Beach with chair

The CIRE Travel Hot List: Where those (in the know) want to go

By Jamie Edwards

Everyone loves a list. And what better time of year to write one than January? January is also the best time to plan travel for the year ahead. In need of inspiration? Have we got a travel list for you!

From the glow worm caves on New Zealand’s North Island to the serene and turquoise waters of the Caribbean. From the timeless glamor of a European train to the rugged terrain of the Faroe Islands. These are the journeys and destinations that have piqued the interest of those who know travel best. Are you ready to discover the most coveted and groundbreaking places to go this year? Your 2024 Hot List follows—powered by CIRE.

Our Travel Experts: Meet the Tastemakers

Who better to predict and inspire travel trends than the ones who work behind the scenes to create dream vacations and bucket list trips each day? CIRE’s group of industry tastemakers have put their destinations on paper to create one definitive travel list. Meet the experts at CIRE and see what’s on their radar this year.


Eric Hrubant, Founder & CEO

Eric Hrubant might be CIRE’s Founder and CEO, but he’ll be the first to concede that his hand-picked team inspires his travels year-round. Although happiest hunkering down at home in Maine with his cats, Eric has been known to span the globe to follow his favorite performers on stage. Most recently, Eric got into the groove on a Madonna marathon—eight shows in four cities visiting Amsterdam, NYC, Boston, and Miami.

What’s on Eric’s radar?
Caribbean Islands: Necker Island, and Virgin Gorda’s Little Dix Bay
London, England
Why the Caribbean, Eric? “I’ve never been to the British Virgin Islands. But, when I got an invitation to visit Necker Island, I couldn’t pass it up. After Necker, I’m heading to nearby Virgin Gorda to stay at Rosewood’s Little Dix Bay. I’m not typically drawn to beach destinations, but I’m looking forward to the barefoot luxury of the BVI and discovering the beauty of these two iconic properties.”
That sounds fabulous. Anywhere else? “I have a dear friend who’s celebrating his 60th birthday in London. CIRE is planning it—an over-the-top trip for 25 of us. While I’ve been to London over 25 times, I’m excited to see some of the new luxury hotel openings including Raffles at The OWO, The Emory, and 1 Hotel Mayfair, to name a few.”
Eric’s 2024 Hot Spot Predictions: “I like to look at how lifestyle trends influence travel.  After a slow 2020 and 2021, we went from zero to 100 in 2022 and 2023. I’m finding that many clients are exhausted from the fast pace and are looking for “slow travel”. Needing a vacation from your vacation is so last year. Smaller cities like Brussels, Rotterdam, Basel, Bilbao, and Lyon are great options for those who have been to London, Paris, and Rome. Warm weather destinations like Belize, Honduras, and Nicaragua are getting a lot of love over Cancun and San Juan. As a person who often works 12-hour days, I can relate to taking a trip that recharges and inspires me.”
Amy Brueckner, Chief Operating Officer
Is there nowhere CIRE’s COO Amy Brueckner hasn’t been? Rumor has it that Amy has sung karaoke on five continents and bowled on six. A stickler for detail and an up-for-anything attitude, Amy’s itineraries are always worth stealing, I mean, copying.
What’s on Amy’s radar?
Belmond Orient-Express: Paris, Venice, Amsterdam
Nova Scotia
What inspired The Orient Express trip, Amy? “On our honeymoon, my husband and I visited Machu Picchu in Peru. On our return trip, we took Belmond’s Hiram Bingham dinner train to Cusco. It was so elegant! There were cocktails and dinner and dancing… a full Mariachi Band in the train’s bar car! It was an unforgettable experience.”
Wow, tell me more! “For our 10th anniversary, my dear husband surprised me with another Belmond journey, on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. We’re traveling from Paris to Venice and then on to Amsterdam. But this time, we’re doing overnight trips on the train. There’s something so romantic and old-fashioned about train travel. The dinners are black tie and there’s even a midnight brunch. I can’t wait!”
And Nova Scotia? “When we moved to Maine nine years ago, we realized we could drive to Canada in five-ish hours. Since then, we’ve only done that once for a long weekend in Montreal, but my husband has also been talking about a road trip to Nova Scotia and the Maritimes. 2024 is the year! We’re actually flying to Halifax and then renting a car to do a week-long loop of the island with another couple. In my initial research, it feels like it will be similar to our road trips in Iceland and New Zealand. I’m excited!”
What are your 2024 hot spot predictions? “People will continue to go for big bucket list vacations like African safari, the Far East, and Antarctica. But smaller, lesser traveled islands will also be popular. Places like Malta, Corsica, Grenada…We’re still in that pandemic mindset that life is short and the world is big. People want to see as much of it as they can, both on and off the beaten path!”
Melissa Chaquea, Luxury Travel Advisor – Vacations & Honeymoons
A rising star in the industry, Melissa Chaquea’s love of photography and nature fueled her love of travel. Selected as one of Travel Agent Central’s prestigious 30Under30, Melissa has spent time exploring far-flung places like Thailand, Turkey, Costa Rica, and India.
What’s on Melissa’s radar?
Why did you choose Portugal, Melissa? “I was seeking a road-trip-friendly destination where I could get mountains, beach, and city. Portugal is the perfect place for this as the roads are driving friendly and the main cities are not too far away from one another. I’ve been to Spain four times and wanted a similar vibe with a cultural difference. Portugal is the place!”
And why Brazil? “When I planned a trip for my client to go to Rio de Janeiro for New Year’s Eve it suddenly came onto my radar. In Rio, there’s not only the buzz of the city, but there are many deserts and rainforests to explore. Perfect for when you need to catch a break from the city.”
What excites you the most about going to these places? “In Portugal, it’s the culture. I grew up with Portuguese friends and their culture is endearing and welcoming. As for Brazil, it’s soccer! My brother and I are soccer players and my family sits by the TV every weekend watching matches. On the beaches of Copacabana, people gather to play around the clock and I can’t wait to be surrounded by the sport I love and the people who live and breathe it!”
What are your 2024 hot spot predictions, Melissa? “I’m seeing some interesting trends from our customers lately. Four clients that had previously been interested in beaches and European cities are looking for something new. They’re now more focused on new cultures and exploration. So I think less-expected South American destinations like Patagonia will be upcoming hot spots. Also, an uptick in countries like Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile, for example.”
Esther Klijn, Luxury Travel Advisor – Vacations & Honeymoons
Looking for someone to help plan a 39-day itinerary to Australia? Esther Klijn is that someone. Another 30Under30 winner, (does CIRE grow them?) nothing phases Esther. Her travels have taken her to off-the-beaten-path destinations like Zimbabwe, Galapagos and Shanghai which makes her more than qualified to inspire travel.
What’s on Esther’s radar?
South Africa
Where are your clients going this year? “Many of my clients have already traveled extensively across the globe. Some have even made their way to Svalbard and Antarctica. But they are long overdue for a visit to Japan! They’re most excited by the opportunity to see the architecture and culture outside of the major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. They’re excited to visit temples and have a particular interest in seeing the well-manicured gardens and grounds.”
Anywhere else? “One client originally wanted to go to Alaska. But when I learned more about the family, (specifically that their children would be joining them) an African Safari sparked a bright blinking light in my mind! Everyone loves nature, natural beauty, rich history, and wildlife. Alaska, while an incredible destination, checked only some of those boxes. Once the client saw the two itineraries side by side, they saw the bright blinking light, too. I don’t always have the opportunity to sway travelers, but it was a wonderful feeling to know how much they trusted me. They returned home and shared their incredible experiences.”
What are your 2024 hot spot predictions, Esther? “I feel this may be the year for Panama! Panama has more flight routings than people realize—it’s such a hub. I’d love some of our clients to experience Isla Palenque and Isla Secas! Ever-popular, and still amazing, Costa Rica is already booking up a year out and Belize is catching up. Intrepid travelers will be looking elsewhere and I feel that will be Panama!”
Jason Villacres, Client Services
Jason Villacres is a native New Yorker who loves the outdoors. Jason has lived in Australia, left his heart in Seattle, and admits he’s magnetically drawn to the City of Lights. Having once been a business owner himself, Jason is the perfect fit for CIRE’s Client Services. He knows what corporate travelers need—and he delivers.
What’s on Jason’s radar?
New Zealand
Why did these destinations top your list, Jason?New Zealand has been a dream of mine since my mid-20s—the landscape, wilderness, and people draw me there. As for Fiji, it’s not the most popular tropical setting—but every time I’ve grabbed a Fiji water bottle, I’ve wondered what it would be like to go there.”
What excites you the most about going there? “For New Zealand,  I like the idea of being somewhere people hear about but rarely visit. I’d love to see where The Lord of the Rings was filmed and visit the famous Glow Worm Caves. Overall, the clear waters and tropical waterfalls are what I’m most looking forward to. I want to see the magical landscape with my own eyes.”
What are your 2024 hot spot predictions, Jason? “I’ve heard quite a bit of chatter when talking to travel pros and avid travelers that uncommon destinations are increasing this year. A combo of shaking off the pandemic lockdown syndrome and having already done the big common locations. Social media is a big driver in pushing people to find the ‘what else’ travel-wise. That ‘what else’ has inspired my top three picks: Antarctica, Guatemala, and Greenland.”
Jamie Edwards, Contributing Writer
What’s on Jamie’s radar?
Lofoten Islands, Norway
Caribbean Islands, St. Barths
Why did these destinations top Jamie’s list? “As a travel writer and photographer, I’m always keen to go where the crowds aren’t. My sweet spot is to uncover up-and-coming travel destinations, whether that be remote luxury hotels, high-adrenaline adventures, or a combination of both. The Lofoten Islands of Norway is an archipelago known for its natural beauty. Yet, they haven’t become mainstream for American travelers. My family is going to the Lofoten Islands this summer, so I’ll be sure to report back. I’m most excited to stay in a rorbuer, which is a traditional Norwegian fishing cabin. They are typically bright red and very picturesque!”
Where else does Jamie want to go? “The island of St. Barths couldn’t be more different than the islands of Norway, yet it also has great appeal. Among many other things, St. Barths is known for world-class dining, luxury resorts, and stunning beaches. One of the best ways to experience this French-owned island is to rent a villa with a Caribbean Sea view and hire a chef. A bucket list experience, for sure.”
What are Jamie’s 2024 hot spot predictions? “Europe is always going to be on the travel radar. But as popular cities like Rome and Athens suffer from over-tourism, other European destinations are bound to become the next hot spots. Saxony, a German region two hours from Berlin, is known for its unique combination of art, music, and architecture—not to mention its inherent natural beauty.”
Saxony sounds fantastic! Anywhere else? “Speaking of natural beauty, the Faroe Islands are another destination that’s slowly climbing the travel lists. Set halfway between Iceland and Scotland, the rugged Faroe Islands have unspoiled scenery and unusual wildlife. It’s a place where high-adventure travel meets quiet luxury. A top contender for my future must-visit list.”

Where in the world do you want to go?

There you have it, folks. Travel inspiration from the travel experts at CIRE. A list to encourage travels for 2024 and beyond. And with CIRE’s NOW/SOON/LATER feature, it’s all too easy to begin planning. A list of this magnitude deserves a recap. Which destinations and experiences are calling your name? The team at CIRE is waiting on standby. 2024, here we come!

The CIRE 2024 Travel Hot List

Belmond Orient Express Train Journey, Paris, Venice, Amsterdam
Caribbean Islands, Necker Island, Virgin Gorda’s Little Dix Bay, St. Barths
Costa Rica
Faroe Islands
Germany: Saxony
New Zealand
Norway: Lofoten Islands
Nova Scotia
South Africa
Jamie Edwards is an avid traveler, travel writer, and photographer. She launched I am Lost and Found, her adventure/luxury travel website after 25 years of living and traveling around the globe. Jamie’s goal is simple, to inspire travel. CIRE Travel is a full-service travel agency headquartered in New York, NY.  Our expert corporate travel planners, honeymoon travel agents, and luxury travel planners support clients across the country and around the world.

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