Festive winter-sun escapes
Fancy spending Christmas somewhere hot? Here are five new hotels where you can swap the squabbling relatives for sun-soaked relaxation
Largely unaffected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, St Lucia is one of the Caribbean's classiest islands: a home to swanky resorts and refined travellers. Open since September, The Landings is cannily positioned on the posh northwestern coast: sufficiently far from main resort Rodney Bay to ensure tranquility, but near enough for anyone wanting a raucous night out. Nearby is Pigeon Island's ruined British fort, and inland are ziplines. But many guests simply stay put, enjoying local-oriented cuisine, a spa, three pools, access to an excellent beach and butler-serviced, sea-view villas.
Seven nights from £1,359 all-inclusive over Christmas; thelandingsstlucia.com
Partly due to the country celebrating 50 years of independence next year, Mauritius was recently named among Lonely Planet's hottest destinations for 2018. But you can get the jump on everyone by going while it's still 2017. A super-swanky resort on the Indian Ocean island's jungly northeastern fringes, One&Only Le Saint Geran reopened on 1 December following a ten-month, multi-million dollar renovation. New are padel-tennis courts, a smouldering Japanese/tapas restaurant perched on stilts above a lagoon and private excursions with painter and photographer Salim Currimjee. The beach-facing villas, pools and hotly-rated spa remain.
From £550 per night B&B over Christmas; oneandonlyresorts.com
Head 540 miles west across the Indian Ocean and you'll come to Madagascar and its remarkable endemic wildlife – headlined by various loveable lemurs. What the country lacked, until this June, was a luxurious eco-resort. No longer. Set within a marine reserve on the tropical islet of Nosy Ankao, Miavana comprises just 14 beach villas. Each is huge, each has a pool and each comes with a buggy. Use that to get to the main pizzeria and infinity pool, and then schedule lemur-tracking, whale-watching, fly-fishing, reef-diving or helicopter jaunts.
Set by white-sand shores, Unico 20°87° – its name referring to its geographical, east-coast position on Riviera Maya – promises facilities galore in true Mexican all-inclusive style. There are three pools, tennis and basketball courts, a gym, a beauty salon, barbers, an extensive spa and five dining and bar options. Yet the accent is also on regional experiences such as mezcal-tasting and cookery classes, plus cocktails in a Mayan village.
While two new extravagant island resorts in Cambodia – Krabey Island and Koh Russey – continually delay their opening date, a third will open on 20 December. Requiring a 45-minute speedboat ride from the mainland, The Royal Sands lines the lily-white sands of promisingly named Long Beach, and features 67 attractively minimal villas. All feature an outdoor lounge and some have a lap pool. Diving and snorkelling on surrounding reefs can be arranged from the resort, along with kayaking, sailing, and fishing.