Five utterly blissful escapes that promise glorious winter sun. From the lush haven of Belize, to the jagged coast of Oman and the refinement of Madiera.
Belize is a tiny country nestled on the coast between Mexico and Guatemala. Pristine subtropical forests provide a haven for wildlife and shelter ancient Mayan ruins. Whilst the warm clear waters of the Caribbean lap beautiful sandy cayes, offering access to the world’s second longest barrier reef. The country is also renowned for its spectacular snorkelling and diving.
Fly to Belize City and spend a few days in the Cayo District at the Black Rock River Lodge. The lodges here have a remote feel with plenty of rainforest walking trails. Enjoy a guided evening walk through the rainforest. Your guide will help you spot wildlife such as snakes, owls, coatimundis and tarantulas. Explore the archaeological site of Caracol, canoe, go horse riding, or discover the ancient Maya culture. Complete the trip by flying to Ambergris Caye on San Pedro Island to snorkel, dive the Blue Hole, or relax on sandy beaches.
Simply Belize. Audley travel offer a 10 night itinerary, including flights, accommodation and guided walk for £2,250pp.
Further info: 01993 838690 website: Audley Travel
Less showy and more ‘real’ than Dubai, Oman is more refined option in Arabian Peninsula. Endless, empty beaches, culture in the capital Muscat, mystical sand dunes and temperatures in the mid-twenties. Perfect for warming winter chilled bones.
Take a trip to the luxurious eco retreat Six Senses Zighy Bay. A sleek and stylish seaside retreat, Zighy Bay sits along the undeveloped Musandam Peninsula. Designed to look and feel like a rustic Omani village Zighy Bay nonetheless has every luxury and spa treat your heart could desire. With majestic mountains to one side and the sparkling Gulf of Oman to the other, location alone is enough to help melt your cares away.
Complimentary Night Offer: Healing Holidays are offering 7nights for 6 during March, at Six Senses Zighy Bay including flights, accommodation and free $400 transfers for £4015pp based on 2 people sharing.
Further info: 020 7843 3597, website: Healing Holidays
There can be no better antidote to the grey British winter than a spirit lifting visit to the Atlantic port of Essaouira. An old, Portuguese trading post for gold, ivory, slaves and spices, today the port bustles not with trade but with small blue fishing boats. Rammed gunwale to gunwale they pack the harbour like sardines in a crate.
Essaouira is a feast for the senses, such a pleasure to fill your lungs with salty fresh air and feel the need to reach for sunglasses to take the edge off the bright winter sun glaring off the boxy white buildings. Spend your days strolling along the white sandy beach, exploring the ramparts, eating seafood at Le Chalet de la Plage and marvelling at the spice pyramids and knick knackery in the medina.
Relatively unknown compared to the packed islands of southern Thailand, the 100 or so islands that make up the Langkawi archipelago are a lesson in sustainable tourism. Tourists may come but their impact is contained and carefully controlled to ensure they don’t damage the stunning landscape and fragile eco-system.
While away your days diving on the coral reef, learning to windsurf or kayak, or walking in the jungle. Stay at the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, one of Conde Nast Travelers ‘Favourite Beach Resorts in the World.’ A place of laidback luxury, 91 villas and pavilions are dotted along the mile long beach. A true paradise in the UNESCO Geopark.
Special Offer: Pay for your stay of 7 to 13 nights at least 30 days before your arrival date to enjoy 30% off the Best Flexible Rate. Also includes: round-trip luxury airport transfers. Full buffet breakfast daily for up to two adults at Serai restaurant (conditions apply). A 60-minute Massage for up to two adults per stay. Complimentary rock climbing and archery (one session per person). Complimentary water sports, including kayaking, windsurfing and catamaran sailing. And premium high-speed internet access.
Further info: 60 (4) 950 8888 website: Four Seasons
Only a three hour flight from the UK, Madiera is one of the closest and most soothing options for a top up of winter sun. A lush volcanic island filled with botanical wonder, the Portuguese isle attracts a less frenetic crowd than the Balearic party islands. Somewhere to stroll leisurely through the Botanic gardens of Palheiro and Funchal, or take a more stenuous hike in the mountains.
Stay in the elegant Quinta Jardins do Lago, former home of General William Beresford during the Napoleonic wars. An elegant manor house set in immaculately maintained formal gardens. Unwind by the tranquil pool, dine well and meander your way round Funchal and the nearby villages.
Complimentary Night Offer: Stay 7 nights for the price of 6 from £815 per person – saving £220 per couple. The price is based on two sharing a Standard Garden View with Balcony, including breakfast, economy from London Gatwick with British Airways, private transfers and UK lounge passes.
Further info: 01244 897 771 website: Elegant Resorts
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