From island escapes in the Indian Ocean to Art Deco flair courtesy of Miami, these new or recently-refurbished sun-drenched resorts and hotels are the new winter sun destinations for your next trip and the perfect antidote to dark days.
Average temperature: 22°C
Everything about Dubai dazzles. It is home to the tallest buildings on earth, the world’s largest man-made island, its most colossal shopping mall… Even the temperature is extreme, often soaring beyond 40°C in summer (in winter, it’s much more agreeable). As befits a city of superlatives, the Mandarin Oriental, Jumeira surpasses expectations and is one of our top new winter sun destinations to book. It may be a stone’s throw from the financial centre, but it feels a world away with its private beach hugging the crystalline Arabian Gulf. In typical MO style, rooms are meticulously appointed (the over-the-water villas are stand-out) and the spa is gargantuan and extremely good. There are six restaurants, including Netsu by Ross Shonhan, which showcases the traditional Japanese technique of Warayaki (straw fire cooking), and Tasca, the first international offering from Portuguese wunderchef José Avillez. The latter is a popular spot for brunch, where a fashionable crowd sip sangrias and feast on perfectly- marinated seafood and Pastel de Nata.
Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai; mandarinoriental.com
Average temperature: 21°C
Los Angeles-based Palisociety — the brainchild of Avi Brosh, whose discerning eye for detail has seen the boutique hotel brand rocket in recent years — has added Miami Beach to its portfolio. In keeping with the group’s USP of good old-fashioned hospitality, quirky locations and a serious side of groove, Palihouse Miami Beach is set in a beautifully restored Art Deco building that was originally the Greenbrier Hotel. The decor is eclectic, combining eastern seaboard styling with a boho Mediterranean flair (mix-and-match furniture, turquoise and peach walls, tactile textiles), and comfort reigns supreme — the rooms all have big tvs, walk-in rain showers, custom bath products and the rest. Downstairs, laidback-luxury resonates across the lobby lounge, cocktail bar and outdoor palm-fringed pool area. Though if you’re hankering after the ocean, a Beach Butler will whisk you to your favourite Miami Beach spots in a custom-made Moke, where they’ll ply you with chairs, umbrellas, towels and chilled drinks.
3101 Indian Creek Drive, Miami Beach; palisociety.com
Average temperature: 27°C
Banish all thoughts of thatched-roofed villas when it comes to this hot new winter sun destination. This new winter-sun destination resort from LUX* — an hour’s speedboat ride from Male — has 67 double-storey residences, which are more Miami-style modernism than rustic Robinsoe Crusoe, thanks to Singapore design house Miaja, which took inspiration from superyachts. Each of the sleek, contemporary villas, whether over-water or on the beach, has huge bedrooms, a pool and is crowned with a sky-lounge roof deck (where you can have your very own under-the-stars cinema experience), affording never- ending Maldivian panoramas. Days can be spent snorkelling the coral reef amongst dolphins, stingrays and turtles, in the glass-bottomed Me Spa, upping your BPM on the tennis or volleyball courts or practicing yoga or tai chi on the beach. Surfers will love the recently introduced The LUX* Break — the hotel’s very own surf point with its ideal conditions for kite and wave surfing. Four restaurants cater to all tastes from feet-in-the-sand club sandwiches and pizzas at Beach Rouge to INTI with its intriguing Peruvian- Japanese menu.
Male, Maldives; luxresorts.com
Average temperature: 26°C
When Cap Juluca first threw open its doors in 1988, on the serene Maundays Bay in Anguilla, it swiftly became a big-name barefoot luxury destination, its idyllic setting, intriguing Greco-Moorish architecture and intuitive service appearing on every discerning traveller’s wishlist. Over time, however, it fell from favour and when it came on the market, Belmond snapped it up. As you’d imagine, the upscale luxury hotel group (recently bought by LVMH) has worked wonders: a top-to-toe £95million refurb has resulted in dreamy interiors and some of the finest dining spots on the island (plus, of course, the service is better than ever) — making it one of our favourite new winter sun destinations once more. Perfect the art of doing nothing on the white sandy beach, by the infinity pool or at the excellent Arawak Spa, before sampling the cooking at any one of the restaurants. Pimms brims with romance, though Cips by Cipriani gives it a good run for its money, offering a slice of Venetian glamour under starry Caribbean skies.
Maundays Bay, Anguilla; belmond.com
Average temperature: 26°C
For one of the most photogenic sundowner spots in the West Indies, look no further than this recent arrival, hugging the powder-soft Grand Anse Beach in Grenada. But that’s not the only string to Silversands’ bow. The 43 suites and nine villas are anchored around a 100-metre infinity pool, easily the longest and chicest in the Caribbean – come to think of it, the spa pool is pretty impressive too (as an aside, try the Soul to Sole transformative signature spa treatment or the Quartz Sand Massage). The resort’s striking architecture in no way jars with its surroundings; the design draws on Grenada’s wild beauty with natural materials and neutral tones throughout. Though do not read this as boring: this place is a refreshing antidote to faceless, homogenous luxury, instead radiating warmth and charm. Nowhere is this truer than at the buzzing restaurants; while The Grenadian Grill is more beach-club style (think fresh line-caught seafood and organic grass-fed beef), Asiatique showcases the island’s abundance of local ingredients and spices (not for nothing is Grenada called the ‘Island of Spice’).
Grand Anse Main Road, St George’s, Grenada; silversandsgrenada.com
Average temperature: 26°C
Anyone into health and wellness — and hankering after new winter sun destinations — will have Chiva-Som on their radar. The resort in Hua Hin, often voted ‘the world’s best destination spa’, has been offering the very best holistic therapies and activities since 1995, in ultra-luxe surroundings. It has just reopened following a major £18million renovation — its first ever — which has seen the interiors updated with sustainable teak, Thai silk, bamboo and a calming colour palette; the health and wellness areas expanded and flooded with natural light; the spa and physiotherapy treatment rooms refined; and innovative new additions including a hydrotherapy suite, flotation chamber and hydro pool, to name but a few. What hasn’t changed is the glorious tropical, beach-front setting, the highly skilled and knowledgeable team, and the fragrant, fresh food, ensuring this continues to be the place for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being — all served up with a healthy dose of Vitamin D.
Hua Hin, Thailand; chivasom.com
Average temperature: 26°C
When Hurricane Irma barrelled through the Caribbean in 2017, Eden Rock in St Barths was virtually flattened. And yet, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the iconic resort has thrown open its doors once more, following an extensive renovation and rebuilding project and has become one of our top new winter sun destinations to visit. Loyal guests will be relieved to hear that the barefoot luxe atmosphere remains, though the decor has been given a joosh with a relaxed-beach vibe in mind. Set on a rocky promontory, days at the hotel revolve around the stretch of white sandy private beach and the sapphire sea beyond – complimentary watersports, snorkelling, SUP and kayaks keep the active happy. The brand-new Eden Spa takes up residence at the top of the Rock, offering delicious massages using natural products manufactured on the island. Retox with sundowners at the Rémy Bar, before savouring the culinary creations of uber-chef Jean- Georges Vongerichten in the Sand Bar restaurant.
St Jean Bay, St Barthélemy; oetkercollection.com
Average temperature: 25°C
Anantara has arrived on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, with a new 164-room resort nestled on the southeastern coast (eight luxury pool villas are slated to be ready by mid 2020). Brand new it may be, but the design of this winter sun destination taps into the rich architectural heritage of the capital Port Louis, using natural materials — lots of driftwood and volcanic stone — and a calm palette. The overall vibe is easy, tropical charm. As you’d expect, sustainability is forefront – the resort incorporates solar technology, water is reused, waste recycled and organic farming methods are encouraged throughout the restaurants’ supply chain. Food is, in fact, a big talking point here: from traditional creole cooking to fine dining, ingredients are harvested locally and fresher-than-fresh. We like Sea.Fire.Salt, which offers up grills and seafood to be savoured at a table on the beach. Days drift blissfully by, whether you’re on the beach, luxuriating in the spa or daydreaming by the pool. The more adventurous might be tempted to navigate the coast in a glass-bottomed kayak, embark on a bird-watching inland or explore the island’s carefully preserved colonial houses. Though, chances are, the resort will prove far too beguiling to leave.
Blue Bay, Le Chaland, Mauritius; anantara.com
Average temperatures are for December and January; Flight times are approximate and are from London