One year ago we were working on Condé Nast Traveler‘s annual Hot List issue as we anxiously watched this new illness advance across the world like a storm front. A couple of weeks before we had to ship the magazine off to the printers, our teams in New York and London were sent home. There was something awkward, we acknowledged, about publishing a list of the best new addresses in a moment when everyone was suddenly sequestered in their homes; as we wrote at the time, “We know that right now you’re probably wondering when you’ll be able to take your next trip. When you do, though, we encourage you to use these exceptional openings and launches as your guide. It will be worth the wait.”

Well, one long strange year later we’re still at home, though many of us have traveled at least a little bit. But as we bow a new edition of the Hot List—our 25th!—I am happy to say that the wait is reaching an end. And this year’s incarnation of the list is a testament to the resilience and innovation of the travel industry as a whole, which has soldiered through adversity to open hotels and debut products, often rejiggering them on the fly to keep people safe and comfortable. I say “the travel industry as a whole” because while hotels always have been and always will be the soul of this list, this year we’ve opted also to include the new and notable from restaurants, transportation providers, and destinations, a nod to the fact that everything is connected in travel, just as it is in the world at large. In addition, we’ve rounded up some of the soon-to-be-launched projects we’re most jazzed about in the remainder of 2021. And as for the new properties here, you’ll notice a common theme: in one way or another they’re all about trying something new, flipping the script, finding the good in the bad. It’s what we’ve all had to do, but few have done it better than hotels.

Just like last year, spring has arrived in a glory of cherry and magnolia blossoms as we put the Hot List issue to bed. In 2020, though, spring felt like a cruel tease. In 2021, it feels like it comes with infinite possibilities.