In Depth

Five winter sun escapes: Classy holiday destinations with ocean views and lashings of sunshine

Swap the dark skies and cold temperatures for white beaches, green jungles and the ultimate in barefoot luxury

The clocks have gone back and a balmy autumn has now given way to a more seasonal chill. With the long dark days of winter ahead of us, what better time to plan an escape to the sun?

In 2014, the Association of British Travel Agents said that more than 12 million people were planning to take a winter holiday. For just under half of them, sunshine was a priority.

Here are five of the most luxurious, exclusive and sunny destinations available this winter:

Mauritius – Constance Le Prince Maurice resort

Constance Le Prince Maurice is "effortlessly luxurious", says Destinology. Set within 60 hectares of unspoilt land, the beachfront resort boasts "colonial-style" villas and suites with thatched roofs. The restaurants are "exquisite", says Destinology, and the cellars hold more than 25,000 different wines. The resort has a golf course, a spa and watersports classes.

Book a holiday at Constance Le Prince Maurice here

Antigua – Pineapple Beach Club

By December, the Caribbean is well out of hurricane season and into full swing as a holiday destination. The Pineapple Beach Club is a four-star resort where children are not allowed. The nightlife is "guaranteed to be lively and entertaining" and the resort has tennis courts, a spa and a fitness centre. Temperatures in Antigua are in the mid-20s in December and January.

Book a holiday at Pineapple Beach Club here

Malaysia – Japamala Resort, Tioman Island

The welcome at this small island resort is laid-back and personal. While there are fewer activities and facilities than some resorts, Japamala offers the "ultimate back-to-nature escape", says Mr & Mrs Smith. Scenes from the classic 1950s musical South Pacific were shot on the island's white beaches and in its green jungles. The luxury treehouses and cliff-clinging chalets are "secluded and serene", says the site.

Book a holiday at Japamala Resort here

South Africa – Tintswalo Atlantic, Cape Town

(c)2015 David GF Smith

Temperatures in Cape Town rarely dip below 20C in the European winter, says the Daily Telegraph, and the time difference to the UK – only two hours – is a big plus. Tintswalo Atlantic is the only luxury hotel inside the Table Mountain National Park and is also the only hotel in the city that is right on the beach. The ocean views are "sublime", says the newspaper, and the service is authentic and warm. 

Book a holiday at Tintswalo Atlantic here

Florida – Ritz Carlton, Grande Lakes

There's more to Florida than Disney, though the mouse looms large in most Britons' trips to the Sunshine State. Why not stay outside Walt Disney World at the Ritz Carlton, one of the most luxurious hotels in the purpose-built Grande Lakes super resort? Still only 20 minutes' drive from Mickey's kingdom, one side of the resort is devoted to protected wetlands, part of the Florida Everglades headwaters.

Book a holiday at Ritz Carlton, Grande Lakes, here

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