Thursday, 22 January 2009

10 classic wintersun destinations

If your precious week of winter sun is too valuable to risk on a new boutique in Benghazi or that cutting-edge spa in Sumatra, we’re here to help.

We took 10 top winter-sun destinations – places where the beaches go on for days, the oceans are as pure as Plymouth gin and winter heat is guaranteed by God himself – found the classic places to stay in each, then added a fresh, modern twist.

Because you’re worth it.

Unless stated otherwise, all prices are per person for a week, B&B, in January, and include flights from London. Temperatures are the seasonal average from December to March

How far? 9hr
How hot? 80F

Diversions are few – no rainforests, no waterfalls and no craft markets – and temptations many on Anguilla. It packs 33 Bounty-ad beaches and more than 70 restaurants into its 16 slender miles. Two of the finest wine cellars in the Caribbean are here – 25,000 bottles at the Malliouhana and 35,000 bottles beneath the Koal Keel restaurant – which perhaps explains why Anguilla is a firm favourite with Robert De Niro and Keith Richards. But it’s not cheap. Island cabbie Albert sums up the place with a new slogan that probably won’t be adopted by the tourist board: “Come thin and rich,” he says, “leave fat and broke.”

The classic High on a headland above Meads Bay, Malliouhana gets everything right. The art is breathtaking, the barman is psychic, the spa is the best in the Caribbean and the view from Michel Rostang’s sensational restaurant would make you cry if you weren’t grinning so hard. Best rooms are the one-bedroom suites, with direct access to their own beach. The twist The alternative is Ku, on Shoal Bay East, one of the finest beaches on earth. Once a run-down seaside flophouse, Ku was taken on by the team behind the top-of-the-range Cap Juluca, and their flair has created a bijou bargain on the island of excess – huge rooms, a fabulous bar and Uncle Ernie’s beach shack next door, for cold Carib beer and ribs.

How far? 8hr
How hot? 80F

If winter sun were literature, then Barbados would be Dickens: popular, easily accessible and a bona fide classic. And, despite the complaints of grumpy elderly Bajans that “the weather ain’t what it used to be”, winter here is idyllic. The showers that sweep Barbados during the summer months are gone, and the island enjoys up to 10 hours of warm sunshine per day – think of a perfect English summer with added coconut.

The classic The best hotels and beaches are on Barbados’s posh west side – known as the Platinum Coast – in the parish of St James, north of the capital, Bridgetown. While you could flash the cash and check in to Sandy Lane, you’ll find the nearby Colony Club is an altogether more refined experience. With four pools meandering through the flower-filled grounds, and a perfect little beach at the end of the garden, it offers discreet, elegant sophistication in a quiet, colonial-style setting. The twist If you’re looking for WiFi, thalassotherapy or flat screens, you’d better skip this bit, because the House isn’t that kind of hotel. It doesn’t even have an infinity pool, although we suggest that the Caribbean horizon is an acceptable substitute. What it does offer is 34 simple suites with gorgeous views, linen sheets, champagne breakfasts, polished floors, and Daphne’s restaurant just next door.

How far? 5hr
How hot? 66F

It’s appropriate that the island at the crossroads of Europe and Africa should offer both winter sun and winter sports. It’s not as hot as Hurghada, or as snowy as Chamonix, but skiing in the Troodos Mountains in the morning and hitting the beach in the afternoon is entirely possible in Cyprus. Paphos is the place to stay: unlike resorts such as Ayia Napa and Protaras, it remains open year-round, and if you avoid December and January – when most of the annual rain and all of the annual snow falls on the island – you can expect balmy days and cool nights.

The classic Follow the winding path through the fragrant tropical gardens at the Annabelle by the light of the full moon over the wine-dark sea, and it’s easy to imagine encountering Aphrodite and Adonis, frolicking at the water’s edge. The goddess of love emerged from the sea just down the coast, and her handsome lover-boy was conceived in a fabulous royal palace right here in Paphos, which archeologists say was almost as luxurious as the Annabelle.

The twist Where the Annabelle does deluxe, the Almyra does design. Think big white sofas, black-slate pools and a Café del Mar soundtrack. Think sushi instead of souvlaki, day beds instead of sun loungers, and more Zen-influenced precision than you can shake your yoga mat at. On paper, it looks too cool for school, but it’s not. It’s happy, friendly, oozes old-fashioned Cypriot hospitality and loves children.

How far? 5hr
How hot? 71F

If winter sun means cloudless skies and zero chance of rain, then Egypt is your best bet. The coolest month is January, but that doesn’t mean much here: temperatures are delightfully balmy and, for eight hours a day, the only thing crossing that clear blue sky is the sun. Such perfect conditions mean that demand is high for this time of year, so the tip is to book early.

The classic Forget Cairo, Alexandria and landlocked Luxor, and head instead for the Red Sea riviera. That’s right, the Red Sea riviera – the land God created and man walloped with the ugly stick, building resorts such as the utterly charmless Sharm el Sheikh. If you look hard enough, however, oases of decorous tranquillity can be found. Just outside Hurghada lies the Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh, offering refined relaxation amid acres of date palms and bougainvillea, and half a mile of dazzling, deserted white beach. The twist In Marsa Alam, at the wild southern end of the riviera, try the vast Port Ghalib resort: three five-star hotels, and a four-star annexe for your butler, set around the second-largest sea-water swimming pool in the world. Built by the company behind South Africa’s Sun City, it’s new this winter, so likely to be a little rough around the edges, but deals are to be had.

How far? 4hr
How hot? 68F

If you want winter sun without baking beaches and sticky sunbeds, try Madeira, the isle of eternal spring. There is a seaside, but it’s usually a long way down a steep slope, so loafing here involves terraces, pavement cafes and long lunches. Exercise options include worldclass golf, downhill rides in wicker luges and exploring the 1,600 miles of levadas – the irrigation channels that run like arteries across the island.

The classic Reid’s Palace still has a billiards room, where an avuncular attendant will chalk your cue and keep score. It still offers tango lessons, and it still insists on whites for tennis and a jacket for dinner – the black-tie code has, sadly, been dropped. Every room has a sea view, and the dry martini is the driest in the world. How classic do you want it to be, for Pete’s sake? The twist The alternative to the formality of Reid’s Palace is the Choupana Hills Resort and Spa, a distinctly Asian-looking collection of temples to self-indulgence that somehow suit their lush, jungle-like setting high above Funchal. Designed by Kerry Hill, it’s all Zen this and feng shui that, with trickling water, wind chimes and fat little buddhas peeping out of the undergrowth.).

How far? 12hr
How hot? 83F

Back when the NHS had a bit of cash, those suffering from any degree of ennui would be packed off to the seaside to convalesce. The idea was to sit still and do nothing while the sea breezes and sunshine chased your blues away. The 21st-century equivalent is called Mauritius. The hotels are among the most gorgeous in the world, the water is warm, the beaches are dazzling and the sightseeing is nonexistent. So you’re forced to sit still and do nothing while the sea breezes and the sunshine chase those blues away.

The classic These days, those staying at Le Saint Géran and Le Touessrok tend to be reading Hello! magazine, rather than appearing in it – and, despite their indisputably lovely locations, both seem a little dated. So, if you’re looking for exclusive luxury, try the elegantly understated Royal Palm, on the northwest coast. Grand is the word to describe this hotel, and, by coincidence, Grand Baie, the island’s only night out, is a short stroll along the beach..

The twist Or try Les Filaos, also in Grand Baie. Where Royal Palm is strait-laced, this is loose-fitting, and with just 12 rooms – all with sea views – you’ll be on first-name terms with the barman in no time.

How far? 11hr
How hot? 75F

Forget Cancun. The Americans call it Vegas-on-Sea; to the Brits, it’s Benidorm-con-Burritos. To find that perfect winter sun, you need to head south to Playa del Carmen, a bustling resort that has not yet sold its soul, or north to the Isla Mujeres, which is so laid-back, it makes Jamaica seem stressed. There’s nothing else for it – all you can do here is lounge in a hammock on an empty white beach, sipping 50p margaritas made by locals who truly understand the sacred art of loafing.

The classic The latest Mandarin Oriental property is the Riviera Maya resort, in Playa del Carmen, a jungle village that is built around a sacred Mayan lake on the shores of the Caribbean. Presented with the usual impeccable attention to every self-indulgent detail that you can imagine, the resort has three pools and a 25,000sq ft spa – which perhaps seems rather large.

The twist At the remote southern end of the gorgeous Isla Mujeres, Casa de los Sueños – the “house of dreams” – has just eight rooms, named Sun, Moon, Abundance, Harmony, Joy, Peace, Love and Staff Only. One of those might have been a broom cupboard, but you get the picture. No kids, no alarm clocks, no mobile-phone signal and nothing to see except the spa, the ocean and a ruined Mayan temple at the end of the track, which probably isn’t worth the effort.

How far? 11hr
How hot? 78F

There are three things to remember about Cape Town: first, the weather is gorgeous, second, the ocean is freezing, and third, the exchange rate offers remarkably good value – which is a polite way of saying you can probably afford the most expensive bottle on any wine list in town. And if the wild and beautiful Cape coastline cannot keep you captivated, head inland to the gourmet paradise of the Cape winelands.

The classic Ellerman House is a highly polished gem, set on the slopes above Bantry Bay, with unobstructed views across to Africa’s Alcatraz – Robben Island. Elegant, refined and almost military in its attention to detail, it has 17 traditionally furnished rooms, a museum-quality art collection and a cellar of 15,000 bottles of South African wine.

The twist Les Cascades de Bantry Bay is to Ellerman House what a tattooed surfer is to a blazer-wearing yachtie, but that’s not to decry this stylish contemporary lodge, just five minutes’ drive from the V&A Waterfront. Friendly, informal and with the same jaw-dropping views as its classic neighbour, it offers 10 individually designed rooms, three pools lined in cool black slate and, thanks to its enviable position, sheltered from Cape Town’s biting southeasterlies, alfresco dining every night.

How far? 10hr
How hot? 85F

If Mauritius is marred by having too little to do, then the snag with Sri Lanka is that there’s too much.

Ancient temples, impenetrable jungles and singing fish compete with elephant orphanages, devil dancing and highland tea plantations, but ignore them all and concentrate on the island’s picture-perfect beaches.

The classic Remember the buzz when Carlisle Bay arrived in Antigua? The Fortress, run by the team behind Huvafen Fushi, in the Maldives, does exactly the same for Sri Lanka, sashaying into staid old Galle like some chic, designer- dressed beauty. The twist For a serenely minimalist alternative, try Amanwella, 40 miles to the east, at Tangalle, where the only curve you’ll see from the 30 huge suites is the southern horizon. Prices at this luxury haven have been slashed by 50% this winter, so serious savings can be made.

How far? 12hr
How hot? 85F

It took Henry Stanley weeks to reach Zanzibar in 1871 – these days, it takes us half a day, but little else about this fabulously exotic island has changed. Dazzling white beaches fringed by lush, green coconut plantations and lapped by lukewarm, lapis-lazuli seas offer the best possible cure for your seasonal affective disorder, and if you like it hot, you definitely won’t be disappointed – that blazing equatorial sun shines here for eight hours per day.

The classic If you wish to be waited on in a stylish setting of unabashed indulgence, try the Zamani Zanzibar Kempinski, at Kiwengwa, on the northeast coast. It has all the manicured lawns and monogrammed robes you’d expect from a luxury chain. The twist If all you desire is barefoot simplicity and fresh fish for supper, then make tracks to the Shooting Star inn, just along the beach. The 10 sea-view cottages, with polished floors, black-beamed ceilings and carved Zanzibari beds, open straight onto the beach, where you can barter with the locals for that fish.

1 comment:

  1. Tourism industry is the main industry of this place and most of the in habitants are employed with tourist offices. The city is divided in two parts—the coastal area and the town itself form that mesmerizing environment of this place. The coastal area is known as kato paphos and the town is called Pano Paphos.


Online Hotel Booking