Jetting away for the holidays? Here are 9 ultimate far-flung Christmas escapes
From a private yacht charter in Antarctica to a Mexican coastal hideaway, these experiences will transport you to a festive vacation dreamland.
After almost three years of the pandemic, rarely has a Christmas escape been as hotly anticipated. With the world more or less completely open, we've crossed the planet in search of the ultimate breaks to make this festive season truly unforgettable.
From the roaring log fire of a historic Scottish hotel to the epic wilderness of Antarctica, these far-flung breaks will let you celebrate with family and friends in ultimate luxury and style.
A VERY SCOTTISH CHRISTMAS
With the crunch of snow (hopefully) underfoot followed by a glass of mulled wine by the fire, few destinations are as cosy and festive as the Scottish Highlands. The Fife Arms in Braemar has won a reputation as one of the UK's ultimate luxury boutique escapes and their three-day Christmas Celebration experience features afternoon tea and piano recitals, Buck's Fizz at breakfast and stockings filled with festive treats.
Naturally there's an epic four-course Christmas lunch, followed by the King's Speech as King Charles delivers his first ever Christmas message to the nation. Then there are board games and fondue, afternoon tea and chocolate and whisky pairings in Bertie's Bar. Walk it off – well, some of it – in the glorious surrounding landscape before returning for roasted chestnuts and warming up under sheepskin blankets.
CHEVAL BLANC, ST-BARTH ISLE DE FRANCE
For fans of ultra-luxury travel, few names can match Cheval Blanc with their breathtaking properties in destinations including Paris, St Tropez and the Maldives. In the Caribbean, they offer the only property with a 'Palace' distinction at Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France. The two-bedroom Beach Suite is refined and glamorous with Flamands Beach just steps away, the perfect spot for toes-in-the-sand private dining to unimaginable sunsets over Flamands Bay.
If you can pull yourself away from the spacious suite with its expansive lounges, pool and hot tub, then choose from a yacht or catamaran to hit the azure waters and idyllic secluded bays in serious style. Alternatively, enjoy one of the best massages of your life as you glide across the Caribbean Sea before a gourmet picnic.
From US$5,200 (S$7,040) per night for up to four guests.
ANTARCTIC PRIVATE YACHT CHARTER
While the chance of a white Christmas in Singapore is definitely low, it's clearly guaranteed in the breathtaking expanses of Antarctica. A luxury private yacht expedition with Pelorus offers some of the most exclusive ways to discover the white continent. If you're feeling brave, you can head underwater in Paradise Bay in their submersible, or discover the breeding colonies of everyone's favourite: Penguins.
Much larger wildlife sightings are also on offer as you cruise towards Enterprise Island, home to humpback whales and orcas. Adrenaline rushes are also guaranteed with the chance to ski down glaciated mountains, with icebergs dotting the fjords below you. But for the ultimate Instagram story, you can even helicopter to Mount Shackleton to see the sunset in one of the world's most beautiful but remote places. Finish with visits to whaling stations and even Antarctic research stations thanks to unique access offered by the bespoke luxury Antarctica experts.
Eight nights from US$90,000 per person
MICROLIGHT OVER VICTORIA FALLS
Once you've experienced its jaw-dropping majesty, you'll appreciate why Victoria Falls has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara sits on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, meaning that you're perfectly located to explore the world's largest waterfall.
In addition to hikes, you can even get on board a microlight to see the cascades from a whole new perspective. Then there's rafting along the Zambezi, known as one of the world's greatest and most exciting series of rapids – it's worth noting that some of them are called “Stairway to Heaven” and “The Terminator”. Much more sedate options include a private safari river cruise before retreating to the hotel for a soothing massage and dinner with wine pairings.
A Deluxe Corner Room including the African Adventure package starts from US$1,180 per room, per night.
MEXICAN COASTAL HIDEAWAY, CASA LERIA
Welcome Beyond offers design-focused holiday homes around the world and their latest addition is a luxury hideaway on Mexico's Pacific coast, Casa Leria. It's located outside Puerto Escondida, known as a laid-back fishing port and surfing hotspot in Oaxaca, an area especially famed for its cuisine, which in Mexico is really saying something.
Pristine beaches and incredible ocean views come as standard, while the property, which was built with local organic elements, is surrounded by an ecological reserve. The elegant bedrooms sleep up to 18 in laid-back luxury, combining contemporary architectural design with the natural environment to stunning effect.
Nightly rates at Casa Leria start from US$1,100.
HELI-SKIING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
If you're a fan of hitting the slopes, then few ski experiences can match the thrilling rush of heli-skiing in British Columbia. Mabeyski offers a two-centre, week-long package to let you get your fill of perfect powder on some of Canada's most famed pistes. You'll start in world-famous Whistler at the luxurious Fairmont Chateau Whistler, where you can ski in and out. Suitably warmed up, you'll then take a chopper up to Bella Coola, home to a truly remote wilderness luxury log cabin, for an unforgettable white Christmas.
The First Nations community sits on the coast and is home to some of the world's best heli-skiing thanks to glaciers, coastal views and reliably deep snow. While world-class skiing is guaranteed, you can always choose to kick back in the hot tub, toast some s'mores on the fire and enjoy local produce in private dining cuisine, all served in your choice of five backcountry lodges.
From US$12,500 per person.
CARIBBEAN CRUISE, THE RITZ-CARLTON YACHT COLLECTION
The British Virgin Islands. Barbados. Dominica. When the names of the destinations alone conjure up magical escapes, you can guarantee that a 10-night cruise to and from Puerto Rico will have you in festive vacation dreamland, especially when you're aboard the brand new Ritz-Carlton yacht, Evrima. With a maximum of just 298 guests, the superyacht's suites feel residential, while the interiors match the same luxury and design quality you'd expect from the brand's hotels. No fewer than 10 dining options are available.
Departing from the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan lets you discover charming plazas and cobblestone streets before you set sail for idyllic coves, picture-perfect islands and remote beaches. Excursions could include a visit to the Mount Gay rum distillery in Barbados or hiking to Salomon Beach in the Virgin Islands National Park.
From US$9,600 per person, double occupancy in a Terrace Suite.
ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS ESCAPE AT LUX GRAND BAIE, MAURITIUS
A jaw-dropping villa on a world-class paradise island in the Indian Ocean with unique experiences? Certainly sounds like our idea of a Christmas well spent. Mauritius may not be as familiar as the Maldives, but it offers stunning landscapes and rich culture and history in addition to picture-perfect beaches.
The Grand Beach Pool Villa is the most luxurious category at LUX Grand Baie and sits on the secluded end of the beach facing the lagoon with three bedrooms, 24-hour butler service and a pool. But the experiences include having a 1,625 sq m spa all to yourself, from 9pm to midnight, with champagne and canapes. Then a 1,190 sq m rooftop overlooking Grand Baie’s lagoon is all yours, along with breakfast and massages under the palm tree. Finish with an eight-course tasting menu crafted in person by the executive chef, paired with sommelier-chosen wines.
Three nights in the LUX Grand Beach Pool Villa with the three Extraordinary Experiences runs at US$58,380 for two guests.
ISLAS SECAS, PANAMA
There's getting away from it all this holiday season – and then there's a rugged archipelago off Panama, about 32km from the nearest sign of civilisation. The far-flung wilderness is known as one of the best-kept secrets in Central America, but handily it's only an hour's private plane flight from the capital of Panama City.
When you get there, you'll discover 14 islands in the Gulf of Chiriqui, home to seven accommodation options, which sleep up to 24 guests in total. The Gulf's waters make for a marine playground teeming with life around the largest reef on the coast, including humpback whale migration. Tropical gardens are perfect for total relaxation in barefoot bohemian luxury – and maybe a spot of yoga. Beach barbecues reflect ocean-to-table cuisine
Rates start from US$2,500 per night on an all-inclusive basis.