The 5 Best Places to Travel in the World in 2012

As we usher in 2012, many of us also start to think about our travel plans for the year. Should we go somewhere tropical? How about a exotic vacation far away? Or perhaps beaches far from your typical tourist traps?

1. Tibet If you're seeking a spiritual destination with a dose of luxury, the St. Regis Lhasa in Tibet should be on your bucket list. Your days can be filled with magnificent monasteries, dramatic landscapes and an extraordinary culture, but you can come home to luxurious accommodations, a 24-hour butler, incredible pool and spa, wine bar and a choice of restaurants that serve other things besides yak meat!

2. South Beach

The Surfcomber Doubletree is now a Kimpton Hotel and has been completely remodeled into contemporary cool.

Speaking of cool, check out the recently opened Dream Hotel . The Z, which was the old Regent, is no longer under wraps or under the radar, and Red, built in 1939, is now a red-hot-mama of a hotel. Be on the lookout for the SLS (the old Ritz Plaza), due to open in the spring. They added a luxe pool, bungalow suites and José Andrés/Philippe Starck restaurant and lounge.

Like this article? Watch Chef José Andrés talk to genConnect about his restaurant empire

3. Uruguay

Que pasa? Punta del Este was last year, Jose Ignacio is now, but if you're looking for the next hot spot inUruguay, head to La Pedrera or Cabo Polonio. Both are Bohemian in spirit, laid-back chic in style and the virgin, untamed beaches make for a perfect combo.

4. Croatia

Go before the word gets out! The island of Korcula is a fabulous, exclusive retreat and the Lesic Palace is one of the deluxe hotels cropping up in Croatia - it's about time! Take my advice and get to the island of Vis or the old fisherman town of Komiza before Mr. 'Zagat' or Mr. 'Michelin'does -- these restaurants are the best-kept secret in the Mediterranean!

Click here for the 5th best place to travel...

Tropical is nice, but looking for something a little cooler? Strap on your skis and hit the slopes in Park City, Utah. This town is a hub of activity, including the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, occupying Park City until January 29. Click here for genConnect's coverage from Utah.

    About the Author: Travel consultant Jody Bear of Bear & Bear Travel has over 30 years of experience traveling the globe seeking out the latest hotspots and destinations for her prestigious clients, and she has been on the Condé Nast Traveler Specialist list for 10 years running.