an outstanding championship golf course. While in Northern California I always try to spend some time in Napa Valley. I love the Alila Napa Valley, which overlooks some of the oldest vines in the valley and is walking distance to St. Helena’s lovely downtown. Other favorite hotels include: Four Seasons Napa Valley, Auberge du Soleil, Montage Healdsburg, and Meadowood Napa Valley—the options for stellar lodging in this region are truly endless.” —Ragan Stone, luxury travel advisor at Ragan Stone Travel and The Travel Studio in Birmingham, Alabama.

Photography courtesy of The Allison Inn & Spa.

OREGON // “With regions like Napa and Sonoma becoming so popular, wine enthusiasts are looking for somewhere less busy; a place where they can enjoy great food and wine without the crowds. The solution? The marvelous Oregon wine region of Willamette Valley, home to some of the best Pinot Noir wineries in the country. And when you’re not out exploring, a cute little hotel like The Allison Inn & Spa is the perfect home base to unwind.” —Katie Bean, president and CEO of Katie Bean Travels in Winter Park, Florida.

Photography courtesy of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA // “When heading to San Diego, I always recommend splitting time between coastal properties like the famous Hotel Del Coronado with somewhere more inland like Rancho Valencia—it’s the best way to experience all that the area has to offer. While Hotel Del offers beachfront access and activities galore, Rancho Valencia is ideal for those looking to escape the crowds. Rancho Valencia’s hacienda style suites are perfect for couples’ getaways while the multi-bedroom homes make family trips a breeze.” —Maddy Foxx Moffitt, owner and travel advisor of MFM Luxury Travel in Houston, Texas.

Photography courtesy of The Inn At Perry Cabin.

ST. MICHAELS, MARYLAND // “I always love a trip to The Inn at Perry Cabin, an exquisite property nestled on the banks of the Miles River that flows into the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. This iconic waterfront hotel might be quite familiar as it was prominently featured in the rom-com film, Wedding Crashers. Its Americana/nautical decor, luxe-relaxing setting, premium service, excellent spa, food and beverage make this a perennial favorite. Adding to its charm is the town of St. Michaels with a smattering of great local shops and eateries. Just a few blocks’ bike ride or walk from the resort is an expansive maritime museum that shouldn’t be missed.” —Philip James, owner and luxury travel advisor of Philip James Travel in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Photography by Claude-Simon Langlois.

BARNARD, VERMONT // “The culinary options and beautiful scenery at Twin Farms are unrivaled. I especially love this place in the fall: the foliage colors are sublime and the hotel is cozy and luxe. I’m equally comfortable venturing out on hikes as I am sitting by the fire in my room.” —Lee McCarthy, president of MAD Travel in Naples, Florida.

Adventuring Abroad

Photography courtesy of One&Only Mandarina.

MEXICO // “Mexico has been one of the top-selling destinations this year and throughout the pandemic due to the convenient air travel from all over the U.S. Some of our top properties have been the tropical mountainside resort of One&Only Mandarina, the impressive, oceanfront Rosewood Las Ventanas, and the new kid on the block this year, Etereo, An Auberge Resort. We just returned from Etereo and it’s no wonder people are flocking to this tranquil, trendy property.” —Maddy Foxx Moffitt, owner and travel advisor of MFM Luxury Travel in Houston, Texas.

Photography courtesy of Ulusaba Rock Lodge in Sabi Sands Game Reserve.

AFRICA // “If Africa isn’t on your bucket list it should be. I was lucky enough to be invited on a Micato Safari this year and I can hardly wait. Year after year, Micato is recognized as a premier luxury safari by Travel & Leisure. With both owners living in Africa, they have the inside scoop and the ability to find the best safari guides, tour directors, hotels, and more. They offer gorgeous camps and lodges and have an all-inclusive philosophy, no tipping with three meals a day. If you decide to dine off property they’ll even pick up the tab. They understand that to many, luxury means the absence of worry, so every little detail of your trip is taken care of.” —Katie Bean, president and CEO of Katie Bean Travels in Winter Park, Florida.

“South Africa has some of the most unique and top-level accommodations in Africa. A great itinerary might include a few nights in Cape Town—we love the One&Only Cape Town and Cape Grace, to enjoy the gourmet food and water views, then a romantic Winelands visit at Coopmanhuijs Boutique Hotel, followed by a safari at Kruger National Park or Sabi Sands Game Reserve. If you have time for an adventurous add on, try a float safari in Botswana or swimming with the sharks in Gansbaai!” —Lee McCarthy, president of MAD Travel in Naples, Florida.

Photography by Unsplash.

MOROCCO // “Morocco is an exotic destination that marries culture, design, and history in a really exciting way. People are always surprised at how affordable Morocco is, making bespoke experiences, private tours, and five-star riads well within reach. One of my favorite hotels is called Kasbah Tamadot. This former private home, filled with original antiques and breathtaking decor,  is owned by Richard Branson and located an hour outside of Marrakech. It’s an amazing retreat. My most recent itinerary includes stops at the beyond stunning La Mamounia, The Oberoi, and Amanjena hotels in Marrakech, followed by stops in the cities of Fez, Rabat, and one night in the desert at Inara Camp.” —Ragan Stone, luxury travel advisor at Ragan Stone Travel and The Travel Studio in Birmingham, Alabama.

Photography courtesy of Pacuare Lodge.

COSTA RICA // “With one recent trip to the Caribbean side of this magnificent Central American gem, my family’s next adventure will be to discover the north central and Pacific regions of Costa Rica as well. Authenticity and genuine hospitality are among the top reasons we love this country and its people. Volcanoes, jungles, rain forests, beaches, and an almost endless array of activities keep us busy and interested when we are there; while the coffee and amazing array of fresh fruit are also our daily morning delights. ‘Pura Vida,’ translates to pure, simple life, is not just a familiar Costa Rican phrase, it’s a deeply ingrained ethos that is easy to get addicted to. Our upcoming trip will include visits to phenomenal resorts: Finca Rosa Blanca in San Jose, Pacuare Lodge in Turrialba, Nantipa in Puntarenas, and Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa in La Fortuna/Arenal. This is truly a diverse week-long experience, curated in partnership with a locally based ground operator, where we will take in very different landscapes and bio-zones. We simply can’t wait to enjoy our return to Costa Rica!” —Philip James, owner and luxury travel advisor of Philip James Travel in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Feature photo courtesy of One&Only Mandarina. The Travel Studio appears in The Scout Guide Birmingham. Katie Bean Travels appears in The Scout Guide Orlando. MFM Luxury Travel appears in The Scout Guide Houston. Philip James Travel appears in The Scout Guide New Orleans. MAD Travel appears in The Scout Guide Naples.

We’d love to scout more travel experts in other cities. Could you—or someone you know—be the next owner of The Scout Guide in your town? Let’s start the conversation about bringing The Scout Guide to your area here.