Six Alternative Ways To Spend Christmas

It’s not too late to for spontaneity.

Learn to Play Polo in Sotogrande, Spain
Bespoke luxury holiday company Powder Byrne is offering two stays over either Christmas or New Year at their ranch, Polo Valley in Sotogrande, during which guests will enjoy the run of the ranch with exclusive use of Polo Valley and the Guesthouse on a full board basis.

Local cuisine will be prepared by the ranch’s resident chef, while guided horse riding will ensure that charades and Monopoly make way for steed and mallet. World-class golf courses, day trips to cities such as Seville and Jerez and an exhilarating RibRide to Morocco are also there for the taking.

From £1,795 per person including seven nights’ accommodation on a full board basis, as well as Polo Valley’s hosted riding programme exclusively for your party

Take over as host at The Painswick Boutique Hotel, The Cotswolds
Indulge your Lord/Lady of the Manor fantasies for a few days by hiring the Calcot Collection’s Palladian House, The Painswick. The hotel’s 16 rooms, each have roll-top bathtubs and cosy furnishings, and can be hired out – fully staffed – for exclusive use by your friends, family or both.

As well as a stock of classic board games to choose from, there’s a pool table, two spa treatment rooms and plush sofas to sink into should screen-gazing be your Christmas afternoon modus operandi. More active guests are catered for too, with wellies and walking maps available to explore the rolling hills and toffee-box villages of the Cotswolds countryside. The festive feast will include crisp pork croquettes, slow-cooked carrots in brown butter and the Painswick’s own take on roast turkey with apricot stuffing.
Prices available on request

Feast on slope-side sushi in Japan
Skiing enthusiasts in search of fresh tracks should head to Japan this Christmas to discover its vibrant cities, legendary powder skiing and, of course, its delicious cuisine. After an epic day working up an appetite out on the slopes, visitors can swap Brussels sprouts and stuffing for steaming bowls of ramen and sushi selection boxes with all the trimmings (wasabi, pickled ginger, soy sauce).

Luxury travel specialist Powder Byrne’s 10-day Japanese adventure sees guests spend four days skiing in Niseko then head to the hot springs of Hakone to marvel at the views of Mount Fuji. Then, you’ll get to hop on the bullet train to Kyoto to take in the heritage and Japanese culture in the former imperial capital before reaching their final stop, Tokyo.

Powder Byrne offers a 10-day adventure through Japan from £3,750 per person including a complete itinerary of activities, luxury transfers between destinations and English-speaking guides along the way

Kick-start the New Year health binge early in Geneva
Come December, La Réserve Geneva will be offering guests the opportunity to pip the January gym-goers to the post with a winter wellness break designed to leave them feeling rested and rejuvenated before they ring in the New Year. The hotel’s sprawling Spa Nescens facility has 17 treatment rooms offering a vast range of treatments including their signature Better Ageing Programmes, perfect for combatting those winter blues.

As the weather turns frosty outside, a heated indoor pool, steam room, sauna and hammam provide some warming relief from the cold and make a luxurious backdrop for indulging in some R&R. As of this winter, the hotel’s Spa Nescens will also be offering aesthetic medicine treatments in collaboration with dermatologists, designed to leave their complexion looking radiant. The hotel will also be introducing an EMSculpt machine which, adherents claim, tones and develops abdominal muscles.

Throughout the festive period, visitors can head to the hotel’s Winter Lodge, an outdoor restaurant overlooking the lake at which guests can cosy up under the stars with thick fur blankets. The hotel’s outdoor pool is also transformed into a glittering ice-rink; guests can glide across its frozen surface while taking in the views of the hotel’s own stretch of Lake Geneva beyond.
Superior Rooms at La Réserve Geneva start from 500CHF (approx. £410).

Take a pre-pre-prandial dip in icy Cornish waters
Followed, naturally, by a pre-prandial cognac! Every community has its own festive traditions and every year in Falmouth, the 25th December sees a hoard of hardy swimmers make a beeline for the water for – euphemism alert – an invigorating Christmas sea swim.

Luckily for guests of St Michaels, the action takes place directly in front of the resort on Gylly Beach so they can dash directly from the sea (via the bar) to the spa to warm up afterwards in the hotel’s hydrotherapy pool (the largest in the south-west of England) or the UK’s only Cornish sea-salt infused steam room.

A five-course Christmas lunch will be served up in the Brasserie on the Bay and guests can look out over the water as they tuck into their turkey with all the trimmings. When Boxing Day arrives, they might choose to walk it all off with a stroll along the coast or by taking part in a scavenger hunt through Falmouth before dancing the night away at the Boxing Day feast, accompanied by live music.

St Michaels offers a 3-night Christmas break, arriving on Christmas Eve, from £565pp or 4-nights arriving on the 23rd from £633pp including accommodation, breakfast and dinner each day and a festive lunch and evening buffet on Christmas Day


Santa, stockings and steel bands in Antigua
Just like back home in Blighty, Christmas at Carlisle Bay means festive feasts, carol singing and long, lazy afternoons – albeit with a Caribbean twist. On Boxing Day, guests are invited to enjoy a barbeque dinner at The Jetty Grill – think delicious, authentically local food served, packed with Caribbean spices and flare, served beach-side and enjoyed bare-foot with a live steel drum band.

After the feasting is over, guests might enjoy a match or two on one of the resort’s nine tennis courts or sample its extensive watersports programme, which includes kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding and snorkeling. Alternatively, the resort’s Blue Spa offers luxurious massage treatments and yoga sessions at the exclusive pavilion which sits in a quiet corner of a tropical garden.
Powder Byrne offers any 7-nights over Christmas & New Year on a B&B basis with afternoon tea from £6,950 per person

Christopher Heaney

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