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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but wouldn’t it be even more wonderful if you were embarking on a brand new adventure or relaxing with friends and family in the sunshine? We’ve compiled what we think are the best places in the world to spend the festive period so, if you’re looking for an alternative to turkey and Christmas jumpers then feast your eyes on our greatest Christmas escapes…
Swap dark winter evenings for vibrant and diverse Argentina. Buenos Aires is a loud Latin metropolis' where elegant streets are flanked with stunning examples of Colonial, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture, in a city where artists' quarters sit between slick coffee houses and tango is danced on street corners. Mendoza is known as “the land of sunshine and wine” providing the opportunity shake off the winter and taste the fruits of Argentine summer. Venture to the far north-west corner of Argentina and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular natural desert landscapes under intense blue skies. The landscape here is naturally beautiful and provides the perfect backdrop to enjoy activities such as hang-gliding, trekking, rafting, fishing and walking, to name a few. We couldn’t think of a better antidote to winter, could you? Get a real flavour for Argentina on a gourmet break
Rio de Janeiro is one of the liveliest cities in the world and at Christmas and New Year the whole country celebrates with the “city of God” leading the way. Ipanema and Copacabana beaches may be on everyone's hit list, but there are many others along the coastline that are well worth a visit during your holiday and provide the perfect base from which to enjoy the spectacular New Year firework display. For those wanting something quieter, travel south to the small fishing town of Picinguaba and take in the lovely Pousada of the same name or travel into the hills on horseback and enjoy the waterfalls around Fazenada Catucaba.Our 12 night Classic Brazil tour is the perfect introduction to this wonderful country.
As the northern hemisphere plunges into the winter blues, we can’t think of a better place to escape to than warm and sunny Sydney. Celebrating Christmas in one of the liveliest cities in the world is a surreal experience, but yet every bit as magical. Spend your Christmas morning amid the festive madness of Bondi beach and, if you’re not sticking around for the beach barbecue, head poolside or to one of the city’s top restaurants to enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner. As evening falls the city illuminates with the colourful glow of decorations, head to one of the many festive events such as the family-friendly Christmas concerts which take place each year in Martin Place and Hyde Park. Of course Sydney is also the place to stick around for the largest New Year’s Eve party on earth with more than one million people attending its epic waterfront display. We offer two New Year packages which allow you to enjoy the big city buzz of Sydney, its great restaurants, shopping and the beauty of its world famous harbour. Once the party’s over then it’s time to tour and soak up the local flavours of the regions, including the food and wine trails of Hunter Valley.
Yes, there’s a theme and it’s sunshine…If the idea of frosty yuletide evenings spent trapped indoors with extended family fills you with dread, then a Christmas getaway to Southeast Asia may be just the ticket. You won’t find your average beach here, sink your toes into fine stretches of perfect powder-soft sand and enjoy views of dramatic limestone crags that pop straight out of crystal clear waters. Both Thailand and Vietnam provide the perfect setting for a relaxed beach break far from the madding crowd. So this year why not spoil yourself with butler service, a mini wine cellar and private plunge pool at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. After all, you deserve it. We also recommend Soneva Kiri and Six Senses, Samui
Back to relaxing this Christmas…golden sands, cocktail in hand and a good book to enjoy, what’s not to love about a blissful beach holiday? Whether on the Caribbean or Pacific coast, Mexico has something for every beach lover. Our pick of the places to stay include Las Ventanas Al Paraiso with its award-winning Spa, superb infinity pool and thatched cabañas, those not wanting to miss an hour of sunshine should head to Belmond Maroma where El Restaurant serves a divine breakfast on the beach or Las Almanadas which offers no less than four pristine private beaches to choose from.
Many of our favourite Indian Ocean retreats still have space to turn that last minute dream of Christmas in paradise into a reality. How about enjoying Christmas dinner at the world’s only underwater restaurant? Or celebrating New Year with a champagne picnic on a secluded sandbank? Still not sure? Perhaps Michelin-starred dining, some of the world’s best dive sites and award-winning spas will tempt you. Beautiful hotels are located all over the Maldives, scattered like jewels across the emerald atolls of the Indian Ocean. Six Senses Laamu is one of our favourites. This secluded part of paradise doesn't skimp on luxury, and there's still availability over Christmas and New Year. Fortunately, there are other similar gems dotted throughout the Indian Ocean, our pick of those we’d love to spend the festive season at include Villingili, Niyama, Moofushi and Amilla. If Mauritius is on your must visit list of destinations then December is an ideal time to travel, we recommend staying at the Oberoi Shanti Maurice or One & Only Le Saint Geran which is almost entirely surrounded by coral reef so is perfect for snorkelling and diving. Finally, if you fancy the Seychelles then we recommend a stay at Raffles Praslin where the Takamaka Rooftop Lounge is the perfect place to relax with a fine glass of wine or cognac and enjoy the sunset at the end of each perfect day.
With the UK bracing itself for the coldest winter in 50 years, you can be forgiven for wanting to beat a hasty exit towards the nearest airport departure lounge. Sometimes it’s better to stick with the ‘tried and tested’, and where else can you pretty much guarantee winter sun than the Caribbean? We’ve scoured a selection of our favourite resorts to find some early festive gifts in the form of last minute availability to many of the islands. Christmas is normally (and unsurprisingly) the Caribbean’s busiest season, but there’s still a chance to relax on the beaches, soak up the rum (and sun) and get a little taste of the good-time, fun-loving feeling for which it is known. If it’s beaches you’re after Antigua has one for every day of the year and offers something to suit all tastes: family friendly Blue Waters, chic exclusivity at Hermitage Bay or cool and contemporary at Carlisle Bay. Barbados is a perennial favourite with its eclectic mix of culture and fabulous restaurants; we can offer availability at the classic and exclusive The Sandpiper or iconic resort Sandy Lane. Although limited flight availability is still possible for travel throughout December; make a pre-emptive strike and head to warmer climes before the chill sets in.
For the USA in winter months you have two very different choices: head to the west coast, or south, for a dose of warming sun that’ll thaw frigid fingers and tepid toes, relaxing on warm sandy beaches or heading into the desert or hills to sample the fabulous wines or cultural quirks that characterise the southern states. It’s an ideal time of year to drive the Pacific Coast Highway through California or even enjoy an alternative Christmas in the heart of the Sonoran desert in Scottsdale. Alternatively, embrace all that is festive and chilly and head to New York for the quintessential shopping and ice-skating experience, or perhaps to Whistler, where you can zip down slopes of virginal snow and indulge in the après ski to your hearts content. Fairmont Chateau Whistler goes all out for Christmas, with gala dinners and dancing and alpine-themed menus right up to New Year.
Six Senses Laamu
Constance Moofushi Resort
PER AQUUM Niyama
Shanti Maurice, A Nira Resort
Chemin Grenier, Mauritius
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort
Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa
Playa del Carmen
Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer
Ayeyarwady River, Myanmar
Baja California, Mexico
Sydney New Year’s Eve Package
Nights: 5 | from £1,595
As the crowds gather harbour side, be the first to see in the New Year, a full 11 hours ahead of the UK, at the world’s largest celebrations.
Nights: 15 | from £3,075
Put pedal to the metal and embark on a once in a lifetime road trip, hitting all the hotspots and packing in as much Californian fun as possible.
Nights: 12 | from £5,395
Sample some of Argentina’s finest gourmet dining and explore its famous wine regions – this decadent 12 night itinerary is a foodie’s delight.