festive getaway

Fancy a change of scenery this Christmas? Danielle Wilkins explores the best places to head for a festive getaway

SNOW:

Lapland
Finnish Lapland could be the holiday of your child’s dreams. As well as having the chance to meet Father Christmas, starry-eyed little ones can enjoy sleigh rides and snowmobiles, and get up close to reindeer, huskies and even Santa’s mischievous elves. You’ll find many tour operators offering breaks at this time of year, including Canterbury Travel, which offers stays at the resorts of Luosto and Pyhä. Both of these unspoilt villages are a sight to behold, with various accommodation options. For the ultimate in cosy Christmas chic, choose one of the open-plan log cabins, with log fire, kitchenette and sauna. Keep in mind that while babies under two are welcome, the nature of the terrain and the Arctic weather mean this could be one for walking toddlers. Packages from £1,125 per person, santa-holidays.com

Cotswolds
For a traditional country house Christmas filled with endless hot chocolates and mince pies in the library, crisp buggy-friendly walks around a 500-acre estate, and the chance to explore nearby Bath and its magical Christmas market, Lucknam Park makes an idyllic escape for families. Its dedicated Christmas packages include a festive afternoon tea with carols from the local parish choir, an appearance from Father Christmas in a Victorian horse-drawn carriage to deliver presents to your excitable toddler, and a visit to the Theatre Royal for panto, as well as a Boxing Day treasure hunt and black-tie dinner and dancing. All the trimmings, indeed! Christmas package from £995 per room, lucknampark.co.uk

Gstaad
For a postcard-worthy, snowy setting, this upscale resort town in the Swiss Alps couldn’t be more idyllic. And at the heart of it, Gstaad Palace is the perfect base to celebrate the festivities, as well as enjoy a range of ski and snowboarding activities. There’s fun to be had off the slopes, too, with visits to famous Swiss chocolatier Maison Cailler for chocolate-making workshops, cosy horse and carriage rides through the town and star spotting at the nearby Igloo Village. Over Christmas, the hotel offers an array of activities for toddlers, with cookie-making classes, face painting, and a visit from the jolly present-giver himself on Christmas Eve. Rooms from £500 on a half-board basis, palace.ch 

New York
If you and baby are happy to take on the seven-hour flight, Christmas in NYC is spectacular – and for good reason. The sights, sounds and smells are unlike that of any other city, with so much to explore. Visit the iconic Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center, go ice skating in Central Park, enjoy a rendition of the Nutcracker on Broadway, and nibble your way through the New York Hall of Science’s Gingerbread Lane, a miniature village made from gingerbread, peppermints and icing. And when you’ve had enough of the bustle, retreat to the newly opened Whitby Hotel in midtown Manhattan. Its dedicated family package includes complimentary cots, milk and cookies, games, DVDs and popcorn for those nights you just want to kick back in your swanky suite. Family package from approx £749 per room, firmdalehotels.com

SUN:

Lanzarote
The Canary Islands are perfect for a spot of reliable winter sunshine, and with its golden beaches, wealth of family friendly hotels and short four-hour flight time, Lanzarote has so much to offer new parents. To ensure you actually get to relax, check into the Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel in the island’s prime resort of Playa Blanca. With spacious suites, plenty of action and a huge area dedicated to little ones, there is plenty to cater for young family members. And for those staying in a Royal Kiko suite, you’ll be treated to two hours of complimentary childcare, giving you the chance to hit the spa or enjoy a date-night dinner at the Isla de Lobos restaurant. Rooms from approx £352, princesayaiza.com

Maldives
The Maldives offers little ones some of the most imaginative activities around, with the chance to explore local marine wildlife, get creative with crafts and enjoy water play with the in-house babysitting service, leaving you free to snorkel, eat, sleep, spa, sundowner, and repeat. For pure paradise, the all-villa St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort is nestled on a private island, just a 40-minute seaplane flight from Malé. The beachside family villas, designed to resemble traditional dhoni boats, are perfect for those with babies, while the two- and three-bedroom villas can accommodate extended family, au pairs or nannies. And while the stunning Iridium Spa is strictly a childfree zone, under-threes are supplied with their own Burt’s Bees skincare so they can enjoy a little pampering too. Rooms from £940, stregismaldives.com

Marrakech
With Instagram-worthy gardens to explore, colourful souks to shop and scenic tours of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is a veritable feast for the senses at any time of year. In winter, temperatures reach the early to mid-twenties – ideal for escaping the winter blues and exploring comfortably with baby in tow. The city boasts a wealth of luxury hotels, including the newly restored Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi, which launched its new family programme this year. The five-star property is located just minutes from the vibrant Medina. Pack light, as you’ll have all the essentials you’ll need on demand – including baby baths, night lights and travel cots, leaving more suitcase space for all that shopping. Rooms from approx £128, movenpick.com

Dubai
If you’re happy to travel further out, Dubai is a hit with families seeking guaranteed sun. For one, the country’s modern standard of living means you’ll find all your usual creature comforts, plus there are plenty of outdoor playgrounds and efficient public transport. For a festive retreat, the recently opened Dukes Dubai, on the west trunk of Palm Jumeirah, has a quintessentially British feel that’ll remind you of home, sans the nippy weather. It also boasts its own beach with skyline views over the Marina, various food and drink outlets and facilities for toddlers. The Dukesy Kids’ Club will offer age-appropriate activities, essential baby kit, healthy snacks and even adorable baby bathrobes and slippers – because baby deserves to holiday in luxury too, right? Rooms from £200, dukesdubai.com

 Want more? Louise Pyne travels to Vietnam with her two-year old son

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