With many parts of the world plunged into second lockdowns, there has never been a greater need for a dose for winter sun or travel escapism. While rules and situations can change in a moment, it is best to keep an eye on your country’s official advice and prepare to be spontaneous with your bookings. If you feel more comfortable in advance, make sure to check the cancellation policies with your chosen hotel and check your travel insurance.
As soon as the travel bans are lifted, these are the tropical boltholes we have got on our wishlist, from a luxury tented camp in the Bahamas to the wild Namib Desert.
The Caribbean has fared well during the pandemic and kept its cases to a minimum, making it our first port of call in our quest for winter sun. For an effortlessly cool, French-in-flavour island it has to be the diminutive St Barths. After being devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017, it’s back and raring to go.
The boutique and brilliantly colourful Villa Marie St Barths, which overlooks one the island’s most spectacular and secluded beaches, Flamand Bay. Set in beautiful tropical gardens, the hotel is intimate, exotic and pure bliss. Rooms are set in bungalows affording some much needed space and privacy — plus there are four showstopper villas with private pools. This winter, Villa Marie launches its new Gyp Sea Beach Club, so you won’t even need to leave the hotel in search of a vibe.
Book here: Villa Marie St Barths
For a low-key but impossibly chic Bahamas experience, it has to be Harbour Island. But if you want to fly further under the radar, hop across to its neighbour, Eleuthera. It’s so close — just seven minutes by speedboat — that you can pop back for dinner.
The Other Side, a solar-powered beach ‘glampsite’, it enjoys incredible seclusion with just pristine white sands and swaying palms for company. Yoga by the pool, which juts out over the sea and paddleboarding with turtles are just the kind of gentle activities that are in store for you here. The individual sleeping tents are gloriously decked out in whites with more than a hint of safari.
Book here: The Other Side
Set between jungle and Caribbean sea on the Maya Riviera, Tulum has long been drawing a discerning crowd to its impossibly white sands. Away from the partying, there is a new generation of hoteliers looking to take the town back to its heyday and simpler, more authentic times.
Olas, a guesthouse that styles itself as your home from home in Tulum, with sustainability at its core. Here it’s all about making connections with your fellow guests, whether it’s over your locally sourced breakfast or drinks by night — the perfect antidote to the isolation of Covid. Built in the 1970s and immersed in nature, Olas is an utterly charming beach house for experiencing the simpler side of Tulum.
Book here: Olas
After a few days in Tulum, follow the road back up the coast for a stop-off at the super tranquil Isla Holbox. Only 30 minutes across the water from crazy Cancun, it’s an idyll largely stuck in time with endless mangroves, miles of beach and, wonderfully, no cars. Days here are all about margaritas at beach shacks and lazing around in hammocks that swing gently above the sea.
Barefoot beauty Casa La Tortugas is the best address on Holbox. The beachfront rooms are the best for commuting back and forth to the stunning, private beach. The only things on your agenda will be rooftop cocktails at sundown and choosing which of the three restaurants to pick for dinner.
Book here: Casa La Tortugas
Breaking away from pristine sands and sea, the wildly beautiful Namib desert is a winter sun destination like no other. Its panoramic desert landscapes make for a safari experience that cannot be compared to the likes of Kruger or Masai Mara.
Zannier Hotels Sonop for a luxury tented stay that you will never forget. There are just ten tents, creating an atmosphere of both intimacy and privacy at once. Experiences here are as unique as you would expect, horse riding, desert yoga and even an open-air cinema with cocktail service to boot.
Book here: Zannier Hotels Sonop
For a post-lockdown treat where utter relaxation is the name of the game, few spots beat the Maldives. Whether it’s a delayed honeymoon or just the tonic for a tricky year, these Indian Ocean islands have a cult following for a reason. Think over-water villas, open-air bathrooms and endless turquoise seas.
Gili Lankanfushi, which reopened on September 1 after spending months ensuring the resort is safe for guests and staff alike. A health declaration is required upon arrival at this ultra secluded paradise whose 45 villas maintain a healthy distance from each other. Opt for the Crusoe Residences, which occupy their own private lagoon, only accessible by boat. The ocean-to-plate menu can be served in-villa all day and the Meera Spa is offering a range of immunity-boosting therapies.
Book here: Gili Lankanfushi
South Africa has reopened to tourists — and just in time for the peak of the summer season. Fly to Cape Town for a few days in the city and by the beach, before heading inland for some vineyard hopping.
We love the two Jonkmanshof guest houses, which are an easy two hour drive from Cape Town in Montagu. Relax in the citrus gardens with the mountains as your backdrop, taking dips in the swimming pool before some serious wine tasting at the excellent Montagu Winery. Their breakfasts, with farm fresh milk and eggs, are legendary.