1. SKI WITH A CHAMPION
The time is nigh to book your winter ski experience in perennially chic Courchevel – especially now that Oetker Collection’s gorgeous property L’Apogée Courchevel has upped its already attractive offering with an exclusive opportunity created in partnership with Somewhere Club. In March, the property will host a one-of-a-kind ski programme guided by World Championships and Olympic Games medallist and 15-time Champion of France, Florence Masnada. Limited to a group of five guests travelling together, it’s suited to wobbly beginners right through to advanced skiers – no matter your age or level, Masnada will hone your skills and encourage you to unlock the physical demands, emotional intelligence and passion it takes to be a champion, offering dietary advice, morning workouts, professional warm down sessions and evening discussions about high-level sport.
Ski jump, slalom or race the slopes, knowing that afterwards, you can retreat to L’Apogée’s luxurious surrounds to soothe your ski weary legs with a massage at Le Spa de L’Apogée, restore those spent calories at the bar or restaurant Le Comptoir de L’Apogée, or simply stare down over the snow-laden valley, inhaling that evocative blend of Alpine air mingled with leather and wood burning in the log fire – so evocative, L’Apogée has actually captured it in a scented candle.
PRICE Three-, six- or nine-night, half-board stay (based on double occupancy) from €2,090 (US$2,214) per night (Rate will vary depending on room category)
AVAILABLE Property opens for the season December 16th; offer available March 12 to March 30, 2017
2. VERY MERRY MUNICH
With twinkling Christmas lights, snow-covered rooftops and the famous Christmas markets, Munich is at its most beguiling in December when the festive season is in full swing. The Christmas markets at Marienplatz – renowned for a colossal Christmas tree and Bavarian carols – are only a stroll away from Mandarin Oriental, Munich, which is pulling out all the stops for guests with a Christmas Package. The mood is set from the moment guests check in to discover their room or suite decorated in a festive theme, and the two-night stay includes a full breakfast and complimentary mini-bar; a Christmas welcome get-together at The Lounge with mulled wine and stollen, and a six-course menu feasting on gourmet cuisine from celebrity chef, Nobu Matsuhisa at the hotel’s Matsuhisa Munich restaurant on the 24th of December.
Alternatively, watch Munich’s fireworks display from the hotel rooftop with a New Year’s Eve package, which includes a two-night stay with full breakfast and a Champagne reception, a seven-course menu at Matsuhisa Munich on the eve of the 31st before a New Year’s party at Bar31, a New Year’s Eve Toast on the rooftop, and a midnight snack.
PRICE Christmas package from €1,042 (US$1,103); New Year’s Eve Package from €1,385 ($1,467). Children under 12 can stay in their parents’ room for free
AVAILABLE “Christmas Package” is available for stays over 24 December; “New Year’s Eve Package” available for stays over 31 December
3. A CULUTURAL FEAST IN ST. PETERSBURG
There’s a reason St. Petersburg is described as “Gorod Muzei” (the museum city). There are some 200 museums housing some of the world’s most incredible art masterpieces and cultural artefacts, from the more stately, traditional museums to the quirkier exhibits, such as the open-air Street Art Museum set at the acting Laminated Plastics factory and the Russian Vodka Museum. Now travellers can enjoy a taster (quite literally) of St. Petersburg’s rich culture with Corinthia Hotel St. Petersburg’s “Art à la Carte Experience” – a curated experience prepared and consumed much like a sumptuous fine-dining menu. Starting with “appetiser”, travellers will enjoy a guided tour of the historic and royal masterpieces at The Hermitage Museum, the former home of the Tsar.
Guests can then choose their “main course”, either enjoying classical or contemporary opera or ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre or the Mikhailovsky Theatre, with their “meal” rounded off with “dessert” – a private tour of the enormous Russian Museum, home to the largest and most significant collection of Russian art in the world. In between the cultural feasting, there’s plenty of down time to explore, all the while staying two nights at the Corinthia Hotel St. Petersburg, situated on the famous Nevsky Prospect, only a stroll from many of the major cultural attractions and booming business district. For culture buffs and art aficionados, it’s meal you won’t forget in a hurry.
PRICE The “Art à la Carte” package from RUR 28,195 (US$434) for two adults for two nights, including airport transfers, welcome drink, buffet breakfast, guided tours, theatre performance tickets and transfers
AVAILABLE: Until 30 December 2016 (subject to availability)
4. STAY AT BRANSON’S CHALET
It’s a rare opportunity and you’ll need to be lightening fast to nab a room, but Virgin Limited Edition is throwing open the doors to The Lodge, Sir Richard Branson’s ultra-luxurious winter retreat in Verbier for “Hotel Week”. The nine-bedoom ski chalet is usually hired exclusively in ski season for up to 18 guests, but for one week (and one week only) individual rooms can be booked. For those not familiar with Branson’s property, we will summarise it in a nutshell: it’s an alpine palace, with an indoor pool, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, a spa, a steam room, a party room, two bars and all manner of snowy pursuits arranged to suit guests whims and fancies, from heli-skiing and paragliding to snowshoeing. Each stay includes the run of the chalet, all meals and drinks (premium of course) and a staff of 15 catering to your needs – among them, Michelin-star trained chef and a spa therapist. Branson wouldn’t have it any other way.
PRICE “Hotel Week” starts from CHF 4,125 (US$4,065) per room for three nights based on two adults sharing
AVAILABLE 10th-17th December 2016
5. MAKING BUSINESS A PLEASURE IN SAUDI ARABIA
On your way to Riyadh for business? You’ll be pleased to know five-star hotels in the region cater exceptionally well to business travellers, and even more so if you’re checking into the opulent Burj Rafal Hotel Kempinski Riyadh, situated in the heart of the new commercial and business district of Riyadh, on the King Fahad highway running from the airport into the city centre. With the aim of making your travels as comfortably luxurious as possible, the hotel’s new “Business Package” begins from the moment you touch down, with airport pick up and drop off. Arrived early to Riyadh? That’s not a concern, as the package includes early check in from 10am, while the hotel’s Resense Spa opens at 7am, meaning you can freshen up with a work-out in separate male and female fitness and wellness areas – with saunas, steam rooms and indoor plunge pools – and relax with a complimentary 10-minute face and scalp massage.
The package also includes a further 25 per cent discount on any additional spa treatments – just in case you decide to treat yourself. No matter which you opt for, all rooms and suites at Burj Rafal Hotel Kempinski Riyadh feature panoramic city views with marble bathrooms and high-speed Internet, though Executive Suites offer access to the lounge on level 18, an ideal spot to relax and sit back after a busy and energetic day doing business. Ensuring you are well fed and ready for meetings, a buffet breakfast is also included, where diners can choose from elaborate European-Arabic cuisine served from live open-cooking stations, as is complimentary valet parking, late check out, and even a complimentary laundry service (two items). All in all, everything you need for a hassle-free business trip to the Kingdom.
PRICE “Business Package” from SAR1,540 (US$410) per night
6. W FOR ONLY YOU IN THE MALDIVES
It’s not too late to make it onto Santa’s “good” list but if you need some incentive, W Maldives has dreamed up a private buyout package that’s certain to top Christmas lists. Dubbed “Extreme Island Takeover”, it grants you exclusive use of the island and its facilities. The entire resort on Fesdu Island in the North Ari Atoll is your private playground – unblighted by any other guest, apart from the ones you choose to share it with, of course. All 78 beach and overwater retreats, six gourmet eateries and lounge bars, including 15BELOW, the Maldives underground nightclub – putting on the beats just for you – are included in the buyout, along with unlimited treatments at the overwater AWAY® Spa, all food and house beverages, all water sports and shared seaplane transfers. Starting at a minimum of US$4 million for four nights, your eyes may water initially, but all will be forgotten once you snorkel the house reef (probably one of the best in the Maldives), just you and the resident green turtles.
PRICE “Extreme Island Takeover” from five nights priced at US$4.75 million; six nights at $5.5 million and seven nights at $6.25 million
BOOK +960 666 2222; www.wmaldives.com
7. VILLA LIFE IN BAHRAIN
With a private temperature-controlled pool, an exclusive stretch of private beach and a 24-hour lifestyle butler attending to your needs, the gorgeous villas at The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain are the ultimate retreat for those seeking a beachfront family holiday with all the luxury trimmings – especially now that the hotel has curated a getaway package designed for families and groups. Staying in the hotel’s generously sized beachfront abodes, “The Villa Escape” package includes in-villa breakfast for up to six, complimentary Wi-Fi and a truly memorable airport transfer, where guests are chauffeured to the hotel in an iconic Rolls-Royce.
Once checked in, you can make yourself at home in your opulent holiday home with each 450-square-metre villa featuring three bedrooms with 600-thread count cotton linens and Asprey amenities; a beautifully styled living room; a spacious dining area and a fully equipped private kitchen. Take a long, lazy swim in the bay, indulge in a signature in-villa spa experience, or simply enjoy an outdoor barbecue at the villa with your nearest and dearest, watching the sun set over the Manana skyline or the sparkling Gulf. One thing’s for certain: you won’t be in a hurry to head home.
PRICE “The Villa Escape” is priced from BHD1,380 (US$3,660) excluding taxes per night