With the new year comes a fresh calendar of public holidays and vacation days, beckoning you to book those flights and plan those trips! While we’re always up for a holiday in Bali or Phuket, nothing beats the allure of traveling somewhere new for the first time. We spoke with the travel-savvy ladies of luxury at villa booking portal TheLuxeNomad.com, for the lowdown on this year’s top travel destinations that may not actually be on your radar…

Cape Town is a wine lover and foodie’s dream! The coastal city is home to a wealth of hip restaurants, bistros, and cafés, in addition to world-class wineries where you can sip on a Sauvignon Blanc while relaxing on a vine-covered patio. Wake up to an expansive shoreline of pristine golden beaches at your disposal, and explore the peaks and mountains of Table Mountain National Park.

When to go: Cape Town is pleasant year-round, but summer falls from December to February. January has the warmest weather and many lively festivals, while June through August tends to be a bit damp.

Where to stay: The best beaches can be found in the fashionable Camps Bay, where you can rent family-friendly villas and beach houses for any budget.

If you’ve been to Bali a million times, try something new this year and plan a getaway to the lesser-known island paradise of Lombok, located 40km east of Bali. With immaculate, untouched beaches and impossibly clear water, Lombok is often referred to as “unspoiled Bali”, offering a quieter, more peaceful alternative. Take a day trip to the neighbouring Gili Islands and snorkel in the most iridescent waters.

When to go: Plan your trip for May, the beginning of the dry season, for the best weather and before the crowds.

Where to stay: For unspoiled beaches, stay in Tanjung, where you’ll be surrounded by crystal clear turquoise water.

If golden beaches, magical mountain vistas, rich wildlife, and exotic cuisine sound like paradise, Sri Lanka might just be the place to steal your heart! Nature lovers will delight in the lush landscapes of tea plantations, nature trails, caves, and lakes, while history buffs can explore a myriad of age-old cultural heritage sites, including 300 year old Galle Fort, one of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Bring your camera because there’s plenty to ‘gram from wild elephants and ancient temples to whale watching to vibrant tropical fruit.

When to go: Monsoons affect Sri Lanka’s South/West and North/East areas at different times of the year, so plan accordingly. For beach lovers, head South/West to Galle, Colombo, or Weligama from late November to April for sunny weather with a light breeze. If you’re keen to experience Sri Lanka’s “cultural triangle” (Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Dambulla) in the North/East, plan your trip for sometime between May and September, when it’s warm and dry.

Where to stay: Relax in southern Sri Lanka’s most luxe beachfront resort, Cape Weligama, or travel through time at Galle Fort Hotel. You can also enjoy a peaceful retreat at Ceylon Tea Trails, a colonial-era working tea estate nestled 4000 feet above sea level in central Sri Lanka.

Often referred to as the as the ‘adrenaline capital of the world’, there’s more to Middle Earth than skydiving and bungee jumping! During the summer, you can soak up magnificent views of Lake Wakatipu, take a hike through the strikingly scenic landscape, or wind down at one of Queenstown’s 75 wineries known for their award-winning Pinot noir and chardonnays. During the winter, strap on your skis and see why Queenstown is one of the world’s top ski destinations!

When to go: Queenstown is a year-round destination, so it all depends on what you want to do. Summer falls December-February and winter June-August. July tends to be the busiest month of the year for tourists.

Where to stay: Post up in a lakeside villa like 50 Aspen Grove or The Guest House at Jagged Edge for the most breathtaking views, just a short drive away from central Queenstown.

By now you’ve probably heard of the ski destination Niseko, Japan, but you might just like Hakuba even better! Host of the 1998 Winter Olympics Games, Hakuba is an idyllic winter wonderland in the Japanese Alps, just a few hours away from Tokyo. Like Niseko, the area boasts unparalleled snowfall, diverse terrain, and amazing food, but it stands out for its charming town with authentic Japanese character. Spend your days on the slopes before soaking in a natural onsen hot spring and enjoying a tipple at the laid-back Izayaka bar, or cozy slope-side chalet.

When to go: The ski season typically runs from the end of November to early May, with the best conditions in January and February. You can avoid the crowds if you come during March or April.

Where to stay: Stay in Echoland, Wadano, or Happo to be in the center of all the action and just meters from the chairlifts.

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