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This island nation stole the spotlight in 2018 when it was designated a European Capital of Culture. The country actually comprises three inhabited islands: the main island of Malta, Gozo, and Comino. Visit Malta for its historic palaces and churches and spend some time wandering the well-preserved streets of Valletta lined with restaurants, bars, and shops. Gozo boasts hidden swimming holes, beautiful beaches, and salt pans. On Comino, you’ll find the Blue Lagoon, where the eye-popping turquoise water glistens in the sun. You can day trip to the latter two islands while staying on Malta, at the Phoenicia Malta—a member of Leading Hotels of the World favored by Queen Elizabeth II—or at the Corinthia Palace Malta, which will soon unveil its elegantly renovated spa.
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Travelers to Vietnam typically visit cities like Hanoi and Hoi An, and perhaps the famous Ha Long Bay, but it might be worth adding the island of Phu Quoc to your itinerary. Off the country’s southern coast, the island boasts pristine beaches, authentic local culture, and a destination resort designed by Bangkok-based Bill Bensley. For the ambitious JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort Spa, Bensley invented the story of a French colonial-era university that was dusted off and renovated to become the beachfront resort. Every building adheres to the theme, from the Department of Chemistry—where creative cocktails are served—to the Department of Architecture, where rooms are adorned with black-and-white photographs of columns and pilasters.