With winter upon us, it only makes sense to dream of getting away. But where in the U.S. are people interested in spending their time this year? Minnetonka, Minn.-based Carlson Wagonlit Travel has released its 2007 Travel Trends Survey, which tracked more than 500 Carlson travel experts on their clients’ bookings. Of those agents responding, 82 percent said total bookings for the year are equal to or higher than the same period in 2006. Key trends: Vacations are getting longer and clients are spending more money per trip. The top three favorite vacation types are all-inclusive resorts, cruises and trips to sunny and warm destinations. Here, a closer look at the year’s favorite U.S. destinations.
Percentage of agents ranking this as a top destination for their clients in 2007: 77.9
“The city was conceived, designed and built for good times,” according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Travelers, not surprisingly, include gamblers, bachelors, bachelorettes and couples looking to tie the knot, as well as families and shoppers. Las Vegas Boulevard, known simply as “The Strip,” houses plenty of hotel casinos, including the Bellagio, the Wynn Las Vegas and The Venetian. Their luxury shopping counterparts include: the Via Bellagio (Dior, Fendi, Gucci, Hermès), the Wynn Esplanade (Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Oscar de la Renta) and the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian (Burberry, Dooney & Burke, bebe). Visitors can also opt for outdoor adventures, including climbing or hiking in Red Rock National Park. Golf resorts such as MonteLago Village Resort and the Ritz-Carlton, both of which span Lake Las Vegas, are located just outside the city.
Orlando and Disney seem to be synonymous, but the city has other attractions as well, including Universal Studios and Sea World. Disney World’s 23 resort hotels range in price categories from value (Pop Century Resort) to moderate (Caribbean Beach Resort) to deluxe accommodations (Animal Kingdom Lodge), while Universal Studios boasts everything from a Hard Rock Hotel to the Portofino Bay Hotel. The region has more than 52 million square feet of existing retail space, with nine malls located throughout Orlando, along with major retailers such as Nordstrom and Macy’s. Talbot’s, Nicole Miller and Banana Republic are located along tree-lined Park Avenue.
One of the better-known shopping areas in Hawaii is found right in Honolulu. The Ala Moana Shopping Center is one of the country’s largest open air malls with more than 200 shops, including Guess, DKNY, Tiffany & Co., Juicy Couture and Escada. After shopping, tourists can enjoy one of the area’s beaches, such as the Halona Beach Cove, Sandy Beach or Waikiki Beach (seen left) — which comprises a series of continuous beaches stretching for more than 2 miles.
KAHULUI (MAUI), HAWAII
The island of Maui attracts visitors not only for its weather and accommodations, but also for its beauty. The island’s 15 golf courses help draw travelers to this region. Gohawaii.com states, “Nowhere else is the Pacific quite so blue, the fairways so green, and the sunlight so perfectly golden.” Accommodations include the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa (seen left). In the heart of the resort is The Shops at Wailea, home to retailers from Louis Vuitton to Billabong. The resort is located on Wailea Beach — voted one of the best beaches in America.
“Let’s face it, we’re talking about the Big Apple — everyone wants to see something here,” said Kathy Gerhardt, a Carlson Wagonlit Travel spokeswoman. She also noted, “Whether it’s a business meeting or a church group on tour to see Broadway shows, this city has the facilities to accommodate large groups.” Surrounding some of the world’s best-known landmarks is some of the best-known shopping. Located a stone’s throw from Central Park, for example, is The Shops at Columbus Circle, which houses stores such as Sephora, J. Crew and Sisley. Fifth Avenue covers Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel and a slew of specialty chains — from Louis Vuitton to Zara, while Madison Avenue includes Barneys New York and designer boutiques such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Carolina Herrera, Giorgio Armani, Hermès and Valentino.
It may seem like an odd destination, but Alaska is full of nature thrill-seekers, mixed in with those looking for some relaxation. For the adventure enthusiasts, Denali National Park is six million acres of land full of wildlife, such as grizzlies, wolves and moose. Visitors can hike Mount McKinley — North America’s highest peak, also known as Denali — climb and backpack, or simply enjoy the breathtaking views. Situated just 40 miles south of Anchorage is the Alyeska Prince Hotel (seen left), where guests can indulge in spa accommodations and enjoy fine dining, skiing, golfing, even shopping. The resort boasts several shops selling art, souvenirs and gifts and apparel.
In addition to the sun, beaches and luxurious hotels, Miami has pockets of spectacular shopping options. The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Web site states: “Greater Miami shopping offers everything from designer creations to everyday great deals. From elegant outdoor malls to hip neighborhood Miami shopping districts, this is a city made for shopping.” Bal Harbour Shops offers plenty of upscale options, including designer boutiques like Celine, Emilio Pucci, Luca Luca and Marc Jacobs. And Coral Gables is home to Miracle Mile (seen left), where art galleries, restaurants, bridal boutiques and unique specialty stores for women’s apparel — such as Alejandro Crocker boutique and Rene Ruiz Couture — can all be found.
With average temps of 85.1 degrees Fahrenheit, average rainfall of only 7.7 inches and no hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes to speak of, this is a destination worth checking out. “There is so much to do in this area of the country,” said Gerhardt. “World-class golf courses, spas, plenty of shopping and outdoor activities — it’s a wide variety that accommodates all kinds of different tourists.” For shoppers, Kierland Commons is an “urban village” concept that encompasses upscale retail, entertainment and restaurants and is home to Anthropologie, Coach and BCBG Max Azria. Then again, perhaps tourists are tailing Britney Spears, who recently checked into Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, a luxurious destination spa (seen left), for a little R&R.
FORT MYERS, FLA.
Located on the Gulf Coast of Florida north of Naples, Fort Myers is the third region in Florida to make the top 10. “It’s interesting to us that Florida is so well-represented,” said Gerhardt. “From what we can gather, this state did a great job in recovering from the hurricanes in 2005, and because 2006 was such a quiet season for weather, people are heading to this state with renewed confidence.” Fort Myers Beach, Captiva Island and Sanibel Island are all popular beaches in the area, while luxury hotels, such as the Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa (seen left) accommodate travelers. Shoppers looking for a bargain can visit the Sanibel Tanger Outlets, where Etienne Aigner, Liz Claiborne, Fossil and Bass all house outlet shops.
With the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Napa Valley and Yosemite all within easy distance, what more could lure visitors to this area of the country? Food and shopping, of course. San Francisco boasts some of the country’s best-known restaurants, including Thomas Keller’s French Laundry; Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, and Fleur de Lys, a French restaurant run by acclaimed chef Hubert Keller. Located in Union Square, diners can enjoy a meal here and take in some shopping to work off the cuisine. Hundreds of shops are here, including Christian Dior, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta. In September, the highly anticipated Westfield San Francisco Centre — a 1.5-million-square-foot urban shopping mall, opened (seen left), anchored by a brand new Bloomingdale’s and a Nordstrom.