January and February can feel like an eternity but why not make use of these chilly months to start planning your escape to the sun? Before you know it, the kiddies will be under your feet again with Half Term hols fast approaching. Here are my top tips on what to do and where to go to escape winter.
In terms of travel, Alentejo in Portugal is hot right now. The coastal region in south-central Portugal is just an hour’s drive from Lisbon but is a fantastic family-friendly destination. Base yourself on Alentejo’s Tróia peninsula, between the Atlantic Ocean and Sado River Estuary, and stay at the deluxe and eco-conscious Blue & Green Troia Design Hotel. Get stuck in with dolphin-spotting boat trips in the estuary and kayak tours following the coastline’s stunning rock formations. History buffs can explore the area’s Roman ruins or perhaps, more appealing to some, you can drop and flop at the hotel’s spa, while the kids go exploring with the Kids Koala Club.
Book with Sunvil.co.uk
Just opened in time for you winter-sunseekers is Sugar Beach in St Lucia. Formerly the Jalouise Plantation, the hotel has been rebranded as a Viceroy Resort and given a lavish makeover – with cool white interiors, a new dive centre, a spa set by a stream and two excellent restaurants. It is set in 100 acres of rainforest, under the Pitons – which, thankfully, remain untouched. Be warned: if you were thinking of spending quality time with your little ones, don’t let them see the huge choice of children’s activities on offer. The Generation V activities include glass bottom boat trips, volcano tours, fish feeding and shell collecting. And the best bit? All activities are complimentary. That will be another rum cocktail then…
Book with viceroyhotelsandresorts.com
Offering something for every member of the family, the Sport Hotels Resort and Spa in Andorra (made up of three hotels) not only offers ski bunnies the chance to practice but also lets foodies indulge and spa connoisseurs kick back in the ultimate sanctuary. The collection’s five star property, the Sport Hotel Hermitage & Spa, is the only hotel in Andorra to offer skiers direct access to the mountains, via the Grandvalira Soldeu gondola, which whisks you to 2,250m and offers over 205km of immaculate pistes. After you’ve worked up an appetite, you can try Michelin-starred chef Nandu Jubany’s new menus. This year he takes over the hotel’s two restaurants: Origen – serving gourmet dishes and Arrels, which focuses on traditional Catalan cooking. Meanwhile, for some me-time, you can zone out in the oversized spa (it’s spread across 5 floors) with its jaw-dropping view over the Alpine vista. The new spa menu for 2013 includes revolutionary new treatments by Valmont and Payot.
Book with sporthotelsandorra.co.uk
The family resort of Orcieres has a ski area reaching 2,725m high with guaranteed snow all season – it’s the ideal place for skiers of all abilities. Le Roc Blanc resort has excellent kids facilities, from 3 months to 17 years, with daily entertainment programmes, a sports centre with tropical pool, ice rink and relaxation centre for non-ski fun. Bliss all round, then.
Book with belambra.co.uk
You don’t have to venture abroad to blow away the cobwebs. It may still be chilly, but a few days away in Cornwall offers the ideal opportunity to get out of the rut, explore the area without the crowds and have a few windswept walks on the beach. My tip is to stay at Hawke’s Point in Carbis Bay, near St Ives. These chic self-catering apartments (and mega-luxe penthouses) offer a true luxury experience in an affordable price bracket. I’ve been twice with my family – in all sorts of weather – and enjoyed some of our most favourite holidays there. It’s all French boutique style meets Hamptons’ elegance with nice details such as Bose equipment, Villeroy & Boch crockery and REN products giving hotel-standard surroundings. As well as its DVDs, board games and Wii, Hawke’s Point is a few minutes walk from Carbis Bay itself and a short steam train ride away from St Ives and its quaint lanes lined with boutiques, restaurants and, of course, The Tate St Ives.
Book with hawkes-point.co.uk
Cocoon yourself away at the ultra-luxe Archerfield House on the East Lothian coastline in Scotland, just 40 minutes from Edinburgh. The estate offers a range of accommodation across 550 acres, as well as a stunning spa – the Fletcher’s Cottage, two links golf courses and access to some of the UK’s most stunning beaches. My pick of the bunch is a stay in the Marine Villa on the north edge of the estate and directly on the shore. Go with friends and family (it sleeps 10), and be as inspired as Robert Louis Stevenson was when he stayed here. Rumour has it that he wrote Treasure Island in this very same place. What will your story be?
Book at archerfieldhouse.com
This post also featured as a guest spot on halfpintchic.com