It’s time to treat yourself – holidays are back and from July 19 fully-vaccinated Britons will be able to sidestep quarantine on their return from amber-list destinations. You’ve waited a long time for your first post-lockdown escape so whether it's indulging in the finest Caribbean cuisine or splurging on a no-expense-spared escape in Morocco, make it one to remember with our pick of 10 blow-the-budget trips that promise to be once-in-a-lifetime.
1. Savour Spain again
Commencing with a visit to Madrid’s Prado Museum and to Spain’s historic capital of Toledo, Audley Travel’s seven-day Madrid, San Sebastián & La Rioja tour follows up some cultural big-hitters with unfettered indulgence. From the capitals, it’s onwards to the wine regions of Ribera del Duero and Rioja for tasting upon tasting; continuing north, a visit to the Basque Country’s culinary epicentre San Sebastián will provide ample opportunities to indulge in pintxos, the sophisticated tapas-like snacks for which the city has become world-famous.
Audley Travel’s seven-day Madrid, San Sebastián & La Rioja tour, from £4,540pp (01993 683 200; audleytravel.com).
2. Icelandic independence
With a 4x4 at their disposal and accommodation in sole-use private Icelandic homes, guests who book Original Travel’s 10-day Exclusive Iceland package will have the flexibility to explore the best of this dramatic destination far from the madding crowds. Self-led tours begin in the Golden Circle region, moodily strewn with geysers, waterfalls and volcanos. From there, winding roads run through lava deserts and sparse meadows, past cliffs and geothermal springs, before giving way to the urban sprawl of Reykjavik and all the delights that the dinky Icelandic capital contains.
Original Travel’s 10-day Exclusive Iceland package, from £2,300pp (020 3958 6120; originaltravel.co.uk).
3. Take off on a story
With their schooling so long compromised and socialising curtailed, kids have had it tough this last year. From luxury tour operator Black Tomato, Take Me On A Story is a portfolio of global itineraries inspired by children’s books that invites fun-starved families to rediscover their sense of adventure. At Rosewood Little Dix Bay in the British Virgin Islands, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island provides the inspiration for a pirate-themed programme that includes catamaran charters, sword-fighting and treasure hunts along the resort’s crescent-shaped beach and lush woodlands.
Black Tomato’s seven-night British Virgin Islands package costs from £5,500pp (020 7426 9888, blacktomato.com).
4. Cruise the Croatian coastline
Sailing from the country’s key attractions to secluded coves where guests will only have fish for company, this six-night cruise aboard a private-skippered yacht charts a course for the best of Croatia. Commencing and concluding in Dubrovnik, the itinerary allows for ambles in Korcula’s medieval squares, vineyard visits and a tour of tranquil Lastovo island, still firmly off the mass-market map.
Abercrombie & Kent’s six-night Croatia Family Yacht Cruises, from £2,235pp (01242 386 464; abercrombiekent.co.uk).
5. Splurge on magical Marrakech
If you’ve suffered a year of misery and want to splurge on something beautiful that will make you happy, stay at Marrakech’s Royal Mansour (00 212 529 808 080; royalmansour.com): a no-expense-spared treasure chest conceived by the king as a showcase for the most exemplary Moroccan craftsmanship, it is dazzling. In September, the hotel debuts a new 360-degree wellness initiative offering multi-day programmes. They’ve also just expanded their already-palatial gardens by three acres, but it’s not like guests were ever short of space here.
Elegant Resorts offers seven nights in a Superior Riad on a breakfast basis including economy flights, complimentary private transfers & UK lounge passes from £4,085pp, based on 11 September, 2021 departure (01244 897 505; elegantresorts.co.uk).
6. Decompress in the Caribbean
Abercrombie & Kent has a new 10-night Caribbean itinerary which keeps things simple: this is all about enjoying a no-effort escape in two of the region’s most prestigious resorts. Commencing their holiday in the Bahamiam capital of Nassau, guests will decompress at the Ocean Club, a Four Seasons resort. Set on a five-mile white-sand beach on Paradise Island, it offers an 18-hole, sea-view golf course, three pools and complimentary yoga. From there, it’s just a short flight to the Turks & Caicos’ preeminent resort COMO Parrot Cay. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the property occupies a 1,000-acre private island and provides an exclusive (often celebrity-packed) base for fly-fishing, snorkelling and restorative healthy living.
Abercrombie & Kent’s 10-night Bahamas to Turks & Caicos in luxury, from £6,100pp (01242 386 473; abercrombiekent.co.uk).
7. Get a taste of St Lucia and Grenada
This new 10-night masterclass in Caribbean cuisine takes in two of the region’s most beautiful islands, with guests treated to a whirlwind of traditional dishes prepared by award-winning local chefs over the course of their stay. With accommodation at the stylish Rabot Hotel by Hotel Chocolat – an organic, sustainable 140-acre cacao farm on St Lucia – and Grenada’s boutique hotel Calabash, the tour includes a chocolate-making class and fine dining at Gary Rhodes’ lauded restaurant, plus the chance to explore Grenada’s much-photographed Underwater Sculpture Park.
Scott Dunn’s Culinary Caribbean 10-night tour, from £3,600pp (020 3553 1378; scottdunn.com).
8. Take to the road
Providing plenty of time to explore the beauty of the French countryside with stays at some of the country’s most impressive hotels, this 13-night Grande Supercar Tour of France starts in celebratory style with a visit to Champagne and just gets better from there. Spa treatments, cultural tours and vineyard visits intersperse an itinerary that includes plenty of downtime in world-class hotels such as Provence’s Villa La Coste and Massignac’s Domaine des Etangs.
Abercrombie & Kent’s 13-night Grande supercar tour of France; £14,999pp (abercrombiekent.co.uk; 01242 386 465).
9. Discover Petra and beyond in Jordan
One thing we have learned recently is that putting things off for the future means they may never happen. If you’ve dreamed of one day visiting Petra, tour operator Red Savannah has an Essential Jordan package that will make it a reality. A seven-day itinerary, that aforementioned visit to the fabled “Rose City” is its highlight, but it offers much more besides, from a Land Rover expedition under red sandstone cliffs through Wadi Rum to a street-food tour of Amman’s Rainbow Street.
Red Savannah’s seven-day Essential Jordan package, from £1,690pp (01242 787 814; redsavannah.com).
10. Get well at Preidlhof in Italy
South Tyrol destination spa Preidlhof (00 39 0473 666 251; preidlhof.it) has been going for years, but the pandemic has inspired the team to launch a series of Transformational Wellness Retreats this summer that integrate emotional wellbeing into tailored programmes underpinned by scientific rigour, advanced technology and gut health expertise. Among the 12 new retreats on offer, “Energy Healing for Two” invites couples to enhance challenged relationships; a “Menopause Retreat” draws on ancient and contemporary healing treatments.
Healing Holidays can arrange a four-day Holistic Fitness programme from £1,499pp sharing, including flights, transfers, full board accommodation and inclusions of the Holistic Fitness Retreat (020 7843 3597; healingholidays.com).