LONDON - While no one yet has definitive answers about the future of travel, the following trends have emerged from the countless conversations Black Tomato has had with its clients and partners. One thing is for sure though – we will travel again; and when the national and international restrictions are lifted many will feel a great urge to travel and find freedom in wild open spaces. The benefit of enlisting a trusted tour operator to facilitate these kinds of journeys again, steering the ship in uncertain tides, has never been clearer.
Short-term travel trends which fulfil people’s need for travel closer to home or to destinations that lend themselves to social distancing:
1. The freedom of unlimited space
After months of living in confined spaces, Black Tomato is seeing its clients turning their attention to some of the world’s purest and least populated places in order to feel the freedom of wild open space in nature. This December, you can join Black Tomato for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Patagonia’s total solar eclipse using bespoke luxury Blink camps. Or, for some of the world’s best stargazing and endless views of the desert, visit Namibia where you can rove through sand dunes on 4x4 self-drive adventures and stay in luxury camps. Alternatively, visit Kenya’s exclusive-use Angama Mara safari camp, overlooking the vast terrain of the Great Rift Valley, where the Big Five roam and the Great Migration passes through each year. From one place of seclusion to another, Black Tomato can arrange direct flights from here to the private Alfajiri Villas on the Kenyan coast, where all you’ll hear is the sound of the ocean rolling in on miles of white sand.
2. Secluded beach destinations
Black Tomato’s clients are already searching for tranquil and secluded beachside destinations – both as part of larger itineraries or as standalone destinations. People are increasingly booking beach holidays with a trusted partner and advisor who can organise the flights, transfers and accommodation for them, rather than booking separate elements for themselves. Advisors such as Black Tomato can build as much flexibility into the trip as possible. The Maldives, The Seychelles and the beaches of French Polynesia are already proving popular choices. At COMO Maalifushi, you’ll find a private island paradise in The Maldives, where you can slip into the warm ocean from the privacy of your own over-water suite. With COMO you can enjoy world-class cuisine and holistic wellness experiences at their COMO Shambhala Retreat, as well as some of the best surfing in the Indian Ocean. Or, choose your archipelago in Tahiti, where Black Tomato can introduce you to the lesser-known, adrenaline-fuelled side of French Polynesia with deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, parasailing and jet skiing.
3. Go hyper private
Chartering yachts or hopping between private villas is an exclusive way to explore multiple destinations, while ensuring reunited groups of friends and family have their own private space. Crowded souks might be off the table, but Morocco is littered with magnificent hillside oases such as Kasbah Tamadot and Dar Ahlam in the Atlas Mountains, which offer a very different way to explore the rich Berber culture. Or, for those looking for exhilaration on the ocean, Black Tomato can arrange sailing around the Aegean coast aboard the luxury yacht, Alexa J, taking you to some of the secret gems of the Aegean, including Elies Resort on the small island of Sifnos and the Anemi Hotel on Folegandros. With Black Tomato, you can even travel as far as the Komodo islands in Indonesia on the traditional phinisi-style Dunia Baru Yacht, featuring seven exquisite en-suite cabins and space to relax over three decks. For a hyper private and totally bespoke experience, Black Tomato’s luxury Blink camps are the most personalised luxury travel experience imaginable; giving you the chance to design your own temporary accommodation in locations so private and untouched that no one else will have stayed there before, from dome tents on the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia to the sand dunes of Morocco.
4. Ease of access
If you’re wanting to get away from the world, but still need to be able to get back to it at a moment’s notice, there is nowhere better to travel to than Iceland – one of the first countries in the world to open its borders to international tourists. Offering regular flight schedules from the UK, a private terminal in Reykjavik, frequent internal flights around the country and unbeatable driving country this is the best place on earth to experience the raw and unknown, while also feeling safely in reach of home. Black Tomato’s Diamond Circle itinerary takes you to northern Iceland - a region so remote and sparsely populated that much of the terrain is only accessible by helicopter. Meditation in glacial caves, private hot spring soaks, zodiac boat tours of remote lakes and heli-yoga at the Arctic Circle are just some of the inspiring experiences included in the trip. Best visited between November and March, Iceland is certainly somewhere to consider seriously for an end of year escape.
5. Adventures close to home
While current government restrictions prevail, many of our favourite destinations around the UK remain out of reach. As soon as these restrictions are lifted, and domestic travel is permitted, trips to the UK’s natural treasures will never seem more appealing and adventurous – from treks along Cornwall’s rugged coast to hikes up the majestic mountains of the Hebrides and Highlands. Not only this, choosing to travel within your own borders will give local economies a much-needed boost. With Black Tomato’s Scottish Highlands and Inner Hebrides trip, you can spend ten nights discovering Scotland’s wild country with travel experts who will guide you along the rarely trodden routes of the Isle of Skye and speed you across choppy waters in a private zodiac to beautiful Inner Hebridean islands. On the mainland, stay at the newly opened Fife Arms hotel located in the historic village of Braemar, just minutes from Balmoral.
Long-term travel changes which align with the desire for longer, less frequent travel and opportunities to meaningfully connect with new people and cultures:
6. Longer less frequent trips
With so much time spent at home dreaming, Black Tomato hopes to see people using the time to plan longer, epic adventures with friends and family, rather than racking up tick-box weekends. As specialists in intrepid travel, Black Tomato can facilitate this with extended trips to far-flung destinations, such as Argentina, Chile, Svalbard, Morocco or Mongolia. Travellers who embark on Black Tomato’s Get Lost adventures are dropped into destinations in the wild and are tasked with navigating their way back to civilisation. On a recent Get Lost trip to Morocco, clients had to navigate their way out of the rugged and isolated Jbel Saghro mountain range, bordering the Sahara Desert. Others have ventured to the Mongolian steppes, to places so far off the beaten track that not even Google can find them. Black Tomato also offers an eight-day trip through Chile, where you’ll leave Santiago behind and head to the Maipo Valley and on to the Atacama Desert where hot air ballooning, salt lake soaking and horse riding are just a few of the ways to explore this otherworldly landscape. Or, for a very different kind of wilderness, and a taste of life as a polar explorer, head to Svalbard for dog-sledging, ice-climbing and cross-country skiing on the ultimate polar adventure.
7. Taste your way around the world
While many will have enjoyed having more time to cook and spend time with family over the kitchen table, others will be looking forward to a break from home-cooking. With Black Tomato you can begin to explore the world's vast culinary landscape, whether that be with immersive journeys through Provence or Greek island hopping around Mykonos, Spetses and Porto Heli where Black Tomato can arrange helicopter trips to sequestered coves where feasts of fresh fish await you. For a taste of Tennessee, head to Blackberry Mountain whose offering of local food at Three Sisters restaurant encompasses everything from artisan cheese and handcrafted whiskeys to wildflower honey and beer from the farm’s brewery. Or, discover the culinary heritage of Peru on a journey with Chef’s Table’s Virgilio Martinez. While much of Peru’s culinary attention has been focused on Lima, Virgilio will show you that the Sacred Valley has much to offer, including his restaurant Mil, tucked away amid the otherworldly circular terraces of Moray. South America’s lesser known foodie hotspot is Uruguay, where you can explore the coastal ranch of Estancia Vik and its traditional Uruguayan barbecue, or even venture to the picturesque village of Garzon with its world-class Bodega Garzon Restaurant by Francis Mallmann, set within acres of vineyards.
8. Reprioritise health and wellness
During lockdown, many have put great emphasis on nurturing health and wellbeing, whether this be through meditation, exercise or finding ways to boost your immune system. Black Tomato offers trips to the most inspiring places in the world to build upon the positive lifestyle changes that may have been incorporated into our lives over the past couple of months. Chief among them is The Maldives – a tranquil and restorative destination that will allow you to focus solely on your wellbeing. At the world-renowned Espa Spa at Joali you can enjoy ESPA’s restorative treatments, bespoke fitness programmes and tennis training with WTA professionals. In the south, Six Senses Laamu offers bespoke sessions ranging from meditation and yoga nidra to non-invasive yogic cleanses, detoxifying treatments and sleep programmes. From The Maldives, Black Tomato can take you to Sri Lanka where you will find bliss in sanctuaries nestled among emerald tea plantations and rainforests, such as Taylor’s Hill and Camellia Hills.
9. New and meaningful connections
While the virtual world has enabled us to keep in touch with the people we love, travellers are hard-wired to make new and meaningful connections with people. Black Tomato can help you forge these new relationships by introducing you to inspiring personalities, projects and traditions – from supporting a remote-library charity that helps educate reindeer herders living on the Taiga in Mongolia, to learning from expert horse handlers at Nihi Sumba on the rugged Indonesian coast. Or, if there’s a specific skill or need you want to address, Black Tomato’s Bring it Back trips are specially designed to give you the opportunity to learn from local experts – whether that be how to rebuild your business with entrepreneurs in Iceland, or how to cultivate strong family relationships from the nomadic communities of Bayangobi in Mongolia.
10. Time to tick off the bucket list
After months grounded in one place, everyone has had plenty of time to dream and crystallise their thoughts on their bucket list destinations. As soon as travel restrictions are lifted, many will seize the day as soon as it arrives. Due to the current pause on travel, many of the world’s most exclusive destinations, which normally require several years’ lead time to secure, may also be more accessible, so there is tremendous value in planning and booking ahead. Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime safari in Tanzania, watching the solar eclipse in Chilean Patagonia, hot air ballooning across the Atacama Desert, trailing Manitoba polar bears in Canada, seeing Iceland’s northern lights or exclusive afterhours visits to Egypt’s staggering Giza Pyramid complex, Black Tomato can make your stay-dreaming come true.