20 great winter sun holidays
Stay in a five-star hotel in Bali, with flights, all for less than £900. That’s what Tropical Sky is offering at the Grand Nikko hotel on Bali’s south coast on certain deals from December to February. Although this is during Bali’s wet season, downpours tend to come in short bursts and temperatures reach about 27C each day. Overlooking the Indian Ocean and right by a sandy beach, the Grand Nikko has tennis courts, a spa and four pools. There are Japanese, Chinese and seafood restaurants.
Details Seven nights’ B&B costs from £879pp until December 25, with return Singapore Airlines flights included; the price between January 6 and February 29 is £889pp (01342 886941,tropicalsky.co.uk)
2 Makasuto Forest,
There are only nine lodges at Mandina in the Makasuto Forest, where you can combine R&R by the pool with exploring the forest and mangroves by foot or canoe with a guide. The lodges are simply decorated, and each has private roofless bathrooms, but who cares when you’re surrounded by the sound of birdsong? The Gambia is a six-hour flight from Britain, with temperatures from November to May regularly above 30C.
Details A week’s half-board costs from £949, leaving the UK on December 11, including flights and transfers. Other departures this year and in April are available (01489 866939, gambia.co.uk)
3 Koh Samui,
Expect sleek rooms with polished hardwood floors and low-slung beds at the four-star Mantra Samui Resort, a boutique hotel with a 20m infinity pool on a terrace overlooking Bo Phut Bay in Koh Samui. This is a place for chilling out: sunbathing, taking a dip in the pool or the hot tub, or going for a massage in the spa. Yoga and fitness classes are available if you feel a bit more active. The restaurant serves Thai dishes, fresh seafood and pizzas, while the poolside bar offers cocktails until the early hours. The daily high temperature is about 27C in December.
Details Ten nights’ B&B costs from £814pp departing from London on December 8, as well as other dates through the winter (020 8705 0107, awayholidays.co.uk)
You’ll need to book before this Wednesday to get the cut-price rooms at this hotel overlooking the sands of Karon Beach. Mandarava Resort and Spa has three pools for its 130 rooms, and the beach is just a five-minute walk away. If that’s too much effort, there’s also a shuttle service.
Details Rooms for two in January and February cost from £94 a night B&B, including one dinner, and from £49 in April(secretescapes.com). Dialaflight (dialaflight.com) has return flights from Heathrow to Phuket from £329 in January
Average daily temperature on the island of Kauai is 26C in winter. There are many great deals for travel to Hawaii, including a variety of Kauai condo rentals. Kauai has a lot to offer, from hiking through the lush mountain scenery to surfing on one of the well-known beaches. Kauai is known as the mecca of modern surfing and provides tourists with year-round waves. There are many local dishes to try including poke and poi.
This one is for those into health and fitness. The aptly named Healthy Holiday Company has created week-long breaks that include complimentary yoga, meditation, spinning and zumba classes. The holidays are based at the four-star Playitas resort, which also offers bootcamps, combat classes (a mix of karate, boxing and taekwondo) and nordic walking. Playitas is one of Europe’s largest sports and fitness resorts, with tennis and swimming instruction, road cycling, circuit training and spa treatments. Rooms have a pared-down simplicity and are decorated with modern art.
Details A week’s B&B costs from £868pp, including flights, transfers and a complimentary daily health and fitness class (020 8968 0501, thehealthyholidaycompany.co.uk)
7 Valle de Guerra and Garachico,
Walkers can enjoy a seven-night break in Tenerife with flights, a hire car to get to the beginning of trails, route notes and maps — all for less than £750 with Inntravel, the walking specialist. The daily high temperature is in the low twenties in December, perfect for walks through the island’s palm groves, hills and lava fields. Inntravel’s “Timeless Tenerife” break includes a stay at Costa Salada, a charming family-run hotel on the coast in Valle de Guerra, followed by Quinta Roja, a former 16th-century nobleman’s house converted into a bijou hotel in Garachico, a small town overlooking the sea. Favoured walks go through the Anago Mountains and Teide National Park.
Details A week’s B&B costs from £580pp, while easyJet flights are from about £130pp in December (01653 617000, inntravel.co.uk)
During winter, daily highs regularly touch a respectably warm 20C here — plus apartments are cheap and Ryanair flights are amazingly low-priced: from £69 return on certain dates. The Pierre & Vacances holiday village, Origo Mare, consists of simple but comfortable self-catering apartments that work out at less than £400 a week throughout much of December and January. The cheapest rate is a bargain £32.50 per night over a week, with Ryanair flights included. The apartments are around a series of pools and restaurants. They have tennis, mini-golf and cycling, as well as Craterpark, a volcano-style water park with slides.
Details A week in a one-bedroom self-catering apartment, sleeping up to four, costs from £317 in December and January. Two-bedroom apartments, sleeping up to six, cost from £416 (0870 0267145,pierreetvacances.com)
Just an hour’s drive from Colombo, Avani Kalutara Resort is on a sandy beach close to where the Kalu River meets the Indian Ocean. Temperatures usually hit the high twenties here; the hotel has a big pool and offers yoga classes. Staff can also arrange excursions to go river kayaking, bird-watching and to visit the neighbouring town of Palataota to see a fine example of a 19th-century spice mansion. The tasteful rooms are colourful and spacious.
Details Ten nights’ all-inclusive costs from £965pp, including return flights from Gatwick on December 9, as well as other dates through the winter (020 8705 0107, awayholidays.co.uk)
Set by a deserted beach amid a coconut plantation, Club Villa in Bentota — on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast — is a 17-room boutique hotel with a delightful pool by a well-maintained lawn. The hotel is minimalist, mixed with antiques and a colonial style. Massages, yoga lessons, waterskiing and windsurfing are available. Trips to a nearby turtle hatchery can be arranged. Rooms are elegantly decorated, with whitewashed walls, Asian art and Buddhist statues.
Details A week’s half-board costs from £479pp from December 7 to 14 (i-escape.com/club-villa/overview), with Heathrow-Colombo flights from £495pp (srilankan.com)
11 Mount Lavinia,
On the coast just south of Colombo, the three-star Mount Lavinia Hotel is in a distinguished whitewashed building that is a former home of British governors in Sri Lanka. It’s on a headland overlooking the sea, with a terracotta terrace and a pool. Lush, well-kept gardens surround the hotel, which has access to a beautiful sand beach with restaurant tables on a wooden deck overlooking the waves. Some rooms have four-poster beds. Excursions to Colombo can be arranged. The top daily temperature is about 35C during the winter.
Details A week’s half-board costs from £989pp in March, with flights included, but you must book by December 4 (01306 747008,kuoni.co.uk; quote reference IO0400)
12 St Peter,
Temperatures hit 28C in December on the west coast of Barbados, where the Sugar Cane Club — an “adult-only” resort for those aged over 14 — has 45 suites set in lush gardens with palm trees and banana plants. Sugar Cane has a spa, two pools, a squash court and nearby nature trails. Classes can be arranged with local artists. Enjoy a sundowner at the rum bar and try Bajan dishes at the restaurant. It’s about a ten-minute walk to the beach.
Details One week’s room-only with flights is from £989pp departing on December 7 (0844 4999330, caribbeanwarehouse.co.uk)
For a bargain-basement stay in Florida, the Sailport Waterfront Suites delivers — a week in early December with flights costs less than £700 and a fortnight costs less than £900. Rooms have kitchenettes, so you can keep the cost of your winter break even lower. Each suite has a small lounge as well as a bedroom, plus a balcony. The hotel comes with a pool and is by a beach with a fishing jetty. Tampa has lively nightlife and a rich Cuban tradition in Ybor City.
Details Seven nights’ room-only costs from £689pp between December 1 and 15, with flights included. A fortnight costs from £839pp during the same period (americansky.co.uk)
Stay in the heart of the theme parks in Orlando at the Hilton Grand Vacation Suites on International Drive in December for less than £750 with flights — and take the free shuttle buses to SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Universal Orlando. Temperatures can hit 25C on warm days during the winter in Orlando; the hotel has a big pool and a hot tub (if it cools off). Other facilities include a fitness centre, games room, playground and kids’ club. Rooms are smart and comfortable, with balconies.
Details Seven nights’ room-only costs from £245pp in December (booking.com), while flights from Gatwick cost from about £497pp (skyscanner.net)
15 Cape Town,
The boutique, five-room Allstar Villa in Milnerton, Cape Town, is close to a beach and a 20-minute drive from the V&A Waterfront. The cost is kept well below £1,000pp if you catch an Ethiopian Airlines flight, which requires a stop in Addis Ababa. But if you can handle the 17-hour journey time, it’s a bargain. Allstar has chic, minimalist rooms and a small pool. Booking.com also has other Cape Town deals. The average daily high is 23C in December.
Details A week’s room-only costs from £308pp (booking.com), while return Ethiopian flights are from £670pp (skyscanner.net)
Alila Diwa Resort is a gorgeous, five-star property overlooking paddy fields when facing inland or the white sand of Gonsua Beach when facing out to sea. It’s in a peaceful corner of southern Goa and the temperature over the winter is regularly at about 26C at noon. The upmarket tour operator Greaves India has squeezed its prices, so a week’s B&B at the hotel with flights is exactly £1,000pp this winter. Expect infinity pools, plush rooms and first-rate Southern Indian cuisine.
Details A week’s B&B costs from £1,000pp with Jet Airways flights in early December and in mid-to-late January (020 7487 9111,greavesindia.com)
17 Ras al-Khaimah,
Ras al-Khaimah is a little-known emirate about an hour’s drive from Dubai and is a great place for doing little more than relaxing in the sun. Inspired by Nubian-style architecture, the Cove Rotana Resort has everything you’ll need to do just that: two swimming pools, as well as a private beach with water sports, and a spa and fitness club.
Details Seven nights’ B&B costs from £699pp with flights from Gatwick to Dubai, and transfers, for departures from January 3-20 (01733224808, thomascook.com)
So many hotels have shot up in Dubai of late that some great offers are around — even on five-star hotels. The Grand Millennium Dubai hotel is available for less than £600 for seven nights including flights from London in December. It has smart, executive-style rooms with slick bathrooms, wi-fi and tinted windows overlooking Media City. It’s a short shuttle bus to Jumeirah beach or to the mega Dubai Mall, plus the hotel has its own pool on a terrace, and a spa. There’s a poolside smoothie bar, Belgian beer bar and an Asian fusion restaurant.
Details Seven nights’ B&B costs from £573pp departing from London on December 7 (020 3001 0628, teletextholidays.co.uk)
19 Phu Quoc Island,
Doris and Dicky is a new budget boutique hotel website with an impressive selection of properties around the globe. One of its favourite “chic and cheap” picks in Vietnam is Mango Bay Resort on Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc Island. It’s a bit off the beaten track, but the shabby-chic style includes showers partially open to the elements and wooden-deck terraces. Vietnamese dishes are served at the little restaurant by the beach bar.
Details A week’s room-only stay costs from £484pp (dorisanddicky.com), while Emirates has return flights to Ho Chi Minh City from about £470pp (emirates.com)
Kuoni, one of Britain’s leading long-haul tour operators, is particularly worth checking for deals on winter sun in exotic destinations. It tends to feature only high-end hotels because it cherry-picks properties. This winter its breaks to Borneo, staying at the five-star Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, stand out. The hotel has a spa with herbal steam rooms, massage, a yoga pavilion and an infinity pool. Rooms are sumptuous and spacious, with views of Mount Kinabalu or the South China Sea. It’s next to a 150-metre white-sand beach.
Details A week’s room-only is from £999pp, including flights from Heathrow this winter (01306 747008, kuoni.co.uk; quote reference FE92)