With experiences now considered more valuable than plain old stuff, it isn’t just enough to go someplace and pass out on the beach. From paragliding in Oman to diving in the Maldives, active breaks definitely make for better photos — although we don’t recommend taking a selfie while kitesurfing!
But for the denizens of stress-filled Dubai, vacations that are all about simply lying on the beach have their own special appeal — so we’ve looked for breaks in faraway exotic destinations this summer.
After all, when you get back, you’ll most certainly want to show off that tan.
Finally, as always, we’ve got packages for the family. Whether these are homes to let, active holidays or adventurous vacations in new places, if you’re going on holiday with the people you need to get away from, we’ve got you covered!
Below are a list of great-value packages from a variety of suppliers, some all-inclusive, others bed and breakfast only. Rates mentioned here are subject to change depending on date of travel, and peak surcharges may apply.
We advise reading carefully through what’s available — now and at the time of booking — so there are no unpleasant surprises later. Safe travels!
HEALTH & FITNESS HOLIDAYS
1 BALI, INDONESIA
BookRetreats.com, a travel startup for yoga retreats and wellness vacations, is offering a range of glutenfree, vegan, raw and organic wellness summer holiday breaks. One for women looking to escape the pressures of children and careers, is an eight-day rebalancing retreat.
Find yourself in June with yoga twice daily and meditation every day.
Details: Available June 4-11 at Rama Candidasa Resort in Bali, from $1,480 (Dh5,436) at Bookretreats.com
Zighy Bay in Oman (pictured right) boasts a mile-long private bay of broad sandy beach with mountains behind. At this wellness retreat, adventure seekers can explore with mountain biking and scenic hikes, before paragliding down to the beach for ocean kayaking.
Or slow down the pace with a cleansing detox diet, healing yoga practice and therapeutic spa treatments at the luxurious Six Senses Spa to achieve an all-round sense of well-being.
Details: Seven nights from Dh11,570 on a twin-sharing basis, inclusive of breakfast, a choice of programmes, return flights and transfers. Book at Healthandfitnesstravel.com
With an average of 340 days of sunshine a year, the exotic Paradis Plage in Morocco offers a balance of active pursuits and relaxation. Make a splash with surfing lessons at the expert surf school or explore the array of alternative water sports on offer, from stand-up paddle boarding to kayaking.
Back on dry land, stretch out in the beachfront yoga pavilion with daily group classes from sunrise to sunset, before unwinding with traditional French and Moroccan treatments at the spa.
Details: Seven nights start at Dh4,255, including breakfast, choice of programmes, return flights and transfers. Book at Healthandfitnesstravel.com
Head to the world’s first macrobiotic resort at the Sha Wellness Clinic in Alicante. The resort offers tailored wellness programmes and focuses on encouraging healthy habits long-term.
Whether you want a tailor-made nutritional plan with rejuvenating spa therapies and complimentary yoga or Tai Chi, or whether you need help to combat insomnia, stress, weight loss, smoking and more, there is a well being solution here for every individual.
Details: Seven nights cost from Dh12,075 on a twin-sharing basis, including full board, a choice of programmes, return flights and transfers. Book at Healthandfitnesstravel.com
Dive into the aquatic island paradise of the Maldives and feel like you are floating on perfectly blue tropical waters, as you relax on the sun terrace of your private villa at Maalifushi by Como. Or dive under and swim with the whale sharks at one of the world’s best diving destinations.
Harmonise your breathing on a yoga and diving holiday as you connect with your inner self during classes in the open-air yoga pavilion or become one with the waves on an invigorating surf retreat.
Details: Seven nights from Dh25,085 per head, including return flights and transfers, full board and, choice of programmes. Book at Healthandfitnesstravel.com
Go off-the-beaten track this summer with a guided small group adventure from Wilderness Scotland.
The one that caught our eye was an island-hopping trip around the Outer Hebrides that paddles through the island group by sea kayak with nights spent in rustic coastal campsites en route. Explore pristine deserted islands while paddling in the crystal clear waters, enveloped by the mountains.
The small group will spend time on both North Uist and Harris, which boasts some of the best sea kayaking in Scotland, if not the world, taking advantage of local weather conditions. Along the way, there’s incredible wildlife, and wonderful camping spots — waking up and looking across to the Isle of Taransay is magical.
Details: £825 (about Dh4,370) per head, including five nights’ camping, all meals and sea kayaking equipment. Set departures are May 28, July 30 and August 27. Prices are based on twin-sharing, including transport on the holiday, guides, scheduled activities and entry fees. Flights from the UAE not included. Book at Wildernessscotland.com
EASY BREAKS: PACKAGE DEALS
Having welcomed its first democratic government in decades, the country has popped up on travellers’ radars. Unspoilt, authentic and full of charm, this country of small delights is still off the grid for many.
Dubai’s Orient Travel offers a four-day package inclusive of return air tickets on Thai Airways, internal flights as applicable, transfers, four-star accommodation in Yangon, Bagan, Lake Inle and Mandalay, as well as a city tour of Yangon.
Details: Six days, Dh7,750 per person on a twinsharing basis, valid for travel until September 30. Book with Orient Travels at 04 343 3332
Hard Rock Hotels is offering a break at its Riviera Maya property in Mexico (left). Five-star hotel rooms include a Hydro Spa tub to unwind in after the flight from Abu Dhabi, private balcony and hammock, fully stocked mini bar, Rock Spa bath amenities and purified water.
Concierge butler and spa services are available in the room, as well as 24-hour room service. You can even borrow a Fender guitar for the duration of your stay.
Guests also receive up to $3,600 in resort credits to redeem against luxury experiences, depending on length of stay. Those with allergies can book a certified hypo-allergenic room. On-site facilities include the musiccentric Rock Spa, Body Rock fitness centre, championship golf course, beauty salon, private beach cove, expansive pools with swim-up pool bars, Bali beds and more.
Details: Seven nights’ all-inclusive five-star stay from Dh11,298 per person, including return flights from Abu Dhabi (May 22-29). Visit Ba.com/hardrock
You will quickly become one with the ocean as you swim with the bottlenose dolphins and snorkel amidst picturesque coral reefs. Stay at The Residence Zanzibar, a colonial-style resort spread across 32 hectares of spectacular tropical gardens, boasting 66 villas (complete with a private plunge pool), and two spectacular restaurants. If you find yourself wandering off property, make sure to explore the island’s spice plantations, or embark on a sunset dhow cruise to an untouched sandbank an hour’s sail away for a five-star meal.
Or, stroll through Stone Town — a Unesco World Heritage site — and relish in its night-time food market at Forodhani Gardens.
Details: From Dh5,699, inclusive of return airfares, transfers, three nights at the five-star The Residence Zanzibar, daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, taxes and surcharges. Valid until May 31. Book with Flightcentre.ae
10. KAZAN, TATARSTAN
If you thought Istanbul was where Asia and Europe meet, you’ve never been to Kazan, the true melting pot of Asia.
The city, which takes its name from the Tatar word for cauldron, is the capital of Tatarstan and is about 150 years older than Moscow. The package includes return economy class tickets on Fly Dubai with applicable taxes as on date, five nights’ stay in a four-star hotel, airport transfers, city sights tour including a visit to Kazan Kremlin, a world heritage site and an island tour of Sviyazhsk.
Details: Six days, from Dh4,150 per person on a twin-sharing basis, valid for travel until September 30. Book with Orient Travels
11. CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Beautiful Cape Town will appeal to all ages and tastes. The peninsular city is a big draw with a walkable city centre, stunning beaches and beautiful mountains to explore.
Orient Travel’s summer offer has return air tickets, three nights’ star in a four-star hotel, transfers and a tour of Cape Point.
Details: Four days, from Dh6,500 per person on a twin-sharing basis, valid for travel until September 30. Book with Orient Travels
12. REYKJAVIK, ICELAND
Iceland’s largest city was established in AD874, and is home to centuries of history, striking architecture and late-night partying.
The country’s dramatic landscape is the volcanic setting of the geothermal Blue Lagoon spa. Orient Travel has a package including return tickets on Air Berlin, four nights in a four-star hotel, and a tour of the Blue Lagoon.
Details: Five days, from Dh5,995 per person on a twin-sharing basis, valid until September 30. Book with Orient Travels
LUXURY HOLIDAY HOMES
13. LAKE GARDA, ITALY
Getting away with a group of friends could be just what the doctor ordered. Villa Sphere Ovest, in the Villa Eden private resort in Lake Garda, Italy, is a fresh, stylishly sleek modern villa that is part of an €80-million (about Dh333.5 million) private development.
Sleeping up to ten guests in its six bedrooms, the vast villa retains an intimate feel thanks to its enclosed design, which wraps around the property’s focal point of the inviting outdoor pool to maintain complete privacy, while maximising lake views.
Details: From €95,500 per week inclusive of airport transfers from Verona, breakfast, mini bar, welcome massage per person, three-hour boat trip and concierge services. Book at Oxfordprivatetravel.com
14. KENT, THE UK
Aimed at families that are looking for a quintessential English summer experience in a beautiful setting, Goodnestone Park in rural Kent is a 12-bedroom stately home ideal for a multi-generational family or two families that wish to holiday together.
The 18th-century family seat of Julian, 22nd Lord FitzWalter, was built in 1704 and has just been through a vast restoration. It accommodates 24 people.
With activities that range from lawn tennis and croquet to horse riding, clay pigeon shooting and even hot air ballooning — this holiday celebrates the English summer with a heavy dose of luxury!
Details: Available to rent on an exclusive basis. Rates start from £4,500 based on 24 people sharing for a three-night stay. Book by email to email@example.com
Marbella is a playground for the rich and famous, with a port full of luxury yachts, world-class restaurants, designer shops and supercars — many with GCC number plates.
On the Golden Mile between Marbella and the harbour of Puerto Banus sit King Salman bin Abdul Aziz’s palace and King Fahd’s mosque, a fine example of Andalusian-inspired contemporary Arabic architecture. A palatial mansion on the Golden Mile is available from holiday home rentals company Spain-Holiday.com.
With five en-suite bedrooms plus staff quarters and garage for ten cars, facilities include four pools, a state-of-the-art cinema, cocktail bar and private spa.
Details: Price for a week in season (June 2-September 2) is $41,498, excluding flights. Book at Spain-holiday.com
The best way to explore the far-flung, sun-kissed Pacific islands (pictured above) is by boat, and Fiji’s Blue Lagoon Cruises is offering 25 per cent off on all bookings made six months in advance of travel, up until June 30, with travel until March 31.
With anchorage each night in a remote bay, the days are a divine combination of cruising and plenty of time spent ashore on remote islands with white sand beaches.
There is also the warmly welcoming Fijian culture to experience, island trails to hike, villages to visit and the sacred Sawa i Lau caves to swim in.
Details: Korean Air and Singapore Airlines connect via their respective hubs. On offer is a choice of three-, four- or seven-night cruises, starting from $2,050. Book at Bluelagooncruises.com
Fancy living on a private island without breaking the bank? Deep Water Cay is a private island located just off Grand Bahama Island, 110 miles from Palm Beach, Florida, and works as a great tropically secluded add-on to a US holiday.
Accessible either by private air charter — the island has its own runway and customs clearance — or by ferry, Deep Water Cay is known for its world-class outdoor pursuits and offers numerous activities for both the adventure seeker as well as those looking to get off the grid, with activities such as paddle boarding through mangroves, snorkelling blue holes and reefs, and exploring undeveloped islands and white sand beaches.
The island’s resort features 36 guest accommodations in a collection of ocean view cottages and oceanfront private homes, a fitness centre with massage services and a state-of-the-art fleet of boats and watercraft.
Details: Available from June 15-July 15, prices start from $1,995 per person for three nights with two full days of guided boat activities. Extra nights are available at $695 per person. Airfare not included. Email Reservations@DeepWaterCay.com
18. ST LUCIA
Make a break for the Caribbean with the BodyHoliday package from Health and Fitness Travel. Escape to a secluded and peaceful cove on the stunning island of St Lucia for a wellness holiday that combines adventurous sports and fitness activities.
Keep active and explore your surroundings on a scenic bike ride or ocean kayaking adventure, before acing your tennis game or taking a swing at golf.
Boost your fitness with a wide array of group classes, including yoga, tai chi and spinning, before rejuvenating with daily spa treatments that sound good enough to eat, such as the deluxe coconut and spice scrub.
Details: From Dh11,090 per person for seven nights for single or double occupancy. Price is all-inclusive, with a choice of programmes, return flights and transfers. Visit Thebodyholiday.com
Award-winning private island and resort Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives is an easy 20 minutes by speedboat from Male International Airport.
Enjoy naturally chic accommodation and a 24/7 butler service, with the resort’s 45 huge over-water villas with outdoor showers offering unrivalled privacy.
Details: Enjoy a complimentary night for every four or five nights you book. Book 90 days in advance to savour complimentary breakfast and dinner through your stay. Visit Gililankanfushi.com
Vietnam is one of the few countries where children of all ages respond so spontaneously! You will spend your days exploring the markets of Ho Chi Minh City and the old quarter in Hanoi, taking a relaxing boat trip to a cooking school, leisurely cycling along country roads to discover the local rural life, sailing amongst the limestone karsts of Halong Bay and relaxing on endless stretches of beaches.
Details: Vietnam Family Explorer (12 days, suitable for children as young as eight) departs on June 26, July 3 and August 7; from £1,290 per person, excluding flights. Book at Worldexpeditions.co.uk
Home to some of the most stunning landscapes in Africa, Namibia is rich in natural wonders. World Expeditions has a diverse itinerary especially designed for families — all driving distances are kept to a minimum and every place visited was chosen to appeal to colours of sunrise over Sossusvlei Dunes, take a dolphin cruise at Walvis Bay, witness ancient Bushmen rock art and enjoy game viewing in the famous Etosha National Park.
Details: Ten days, with departures on June 11, July 2, 16 and 30, and August 13. From £1,350 per person, not including flights. Book at Worldexpeditions.co.uk
22. COSTA RICA
This country ranks high on the wish list of many active families, as few places in the world can offer such a wide variety of nature. From cloud forests and active volcanoes to tropical rainforests and banana plantations, this crossing takes you across Costa Rica’s spectacular natural wilderness through to the Caribbean coast.
Details: The ten-day Costa Rica Family Adventure with departures on June 5, July 3 and August 7 starts from £1,190 per person, excluding flights.
Ancient myths resound across the Andes, and following in the footsteps of Incas can take you back in time.
World Expeditions’ Cultural Highlights of Peru is a varied and action-packed itinerary designed to appeal to the whole family, including a cruise to the mini Galápagos of Peru, a flight across the Andes to the Amazonian rainforest and jungle tour, day walks and cycling around Cusco and a trip to the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Details: Eleven days, with departures on June 10, July 15 and August 12. Priced from £1,350 per person, excluding flights. Book at Worldexpeditions.co.uk
24. THE US
Marvel at the great American natural wonders on a trip that combines the quintessentially American cities of San Francisco and Las Vegas with the raw natural beauty of Yosemite and Zion National Parks, along with the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Bryce Canyon and the world famous Monument Valley. Family fun activities include staying at an adventure ranch, going rock climbing, searching for giant sequoias, canyoning, and rafting in Colorado River.
Details: Western USA Family Adventure (15 days, suitable for children as young as ten) departs on July 9 and 23, and August 6; from £1,790 per person, excluding flights. Visit Worldexpeditions.com
For two weeks in the land of smiles, check into the Shama Sukhumvit Bangkok, an ideal home away from home, providing serviced apartment facilities for business and leisure travellers alike.
From a fully equipped kitchen to an extensive clubhouse, stays in Bangkok over extended periods will be comfortable and stylish with Shama’s unrivalled standard of service.
Located in a popular Bangkok neighbourhood, Shama Sukhumvit Bangkok, a member of the Onyx Hospitality Group, sits in close proximity to major shopping malls, embassies and popular restaurants. The property is a five-minute walk to the closest BTS station, Ploenchit, and a short car ride to several of the leading hospitals in Bangkok.
For guests travelling with family, an indoor children’s play area is available to keep the little ones busy. A fitness centre with a yoga room is also present to keep guests healthy and active during a long stay.
Details: The 14-night stay starts at 45,020 Thai baht (about Dh4,725) and is valid until December 31. It includes airport transfers, late checkout, 30 per cent off on laundry service during the stay, and a one-day BTS Skytrain pass. Book at Shama.com