Winter sun holidays: from Dubai to the Maldives, the trips that make you feel warm, warm, warm
For anyone with lockdown savings ready to be blown away on a once-in-a-lifetime, scorching hot vacation, the Maldives ticks all the right boxes.
Patina Maldives (patinahotels.com) is located on the man-made archipelago of the Fari Islands in the North Male Atoll and is home to 110 suites and villas, each designed to provide maximum privacy.
The resort has been developed with the aim of connecting with the natural landscape, where wood-clad villas and forests create a peaceful atmosphere.
The luxury resort of Patina Maldives pictured is home to 110 suites and villas, each designed to provide maximum privacy
Order a cocktail and take a dip in your private pool or the ever-present Indian Ocean, knowing that the weather will always be glorious and the pace wonderfully slow.
Seven nights from £6,170pp, including flights and transfers, based on two guests (carrier.co.uk).
With plentiful flights, countless hotel options and unforgiving desert sun, the United Arab Emirates is the ideal destination for those seeking guaranteed warm weather.
Part of the Bluewaters Island development, Caesars Palace Dubai is the place to be for those looking to recharge without having to venture outside their resort.
There are 12 dining options, including Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen, and guests will find pools galore and direct access to the beach, so once you arrive, there’s no need to go any further. However, avid explorers can easily reach the city via a new pedestrian bridge that stretches across the sparkling Arabian Sea to the iconic Jumeirah Beach Resort.
Caesars Palace Dubai’s 12 dining options include Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen, pictured above
Rooms from £309 per night based on two adults (caesars.com/dubai).
Along the coast in Abu Dhabi, Mandarin Oriental’s opulent Emirates Palace is the ultimate place for some seaside tranquility. Tucked away in a natural bay with its own marina, this waterfront retreat is furnished in a classic Arabic style, but with all the modern luxury details you would expect from a top hotel.
Infinity pools with private cabanas overlook the ocean and provide a memorable place to sip a cocktail as the sun sets.
For those heading out after a trip, there’s the option of kayaking around nearby mangroves or soaking up history and culture at the Grand Mosque or Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Rooms from £370 per night (mandarinoriental.com).
Mandarin Oriental’s opulent Emirates Palace, pictured above, is tucked into a natural bay with its own marina
Pictured is the Majlis Suite at the Emirates Palace. There the rooms are decorated in classic Arabic style with modern touches
Desert sun is also promised at the northern tip of Qatar, where Zulal Wellness Resort is the ideal place to reset and recharge, with plenty of restorative indoor spaces to cool off and chill out.
Average temperatures in summer are a blistering 37C (98F), but they are a much more manageable 21C (70F) in January, meaning the resort’s lagoon and beaches are ripe for winter sun-seekers. Two separate areas—the adults-only Zulal Serenity and the family-friendly Zulal Discovery—both feature traditional Qatari spas and sleek rooms.
Throw into the star-filled night sky and a trip to this under-visited corner of the Middle East promises a memorable vacation no matter what time of year. From £768 per room, per night based on two sharing (zalal.com)
Cool off, relax: a room at Zulal Wellness Resort in Qatar, where guests are invited to reset and recharge
Closer to home, a three-hour flight takes you to Tunisia and its picturesque beaches. Major tour operators and airlines have returned to the country in recent years, and Hammamet, on the southeastern side of the Cap Bon peninsula, remains the must-visit place for lovers of soft sand and warm waters.
The huge Great Mosque, the largest in North Africa, and the labyrinthine medina still retain the same appeal as when the resort first became popular with tourists a century ago.
Seven nights all-inclusive at the Steigenberger Marhaba Thalasso spa hotel costs £361 pp (tui.co.uk).
Enjoy the picturesque beaches of Tunisia during your stay at the spa hotel Steigenberger Marhaba Thalasso, pictured
If that wasn’t adventurous enough, sunbathers in the mood for a truly spectacular getaway should check out Lengishu, a private residence in the Borana Conservancy, a rhinoceros sanctuary in northern Kenya’s Laikipia.
With space for 12 guests spread across the main house and four beautiful cottages, it has stunning views over some of East Africa’s finest wilderness.
Without the restrictions of other guests, you determine the itinerary and choose when to include game drives or horseback rides through the bush. There is even the chance to track rhinoceroses on foot.
A seven night stay in Lengishu costs from £8,837 pp based on 12 sharing. Prices include flights, transfers, full board and safari (abercrombiekent.co.uk, 01242 386500).
Pictured is the Fish Eagle room at Lengishu, a private residence in the Borana Conservancy in northern Kenya
Back on the travel map is Sri Lanka, too, and the abundant lush landscapes offer a delightful escape. Kumbura, a recently restored and beautiful villa, can accommodate eight people in four rooms. Set in verdant forests and rice paddies, it is just a few miles inland from Galle city and a world away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life at home.
The infinity pool overlooks beautiful scenery, while monkeys and peacocks roam the grounds.
Check out the local food scene or relax and let the housekeeper tempt you with classic Sri Lankan dishes. Nightly rates start at £270 (edenvillas.com).
The Caribbean is an obvious option for anyone craving warmth, no matter the time of year.
Kumbura Villa in Sri Lanka, pictured above, is nestled in green forests and rice fields
One bedroom with an outdoor pool in Palm Heights, the newest opening on Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach
Away from the busier islands, Palm Heights, the newest opening on Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach, is a dream destination. The Palm Heights Athletics offering is made for those looking to get in shape, with sunset Pilates, yoga and meditation on the rooftop surrounded by blissful views.
Venture inland for a walk along the Mastic Trail, a trail through the island’s last subtropical forest, and take a boat across the clear waters for some of the Caribbean’s finest snorkeling. From £469pp per night (palmheights.com).
With red rocks, pine forests, the Grand Canyon, and a laid-back vibe, Arizona’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, with the desert town of Sedona at its heart.
And just out of town, and billed as North America’s first landscape hotel, is the Ambiente, a budget option (ambientesedona.com). The 40 ‘atria’ – self-contained suites – are built on steel piers with rusted metal and bronze-tinted glass to blend in and reflect the sensational light of this wild region.
A stay of just seven nights, including BA flights from Heathrow to Phoenix and car hire, costs £5,995 pp (bon-voyage.co.uk, 0800 316 3012).
Those looking for a less luxurious option should drive two hours south to Scottsdale and check in at The Saguaro, an ideal base for exploring the desert and the city’s mid-century architecture. Five nights plus flights to Phoenix costs from £1,183 pp (ba.com).
For a laid-back, beach-centric take on California, head to Encinitas, just north of San Diego. The newly opened Alila Marea Beach Resort has 130 rooms with garden and coastal views, a waterfront pool and a rooftop terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This resort is modern with a minimalist design and is all about understated luxury.
Summer extends here late into the year, meaning it’s great for a dose of winter sun with the added benefit of time to explore the city’s art scene and enjoy dinner in the plentiful cafes.
Prices start from £335 per night (alilahotels.com).
Views of the Pacific Ocean: Alila Marea Beach Resort near San Diego (pictured) has 130 rooms with garden and coastal views
For the ultimate long-haul adventure, Australia’s allure as a once-in-a-lifetime destination remains unchanged, especially with the scorching summers heating up just as the UK heads into winter.
While the country still has strict travel restrictions on tourists due to the Covid measures, there is hope that quarantine periods will begin to ease so that the holiday can be back on the agenda soon.
Long-term planners should look to South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, which offer an Outback escape with the chance to immerse yourself in Aboriginal culture and history. Keep an eye out for wallabies, galahs (pink cockatoos), and kangaroos and enjoy the clearest night skies in the Southern Hemisphere. Rawnsley Park has options for different budgets. The fantastic eco-villas, with retractable roofs for stargazing and daytime views over Wilpena Pound’s natural amphitheater, are the pick of the bunch, with prices starting at around £260 per night (rawnsleypark.com.au).