Fancy making your festive family holiday a bit more memorable this year? Follow these 5 little nuggets of wisdom and we guarantee you’ll a Christmas and New Year with memories to last a lifetime!
1 Don’t take the weather with you
One of the great joys about heading for foreign climes in December is the tropical sunshine that awaits your arrival. Imagine soaking up all that lovely winter sun and returning home refreshed, revitalized and enriched with vitamin D. Or, escape dreary climes and head to the slopes for winter sports.
For sun-worshippers, book a villa on Sri Lanka’s south coast near the UNESCO-listed city of Galle. Indoor-outdoor-styled Uda Kanda has an infinity pool, superb food created by delightful staff, and show-stopping views of the Indian Ocean across 3.5 acres of tropical gardens.
Prices: £905/night (7-night minimum)
Fancy something closer to home? Christmas will be sumptuous at ultra-cosy hideaway La Ferme du Lac Vert, a traditional farmhouse with a hot tub, restaurant-quality food and a rich, textured makeover. It’s near Morzine, in France’s Portes du Soleil, one of the biggest ski areas in Europe with 650km of slopes for every level of ability. Whether booking a room or the whole house, it’s excellent value.
Prices: Rates are reduced to £985/guest for a 7-night stay
2 Look for the best bargains
Not everywhere jacks up prices during the holiday season. Some places offer discounts including early bird, long stays, whole property rentals and non-refundable rates to tempt your travel urgings.
Ever-popular family-friendly Metairie Montplaisir has a great 25% discount on rooms over Christmas and New Year, plus a whole house package (3 night minimum) including a Christmas cooking class. The foodie guesthouse (with wine-tasting sessions on tap) is only 10 minutes from medieval masterpiece Carcassonne, which has Christmas fairs as well as castles and cassoulets.
Prices: from £213/room including breakfast, whole house from £622/night
Just outside Marrakech is a luxurious laid-back haven of 7 guest suites, surrounded by orchards and lush gardens. Book Casa Taos for 4 nights over Christmas to get 20% off. You get generous original home-cooked food, the warmest of welcomes from Hicham and Karima, views of the Atlas Mountains, and you’re within easy reach of the vibrant souks to buy presents for all the family so you needn’t bring them with you.
3 Break out of your comfort zone
Family holidays are for bonding time, relaxing out of your daily routine, and creating lasting memories to sustain you all. So why not expand your horizons and pick a destination you’ve never been before? You can learn something new together and share the same experiences. Remember, a change is as good as a rest!
Venture to Morocco’s stupendous Atlas Mountains to sustainably-run hilltop retreat Kasbah du Toubkal for unique Christmas Eve and New Year’s festivities of traditional Berber music and entertainment. Feasts of local delicacies are served with rituals including wetting your hands in rose water. Enjoy some of the best rooftop views in Africa, visit the local Berber villages, and explore some gentle hikes – this is best family trekking getaway in the region.
Prices:Deluxe room for a family of 3 is E324/night including breakfast
If your horizons stretch further, serene Thai boutique hotel Sri panwa will give your family the opportunity to learn the arts of batik and porcelain painting, Thai boxing, plus tennis lessons, yoga, Pilates and plenty of watersports. The hotel also has a speed boat for exploring the Phuket archipelago! Other attractions include night fishing, a superlative spa, fabulous food, and the most sensational sunrises and sunsets.
Prices: £889/night for a family suite (applicable discounts include 28% for 7-night stays; 24% early bird bookings)
4 Choose a home from home
You may crave a welcome change of scene but still prefer being together as a family to your own timetable. In that case, rent a beautiful villa or curl up in a cosy cottage. Simply stock up on your favourite vittles and vino, and you’ve all the ingredients for family magic!
In the heart of under-the-radar Charente (on the Dordogne border) is a splendid mansion which sets the bar for country rentals. Following a snazzy makeover, 16th-century Chateau de la Couronne comes with 9 vast bedrooms (including 2 twins, and 1 quadruple dorm), palatial reception rooms, high-tech surround-sound cinema room, pool table and a Baby Grand. Self-cater in the huge kitchen or hire a private chef for a celebratory meal. Prices: £1,964/night, with a superb 25% discount for 4+ night bookings
Tranquil Menorca has a charming coastline, cute villages and ambling paths. In its heartlands, a derelict manor house has been reborn as the idyllic The Menorca Hideaway. It contains 4 bedrooms, enchanting gardens, an orchard, and comes with a basket of games, plus a double-fronted fireplace for cosy evenings. Prices: £289/night for 6 people, or £343/night for a party of 8 (4-night minimum)
If you prefer to be closer to home, check out the delightful Bude Hideaways on the North Cornwall-Devon border near stunning beaches, dramatic cliffs and dreamy village lanes. Choose a chic barn conversion for 2-4 with ground floor bedrooms and a loft-style open-plan upper floor, or a cottage for 2-4 with a spacious kitchen/diner in a quaint village.
Prices: Both are £213 per night (3-night minimum)
5 Put your feet up and relax
Let’s be honest, most of us would like a winter holiday where we don’t have to lift a finger. That means no cooking, no cleaning, no tension, and definitely no rows! Whether you’re looking for a great destination with direct flights or just a staycation where everything is laid on for you, we have 2 beauties:
Take a sleek suite at Baobab Suites in Tenerife for 3 nights for a 10% discount. You get winter sunshine, 4 restaurants on site, and the option of self-catering in your well-equipped kitchen, plus a choice of heated swimming pools with toddler splash pools. The Saplings Kids Club is free (children under 3 need adult supervision), the beach is within walking distance, there’s a playground and a special festive programme that includes meeting Santa Claus, a junior disco, sports clubs, gala meals and New Year fireworks. Best of all? It’s only 20 minutes from the airport.
Prices: From £170/night for a Boutique Eden Suite (non-refundable; requires full pre-payment)
For somewhere closer to home, the country house retreat Another Place – The Lake in the heart of the iconic Lake District is a near perfect staycation choice. A dog-friendly haven with stunning scenery, cracking food, crackling fires, a children’s zone and a heated indoor pool (plus a sauna), it even supplies wellies for walks. Self-drive, or take the train to Penrith, followed by a taxi to the hotel, then hole up for the duration. Sheer bliss.
Prices: 2 adjacent Standard Rooms from £220/room including breakfast; or add an extra bed in the Better Room from £320/night including breakfast