Gran Melia Palacio DeIsora Swimming Pool

Winter Warmers

By Phoebe Oliver

Nowhere in Britain has managed to escape the wild weather of the past three months. October was marked by exceptional rainfall and the St Jude storm, November was dry but windy, then came the tidal surge on 5 December and the floods and storms of Christmas Eve and the New Year which saw an unprecedented rise in umbrella sales!  There have been over 500 severe weather and flood warnings since October and as I sit at my desk writing my column today there seems to be little break from the torrential rainfall…….

But enough of the doom and gloom – there is no better way to escape than jump on a plane and fly to sunnier climates. Below are our Absolute suggestions for best winter sun – weather you are up for cocktails and romance or throwing the kids in the pool somewhere hot we have it all:

Start the new year with good intentions at the Celeb Detox in Mexico.
The recently launched (jan 13) Amansala Chica hotel is the ‘lux little sister’ of the renowned ‘Bikini Bootcamp Based in Tulum, Mexico Amansala has had many famous faces staying with them to participate in health and detox programmes, including: Demi Moore, Cameron Diaz, Reese Witherspoon & Drew Barrymore also all did Bikini Bootcamp last Feb and other visiting celebrities include:  Jade Jagger, Cindy Crawford, Sienna Miller, Charleze Theron and Linda Evangelista.

The 20 room boutique hotel offers suites with some of the best views in Tulum and the Chica concept builds on Amansala’s ethos of being THE place to go for a simultaneously healthy & stylish holiday – with a purpose, making it a great quick start to the New Year. Amansala Chica  hosts a newly created 5 day ‘Destination Detox’ cleansing programme and has roof top massage rooms and yoga space overlooking the sea. Chica Room Only Rates: from £115 to £165 a night plus 12% tax – for more information visit

Couples Delight
Get yourself some posh Chelsea choice in the shape of Alila Diwa Goa, near Gonsua Beach in Majorda which is where Binky and her boyfriend Alex from Made In Chelsea are currently holidaying as I write. The hotel is a tranquil sanctuary set amidst the serene landscape of lush rice plantations and the Arabian Sea. Enjoy the sunny climes of South Goa, relax, or explore the area, but whatever you do, take advantage of the hotel’s stunning infinity pool.The Alila Diwa winter package includes three nights in a Diwa Room (single or double occupancy) at £591per night. The package also includes private transfers, breakfast, unlimited spa services and food and beverages at any of the resorts dining venues.

Family Sailing Caribbean
The family adventure company offer an affordable and hassle-free way for families to try their hand at sailing while island-hopping in the Caribbean, this trip journeys around the British Virgin Islands on an eight-berth skippered yacht, which can be shared by two or three like-minded families. From exploring Norman Island, famous as the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, to swimming with sea turtles at Dead Man’s Bay, hiking around the island of Jost Van Dyke and discovering a sunken shipwreck near Salt Island, there’s plenty for younger children and teens alike to enjoy, while adults can relax knowing there’s a skipper on board. Departs during February half-term and Easter holidays, price includes international flights, transfers, accommodation in twin or double cabins, breakfasts and lunches, excursions and skipper. The Family Adventure Company, 0845 287 1198, Prices from 9 days from £1,912 per adult & £1,721 per child incl. flights

Family Friendly Safari holiday
Leave the rain behind and discover the magical Zulu Kingdom, home to Africa’s Big game animals and an affordable alternative to a safari in the Kruger. Discover the magnificent mountain scenery of the Drakensbergs with a host of activities for the whole family; enjoy big game sightings in the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Game Reserve – one of the best places to see rhino in Africa; then dip your toe in the warm Indian Ocean at one of the superb beach lodges of the Mabibi coast line, where turtles come to lay their eggs. 

Visions of Africa are offering a 2 week self drive family holiday which includes 3 nights at a 4* safari lodge with game drives included. Book before 28th Feb and save £400 on a 14 Nt Zulu Kingdom Safari Holiday. Includes 6 nts FB, 4 Nts HB and 2 Nts B&B accommodation, flights, self drive hire car with Classic Plus Insurance & GPS, game viewing activities. From £2095pp based on a family of 4 with 2 children under 12. Contact 01444 225 640 to speak to a member of their knowledgeable team about holidays in the Zulu Kingdom. Find out more at:

And lastly let’s end with a little bit of luxury in the shape of Goldeneye Jamaica which is the former Caribbean retreat of Ian Fleming and where he penned most of his Bond novels.
Various accommodation options are on offer including  11 one- and two-bedroom cottages have spacious verandas that lead right on to the beach while the 6 Lagoon Suites overhang the lagoon, complete with their own pontoon and kayaks for a morning paddle across the lagoon, perhaps for an early treatment at the spa that sits on the water’s edge. The Fleming Villa itself is available for private hire and sleeps 10 – it also has a private beach, perfect for day-long bbq parties.

Carrier’s sale price for GoldenEye in Jamaica.

Save up to £460 per couple, Prices from £2,300per person, based on 2 sharing. Stay 7 nights, pay for 6. Also receive US$200 resort credit and two complimentary massages. Carrier (, 0161 492 1354) offer 7 nights in a Lagoon Cottage, return economy flights from London Gatwick with Virgin Atlantic, return private transfers on a bed & breakfast basis. The offer needs to be booked by Book by 28 February 2014.

Offer valid for travel during the following dates: 01 January 2014 to 13 February 2014, 18 February 2014 to 17 April 2014, 22 April 2014 to 22 May 2014, 27 May 2014 to 03 July 2014, 08 July 2014 to 28 August 2014, 02 September 2014 to 26 November 2014, 02 December 2014 to 14 December 2014