Top 10 Places to Spend Christmas 2013

August 27th, 2013

It’s barely September and already the shops are starting to showcase the traditional foods and fare along with the cards, catalogues and special gift ideas.  I wish the year would slow down, but at least this time of year gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase the best places to go this Christmas for that special time away.

And the words “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” do not describe our dreams for Christmas this year. Whilst we love our picture-perfect postcard snow scene holidays, we’re setting our sites on both the southern and northern hemispheres to bring you Christmas like you’ve never experienced!

Without further adieu, here are our top places for spend Christmas 2013. But please hurry, these book up fast!

1. Cape Town

Why is it in our Top 10? Cape Town is the perfect blend of magnificent beaches, traditional culture, mountains, vineyards and a fantastic warm and sunny climate, and is therefore, unashamedly, our number one place to spend the festive season!

Cape Town

From hip hotels and delightful guest houses to stunning apartments and villas, we really can find you the perfect venue. For families we have special accommodation – and a range of child friendly activities and ideas for that special time away

Our hidden gem of choice: The Last Word, Kommetjie

This five star Intimate Hotel has six ultra luxurious rooms all with stylishly comfortable interiors and private patios. Each spectacularly appointed room faces the sea – as do the bathrooms!

The interior design incorporates tranquil blues, hand painted fabrics with splashes of colour that compliment the exquisite coastal setting.

For more information visit http://www.cape-town-guide.com or contact us to arrange your perfect itinerary.

2. Thailand

Why is it in our Top 10? Thailand has it all – superb beach resort islands in the south, misty mountains and fast flowing rivers in the north, vibrant cities such as the lively capital Bangkok and the equally emotive Chiang Mai.

Thailand

Thailand is probably the most exotic country in South East Asia, with a rich diversity of cultures and attractions. Weather wise, Thailand is a year round destination, although the resorts do have differing seasons. The Andaman Resorts of Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak and Koh Lanta are generally at their best December to early May when the days are usually bright and sunny and the seas calm.

Our top Thailand destinations for Christmas are : Phuket, Khao Lak, Krabi & Koh Lanta

Phuket is the most developed, with many hotels of differing standards and just as many residential villas. It has a good infrastructure and some excellent, albeit seasonal, beaches particularly on the west coast, as well as some of the best golf courses on the region.

Khao Lak is much quieter with a small village and just a handful of hotels. The main appeal of Krabi is to visit the incredible limestone islands just offshore, and the beaches in the main resort are wide and reasonable. Koh Lanta is quiet, with a rustic authentic charm, a scenic nature influenced island with some good beaches and Led Zepellin influenced bars and hairstyles!

Our hidden gem of choice: The Hotel Layana Resort & Spa

Thailand Layana ResortImagine a place where every desire is fulfilled, where magical sunsets over the Andaman Sea mark the end of luxurious days and the beginning of dream-filled evenings. That’s what you get at the Layana Resort.

Ask us for more details and contact us for more options and ideas

3. Sri Lanka

Why is it in our Top 10? We love the astonishing culture, the history and the ancient cities.

The fantastic scenic contrasts with a visit to the incredible rock fortress at Sigiraya is a definite must. Not to mention the wildlife options, the well priced hotels, attractive albeit seasonal beaches, and the warm and hospitable welcome.

Sri Lanka - Aditya ResortOur hidden gem of choice: The Aditya Resort

Named after the Sun God, Aditya is an excellent boutique hotel situated on an a stretch of beach between Galle and Hikkaduwa. With only twelve rooms, all of which are suites, it is the perfect place to relax in luxury and seclusion.

Contact us to arrange your perfect Sri Lankan Christmas

4. Ice Hotel  – Swedish Lapland

Why is it in our Top 10? It is one of the worlds “coolest” hotels for those looking for a truly unforgettable travel experience

What a  way to spend the Festive season! From the novelty of sleeping on ice to the sheer thrill of mushing your own team of huskies, the simple pleasure of chinking ice glasses to the exhilaration of witnessing the northern lights – this winter wonderland will exceed expectations and give you a truly unforgettable experience.

Ice Hotel LaplandThere are over 60 rooms built each year, ranging from Snow Rooms to Art Suites adorned with stunning ice sculptures and flushed with subtle lighting. Open from mid-December to mid-April, before it melts back into the River Torne, in early January you can still watch some of the ice artists at work after which the completed hotel can be seen in all its glory. Through its reindeer-skin clad doors you’ll find a simply breathtaking ice pillared hallway illuminated by dazzling ice sculptures and spectacular ice-carved chandelier. Don’t miss the Icebar where colourful vodka cocktails are served in chunky ice glasses!

Contact us for this out-of-the-ordinary experience

5. India

Why is it in our Top 10? India is a travelling experience with unique opportunities awaiting all styles, ages and budgets.

Our hidden gem of choice: Tree of Life Resort and Spa in Jaipur

tree-of-life-resort-spaThe Tree of Life Resort and Spa in Jaipur is one of our favourites. Whilst this may not be your typical Christmas holiday, this resort gives a vibrant pop of colour to the Rajasthan desert, with its rose-hued walls, aquamarine pools and glinting gold cupola. Tap into village life with elephant jaunts and mountain treks before returning to the serious business of day-spa pampering and poolside lounging.

Or try the beautiful beaches and waterways of Kerala

Kerala is famed for its warm and welcoming people, where the pace of life can be as languid as the backwaters, while South India is renowned for its Hindu art and architecture.

Kerala-HouseboatA great option is to stay on a houseboat, locally known as ‘kettuvallam’. These traditional rice barges are made by tying jackwood planks together with coir rope and then coating them with black resin made from boiled cashew nut shells. Today these giant 80 ft long crafts have been converted into simple, furnished houseboats with one or two en-suite bedrooms, an open lounge and eating area, a deck, a kitchenette and a crew comprising captain and cook. Cold water showers are available but the crew can provide a bucket of hot water on request and the bedroom air-conditioning can be switched on at night.

Take a look at some of our other Indian itineraries

6. Morocco

Why is it in our Top 10? Close to Europe but a world away in lifestyle and atmosphere, Morocco has long enticed travellers with its bustling souks and glorious landscapes.

Why not enjoy a festive season with a difference in Morocco – Experience Marrakech with its bustling souks, visit beautiful Todra Gorge, soak up the fresh mountain air of the rugged Atlas mountains,explore Ait Benhaddou, an incredible fortified kasbah  or relax by the beach in laid back luxury

So many choices!

Villa De L'oOur hidden gem of choice: Villa De L’o

This 18th Century riad has been beautifully restored to a very high standard. It has a superb location, just inside the medina walls, and is just a few metres from the beach and souks. The spacious 12 rooms and suites all have their own individual design, and surround a central leafy courtyard and breakfast area. The attractive rooftop terrace boasts some of the best views over Essaouira  bay.

Or try Kasbah Bab Ourika

Kasbah BabourikaWith 360 degree panoramic views, Kasbah Bab Ourika receives warm sunlight all day, ending in spectacular sunsets. Guests can relax in individually decorated rooms with their own terraces or unwind by the secluded swimming pool. Meals are served in the gardens, in the colonnaded restaurant or can be taken privately in the rooms or suites. The restaurant serves food that is freshly supplied daily from the surrounding villages. The chef specialises in traditional Berber recipes as well as international cuisine. Above all the Kasbah offers peace and relaxation in spectacular surroundings, a memorable escape from the hustle of the Western World.

7. Maldives

Why is it in our Top 10? Just Google “Maldives Images” and there’s your answer. This destination is utterly breathtaking in every way.

maldives

Our hidden gem of choice: the Niyama Resort

Sister hotel to the acclaimed Huvafen Fushi retreat, The Niyama Resort opened in February 2012, with its unique under water nightclub. The design is chic contemporary, bright and colourful with some sharp edges, located in the southern atoll, 40 minutes by seaplane.

Maldives NiyamaSpread over two small islands, you have a selection of 87 studio suites and pavilions. The studios are either beach front or over water, some with their own plunge pool. The Pavilions give you the same location options and are larger with integrated indoor and outdoor living space, all with plunge pools.

The facilities are extensive and in addition to the excellent spa and swimming pool, the restaurant is incredible. And of course you have the underwater nightclub, the world’s first!

Or why not try  Anantara Kihavah Villas

A new ultra luxurious all pool villa resort located in the northern Baa Atoll, 35 minutes from Male airport by sea plane.

Anantara MaldivesThe word Anantara in the ancient Sanskrit language means ‘without end’ and that is certainly appropriate when you look at the size of these spectacular villas! Each covers a minimum of 258 sqm which includes indoor and outdoor living space, walled gardens or sundeck, and private swimming pool.

Resort facilities include a spectacular beach, house reef, several speciality restaurants in differing locations including a unique underwater option, kids club with the emphasis on aquatic activities, library, fitness centre, tennis, yoga, and of course a highly acclaimed spa where the influence of Thailand and Bali is particularly apparent. Dive centre. The Baa Atoll was declared by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve in 2011.

8. New York – USA

Why is it in our Top 10? No one does Christmas better than Americans! From the gaudy Christmas lights to the snow covered streets, New York in December just screams CHRISTMAS!

new-york

The tree at the Rockefeller Centre is almost certainly the world’s most famous Christmas tree, but it’s only the centre piece for a city-wideChristmas display. “You can make a pretty strong case that more people care about the lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center than the one at the White House,” says Jason Clampet, senior editor at Frommers. “And there’s something about the holiday decorations that makes even locals gawk like tourists,” especially when the snow falls during those lucky years.

Nothing beats carriage rides through Central Park, the elaborate department store displays, and strolls through the some of the city’s classic brownstone-lined streets. And it’s not just Manhattan that puts on a show during the holidays. Neighborhoods such as Dyker Heights in Brooklyn and Ozone Park in Queens are famous for their over-the-top Christmas decoration competitions.

Our hidden gem of choice is not really hidden, but a gem nonetheless –  It has to be THE PLAZA next to Central Park!

9. Santa Claus Village And Santa Park – Napapiiri In Lapland, Finland

Why is it in our Top 10? Because it’s where Santa lives!

santa_claus_village_rovaniemiCapitalizing on its extreme northern location at the foot of the Arctic Circle, Napapiiri considers itself Europe’s Christmas capital due to the fact that it is Santa’s “true base of operations.” And every year, the town draws thousands of visitors from all over Europe to tour the two different Santa-themed attractions, Santa Claus Village and Santa Park, which offer tours of Santa’s workshops, opportunities to buy some of Santa’s merchandise, encounters with genuine reindeer, and visits with the big man himself.

There’s also a Santa-dedicated post office which functions as the European hub for its Indiana counterpart. And when parents begin to feel like they’ve overstayed their welcome with Santa, the nearby city of Rovaniemi provides a wider array of holiday delights.

10. Christmas on safari – Waterberg, South Africa

Why is it in our Top 10? Because it is such a different experience to cold and snow and inner city Christmas lights, this just had to make our list.

For something really special, experience the wonder of Africa’s wide-open plains and magnificent wildlife this Christmas.

Christmas on safariSpecialising in family safaris, Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill are both very private bush homes. They are located on their own private game reserve in the magnificent, malaria-free Waterberg region of the Limpopo province in South Africa. The aim is to provide  guests with a unique safari experience, offering a wide range of activities to keep everyone entertained, from the youngest to the oldest, the fittest to those most in need of a rest.

You can enjoy fabulous game viewing in a variety of ways:

Guided game walks – from a gentle stroll down the plains to a more strenuous hike over rugged hills, which enable you to gain a detailed knowledge of African fauna and flora.

Game drives in open 4 wheel drive Land-cruisers – this allow you to cover more ground and experience wildlife in a traditional but less energetic way.

On horseback – There are 70 horses so can offer some of the most exciting game viewing on horseback in Africa, whatever your age or riding ability.

What a unique way of celebrating this special season

Wherever you chose to celebrate, make sure you contact us so that we can make Christmas 2013 perfect in every way for your family.

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