Five options for chilling out

Who says frolicking in the snow is the only option this winter? From truffle hunting in Europe, cruising around in the neighbouring waters and exploring the Balkans to enjoying the Maldives’s largest overwater villas, here is our list of five winter holiday options for this year.


A much sought-after autumn delicacy, the Alba truffle has always been a favourite with chefs and fine-dining enthusiasts. Head up to Alba to hunt for the coveted white truffle – so hidden in the dirt that finding even a small one is like striking gold.

Mandarin Oriental, Milan offers the Truffle Hunting in Alba package, where guests can take part in a private guided tour to discover the Alba region and its best truffle hunting spots, before having a truffle-themed lunch in one of Alba’s best restaurants.

Mandarin Oriental, Milan is housed in the re-development of four elegant 18th century buildings ideally located in via Andegari, in the fashionable heart of the city. The hotel offers a charming mix of style and luxury, with 72 elegant rooms and 32 spacious suites.

On returning to Mandarin Oriental, Milan, guests can enjoy a truffle menu created by Michelin-starred Chef, Antonio Guida, at Seta restaurant. The package includes two nights’ stay at Mandarin Oriental, Milan, daily buffet breakfast, one-day guided tour in the Alba countryside, one typical truffle lunch in Alba and one dinner at Seta restaurant with truffle menu. Valid from October 1 to December 21.

The cost: Truffle hunting in Alba package is based on a two-night minimum stay and is priced from €3,200 ($3,600) per room.


MSC Cruises’s exclusive island destination, the Sir Bani Yas Island beach oasis is all set to enrich the cruise line's winter 2016/2017 cruise itneraries in the UAE. The 1.5 mile-long stretch of land on the natural island of Sir Bani Yas – just off the southwest coast of Abu Dhabi – has been transformed into a beach oasis destination, exclusively for MSC Cruises guests. Activities on the island will mirror the world of choices unique to an MSC Cruises' experience. Starting in December 2016, MSC Fantasia will add this exclusive, brand new destination to its already rich winter cruise itineraries in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi region – allowing guests to spend a full day on this stunning tropical island paradise.

MSC Cruises has been working on perfecting this destination together with the Abu Dhabi Ports Authority for more than two years. The tropical beach oasis is on a smaller island connected to the main island by an attractive wooden boardwalk that allows MSC Cruises' guests exclusive access to an authentic beach vacation experience – with hundreds of palm trees, shaded cabanas and more than 2,000 sunbeds across 387,500 sq ft of fine golden beaches.

Other key facilities include, among others an exclusive, private space for MSC Yacht Club guests, an MSC Aurea Spa area, sports facilities, a family and kids-dedicated area, a Bedouin tent and a lounge space with a bar and live music, for relaxing.

MSC Cruises offers an exciting range of itineraries to discover and enjoy the Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas region, with cruises from 7 to 14 nights. Guests can embark from Abu Dhabi or Dubai, with itineraries calling at Sir Bani Yas Island, Bahrain, Doha, Khasab, Khor Fakkan and Muscat.

The cost: Sir Bani Yas Island beach oasis is available exclusively to MSC Cruises guests when the ship calls at the island. Prices start at $719 per person for a seven-night cruise this winter on MSC Fantasia.


Just when things start to get chilly further north, one of the Caribbean's finest beachfront resorts will reopen with a new name and a new attitude. Debuting this month, the new Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla is extending several limited-time offers to welcome sun seekers to the beautiful island of Anguilla and introduces new features and experiences to those who already know it well.

With a range of accommodations from deluxe rooms to luxurious five-bedroom villas, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla is the ideal destination for extended families and groups of friends, as well as couples looking for a romantic retreat. On-site restaurants, lounges, recreation and a perfect 975 metre beach – not to mention the island's excellent dining and exploration options – offer diversions for everyone.

The cost: Reservations are now being confirmed for the fall and winter season, with the opening offer including a complimentary night. Ideal for busy people with only a few days to spare, the stay longer package offers travellers a complimentary extra night with consecutive nights paid. As a special introductory offer, a third complimentary night is offered with two consecutive nights paid between October 20 and December 15.


Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora officially opened last month, marking Hilton’s debut in the Balkan country of Montenegro. The new Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora is conveniently situated in the city centre and close to all public and commercial facilities, making it the perfect option for both business and leisure guests. Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora offers 180 spacious and modern guest rooms, including 23 suites. The hotel’s Presidential Suite boasts a panoramic lounge overlooking the city.

'Montenegro, one of the oldest European states and often referred to as the pearl of the Mediterranean, is an exciting new destination for Hilton as we expand our global portfolio of more than 570 hotels,' said Andreas Lackner, regional head, Hilton brand management, Hilton. 'We are delighted to offer our renowned hospitality to visitors and locals alike in Montenegro’s capital city. Opening a Hilton hotel in another attractive location allows our guests more choice when travelling, and we are confident Podgorica will be on the top of travellers’ lists.'

Guests staying in the executive rooms and suites can also enjoy complimentary breakfast and snacks and drinks throughout the day in the Executive Lounge, situated on the sixth floor of the hotel with a terrace overlooking the park.

Montenegro is the one of the world’s top destinations and Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora offers convenient access to some of its top attractions, thanks to its historic location at the site of Podgorica’s first hotel, built in 1953. Guests can explore Biogradska Gora National Park, Boka Kotorska Bay (Bay of Kotor), Sipcanik Wine Cellar and the city’s many events and festivals while staying at the property. The hotel also provides a variety of transportation links across the city, making it easily accessible.

'Montenegro only continues to grow in popularity among travellers to the Mediterranean, attracting visitors with its breathtaking beauty and rich cultural history, and I am delighted to be opening the first Hilton hotel in the heart of the capital,' said Haluk Bilgili, general manager, Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora.

The cost: One night in the king guest room starts from €150 ($170).


St. Regis Hotels & Resorts will open The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort from November 1 of this year, offering barefoot luxury to guests from the Arabian Gulf.

The Maldives is a globally-renowned holiday destination, and the Arabian Gulf has proven to be a key source market for the country, with a total of 41,976 tourist from the Middle East visiting in 2015 - Saudi Arabia sent 15,749 visitors to the Maldives in 2015, while 7,322 visitors were from UAE and 4,492 visitors were from Kuwait, according to government tourism statistics.

'The Maldives is a high demand destination for the Middle East, with more than six flights arriving daily to the Maldives from the Arabian Gulf,' said Mark O'Sullivan, general manager of The St. Regis Maldives. 'With the St. Regis Maldives, we have a created a discreet escape that provides the perfect combination of privacy and luxury for these Gulf-based guests.'

Set to redefine ‘Barefoot Luxury’, The St. Regis Maldives offers a personal e-butler service prior to arrival and luxury airport transfer for the 45 minutes from Malé International Airport.

Uniquely, The St. Regis Maldives is home to the John Jacob Astor Estate, the largest three-bedroom overwater villa in the Maldives, with a total size of 1,540 square meters that features a two-storey main villa and two connecting lagoon villas, perfect for large Middle East families who travel with their support staff.

The cost: A 150 sq m garden villa with pool and king bed comes for $1,771 a night with special opening offer discounts. Butler service included.