December 20, 2018
Kick start the new year and immerse yourself in nature and the isolated jungles of Cambodia, taking in the forests of Angkor, three national parks and pristine private islands on this 13-night tour. Go hiking in search of endangered wildlife, discover Cambodia’s newest and most luxurious wilderness experience and stay at some of the most outstanding properties in the region, including luxury tents and the new Six Senses private resort on Koh Krabey Island. This fully-tailored journey costs from £7,165 pp (two sharing), including 13 nights’ B&B, transfers, five lunches, six dinners and guided activities as per the itinerary. International flights extra. Call AITO* member InsideAsia Tours on 0117 244 3380 (www.insideasiatours.com).
Keen to learn more about places closer to home next year? Why not start with this new six-night tour of Wales? Led by an expert guide, explore some of the finest historic sites set amid the stunning natural beauty of Wales. Visit Roman forts, medieval chapels and an array of stunning castles, all telling Wales’ unique story of invasion and conquest. Departing 14 July, Exploring Wales: Millennia Under the Gaze of Mountains costs from £2,695 pp (two sharing), including six nights’ B&B, five lunches & three dinners, excursions and transfers, all entrance fees and expert guiding. Call AITO* member Peter Sommer Travels on 01600 888 220 (www.petersommer.com).
Regain a sense of inner peace and calm with a new Mind, Body and Soul Soother treatment at Ockenden Manor, an Elizabethan manor house hotel in the charming village of Cuckfield, West Sussex. Massage techniques, including Reiki and reflexology, are carefully tailored to address specific emotional and physical concerns, providing clarity, energy and focus. A one-night retreat is priced from £399 pp, including one 120-minute treatment, use of the spa, a three-course dinner in the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, and breakfast. Call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (www.prideofbritainhotels.com).
Start the new year with some well-deserved rest and relaxation in sunny Cyprus. Pomos is the perfect destination to unwind as you potter around the sleepy seaside villages with their small coves, sandy beaches and friendly tavernas. Stay in Villas Stella Maris, located just outside of Pomos, where stunning volcanic cliffsides offer glorious views of the majestic blue sea. When the sun goes down, revive that festive sparkle and use the telescopes provided to watch stars twinkling in the sky. A seven-night self-catering stay costs from £927 pp (two sharing), including flights (London) and car hire. Call GIC The Villa Collection on 020 8232 9780 (www.gicthevillacollection.com).
Swap the post-festive slump for the sounds of waves and birdsong on the relaxing, remote island of Ikaria, credited as one of the world’s ‘blue zones’, where people live remarkably longer lives through culture, diet and lifestyle. In the fishing village of Armenistís, with its long white sand beaches and lush mountainside, follow a 25km walking trail, find zen in a yoga session or get creative with a painting class. Stay in the Erofili Hotel, located directly above the sea, just a short walk from the village centre and next to Livadi beach. A seven-night B&B stay costs from £976 pp (two sharing), including flights (London) and transfers. All activities extra. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8758 4758 (www.sunvil.co.uk).
Journey up north in the new year to the glorious Durham coast and stay at five-star boutique Seaham Hall, where you can rejuvenate the senses with the Relax and Restore break. Spend a night on a sumptuous king size bed in one of the 21 elegant suites, spoil yourself with a choice of calming spa treatments, including a 90-minute Temple Spa Mediterranean Mini Break ritual, soak up the award-winning Serenity Spa and new Zen Garden, and enjoy a decadent three-course evening meal in The Dining Room and Full English Breakfast the next morning. The Relax and Restore break costs from £255 pp (two sharing) and includes all the above. Call Seaham Hall on 0191 516 1400 (www.seaham-hall.co.uk).
Secluded within the unspoilt Tuscan countryside, The Watermill at Posara offers an idyllic location to learn a new skill in 2019. Sue Ford’s Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media plus acrylic course (13 – 20 July) will provide tuition in an array of media under patient and professional guidance, both within the beautiful Watermill gardens and in the quaint surrounding towns and villages. The cost is from £1,640 pp (two sharing), including tuition, seven nights’ full-board, drinks, transfers (Pisa) and a mid-week excursion (Luca or the Cinque Terre). Flights extra. Book by 31 Dec 2018 for a £75 pp early bird discount. Contact The Watermill at Posara on 020 7193 6246 (watermill.net).
Just a two-hour train journey north of Tokyo yet a world away from the bustling metropolis, KAI Kinugawa is a luxury hot spring ryokan in the mountainous Tochigi region. Soothe aches and pains in the hotel’s mineral-rich onsen (hot spring baths), clear the mind with shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) and nourish the body with healthy Japanese cuisine, made from the area’s bounty of vegetable, fish & fruit. During the day, visit nearby temples and hiking trails, before absorbing the peaceful sounds of the ryokan’s nightly concerts showcasing instruments made by local artisans. Stay overnight from £186 per room, per night (half-board). Flights extra. Contact KAI Kinugawa on +81 50 3786 1144 or visit www.kai-ryokan.jp/en/kinugawa/.
If 2018 leaves you both over- and underwhelmed, spirituality could make the year ahead more manageable and meaningful. And where better to begin a spiritual journey than India, birthplace of both yoga and meditation practices? In the Himalayas, along the holy Ganges and at ancient Hindu temples, immerse yourself in a way of life that offers inner calm, and lands that are spellbinding. The 15-day Spirit of India trip costs from £2,440 pp (two sharing) including B&B, all excursions and the services of a local guide. Flights extra. Call TravelLocal on 0117 3257898 (www.travellocal.com).
Bask in balmy winter sunshine and head-to-toe pampering at Villa Azzaytouna, near Marrakech. Sleeping six, it boasts opulent Moroccan décor, a large pool, outdoor Berber tent, and two of its three bedrooms are complete with daybeds and night-lit plunge pools. Enjoy complimentary treatments using Dermalogica products and Moroccan Argan oil in the spa and hammam, take a yoga lesson in the gardens (extra cost) and indulge in meals cooked by private chef. A week’s stay costs from £2,566 pp (£14,500 total), including treatments, chef (ingredients extra), housekeeping, car & driver for visits within Marrakech city limits, and return transfers. Flights extra. Call CV Villas on 0207 261 5403 (www.cvvillas.com).
Can’t take another year of cluttered chaos at home? On a mission to maximise your minimalism? Start as you mean to go on; be inspired by a stay at either Apple or Pear Tree Lodge at Talgarth (each sleeps four), two super-sleek, open-plan eco-friendly lodges set in a pretty orchard in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Each has its own wood-fired hot tub – the perfect place to enjoy the mountain and lake views. There’s plenty to do during the day, such as walking, mountain biking, kayaking and horse riding, before a bit of star gazing in the evening. A week’s stay in January costs £197 pp (£787 total). Call holidaycottages.co.uk (01237 459 888; www.holidaycottages.co.uk).
Argentina’s Patagonia region is home to glacial lakes, icy peaks, ancient forests and towering volcanoes; a haven for holidaymakers wanting to press the reset button early in the year. Spend time in the coastal nature reserve of Península Valdés for marine wildlife-spotting, relax at a five-star spa resort in Ushuaia, take a three-night cruise through remote icy landscapes to Punta Arenas, enjoy hiking in the Torres del Paine National Park, take a guided trek to the dramatic Perito Moreno Glacier, and more. Wildlife and Glaciers of Patagonia costs from £5,995 pp (two sharing), including flights (Heathrow), transfers, 14 nights’ B&B, some meals and excursions. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8758 4774 (www.sunvil.co.uk).
*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.
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