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With holidaymakers delaying their travel plans for a later date, here’s our pick of wondrous places that need to be on your radar for a 2021 getaway.
For dewy-eyed newlyweds and romantic couples, the spoil-you factor on the teardrop-shaped island of St Lucia is always on point; think glittering beaches, crystalline waters, sugar-loaf peaks, lush emerald jungles, and a delightful mix of laid-back Caribbean charm and French finesse. And whether you’re kicking off your happy-ever-after, renewing your vows, or celebrating an anniversary, there’s plenty to get your heart racing. It’s also one of our most treasured spots in the Caribbean for dramatic scenery, especially at Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, Sulphur Springs Park (the world’s only drive-in volcano), and the famous pair of Pitons - the cone-shaped twin mountains appropriately named Gros and Petit. And then, of course, there’s the picturesque beaches, most fabulous of which are Sugar Beach, Anse Chastanet, Reduit Beach, Pigeon Island National Park, and Marigot Bay (the setting for the 1967 movie, Doctor Doolittle).
We love the intimate Cap Maison for its Spanish-Caribbean décor theme and 49 sea-facing rooms and suites (some with Jacuzzis and private pools). There’s also an award-winning spa, a state-of-the-art gym, a round-the-clock activity schedule, and showstopping restaurants and bars (head to Rock Maison for sunset cocktails delivered by a zip-line). Equally romantic is Rendezvous, the self-styled Boutique Hotel for Couples that wows with a Malabar Beach location, elegant accommodation, and a champagne bar. Couples goals are met everywhere; from the divine spa to the two-person hammocks dotted around the lush tropical gardens.
One of the top destinations for romance-seekers, Mauritius is an island located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, some 2,000 miles off the southeast coast. It’s best known for its luxury hotels and resorts with landscapes that include postcard-perfect white sandy beaches, picturesque lagoons and volcanic mountains. It’s an ideal spot for honeymooners and all types of travellers who want to enjoy relaxed days soaking up the sun and snorkeling or diving through a spectacular underwater world, jam-packed with marine life. Paddle boarding, windsurfing, parasailing, deep-sea fishing, swimming with dolphins, mountain treks and bird watching are just some of the other activities possible here.
The stylish all-inclusive LUX* Belle Mare resort offers a luxurious stay with plenty of Mauritian hospitality in thatched-roofed suites with jaw-dropping panoramic views. It boasts the island’s largest swimming pool as well as an idyllic stretch of beach, multiple onsite eateries and the world-class LUX* Me spa. This sanctuary for health and well-being has an extensive menu that includes a variety of massage options, treatments, yoga and meditation.
Why not spend 2021 ticking off some impressive bucket list moments? Venture to the rugged beauty of Canada’s sub-arctic wilderness and you may find yourself enjoying a wildlife encounter unlike any other – the majestic polar bear.
Tundra Buggy Lodge at Polar Bear Point is one of the best places to visit should you fancy seeing these gorgeous creatures in their natural habitat. A mobile lodge home to the largest concentration of polar bears in Churchill, the daily tundra buggy excursions on this holiday are truly unforgettable. We’re certain you’ll love watching as polar bears peer in through the windows, or go about their day in the snowy canvas.
The elusive Kermode bear is also a must-see when exploring Canada. This rare subspecies of the American black bear is an unusual sight, but a glorious one, and journeying to Spirit Bear Lodge is a brilliant way to see these wonderful animals in the wild. Our four-night tour is full of wonder and excitement, including rainforest tours, whale watching and kayaking, as well as creating a tranquil experience that will make you feel at one with the wilderness.
Fewer tropical islands do glitz and glamour like Barbados, the sun-kissed coral gem with two distinctive coasts: the calm Caribbean with its luminous waters and glistening sands and the wild Atlantic with its gnarly surf-pounding shores and foam-crested waves. But there’s more to this tiny place (21 miles long and 14 miles wide) than beach bliss. Try hiking from Stroud Point to North Point, taking a tour of the famous Mount Gay Distillery, exploring Harrison’s Cave, and soaking up the cultural wonders of Bridgetown - the UNESCO-listed capital. Other great shouts include exploring sugarcane fields, diving any of the 200-plus wrecks around Carlisle Bay, tucking into a Friday fish dinner at Oistins, and watching cricket (there’s always a game on somewhere). If you happen to be here in late July or early August, don’t miss the flamboyant street carnival to mark the end of Crop Over (Rhianna is a fan; we’ve spotted her on a float).
Once you’ve exhausted the reggae bars and calypso clubs and quenched your thirst at several rum shacks, relax at the brand new The Sands Barbados - a contemporary-styled resort near buzzy St Lawrence Gap on the island’s south coast. There’s 153 studios and suites, all with sleek décor, stylish fixtures and fittings, comfy beds swathed in high-end linens, and modern bathrooms. You’re spoiled further with two superb restaurants (buffet and à la carte), two bars, a freshwater pool, a gym, and a great spa for top-to-toe pampering. Also take advantage of the non-motorised watersports, including kayaking, pedal boats, body boarding, and snorkelling.
Most visiting New Zealand want to divvy up their holiday and spend quality time in the charismatic North Island with its white-sand beaches, national parks, world-class vineyards, dense rainforests, cosmopolitan cities, and geothermal wonders and the larger South Island with its rugged coastlines, sparkling glaciers, and adrenaline-fuelled activities. So any decent tour of this spellbinding land will not only take in both islands, but also provide an in-depth and time-sensitive itinerary that enables you to see and do everything in one hit. Some of our favourite experiences include bungee jumping in Queenstown, exploring Auckland and its stunning surrounds, cruising around the Bay of Islands, whale watching in Kaikoura, and taking a dip in the thermal pools at Rotorua. Don’t miss the glacier-carved fiords, the most famous of which is the incredibly grand Milford Sound (it’s also the only one that can be accessed by road).
The 30-day Length and Breadth of New Zealand Self-Drive is the ultimate exploration tour for those wanting a comprehensive country overview. You’ll get motel accommodation on a room-only basis (motorhome itineraries can be arranged) as well as internal flights, detailed driving packs, and car hire for the duration. Highlights include the Coromandel Peninsula, the Abel Tasman National Park, the Bay of Islands, Milford Sound, and Hawke’s Bay. You’ll also spend time in Wellington - the so-called Coolest Little Capital famed for its coffee shops, movie-making locations, and cultural sites such as the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
Nothing prepares you for the sheer scale and beauty of South Africa, the southernmost country on the African continent fuelled by epic coastlines, rolling savannahs, misty mountains, and extraordinary deserts. And nothing beats experiencing its natural wonders at your own pace on the 11-night Garden Route & Eastern Cape Safari Self-Drive tour that allows for ample time in Cape Town before heading to Hermanus for a spot of whale watching, cycling, hiking, shopping, winery-hopping, beach lazing, and amazing dining. Further highlights include the Klein Karoo area for its wonderful Cango Caves and the town of Knysna (in the heart of the Garden Route) for its lush forests, pristine beaches, and activities such as surfing, paragliding, and bungee jumping. You’ll also enjoy a soul-stirring safari at Kariega Private Game Reserve set high above the spectacular Kariega River Valley in the Eastern Cape. For many, this is the most memorable bit; not least for the morning and evening game drives in open-sided vehicles to seek out the Big Five (a term coined by big game hunters to reference lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant).
The Seychelles are the ultimate island paradise located on the equator in the Indian Ocean. A true fantasy come to life, the archipelago has 115 islands to choose from, each with its distinct charms, making it ideal for an island-hopping holiday. You may want to embark on a cruise aboard a catamaran taking in some of the most popular islands, starting in Mahe, the largest island home to about 90 percent of the population.
Snorkelling at Sainte Anne Marine National Park, made up of six islands off the northeast coast with vibrant coral reefs and swaths of seagrass inhabited by dolphins and hawksbill turtles, is often included. Many itineraries also feature the island of La Digue, the smallest of the three main islands and the most laid-back – a place where time seems to stand still with few signs of modern civilisation, nearly everyone gets around on foot or bicycle. Cousin Island is popular too, a wildlife haven with sandy beaches and rocky coastline, lush mangroves, freshwater swamps and dense forests. It’s a paradise for bird lovers and home to giant tortoises and a variety of lizards. With luck on your side, you might even stumble onto a tortoise laying its eggs.
While New England is most famous for its vibrant foliage, brilliant hues and extraordinary leaf-peeping experiences in autumn, the summer tapestry in this northeast corner of the USA is equally worth shouting about; think ocean-backed beaches, interesting wildlife, exciting outdoor adventures, and reliable sunshine. And little beats the 12-day Self-Drive Inn-Side New England tour for grabbing your sunglasses and sat nav (or road map if you’re old school) and hitting the sun-soaked playgrounds of Boston, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, and the New Hampshire Lakes region. Itinerary highlights include marvelling at the Portland Head Light, riding the Cog Railway to the summit of Mount Washington, hiking the trails around White Mountain National Forest, taking the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour, admiring the grand mansions of Newport, and unwinding at Cape Cod - the hook-shaped peninsula where the Kennedys holidayed in the 1960s. Further thrills include Plymouth for its historic sites (Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower, Plimouth Village), Woodstock for its Americana charm, Williamstown for its Clark Art Institute, and Franconia Notch State Park for its Flume Gorge that extends at the base of Mount Liberty.
There’s no denying the appeal of Patagonia, the spellbinding region covering some 400,000 square miles and spanning two South American countries (much of the tourism is found in Argentina and Chile’s northern lake districts and around Los Glaciares and Torres del Paine national parks). Recommended for those who like their travel adventures raw, rugged, and romantic, we’re huge fans of this wild frontier’s attractions: pristine wilderness, jagged peaks, majestic glaciers, glistening lakes, incredible wildlife in every direction, and a slew of hikes, treks, and excursions. And even though there’s a very different vibe in each section (Argentinian Patagonia is geographically larger and there are more regions to explore while Chilean Patagonia offers more under-the-radar experiences as well as islands, inlets, and a myriad of snow-capped volcanoes with smoky peaks), both are totally humbling in terms of beauty.
Given that Patagonia is not the easiest place to master alone, the 13-night Argentina, Chile and Patagonia does a stellar job of highlighting the best bits on an itinerary-rich tour. After a stint in Buenos Aires that includes stops at Plaza De Mayo, Casa Rosada, La Boca, and La Recoleta Cemetery (the resting place of Eva Perón), you’ll travel onwards to Peninsula Valdes Reserve and Tierra del Fuego National Park. Further highlights include Los Glaciares National Park, Perito Moreno Glacier, Torres del Paine National Park, and a guided tour of Santiago de Chile - the cosmopolitan capital gloriously surrounded by the snow-capped Andes.