Life & Style | Travel

World's greatest summer escapes

Summer is in sight, which means it’s time to plan your annual getaway. Whether you’re looking for family fun, a trip to spa-la-land, or a dose of culture, we’ve selected, tried and tested the best holidays for you

  • aQuarius
  • Published: 11:03 March 27, 2013
  • Aquarius

Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • The Ta Prohm temple, which was made famous in the movie "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider".
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Siem Reap, Cambodia

BEST FOR... ADVENTURE

WHY WE LOVE IT... Home to the ancient city of Angkor, Siem Reap is a must if discovering lost civilisations whets your appetite. The main temple complex of Angkor houses an impressive array of Khmer architectural styles. The three big hitters to see are the Angkor Wat temple complex, the Bayon with its 216 large stone faces and the Ta Prohm temple, made famous in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Many visitors tick off their Angkor visit in a day, but we suggest you take five days to discover the lesser visited temples.

MUST DO... Beng Mealea was built with the same layout as Angkor Wat. Having been abandoned many years ago, the temple is half collapsed and partially consumed by foliage, making it a captivating sight.

NEARBY... Once the getaway for French high society, Kep’s now derelict villas are a far cry from their grand colonial past, but this sleepy seaside town in south Cambodia still has its charms. Start your morning with a stroll along the seafront before jumping on a bike to enjoy Kep’s country lanes. In the afternoon head to Kep National Park, where the trail ascends to a vista platform offering mesmerising sea views.

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MUST STAY... The Pavillion Indochine (pavillon-indochine.com) sits on the outskirts of Siem Reap and offers a welcome respite from the tourist hustle and bustle. Room prices at Pavillion Indochine start at Dh240 for a Deluxe Single and Dh350 for a Family Suite per night. Price includes breakfast and a daily tuk tuk (with driver) to transport you around the temples. For those venturing on to Kep, Le Bout de Monde (leboutdemonde.new.fr) has 12 bungalows with wraparound balconies and costs around Dh73 per night.

GET THERE... Thai Airways (thaiairways.com) flies daily to Phnom Penh from Dh4,200 return.

Lausanne, Switzerland

BEST FOR... CULTURE

WHY WE LOVE IT... The French-speaking Swiss city of Lausanne, also referred to as the Olympic capital, is a world-class metropolis offering visitors a mix of culture, innovation and a vibrant nightlife. Steeped in history and tradition, Lausanne is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a European culture fix.

MUST DO... No visit to Lausanne is complete without ticking the Musée de l’Élysée off your list. Opened in 1985 and set in an 18th-century manor house overlooking Lake Geneva, this museum is solely dedicated to photography and houses more than 120,000 prints.

MUST EAT... For traditional Swiss cuisine dine at the quaint Café du Grütli (cafedugruetli.ch). Sample the traditional dish of cheese fondue, or the hearty rösti (Swiss hash brown).

MUST STAY... Enjoy a luxurious stay at the Beau-Rivage Palace hotel (brp.ch), which is one of the most plush hotels in the city. During your visit, treat yourself to one of the signature treatments at the hotel’s Cinq Mondes Spa (spacinqmondes-brp.ch). Room prices at Beau-Rivage Palace start at Dh1,750 per night.

GET THERE... Swiss International Air Lines flies to Geneva daily via Zurich from Dh3,830 return. From Geneva you need to take a 40-minute train journey to Lausanne (cff.ch), which costs around Dh100 return.

Club Med, France

BEST FOR... FAMILY

WHY WE LOVE IT... For a hassle-free family getaway that ticks all the boxes, book a week at Club Med – Opio en Provence. A 45-minute drive from Nice Cote d’Azur International Airport, Opio is nestled in the French Alps, just above Cannes. Despite its proximity to these glamorous locales, Opio is truly a world away. The extensive grounds are blanketed with olive groves and pine forests with a clearing just large enough for a world-class golf resort. But you don’t come here just for the views, because the resort offers an array of activities for everyone in the family.

MUST DO... Visitors can spend their days playing tennis and golf, toning up at Pilates and even attending trapeze and high ropes classes. If everyone in your family wants to do something different, the resort also offers Club Med Baby (for babies up to 23 months), Mini Club Med (for ages four to ten), and Junior Club Med (for ages 11 to 17).  

NEARBY... It’s tempting to file the guidebooks away and retreat into the serenity of the resort, but a perfect way to spend a few hours is to visit Gourdon, a quaint pedestrian town built even higher in the hills than Opio. To organise a visit the front-desk staff will arrange a taxi for the 45-minute journey, which costs about Dh240.

GET THERE... Emirates (emirates.com) flies daily to Nice from Dh4,850 return. A stay at the Club Med – Opio en Provence costs Dh13,380 for a one week based on two sharing. Book through Dnata Holidays (04-3166671).

Chiva-Som, Thailand

BEST FOR... WELLNESS

WHY WE LOVE IT... Chiva-Som in Thailand is touted as one of the finest health resorts in the world (with awards to prove it). Located in Hua Hin, just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Bangkok, the resort is an ultra-peaceful oasis. Steamy lakes, Asian-style arched bridges and quaint bungalows are all nestled in the exotic tropical gardens, right beside the beach.

MUST DO... Each stay begins with a personal consultation and the staff will then tailor a programme to suit your needs, goals, budget or package holiday. An average day’s schedule would involve a mix of aqua aerobics, yoga, a deep-tissue massage, a Pilates session and meditation. There are more than 120 treatments but if you only book in for one, we suggest you try the Skin Haven Facial, which is paradise in a pampering session.

NEARBY... In such heavenly surroundings it’s difficult to envisage guests tearing themselves away, but a trip into Hua Hin gives visitors the chance to experience the nightlife that Thailand is so famous for. A plethora of busy night markets and buzzing bars makes for an exciting evening.  

GET THERE... Thai Airways (thaiairways.com) flies to Bangkok daily. Tickets are priced at approximately Dh2,500 return. Prices start at Dh17,600 for a five-night stay at Chiva-Som (chivasom.com). This includes three spa meals a day, a consultation with a wellness adviser, a variety of treatments and access to fitness classes.

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