We thought we’d share a few seasonal travel ideas for autumn and winter as this year’s fabulous Indian summer draws to a close. Sunshine is a big pull as the nights draw in and where better than to take in some winter sun than the Sultanate of Oman.
For me, Oman is the most traditional and unpretentious of the Middle Eastern nations. It has cleverly preserved its cultural heritage and history without compromising on quality and comfort. Unlike its neighbour Dubai, it has resisted the temptation to build to the skies which gives the country its original feel and earthy flavour. The Omani people are the friendliest you could possibly meet. Its capital Muscat blends effortlessly Arabic tradition with all the modern facilities and amenities of a modern international city. To stay in downtown Muscat is to stay at the Chedi, a fabulous oasis of calm and tranquillity. For those of you wanting more of a resort seaside location, head east to the coast where you will find the prestigious Al Bustan Palace by Ritz-Carlton and the Shangri-La resort hotels. Both enjoy unrivalled sea views, white sandy beaches that seem to go on for miles, superb spas and endless bars and restaurants. The ancient town of Nizwa and the forts at Jabrin and Bahla can all be reached from Muscat and make for an ideal day trip or an overnight stop. Whabiba Sands, Jabal Akhdar and Wadi Bani Khalid should all be part of a touring itinerary and as I type exciting news from Anantara Hotels; they are opening in both Jabal Akhdar and in the southern city of Salalah. I look forward to hearing from you and helping with any enquiries you may have, I have access to the very best hotels, local guides and transportation.
For something a little closer to home and in the here and now, my favourite hotel on the Côte d’Azur the Chateau Saint Martin Hotel & Spa in Vence is offering a minimum two night stay with a guaranteed room upgrade and a 50-minute facial or body treatment for stays to 16 October. Owned and managed by the luxury hotel group Oetker Collection, this little gem of a hotel is nestled in the hills above Nice and offers exquisite junior suite accommodation, a spa, fine dining both indoors and outside in the beautifully manicured gardens or by the pool. Its vicinity to Nice makes it perfect for a quick weekend away.
With just 88 shopping days to go until Christmas, it is time to think all things baubles, trinkets and mistletoe and head to one of Europe’s Christmas markets. The markets are the perfect excuse to visit European towns and cities in winter with town squares and streets adorned with small wooden huts selling traditional homemade handicrafts, ornaments, decorations as well as a warming glass of gluhwein to wash down a hot dog or some such street food. There really is nowhere more festive or atmospheric. Taking place during advent, the original markets originated in Germany, Austria and northern Italy in cities such as Frankfurt, Munich and Vienna. This soon caught on and major markets now take place in Lille and Strasbourg in France; Vilnius, Bruges, Brussels, Hamburg, Dresden, Cologne, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Budapest, Prague, Innsbruck and even as far south as Bologna and Barcelona. In fact, think of a northern European city and you’re sure to find a Christmas market there! One of my favourites is Vienna not least because the city is truly beautiful before you sprinkle it with fairy lights but also due to the variety of its markets. More upmarket gifts can be found in front of the spectacular Schoenbrunn Palace whilst more individual and arty pieces are sold in Spittelberg. Travel arrangements we could organise include air or Eurostar travel, private transfers and accommodation in charming, characterful and centrally-located hotels. I look forward to your call.