Whether you're a lover or a hater (of the festive season, that is) there are many wonderful places to spend the holiday. If you want to embrace or escape Father Christmas and all that he brings, allow us to suggest a few luxury getaways; from quiet couples escapes to large family get-togethers, low key retreats or christmas breaks...
Find Father Christmas in Finland
What better way to truly get into the spirit of all things Christmas than by visiting Father Christmas in his native Finnish Lapland. Ideal for families thanks to the fairly short flight time, family friendly accommodation, and trips to meet Father Christmas. Stay at the Rovaniemi Cabins, traditional log cabins of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, sauna, fully equipped kitchen, sitting room with TV and PlayStation, and internet access, located in Rovaniemi. Besides a visit to Father Christmas, there's also feeding his reindeer, sleigh rides, downhill and cross country skiing, hiking, sledging and snowshoeing.
Kenya's private property pads
If the damp and chilly British winter doesn't do it for you, then consider Kenya for warmer climes, vast open wilderness, and stunning pristine Indian Ocean beaches. Kenya is an ideal base for safari, beach holidays, and combinations of both thanks to its huge National Parks, where wildebeest, zebra and gazelle roam the gorgeous coastline. The country has also developed some first rate private hire properties - perfect for spending time with the family over the festive period. One of our favourites, Kizingoni Beach House, is situated on the southernmost tip of Lamu Island at the end of the famous Shela beach, though we have several other suggestions too.
Get merry in Mauritius
For barefoot luxury, sunshine, beaches, golf and diving, Mauritius is the place to be. What more of a contrast to leave the short days and long cold nights for long hours of sunshine and white sandy beaches? The resort of Anahita has two, three and four bedroomed villas within the hotel, so families can be together with private pools and communal areas whilst also benefiting from all the hotel facilities. If you're travelling with children, rest assured there's a great kids club and lots of land and water activities. There's also a very good 18-hole golf course for those that fancy a round of golf on Christmas day.
Go Gaucho in Argentina
If luxury, excellent food, and outdoors activities are top of your list, consider the central Argentinian Province of Cordoba. Here there's wide open spaces, gaucho lifestyle galore, plus polo, tango and lots more outdoor pursuits. The country style colonial house Estancia El Colibri is close to Cordoba, the capital of Cordoba Province. The house is surrounded acres of private land overlooking Cordoba Mountains, open countryside, valleys, woodlands, farmland and polo fields. Indoors, the nine rooms and suites are equipped with satellite television, DVD, internet connection and mini-bar, as well as beautifully detailed décor and delicious food and wine.
Mountains and more in Morocco
Whilst heat isn't guaranteed, for the last few years it has been around 25 degrees at Christmas in Marrakech in Morocco. Considering the flight is only three hours, you'll find yourself be in a surprisingly different culture and continent.
Kasbah Tamadot is a hotel in the Atlas Mountains with spectacular views, pretty grounds set around courtyards and pools, and beautiful Moroccan interiors. Activities such as cookery lessons, visits to Marrakech and walking in the hills with the resident mules are some of the activities on offer. Should the weather turn, there's also an indoor pool.
Celebrate in style in India
Rajasthan in India is a region scattered with temples, hilltop forts, stunning scenery, and amazing colours. Here, you can take a camel ride out into the desert hills at sundown and even supper in the dunes. Indians like to celebrate in style, no matter what religion they are, so this is the perfect spot for an altogether different take on the Christmas and New Year break. Samode Palace, in Rajasthan, is a luxurious and sprawling property owned by the existing royal family of Samode. The palace has endless wings, terraces, courtyards and levels, with frescoes and mirror-work running throughout the property. Rooms are scattered all over the building, and each unique.
Chill out in the Caribbean
The Christmas and New Year period is an ideal time to visit the Caribbean, as the weather is at its driest and coolest. Amongst our top recommendations is Antigua thanks to its huge choice of beaches (one for each day of the year no less!) and beautifully picturesque surroundings. The Inn at English Harbour, located at the entrance of the historic English Harbour, is set in 19 acres of beautiful gardens looking over the Caribbean Sea. There is a choice of accommodation available including stunning suites and beachside cabanas; each elegantly decorated perfectly balanced between Colonial charm and modern comforts. There's plenty to enjoy here; from a large infinity pool, two tennis courts, fitness centre, snorkelling, kayaking, small spa and golf nearby.
How about a winter escape combined with a new take on Christmas/New Year? Escape winter's chill with an Australian summer, where the Christmas roast is swapped for a BBQ on the beach, and a dull week lounging about the house is traded for exploring islands, stargazing, and outdoor activities galore. Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island in Southern Australia is a wonderful place to stay; each fresh and contemporary low-rise suite has outstanding views over the sea and crashing waves, not to mention glorious sunrise and sunsets. What's more, the area is also known for its fresh produce and delicious wines.
Fairy-tale of New York
Be it a romantic Christmas getaway with ice-skating, galleries, and fine dining, or the vibrant nightlife and wild celebrations of New Year, New York has it all - and oodles more. Days are spent walking the snowy streets, taking in the sights, exploring exhibitions and shops, whilst evenings make the most of the fab food on offer here. At the end of a long day, relax at Soho House New York; hip yet gloriously comfortable accommodation, a converted warehouse in the ever-trendy meatpacking district. The beautifully appointed rooms come with pre-loaded iPads, iPod docking stations, and treat filled mini-bars.
Tinsel dodging in Thailand
Christmas and New Year are a great time of year to visit Thailand weather wise as there's hardly any rain and temperatures are delightful. We strongly recommend heading to Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand for craft markets, the famous night bazaar, great food and lush verdant landscapes. The Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi hotel has a mix of colonial-style suites, private two-storey villas or grand residences with private pools. The whole property is surrounded by 60 acres of peaceful landscapes of paddy fields and lush tropical greenery.
For more information on luxury holidays over the Christmas and New Year period, contact Original Travel.