Live the life of luxury with one of these amazing longhaul trips this winter...
Five star surroundings: The lush, Indonesian island of Bali boasts over 10,000 ornate temples, green rice terraces, tropical beaches and sacred monkey forests. The region of Nusa Dua at the southernmost tip is a rarified enclave away from the
busier resorts of Kuta and Seminyak.
Stay in style: Choose your level of luxury at The Mulia hotel – named the No1 Beach Resort in the World. You can stay in its exclusive boutique suites, which overlook one of the most picture-perfect pools we’ve ever seen; in the more family-oriented resort (which also has a stunning pool surrounded by statues); or in one of the 108 self-contained villas scattered up the hillside. There’s a private butler service (with day and night butlers!) in the boutique suites and villas. The food is a highlight ‘ don’t miss Table8, specialising in Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine, afternoon tea with an Asian twist or the great-value Sunday brunch at Soleil (£54), including oysters, lobster tails, giant prawns and every kind of roast. Plus ther’?s yoga classes, a peaceful spa and high-tech gym. You’ll get so used to the electric Japanese toilets with heated seats that you’ll want to install one at home.
Don?t miss: The crumbling Uluwatu Temple on a dramatic clifftop, where there are sunset performances of the traditional Kecak dance. Just outside the cultural capital, Ubud, is the best place to see rice paddies. There’s also a burgeoning art scene and great shopping in the local markets.
The cost: The Mulia (themulia.com) has suites from £475 per room per night, based on two adults sharing, including breakfast and afternoon tea with a dedicated butler service. Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) has return flights to Bali via
Singapore from £790pp.
If you’re looking for an authentic slice of the Caribbean, Nevis is the perfect destination. You won’t find the big cruise ships or hundreds of resort hotels here – instead there’s plenty of laid back Caribbean beaches and unspoilt wildlife.
Stay in style: Montpelier Plantation and Beach Hotel sits high up in the lush mountains. Full of rustic Caribbean charm, the former sugar plantation rests on the historic Montpelier Estate where Horatio Nelson married Fanny Nisbet. Owned by the wonderful Hoffman family, the hotel is small – just 19 rooms – so leaving with new friends isn’t unheard of. None of the rooms have a TV so you can really switch off especially if you treat yourself to an inroom spa treatment when you arrive. Head chef Stéphane Caumont is passionate about using local ingredients, so expect Mahi Mahi and Wahoo (local fish with a beautiful meaty taste), coconut, mango and nutmeg plus plenty of lobster.
Don’t miss: A swim in the hotel pool overlooking Nevis Peak and returning home fitter than when you left. Start your day with relaxing outdoor yoga and explore the island on picturesque bike rides. The island has plenty of beautiful churches (including the first Anglican church built in the Caribbean in 1643 – St Thomas’ church), stunning botanical gardens, hot springs and the delightful Charlestown. Locals are extremely friendly – in fact, you won’t cycle past one without receiving a wave or jolly ‘good morning!’ The Source Trail and Rainforest hike (nevisnaturetours.com) is a fascinating way to learn about the history of the island – the goal is to reach ‘The Source’ an incredible, unspoilt setting by waterfalls hidden high in the mountain. The views at the top alone are worth the walk.
Five star surroundings: Think barefoot luxury. These jewel-like islands in the Indian Ocean consist of a double chain of 26 atolls, many of which are luxury hotels loved by honeymooners.
Stay in style: Sample a couple of different islands; Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, in the North Male Atoll is a short speed boat ride from Male airport. All villas have private plunge pools in their own secluded gardens. For the ultimate in romance, experience dinner for two on a sandbank, choose a chargrilled lobster cooked by your own private chef. Then take a seaplane to Angsana Velavaru, in the South Nilandhe Atoll, which offers incredible views of the atolls. Here, the deluxe beachfront villa’s pool is big enough to do laps in. But equally appealing is wandering onto the beach to bury your toes in the white sand before strolling up to the bar for a sundowner. Try a couple’s massage at the stunning spa; a body polish followed by Balinese massage will leave you both relaxed.
Don’t miss: Vabbinfaru is a small island, even by Maldivian standards. It has a house reef teaming with multi-coloured fish which stretches all the way round it plus its own Marine Lab with knowledgeable staff who can introduce you to their turtle breeding programme. You can also take a boat trip out to spot dolphins. Velavaru is the perfect place to try diving, if you’ve never done it before; visibility is excellent and the water is very warm.
The cost: Best At Travel (bestattravel.co.uk or tel 0203 733 6507) offers 6 night packages from £2,250pp, staying at the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru (in an Ocean View Pool Villa) for 3 nights and Angsana Velavaru (in a Beachfront Villa) for 3 nights, both on a full board basis, including flights. For further information on Banyan Tree resorts visit banyantree.com and on Angsana Hotels, visit angsana.com.
W+H tip: Busy periods you might want to avoid include Chinese New Year (February) and Eid (July). The perfect time to visit the Maldives is in March; November is quiet too, though you may get more rain.
Get a taste for the laid-back Californian lifestyle by combining a break to the buzzing City of Angels with a sample of the chic, desert way of life in Palm Springs.
Stay in style: The Mondrian, in West Hollywood, LA, will fulfil all your A-list fantasies. Designed by the legendary Philippe Starck, it combines minimalism with a touch of the surreal, such as oversized flowerpots on the roof deck and wing chairs with hooves for legs. The 237 rooms have similarly fantastical details, such as a curved mirror that’s actually a flat-screen TV and gold lamps that appear to grow from the floor like trees. The stylish pool, surrounded by teak decking, is perfect for panoramic views of the city.
Less than two hours’ drive away is the desert resort of Palm Springs, where movie stars used to get away from it all in the 50s and 60s. THE place to stay is at The Parker, which was given a makeover in 2004 by UK designer Jonathan Adler, and has played host to stars such as Brangelina and Robert Downey Jr. The hotel is full of quirky, retro touches such as suits of armour in the lobby, shaggy Moroccan rugs in the bedrooms, and games in the grounds including lawn croquet and petanque. Guests flock to the stunning pool, so bag your lounger early.
Don’t miss: In LA’s sprawl, check out funky Venice beach, with its tarot card readers and body builders, stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, find art and culture at the Getty Center, and shop like Julia Roberts on Rodeo Drive.
Palm Springs is famous for its iconic modernist architecture; take a Modern Tour (palmspringsmoderntours.com) to explore it or visit the homes which used to belong to icons such as Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Nature lovers should check out the nearby Joshua Tree National Park, just an hour’s drive away.
The cost: Double rooms at The Parker (theparkerpalmsprings.com), from £240.
Doubles at The Mondrian (morganshotelgroup.com/mondrian/mondrian-los-angeles), from £140.
Virgin Holidays (virginholidays.co.uk; call 0844 557 3859) offers five nights in LA from £1,395pp, including return flights to LA, room-only accommodation at The Mondrian and car hire with Alamo. For more information: West Hollywood, visitwesthollywood.com; Santa Monica, santamonica.com; and Greater Palm Springs, visitgreaterpalmsprings.com
Five star surroundings: Going on safari has to be one of the most thrilling experiences in the world; and one of the most special places to do it is on the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Here you can spot the Big Five, as well as hippopotami, crocodiles and cheetahs. And when you’ve ticked all those off, move to the neighbouring country of Zanzibar to chill out on the beach in two very stylish resorts.
Stay in Style: Luxury safari camp, Angama Mara, only opened last year, and has already received high praise for its facilities and decor; you might also recognise the landscape from scenes in the beautiful film Out of Africa. It’s home to home to two separate camps with fifteen luxurious suites at each, along with two sets of interconnecting suites which are perfect for families. Unlike many of their lodge competitors, the guest suites at Angama Mara are hyper modern in style, with the ten metre wide, floor-to-ceiling glass windows of each suite being the focus, to take full advantage of those incredible panoramas. The Pavilion, which sits between the two camps, is home to a fitness centre, swimming pool, a gallery of African crafts and artworks, as well as a studio where local Maasai women create bespoke beaded items. After your safari, you’ll stay at the brand new Park Hyatt hotel in historic Stone Town, Zanzibar, a slick and stylish property by the Indian Ocean, with 67 luxuriously appointed guest rooms. Then you’ll transfer to the just-opened Aiyana resort on nearby Pemba island. There are 30 villas, designed in natural style with local materials, with stunning views out over the Indian Ocean; it’s like a luxurious desert island experience.
Don’t miss: The game drives at Angama Mara. Here you’ll spot one of Africa’s most dramatic wildlife events: a Mara River crossing. You can also get a bird’s eye view of the scenery by taking a hot air balloon ride. In Stone Town, a designated UNESCO heritage site, there are markets and mosques to explore; don’t miss the beautiful Forodhani Gardens along the seafront, which plays host to a nightly food market, or the sumptuous 19th century Palace museum, which showcases the history of the Zanzibari royal family.
HOW: Africa Travel (020 7843 3588 www.africatravel.co.uk) offers a 10 night trip, staying for one night with breakfast in Nairobi at Hemingways, four nights with all meals and safari activities at Angama Mara, one night at Park Hyatt Zanzibar and four nights with all meals at The Aiyana from £4695 per person, to include return flights with Kenya Airways from the UK and all onward light aircraft transfers. This special opening offer includes a free night at both Angama Mara & The Aiyana.
Five star surroundings: If there is anywhere more lushly beautiful than French Polynesia, we demand to know about it! An archipelago of 118 islands scattered over an expanse of more than 1200 miles in the South Pacific, it’s well worth the, ahem, two long haul flights it takes to get here. Turquoise water is fringed by golden sand, and you’re in the exotic home of black pearl farms and vanilla plantations. The archipelago’s main island, Tahiti, is the most heavily populated, with a bustling main town (Papeete), while Moorea, a 20 minute ferry ride away, is more jungly and unspoiled.
Stay in Style: The five star InterContinental Tahiti Resort has been rated as the best on the island; treat yourself on arrival to a relaxing massage at its Deep Nature spa, before heading to the Tiare restaurant, with views out over the ocean. Friday nights offer the spectacular Tahitian Dance Show, while enjoying a Polynesian and international buffet. On Moorea, stay at the Hilton Lagoon Resort and Spa, with its traditional, thatched-roof bungalows. Don’t miss sundowners at the Totea Overwater bar, perfect for admiring the island’s magnificent sunsets.
Don’t miss: On Tahiti, take an afternoon to visit its capital, Papeete, and check out the main covered market for souvenirs, including clothes and crafts, and even the famous black pearls the islands are famous for. Moorea is all about nature; go on a guided hike leading to spectacular waterfalls, or try snorkeling among stingrays in the ocean. The hotel can also arrange a picnic on a tiny ‘motu’ (a nearby islet) or an evening sunset cruise.
HOW: Turquoise Holidays has 9 nights in Tahiti and Moorea from £2,635 per person including 4 nights in a Garden View Room at InterContinental Tahiti Resort, 5 nights in a Deluxe Garden Pool Bungalow at Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa, daily breakfast, ferry to Moorea, all transfers and international flights via Los Angeles from London (www.turquoiseholidays.co.uk | 01494 678 400).
Five star surroundings: Can’t choose between two beautiful Caribbean islands? Then stay on both! Sandals Resorts now offers twin centre holidays, so guests can experience two resorts on one unforgettable holiday. Barbados is a former British colony popular with A-listers such as Simon Cowell and Gwyneth Paltrow, while Grenada, known as the ‘Spice Island?, has experienced both French and British rule. Both have the requisite golden, sandy beaches, laid back Caribbean vibe, and sparking turquoise sea.
Stay in Style: Sandals Barbados offers guests decadently romantic suites with private Tranquillity Soaking Tubs and world-class dining at 11 Gourmet Discovery Dining restaurants, including Sandals’ first ever Indian restaurant, Bombay Club. Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa (pictured) offers unprecedented accommodations from stunning Skypool suites featuring infinity edge plunge pools in the Italian Village, to ultra-luxurious Millionaire suites in the South Seas Village and 10 Gourmet Discovery Dining options from around the world, including: Teppanyaki at Kimonos, authentic Italian fare at Cucina Romana and world-class steak at Butch’s Chophouse. Both resorts offer watersports and spas so you can do as much or as little as you like.
Don’t miss: In Barbados, you can swim with sea turtles, watch the cricket (the West Indies team play and practise here), or visit a rum distillery. Take a trip to the historic Belmont Estate in Grenada, an authentic 17th century planation where you can see how spices, sugarcane and coffee used to be grown and harvested; nowadays it produces chocolate instead! There is also a range of lovely waterfalls to explore, and you must spend the day on Grand Anse beach, reputedly the most beautiful on the island.
HOW: Six nights’ accommodation at Sandals Barbados in a Caribbean Village Deluxe Room plus six nights’ accommodation at Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa in a South Seas Premium Room with Outdoor Tranquillity Soaking Tub costs from £2,250 per person. The price includes a total of 12 nights’ accommodation on a Luxury Included® (all-inclusive) basis, return flights with British Airways from London Gatwick, return inter-island flights with LIAT and return resort transfers. Valid for travel 4th May – 26th June 2016. Visit www.sandals.co.uk for more info.
Five star surroundings: The Seychelles are some of the most stunning islands in the world; lying off the coast of East Africa, only a handful of the 115 are inhabited, and they are best known for their national symbol, the Coco de Mer – the suggestively shaped sea-coconut shell found throughout the islands.
Stay in Style: Raffles Praslin is spread over 30 acres on the northern tip of the island, and is close to UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Vallee de Mai, where the endemic Coco de Mer palms grow, and Anse Lazio beach, renowned as one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. It has 86 pool villas all with spectacular views of Indian Ocean, Curieuse Island and a beautiful bay. Villas have a light and contemporary design, large outdoor spaces, a specially placed bath for star gazing and bathrooms with private outdoor showers.
Don’t miss: You must take a tour around the Vallee de Mai, where you can discover much of the islands’ natural flora and fauna; the small nearby island of Curieuse is home to the indigenous giant hawksbill tortoises, who are very friendly and like being stroked under the chin; or head to the capital, Victoria, for a classic Seychellois market experience and lovely locally made souvenirs.
HOW: Stays at Raffles Praslin Seychelles from £463 (including 26% service/taxes) per villa per night, based on single or double occupancy in a Bay View Pool Villa on a B&B basis. Emirates (www.emirates.com) has daily flights to Seychelles via Dubai from 6 UK airports; return flights cost around £504.
Five star surroundings: If you’ve never been to Japan before, this introductory trip blends modern and ancient sights in three different, impressive cities and cultural centres: Tokyo, Kyoto and Kanazawa. Japan’s capital is a blaze of neon, Kyoto is Temple town, with nearly 2,000 temples and shrines, while Kanazawa is a charming, historic city, with ancient architecture and traditional inns.
Stay in Style: The Aman Tokyo is minimalist and modern, a stylish and bespoke hotel in the heart of the capital. Each of the 84 guest rooms and suites have unique layouts with uncompromising city views and every contemporary convenience. You’ll find the design inspiration evident throughout the hotel, from traditional Japanese residential structures to the use of classical materials such as camphor wood, washi paper and stone alongside modern luxurious fabrics. The hotel also offers an exquisite dining experience in their elegant mediterranean fine dining restaurant on the 33rd floor with views of the Imperial Palace Gardens and Mount Fuji. It’s a contrast to Kanazawa, where you’ll stay in the traditional Kayotel ryokan, or inn, in a small village with natural hot springs. Here, you sleep on futons on the floor, wear a yukata, or cotton robe, and experience onsen, bathing in the hot springs. You’ll also experience Japanese kaiseki cuisine, a meal with exquisite local ingredients which is served in your room.
Don’t miss: In Tokyo, you’ll visit the Tsukiji morning market; Tsukiji is one of the largest wholesale fish markets in the world, importing a diversity of seafood from 60 countries on six continents, and you’ll see fish and seafood being prepared and sold. Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s oldest and best-preserved districts and you’ll walk along the Nakamise Dori merchant street to reach the Sensoji Temple, marked by its huge lantern. Ginza district is known for having the most expensive real estate on earth and home to some of the country’s most prestigious companies, numerous brand shops, department stores, boutiques, bars and restaurants. In Kanazawa, you’ll explore the Nagamachi Samurai District, lined with beautiful wooden homes hidden behind gold-coloured mud walls, where the streets are bordered by canals, used as defence in the Edo period. Visit the fascinating Nomura-ke, a restored samurai residence displaying the artefacts from this ancient era. And in Kyoto, the must-see temple is Kiyomizu-dera, popular for its cliff-top main hall with a magnificent panoramic view of Kyoto. Stroll downhill to the Sannenzaka Neighbourhood, which has been perfectly restored with small shops and traditional restaurants.
HOW: An eight day trip to all three cities costs from £4,419 per person, including international flights, bullet train journeys, luxury accommodation and concierge service. To book, visit www.jacadatravel.com/example_trip/classic-japan-explorer-luxury-introduction-japan/uk
Five star surroundings: Combine sea and safari on a journey from one of South Africa?s best known game reserves, the Kruger National Park, followed by a trip to the stunning remote Mozambique island of Benguerra, where you’ll experience paradise in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Stay in Style: The exclusive, 15,000 hectare andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve is right on the boundary of Kruger National Park. It’s decorated in old-world style, with colonial antiques, silver cutlery and crystal glassware in the twenty thatched cottages which shelter among the trees. There’s also a pool, for refreshing dips after hot game drives. At the andBeyond Benguerra island resort, accommodation is barefoot luxury style, with each of the twelve cabanas featuring a thatched roof, four poster bed, and a light and airy colour scheme, all looking out onto the beautiful beach.
Don?t miss: Set off at dawn from Ngala on a game drive where you’ll get the chance to spot the lions which are prevalent in the region, as well as elephant, leopard and buffalo, and enjoy decadent sundowners overlooking the impressive scenery in the evening. At Benguerra, you can join staff on a fishing or diving expedition, explore the island’s forested interior, or enjoy a delicious castaway picnic in the sand dunes.
HOW: Wexas Travel (0207 838 5892, www.wexas.com) is offering a seven-day African Safari & Mozambique Beach Break from £3,595 per person based on two sharing on an all-inclusive basis, it also includes a special saving of £1,200 per couple. Six-nights accommodation, return international flights, domestic flights, transfers, twice-daily game drives in Ngala Private Game Reserve and one activity per day on Benguerra Island are all included. Valid for travel from 1 June – 31 December 2015. Book by 31 December 2015
Five star surroundings: The island of Nevis – at just 36-square miles – boasts unspoiled beaches, verdant forests and an authentic charm that is the envy of the Caribbean.
Stay in Style: Nevis’ newest beachfront villa retreat, a sophisticated seven-villa resort, provides a chic and discreet destination for couples, families and groups of friends. Situated on the west coast, just north of Pinney’s Beach, Paradise Beach Nevis commands unrivalled views of Mount Nevis, the Caribbean Sea and the neighbouring island of St Kitts. The secluded resort offers a total of seven deluxe two-, three- and four-bedroom thatched villas, each boasting a pebble-lined plunge pool, outdoor marble shower and a private setting within lush gardens. Designed to maximise comfort and privacy, and to take advantage of the breath taking location, the villas cocoon visitors in a tranquil tropical setting.
The Beach Bar offers a chic and quintessentially Caribbean spot to sip cocktails on a chaise longue or in a hammock; facing westwards, this is one of the finest sunset spots on Nevis. Paddle boarding and other water sports can be enjoyed direct from the beachfront and a range of spa treatments are available in the villas by appointment.
Don’t Miss: Paradise Beach Nevis is within easy reach of a wide range of restaurants including the renowned Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill, and Banana’s, a spot hidden high up in the historic Hamilton Estate. The resort is a 15-minute drive from Nevisian capital Charlestown, which retains much of its colonial-era architecture. And the Paradise Beach concierge can arrange mountain biking for all abilities, private hikes with an expert local guide, kayaking, deep sea fishing, horse riding, scuba diving and golf.
HOW: Paradise Beach Nevis (www.paradisebeachnevis.com), is offering seven nights for the price of five or four nights for the price of three between 3 and 31 January 2016, if booked by 30 November 2015. Western & Oriental (www.westernoriental.com, 020 7666 1234) has a week’s stay in January from £1,580 per person, based on four people sharing a two-bedroom villa with a total saving of £1,360 for the group. The price includes: return flights from London Gatwick to St Kitts on British Airways, private transfers from St Kitts to Nevis plus, taxes and service charges. Stays also include free drinks at the beach bar and a concierge and on-call butler service.