Planning your holidays for 2016?

Thinking of whisking your loved one off for the romantic Valentine’s break of a lifetime, or maybe you’re tying the knot and looking for the most breathtaking setting to unwind as the new Mr & Mrs?

Whatever the occasion, the search stops now. Here’s our pick of 10 must-visit destinations for 2016 – for him & her. Plus, when to go, and what for…

Best time to go: spring, autumn
While its spring and summer in the UK, it’s autumn and winter in Australia – but it’s still lovely warm weather in the spring and you might even get a cheaper deal.

SYDNEY & THE GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
SYDNEY & THE GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

Best for: culture, relaxation
If there’s one special occasion that warrants a trip to the other side of the world, it’s a honeymoon, and if you venture to Australia, you will always be rewarded with richly romantic experiences. Sydney is one of those clever metropolises that effortlessly combines an urban pace with chilling out.

Where to stay: it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to the Gold Coast, to world-class resorts such as the recently reopened One&Only Hayman Island in the Whitsundays. This iconic 1950s resort has had a “natural” make-under that chimes well with the trend for more experiential, caring travel. The emphasis is now on organic gardens with your private villa and home-grown natural ingredients in your couple’s spa treatment. Luxury with love for the planet thrown in!

Expert tip: visit Sydney in March when the city comes to a standstill with the spectacular Mardi Gras festival. The streets throng with revellers as hundreds and thousands of people watch the passing parade of colourful floats. And of course, New Year’s Eve is another special time of the year.

BALI

Best time to go: summer
The dry season in Bali is between July and August so summer is the best time to take advantage of the warm, dry beaches. If you’re pining for a private getaway, the beaches will be less full in May and September.

BALI Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
BALI Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

Best for: relaxation, nature
The gentle island of Bali is another iconic holiday destination, as enchanting as ever with its strong Hindu culture and multi-faceted landscapes. Couples mustn’t miss Ubud at the heart of the island where its spirit is most accessible in temples, art and verdant rice fields.

Where to stay: couples can go off the beaten track in the north and west in search of superb diving and surf, but one thing is for sure, Bali has some of the most breathtaking resorts in the world. Alila Villas Uluwatu, poised dramatically at the edge of a limestone cliff with installation-like architecture, and The Muli with its serene private villas, are both worth a visit.

Expert Tip: for snorkellers or divers, Komodo is one of the best places on the planet. The islands are easily accessible by a one-hour flight from Bali.

 

AFRICAN SAFARI & SAND

Best time to go: spring, summer
Head out on safari late summer when wildebeest migration is in full flow in both Tanzania and Kenya. There will also be fewer visitors than in the peak summer months.

AFRICAN SAFARI & SAND Photo (C ) GETTY IMAGES
AFRICAN SAFARI & SAND Photo (C ) GETTY IMAGES

Best for: wildlife, nature, adventure
One of the classic holiday combinations is an African safari, with all the excitement of spotting the Big Five and the glamour of staying in a luxury tented camp, followed by a stunning beach resort on the Indian Ocean to rest and replenish after all those early game drives.

Where to stay: For its extreme beauty and fabulous camps such as Sand Rivers Selous in the Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest protected wildlife areas in Africa, head to Tanzania. Couples stay in open-fronted stone-and-thatched cottages looking onto the beautiful Rufiji River. Azura Quilalea Private Island on Mozambique’s pristine coast, pictured, is another fantastic holiday destination.

Expert tip: Tanzania is an all-year-round migration destination. Stay in a mobile tented camp and follow the vast herds around the Serengeti and witness this natural phenomena.

SEYCHELLES

Best time to go: spring, summer, autumn
The island nation is blessed with warm weather year round but high winds in spring mean it’s great for sailing and a calm sea in the autumn makes it a fantastic spot for diving and snorkelling.

SEYCHELLES Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
SEYCHELLES Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

Best for: beaches, nature, luxury
Some islands like Denis Island rely on bikes and horse and carts to get around and are home to ancient tortoises and historic plantation houses, and some are wildlife refuges – such as Bird Island, home to rare breeds including the Seychelles Magpie Robin.

Where to stay: often considered the original site of Eden, the Seychelles excels in private island experiences. Fregate Island Private is both a conservation stronghold and a luxury hideaway. The size of Monaco, it has just sixteen vast luxury villas and seven beaches. Couples can literally have a beach to themselves – with butler service included!

Expert tip: the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site on the island of Praslin, is a must-see. Explore the ancient forest filled with endemic species such as the Seychelles Black Parrot, the tiger chameleon and the tiny Seychelles tree frog.

 

SOUTH AMERICA

Best time to go: winter/spring
Visit the Andes in January and February for mild temperatures that let you view the sights on both sides of the border of Argentina and Chile in all their glory.

SOUTH AMERICA Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
SOUTH AMERICA Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

Best for: adventure, scenery
For well-travelled couples looking for an adventurous, memorable holiday, South America and in particular the Atacama, known as the driest place on earth, are great options. This may seem a little extreme for a some, but that’s the point, to take yourselves somewhere completely out of the ordinary, to this vast desert that rises from the Pacific Ocean up into the Altiplano, the foothills of the Andes.

Where to stay: Explora Atacama has over forty different guided hikes, bike rides, high mountain ascents and stargazing sessions. The lodge has incredible views of desert and salt mountains.

Expert tip: popular with locals but not with tourists, the Elqui Valley is ideal for trekking and biking. With its dry desert-like climate it’s also a perfect place for stargazing accompanied of course with a traditional pisco sour.

SOUTH AMERICA

Best time to go: winter/spring
Visit the Andes in January and February for mild temperatures that let you view the sights on both sides of the border of Argentina and Chile in all their glory.

SOUTH AMERICA Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
SOUTH AMERICA Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

Best for: adventure, scenery
For well-travelled couples looking for an adventurous, memorable holiday, South America and in particular the Atacama, known as the driest place on earth, are great options. This may seem a little extreme for a some, but that’s the point, to take yourselves somewhere completely out of the ordinary, to this vast desert that rises from the Pacific Ocean up into the Altiplano, the foothills of the Andes.

Where to stay: Explora Atacama has over forty different guided hikes, bike rides, high mountain ascents and stargazing sessions. The lodge has incredible views of desert and salt mountains.

Expert tip: popular with locals but not with tourists, the Elqui Valley is ideal for trekking and biking. With its dry desert-like climate it’s also a perfect place for stargazing accompanied of course with a traditional pisco sour.

ST BARTHS

Best time to go: winter, spring
Escape the cold with a winter beach holiday to St Barths. From December to April, the weather is less humid and a bit cooler.

ST BARTHS Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
ST BARTHS Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

Best for: luxury, beaches, nature
With its buzzy capital Gustavia brimming with designer shops and boutiques, private yachts and gourmet restaurants, its unspoilt landscapes, bijou beaches and its one-off, chichi hotels, this tiny, A-list favourite French island is unlike any other in the Caribbean. Despite St Barth’s glitzy image, which comes to the foreground around Christmas and New Year, the rest of the year it’s simply a stunningly beautiful island with glorious walking trails and protected coves. A perfect destination for couples who wish to combine pampering and glamour with privacy and nature.

Where to stay: Eden Rock (now part of the prestigious Oetker collection) with its lavish private villas, Cheval Blanc Hotel Saint-Barth Isle De France with a serene Guerlain Spa and fabulous Le Cabane de l’Isle, and Le Guanahani, relaunching this winter with plush villas and plenty to keep couples occupied from paddle boarding to diving, are all worth consideration.

Expert tip: head to Gustavia for some high-end shopping. The French island also offers some of the best food in the Caribbean.

MOROCCO

Best time to go: spring, autumn
Spring in Morocco comes late around April/May and is a great time to visit to catch summer weather in the south of the country. Autumn and winter can also have glorious weather during the day, but it may be cold in the desert by night.

MOROCCO Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
MOROCCO Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

Best for: culture, scenery
Morocco is a great choice for couples looking for a sensory overload of exotic culture and adventure.

Where to stay: the trick of a great holiday here is to book into a hotel or riad that’s an oasis of calm as an antidote to city pace. La Mamounia is a legend with its vast gardens home to ancient olive trees and a stunning pool where breakfast is served. Moorish Arab architecture and interiors make this place feel more like a palace than a hotel.

Expert Tip: when you’ve had enough of city life, head out to the Atlas Mountains for a stay at Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot with its Berber tents, and venture out for a trek and a night under the stars.

MALDIVES

Best time to go: spring, autumn
The best time of year to avoid the heavy rains is early in the year, from January to April. Temperatures are high all year round though so keep your eye on weather forecasts for a romantic autumn holiday.

MALDIVES Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
MALDIVES Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

Best for: luxury, beaches, nature
The Maldives is legendary romantic holiday territory. Over the last 20 years, private island resorts have been outdoing one another in a bid to be the most luxurious and innovatively romantic. Well-known for their lavish overwater villas, often with glass tables or floors to view the marine life below, there are now over and underwater gourmet restaurants and spas, resident DJs in castaway open-air lounges and private infinity pools galore. There has also been a concerted effort to involve guests in marine conservation from coral reef repairs to turtle watches. And of course, if you enjoy scuba diving, this is one of the best places on earth to come.

Where to stay: Maalifushi by COMO in the Thaa Atoll offers classic private island, barefoot chic.

Expert tip: as the Maldives are 90% water, activities are naturally based around the sea. However, most of the top resorts have truly impressive wine cellars to indulge in, come nightfall.

SOUTH OF FRANCE

Best time to go: summer
With average temperatures hitting around 24°C, couples should take advantage of the hot weather and scenery so close by. You can get flights from most major UK airports and won’t waste valuable holiday time on long-haul flights.

SOUTH OF FRANCE Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
SOUTH OF FRANCE Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

Best for: luxury, scenery
It’s such an obvious, glamorous choice, that takes next to no time at all to reach and the money saved on going half way round the world can be used to bump up your accommodation to something really special. The south coast of France has some beautiful coastlines and beaches as well as some beautiful traditional towns and villages to spend warm evenings.

Where to stay: Easily accessible from Nice or Aix-Marseille, Terre Blanche in Provence is set in a private estate close to the Cote d’Azur and Monaco. Couples can hide away in private suites and villas infused with Provencal style or when the mood takes them enjoy two championship golf courses, the superb spa where all products are based on the local region, and explore local villages such as Tourettes and Callian.

Expert tip: take a trip to Grasse where you can create your own perfume. A great holiday keepsake to remind you of the aromas of your trip.
CALIFORNIA

Best time to go: spring, summer, autumn
California is beautiful year-round and there’s always plenty to do. In autumn expect clear skies, clear roads and the golden leaves of the Sierra Nevada’s aspen forests.

CALIFORNIA Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES
CALIFORNIA Photo (C) GETTY IMAGES

Best for: culture, adventure
The American road trip (think Route 66, Kerouac’s On the Road and so on), and California, all in a convertible, is the trip of a lifetime.

Where to stay: The Pacific Coast Highway from historic Monterey to Morro Bay couldn’t get much more dramatic if it were fictionalised and with American institutions such as Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica to host you, this is a ultimate holiday no brainer.

Expert Tip: One of the most exciting ways to see the Grand Canyon is by helicopter. The aerial views allow you to get a perspective of the Canyon you wouldn’t get from the ground.

Travel tips thanks to Ultimate Travel Company’s travel expert Jane Anderson.

Source: HELLO MAGAZINE

%d bloggers like this: