1 – SOUTH AFRICA: ECO-NECT WITH YOUR KIDS
There’s nothing wrong with Disneyland or beach holidays, but adventurous families searching for an alternative can opt for a new safari at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, which aims to have you reconnect – or rather, “Eco-Nect” – with your kids while you and your family have fun on the privately owned, 22,000-hectare reserve. Situated on the malaria-free Eastern Cape in South Africa, Kwandwe is primed for hosting families. In fact, from January, three suites at the reserve’s Ecca Lodge –overlooking an escarpment with a rim-flow lap pool and kids’ play centre – will be dedicated just for families, with each stay including a private safari vehicle, an award-winning guide, a personally tailored itinerary and first-aid trained child-minders at no additional cost.
Kwandwe ticks every box for a classic safari stay – you can spot the Big 5, head out on bush walks, take a picnic lunch or a sunset dinners – but the specially designed kids’ activities will keep a smile on everyone’s face, from kite building and ranger shooting simulation to scavenger and treasure hunts. Also on the agenda is voluntourism with the reserve’s Ubunye Foundation, which for younger guests, includes gardening projects at the local Mgcamabele Community, playing with the pre-school kids, and arts and craft activities. In essence, a truly enriching family holiday.
PRICE: “Eco-Nect” safari, staying in Ecca Lodge from ZAR25,700 (US$1,848) per suite per night on a full-board basis, including meals, nutritious kiddie’s menu, drinks and safari activities
AVAILABLE: From January 2017
2 – ON RAILS: AN ARCTIC CELEBRATION
You’ve done New Year’s Eve in spectacular cities around the world, perhaps even viewed fireworks from a superyacht or a five-star hotel, but what about spending New Year’s Eve aboard a luxury locomotive? Specialist tour operator Golden Eagle Luxury Trains has curated a truly extravagant Russian and Norwegian Arctic adventure, coupling stays in the majestic cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow and an expedition to see the Northern Lights with a fabulous on-board NYE soirée. Travelling in consummate luxury aboard Golden Eagle with first-class service, personal cabin attendants and beautifully appointed cabins, the 12-day Arctic Explorer kicks off in St. Petersburg with guided tours of Catherine’s Palace, St Issac’s Cathedral and the Hermitage Museum. Passengers then celebrate New Year’s Eve on board the train with a Gala Caviar Dinner, flush with champagne, fine wines and live music.
After travelling through Norway, there’s a visit to the Kirkenes Snow Hotel, while in the evening, passengers will head off in search of the Northern Lights accompanied by astronomer, Professor David W Hughes – the Emeritus Professor of Astronomy at the University of Sheffield – who will explain the science behind the phenomenon. Other highlights – and there are many – include fishing for Arctic King Crabs through holes in the ice; a visit to a husky farm in eastern Finnmark; a city tour of Petrozavodsk during Sochelnik (Russian Christmas Eve) with a Karelian Folk Performance and Holy Supper; a horse-drawn sleigh ride in the historic city of Vladimir; Suzdal for a truly special choral performance by the resident monks at St. Euthymius Monastery, and finally a private viewing of the Kremlin back in Moscow. Extraordinary doesn’t even come close.
PRICE: From £7,995 (US$9,806) per person based on two sharing in Silver Class. Gold Class from £9,595 ($11,768) per person
AVAILABLE: The Arctic Explorer journey departs 29 December, and also departs 11 February, 2017
3 – THE KNICKERBOCKER: NYC FOR NYE
Laden with New York history and the rumoured birthplace of the original martini, the five-star Knickerbocker Hotel is once again set to host one of the most coveted New Year’s Eve parties in the city, if not the world. John Jacob Astor IV’s legendary Beaux-Arts hotel once played host to the city’s most fashionable until Prohibition caused its closure back in 1921. Today, the fabled landmark has reclaimed its status as one of the hottest addresses in town, especially on New Year’s Eve.
Extend the experience of toasting bubbles with the chic set at midnight with “The Rooftop Experience New Year’s Eve”, which includes a two-night stay along with two tickets to the super-exclusive New Year’s Eve party at rooftop bar and lounge St. Cloud. Situated a mere 45 metres below the Times Square Ball, offering an unrivalled view of the famed Ball Drop.
The cocktail-attire event will feature live entertainment from DJ Sam
French and accompanying instrumentalist, a top-shelf open bar, Passed
Dinner by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, hors d’oeuvres and food
stations, and a midnight champagne toast. It’s already exclusive, but
for the VVIP experience, up the ante by reserving one of St. Cloud’s
three Sky Pods to snare a corner view directly over Times Square, 42nd
Street and Broadway, along with bottle service and a customised menu.
You’ve come all this way, why not?
PRICE: “The Rooftop Experience New Year’s Eve” package from US$4,300 includes a two-night stay and tickets to the New Year’s Eve event at St. Cloud
AVAILABLE: From 26th Dec-2nd Jan 2017 (stay must include the 30th and 31st of December)
4 – SWISS BLISS: PISTE OR PAMPER
Are you a party animal or a wellness warrior? It’s not a trick question – Le Grand Bellevue wants to know in order to tailor your perfect winter experience. Located in the heart of the storybook Gstaad in the snow-capped Swiss Alps, Le Grand Bellevue continues to hold the title of the town’s oldest palace hotel, and is just footsteps from the festive markets, the slopes and the après-ski bars. But for those who would rather steer clear of the fondue and vin chaud, the hotel has created a special “Le Grand Detox” package, replete with detoxing Michelin-starred cuisine at its lauded restaurant Leonard’s.
The package also includes two yoga classes, two days of ski hire per person and indulgent massages in the opulent 3,000-sqm Le Grand Spa. For the après-ski set, the “Le Grand Party” package is focused squarely on the fine art of hedonism, featuring entry to the hotel’s night club, bouquet, and a round of drinks; a post-partying “recovery” hamper packed with goodies that include a Bamford weekender bag, alpine energy bars and drinks, along with a hangover banishing spa treatment for each guest in Le Grand Spa. Naughty or nice, the decision is yours.
PRICE: “Le Grand Detox” package from 3,230 CHF (US$3,266) and “Le Grand Party” package from 2,700 CHF ($2,730) for two guests. Both packages for include three nights on a half-board basis nights in a deluxe chic room
AVAILABLE: 16 – 22 December, 6 January – 9 February and 26 February – 1 April
5 – BERLIN FOR ART LOVERS
Gritty, nonconformist and hip – Berlin’s dynamic art scene is flush with some 350 galleries for contemporary art and some 20,000 artists. Now, art lovers can couple their exploration of the city’s creative side with a stay at the luxurious Rocco Forte Hotel de Rome, which has curated “The Art of Berlin” package, partnering with respected art tour company GoArt! The experience begins with private pick up and drop-off at Hotel de Rome where you and your travelling partner will enjoy a sumptuous overnight stay with breakfast and a VIP welcome amenity.
Once checked in, head to La Banca Bar, for a complimentary ARTini drink and whenever you’re ready, set out on a personalised three-hour gallery tour to explore Berlin’s most fascinating creative districts, from street art to young and established galleries and art spaces. Guests and art collectors also have the opportunity to customise their studio visit and receive an exclusive peek behind closed doors, based on a detailed consultation with GoArt – ideal if you’re shopping around for the next piece to add to your collection.
PRICE: “The Art of Berlin” from €655 EUR (US$723) per room, per night; customised studio visits from €855 ($944)
AVAILABLE: For stays until November 30th, Tuesday-Saturday
6 – CHIC SKIING IN ST. MORITZ
The perennially chic St. Moritz has long been a jet-set honeypot, with many well-heeled travellers returning time and time again to stay at Kulm Hotel St. Moritz. The Leading Hotels of the World property was the first hotel to be built in St. Moritz, the former owner Johannes Badrutt responsible for making winter sports fashionable, and though the hotel has evolved since 1856, the location – overlooking Lake St. Moritz to the south and Piz Nair and the Corviglia region to the north – and the exemplary hospitality remain unchanged. Readying itself for the upcoming season, the hotel’s “Winter Special” is a tempting stay-and-ski package that includes a Hotel Ski Pass, which is valid on all open mountain railways and public transportation in the upper Engadine, and also includes ski transfer from the hotel to Corviglia ski lift station and vice versa.
Even if you can’t ski – let alone toboggan – to save your life, the hotel has much to entice, with five restaurants laden with GaultMillau points, a natural ice rink and the Marmotta Kids’ Club that caters to children of all ages. For nominal add-on price, guests can take advantage of unlimited access to the sprawling Kulm Spa, soothing their body in Finnish saunas or infrared cabins, taking a dip in the 20-metre indoor pool – it has underwater music piped through the speakers – or indulging in lavish au courant treatments, such as slimming Lipomassage by Endermologie or various Haki method treatments, all new this season.
PRICE: Rooms from CHF 525 (US$531) per night. Additional wellness passes start from US$80 for two nights. Stay includes half-board, with a sumptous breakfast and daily Gourmet Dine Around.
AVAILABLE: For stays Sunday to Friday from 2nd-18th December; 13-25th January; and 1st March-1st April
7 – THE SCENT OF OMAN
The heavenly aroma of frankincense infuses every corner of Oman, scenting every house and fusing perfumes such as Amouage – one of the most valuable fragrances in the world. Now, you can immerse yourself in the heady scent in Salalah, known as the “Land of Frankincense” for its plentiful frankincense trees, while staying at the award-winning five-star waterfront resort, Salalah Rotana Resort. Designed for two guests, the “Explore the Land of Frankincense” package includes a two-night stay in a spacious and elegantly furnished Classic Room layered with added sweeteners: airport transfers, early check-in/late check-out, complimentary Wi-Fi, a lavish buffet breakfast at Saffron Restaurant, a 15 per cent discount at Silk Road and The Beach Restaurant, along with a half-day city tour of Salalah with a personal tour guide and a packed lunch.
Explore major historical and tourists sites such as Al Mughsail, the tomb of Prophet Job, Wadi Derbat and Haffah Souk where you can purchase frankincense from bakhoor merchants. Once you’re back at the hotel, you and your significant other can relax with 60-minute Frankincense-inspired treatments at Zen the spa. The Frankincense Spa Ritual fuses centuries-old elements with contemporary techniques, and begins with a flower petal and essential Frankincense oil foot soak, followed by a soothing head-to-toe massage – rounding off your utterly luxurious, scent-imbued journey to Oman.
PRICE: “Explore the Land of Frankincense” from OMR 296 (US$768) excluding tax and service charges. Early check-in/late check-out is subject to availability
AVAILABLE: Until December 2016