Winter sun destinations: A tropical tan - for £1,000 or less

Sunday, 8 November 2009 14:26

The signs are unmistakable: it’s wet and windy, and dark at four, so it must be time to head south and bask in some winter sun. The only problem is, whenever you scour the newspapers for suggestions, it’s always £3,000-a-week luxury hideaways. That’s where our cost-conscious guide comes in: dozens of sunshine breaks, each one under £1,000pp. Cheap, then — but not nasty. The fact is, anyone can find mass-market packages to the sun for less than a grand, especially with prices tumbling this season. What’s not so easy is avoiding the grim concrete all-inclusives and homing in on holidays with charm and character — places that are worth your time as well as your money.

They’re out there, though, and to prove it, here are 44 of ’em, from traditional fincas in the Canaries to barefoot resorts in the Caribbean to fully fledged desert-island idylls in the Maldives. So, pack the T-shirt and sunnies, and get going. You can afford it.
Unless stated, all prices are for a week, per person, based on two sharing and including flights from London. Check with the operator for regional departure options

The Indian Ocean ain’t cheap. It can, though, be great value if you time it right and choose carefully. Take Mauritius, home to some of the most highfalutin hotels in the world — Le Touessrok, Royal Palm — and somewhere with a shade more indigenous culture than the more scattered atolls. Six nights at the smallish, coupley Paul & Virginie Hotel, on the north coast, can be had for £799, half-board, if you book by Saturday, with Destinology (0800 634 2866, It’s officially a three-star, but punches above its weight, with a beautiful palm-lined pool, a small but cute beach, a spa, watersports and friendly service.
All very well, but what about the white sand, blue-lagoon idyll that is the Maldives? All that desert-island loveliness sets the benchmark for high-priced winter sun, and it certainly doesn’t come in at less than a grand. Does it?
Certainly does. Kandooma, on South Malé atoll, delivers everything on the checklist — chalk-white beaches, gorgeous shallow lagoon, good snorkelling for adults, safe bathing for kids, spa, pool, classy villas, showers open to the sky, the lot. Rated four-star, it would normally be well over our limit, but a 36% price cut means that, for a November 24 departure, it comes in at £949, B&B, with Hayes & Jarvis (0871 664 0246,
Another £30 gets you another star and the Sheraton Full Moon Resort and Spa. On its own island, it’s all thatched and low-rise, with not a business centre or conference room in sight — scrub out the corporate logo by the jetty and you’d think it had been created by Robinson Crusoe (after the discovery of air con and desalination plants, mind). A week, departing on December 6, costs £979, B&B, with Kuoni (01306 747008, One caveat: the food here is pricey, so big eaters might want to stick with Kandooma, above.

a) be counting the shades of grey in a late-November English day and shuddering at the cheerful news that there are just 26 shopping days to Christmas, or
b) lying on the sand at the Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort, in the Maldives. Let me paint the picture: the sand is platinum blonde and squeaks when you walk on it. The sea is the colour of Bombay Sapphire and the sky the same shade as Curaçao. There are no shopping days until Christmas, because the Maldives are Muslim, but the price is pretty festive: the price is £955 with Thomson (0871 231 5595,

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