Alternative Christmas Holidays

Whether you have a perfect family gathering in mind or an escape from seasonal obligations, the Christmas holiday period offers a wealth of opportunity from bucket list adventures to a relaxing dose of winter sunshine. How about New Year with the Maharajah of Jodhpur or waking up in a private Omani desert camp or a beautiful log cabin in the Rockies? Our destination specialists have a myriad suggestions for a Christmas and New Year  to remember, not a turkey in sight.

New Year’s Eve Party in Rajasthan, India:

The month-long Jodhpur polo season in India culminates in a spectacular New Year’s Eve party hosted by His Highness The Maharajah of Marwar-Jodhpur at the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, where puppet shows and fire eaters put on an unforgettable show. Guests stay at the Umaid Bhawan Palace, an Art Deco palace designed in the 1920s and now home to the Maharajah and his family.

 New Year's Eve in Jodhpur

Ballooning over Bagan in Myanmar:

Rivalling the iconic sites of Angkor for splendour and size, the temples of Bagan punctuate the forest canopy on a vast plain inside a curve of the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. Over two thousand temples remain of almost four and a half thousand originally built – a testament to the power of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. The best vantage point for appreciating the scale of this magnificent endeavour is from above – Christmas Day or New Year’s Day morning in a hot air balloon floating high over the temples as the sun rises over the Irrawaddy is a moment to cherish.

 Bagan - Myanmar

A Private Camp in Oman:

Wake in the middle of the desert to the least commercial Christmas imaginable – just you, the dune bugs and the silence of the Empty Quarter, the world’s largest expanse of sand desert in Oman. Arrive at your private camp on Christmas Eve with drinks at sunset and dinner by the campfire encircled by family and friends before watching the sun rise over the dunes at dawn on Christmas Day.

 Desert camp in Oman

Witness Sunrise at Borobudur in Indonesia:

Wake early on Christmas morning to witness sunrise over the extraordinary temples of Borobudur in Indonesia before heading back to Amanjiwo to open presents and enjoy breakfast. Spend the day exploring the local villages on foot, bicycle and horse cart before early evening sundowners – martinis in a rice field and dinner cooked by Amanjiwo’s chef in a local house.

 Borobudur - Indonesia

A Jungle Adventure with Elephants in Thailand:

Enjoy Christmas Day in the jungle with an elephant! Stay at the Four Seasons Tented Camp in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand’s Golden Triangle. Spend the morning with a mahout and his elephant learning basic commands before riding the elephant and ‘driving’ it to the river for its bath. Open presents on your private deck overlooking the Ruak River a tributary of the Mekong which separates Thailand from Laos, watching the elephants as they graze on the lush grass.

 Elephant riding in Thailand

Christmas in the Caribbean:

Long favoured as a winter sun destination, villas and hotels in the Caribbean tend to book early but for those in the know, there are still one or two gems to be found this Christmas. Harbour Hill, a private villa in Antigua, has splendid views across Falmouth Harbour where gleaming white yachts bob, whilst Sugar Mill is a contemporary pad just two minutes’ walk from a private sandy beach near Galley Heights. Ideal for a romantic winter retreat is Villa Ventana in the British Virgin Islands, which looks out over peaceful Trunk Bay.

 Villa Ventana

Heli-skiing in Canada:

Enjoy a white Christmas on an incredible private heli-skiing experience in the Canadian mountains. Find the best virgin powder with your family or group of friends and ski giant alpine bowls with evenings spent relaxing by log fires in luxurious accommodation.

Adventure in the Colorado Rockies:

Once a mining town to which Butch Cassidy fled after his first bank robbery and later abandoned, Dunton Hot Springs is a ghost town reborn as a delightful wilderness resort in the San Juan Mountains of the Colorado Rockies. Perfectly restored log cabins, an original saloon and endless trails and ski runs from Telluride to Dunton make this one of the most characterful places to celebrate the great outdoors at Christmas.

 Dunton Hot Springs

Safari & Beach Life in Tanzania:

Few places offer such a broad variety of safari experiences as the Selous in Tanzania, where traditional game drives are complemented by bush walks, river cruises, picnics and visits to hot springs. For the adventurous, there is fly camping in the bush with nothing to separate you from the sights and night sounds of the wildlife but a mosquito net. Stay at Sand Rivers Lodge where open-fronted stone and thatch cottages look out onto the river and its wildlife visitors. Complement a Christmas safari with a few days celebrating New Year on Zanzibar’s Bwejuu Beach staying at Baraza Resort & Spa, a boutique hotel on the southeast coast. The hotel evokes the history of the island, blending the style of the sultans with Swahili design touches to create an opulent and luxurious retreat, with generous private pool villas, an excellent spa, and mouth-watering exotic cuisine.

 Baraza Resort & Spa

Go off-grid in New Zealand:

Explore the remote Taharua Valley on New Zealand’s North Island where a beautiful wilderness retreat, Poronui, is the focus of an outdoor playground which includes mountain biking, riding, clay pigeon shooting rafting and fishing. Stay at the Safari Camp for the true wilderness experience, following in the footsteps of the early pioneers. Spend Christmas Day fly fishing in the tranquil the Mohaka River valley before Christmas dinner around a camp fire.  Though your accommodation is canvas and your location remote, civilisation is not overlooked; there are hot showers, queen size beds, excellent wine and dinners prepared by the Lodge.

 New Year in the Atacama Desert, Chile:

Chile’s Atacama Desert is one of the remotest places on earth with magnificent landscapes encompassing desert, sharply peaked mountains and geothermic plains punctuated with geysers. There are over 40 expeditions to explore the flora, fauna, waterfalls, bird life, mountains, volcanoes, craters and spectacular views on foot, horseback and by mountain bike. Accommodation is at explora Atacama, a contemporary hotel with Explorers Bar, Quincho (BBQ area), spa, massage room and observatory.  WiFi and TV are not available in guests’ rooms, in keeping with the off-grid nature of the location. Available 28th Dec – 3rd Jan 2016.

Spend New Year in splendid isolation with family and friends amidst the coastal forests and towering dunes of Mozambique’s shores. Colina Verde is a beautiful thatched roof villa sleeping up to 14 guests in seven bedrooms, with living areas including a dining room, study, massage room, games room and a yoga area. Outdoor decks provide the perfect vantage spot for cocktails whilst a winding path leads directly down to a long sandy beach. This is an ideal place to wind down – perhaps with a game of tennis, a massage or with a book from the house library. Venturing out, guests can go snorkelling or game fishing with one of Africa’s top fishing guides on Colina Verde’s private boat, head out on a game drive in the Maputo Special Reserve, sail by dhow to Inhaca Island or get involved with local wildlife conservation monitoring turtle nests.

For more suggestions on where to spend an unforgettable Christmas or New Year, contact the luxury travel specialists at Red Savannah on +44 (0)1242 787800.