Soothing spas, the finest gourmet meals, spectacular views across the ocean… these types of holidays are all about indulgence. Breaks away tend to be in the most beautiful locations on earth, whether it be on the white sandy beaches of Indian Ocean islands or 5-star, world-beating glamour cities such as Dubai.
Where you take your high-class break will depend, however, on the sort of holiday you want; is sipping cocktails on a gorgeous sandy beach enough, or do you want to try activities you’d never normally get a chance to, like deep sea fishing? We’ve put together a handy guide on picking the right getaway for you, whether you’re after relaxation or holiday activities. There are even some tips on how you can book a luxury trip without breaking the bank!
Best for relaxation
Some of the most luxurious destinations on earth sell themselves on the breath-taking beauty of their surroundings; surroundings so beautiful that all you’ll want to do is sit and take it all in. Given that for most of us a holiday abroad ideally involves a beach of some description, it’s not surprising that many of the top resorts are located on or near the world’s most spectacular coastlines.
In terms of getting away from the hustle and bustle, the Maldives are hard to beat. A string of 26 tiny islands flung out across the Indian Ocean, the nearest large scale land mass is Sri Lanka to the east, around 700km away. The Maldives are literally little more than a speck on the map. A by-word for upmarket, Maldives resorts are based on their own atoll – each forming a self-sufficient, exclusive island hotel. After flying into the tiny airport on Male, the capital of the republic, most will reach their resort by speedboat.
Maldivian resorts are all-inclusive. You won’t have to worry about spending money for the entire duration of your trip. While package prices differ from resort to resort, you are guaranteed fresh seafood and an excellent choice of meals no matter which atoll you opt for.
A holiday here really is for those who are looking for peace, quiet and relaxation. You’ll feel like you’re at the ends of the earth, marooned on a tropical island. Each resort has its own sandy beach, from which you can witness awe-inspiring sunsets across the Indian Ocean. Most resorts will have their own spas with beauty treatments. And what’s more, there will be a number of activities to keep you occupied on holiday here should you tire of the stunning beauty of the beach. These include:
- Scuba diving around the atolls’ private coral reefs
- Night fishing
- Boat excursions
Best for activities
Luxury or not, if you’re the type of person who likes to get out and about on holiday, lounging around on a beach all day may soon lose its charm. Holidays don’t just have to be about the sun, sea and sand however. There are plenty of high-quality resorts in destinations that provide a wealth of exciting activities to do and things to see.
Kenya, South Africa and the Gambia
Africa is a great place to look for a luxury holiday with plenty to keep you occupied. Base yourself in an upmarket resort and get out to explore the breath-taking scenery and fascinating wildlife these countries have to offer. High-end resorts in Africa come with large, beautifully designed pools, spa treatment centres, fantastic restaurants and are based in impressively designed grounds. Cases in point are the Coco Ocean Resort & Spa in Gambia and the Commodore Hotel in South Africa’s Cape Town.
One of the main reasons people come to these destinations is, of course, for a safari holiday. There are a whole host of different National Parks and game reserves located throughout Africa. Those found in South Africa often have better road infrastructure, meaning a safari can be enjoyed even in cheaper wet season. South Africa also has the benefit of a number of smaller private wildlife parks within close proximity of one another, which is ideal for those with small children looking to do a day safari.
Dubai is synonymous with wealth and affluence. It’s virtually impossible to have any sort of holiday here other than a luxury one. Hotels such as Burj al-Arab (the one that looks like a sail) and Jumeirah Beach Hotel (the one that looks like a wave) are iconic, epitomising the grandeur and splendour of the city. It goes without saying that accommodation here will be sumptuous; top class dining, exquisitely designed public areas such as bars and swimming pools, high-spec facilities in rooms such as flat screen HD televisions and expensive stereo systems… the ultimate in luxury.
As a city destination and a playground of the rich and famous, it’s perhaps unsurprising that there’s a wealth of things to do here also. Some of the exhilarating activities you can take part in include:
- Dubai Creek Cruises – take a ride down the old Dubai creek, formerly a trading route from the city to India, Africa and the Middle East. Take a dinner cruise or hire a private boat.
- Golf – There are a number of top-level, 18-hole golf courses around Dubai including the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Emirates Golf Club and Nad Al Sheba Club.
- Hot Air Ballooning – View the sand dunes and mountains at sunrise and sunset from hundreds of feet up. A spectacular way to see the surrounding landscape.
Egypt famously boasts a great number of all-inclusive resorts, particularly in the purpose built tourist areas of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada. Many of these sell themselves on the basis of their high quality facilities and luxurious rooms. Hotels such as the 5-star Savoy Sharm Ultra in Sharks Bay combine a fantastically central location with their own private beach, health club, sumptuous bars and restaurants, and exquisitely decorated rooms. And what’s more, breaks on the Red Sea Riviera place you in one of the best spots in the world for scuba diving. The water here is widely regarded as some of the warmest and clearest, creating ideal conditions for diving. Dive sites such as the Ras Mohammed Marine Park, Yolanda Reef and Sharks Reef attract thousands of divers a year, who come here to see thousands of brightly coloured fish, manta rays, small sharks, turtles and breath-taking underwater coral landscape.
Best on a budget
So you want a top experience, but you don’t want to pay too much money. While on the whole this does not come cheap, there are a few steps you can take to shave off the pounds here and there.
Firstly, consider taking a trip over the shoulder seasons. Travelling in spring and autumn to Mediterranean destinations will generally see lower prices and some great deals, while the weather remains pleasantly warm. Africa and the Far East may see an increase in rains close to the monsoon and wet seasons, but you can also be certain of a good number of hot, sunny days. If you have the flexibility, avoiding peak periods such as Easter, summer and half term school holidays will see you save money.
Sri Lanka and Thailand
While the cost of long haul flights is undoubtedly more expensive than those to nearer destinations, it can work out cost effective to look further afield for your holiday. Sri Lanka is an incredibly cheap destination to visit once you’re out there, with the exchange rate heavily favouring the pound. Thailand is another far flung destination that, while not as cheap as it was 15-20 years ago, is still nonetheless very good value for Brits. If you can pick up a good deal on your flights, the money you spend in these destinations can buy you far greater luxury than you would get for the same money in Europe.