Top Five Winter Holiday Destinations Revealed

The top foreign holiday destinations revealed…

 

Tenerife and Geneva are shaping up to be the most visited destinations for Brits looking for a winter break, according to leading car hire comparison site carehiremarket.com. Based on car hire bookings to date for December 2011 and January 2012, fly drive holidays look set to be most popular in the largest of the sunny Canary Islands, Tenerife, and with holiday makers on the hunt for snow from the Swiss city of Geneva.

 

The other destinations in the top five prove that much needed winter sun is rather important to us chilly Brits, with the southern city of Faro in Portugal and Cape Town in South Africa also popular for car hire holidays. In addition, a pint of warming festive Guinness looks to be a draw, with the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast, making it into the top five.

 

Compared to bookings during the winter months of 2010, it looks like popular destinations such as Spain and Greece are falling off the top of the league table. Palma de Majorca won first prize with Malaga and Alicante coming second and third in 2010. However, perhaps us Brits are becoming more adventurous with winter trips, leaving the summery Sangria and ancient Greek architecture behind.

 

“With forecasters warning of another big freeze this winter with Siberian temperatures and widespread snow, it’s no wonder that many Brits are looking to take to the skies and fly off to sunnier climes,” commented Andrew Shorrock, Product Manager at leading car rental comparison site carhiremarket.com.  “Although snowy Geneva is popular, our other top destinations offer hotter temperatures and winter sun and so far it looks like Brits are being a bit more adventurous in their choice of holiday.

 

We’ve already had lots of bookings from people looking for a winter getaway, who see the benefit of receiving great deals by getting car hire sorted well in advance. As the demand for winter fly-drive holidays starts to pick up, getting online and booking your car hire early will certainly help prevent disappointment, whether you are looking for sun and sand or a week on the slopes.”

 

British Airways Launch Winter Sun Holidays

Following the Indian summer we all enjoyed last week British Airways have launched a range of winter sun packages designed to help us escape the cold, dark winter nights, which are available to book until October 18th.

 

Destinations include: Barbados, Bermuda, Cancun, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St Kitts, Tobago, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, San Diego, St Pete’s and Clearwater, Tampa. If you’re looking for destinations closer to home holidays are available in Faro, Marrakech and Malaga. All will be available on various departure details until March 31st 2012.

 

BA.com have chosen to display average temperatures for these locations to get travellers in the mood to escape for some winter sun; along with live weather feeds for adverts and press releases will include weather forecasts.

 

During the winter months the Caribbean reaches a sizzling 32°C a range of seven night packages are available in Barbados to suit every traveller. The eco-friendly 3* Coconut Court Beach hotel offers excellent beachfront views and great value for money whereas the 3.5* all-inclusive Island Inn is a great hotel for those who don’t want to worry about spending money on holiday.

 

St Lucia is another stunning destination on offer this winter; the island is packed with palm-fringed beaches, towering volcanic Pitons and lush rainforests.

 

Heading to Mexico couldn’t be easier this winter with non-stop flights to Cancun, which will run three times a week. One hotel included is the all-inclusive 4.5* Occidental Grand Xcaret on the River Maya which is located close to the eco-archeological Xcaret Park.

 

For families head across to the US for some much needed fun in the sun with holidays in Orlando, the 3* Ramada Hotel Gateway in Kissimmee is a prime location situated near the theme parks. Alternatively get close to the action at the Disneyland Resort in Los Angeles with three night breaks available.

 

Short breaks closer to home are available in Marrakech where you can explore culture in the sun. Great value fly-drive packages are available to Malaga, a perfect location for those after a sun filled golfing break.

 

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Why Swedish Lapland is not just for Christmas

After a December that was the coldest in Europe for 100 years – many of us dream of heading south to the warmth.

Some adventurous Britons, however, have moved in the opposite direction, setting up home in Swedish Lapland in a string of remote communities straddling the Arctic Circle.

The area (Lapland comprises the northernmost parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland and part of Russia) is sometimes described as Europe’s last wilderness, and it is certainly cold; this winter, the first snow fell in the first week of October. Temperatures can plunge to minus 30C, and snow covers the ground until at least April.

Patricia Cowern traded the West Midlands for the village of Porjus (population 400) after visiting the area in 1995 with her son, Toby, who was on an outdoor survival course.

“The space, quiet and proximity to nature just overwhelmed me,” says Patricia, a photographer who runs a gallery (pictures of the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, are her speciality) and rents out four self-catering flats in the village.

Toby, 31, also decided to move permanently to Porjus, and now makes a living as a tour guide, taking visitors on snowmobile and dog-sledding trips. In the short Lapland summer, he offers canoeing and hiking, and helps out as a part-time fireman. His two daughters, aged six and nine, go to the village school and speak perfect Swedish.

“Lapland gives the girls freedom to be children,” says Patricia, of her grandchildren. “The village is simple, but it’s safe. Weather permitting, they are out on their bikes all the time, and only come home when they are hungry. In the winter, they love to ski. You could call it a rather old-fashioned kind of life.”

But Patricia has advice about putting down roots in Lapland: “First, you can’t live here and not like the outdoors.  Secondly, you need to be resourceful and make your own job.” Meanwhile, brown bears, lynx, elk and the ubiquitous reindeer roam the hills and forests. In the warmer months, fields are full of flowers, and huge mushrooms and tiny wild strawberries abound.

David and Kerstin Carpenter, both from Essex, have helped a number of British expats set up home in and around Jokkmokk. With 3,000 people, it is the capital of a municipality of less than 6,000 permanent residents spread over an area larger than Northern Ireland.

Jokkmokk is well known for its Sami (indigenous Lapp) crafts fair, which has taken place every February for 400 years. The fair features reindeer racing and traditional singing. A wide selection of pelts and furs are on sale.

Homes in Lapland are traditionally painted red with white trimmings around the door and windows. “The vast majority of houses are made of wood,” says David. “They are not just timber-framed, they are made entirely of wood.”

Wooden houses can last for decades in the predominantly dry climate. Homes have large grounds, often with saunas.

Snow on the roofs might be picturesque, but it can be a problem because of the weight. “In the early spring, snow begins to melt in the day,” says David. “Then it freezes overnight. As a result, it turns to ice and of course becomes heavier and heavier if not removed.”

Transport problems experienced in Britain after a light coating of snow are unthinkable. Ploughs clear main roads as soon as snow falls, and locals use tractors to clear minor roads and tracks. And what about airports shut down because of wintry weather? “I’ve never heard that Lulea airport [115 miles from Jokkmokk on the coast] has had to close in the winter for any reason other than fog,” says Patricia.

While depopulation is a problem in Sweden’s far north, communities are becoming multicultural. There are up to 30 different nationalities in Jokkmokk town, which has about a dozen British residents. Patricia estimates that there are now 14 different nationalities in Porjus. German, British and Dutch incomers are the biggest national groups.

“In the long term, these communities are declining,” says David. “For every 200 people who move in, from southern Sweden and abroad, we lose 225 as the older generation dies, and young people move out to a University or job in the south of Sweden”.

In an effort to reverse the trend, the local council, a regional bank and Vattenfall, the nationally owned power company, have set up Emigrate2Jokkmokk to attract new residents, particularly young families, and offer help when they arrive.

David administers the programme: “We have a lot to offer here: lakes with water fresh enough to drink, wonderful fishing in all seasons, and peace and quiet. Prices for many things are similar to the UK.”

But some things you can’t easily buy in Britain, cold winter or not. In Swedish Lapland, for as little as £500, you can be the proud owner of a second-hand snowmobile.