Summer 2021 might have left a holiday-shaped hole in many traveller’s lives, and as the days get shorter and temperatures lower, planning a tropical escape to someplace warmer than the UK has never been more tempting.
From the celebrities’ favourite retreat in Turks and Caicos to the world’s only exclusive-use private island in East Africa, here are our pick of the top trips for some overdue autumn or winter sun.
Best for: Dynamic activities
At Velaa Private Island, Maldives
Nestled within the constellation of islands that form the Noonu Atoll in the Maldives, Velaa Private Island is arguably one of the most private and luxury islands in the world.
The resort is famed for its ultra-luxe, high-tech, bond-worthy water gadgets such as an aquatic hoverboard with a top speed of 16 miles per hour, and an aquatic jetpack that uses immense water pressure to send riders 30 feet up into the air. Velaa Private Island has added a brand new padel tennis court, the ultimate KRASH Predator jet-ski and a limited-edition watercraft for 2021. Adding to its already stellar offering of some of the newest water sport toys and equipment in the world, Velaa Private Island’s new additions are set to confirm its place as a luxury playground for discerning, adventurous travellers.
Open since June 2021, the full panoramic court is the best, high-performance padel tennis court in the world. Without structural elements in the glass areas, the court at Velaa Private Island boasts a spectacular interior and exterior design, both for players and onlooking spectators, and has been specially adapted for all environments. Guests will have the chance to enjoy friendly games on this new court or perfect their serve with the help of Velaa’s tennis coach professionals, on hand to offer one-to-one lessons for adults and children alike.
Rates start from £2,200 per night in a beach pool villa, minimum of five nights.
Best for: Reconnecting with family
At COMO Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos
Positioned on one of the Caribbean’s finest private islands, what once was a deserted isle is now a shimmering wellness sanctuary home to COMO Parrot Cay. The luxury oasis promises copious sun and pristine undisturbed beaches year-round, as well as privacy and seclusion in its spacious ocean-facing villas – the ideal setting for families to reconnect and spend quality time together.
Young travellers are spoilt for choice with the Play by COMO family experiences. From a Catch and Release fishing programme to tours of the island’s bananas plantation, they’ll find a host of activities designed to educate the next generation of conscious travellers on the local culture and surrounding environment. While the kids play, the adults can indulge in world-class wellbeing at the island’s COMO Shambhala Retreat or toast their escape with a creative cocktail at the luxurious COMO Beach Club, with views over the glistening ocean.
Rates start from £595 per night on a bed and breakfast basis.
Best for: Complete seclusion
At Thanda Island Private Marine Reserve
Nestled within Shungimbili Island Marine Reserve off the coast of Tanzania, the remote and rustic Thanda Island is the world’s only exclusive-use protected marine reserve.
Deemed to be the best season for whale shark sighting, during winter guests will be delighted to join the resident marine biologist and take part in the Whale Shark Citizen Science Programme which offers guests the chance to collect identification data on whale sharks, the iconic species living in the waters of Mafia’s archipelago. GoPros in hand and decked-out in eco-friendly diving gear (rash vests are made from recycled plastic), guests can swim in the undisturbed waters of Thanda Island, rubbing shoulders with a circus of tropical species.
Accommodating up to 18 guests in the solar-powered five-bedroom beach villa and two authentic beach chalets, this island retreat promises the ultimate winter escape, while also doing good for the environment and the community thanks to a host of educational programmes and community upliftment projects on Mafia island and mainland Tanzania.
A stay at Thanda Island is £33,000 per night, minimum of five nights.
Best for: Wellness and nature
At COMO Point Yamu, Thailand, Phuket
Cutting-edge wellness facilities, sunrise yoga sessions and sophisticated cuisine – COMO Point Yamu in Phuket offers true escapism on the secluded and peaceful east coast of the island. Providing guests with some of Phuket’s most exciting activities all year round – such as trekking in Phuket’s virgin rainforest and hiking the slopes of Kata to reach the White Big Buddha Temple – as well as turquoise waters and pristine white-sand beaches, this exquisite hotel is the perfect destination for a sun-drenched winter escape with a side of culture.
When it comes to wellbeing, the signature COMO Shambhala offers guests an extensive menu of Asian-inspired therapies, including the COMO Shambhala massage, a rebalancing and calming body ritual which uses essential oils that rejuvenate the body, and a range of bespoke facials designed to give a new glow to face the winter months, once back home.
Rates start from £175 per night on a bed and breakfast basis.