The hottest travel trends across the globe for 2014

As the travel industry gears up for the busiest holiday booking period of the year in January, Lotus UK looks ahead to the top destinations for 2014:

Pandas in Chengdu, China

WHY? The panda reserves in the Sichuan region of China will be more accessible to UK visitors in 2014 with British Airways launching its first direct flight to Chengdu and specialist escorted tour operator Wendy Wu Tours launching a number of panda focused tours. These include time with John Craven OBE, household name, presenter of BBC Countryfile and founder of Newsround who has just become the Sichuan Tourism – UK Panda Ambassador

HOW: The 10 day ‘Meet the Pandas with John Craven’ tour costs from £2,590 per person. This includes two days with John Craven at leading panda reserves to hear his insights into conserving the Giant Panda; a visit to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Terracotta Warriors of Xian. Price includes return flights from Heathrow, domestic transportation, accommodation, all meals, guided tours, entrance fees and visa fees for UK and EU passport holders. Departures in September 2014. 0844 2885396

Centenary of Moomin creator, Tove Jansson in Finland

WHY? 2014 will mark the centenary of the birth of Tove Jansson, one of Finland’s most famous authors and artists, who created the Moomin characters. Jansson's nine chapter books and five picture books have gone on to spawn global television shows, films, a Moomin theme park and merchandise in every guise from cuddly toys to cutlery. To mark the centenary of Tove’s birth, there will be a retrospective of her work in Helsinki’s Ateneum museum called ‘Tove 100’ focusing on her drawings and stories for the Moomins series. The exhibition will be held between March and September 2014 before travelling to Japan for a five art museum tour. For more details:

HOW: Finnair flies direct to Helsinki from London Heathrow (return fares start from £108 in March 2014) and Manchester (return fares start from £122 in March 2014). Fares include all taxes and fees.

Post World Cup travel in South America

WHY? South America is the hot destination on everyone’s radar for 2014, so whether World Cup fever or a jaunt off the beaten track appeals, LATAM Airlines Group’s new South American Airpass is the perfect way to explore the region. The airpass fuses together the extensive networks of both LAN and TAM Airlines, offering travellers the chance to explore the best of Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Uruguay and Brazil, with savings of up to 60% on domestic and short haul flights.

HOW: To benefit, travellers need to be visiting South America from abroad and to choose a minimum of three flights from over 50 available routes across the region. With prices starting from just £240 per person, it’s the perfect way to create a unique and tailored itinerary without blowing the budget. The South American Airpass is sold via UK travel agents.

Family friendly Ibiza

WHY? Palladium Hotel Group is opening the Med’s first beachfront Hard Rock Hotel on Ibiza’s Playa d’en Bossa in June 2014, making the area more accessible to families. The hotel will complement the group’s flagship Ibiza property, Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel, which neighbours the new Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza, offering a family-friendly alternative to enjoying international music artists and beachfront entertainment. The hotel will have a kids club, teen lounge, two swimming pools and a poolside stage where international rock and pop artists will perform each week.

HOW: British Airways flies from Gatwick, Heathrow and London City airport to Ibiza, running up to five flights daily to Ibiza during the summer. Fares start from £107 return in June 2014. Prices unavailable at present for Hard Rock Hotel. For further information: 0034 902 42 42 52

Easier access to Alaska with seasonal flight

WHY? 2014 will see the second year of Icelandair’s seasonal route to Anchorage from the UK from May to September, which reduces flight time considerably and makes visiting Alaska more affordable.  Due to this accessibility, Thomas Cook, Cox & Kings and Titan Travel are all adding new tours to Alaska while Kuoni and Abercrombie & Kent are promoting Alaska as a key destination in 2014.

HOW: Titan has launched a 13-day tour offering a spectacular journey around some of Alaska’s most impressive natural wonders and abundant wildlife. The spectacular tour encompasses Fairbanks (just 200 miles from the Arctic Circle), the historical Alaska railroad on a scenic journey to Denali and the thrill of getting ‘up close’ to the invigorating Columbia Glacier on a small glacier cruise. The first tour departs 18th May 2014 and prices start at £2,545 including flights. 0800 988 5823.

New Sark based novel set to drive visitor numbers

WHY? The rave review new novel, The Last Kings of Sark by Rosa Rankin Gee is set on the tiny Channel Island of Sark. The book is based around the story of a young woman called Jude who flies to Sark for the summer to tutor a banker’s teenage son. The gripping novel paints a vivid picture of the rocky island and its quirky nature with no vehicles, blue post boxes and a tiny population and is set to be a top selling novel for 2014.

HOW: Channel Islands Direct offers a four night break staying at the 4* Stock’s Hotel in Sark from £405 per person. This includes accommodation, flights from Gatwick to Guernsey, boat transfers to Sark and breakfast. Package valid from 1 April- 30 May. Flights are also available from regional airports. 0844 937 095.

Vintage Luxury in New York

WHY? While hotels of all shapes and sizes imaginable are found in the Big Apple to accommodate some of the 50 million visitors to the city each year, it has only been in the last few years that there’s been a trend in boutique hotels making their home around Mid-town and Downtown Manhattan. Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) has doubled the number of New York hotels in the collection in the past two years. Three new SLH properties opened in Manhattan this year and all are new conversions of historic buildings.

HOW: The Quin (opened November 2013) is a 17-story pre-War building that was once home to some of the 20th century’s greatest musicians and painters. Its rooms and suites are thoughtfully designed to combine timeless luxury and modern convenience with bespoke built-in furnishings, mosaic floors and state-of-the-art audio visuals. Prices start at £282 per room per night.    

Luxury in Austin, Texas

WHY? From March 2014, British Airways will have non-stop flights between London Heathrow and Austin, marking the first regular transatlantic air service for the city. SLH welcomed its first property in Texas to its portfolio this year with Hotel Ella, which opened in Austin in September 2013. With a history that can be traced back to 1846, Hotel Ella is a multi-million dollar renovation of one of Austin’s original landmark mansion houses. The new boutique hotel now has a stunning interior courtyard with a pool and private cabanas, as well as wonderful gardens around the estate.

GETTING THERE: Return flights from Heathrow to Austin start from £726 and prices per night at Hotel Ella start at £203.