Christmas in Summer

Christmas in Summer

Get your Christmas fix six months early by joining the Christmas in July cruises aboard PS Murray Princess in July, 2016. The new trips offered by Captain Cook Cruises combine popular three, four and seven night cruise itineraries on South Australia’s Murary River with Christmas festivities, including a traditional Christmas dinner or lunch, a range of Christmas-themed activities, games and music, and a visit from Santa with presents for all guests. Sit back in one of two cosy paddlewheel lounges and enjoy the beauty of the river as the Murray Princess cruises past picturesque gorges and along riverbanks lined with mallee scrub and red gum forests and leave time for exciting day trips to historic ports, sacred Aboriginal sites, and a native wildlife shelter. www.murrayprincess.com.au

Biking Adventure

SpiceRoads Cycle Tours has launched a new adventure, Thailand to Singapore by Road Bike, which offers intrepid travellers the chance to tackle three countries and 1,339km in 15 days. The tour will start in Krabi, from which guests will ride along the Andaman Coast of Thailand on mostly flat terrain, through thick forests and plantations. They will have the opportunities to visit historic George Town on Penang Island in Malaysia and explore the rich traditions of Malacca, which was declared a Unesco-listed site in 2008, before reaching the dynamic city-state of Singapore. The trip will be fully supported by expert guides and an air-conditioned bus will be on hand to pick up riders in need of a break. www.spiceroads.com

Family Friendly Island Escape

The Novotel Phu Quoc Resort has opened on Long Beach, one of the most beautiful white-sand beaches on the largest island in Vietnam, offering views of turquoise waters and lush vegetation, as well as a range of exciting activities. Conveniently located near Duong Dong town, the resort is close to many of Phu Quoc’s top attractions, such as Sao Beach, Ham Ninh fishing village and various pearl farms, and boasts 366 contemporary spacious rooms, including 120 suites and villas. Each room features a king-sized bed, a balcony or terrace, and a 42-inch LCD TV, while 20 of the villas offer private pools. Guests can sate their appetite at Food Exchange, which features international cuisines with live cooking stations, or at Specialty, which serves fresh seafood and local delicacies. www.accorhotels.com

Family Fun

Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa now offers teenagers and children the opportunity to enjoy its chic stretch of tropical paradise as much as their parents. The dedicated T-Club consists of a Teens Club, which offers horse-riding experiences, discos and a dedicated juice bar; while a separate Kids Club features a pizza oven, a pool, and a tree house. To make the most of your stay, book the Teenage Mauritius package, which include a full-day island hopping excursion by speed boat; a private barbecue dinner at Chef’s Garden; a 60-minute spa treatment for two adults and two teenagers in CHI, The Spa; two tennis classes; a bike tour around the resort; and a stand-up paddle board lesson. www.shangri-la.com

Europe Exploration

London-based Jacada Travel has launched a series of bespoke trips to Europe in 2016, allowing travellers the chance to explore the hidden mysteries of European history and architecture and embark on a gourmet culinary journey. Highlights of some of the unique tour experiences include taking an afternoon tea baking class at a private home in charming Notting Hill; a visit to the world’s first submarine wine aging laboratory in Spain; and a chance to see the crown jewels in the Tower of London on a private tour. Intrepid souls can take part in an adrenaline inducing underwater excavation in Zadar, Croatia; while history buffs can enjoy a private tour of the Vatican museums in Rome, without tourist crowds. www.jacadatravel.com

Thai Oasis

AccorHotels has opened the Baraquda Pattaya MGallery by Sofitel in the heart of Thailand beach playground Pattaya, within walking distance of many shopping, dining and entertainment venues. Boasting a cutting-edge nautical design, the hotel features 60 Deluxe Rooms, eight Baraquda Suites and four Baraquda Grand Suites, which are decorated in warm sandy tones. Guests can sit back and watch the world go by over a cup of fresh Lavazza coffee and a slice of delectable homemade cake at Nauti-Café or capture stunning sunsets at the hotel’s rooftop bar, before sating their appetite at SEA Restaurant and enjoying refreshing cocktails at the Pool Bar. In addition to a luxury spa, the hotel also boasts a fully equipped state-of-the-art-fitness centre, a kids club and a large outdoor swimming pool. www.hotelbaraquda.com

Portuguese Charm

Starwood has opened the Sheraton Cascais Resort, formerly the Vivamarinha Hotel & Suites, on Portugal’s sweeping Atlantic coast, only 30 minutes from Lisbon and about a mile from the famous Guincho Beach, one of the finest surfing spots in Europe. Comprising 138 beautifully-appointed rooms and suites, the luxurious resort features a signature restaurant and two bars, as well as a wide range of leisure facilities. Guests can work out in the state-of-the-art fitness centre, take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool, or indulge in the expansive spa, complete with six treatment rooms and a hydrotherapy suite. A perfect location for golfers, the luxurious resort is surrounded by seven of Portugal’s top golf courses, all within a 30-minute drive. www.starwoodhotels.com

Lifestyle Destination

Mission Hills Centreville Haikou has opened in Hainan and is set to become one of the trendiest lifestyle destinations in China. Covering a vast area of 240,000sqm, the low-carbon-footprint urban complex is divided into four different zones. The LanKwai Fong Entertainment Zone boasts a range of world-class restaurants, trendy nightclubs, and entertainment hotspots; while the Quarry Lake features a spectacular multi-sensory water fountain show. The family-friendly entertainment hub China Grove features a Cineplex large-screen theatre, equipped with state-of-the-art technology and a variety of multi-media entertainment facilities, including Hainan Island’s first teddy bear museum. For retail therapy, head to the HNDF & MH International Shopping Centre at the Fashion Avenue, home to a vast collection of international fashion labels and luxury brands. www.missionhillschina.com

Serene Seclusion

Travellers looking for a secluded paradise in the Indian Ocean should not go past the new Amari Havodda Maldives, located within the pristine Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, approximately 400km south of the capital Male. Created by French designer Isabelle Miaja, the luxurious resort offers 120 guest villas with beachfront or overwater options, each featuring a king-size bed, a tropical outdoor covered bathroom, a free-standing bathtub, and an outdoor terrace. Head to the all-day dining restaurant, Amaya Food Gallery for dishes inspired by the street food culture of Asia, or dine in Ember Robayataki, which specialises in the Japanese culinary tradition of fireside cooking. Active crowds can thrill themselves with a range of exciting water-based activities through the water sports and dive centres; while the sedate can indulge in the signature Breeze Spa.

Ultimate Escape

Located in the picturesque village of Franschhoek, South Africa, Leeu Estates will open in June 2016, offering travellers the ideal setting for an elegant and sophisticated private getaway. Taking a central position on 68 hectares of vineyards and landscaped gardens, the hotel boasts 17 luxurious rooms, suites and cottages, with carefully curated artwork and sculptures from various countries. The Dining Room will showcase the finest locally sourced organic produce; while The Wine Studio will offer guests the chance to savour handcrafted premium wines from the award-winning Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines. Make time to enjoy a treatment inspired by centuries-old Asian traditions at The Leeu Spa, swim a few laps in the heated infinity swimming pool, or sign up for a yoga class in the TechnoGym. www.leeucollection.com

Safari Base

If you’re looking for a wildlife encounter without sacrificing creature comforts, Mambeti Camp by Norman Carr Safaris, set to open in early 2017 in the Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia, has the answer for you. Located on the upper Munde stream, a site chosen for its sweeping vistas and wildlife variety, Mambeti Camp will comprise six luxury villas, including a two-bedroom family villa with a capacity of 15 guests. Designed by acclaimed lodge architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, the contemporary camp is a perfect base from which to explore the African landscape, Liuwa is home to the second biggest wildebeest migration in Africa, a burgeoning hyena population, as well as cheetahs, wild dogs, zebras, buffalo, red lechwe, tessebe herds, and more than 300 bird species. www.normancarrsafaris.com

Coastal Beauty

AccorHotels has opened the Grand Mercure Qingdao Nanshan Resort in Qingdao, offering a luxurious retreat in the beautiful coastal city of Shandong province, China. The resort features 508 contemporary guest rooms and suites, each with a king-size bed, an open seascape balcony, a 40-inch LCD TV, and complimentary wifi. Guests can tantalise their taste buds with an extensive range of global cuisines at Sunshine Global Western Restaurant, or sample authentic Chinese fare and fresh seafood at Linhai Xuan. The Lobby Bar is a perfect spot from which to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy an evening cocktail, while the Cigar Bar allows guest the chance to unwind with a cigar and a glass of wine in time for the beautiful sunset over the Aoshan Bay. www.accorhotels.com

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