Holiday Fun for the Cold Weather Averse

TravelAge West has scoured the world over for family-friendly holiday fun in warm weather destinations By: Mindy Poder
New Years in Fiji is one way to celebrate winter’s holidays in good weather. // © 2012 Vomo Island Resort on Fiji
New Years in Fiji is one way to celebrate winter’s holidays in good weather. // © 2012 Vomo Island Resort on Fiji

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Trade in Hurricane Sandy for sand and beach this holiday season. At the very least, spend end-of-the-year celebrations in moderate temperatures that allow for what really matters — bonding with your loved ones.

Crossing Off the Galapagos
The bucket list and Santa’s list come together on Tauck Bridge’s nine-day special holiday departure of the Galapagos: Widlife Wonderland itinerary. Departing on Dec. 24, the family trip visits the Equator before heading on a five-night cruise through the Galapagos Islands aboard the Santa Cruz. Naturalist-led hikes guarantee sightings of blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, the giant Galapagos tortoise and more. Families of explorers will enjoy plenty of snorkeling and hiking offered on this warm-weather journey through Tagus Cove, Urbina Bay, Santa Cruz Island, Floreana Island, Isabela Island, Fernandina Island and more. Prices begin at $4,495 and include 21 meals, a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, airport transfers and all gratuities.

Tauck
www.tauck.com


Michelin Morocco
Spider crab-caviar tarts in lemon cream, purple artichokes filled with truffled duck kefta and palate-cleansing citrus gelee topped with ginger sorbet may not be on your typical Christmas or Chanukah table but, then again, how often are you in Marrakech for the holidays? In addition to seasonal menus by three-time Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno, Royal Mansour is offering wintertime guests two savings packages from now through Dec. 27. The Family Offer provides upgrades to families with children: book two adults and one child under 12 in a one-bedroom riad and receive an upgrade to a one-bedroom superior riad; book two adults and one 12- to 18-year-old child in a one-bedroom superior riad and receive an upgrade to a two-bedroom riad; or book two adults and two children under 18 in two, one-bedroom riads and receive an upgrade to two, two-bedroom riads. Royal Mansour is also offering a fourth night free for those who book a one-bedroom riad, and a third night free for those who book a two- or three-bedroom riad. Riad rates start at $2,150 per night, and include daily full breakfast and private airport transfers.

Royal Mansour
www.royalmansour.com


Fashion-Forward Siem Reap

Wintertime in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is peak travel season, in part due to cool and dry weather, with average daytime temperatures in the 80s — a respite from the extreme heat and precipitation found at other times of the year. Christmastime at Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Siem Reap also comes with another treat — a fashion-forward Christmas tree designed by Eric Raisina, the Siem Reap-based designer whose textiles are endorsed by Yves Saint Laurent, Loulou de la Falaise and Christian Lacroix. Raisina is currently at work on this year’s tree, which will be unveiled in early December. Last year’s tree was a mass of Cambodian silk lotus blossoms and, in 2010, his tree was made entirely from hand-woven fishing implements.

Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Siem Reap
www.raffles.com/siemreap


Honduras Holiday Safari
Give kids the gift of an interactive culture and environment experience in Honduras with the Lodge at Pico Bonito’s first-ever Family Holiday Jungle Safari, a six-day, five-night package and naturalist scavenger hunt that is offered through Chanukah, Christmas and New Year’s. Preceding the Scavenger Hunt are daily guided hikes which focus on the area’s native birds and endangered species, flora and fauna and geological rock formations. Expect Scavenger Hunt items such as keel-billed toucans, emerald hummingbirds, contiguas and perhaps the elusive jaguar. The family with the most confirmed sightings will win a 20 percent discount on their next stay at the property, good from April to Dec. 20, 2013. Other highlights of the package include a family picnic at the Unbelievable Falls, a double-drop waterfall which is home to swimming holes and more than 420 species of birds. Hikers will also enjoy panoramic views of the jungle on an early morning hike to the property’s three multi-story observations towers as well as a night quest to find nocturnal reptiles and amphibians. Families will also dip into the water on a whitewater rafting journey down the Rio Cangrejal. Rates include two adults and one child and start from $1,069 for a standard cabin for the period of Nov. 1 through Dec. 20. From Dec. 21 through Jan. 5, rates start at $1,405 for a standard cabin. Each additional child is $560 for a standard cabin or $669 for a standard-plus cabin. Package includes a full daily breakfast. 

The Lodge at Pico Bonito
www.picobonito.com


Merry-Making Mates
Skiing and snowboarding take a back seat to swimming and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef and surfing at Sydney’s Bondi Beach. Other highlights of Abercrombie & Kent’s 10-day Outback Adventure include a private afternoon tea cruise of Sydney Harbour, a private walkabout of Taronga Zoo, a camel ride through the great Central Australian desert and a lesson in gathering food, hunting and throwing spears by an Aboriginal guide at Cooya Beach. The family journey takes off on Dec. 17 and Dec. 26, with prices starting at $8,190.

Abercrombie & Kent
www.abercrombiekent.com


Fiji Festivities
Ring in the New Year a day before the U.S. at Vomo Island Resort on Fiji. On Dec. 31, the property transforms its Rocks Beach into an open-air lounge, lined with tiki torches and Fijian island decor, such as couches made of white sand and covered in fine linen, tropical flowers and pillows. At these sand lounges, enjoy al fresco cocktails and the midnight fireworks display as well as the surrounding view of the Pacific Ocean and Vomo Lailai, Vomo’s deserted volcanic island. There’s also a dance floor, a bonfire and a six-course dinner that features small portions of the chef’s signature creations — authentic Fijian food made from sustainable sources including the resort’s on-site organic gardens. Dinner will be served poolside, and a vegetarian option is available. Items include locally caught lobster and Cape Grim beef tenderloin with braised beef cheek, shitake mushrooms, green beans, feta cheese and rosemary truffle butter. The night ends with one guest releasing a Hawksbill turtle from the Resort's Turtle Protection Program into the ocean — a symbol of new possibilities.

Vomo Island Resort
www.vomofiji.com

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