As the Christmas cheer evaporates, chocolate tins become a graveyard of undesirable flavours and a deadening January chill bites at dry ankles. A savvy few may have already hot-footed it to warmer climes or dusted off their skies for a fun, fondue-heavy few weeks in the Alps over the New Year. But for the rest of us, whether we’re after poolside or piste, it’s time to get forward planning and think beyond the tinsel and mistletoe. Going into 2023 knowing you have a gorgeous holiday booked on the horizon will most definitely help kick those winter blues.
Fish&Pips was conceived at high altitude – dreamt up by two chalet girls (the Fish and the Pips) with extensive insider knowledge of the resorts and their various nuances and so it is absolutely no surprise that we simply cannot contain our excitement for the upcoming ski season! A post-pandemic carpe diem spirit has spurred on families and friends to book their ski trips faster than ever before… From Meribel to Zermatt, here’s our take on the best resorts to snake into, and remember, book it now before you miss out.
With 17 years’ experience selling chalets in the resort and unparalleled knowledge of its tangle of Trois Vallées pistes and haut altitude hotel scene, our team are bona fide Meribel aficionados. It is so easy to fall in love with Meribel’s scenic squiggles through pine forests, its toast, traditional mountain restaurants with hearts carved out of blonde wood bannisters and its spine-tingling alpine views from chairlifts and chic chalets. For a contemporary spin on Savoie, edge up the mountain to Refuge de la Traye, which feels suspended in the pink Alpine skies, cast adrift in its own secluded hamlet. Another fresh twist on the classic Alpine aesthetic, Chalet du Vallon enjoys a similar level of privacy from its privileged perch, as does design-forward Chalet le Koissou, whose valley views are best enjoyed from the outdoor hot tub.
Les Trois Vallées’ most glamorous resort, Courchevel 1850 heaves with Michelin starred restaurants, luxury boutiques and top-brass hotels such as hotel Annapurnna. Just below it, 1650 serves up a marginally more relaxed take on the mountains, with cosy hideaways such as La Portetta setting a more pizza than caviar tone. Below 1650 lies Courchevel Village, Le Praz and La Tania, all of which are connected by slick lifts and groomed pistes. Aside from the Cap Horn liquid lunches and Le Pilates’ tartiflette overlooking the altiport, Courchevel’s drawer is its phenomenal skiing – 150km of pistes catering to a whole raft of levels, from scenic blues through snow-capped pine forests to adrenaline fuelled blacks soaring past the rocky spines of the Alps.
Bragging some of the best snow cover in the Alps and a vast 300km Espace Killy winter playground linked to Tignes, it’s little surprise that Val d’Isere is a hit with the serious ski brigade. Its lack of queues, legendary (and exhilarating) La Face run and burgeoning restaurant scene gives Van d’Isere veterans reason to return every year. For guaranteed snow, head to the highest hotel in France, Le Refuge de Solaise – a reimagined lift station with contemporary oomph (and the lifts still a mere boot crunch away), or for a slick, luxurious spin on Savoie style with mind-boggling valley views, drop your skies at Hotel Villa La Mourra (or rather give them to the team who will carry them for you).
This fairytale Swiss resort unfolds quite magically from the train window, with the Matterhorn surging above and a cluster of snow-laden Swiss chalets flying past to Brother’ Grimm effect. Zermatt’s restaurant scene is as legendary as its pistes – a cockle-warming labyrinth of Alpine classics and cutting-edge foodie pilgrimages. A well-oiled lift system and 200km of pistes (with links to Cervinia in Italy for a further 160km), makes this resort pure outdoorsy joy. We recommend taking the vintage train up to Gornegrat – a Wes Anderon-style village of quirky chalets and winding lanes. For easy access to the Sunnegga Express lift and superlative food, check into subdued CERVO, or for staggeringly pretty mountain views and a Bond-style entrance private tunnel and lift, book one of Chalet la Vue’s fully serviced (and oh-so-sleek) apartments, for the best of both worlds.
Winter sun-chasing requires preparation – it’s easy to miss the boat with the Christmas drum roll and feels excessive to book once the festivities have rinsed bank accounts dry. So plan ahead. Escaping the bitter cold winter months on a Caribbean island or hopping the various vineyards in the South African Cape Winelands is rarely a bad decision. From luxe desert safaris to rooms suspended over surreal Indian Ocean lagoons, here’s some inspiration for a vitamin-d laced Winter.
The Caribbean is a beguiling and balmy refuge for shivering Brits, with its flawless, sun-doused beaches and turquoise waters a preferable set up to soggy, wind-whipping walks back home. The islands come into their own at this time of year, with just-caught fish grilled along the beach, rum cocktail bars in full swing and the sun at its most generous. Carlisle Bay embodies the Caribbean idyll, with its sleepy white crescent beach and flush of tropical plants. Old World rhythms prevail within its plantation-style rooms and along fruit-laden balconies framed by bougainvillaea. For Caribbean thrill factor, book into Dominica’s Secret Bay, a cluster of villas that cling to the steep cliffs and are cleverly sewn into the surrounding jungle, where balconies double up as theatre seats for those kaleidoscopic Caribbean sunsets.
Glorious white-sand beaches, immaculate turquoise lagoons and horizons that seem to converge with a bright cathedral sky, the Indian Ocean never fails to seduce its visitors. While the ultimate setting for the fly-and-flop formula, energetic types will be in their element, with world-class diving, deep sea fishing, cycling and sunrise yoga typically offered at the top hotels from Mauritius to the Maldives. Gili Lankafushi is the Maldives’ flawless colours and textures personified, with a luxe spin on Robinson Crusoe and perfectly pared down design. Mauritius’ One & Only Le Saint Géran practically invented the island’s luxurious travel scene, occupying a private peninsula where old-world verandas hover over a calm lagoon and palms shift lazily in the warm breeze.
Few consider the Middle East when planning a vitamin-d dash. But Oman, with its rich culture, myth-scattered landscapes and oases-style hotels, is a stellar choice for escaping. Vast, jagged mountains, desert dunes, whose top layers ripple in hot winds and ancient hilltop towns, blistered by the sun and the centuries offer endless outdoorsy adventures while the UK shivers in front of a log fire. From spectacular dives in the Arabian sea to Muscat’s animated souks and splendid Mosques, this Middle Eastern sultanate is a land of awe and immeasurable beauty. Its Bedouin soul endures, and is keenly felt with Hud Hud Oman, a mobile luxury tented camp that accompanies groups on epic bespoke journeys such as the Empty Quarter, past flocks of flamingos in the eastern salt flats or at the foot of the Qara or Al Hajar Mountains. The latter offers a dramatic backdrop for modernist Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar, a fortress-like marvel where frankincense clings to the air and a vast, craggy mountainscape beckons intrepid hikers.
Vast, boulder-strewn beaches, a historic wine scene, not to mention world-class safari at conservation-first game reserves, South Africa is an easy winner in the winter travel stakes. Sitting in the same time zone as the UK, the absence of jet lag is a boon for families while foodie capital, Cape Town is a surreal city-and-sea base before spilling into the Western Cape for wine or the bush for wildlife safaris. First-timers would be wise to book into the rose-hued Mount Nelson – a magazine-ready vestige of Old World glamour with easy access to the city’s fruits – or Ellerman House, a grown-up boutique hotel which takes its wine seriously.
Contact one of our friendly experts to start planning your winter escape now! Get in touch with Gemma or Jo on [email protected] or call +44 (0) 1306 264005.