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From the Legend of El Dorado to Scotland’s Lochs: Booking.com Presents Five Regions Ideal for an ‘Annual Reset’

Hello, 2024! The bright side to the post-holiday blues is the chance to start daydreaming about what the next ultimate vacation destination will be. More and more, travelers are being intentional in their planning of “annual resets” -  memorable and once in a lifetime trips to under the radar destinations with two goals in mind: breaking away from day to day responsibilities to reset and recharge, and a desire for authentic experiences. These trips are meant to tick several boxes including plenty of adventurous activities, opportunities for relaxation, as well as local and cultural immersion. Following the reveal of this year’s Most Welcoming Destinations, we are showcasing five regions that serve as the perfect north star for an “annual reset” trip. 

Asturias, Spain

Situated along Spain’s rugged northern coast, Asturias offers visitors a spectacular combination of pristine landscapes, ancient traditions, and culinary delights. Typically one of the less traveled to regions in Spain, it is the perfect destination for travelers seeking authenticity and cultural immersion. Thanks to the “Cider Route”, visitors can explore Asturias through its gastronomy by visiting cider houses serving the region's famed drink alongside delectable local dishes. What better way to dig deep into the roots of this territory’s culinary treasures? Booking.com recently revealed that 56%* of people choose a vacation destination on the basis that it has a good reputation for food and drink.1 

Aside from indulging in gastro-tourism, travelers can visit the historic city of Oviedo, with medieval architecture and vibrant plazas, or check out quaint fishing villages, like Cudillero, which boast colorful houses clinging to seaside cliffs. Upon a backdrop of strong Celtic history, Asturias blesses visitors with one-of-a kind cuisine and a diverse heritage. 

Where to stay: Cielostar offers visitors a unique, sustainable and luxurious villa stay surrounded by nature. The property also has a restaurant that cooks up a fusion of authentic, traditional and Asturian village cuisine. Visitors can also enjoy a Hiking, Spa and Lunch Experience on this day trip. 

How to get there: Asturias Airport (code: OVD), located in Oviedo, is the region’s only international airport and can be reached from other major European cities. Alternatively, visitors can consider picking up a car rental from Madrid and making the four hour drive. Nonetheless, a car is recommended to properly explore everything Asturias has to offer.

Boyacá, Colombia

Colombia’s Boyacá region is the ideal destination for travelers seeking a proper reset from their day to day lives. The area’s jaw dropping landscapes made up of highland plateaus, crystal-clear lakes and valleys composed of every imaginable shade of green make the perfect setting for any sort of spiritual retreat, yoga practice or journaling. Boyacá’s rich cultural heritage is celebrated through traditional festivals, artisan markets, and indigenous communities, offering a glimpse into Colombia's vibrant traditions. Maybe the legend of El Dorado rings a bell? The Muisca people, native to the region, are actually the subject of this mythical story. 

Boyacá is also filled with cobblestoned street villages that are lined with whitewashed buildings and historic squares. Villa de Leyva, the most famous of these, is situated at over 7,000 feet (2,100 meters). The re-energizing spirit of Boyacá serves as the perfect catalyst for travelers seeking that trip to recharge and ground themselves.

Where to stay: Annapurna Villa de Leyva is a Travel Sustainable certified guesthouse with a patio, sun terrace to relax and enjoy the amazing views. The property also offers in-house yoga classes and a selection of warm dishes, fruit, and cheese are available for the vegetarian breakfast. For visitors looking for more of a spiritual retreat in a more isolated area, Passadhi Ayurveda & Yoga Retreat is a great option. 

How to get there: Boyacá is located to the north of the Colombian capital of Bogotá, with Villa de Leyva specifically being a three hour drive. Bogota International Airport (code: BOG) is the closest gateway and receives flights from across the globe. A car rental or private transfer are the most efficient options to reach this region.

Otago, New Zealand

Located on the South Island of New Zealand, Otago is the ideal choice for any eco-conscious traveler or outdoor enthusiast given its strong commitment to sustainability and ecotourism. Visitors can observe albatross colonies, penguin habitats and marine life in their natural habitats, or find endless opportunities for hiking and cycling while enjoying Otago's unparalleled natural beauty, whether that is the breathtaking Southern Alps or the pristine Lake Wanaka. 

Visitors to Otago can also check out the historic gold rush town of Arrowtown, which provides a glimpse into the region’s pioneering past, or the city of Dunedin, the region’s vibrant cultural hub filled with galleries and theaters. Though quite far from most places across the globe, a trip to Otago is an opportunity to be one with nature and see first hand the power of preservation and conservation. 

Where to stay: Travel Sustainable property Villa del Lago offers quality self-catering apartments on Lake Wakatipu, only a short drive from Queenstown. The property has its own pebbled beach with a jetty and features stunning views over the lake and mountains. For those searching for something more off the grid, look no further than Haurapa PurePod.

How to get there: To reach Otago, visitors will have to fly into one of the region’s two airports, either in Queenstown (code: ZQN) or Dunedin (code: DUD). Both cities can be reached domestically from New Zealand’s main international airports (such as Auckland or Christchurch), as well as select cities in Australia. A car rental is highly recommended to explore Otago and why not pair it with an Otago Peninsula's Coastline Driving Audio Tour?

Perthshire, United Kingdom

Booking.com recently revealed that 56%* of people say that as temperatures soar close to home, they will use their vacation to cool down elsewhere. If this resonates, the region of Perthshire, characterized by its temperate climate, is an excellent option. Situated in the heart of Scotland, Perthshire offers postcard-perfect vistas made up of serene lochs, dense forests and iconic castles. For water activities lovers, the options are endless ranging from sailing, canoeing and paddle boarding on Loch Tay to white water rafting on the majestic Tay River. For those interested in medieval history, Perthshire does not disappoint with its castles galore, whether that is Blair Castle (the ancient seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl) or Scone Palace (once the crowning place of the Kings of Scots).

The charming town of Pitlochry, known for its Victorian architecture and the famed Pitlochry Festival Theatre, adds a cultural touch to the region. With its warm hospitality, rich heritage, and wealth of outdoor activities, Perthshire is a true Scottish gem. 

Where to stay: The two-bedroom Stables Cottage is an ideal option for those seeking a stay in a traditional style home and is located 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Scone Palace. Desiring a bed and breakfast stay? Westlands of Pitlochry offers guests a tranquil stay close to hiking trails and adventure sports such as archery, mountain biking and rafting.

How to get there: Reaching Perthshire requires flying into Glasgow (code: GLA) or Edinburgh (code: EDI) and making the hour and a half drive north. For those already in Great Britain, Pershire is a four hour drive from Manchester and eight hour drive from London. The best and really the only way to get around Pertshire is via a car

Erongo, Namibia

With less than 500,000 international visitors in 2022, the African country of Namibia offers endless opportunities for discovery and surprise. Nestled in the heart of the country, the Erongo region effortlessly blends rugged landscapes with rich cultural experiences. The iconic Spitzkoppe, a granite peak that rises dramatically from the desert floor, offers breathtaking panoramic views and is paradise for hikers and photographers. The Erongo Mountains also allow visitors to discover ancient rock art at the UNESCO-listed Twyfelfontein. 

Walvis Bay, Namibia’s second largest city, is located in between the dunes and the ocean. Originally started as a whaling station, it is now one the country’s only deepwater port. Learn how settlers tamed the desert in the past and visit the must see attractions on this Private Highlights of Walvis Bay Tour. The quaint town of Omaruru, known for its historic German architecture and vibrant arts scene, adds a touch of charm to the region.  

Where to stay: Omurenga offers luxurious accommodation with panoramic views of the Erongo Mountains. The lodge offers a year-round infinity pool and relaxing lounge areas and each room has a private terrace with spectacular views. Another option is Hohenstein Lodge, situated at the bottom of the highest peak of the Erongo Mountains.

How to get there: Most travelers interested in visiting Erongo will need to fly into Namibia’s capital, Windhoek (code: WDH). The region does have a smaller regional airport in Walvis Bay (code: WVB). 

The Most Welcoming Places on Earth were identified based on the share of accommodation providers receiving a Traveller Review Award 2024*, the other five destinations included in this year’s global list of Most Welcoming Regions list include:

1Travel Predictions 2024 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total, 27,730 respondents across 33 countries and territories were polled (including 1008 from Argentina, 1012 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 1001 from Belgium, 1002 from Brazil, 1009 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1002 from Colombia, 508 from Croatia, 504 from Denmark, 1011 from France, 1011 from Germany, 1016 from Hong Kong, 1004 from India, 510 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1014 from Italy, 1004 from Japan, 1009 from Mexico, 1014 from The Netherlands, 1015 from New Zealand, 500 from Portugal, 502 from Singapore, 1010 from South Korea, 1009 from Spain, 502 from Sweden, 507 from Switzerland, 504 from Taiwan, 1003 from Thailand, 502 from the UAE, 1007 from the UK, 1005 from the US and 1007 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in July 2023.