November 7, 2019
NEW: Searching for Father Christmas and the Northern Lights in Finnish Lapland – from £1,395 pp with Activities Abroad
Staying in a glass-roofed Aurora Cabin amid winter wonderland surroundings near the small ski town of Saariselkä, head into the wilds with a magical elf in search of Father Christmas’ cabin, for a private meeting with the big man in red. Spend the evenings watching out for Aurora displays and opt for activities such as a reindeer sleigh ride and snowmobile safari by day (extra cost). The trip costs from £1,395 per adult aged 15+/ £855 per child aged 4-14 (two adults & one child sharing), including flights (Gatwick), transfers, three nights’ half board, meeting Father Christmas, Aurora alert service & cold-weather clothing. Departs 12 Dec. 2019 – 2 Jan. 2020. Call AITO* member Activities Abroad on 01670 789 991 (www.activitiesabroad.com).
Decadent Durham Coast Christmas – from £974 pp with Pride of Britain Hotels
Imagine a Christmas where you’re looked after in luxury from start to finish, with a champagne afternoon tea on arrival, breakfast in your suite each morning, a five-course Christmas Day lunch, every other meal beautifully cooked for you, and a 45-minute spa treatment each. Add to that mulled wine and carols, Midnight Mass at the local 900-year-old church and beach walks. Five-star Seaham Hall, situated on Durham’s glorious coastline, has a Three-Night Christmas Stay which costs from £974 pp (two sharing). Or upgrade to one of the hotel’s new super-stylish hot tub suites to add an al fresco element to your Christmas. Call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (www.prideofbritainhotels.com).
Dog-friendly, coastal-style Christmas – North Devon for £378 pp with Canine Cottages
Fairways – Appledore (sleeps eight, plus two dogs) is an impeccably presented, pet-friendly pad with a private hot tub and a games room with table tennis. A fabulous family retreat nestled on the outskirts of the North Devon fishing village of Appledore, it’s a wonderful place to spend Christmas. The magnificent open-plan lounge/kitchen/diner is the perfect back drop for catching up whilst cooking up a storm in the remarkable kitchen area. Arriving Friday 20 December, a seven-night stay costs £378 pp (£3,019 total). Two dogs welcome (£20 supplement per dog). Call Canine Cottages on 01237 459821 (www.caninecottages.co.uk).
Five-star festivities on Dartmoor – Devon from £1,643 pp at Bovey Castle
Festive packages remain at Bovey Castle, home to the tallest Christmas tree on Dartmoor. Arrive on Christmas Eve for cider & sloe gin making and afternoon tea accompanied by carol singers, before a buffet and Midnight Mass. On Christmas Day, try the brass rubbing trail or take a guided walk, attend the drinks reception and enjoy a lavish lunch, ahead of a relaxed evening buffet supper. On the 26th, take part in a golf tournament or ferret racing, before an early afternoon tea. Top off the merriment with a five-course black tie dinner and live band. Arriving 24 Dec., a three-night break is priced from £1,643 pp (two sharing a Castle Room), including meals and activities. Call Bovey Castle on 01647 445 007 (www.boveycastle.com).
Spend Christmas solo in La Serenissima – Venice from £1,425 pp with Jules Verne
Contrary to what the TV ads might have us believe, not everyone can or wants to spend the festive season en famille. This four-night stay on the MS Michelangelo, moored in central Venice, is a perfect option for anyone seeking to strike out alone. Join escorted excursions (to the Doge’s Palace, the islands of Murano & Burano, a Venetian mask factory and the old university town of Padua) or simply potter at your own pace in one of the world’s most magical cities. Venice from the Water costs from £1,425 pp with No Single Supplement, including BA flights (Gatwick), transfers, four-night full-board cruise with drinks, UK Tour Manager, local expert guides & reps. Departs 22 Dec. Call Jules Verne on 020 3553 3722 (www.vjv.com).
Christmas in the sun with all the trimmings – Cyprus from £921 pp with Sunvil
Winter sun often means foregoing the conventional trimmings of Christmas for warmer climes. Not so in Cyprus, where Paphos Town will be festooned with twinkling fairy lights and festive decorations, as well as buzzing with traditional Cypriot hospitality. Christmas Eve is always special, with locals on the streets carrying candles and fireworks dancing in the sky above. Stay at the family-run Axiothea Hotel, the perfect base for enjoying the celebrations and for exploring historical sites such as the mosaics, Tomb of the Kings and Paphos Castle. A seven-night stay costs from £921 pp (two sharing), including B&B, return flights (Gatwick) and transfers. Departs 23 Dec. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8758 4758 (www.sunvil.co.uk).
Indulge in mince pies in Morocco – from £950 pp with CV Villas
Close to Marrakech, Villa Alexandra may offer spectacular Atlas Mountain views and sumptuous interiors of rich fabrics, tapestries and antiques that provide more than a nod to the villa’s Moroccan heritage, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a festive spot to spend Christmas. The six-bedroom property (sleeps 12) is fully staffed and catered by a team that provides festive flair by decorating the villa and baking delicious mince pies. Outside, the 20m pool is accompanied by a dining pergola, table tennis and a private tennis court. A week’s stay, arriving 21 Dec., is from £950 pp (£11,400 total), including concierge, cook, maid, chef, butler, night security, gardener & three meals a day. Flights extra. Call CV Villas on 020 7261 5499 (www.cvvillas.com).
A White Christmas (and New Year) guaranteed – Switzerland from £2,875 pp with Ffestiniog Travel
Spend the festive season in scenery straight from a Christmas card on this 15-day, two-centre holiday in the snow-covered Swiss Alps. Explore the beautiful Bernese Oberland region, travel on the world-famous Glacier Express between Brig and Chur, and journey on the UNESCO World Heritage Rhaetian Railways network, its many highlights including the Bernina Express, a route renowned for its spirals, tunnels and altitude. The price is from £2,875 pp (two sharing), including standard class rail travel to/from Switzerland, First Class Swiss Travel Pass, excursions, 14 nights’ hotel B&B, nine dinners and UK tour leader. Departs 20 December. Call AITO* member Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 512400 (www.ffestiniogtravel.com).
Save over £400 on a New Year Sussex cinematic experience – £380 pp with Big Domain
House on the Hill – Hastings (sleeps ten) is a boutique hotel-style, Grade-II listed, self-catering holiday home in the heart of the popular Hastings’ popular Old Town. The perfect place for a group of friends to celebrate the start of 2020 in style, this house has wonderful entertaining space featuring a six-foot projector screen, Apple TV, sound system, fireplace flame-effect gas fire and comfortable sofas. The dining room has a wood-burner and comfortably seats 12. A seven-night stay, arriving Friday 27 December, now costs £380 pp (£3,794 total – was £4,210). Call Big Domain on 01237 426777 (www.bigdomain.com).
Celebrate New Year at the Night of the Red Pompom – La Plagne, French Alps from £853 pp
Taking place in the buzzing village of Plagne Bellecôte, this lively NYE celebration – named the “Nuit du Pompom Rouge” – this year has an Angel or Devil theme. Enjoy fireworks, DJs, street food stalls, a ski show, torchlight ski-down by ESF ski instructors and plenty of warming vin chaud. Stay at stylish 4* bolthole The Araucaria Hotel & Spa in Plagne Centre, with its 450 m² Nuxe Spa, fantastic restaurant serving French bistro fare, cocktail bar & cosy mountain nook. Three nights’ B&B (two sharing) departing 30 Dec. cost from €655 / £597 pp. Return EasyJet flights (London-Geneva) from £122 pp. Three-day ski pass priced €156 / £134 pp. Free entry to NYE. Call La Plagne on 33 (0)4 79 09 79 79 (www.la-plagne.com).
See in New Year, Italian-style – Milan from £798 pp with Kirker Holidays
For a stylish start to 2020, what better place to welcome in the New Year than Milan, Italy’s fashion capital and home to the magnificent La Scala opera house, the Gothic marvel that is the Duomo, and Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece ‘The Last Supper’? Arriving 30 December, a three-night stay at the four-star Rosa Grand costs from £798 pp (two sharing), including flights (Heathrow), private transfers, accommodation with breakfast, timed entrance to the Brera Gallery, Kirker Guide Notes to restaurants, museums & sightseeing, and the services of the Kirker Concierge, who can arrange tickets for The Nutcracker at La Scala (30 Dec.) from £100 pp. Call AITO* member Kirker on 020 7593 2283 (www.kirkerholidays.com).
*AITO is The Specialist Travel Association: more than 120 specialist travel companies providing an unrivalled collection of holiday ideas that cover every corner of the world. Consumers booking with AITO can be assured of high-quality holidays and excellent personal service. Visit www.aito.com for further information.