We may have just enjoyed one of the most glorious summers in recent memory but come November we'll all be digging out the woolly jumpers, lining up our winter box-sets and - not to be too dramatic about it - wondering if we'll ever feel the warmth of the sun on our faces again. But fear not, for we have the inside track on the best spots for soaking up some much-needed winter sunshine on a luxury break...
Jamaica may be a cliché of a winter sun destination but clichés exist for a reason. The sun shines over the island for 243 days a year, that's a full 120 days more than Blighty, and more importantly the mercury hovers around the 30°C mark for much of our winter. Ten days on a classic Jamaica holiday is the perfect opportunity to get the warmth back into your bones, hiking to coffee plantations in the Blue Mountains, deep sea fishing for marlins and barracudas, and generally absorbing as much vitamin D as possible to get you through the rest of winter, not to mention the gloriously smug feeling of heading back to the office and the school gates bronzed and beautiful a full six months before anyone else.
While we in the northern hemisphere huddle under blankets from about November through to March, South Africa enjoys its summer months. Cape Town, the Winelands and the Eastern Cape are the best areas to explore at this time of year and, by happy coincidence, make for the perfect luxury road trip. Take in the majestic beauty of the Garden Route, indulging in a few vintages in the Western Cape, watching water-based wildlife in Plettenberg Bay, and getting (quite) up close and personal with the Big Five on a luxury safari. An excellent way to pass the most brutal weeks of February, we're sure you'll agree.
Thailand may have a reputation for playing host to backpackers, full-moon parties and Renee Zellweger's wrongfully incarcerated Bridget Jones but its mix of sunshine, culture and beautiful beaches (not to mention the direct flights) make it the ideal destination for some pre-festive season winter sun. Soak up the lively culture and fascinating history of Bangkok before topping up your tan with a few days on the beach. Prepare to dazzle your nearest and dearest over the turkey with your stories of exotic temples, fabulous foods and paradise beaches...
Hot on the heels of the V&A's runaway success with its Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up exhibition, Mexico's popularity as a winter sun destination continues to grow. It isn't hard to see why; pristine white beaches, bright colourful towns, fascinating history, vibrant culture and diving Meccas - diving to the bottom of a cenote to see what you can find should be on the top of every diver's bucket list! - all just 12 hours from London.
A list of the best winter sun destinations would be incomplete without mention of the Maldives, the country that wrote the book and taught the course on luxury beach holidays complete with white sand, lush jungles and gin clear waters teeming with marine life. It's the ultimate destinayion for relaxing on the beach, cocktail in hand and book balanced on knees, before dining on some of the most delicious fresh seafood in the world, as well as a cheeky dive and a thorough going over in the spa leaving woolly jumpers and box-sets long forgotten.