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Lizzi’s Luxury Edit: New Year, new destinations

As soon as the festive season is over, the TV ads start encouraging people to book their annual holidays. So far, so good. I would also urge you to book early and pay a deposit to secure your 2024 holidays. But if this is all feeling a bit deja vu, here are a few ideas to get you excited about travelling again, about looking forward to a new adventure, somewhere different.

January is always a bit flat. How about heading to the Hagar Mountains in Ras Al Khaimah? This tiny emirate, about 45 minutes from Dubai, will surprise you. With five-star hotels and white sand beaches it is already a winner, but add a 1.75-mile zip line, a balloon flight over the mountains, a thrilling toboggan ride, nature reserves and excellent food and you can see why this is a great choice.

Does anyone like February, arguably the gloomiest month? You could escape to the Caribbean! But try a different island, like Dominica, with its vast rainforest, lakes, waterfalls, and fabulous hotels such as Secret Bay and Jungle Bay. Lots of great hiking and plenty of historical sites if you get tired of the beach! Wonderful seafood too.

March sometimes brings a promise of Spring, but in recent years we’ve had to wait a bit longer for the winter to end. So, you may be longing for sunshine by now. How about Cape Verde? This group of islands is only a few hours away by plane, but it has sunshine when we do not, and it now has some excellent hotels. I particularly like the traditional Hotel Morabeza, but to mention a few others, there is the adults-only Hotel Riu Cabo Verde and the Hotel Riu Palace Santa Maria.

By April, many people make the mistake of thinking that Greece, Cyprus and Croatia are hot, but you should really wait till next month if you like to bake in the sun. However, if you want to explore, hike, and see some amazing scenery, how about the Azores? Still very unspoilt, this group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean is perfect for island hopping, free diving, waterfalls, taking in the thermal waters and volcanic lakes and whale watching. It is easy to get around by car and a paradise for nature lovers.

May can be great in the UK so sunshine may not need to be a priority. How about soaking up some history and culture before the crowds arrive? I’d recommend a three-centre tour of Seville, Córdoba and Granada. Words cannot describe the beauty of the Alcazar in Seville, the Alhambra in Granada, and the Great Mosque of Córdoba. As well as these famous landmarks, the cities are charming, with cobbled streets, cafes and restaurants and there’s so much interesting history to learn about.

June is the last month for couples to get away before the school holidays arrive and families take over! Air fares are about to skyrocket so how about splashing out in a long-haul destination and exploring Vietnam and Cambodia? The Far East is relatively inexpensive right now and you will never forget your visit to Angkor Wat or the buzz of Ho Chi Minh City! Although some parts are rainy at this time, others are fine to visit, and you avoid the crowds. The countryside is lush and green, and it is still very warm.

July is when most families think of a longer holiday. Instead of bucket and spade, why not take the kids on safari? Witness the Great Migration in East Africa and the wonders of the Ngorongoro Crater and bring The Lion King to life with your children. They’ll never forget this! Here, you’ll find plenty of family-friendly safari lodges.

The family holiday period continues in August, of course. Did you know you can fly to Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada in just over 5 hours? Here you can explore stunning scenery, view icebergs and puffins, walk some of the trails in the national parks, and camp with the kids. This is another great choice for families.

For something very different in September, I’m going to suggest the Silk Route. This was actually a series of routes, exporting first silk but then all sorts of other goods from China right through to Europe. By September, the searing heat of the summer is over, temperatures are pleasant, and the colours of the deserts are stunning. The whole route would be a huge commitment, but you could focus on Central Asia, taking in primarily Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. It’s even possible to see the best of Uzbekistan in 11 days.

Many people avoid the Caribbean in October as there is a hurricane risk, although there are safe islands outside the hurricane belt. It is a great time to visit Mauritius, though, which is warm and dry at this time. Mauritius has so much to offer as well as the beach, such as visiting the national parks, an underwater waterfall, swimming with dolphins, and horse riding, to name but a few. It has hotels to suit every budget and taste. I like The Residence and Le Prince Maurice and the Saint Gerain but there are a number of fine hotel choices. For an extra treat, you can combine Mauritius with the wildlife of Madagascar!

From November to April is the best time to visit India. If you haven’t been, start with the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. India is vast and there are so many other areas to explore, such as Shimla, at the foot of the Himalayas, or stay in one of the national parks and try to spot a tiger. Kerala is quite different again and miles away from the fascinating but hectic lifestyle of the rest of India. It is known for its beauty and tranquillity, beaches and backwaters, hill stations and national parks.

And just like that, we are back to December! As well as the well-known Christmas markets, you could opt for Copenhagen, Denmark, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Gothenburg, Sweden, or Gdansk in Poland. Each one offers its own take on Christmas, with different traditions, foods, and gifts. So, maybe steer away from the predictable and you’ll be rewarded by a less commercialised, more traditional experience.

I hope you’ve been inspired by my ideas. I’m always ready to offer suggestions of places you might not have thought of, so do get in touch and start the year off with a bang!

Feeling inspired? Book your next escape now. Get in touch with Lizzi by emailing [email protected] to book your dream trip!

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