Ophir’s Top Winter Spots

Beat the winter blues with a fabulous holiday getaway this chilly season! We have selected the very best winter spots, from winter sun getaways in the Caribbean, to multi-resort ski safaris in France. There is truly a destination for every travel enthusiast!

Miami Style Winter Getaway at The Magnolia Hotel, Portugal

The Magnolia Hotel is the newest Miami Style Boutique Hotel on the Algarve coast and is the perfect Christmas destination, offering constant mild temperatures throughout the winter. With 74 guest rooms, 3 suite and 7 cottages, The Magnolia Hotel offers a comfortable and affordable accommodation within just a few steps of Quinta do Lago. Offering exclusive access to golf, shopping, beach nightlife and The Campus, this Miami style hotel is also the perfect place to kick back around the outdoor pool whilst enjoying Café del Mar beats.

Escape to “the most beautiful Bay in the Caribbean” at Marigot Bay Resort & Marina, Saint Lucia

Home to Saint Lucia’s most desirable marina, Marigot Bay Resort & Marina is the perfect setting for a luxurious winter sun getaway in the Caribbean. With two infinity pools, a swim-up bar, a Rum Cave, and a variety of beautifully designed Guest Rooms and Suites, Marigot Bay Resort & Marina attracts visitors from all over the world. Encounter genuine Calypso hospitality exuding a deep, family-orientated warmth delivered at a high level of professionalism. A place sought after by cultural creatives and described by American Novelist James Michener as “the most beautiful Bay in the Caribbean.”

 

A Glistening Leicester Square Holiday at Victory House, London Leicester Square – M Gallery by Sofitel, London

Opened in the heart of London this November, boutique hotel Victory House, London Leicester Square – M Gallery by Sofitel  is filled with history in each of its 86 rooms and 9 suites. Situated in Leicester Square, London’s home of entertainment, Victory House truly entertains and embrace visitors with features such as silent movies projected on the walls of the lobby lifts and vintage cinema décor in the rooms. Offering authentic architecture and subtle yet stylish design, boutique hotel Victory House, London Leicester Square – M Gallery by Sofitel, promises to provide guests their most “Memorable Moments” in this iconic location and embrace visitors with entertainment, whilst staying true to its legacy. Run by the founders of legendary Soho restaurant Randall & Aubin, in-house restaurant Petit Bistro offers an exquisite destination for a French inspired dinner date under Leicester Square’s glistening Christmas lights.

Multi-Resort Ski Safari Trip with Première Neige, France

Set in the beautiful mountains of Sainte Foy, luxury ski operator and chalet company Première Neige has launched an exclusive and incredible BRAND NEW Multi-Resort Ski Safari for the 2017/2018 winter season, becoming one of the only ski operators in Europe to provide the unique chance to experience skiing up to five world-renowned resorts in one day!

Hike Zagori’s Wild & Rugged Landscape with Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas, Greece

Immersed within UNESCO surroundings, Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas offers exclusive access to villages rich in history and tradition, and captivating nearby attractions including Ioannina city, the capital of Epirus. The resort is the perfect destination to try out new and exhilarating outdoor activities, from hiking it’s wild and rugged landscape to mushroom hunting and dining in its brand new Greenhouse.

Gentleman’s Escape Package with Tuscany Now & More, Italy

For those looking for an adventurous winter getaway, Tuscany Now & More offers a brand new and exclusive Gentleman’s Escape Package. Experience Tuscany with a twist, from traditional Truffle Hunting and Wine Tasting to White Water Rafting and Self-Defence training using the ancient Japanese art of Bokken.

NEW All is Calm Winter Day Spa Experience with Hastings Hotels, Northern Ireland

Cosy up at The 5* Culloden Estate & Spa and the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa this winter and enjoy beautiful countryside walks, roaring fires and a selection of outdoor experiences. Starting from 1st December, guests can escape the hectic world outside with a deeply calming and restorative NEW All is Calm Winter Day Spa Experience,  designed to comfort, nourish and relax the body. Leave feeling pampered and prepared for those long dark winter days with a Warming Hot Stone Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage with ESPA Clove Bud Infused Oil, an ESPA Regenerating Frankincense Facial with warm Rose Quartz Crystals and an ESPA Oriental Scalp Massage with Hair Treatment.

Experience London from above in The Lucy Suite at The Bermondsey Square Hotel, London

Located in the heart of ever evolving Bermondsey, The Bermondsey Square Hotel is brimming with personality, individuality and soul. Playing on The Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, the amazing and luxurious Lucy Suite positioned up in the sky on the top floor of the hotel, features a fabulous king size bed with its very own selection of diamond-like stones. The Lucy Suite is also the perfect place to cosy up away from the cold of London this winter, while gazing over the beautiful capital city from the suite’s private stunning outdoor terrace and hot tub.

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5 of the Hottest Spa Treatments Around the World

Summer may be slowly coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep treating yourself to a relaxing holiday, and what’s more relaxing than a top notch spa treatment? We’ve put together a list of the 5 of the Hottest Spa Treatments Around the World, because it’s never too late to treat yourself.

Anti-Age Vitality of the Glaciers Facial (Collagen Mask treatment) at Danai Beach Resort and Villas, Greece

 

After a long day spent under the bright Grecian sun, rejuvenate your skin with a collagen mask treatment at the luxurious Danai Beach Resort and Villas. The Vitality of the Glaciers treatment is a Biological Lift and Deep Hydration face treatment with spectacular results based on Swiss tradition in cellular Rejuvenation. A patented pure native collagen mask is used along with specific massage techniques for the face, smoothing fine lines and restoring the skin’s natural tone and glow. Try this treatment out whilst being surrounded by the Aegean Sea and immersing yourself in the highest standards of luxury and elegance.

Six Senses Spa & Biologique Recherche treatments at Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel, Greece

 

Enjoy beautiful views across the iridescent Aegean Sea and Sitia mountains whilst being perched on the water’s edge, in one of the exceptional Elounda SA Hotels & Resorts properties. Having recently partnered with Biologique Recherché, the award winning Six Senses Spa offers a range of invigorating and restorative treatments perfect to enjoy during a holiday getaway. Choose from the Biologique Féerie, the After Sun Repair treatment or the Slimming Algae Treatment, or treat yourself to them all! With days spent lounging and sunbathing by the beach, the Biologique Recherché treatments are designed specifically to keep the skin feeling healthy, youthful and radiant.

Restore and Repair Autumn Spa Experience with Hastings Hotels, Northern Ireland

 

With autumn just around the corner, Hastings Hotels, Northern Ireland’s finest independent hotel collection, are thrilled to announce a NEW Restore and Repair Autumn Spa Experience at the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa and at the 5* Culloden Estate & Spa. Starting from 1st September, guests can take the time to repair summer damage to their skin and rejuvenate with carefully tailored treatments using nourishing ESPA products and incorporating pumpkin enzymes and apricot kernel as key ingredients.

Lasting 1 hour and 20 minutes, the Restore and Repair Autumn Spa Experience includes:

  • Healing Apricot Kernel and Aloe Vera Back Exfoliation
  • Restorative ESPA Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage
  • Boutique ESPA Facial with Regenerating Pumpkin Enzymes and Oriental Scalp Massage
  • Warming Foot and Hand Cocoon

To comfort both the body and soul, guests can then explore the glorious, autumnal colours of Northern Ireland with nature at their doorsteps, whether admiring the maples at Mount Stewart or golden sunsets from the Mourne Mountains, located just minutes from each property.

Probiotic Facial & Family Spa Packages launched at MarBella Corfu, Greece

 

Resting on a lush hillside on the south-east coastline of Corfu, MarBella Corfu is a luxury 5* resort nestled by the Ionian Sea. With breath-taking views, delicious gourmet food, an Apivita spa and a chic aura of relaxation, MarBella Corfu offers the ideal Mediterranean retreat.

Perfect to start off Autumn, MarBella Corfu offers a hot new wellness trend: the Probiotic Facial. The Glowing Facial Skin Saviour, taking probiotics to new levels. The Glowing Facial Skin Saviour uses fresh ingredients including ‘homemade’ fresh yogurt, pure olive oil and orange juice rich in nutrients, vitamins A, E, C and probiotics, nourishing the skin and leaving it with a luxurious glow. This facial takes all the benefits of probiotics and applys them directly to the skin for naturally beautiful results. MarBella is also excited to announce its recent collaboration with renowned holistic psychotherapist Dirk Stikker to create the MASTERMIND2.0 programme.

Also recently launched, is the new Family Spa Package, offering new Junior Spa services, perfect for an enjoyable family spa retreat. The new Family Spa Packages available at MarBella Corfu are certain to appeal to each family member’s desire. For the youngest members, kids massages, facials, food and hand therapy treatments are offered, as well as teen facials and Mother & Daughter or Father & Son treatments for the entire family.

Rejuvenate and Unwind this Winter with Première Neige, France

 

For those that crave a holiday spent in the cold air amidst the beautiful mountains of Sainte Foy, luxury chalet company Première Neige offers an exclusive selection of tailor made spa treatments. Perfect to enjoy after a full day skiing in the alps, wind-down, ease tension, relieve stress and promote a sense of wellbeing whilst treating yourself in the very comfort of your luxury chalet or apartment. Partnering with Massage Me, an experienced team of massage therapists, Premiere Neige offer treatments from Swedish Massages, to Deep Tissue & Sports Massages, an invigorating deep body massage for pre and post activity, to reduce fatigue and ease aching muscles, leaving you feeling fresh and rejuvenated for the day to follow.

Morning massage treatments are also available in guest’s own chalets, as well as holistic experiences including personalised heli-skiing experiences to visit nearby ski resorts. Experiences can be tailor made from start to finish, from tailored private yoga and Pilates experiences on the snowy mountains with breath-taking 360 views, in the warmth of your own villa, on the balcony or outdoors for an al-fresco experience.

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Five Places to Catch Some Autumn Sun

Five Places to Catch Some Autumn Sun

We’ve scoured the world and discovered the best places for you to top up your tan, enjoy the autumn heat and explore without the interruptions of the summer hubbub of tourists.

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 Crete, Greece

Greece is a favourite summer holiday destination and is the perfect autumn sun destination too.  Heading out in Autumn enables you to miss the summer rush of tourism. Enjoy the town during this tranquil tan and top up you summer tan to keep yourself sun kissed all winter round. Make sure to explore historic Crete, you may even encounter figures from Greek myths if you visit the ruins of Knossos. We recommend staying at of the exclusive hotel’s at Elounda SA Hotels & Resorts for the perfect base for your holiday. Make sure to try out their incredible Six Sense Spa.

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Dubrovnik, Croatia

Croatia is know well known for being one of the main locations for Game of thrones, with key Kings Landing scenes being filmed from Dubrovnik old town, but this is not the only reason to visit. Croatia is a sun blessed destination in Autumn, and averages at 25⁰C, perfect for exploring the coastline. WE recommend staying outside of the main town in one of the surrounding villages, such as Cavtat and traveling into Dubrovnik by water taxi. If you visit make sure to walk the old town walls and visit the fortress on the hillside just outside the town, which not only has great views but is also the scene of Joffery’s name-day in Game of Thrones. Plus the food and drink is super cheap!

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Accra, Ghana

No autumn sun list would be complete without an African destination. We recommend Accra, with an average temperature of 28⁰C in September, it’s the perfect place to escape the autumn chill and ensure your summer tan is continued until Christmas. We recommend soaking up the sun on Labadi Beach, which often has live reggae music performances on the weekends. The beach is not only beautiful but also provides the perfect opportunity to party with the Ghanaians! We suggest staying in the luxurious Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City. With a beautiful infinity pool and world class fitness facilities this exclusive hotel is the perfect backdrop for any  Ghana-based adventures.

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 Tuscany, Italy

Autumn is a beautiful season to visit Tuscany, the intense heat of the peak summer month’s gives way to warm balmy evenings and is the ideal time to explore the Tuscan countryside as the olive oil and wine production begins. The weather provides the perfect setting to enjoy alfresco dinners and relax by the pool and is the BEST season for fresh figs, grapes, mushrooms, chestnuts, truffles, olive oil. The temperatures at this time of year are warm but not too hot, making it the perfect destination for sightseeing. We suggest staying with Tuscany Now & More who have an exquisite range of villas throughout Tuscany, perfectly located to take advantage of visits to fully functioning vineyards and olive harvesting in full swing. Excursions are available from any of the Tuscany Now & More villas and allow experts to showcase all that this stunning region has to offer. From foodie offerings such as truffle hunting and chestnut picking to taking in the autumn shades with a train ride through the countryside, this is the ideal time to explore.

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Zagori, Greece

For a sunny autumn getaway, try the Zagori region. If your looking for untouched nature, idyllic enclaves and wildlife this is truly a destination like no other. Take advantage of the stunning weather and explore the incredible Pindus Mountains, or enjoy kayaking in the Voidomatis River as well as canyoning, hand gliding and excursions to the Gamila Mountain Peaks and the Drakolimni Lake. The perfect temperature to admire the old arched stone bridges, the cobbled streets that converge at small picturesque squares, the incredible gorges and alpine altitude lakes, as well as the breath-taking views of the Vikos Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world. Visitors can also hike the Steps of Vradeto, an impressive 200 year old cobbled path with 1000 steps. The imposing rock towers of Astraka and the mythical Drakolimni Lake are also unique Hiking destinations. If you really want to live among nature we suggest staying at Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas, a hidden gem and member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, this resort provides the perfect base for exploring everything Zagori has to offer.

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The Top 10 Things to do in London

Are you ready to visit some of London’s best and worst kept secrets? We have the ultimate insider’s guide to the top things to see in London.

1. Be quintessentially British and See Shakespeare live at Shakespeare’s Globe

London theatre is renowned worldwide and rightly so being the home-city of Shakespeare. No trip to London is complete without a visit to Shakespeare’s Globe to see one of his masterpieces in action in his reconstructed theatre. This season be shocked by Macbeth, Enchanted by the forest of A Midsummer Night’s Dream or watch the shrew being tamed. You’ll be laughing so hard it hurts or sitting on the edge of you seat in fear.

If Shakespeare’s work doesn’t catch you fancy, take in the works of John Wolfson in the cosy candle-lit Sam Wannamaker Playhouse. A breathe-taking experience in original indoor theatre setting, you can nearly sit on the actors laps!

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2.Take to the streets and explore London’s Markets

Any trip to London is not complete without a trip to London’s iconic markets. Camden Market is one of London’s biggest street markets and has continued to grow since its inception in 1974 as a small craft market. Comprised of 4 distinct markets it sells everything from furniture and antiques to clothes and food. The market is well worth a visit as it is always a lively and busy venue.

Another must not miss is Petticoat Lane Market which is on every Sunday. The stalls mainly sell clothes and are a great chance to pick up a bargain. Ironically the Market is no longer found on Petticoat lane, due to Victorian prudishness the street was renamed Middlesex Street in 1846. It’s one of the oldest surviving markets in the UK. Make sure to visit this market on a Sunday when it takes over the surrounding streets!

Shops at Camden Market, London, England, UK

3. Catch the latest fitness trend: YogaBox

Catch the fitness bug on your visit to the capital and try out the new and exclusive Yogabox at either Bermondsey Square Hotel or La Suite West. With numbers limited to 14 per session, you get the chance to try out this new fitness craze with full attention from your instructors. Burn unwanted fat by boxing it out and cash in on the physical and restorative effects of Yoga, the ‘yin and yang of workouts’. Classes run on Thursdays at 18.15 and 19.30 at Bermondsey Square Hotel.

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4. Time for a political fix, see the Houses of Parliament

Have your political fix with a visit to the Palace of Westminster, the home of the UK parliament and the many political journalists.  Rebuilt in 1840, the houses of parliament are striking to view. Tour round the houses and see the four Great Prime Minsters cast in bronze in the lobby or visit parliament in session and watch the Prime ministers questions. Make sure you don’t miss hearing Big Ben Chime, possibly the loudest clock in London.  Don’t forget to rub Churchill’s foot for good luck and make sure to pick up a box of House of Commons mint creams, they’re delicious!

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5. See the UK’s best art in a Converted Power Station

The Tate Modern is another of London’s iconic landmarks, which is not only memorable but houses some of the best art of the century. Situated in Bankside Power Station, the Gallery is not only impressive but a testament to the design of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Admission to the main galleries is free with the special exhibitions being ticketed. This summer in London you can feast your eyes on the work of Georgina O’Keeffe, a pioneer of 20th Century art.

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6.Ready for some food? Try La suite West’s Afternoon tea

Unleash your inner foodie and experience a carefully crafted Vegan and free-from afternoon tea at La Suite West. The delicious afternoon tea has a range of designer sandwiches, followed by home-made scones served with Coconut cream and strawberries, with a final course of home-made pastries. The incredible restaurant provides a quintessentially British afternoon tea in a contemporary vegan alternative. The perfect place to kick-start the healthy wellness eating you’ve been meaning to.

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7. Forget Kew Gardens, try The Barbican’s Tropical Gardens

Take a Sunday afternoon to explore one of London’s best kept secrets, the Barbican’s Tropical Garden. Despite not being well known, the Conservatory is actually the second biggest in London and home to over 2,000 exotic species of plants and trees as well as tropical fish. Hidden from view on the rooftop of the Barbican centre, it is truly an exclusive experience which is only open to the public on Sunday’s from 12pm till 5pm. Forget Kew Gardens, and be charmed by this hidden gem instead.

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8.Have a drink in one of London’s best kept secret bars

When you’re parched from all your exploring of London, why not head to the British Film Institute to quench your thirst. Head to the well-known Benugo Bar, and prepare to put you detective hat on.  Head to the bookshelves at the back of the bar and if you’re lucky you may spot the secret door that leads to the BFI’s hidden bar, the Drawing Room. This top secret bar is visited by the few; making it the perfect way to continue seeing London’s best and worst kept secrets. Make sure to try one of thier clandestine cocktail whilst visiting.

So secret we don’t have a photo!

9.See the work of St Pauls designer, without going to St Pauls

The designer of St Pauls Cathedral also designed a number of smaller churches to be found in and around London. St Anne’s Limehouse was built between 1714-1727 and is a beautiful display of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s architecture.  Although it’s outside of central London it’s well worth a visit to see the grandeur of St Paul’s without the hustle and bustle of other tourists. If you visit make sure to find Hawksmoor’s distinctive pyramid that is hidden in the Church Grounds and is now a listed monument.

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10. Why not have a taste of London luxury with a spa visit to Ushvani

Visit Ushvani in Sloane Square for the ultimate afternoon of pampering and relaxation. The incredible spa transports visitors from the London hustle and bustle to exotic Asian tropics. Make sure to book in for the Nutmeg Flower Bath Ritual, their signature treatment designed to boost metabolism. If that doesn’t catch your fancy why not try their Papaya Sugar Cane Scrub, a great way to rejuvenate and nourish your skin.  We think it’s the best spa in London.

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The Gainsborough Bath Spa

Gainsborough Spa 10_e   Escaping London for the weekend is always a little slice of luxury, leaving work on a Friday with high expectations of the countryside or just leaving the big smoke to glimpse some elusive green fields or enjoy one of the U.K’s many understated yet beautiful towns and villages. Although jumping on the Eurostar or a budget Easyjet flight is now a regular occurrence in many instances, weekend jaunts within the UK are on the up and it’s clear why. In a society where time is money, Bath is a key example of a beautiful weekend destination which has been appreciated and enjoying by society for centuries.   With a travel time of less than 2 hours from London, Bath offers a haven of culture, wellbeing and tranquillity. A delightful city which you may have to share with the odd group of enthusiastic American tourists is perfectly sized for weekend wanderings.   The Gainsborough Bath Spa is one of the most recent 5* openings in Bath under the YTL Hotels banner. With a truly unique offering it recently won the coveted Tatler Spa Guide award for best new spa and we can really see why!   Made up of three beautiful historical buildings, each with a Grade II listed Georgian façade; the site of The Gainsborough Bath Spa is rich with history which has been carefully preserved throughout its recent renovations. The rooms are tastefully designed and a beautiful welcome awaited us with fresh fruit, chocolates and bubbles! The perfect way to start a relaxing weekend. Gainsborough Spa 3_e

The hotel is the first and only hotel in the UK to offer its visitors the opportunity to access and experience Bath’s famed natural thermal waters in its incredible spa. Upon entering the Spa Village, you are greeted by the aroma bar where one of the experienced therapists will guide you through various oils in order to create a pouch rich with essential oils to enhance your spa experience. Sitting in what feels like a beautiful apothecary, these small touches of luxury are what made our stay at The Gainsborough so unique.   On entering the main pool area where the private thermal waters are located, the light and architecture has stayed true to the Roman style where the ritual of bathing was a religious experience. The ‘Bath Circuit’ allows you to experience various rooms, including thermal pools, saunas, steam room and ice alcove. Said to boost circulation, tone skin and relax mind and body the circuit draws on centuries of knowledge – not forgetting the addition of a delicious chilli chocolate shot to stimulate blood flow!     Gainsborough Spa5

  The private thermal waters at The Gainsborough are only open to hotel guests at restricted hours throughout the day to ensure peace and privacy. Those lucky enough to experience a spa treatment during their stay, can also access the waters during the day. My personal recommendation would be the magnesium wrap. Cocooned in the warmth of this treatment I felt a deep sense of peace and relaxation which lasted and ensured I had an excellent night’s sleep. The 90 minute treatment flew by and my limbs felt soothed and restored. A key aspect on a weekend break is not only relaxation but also excellent food! Whilst exploring the city of Bath we came across some unique and individual shops including Charlotte Brunswick, a beautiful shop selling wonderful smelling (and tasting) chocolates perfect for a little extra indulgence or a gift or a loved one back home.   Bath     

After a long day of visiting the interesting museums of Bath and taking in the historic sites we were delighted to try another key gourmet experience within The Gainsborough. After being treated to a fabulous ‘tea inspired cocktail in the bar we dined at Johann Lafer at The Gainsborough. The combination of locally sourced English products with Asian flavours ensure that dinner was packed with innovative dishes and flavours.  bath2

Every aspect of the idyllic weekend break was fulfilled and for us it was the warmth and friendly nature of the staff at The Gainsborough which created a wonderful atmosphere within the hotel. An ancient site within a UNESCO World Heritage City, The Gainsborough Bath Spa offers an unbeatable combination of culture, history, luxury and relaxation.   Bath Spa Suite - Bed                                    

 www.thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk

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 Nightly rates at The Gainsborough Bath Spa start from £285 on a room-only basis. 

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The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi

Stepping off the plane onto the island that was to be my home for the next few days evoked a mixture of emotions, relief after a long journey to the Maldives and complete awe at the spectacle in front of me. A myriad of every shade of blue imaginable was laid out! Looking at photos of holiday destinations, sunny skies and blue seas make a regular appearance, but let me tell you. The sea really is that colour!

We were lucky enough to stay at The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, a stunning property located around a 40 minute sea plane ride from Male. One of the bigger resorts in the Maldives, it offers a fabulous range of gourmet, fun activities for children and most importantly one of the biggest spas in the Maldives.

Our accommodation for our time in the Noonu Atoll was spent in a Deluxe Beach Villa with pool, which offered direct access to the white sandy beaches. The room was spacious and luxurious offering a variety of day beds for snoozing and an outdoor very private bathroom with Jacuzzi. Behind the villa, a private plunge pool was located steps from the patio and a stunning round day bed with curtains for privacy was located on the beach just close enough to the villa for it not to be overlooked.

I would recommend this form of accommodation for families as the direct beach access is perfect for children, whereas the over water villas would be ideal for singles or couples.

The stand out feature for me during our time there was the staff, nothing was too much trouble. The sommelier gave excellent recommendations at the overwater wine cellar and staff whip around the whole island on buggies, ready to take you out to the dive centre, to enjoy a private dinner on the beach or to grab an ice cream from your very own ice cream parlour!

For the active ones, diving is not the only adrenaline kick, windsurfing, kite surfing, fly boarding amongst other activities are on offer if you get bored of relaxing.

A personal highlight was the Thalgo Spa, a serene and calm place of relaxation, I made several visits down the pebbled acupressure path. Offering an incredible selection of treatments featuring luxurious Thalgo products, I would highly recommend popping in to have one of the massages on arrival, it definitely helped kick start my holiday jet lag free!

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi (www.thesunsiyam.com) offers Deluxe Beach Villas with Pool from USD$795/£520 per night.

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