A summer of football, and love in a luxury villa, saw the mercury soar to 36°C for many parts of the UK. But when plummeting temperatures and gale-force winds brought misery to beach days and festivals this week, staycationers got a reality check.
And if the sun goes what will we have left, now that Love Island has finished and England’s World Cup dream is over? The answer; sun, sea and sand holiday plans. Somewhere where it’s summer year-round. Book yourself a spot of winter sun now, and brighten up what’s left of 2018 safe in the knowledge that, when the British summer inevitably leaves us wanting more, you’ll have some guaranteed blue skies to look forward to come the end of the year. And at a great price too if our expert recommendations are anything to go by.
Over to Kenwood Travel sunseekers Dipshaa, Stuart, Jade, Artu and Nicola with their top tips for where to catch the most rays this winter…
Dive into Maldives
By Dipshaa, Indian Ocean specialist
There’s no two ways about it; winter is the best time to visit the Maldives. Weather-wise you can bank on blue skies and starry evenings, showcasing everything you imagine the Maldives to be. What you might not know though is that the Maldives works on ‘island time’ which is one hour ahead of Male; the longer days mean more time to watch the magical sunsets.
One of my favourite things about winter sun holidays in the Maldives is the sense of occasion at the hotels. During Christmas and New Year, many resorts host gala dinners where you can enjoy live music and a great meal with your toes in the sand. The vibe is informal and romantic, with fireworks to top off the festivities. What else makes winter the best time to visit the Maldives? Well, British Airways operate direct flights between October and March, so that’s a bonus. Plus winter is whale watching season in the Maldives. Diving conditions are at their optimum during the winter months, which reminds me – if you’re looking for a perfect winter-sun hotel in the Maldives, LUX South Ari Atol lies in the atoll where mantas and whale sharks reside, and offers complimentary whale shark trips.
Dubai, the desert and beyond
By Stuart, Middle East specialist
The UAE is perfect for winter sun. It’s essentially a desert after all, so there’s never really a cold season. While it’s winter in the UK, temperatures in Dubai and its surrounding Emirates regularly reach a balmy 26°C. In fact, the weather is amazing from September right through to May. Dubai and the UAE is only a seven-hour flight from the UK so come winter you can swap the wind and rain for sun and sea in no time. The hotels and services are all excellent quality of course, and the famous attractions will be business as usual during winter too; it’s a great time to visit Dubai Parks and Resorts for some thrills and spills with the family.
For the best of both worlds, I’d recommend staying somewhere outside of Dubai itself. DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island in nearby Ras Al Khaimah does a great line in luxury accommodation, with winter sun attractions like Dhayah Fort and the Old City right on your doorstep. We’re currently offering five nights all-inclusive at DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island including flights and transfers from just £719 per person – that’s a saving of over 40%.
By Jade, Caribbean specialist
My recommendation for getting some winter sun this year is a holiday to Barbados. Temperatures average 30°C, so it’s the ideal time for UK holidaymakers to jet off for a tropical top up. Hurricane season is over by November in this part of the Caribbean, so Barbados enjoys at least 10 hours of sunlight a day during winter; perfect for hitting the beach or lounging by the pool.
If you visit the island between the end of November and December you can add some seasonal culture to your winter-sun break. Bajan Christmas events like Christmas Jazz & Carols and Carols at the Abbey bring a festive atmosphere to your Barbados holiday. And you’ve got to check out Oistin’s on Fridays to experience ‘fish fry’ with evening entertainment; it’s an authentic local ritual. Christmas shoppers meanwhile should head to the west coast and explore the shops at Lime Grove.
My hotel of choice for a winter sun holiday to Barbados would be Sea Breeze Beach House. This charming beach resort lies in St. Lawrence Gap on the sunkissed south coast. It’s all-inclusive, has a prime position overlooking Oistin’s Bay, and just had a smart refit. We’ve got a Kenwood Travel exclusive right now on winter sun dates at Sea Breeze, including savings of up to 35% and free kids’ places. It’s a seriously good deal at a brilliant hotel, and isn’t available with any other UK holiday company. Not to be missed.
By Artu, East Asia specialist
From the hustle & bustle of cities like Bangkok to the tranquillity of island hideaways like Langkawi, holidays to Thailand reveal a beautifully diverse country. Its climate is diverse too; winter in the UK coincides with high season for western parts of Thailand, while the reverse is true for Gulf Coast regions.
So for a more affordable winter-sun escape in Thailand, I’d recommend a holiday to Koh Samui. This beautiful island enjoys a scenic position in the gulf, where rainy season is November to May; a time when holiday prices come down and hotels release their most tempting offers. The Melati Beach Resort & Spa, for example, has a free room upgrade offer available during this time, as does the Chaweng Regent Beach Resort.
One of the most popular things to do in Koh Samui is an island cruise. These are bookable locally for around £50 and take guests around the beautiful beaches on the island, often stopping for snorkelling and swimming. There are also some amazing waterparks to keep the kids entertained, plus don’t miss awesome natural wonders like the Hin Lad Waterfall.
By Nicola, Florida specialist
The Sunshine State needs no introduction as a winter-sun destination, hence the name! From the magic of Disney to the gulf coast beaches of St Pete to the castaway sands of the Keys, Florida holidays bask in warm weather all year. But for winter sun in Florida for UK holidaymakers, I’d say Miami is a great shout. You’ll find more luxury accommodation options and the hotels release some generous deals around this time. The iconic, star-studded Fontainebleau Miami Beach is one such five-star option with over 50% savings in November, for example.
Its setting on the southern-most tip of the Florida peninsula means Miami enjoys a tropical climate similar to offshore islands like nearby Cuba and the Bahamas. Highs of 29°C are common in Miami during winter, so every day can be a beach day. Having South Beach glamour on your doorstep certainly helps you forget about the freezing temperatures back home. You also have the picturesque Art Deco district for sightseeing and Ocean Drive for shopping. Plus, events like Miami Carnival parade in October, NASCAR Ford Championship Weekend in November and Art Basel Miami Beach in December make winter the perfect time to experience Miami at its colourful, cultural best.