Help your clients chill out this winter with Katie McGonagle's guide to the best sun and snow spots
Dora the Explorer or Peppa Pig? Ant or Dec? Chocolate or vanilla? Families deal with dilemmas big and small every day, but deciding where to go for a winter getaway should not be one of them.
Help them work out whether to swap the bleak British winter for guaranteed sunshine and a chance to chill out, or choose a different chill factor altogether in a frosty winter wonderland.
Whichever they choose, the prospect of a winter break is bound to lift them out of the post-summer holiday doldrums, so offer some inspiration from our round-up of wintry escapes.
SUN: SOME LIKE IT HOT
Egypt has had a rough time of late, but competitive pricing and short flights mean it’s likely to remain popular. Red Sea Holidays offers a fixed child price of £439 for any date and duration, and recommends fun-packed Sunwing Waterworld Makadi for its waterslides, private beach and array of eateries, plus a shuttle bus to Hurghada and excursions such as camel rides and quad biking. All-inclusive adult prices start at £950 for December 18-25, including flights.
The Gambia and Cape Verde are also popular sunspots for those who want a dash of west African culture on top of stunning beaches, activities aplenty and no jet lag thanks to the time zones.
It doesn’t have to cost the earth, either: The Gambia Experience has budget options like Palma Rima Hotel in south Kotu, where a seven-night all-inclusive stay for four costs £2,316 with flights on December 17, while its sister Cape Verde brand has added the three-star self-catering Tropical Residence in Santa Maria.
Cross-selling from a summer break can help close a sale, so consider classics like Lanzarote. Pleasant winter temperatures mean families can make the most of the tennis courts, beach volleyball, choice of six pools, and kids’ Jacuzzi at Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel Resort, where Western & Oriental Travel offers a week’s bed and breakfast in a two bedroom suite from £1,399 per adult and £899 per child, including flights, private transfers and a babysitting session.
SUN: FAR AND AWAY
While the UK shivers, far-flung destinations bask in sunshine. Olympic Holidays commercial director Photis Lambrianides says: “Goa’s beaches rival the best in the Indian Ocean, and its Portuguese heritage offers a gentle introduction to India.
“Goa also has a fantastic winter climate: hot enough to laze on the beach but not too hot for a long walk along the shore.”
Thailand has been firming up its family credentials in recent years. It’s not uncommon to see complimentary extras. At Merlin Beach Resort in Phuket, these include a daily kids’ club, baby and children’s pools, and a kids’ menu. Gold Medal offers a week here in December for two adults and two under-11s, with breakfast, Qatar Airways flights and transfers, for £4,635.
Likewise, Hong Kong has thrown off its all-business reputation with attractions such as Hong Kong Disneyland and the annual WinterFest. Travel 2 suggests five nights’ room-only at Harbour Grand Hotel, Kowloon, with flights and transfers, for £3,199 based on four travelling between December 21 and January 5.
The Caribbean is famed for its winter sunspots, and resorts such as Sensatori Mexico increasingly cater for all ages. Guests here can request a free baby kit on arrival for essentials such as a pushchair, cot, steriliser and baby food; send young children to play with Fisher Price toys at Azulitos Play House; then let teens loose in the DJ booth and games room.
SNOW: FROM LAPLAND WITH LOVE
Brits don’t usually like travelling to even colder climes, but a chance to meet Santa makes pulling on the thermals worthwhile.
Transun runs day trips (from £489 per adult and £429 per child, flying from 20 UK airports) and two to four-night breaks (full-board, from £879 or £759) to Karesuando in northern Sweden, where families get a private meeting with Santa, plus snowmobile, reindeer and husky experiences.
Across the border in Finland, Cosmos has begun offering Olos as an alternative to Levi Fell. Three to five-day trips are available throughout December, flying from Gatwick or Manchester, including a trip to see the elves in Santa’s post office, a meeting with the red-suited fellow himself, and Christmas feast. Lead-in prices are £699 per adult and £599 per child full-board.
Santa’s elves are also on show on Thomson’s three and four-night Lapland Explorer holidays, escorting visitors to the self-catering Holiday Club Levi Apartments, then directing them towards husky sleigh rides, tobogganing, and a festive chat with Santa. A December 26 departure costs £705 for adults, £446 for a first child and £623 thereafter, staying three nights.
If a short break just doesn’t cut the mustard, seven-night holidays are the core of Inghams’ Lapland programme, running between December and April to Levi, Ylläs, Saariselkä and, new this year, Pyhä. Activities include reindeer farm visits, sleigh rides, ice-floating, snowshoeing and snowmobiling, plus excursions to Sami villages and upgrades to a glass igloo or Lainio SnowHotel.
Also offering an authentic igloo experience is Taber Holidays. The regional specialist travels to Kakslauttanen in the heart of Finnish Lapland, where luxurious log cabins each have their own sauna, but visitors can add a night in a glass or snow igloo from £192 or £133 for children.
SNOW: SKI AND SEE
Downhill or cross-country skiing features in about 40% of Inghams’ Lapland holidays, and under-sevens can ski for free when accompanied by an adult.
Cosmos has also ventured into the ski and snowboard market, with a brochure covering Austria, France and Italy, and early booking offers of a £59 deposit and half-price ski and snowboard carriage.
Mark Warner’s range of European ski chalets includes the refurbished Aiguille Percee in Tignes, France, which has added 13 rooms including interconnecting and family suites, new bathrooms, a bigger bar and restaurant, and improved spa.
Beyond the slopes, icy escapades include The Adventure Company’s Winter Activity Week in Andorra, departing December 26, with husky sledding, snowshoeing and igloo-building, plus cross-country skiing and other extras (£889 per adult, £845 per child over five, with flights).
For extra festive magic, Travel 2 suggests the QuebecAdabra festival in Quebec City, full of Christmas markets, outdoor exhibitions, and a dazzling display of lights
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