A WHITE CHRISTMAS
LECH THE FESTIVITIES COMMENCE: HEAD TO THE AUSTRIAN SKI RESORT THIS CHRISTMAS
AND STAY AT FAMILY-OWNED BOUTIQUE HOTEL, KRISTIANIA
One of the most beautiful alpine winter resorts in the Alps and the birthplace of modern skiing, Lech is located in the Arlberg region of Austria – a sophisticated hangout for those in the know, where the hotels are stylish and the skiing, superb. Boutique hotel Kristiania is a small family-run hotel and the perfect place to stay when visiting the charming town over the festive period. The hotel has 29 individually designed guestrooms, each boasting incredible views of the mountains, and a spectacularly curated contemporary art collection to rival any world class museum. New for this season, the hotel will be opening a luxury retro-chic ice rink with a champagne bar and lounge for guests to enjoy over Christmas. What’s more, travellers visiting Lech between 13 and 16 December can get into the festive spirit by visiting the picturesque Christmas market in the church square. A candle-lit path leads market-goers to the festivities, where local brass bands and choirs help to create a magical atmosphere alongside the stunning backdrop of snow-capped roofs and mountains beyond. Those staying at Kristiania over the holidays can enjoy evenings drinking Christmas punch on the terrace next to a roaring open fire, and mornings spent baking traditional Austrian Christmas cookies. On Christmas Eve, guests are invited to a Krug Champagne reception while the Lech brass band plays carols in the candle-lit lounge. The reception is followed by a black-tie Christmas Gala Diner or a more relaxed Fondue Austrian evening in the Kaminzimmer. On Christmas Day, Santa Claus arrives for tea with treats and surprises for all children.
HOW: Rates start from €400 (currently approx. £368) per room per night on a B&B basis, including a bottle of champagne on arrival, complimentary mini-bar and snow shuttle van. www.kristiania.at
A WHITE CHRISTMAS AT EUROPE’S MOST GLAMOROUS WINTER ESCAPE
CENTURY-OLD WINTER PALACE, SUVRETTA HOUSE, ST. MORITZ
With impressive turrets and a Belle Époque exterior standing out against the rugged valley landscape and snow-covered forests, Suvretta House (translated directly as ‘house above the woods’) is one of Switzerland’s most iconic heritage hotels. Set in a pristine private estate, the property is steeped in history and remains firmly on the map as one of Europe’s finest retreats. The 181-room hotel has its own private ski lift giving exceptionally easy access to the Engadine Valley’s 217 miles of piste, 136 miles of cross-country ski trails and 93 miles of winter walking paths. Suvretta House really comes into its own over Christmas, with classically elegant decorations and magnificent Christmas trees dotted around the hotel, complete with homemade gingerbread decorations. The fairytale hotel is the ideal destination for families with a variety of festive activities to suit all ages. Children will love the mystical Christmas party in the Suvretta woodland and the Jingle bells children’s buffet at Suvretta House’s Teddy Club. For competitive little skiiers, children’s ski races will take place on 27 and 28 December on Chamanna-Piste and Suvretta Hill. Back at the hotel, guests staying on Christmas Eve can enjoy homemade stollen and a Christmas Eve Dinner, while on Christmas Day, there will be cocktails and atmospheric swing tunes with Swiss musician Raphael Jost, followed by dinner at the Grand Restaurant.
HOW: Winter rates at Suvretta House start from CHF 660 (currently approx. £531) per night in a Double Room on a half-board basis (breakfast and dinner). The 2019/20 winter season will run from 6 December 2019 to 29 March 2020. www.suvrettahouse.ch
AN EPIC ROUND-THE-WORLD SKI TOUR WITH SCOTT DUNN: 5 COUNTRIES, 3 CONTINENTS, 34 DAYS
~ Zermatt, Niseko, Tokyo, Whistler, Vancouver, British Columbia Heli-Ski, Aspen & Iceland
~ Heli-ski and explore the world’s most iconic ski destinations on this 34-day tailor-made winter adventure
Scott Dunn has created a new once-in-a-lifetime ski itinerary, taking in some of the world’s best ski destinations from pristine glaciers in British Columbia to the legendary powder fields of Niseko, Japan. This round-the-world itinerary allows guests to be whisked around the globe in just 30 days, starting in the Alps and ending in Iceland. Beginning in Zermatt, guests will be transported to Zurich to fly overnight flight to Sapporo via Tokyo and a transfer to Niseko, to begin their time in the powder capital of the world. Next up is Whistler and the wilderness of British Columbia for one of life’s ultimate heli-ski experiences. Finally, thrill-seekers will heli-ski Iceland’s descents of 915 vertical feet with expert local guides, before being pampered back at Deplar Farm on the remote Troll peninsula.
HOW: Scott Dunn offers a 35-day trip to Zermatt, Niseko, Tokyo, Whistler, Vancouver, British Columbia Heli-Ski, Aspen & Iceland for two people from £123,000. This price includes international First Class flights from the UK, accommodation at Aman Tokyo, The Little Nell, Four Seasons Whistler and Deplar Farm, private transfers, internal flights, full board basis during heli-skiing accommodations. For more information, visit scottdunn.com or call 020 8682 5060
DECK THE HALLS… WITH MAGNUMS OF MOËT
THE LANESBOROUGH, LONDON TRANSFORMS ITS WINE CELLAR INTO A MAGICAL INTIMATE CHAMPAGNE VAULT FOR THE HOLIDAYS
The Lanesborough is at its most magical during the festive season, softly sparkling with Christmas décor and full of merriment from cheerful gatherings and parties. Whether for the ultimate festive break or for a seasonal party to remember, this grand residence is London’s distinguished destination for a lavish affair, that sees the hotel transformed into an enchanted mansion filled with stunning displays. For the first time since the hotel’s acclaimed reopening in 2015, the wine cellar of The Lanesborough will be transformed this merry season into a luxurious festive Champagne Vault. In partnership with Moët & Chandon, guests will be able to enjoy a unique private dining experience for up to 12 in the spectacular, intimate and magical setting. Be prepared for atmospheric festive lighting, seasonal foliage, pea lights, the finest crystal and china table settings and bespoke menus, accompanied by a glass of chilled Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial or Frozéllini on arrival – the ideal party venue to set the season off in style. Other Christmassy offerings this year include the return of The Lanesborough’s award-winning Afternoon Tea, which will take a seasonally-sweet festive twist as Head Pastry Chef, Fabio Bardi, reimagines Christmas classics, available from 20 November to 7 January. Served in the spectacular setting of Céleste, those taking tea can expect merry treats including a Santa belt made of spicy apple and pear mouse, a Rudolf nougat mousse and a Christmas tree of hazelnut and dark chocolate, served alongside classic scones, jam and clotted cream, as well as transformed savouries: smoked salmon roulade, Turkey cranberry brioche, and pumpkin tart.
HOW: The Champagne Vault at The Lanesborough will be open from 13 November to 20 December 2019. To find out what else the hotel has in store for the holidays, visit www.oetkercollection.com/hotels/the-lanesborough/festive
ENJOY A FESTIVE DAY OUT AT HOLKHAM HALL, NORFOLK
~ Embrace the festive spirit with candlelight tours of the beautifully decorated state rooms, a festive food fair and exclusive moving art exhibition, ‘Nativity’ by Martha Fiennes
Enjoy a truly festive getaway to Holkham Hall in North Norfolk, as it adorns its magnificent state rooms with sweet-scented pine trees, festive greenery, sparkling decorations and twinkling lights. This November and December, Holkham Hall will open its doors for a whole host of spectacular seasonal celebrations. Visitors can celebrate the magic of Christmas with a Candlelight Tour of the historic state rooms within 18th century Palladian-style Holkham Hall, led through each themed room by an expert guide who will talk guests through the inspiration behind each setting. Toast the occasion with the Champagne, Candlelight and Creators of Christmas tour, where guests have the chance to meet the faces behind Christmas at Holkham, including an exclusive talk by Lady Polly Leicester. The beautiful Chapel at Holkham Hall will play host to Candlelight Experiences during Christmas and New Year, with ‘Nativity’ – a moving-image artwork by Martha Fiennes – the centrepiece. The Festive Food Fair will be back for its third Christmas at Holkham, showcasing the best of local and regional food and drink, along with live cookery demonstrations from renowned local chefs to provide that extra bit of twinkle and magic for guests’ feasts over the festive holidays. Guests can also make their very own festive wreaths using greenery collected from Holkham park, and indulge in an evening with Diva Opera to get truly in the festive spirit.
HOW: Christmas at Holkham events include Candlelight Tours of Holkham Hall, Champagne, Candlelight and Creators of Christmas Tours, An Audience with Father Christmas, the Festive Food Fair, Festive Wreath Making and Diva Opera at Holkham. Room rates at The Victoria Inn start from £130 on a B&B basis. www.holkham.co.uk/events/christmas-at-holkham/make-christmas-special
EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC OF GLENEAGLES, SCOTLAND THIS FESTIVE SEASON
~ The iconic Scottish hotel is embracing the Christmas spirit with traditional flair and a choice of indulgent festive packages and events, including an enchanting Nutcracker ballet and Nutcracker-inspired afternoon tea
Enjoy an indulgent Christmas escape to Gleneagles as the hotel gets into the festive spirit with an enchanting Nutcracker ballet and afternoon tea, along with a selection of festive packages and glamorous events to keep all entertained. On 1st December, guests can pirouette into the festive season with a magical performance of The Nutcracker ballet by The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, together with a decadent Nutcracker-themed afternoon tea in the hotel’s elegant Ballroom. Guests will embark on an enchanting journey as they follow the Nutcracker Prince and Sugarplum Fairy through the wonderland of sweets, performed by world-class dancers and musicians, whilst tucking into a scrumptious afternoon tea. Guests can also be utterly spoilt with a three-night stay in one of the hotel’s beautiful rooms or suites, including all food and entertainment with Gleneagles’ Christmas programme, and a banquet to remember for many Christmases to come. Gleneagles is extending the Christmas spirit by offering guests an extra night as complimentary, on either 23rd or 27th December, as part of its Christmas Break package. Visitors can also enjoy a couple of warming winter cocktails by the cosy fireplaces or in the decadent 1920s style American Bar, or step back in time with Gleneagles’ glamorous, newly-refurbished The Strathearn and indulge in silver service dining.
HOW: Nutcracker ballet and Afternoon Tea is priced at £50 per adult and £25 per child. Gleneagles’ ‘Christmas Break’ package is priced from £4,480 per room for a 3-night stay, based on 2 people sharing a Sovereign Room on a full-board basis, including the Christmas banquet. Complimentary airport transfers will be available and the complimentary night is offered on a B&B basis and applies to 23 or 27 December. www.gleneagles.com/seasonal-offers/christmas-break
ENJOY A QUINTESSENTIALLY BRITISH CHRISTMAS AT UNIVERSITY ARMS, CAMBRIDGE
FULL OF FESTIVE FUN & INDULGENCE
Join University Arms, Cambridge as it gets into the festive spirit with a special package including a host of foodie offerings and traditional family fun. Those who book the two-night package between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day will indulge in the best festive fare from Chef Tristan Welch at the hotel’s quintessentially English destination restaurant, Parker’s Tavern. Parker’s Tavern is inspired by the communal dining halls synonymous with Cambridge Colleges and serves locally-sourced, seasonal food, with every dish designed to be a whimsical re-imagining of a British classic. Guests will kick off Christmas Day with a long lazy buffet breakfast, before the main event – a traditionally English Christmas lunch, where Tristan is sure to come into his own and showcase his festive flair with creative twists on the classic English roast. The three-course lunch will include dishes such as Parker’s Cured Smoked Salmon with local cream cheese for starters, followed by the full works – a locally sourced Roast Norfolk Bronze Turkey complete with chestnut stuffing, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, parsnips and brussel sprouts. To finish, guests can choose between the likes of Tristan’s Christmas Pudding Trifle – a twist on the traditional festive dessert, or enjoy a Blood Orange Posset served with cranberry donuts. In customary Christmas Day style, guests can settle down at 3pm for the Queen’s Speech, which will be televised in the hotel’s beautiful wood-panelled library, complete with a roaring fire. In the evening, the celebrations will continue with Christmas films and festive games. After a day of excitement and indulgence, guests can have a relaxing Boxing Day including a walk with routes recommend by University Arms that either take in best of the city’s sights or further afield, in the beautiful countryside of the Cambridge Fens. Alternatively, if the weather disappoints, the concierge at University Arms can help book tickets to the pantomime where this year, Cinderella will keep the whole family entertained.
HOW: Rates for the Christmas package start from £395 per person for two nights, inclusive of breakfast and Christmas lunch. www.universityarms.com
CLOSER TO HOME
‘TIS THE SEASON FOR THE BLACK FOREST… (NOT THE GÂTEAU)
AT BRENNER’S PARK-HOTEL & SPA, BADEN BADEN
There is truly no better place to spend the holidays than at Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa. The ‘Grande Dame’ is located in the historic spa town of Baden Baden, Germany, just a short 1.5-hour flight from London. From the beginning of December, there is a special ‘Christmas Market Offer’ which includes two nights in a Superior Double Room, typical German Glühwein, and a slice of Black Forest cake in the cosy Kaminhalle, in addition to, of course, a visit to the market. Over Christmas, the Black Forest is transformed into an idyllic winter wonderland, with snow-covered trees and icy rivers giving the area a magical feel like something out of a fairytale. At the heart of the Black Forest lies the iconic ‘Brenners’ as it is affectionately known by its loyal guests, decked out in festive finery and filled with holiday spirit. Celebrations start on Christmas Eve with a play in the Orangerie, followed by an aperitif in the hotel’s classic bar Kaminhalle, and concluding with a delicious five-course traditional Christmas dinner at the Wintergarten restaurant. The restaurant will be serving a festive à la carte menu inspired by regional Black Forest specialties over the whole holiday period including on Christmas Day. On Boxing Day, guests are invited to join a stroll to the Christmas market to discover local delicacies and enjoy a complimentary warming glass of Glühwein, German mulled wine. For those still in residence on 27 December, there is an exclusive private guided tour of the nearby Museum Frieder Burda, followed by prosecco at Brenners’ riverside restaurant, Rive Gauche. In the run up to the new year, Brenners will be taking over a charming woodland cottage in the heart of the forest to offer guests a delicious cheese fondue evening, served with regional smoked ham, sausage specialties and fresh baguettes all paired with the finest wines – a perfectly indulgent end to the year. To round off 2019, there is something to suit everyone with events including a Gala dinner in the Orangerie with live music, magic and a fireworks display; an opulent buffet at recently opened, super cool Fritz & Felix restaurant and bar; or a five-course meal at Rive Gauche with a live DJ for dancing the night away after dinner. Guests should also keep an eye out for resident cat Kléopatre, who can often be found snoozing at the base of the Christmas tree or playing with the baubles.
HOW: Rates at Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa start from €320 (currently approx. £297) per night, based on two people sharing a Double Standard Room on a room only basis. The Christmas Market offer starts from €990 for two people and is valid from 29 November until 20 December 2019. www.oetkercollection.com
TRADITIONAL ANDALUSIAN FESTIVITIES & FRIVOLITIES AT FINCA CORTESIN
SOUTHERN SPAIN’S FINEST LUXURY RESORT
Escape the overcrowded ski slopes and grey wintery cities, and head to Southern Spain to celebrate the festive season at Finca Cortesin in Andalusia, one of Europe’s finest luxury resorts. In true vibrant Spanish style, the resort comes alive to celebrate the holidays with merry dinners, themed galas and a one-off winter golf tournament. A gourmands’ delight, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, guests can enjoy a four-course traditional Spanish menu at El Jardín de Lutz restaurant, specially designed by Executive Chef Lutz Bösing. For a less traditional option, the hotel’s signature Michelin-starred restaurant Kabuki Raw – coined as offering “the best Japanese food outside of Japan” by The Times – will serve an exquisite four-course Japanese tasting menu, while on Boxing Day, there will be a mouth-watering authentic Italian brunch served at Don Giovanni Restaurant. Golfers can take advantage of a festive offer which includes a round of golf on the Championship course and a three-course meal at Don Giovanni, as well as the famed Winter Tournament where mulled wine, Champagne and tapas are all served course-side. Other events include Andalusian wine tasting and premium gin tasting in the Library Room. To see in the New Year, there will be a gala dinner inspired by the old school movie glamour of ‘Cinema Paradiso Grand Hotel’. The evening will start with Champagne cocktails and canapés before sumptuous dinners hosted in both El Jardín de Lutz and Kabuki Raw, with entertainment from a flash mob, live music and DJ. Guests will also be introduced to the famous Spanish tradition of the Twelve Grapes, Las doce uvas de la suerte – legend has it that eating 12 grapes at midnight symbolises 12 lucky and prosperous months ahead.
HOW: Christmas packages start from €940 (currently approx. £835) per night in a Junior Suite, including Christmas dinner for two. New Year packages start from €2,738 (currently approx. £2,432) per night, including a New Year’s Eve Dinner and a New Year’s Day Brunch. Both packages include Christmas amenities in the room, early check-in and late check-out (upon availability), and a 50-minute massage or a Green Fee per person, per stay. www.fincacortesin.com
A SPARKLING JAUNT TO THE HEARTLAND OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST WINE REGION
ROYAL CHAMPAGNE HOTEL & SPA
Opened just last year, Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa is the beautiful Champagne region’s first contemporary-designed five-star hotel, set in the hills above the area’s most famous towns, Epernay and Reims, of Dom Pérignon fame. A less obvious (and all the more charming) place to spend the holidays, Christmas at the hotel equals roaring fireplaces, 150 illuminated Christmas trees and the mouth-watering smell of gingerbread filling the hallways. Staying for three nights between 22 and 26 December, guests will check-in to luxurious Champagne-inspired suites with vineyard views, and be greeted with some of the region’s finest bubbles to start their festive break in style. A unique sandwich-less festive afternoon tea is served fire-side for the whole family to enjoy, with accompanying Christmas movies for little ones. Catering to all traditions, for the big day guests can opt for a Christmas dinner on the 24th or Christmas lunch on the 25th, where a delicious authentic French ‘Bresse Capon’ will be served alongside roasted chestnuts, followed by sweet Fjord and ginger snowflakes. Christmas cookie cookery workshops will also be available for children on Christmas Day, while adults can sample the region’s twist on traditional mulled wine, ‘Hot Champagne’, and wine down in the Instagram-perfect, award-winning spa.
HOW: Christmas Offer valid for stays of three nights or more from 22 – 26 December 2019. Rates at Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa during this period start from €479 (currently approx. £426) per room, per night. www.royalchampagne.com/en
A MAGICAL ESCAPE TO A MEDIEVAL CHÂTEAU: DOMAINE DES ETANGS, MASSIGNAC
~ Open for its first ever winter season, guests can enjoy a special Christmas Offer including a stay on 24 December, traditional French dinner, festive brunch and Afternoon Tea with a 50% saving when booking a second night
Domaine des Etangs, Massignac in South West France is open for its first ever winter season this year and is offering a truly unique and enchanting Christmas experience in the heart of one of the most beautiful areas of rural France. This Christmas, Domaine des Etangs is offering a limited-edition package to create the perfect fairytale winter getaway. This includes a stay in the room category of guests’ choosing, be it an opulent romantic suite in the château or a cosy farmhouse cottage for the whole family. A traditional French Christmas dinner is also included in the château on Christmas Eve, complete with a musical performance by a local harpist. The dinner menu includes seasonal favourites including smoked trout from the Charente region, speciality oysters from Marennes d’Oléron, chestnut mushrooms from the Domaine’s forest, local cheeses and a traditional ‘Bûche de Noël’ (Yule Log). Christmas Day will begin with breakfast in bed, followed by an indulgent Christmas brunch and an Afternoon Tea for children, during which a visit from Father Christmas will add to the magic. Guests can cosy up by the fireplace of their suite or cottage with a book or stroll alongside the glistening lake that runs through the estate, while those wishing to stay huddled in their cottage can even have their food shopping delivered and unpacked by staff, ready to be cooked. During a winter break at Domaine des Etangs, guests can explore the two expansive libraries curated by Heywood Hill, an enormous games room located in the château’s attic, full of games for both adults and children to enjoy, as well as vintage trunks brimming with fancy dress for little ones, the expert spa – Moulin des Etangs – for an indulgent Christmas pamper and the indoor swimming pool, thermal baths and sauna and steam room.
HOW: The Christmas Package at Domaine des Etangs is available to book for 24 December and starts from €894 (approx. £788) per night based on two people sharing a Prestige Room in the château, and includes a one-night stay, Champagne on arrival, Christmas Dinner, breakfast, Christmas Brunch, Afternoon Tea and a Father Christmas appearance. Guests can benefit from a 50% saving on the room price when booking a second night on 25th December. www.domainedesetangs.com
TAKE A ROMANTIC WINTER RETREAT TO STYLISH ALPINE HIDEAWAY, LES FERMES DE MARIE, MEGÈVE
~ Kick back in one of the Alps’ largest spas, wander the Christmas markets of this charming Alpine town and enjoy the annual lighting ceremony of the Christmas tree
Hide away in the Alps this festive season with Les Fermes de Marie, a collection of traditional farmhouses and chalets beautifully restored by the Sibuet family and converted into a 70-room hotel. This snowy winter paradise is perfect for a Christmas getaway not far from home, but a total world away. The cosy rooms are decorated in traditional alpine style with plenty of authentic wood furniture, antique furnishings and handwoven fabrics. Set near to charming Megève town, guests can immerse themselves in the spirit of Christmas as the streets are filled with horse drawn carriages, Christmas markets, sleigh rides and the renowned lighting ceremony of the Christmas tree on 9 December. The evening is accompanied by jolly music and entertainment, as locals come together to witness the magnificent tree come to life. Guests can also take a stroll into the Christmas Village, where they will find Father Christmas tucked away in his grotto and an array of Christmas markets. Megève also offers an array of winter activities from dogsledding, ice-skating and historic trails. After a day of festivities, guests can relax in the hotel’s spa or enjoy the indoor swimming pool surrounded by bay windows with stunning views over the snowy mountains – the perfect place to escape to this Christmas.
HOW: Les Fermes de Marie’s exclusive ‘Christmas before Christmas’ package is available from 13 – 20 December 2019, based on a three-night minimum stay, including complimentary breakfasts and dinners. Rates start from €335 (approx. £298) per room per night. www.fermesdemarie.com
A CHEERY BAJAN CHRISTMAS IN BARBADOS, AT ADULTS-ONLY COBBLERS COVE
Christmas is a wonderful time to visit Barbados, as the Caribbean island enjoys guaranteed sunshine and warm weather, and puts on a host of holiday festivities. Visitors should stay at Cobblers Cove, one of the Caribbean’s finest family-owned hotels. Guests will love getting into the Christmas spirit with Christmas Jazz and Carols by Candlelight concerts on the island. On Christmas Eve, boho-chic restaurant La Cabane is the place to be seen, with a live jazz band, Christmas specials and complimentary eggnog on arrival. Back at the hotel, guests can enjoy cocktails as the Royal Barbados Police Force band play festive tunes around the pool. When it comes to seeing in the New Year, the hotel has one of the best beach firework displays on the island which take place at midnight, and for those early risers (or those who have been up all night!) the hotel organises a sunrise walk across the island – the perfect way to see in 2020. Reimagined in time for the holidays, this month Cobblers Cove unveiled a dramatic new look following a five-year refurbishment programme. Located on the island’s quiet west coast, the refurbishment of the all-suite hotel has been overseen by the watchful eye of Sam de Teran, who has transformed the iconic property into one of the chicest places to stay in the Caribbean. The final chapter of this design story is culminating in a unique collaboration with British furniture designer Soane Britain, who will bring the best of British to the Caribbean. Set in a former sugar plantation, the iconic hotel embodies British elegance with Caribbean charm. The 40 suites are spread among nine two-storey cottages set in the gardens surrounding the original house. Renowned for its island-inspired dishes that cleverly reflect the changing seasons, the award-winning Camelot Restaurant is overseen by local Bajan Chef Jason Joseph and serves the finest food in Barbados.
HOW: Rates at Cobblers Cove start from $400 (currently approx. £329) per room per night on B&B basis. www.cobblerscove.com
A VERY MERRY ISLAND CHRISTMAS – ‘STROLL WEEKEND’ ON NANTUCKET
While some might think that Nantucket falls off the travel radar post summer season, what most people don’t know is that the island is equally, if not more, charming once the crowds disperse and the winter frost starts to settle. The island starts to get into the festive spirit with a tree-lighting ceremony on 29 November. Main Street will be lined with over 150 trees which are magically illuminated, while the Nantucket High School choir serenades attendees. Every year, a local artist or decorator is chosen to adorn the huge 20-foot tree at the top of Main Street, a tree that ‘magically’ talks to those who visit it. This sets the scene for the island tradition that kicks off the holidays: the annual Christmas Stroll. This event started in 1973 to encourage islanders to do their holiday shopping locally, and 45 years later, the Stroll is still celebrated over a whole weekend. On the first Friday of December, shopkeepers stay open later and entertain shoppers with wine, hot chocolate, tea, mulled cider, fruitcake, and holiday biscuits. On Stroll Saturday, Christmas carollers in costume sing well-loved holiday tunes at various downtown locations. A variety of live entertainment is also offered in the middle of Main Street, which is closed to traffic for the day. There are craft shows, performances, special dinners at island restaurants, tours, and exhibitions. Iconic island landmark, The White Elephant hotel’s much-loved Brant Point Grill offers an annual ‘Stroll Finale’ dinner on the Friday and Saturday, as well as brunch to celebrate the occasion. At Midday on Stroll Saturday, the Nantucket Town Crier, in full regalia, will ring in the 45th Annual Chamber Christmas Stroll, before leading everyone to the wharves to meet Santa, who will then ride to the Jared Coffin House to meet with children.
HOW: Christmas Stroll weekend on Nantucket will take place from Friday 6 to Sunday 8 December 2019. The White Elephant is open from 27 November to 8 December 2019. nantucketislandresorts.com
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO… RHODE ISLAND
CHECK INTO OCEAN HOUSE, WATCH HILL & WEEKAPAUG INN FOR ‘THE SEASON BY THE SEA’
Exquisite decorations, dazzling lights and a spectacular calendar full of festive events can be expected at all Ocean House Management Collection properties over the holiday period. On 8 December, Father Christmas will check into Watch Hill’s ‘Grande Dame’ Ocean House, for a spot of R&R before the big day. Children on the ‘nice’ list are invited to meet him in his secret room for a photo opportunity, and will even take home a personal gift. After a good night’s sleep, Santa will be hosting Sunday brunch at The Bistro, where guests can enjoy a delicious buffet with live music, unlimited sparkling wine and mimosas with the big man himself. On 14 December, there will be a dedicated children’s party in the Seaside Ballroom with arts and crafts stations, storytelling activities and a magical Santa’s grotto. Festive movie nights will include viewings of The Nutcracker accompanied by freshly popped popcorn, gelato and an assortment of bite-size sweets. Even the famous afternoon tea gets a makeover for the season, with a special Frozen themed tea. Once the kids are off to bed, adults can enjoy ‘A Very Veuve Christmas’ Champagne tasting in the Centre for Wine & Culinary Arts with Ocean House’s Wine Director. Kids and adults alike can then get crafty with a gingerbread house workshop, yule log baking or bauble making, while down the road at sister hotel, the Weekapaug Inn, guests are invited to create a beautiful centrepiece to adorn their holiday table. On Christmas Eve, both hotels honour an Italian-American tradition, the ‘Feast of the Fishes’. This is a sumptuous family-style meal cooked using the freshest local seafood. On Christmas Day, a five-course spread is offered at both COAST at the Ocean House, and The Restaurant at Weekapaug Inn. 2019 concludes with a Caribbean Havana-inspired black tie event at Ocean House, or a five-course tasting menu down the road at The Restaurant. The season also helps to give back to a variety of charities through present drives and a limited-edition keepsake with all proceeds going to children in need.
HOW: Rates at Ocean House start from $415 (currently approx. £338) per room per night on a room only basis – www.oceanhouseri.com. Rates at The Weekapaug Inn start from $355 (currently approx. £273) per room night on a room only basis – www.weekapauginn.com
DISCOVER SOUTH AFRICA’S WESTERN CAPE THIS CHRISTMAS
STAYING AT BUSHMANS KLOOF’S NEW VILLA – CEDERBERG HOUSE – DEEP IN THE CEDERBERG MOUNTAINS
~ Take advantage of an overnight flight from the UK to Cape Town and jump into the South African summer with minimal time difference
Escape the chilliness of the UK winter this Christmas by visiting Cape Town, with guaranteed sunshine and a beach retreat just 12 hours away. Get a proper night’s sleep on the overnight flight from the UK, and take advantage of the minimal time difference by jumping right into the South African summer. Instead of turning east from Cape Town along the iconic Garden Route, head the opposite direction and discover the untouched Western Cape. Just three hours from Cape Town, nestled in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains, is Bushmans Kloof – a wilderness lodge which is perfect for families, being both malaria and predator-free. Guests have 7,000 hectares to explore with an array of adventures, from walking with wildlife, marvelling at ancient bushman art with the property’s resident Rock Art expert, to treks into the mountains, waterfall walks, nature drives, fishing, canoeing, swimming in clear rock pools and stargazing. Cederberg House is the hotel’s newest offering, a two-bedroom exclusive-use villa adjacent to the main lodge yet utterly private. Toni Tollman, daughter of illustrious South African hoteliers Stanley and Beatrice Tollman (the people behind international hotel collection Red Carnation), has outfitted it with framed indigenous textiles, as well as works by South Africa’s finest artists, including wonderful woodcut prints by Gregoire Johannes Boonzaier. Overlooking the tranquil banks of the Boontjies River, the villa sleeps four people in two large master bedrooms, one with a four-poster bed.
HOW: Rates at Bushmans Kloof start from approx. £280 per night on a full board basis and at Cederberg House from £1,060 per night on an exclusive-use, full board basis. www.bushmanskloof.co.za
This Christmas, take the family to Zimbabwe and celebrate in the country’s hottest exclusive-use villas. For design aficionados, Matetsi Victoria Falls offers a whole new way of experiencing the world’s greatest waterfall, Victoria Falls, in luxury. Set on a private 15km stretch of the mighty Zambezi, just 45 minutes from the Falls, the lodge is unique in both world-class safari experiences and an idyllic retreat from which to visit the Falls. For those in search of the ultimate in seclusion and privacy, there’s River House: a spacious, exclusive-use four-bedroom villa, decorated in the same contemporary African style as the lodge, with both open-plan indoor and outdoor seating and dining areas, a wide verandah with loungers and banquettes on which to relax, as well as a private swimming pool around which to soak in the bush sounds, and a fire pit around which to enjoy starlit nightcaps. River House is looked after by a dedicated team including a private chef, butler, guide and tracker. From here, fly from Victoria Falls to Singita Pamushana in the remote Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. Launched in September 2019, the new Malilangwe House is designed for families and friends, and includes five expansive bedrooms – each with its own private deck. Guests also have a dedicated private chef, game vehicle, Field Guide and host catering for their every need. Inspired by the rich tribal history of the region, Malilangwe House’s décor echoes the refined luxury, yet light and airy ambience of Pamushana Lodge. The surrounding 130,000 acres of untouched wilderness add to the allure of this contemporary African home, making for an unforgettable luxury safari in a magnificent setting.
HOW: Matetsi River House rates start from $4,653 per night (currently approx. £3,800) on an exclusive-use basis for eight guests. Rates include accommodation, meals, house selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in the lodge and on safari activities, laundry, safari activities including game drives, birdwatching, a boat cruise on the Zambezi River, canoeing, and amateur fishing. Rates at Singita Pamushana’s Malilangwe House start from $11,670 per night (currently approx. £9,530) on an exclusive-use basis for up to 10 guests. matetsivictoriafalls.com/villa-suites / singita.com/lodge/singita-malilangwe-house
AN INDONESIAN ISLAND CHRISTMAS AT BAWAH RESERVE IN THE LESSER KNOWN ANAMBAS ISLANDS
For those looking to spend Christmas in paradise, stunning eco-friendly resort Bawah Reserve is offering guests a host of special activities during the festive season. Travellers staying over Christmas and New Year can start each day with a spa treatment from the specially created ‘Sparkle’ menu, available exclusively throughout December. They can experience a ‘Bawah Bliss’ treatment, including a healing body scrub made from ocean salt, or opt for the sacred ‘Bawahnese Fusion Massage’ or a yogic facial. Feeling suitably refreshed, they can then get creative with various activities from Bawah’s ‘Gather’ menu, which includes learning the art of making tree decorations and Christmas cards from natural materials, taking part in an island treasure hunt, and enjoying festive classic movies under the stars at Bawah’s outdoor cinema. Visitors will then feast at Tree Tops restaurant which blends beautifully into the jungle canopy, and indulge in fresh food such as local fish cakes with exotic fruit salad and lobster papaya salad, as well as delicious Christmas Turkey with all the trimmings. Thanks to the Reserve’s special ‘12 days of festive cocktail’ menu, guests will delight in sampling tipples such as a Bisbul Cooler, made with Whisky, mint leaves, lime juice, bisbul bitter, bisbul and soda water, or the Red Bell, with Vodka, buni, mint leaves, honey and soda water. Those seeking to really push the boat out in the name of Christmas, can opt for a ‘Daily Tipple Package’, which includes unlimited cocktails, spirits, wine and prosecco throughout the day. Accessible only by private seaplane, Bawah Reserve is an off-the-beaten track group of six tropical islands in the Riau Archipelago, Indonesia, located between Malaysia and Borneo. With just 36 beautifully designed suites and bungalows, the resort offers a sensational private island experience in an undiscovered and richly diverse part of Indonesia.
HOW: Rates at Bawah Reserve start from $1,980 per night (currently approx. £1,623) for two people on a full board basis including daily spa treatments, laundry, in-room minibar, and a host of land and water-based activities. Complimentary return transport from Singapore is included when booking a five-night stay or more. www.bawahreserve.com
ESCAPE TO GOA FOR A CULTURALLY-RICH BEACH GETAWAY THIS FESTIVE SEASON
STAYING AT CIDADE DE GOA, PART OF THE NEW SELEQTIONS BRAND BY IHCL
With harsh winter weather nearly upon us, look to Goa for guaranteed sunshine and a culturally-rich beach getaway, with over 103km of stunning coastline to explore as well as ancient temples, spice markets and India’s vibrant colours and traditions. Cidade de Goa is located just a few minutes from Panjim on Vainguinim beach, and is offering an exclusive saving for families travelling this winter. Designed as a Portuguese hamlet by world-renowned architect Charles Correa, Cidade de Goa blends luxury and laidback elegance. Guests are welcomed by stunning sea views, manicured gardens, and vibrant medleys of oranges, yellows, and blues. Rooms, or quartos, are thoughtfully designed and incredibly spacious, making the hotel an ideal choice for families. The quaint and secluded Vainguinim beach is accessible only through the resort, providing total privacy. A range of water sports, games, and children’s activities are on offer, ensuring there is something to keep the whole family entertained. The hotel is also renowned for its culinary offerings – from Alfama which is reminiscent of old Lisbon, to al fresco barbeques and authentic Indian dishes at Café Azul. Just an hour-long flight from Chennai, Goa is also one of the warmest destinations travellers will find in the northern hemisphere during winter, with average daily temperatures of around 30°C over Christmas.
HOW: British Airways flies direct from London to Chennai, with Goa just a one-hour flight away with multiple airlines offering regular flights. The ‘Family Getaways Winter Offer’ at Cidade de Goa starts from 15,500INR (currently approx. £175) per night based on a minimum stay of two nights, on a full board basis and inclusive of airport transfers. The offer is valid for stays between 1 October 2019 – 31 March 2020. For more information, visit: www.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj-holidays/destinations/goa-packages/cidade-de-goa/family-getaways-2-winter/
THE ULTIMATE AMERICAN CHRISTMAS – COMBINE LAS VEGAS, HAWAII AND LOS ANGELES IN AN EPIC WINTER SUN FAMILY TRIP WITH SCOTT DUNN
~ Fly over the mighty Grand Canyon, hit the Hawaii surf and discover star-studded Los Angeles and southern California
Scott Dunn offers the ultimate American trip this winter, combining the mighty Grand Canyon, tropical beaches of Hawaii and star-studded Los Angeles. Guests will stay at Four Seasons Las Vegas, exploring The Strip after sundown which comes alive with millions of lights. By day, they can venture into the desert including an exhilarating helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon for an aerial view of America’s most loved landmark, or opt for a Jeep tour of the Valley of Fire. Guests then stay at Four Seasons Hualalai, Hawaii, where they can enjoy snorkelling, an outrigger canoe ride, SNUBA and a full-day ‘Volcano by Air and Land’ tour over the active Kilauea Volcano. Finally, Los Angeles: a chance for guests to hit the designer shops of Beverly Hills, hike to the Hollywood sign or head down to Anaheim for a day at the original Disney theme park, enjoy the thrill of Universal Studios, roller-blade along trendy Venice Beach, or potter around the great farmer’s markets and picnic on the beach in Santa Monica.
HOW: Scott Dunn offers a 13-night tour of Las Vegas, Hawaii and Los Angeles for a family of four from £8,300 per person. This includes internal flights, accommodation, private transfers, car rental, Grand Canyon helicopter tour, surfing lesson in Hualalai, ‘Volcanoes by Land and Air’ full day tour and private city tour in Los Angeles. From 1 October to 20 December 2019, a 20% discount can be applied when staying at Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills for two nights or more. For more information, visit scottdunn.com or call 020 8682 5060
SWAP ROBINS FOR BLUE-FOOTED BOOBIES AND SET SAIL AROUND THE GALAPAGOS, ABOARD THE FIRST RELAIS & CHÂTEAUX YACHTS WITH SCOTT DUNN
~ Swim with sea lions, float eye-to-eye with penguins, stand next to a blue-footed booby feeding its young, and try dodging iguanas scurrying over lava
This Christmas, hop aboard luxury 20-passenger yachts Origin & Theory, two of the most luxurious vessels sailing the Galapagos, and discover all that the stunning archipelago of islands has to offer. With adventure and comfort at the forefront, the ship’s small Zodiac boats and clear-bottomed kayaks take guests close to nature, with a variety of activities during the cruise including paddle boarding. Travellers can explore the unique islands with expert naturalist guides or walk along the long stretches of secluded beaches and swim with playful sea lions, or snorkel to long cliffs to see tropical fish, sea turtles and penguins.
HOW: Scott Dunn offers a seven-night trip to the Galapagos Islands on board the Theory / Origin from £7,460 per person. This is based on two people travelling on a full board basis including international economy flights from the UK and one night in Quito. For more information, visit scottdunn.com or call 020 3993 5593
AND IF YOU CAN’T DECIDE…
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: INTRODUCING THE ULTIMATE SKI & SUN ITINERARY WITH SCOTT DUNN
~ Hit the snowy Swiss Alps at The Chedi Andermatt, then head to sunny Milaidhoo Island Maldives to unwind –
this year’s most indulgent festive escape promising something for everyone
For those who simply can’t choose where to holiday, tour operator Scott Dunn has created the ultimate winter ski and sun twin-centre itinerary, combining the best in luxury from Switzerland to the Maldives. The trip begins at the fabulously chic Alpine The Chedi Andermatt – an ideal location for skiers of all abilities. The hotel is renowned for its first-class service and super cool interiors, where sophisticated bedrooms feature roaring log fires and sheepskin rugs. Ski Butlers are also on hand to warm guests’ boots before they head out and will be waiting for them on their return with a hot chocolate. Travelling with Scott Dunn also includes an indulgent ‘Fondue Under the Stars’ experience, including winter aperitifs, authentic Swiss cheese fondue among other gourmet treats from a secluded, rustic Alpine hut. Once snow-bunnies have had their ski fix, they will take a private helicopter transfer back to Zurich airport to board their direct flight to Malé for non-stop sunshine. Arriving in the Maldives, visitors will be collected from their international flight as part of Scott Dunn’s VIP arrival service to ensure stress-free travel. After a short hop by scenic seaplane, they will arrive to the turquoise tides of Milaidhoo, set in the Baa Atoll’s beautiful UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Checking into some of the finest accommodation in the Maldives – the breathtaking 475m2 Ocean Residence – a multi-storey, thatched-roof villa with unparalleled views. It has steps straight into the water allowing guests to explore Milaidhoo’s spectacular house reef direct from their villa, while the private sundeck comes complete with swing chair, sun loungers and huge freshwater and infinity swimming pool. The Residence is just a short stroll away from incredible watersports, spa, world-class diving and three world-class restaurants, including Ba’theli, the only Maldivian restaurant in the country. To conclude the trip, Scott Dunn guests will delight with an exclusive castaway experience which begins with a sunset dolphin cruise aboard a traditional Maldivian sailing boat, before arriving at a secluded sandbank where cocktails are served, followed by a four-course dinner under the stars specially created according to their tastes.
HOW: Scott Dunn offers a 10-day festive trip to The Chedi Andermatt, Switzerland and Milaidhoo Island Maldives from £40,000 per person, based on two people sharing. The package includes return private helicopter transfers to Zurich, a Fondue Under the Stars Experience at The Chedi, VIP arrival service in the Maldives, a sunset dolphin cruise and dinner under the stars on a private sandbank at Milaidhoo, all international flights and private transfers. For more information, visit www.scottdunn.com or call 020 3993 5593