For anyone with lockdown savings ready to be blown on a once-in-a-lifetime, scorching-hot holiday, the Maldives ticks all the right boxes.
Patina Maldives (patinahotels.com) is on the man-made Fari Islands archipelago on North Male Atoll and is home to 110 suites and villas, each designed to offer maximum privacy.
The resort has been developed with the aim of connecting with the natural landscape, where wood-clad villas and forests ensure a calm vibe.
The luxury Patina Maldives resort, pictured, is home to 110 suites and villas, each designed to offer maximum privacy
Order a cocktail and take a dip in your private pool or the ever-present Indian Ocean, safe in the knowledge that the weather will always be glorious and the pace deliciously slow.
Seven nights from £6,170pp, including flights and transfers, based on two guests sharing (carrier.co.uk).
With plentiful flights, myriad hotel options and relentless desert sun, the United Arab Emirates is the ideal go-to for those in search of guaranteed hot weather.
Caesars Palace Dubai, part of the Bluewaters Island development, is the place to be for those who want to recharge without having to venture beyond their resort.
Its 12 dining options include Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen, and guests will find pools galore and direct beach access, so once you arrive there’s no need to move on. Keen explorers, however, can easily access the city via a new pedestrian bridge which stretches across the sparkling Arabian Sea to the iconic Jumeirah Beach Resort.
The 12 dining options at Caesars Palace Dubai include Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen, pictured above
Rooms from £309 per night based on two adults sharing (caesars.com/dubai).
Along the coast in Abu Dhabi, Mandarin Oriental’s opulent Emirates Palace is the ultimate spot for some seafront downtime. Tucked away in a natural bay with its own private marina, this waterside haven is decked out in classic Arabian style but with all the modern luxury touches you’d expect from a top-end hotel.
Infinity pools with private cabanas offer views across the ocean and make for a memorable place to sip on a cocktail as the sun goes down.
For those after a trip out, there’s the option of kayaking around nearby mangroves or taking in history and culture at the Grand Mosque or Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Rooms from £370 per night (mandarinoriental.com).
Mandarin Oriental’s opulent Emirates Palace, pictured above, is tucked away in a natural bay with its own private marina
Pictured is the Majlis Suite at the Emirates Palace. There, rooms are decked out in classic Arabian style with modern touches
Desert sun is also promised on the northern tip of Qatar, where Zulal Wellness Resort is the ideal place to reset and recharge, with plenty of restorative indoor spaces for cooling off and chilling out.
Average temperatures in summer are a blistering 37C (98F), but they are a far more manageable 21C (70F) in January, meaning the resort’s lagoon and beaches are ripe for winter-sun-seekers. Two separate areas – the adults-only Zulal Serenity and family-friendly Zulal Discovery – both feature traditional Qatari spas and sleek rooms.
Throw in star-filled night skies and a trip to this under-visited corner of the Middle East promises a memorable break whatever time of year. From £768 per room, per night based on two sharing (zulal.com)
Cool off, chill out: A room at Zulal Wellness Resort in Qatar, where guests are invited to reset and recharge
Closer to home, a three-hour flight takes you to Tunisia and its picture-postcard beaches. Major tour operators and airlines have returned to the country in recent years, and Hammamet, at the south-eastern end of the Cap Bon peninsula, remains the must-visit spot for lovers of soft sands and warm waters.
The vast Great Mosque, the largest in North Africa, and the labyrinthine medina still have the same draw as they did when the resort first became popular with tourists a century ago.
Seven nights’ all-inclusive at the Steigenberger Marhaba Thalasso spa hotel costs £361pp (tui.co.uk).
Enjoy Tunisia’s picture-postcard beaches during your stay at the Steigenberger Marhaba Thalasso spa hotel, pictured
If that’s not adventurous enough, then sun-lovers with the urge for a truly spectacular getaway should take a look at Lengishu, a private home in the Borana Conservancy, a rhino sanctuary in Laikipia, northern Kenya.
With space for 12 guests spread across the main house and four gorgeous cottages, it has sweeping views over some of eastern Africa’s finest wilderness.
Without the constraints of other guests, you set the itinerary and choose when you go on inclusive game drives or horse rides through the bush. There’s even the chance to track rhinos on foot.
A seven-night stay at Lengishu costs from £8,837pp based on 12 sharing. Prices include flights, transfers, full-board accommodation and safari (abercrombiekent.co.uk, 01242 386500).
Pictured is the Fish Eagle room at Lengishu, a private home in the Borana Conservancy in northern Kenya
Back on the travel map too is Sri Lanka, and its plentiful lush landscapes offer a wonderful escape. Kumbura, a recently restored and gorgeous villa, sleeps eight across four rooms. Set within verdant forest and paddy fields, it’s just a few miles inland from the city of Galle and a world away from the rush of everyday life back home.
Its infinity pool looks out across wonderful scenery, while monkeys and peacocks roam the grounds.
Check out the local food scene or kick back and let the housekeeper tempt you with classic Sri Lankan dishes. Nightly rates start at £270 (edenvillas.com).
The Caribbean is an obvious option for anyone who craves heat no matter the time of year.
Kumbura Villa in Sri Lanka, pictured above, is set within verdant forest and paddy fields
A bedroom with an outdoor tub at Palm Heights, the latest opening on Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach
Away from the busier islands, Palm Heights, the latest opening on Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach, is a dream destination. Its Palm Heights Athletics offering is made for those who want to get in shape, with sunset Pilates, yoga and meditation on the rooftop surrounded by blissed-out views.
Venture inland for a hike along Mastic Trail, a path through the island’s last subtropical forest, and take a boat out over clear waters for some of the Caribbean’s finest snorkelling. From £469pp per night (palmheights.com).
With red rock buttes, pine forests, the Grand Canyon and a laidback vibe, Arizona’s popularity has soared in recent years, with the desert town of Sedona at its heart.
And just outside town, and billed as North America’s first landscape hotel, is the Ambiente, a blow-the-budget option (ambientesedona.com). Its 40 ‘atriums’ – standalone suites – have been built on steel piers using rusted metal and bronze-tinted glass to blend in with the environment and reflect the sensational light of this wild region.
A seven-night room-only stay, including BA flights from Heathrow to Phoenix and car hire, costs from £5,995pp (bon-voyage.co.uk, 0800 316 3012).
Those after a less lavish option should head two hours south to Scottsdale and check in to The Saguaro, an ideal base for exploring the desert and the town’s mid-century architecture. Five nights’ room-only plus flights to Phoenix costs from £1,183pp (ba.com).
For a chilled-out, beach-focused take on California, check out Encinitas, just north of San Diego. The recently opened Alila Marea Beach Resort has 130 garden and coastal-view rooms, with a waterfront pool and rooftop patio looking out over the Pacific. Modern with minimalist decor, this resort is about pared-back luxury.
Summer stretches late into the year here, which means it’s great for a dose of winter sun with the added benefit of time to explore the town’s arts scene and enjoy dining in the plentiful cafes.
Prices start from £335 per night (alilahotels.com).
Pacific ocean view: Alila Marea Beach Resort near San Diego (pictured) boasts 130 garden and coastal-view rooms
For the ultimate long-haul adventure, Australia’s allure as a once-in-a-lifetime destination remains undimmed, especially with its scorching summers heating up just as the UK heads into winter.
While the country still has severe travel restrictions on tourists due to its Covid clampdown, there are hopes that quarantine periods will begin to ease, so holidays could soon be back on the cards.
Long-term planners should look at Flinders Ranges in South Australia, which offers an Outback escape with the chance to steep yourself in Aboriginal culture and history. Keep an eye out for wallabies, galahs (pink cockatoos) and kangaroos, and take in some of the southern hemisphere’s clearest night skies. Rawnsley Park has options to suit a range of budgets. Its fabulous eco-villas, with retractable roofs for stargazing and daytime views across the natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound, are the pick of the bunch, with prices starting from about £260 per night (rawnsleypark.com.au).