Splash the cash on far-flung luxury or take a purse-friendly break closer to home? Abra Dunsby discovers there’s a winter sun holiday to suit all clients
Average temp in January: 19°C
A four-hour flight away from the UK and with the perk of no time zone difference or jet lag, Tenerife is a straightforward winter sun option for families or clients who don’t want to travel long-haul.
The largest of the Canary Islands is also about to become more accessible to UK clients, with British Airways increasing its flights from Gatwick to Tenerife South from 8 flights a week to 13 from October, including its Club Europe (business class) seats. Family-friendly resorts abound here, and the island has as many fly-and-flop options as it does outdoor activities, from hiking and mountain climbing to caving and stargazing.
To keep prices down, Prestige Holidays’ David Skillicorn says: “Suggest clients avoid well- documented high-season periods. This goes beyond just school holidays – religious holidays in Spain are also best avoided, as demand for the island is huge then.”
Book it: Prestige Holidays offers a week’s B&B stay at Costa Adeje Palace, including flights and transfers, from £799pp, departing December 12, 2018. prestigeholidays.co.uk
Blow it: Cyprus
Average temp in January: 17°C
Cyprus offers year-round sunshine, a rich history and compelling culture. There are a plethora of glamorous hotels to choose from, and two more are on the horizon: the contemporary adult-only Amavi Hotel in Paphos opens in February 2019, while family-friendly Parklane, a Luxury Collection Resort in Limassol, will welcome guests from March.
Ben Stratton, Sovereign purchasing manager says: “This winter, I would recommend staying at the all-suite Columbia Beach Resort, overlooking the bay of the charming village of Pissouri, close to the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite. It’s great for families or couples seeking a relaxing break for two.”
Clients staying at the resort can choose from four authentic restaurants, a spa and a variety of activities to keep themselves occupied, from sailing to nearby horse-riding.
Book it: Sovereign Luxury Travel offers a seven-night holiday to Columbia Beach Resort, staying in an Executive Suite on a B&B basis from £1,299pp, including airport lounge access, flights and private transfers. Based on a December 23, 2018 departure. sovereign.com
Average temp in January: 22°C
While UK flights are yet to resume to Sharm el Sheikh, they continue to Cairo, Marsa Alam and Hurghada. For those craving relaxation and cheap prices, the Red Sea resort of Hurghada has countless options, and is well known for its excellent diving, snorkelling and windsurfing. Mark Hall, director of product for Tui UK & Ireland, recommends a stay at the all-inclusive SuneoClub Soma Beach Hotel.
He says: “SuneoClub is easy on the wallet while providing the things that make a holiday, such as being within 10 minutes of a beach, with around-the-world dining and a friendly SuneoClub host on hand.”
The resort, which is being renovated in November, is also near a fish-filled coral reef, making it popular for snorkelling.
Book it: First Choice offers a seven-night stay at the SuneoClub Soma Beach on an all-inclusive basis from £385pp, based on two adults and two children sharing and including flights and transfers, departing November 29, 2018. firstchoice.co.uk
Blow it: Oman
Average temp in January: 26°C
With more than 2,000 miles of coast, rugged mountains and vast deserts, Oman’s landscapes, combined with its good choice of luxury hotels, makes it an appealing option for intrepid winter sun seekers.
Cox and Kings product manager Owen Walker says: “Clients are starting to realise that Oman is a place they can safely venture to, to get a true feel for the culture and traditions while still being able to experience it in style.”
The operator, whose bookings to Oman are up by 32% year-on- year, has a new luxury Oman in Style tour for 2019. It includes a drive through desert dunes in a 4x4, a night spent under the stars in the desert and a private catamaran cruise around the Daymaniyat Islands.
Book it: Cox and Kings offers an 11-day Oman in Style private tour from £4,195pp based on two sharing, including five-star accommodation, flights, transfers and the services of a local guide. coxandkings.co.uk
Average temp in January: 27°C
The sheer number of flights to Thailand from the UK mean prices remain competitive in Thailand’s winter months. David Carlaw, head of faraway at Premier Holidays, says: “Not only can clients snap up good offers on accommodation, but Thailand is also incredibly inexpensive for eating out and sightseeing.”
For the best deals on hotels, Carlaw suggests clients travel in November and December, although for the best weather January to March is a safe bet.
“Hotels such as the recently refurbished Front Village in Phuket offer an absolute bargain in November and December, and clients can even upgrade to a pool-access room for a small cost,” he adds.
Book it: Premier Holidays offers eight nights’ B&B at Front Village in Phuket from £875pp, including flights and transfers. trade.premierholidays.co.uk
Blow it: Maldives
Average temp in January: 27°C
For stunning vistas, impeccable service and luxurious desert-island resorts, the coral islands of the Maldives are hard to beat. Clients who want to follow in the footsteps of royal trendsetters Prince William and Kate Middleton can opt for a stay at Cheval Blanc Randheli – the couple holidayed there in 2014.
Situated on the Noonu atoll, the resort is one of the most luxurious and exclusive in the Maldives, with facilities including a Guerlain spa and five fine-dining restaurants. A private Majordome butler for each villa, and Alchemists, who suggest tailor-made activities for unforgettable guest experiences, add extra luxury factor.
Book it: Red Savannah offers seven nights’ B&B at Cheval Blanc Randheli from £7,828pp including flights and transfers (including sea plane transfers), based on two travelling
in November 2018. redsavannah.com
Average temp in January: 26°C
A trip to Gambia offers clients a combination of beachside relaxation and the opportunity to explore this small slice of West Africa. “Although Gambia offers all-inclusive in a small number of hotels, which will suit some customers, the wide variety of excellent restaurants on offer means that many enjoy dining out at very reasonable prices,” says Karen Durham, The Gambia Experience product manager.
For the budget-conscious, Durham recommends a stay at the African Village Hotel, where facilities include a swimming pool with sun terrace, beauty parlour and a bird-watching deck. She adds: “It’s worth clients putting some money aside for excursions to explore the country and meet some of the welcoming locals and fascinating wildlife.”
Book it: The Gambia Experience offers a seven-night B&B stay at the African Village from £499pp, departing December 11, 2018 from Birmingham. gambia.co.uk
Blow it: South Africa
Average temp in January: 26°C South Africa’s position in the southern hemisphere means the warmest months are from November to March, making it a perfect destination for UK visitors looking to escape the winter chill.
An hour outside of Cape Town, boutique hotel Mont Rochelle in Franschhoek produces its own wine and is set in 39 acres of vineyards and hills – even the spa’s signature facial uses grapes.
Clients staying there in March can time a visit with the resort’s harvest, when oenophiles can experience winemaking traditions on the farm.
Younger guests, known as Little Corkers, can look forward to a tailored itinerary during their visit, launched this year. Activities include grape-stomping, grape juice tastings, scavenger hunts and picnics.
Book it: Knighton Reeve offers five nights staying at Mont Rochelle on a B&B basis from £1,669 per adult and £1,493 per child. Price is based on a family of four sharing a Pinotage Suite travelling in February 2019, including flights, fast-track meet and greet and transfers. knightonreeve.co.uk
Average temp in January: 31°C
While the Caribbean is never going to be as cheap as Europe for those seeking budget winter sun, opting for an all-inclusive stay can help keep costs down. Samson Reece, product manager at The Holiday Place, suggests a stay at all-inclusive Sunscape Splash Montego Bay as a purse-friendly option. “It’s ideally located 10 minutes from Montego Bay’s ‘Hip Strip’ and within Montego Bay Marine Park,” he says. “Clients can enjoy a slice of Jamaica’s beautiful surroundings without any excessive costs.”
The resort’s Unlimited-Fun experience includes daily land and water activities for all ages and 24-hour access to food and drink options. The resort also features a Pirate’s Paradise Waterpark, complete with lazy river and a pair of waterslides. Reece suggests clients travel at the start of December – the beginning of the dry season – when there are plenty of pre-Christmas departures and hotel deals to be found.
Book it: The Holiday Place offers seven nights at Sunscape Splash Montego Bay from £1,009pp, including flights from Manchester departing December 5, 2018. The offer is valid until October 31, 2019. holidayplace.co.uk
Blow it: Bahamas
Average temp in January: 22°C With 700 islands and a wealth of idyllic beaches, the Bahamas offers toes-in-the-sand, laid-back luxury. Clients can take to the beautiful turquoise waters surrounding the islands to swim with wildlife including green turtles and dolphins or, if they want to stay dry, they can charter a yacht for a day of island-hopping fun. For a desert-island escape, recommend clients venture beyond Nassau to the Out Islands.
Malcolm Davies, product destination manager for Funway Holidays, suggests clients seeking peace and quiet stay at Lumina Point. “The boutique resort is found on a secluded island that can only be reached by boat from the main island and is truly is a once-in-a-lifetime place to stay,” he says.
The eco-friendly resort is made up of 12 waterfront rooms featuring custom-made furniture, private outdoor showers and amazing views. Complimentary activities offered include kayaking, paddle-boarding and snorkelling.
Book it: Funway Holidays offers seven nights staying at Lumina Point on a room-only basis from £2,479pp, including flights via the US. Price is based on two sharing, departing December 12, 2018. funway4agents.co.uk