Three top winter sun destinations

Escape the cold this winter by heading to these three sun-drenched locations.

Thailand: Sri Panwa, Phuket

Sri Panwa spa resort sits on the southeastern tip, "on the very last hill of Thailand before the country runs out, with blissful views onto misty islands emerging from the Andaman Sea", says Susan d'Arcy in The Sunday Times.

This "sharp James Bond-style hideaway" has "a seductive house-party ambience". The villas "sashay stylishly from indoors to outdoors, all with private infinity pools".

But the big draw is the spa. "Deep in the jungle, the hotel's spa has a vast pool that swirls and snakes through the upper level of a multi-tiered building, which in turn flows down the hillside," says d'Arcy. The six treatment rooms "overlook waterfalls and come shaded by 100-year-old mango trees".

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When booking a treatment go for Heavenly Bliss' "two therapists working simultaneously on your limbs there should be a prize for guests who can stay awake for the full 90 minutes".

Treatments from £65. Villas from £369 per night with breakfast (00 66 7637 1000;


South Africa: Babylonstoren, Franschhoek, Cape Town

Relax and enjoy the wide open spaces at the 200-hectare farm Babylonstoren, which has been converted into a hotel. "Guests stay in one of 12 immaculately restored labourers' cottages with mountain or vineyard views" and designer interiors, says Cond Nast Traveller.

Within the grounds are a kitchen garden, a walled bee garden, a mulberry orchard and a cactus maze. Up "near the farm's reservoir-style pool is a spa and gym, and further along there's a dam with canoes for guests' use".

The hotel restaurant, Babel, which uses organic produce from the garden, is in a former cattle shed, which is "now a vision of white walls and floor-to-ceiling glass".

From £195 per room (00 27 21 863 3852;


The West Indies: Montpelier Plantation and Beach hotel, Nevis

A former sugar plantation on the historic Montpelier Estate where Horatio Nelson married Frances Nisbet in 1787 "it offers guests a quiet and pampering escape with a sense of civility".There are 18 rooms, a garden suite and two two-bedroom villas to choose from. "All are furnished in an inviting style, featuring four-poster beds, Egyptian white linen, a private patio and air conditioning." A highlight is the "glorious blue mosaic-patterned 60-foot swimming pool with views of Mount Nevis". There are two restaurants: Restaurant 750 "offers a small but satisfying three-course menu". Pool-side Indigo Grill serves up Caribbean dishes, such as jerk pork and spiny lobster tail.

Rooms from £128 per night with breakfast (020-8977 6099;

Ruth Jackson-Kirby

Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance. 

Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.

Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping among many other titles both online and offline.