After the fun of the festive season, the initial excitement of entering 2019 starts to wear off as we head back to work, the weather remains unsurprisingly glum and New Year’s resolutions start to slip. The winter blues will inevitably kick in around about now, and here at BIRD we’ve got the perfect solution: a winter escape. This year, we’ve decided to spice up our winter inspo list by compiling our favourite alternative destinations. In other words, places that promise to avoid the crowds and where you won’t run into any frenemies.
Swap mainstream ski destinations for a stylish, more individual skiing holiday in Sierra Nevada. Located in Southern Spain, you wouldn’t guess that Sierra Nevada is home to the second highest mountain range in Western Europe. Only a hop, skip and a jump away, the flight costs won’t be extortionate and it’s sure to be less crowded than the usual ski destinations (bye-bye queues). We recommend El Lodge Ski & Spa, Sierra Nevada’s most exclusive, boutique retreat that has the only ski-in/ski-out facilities and heated outdoor pool in the area. And if skiing’s not your cup of tea, they have you covered. In the Ski & Culture package guests can explore the rich culture of Granada Province. Including a private tour of the Alhambra and the Nasrid Palaces with a local expert and a hot air balloon ride, this definitely won’t be your average skiing holiday.
Think you need to hop over to the Indian Ocean for some winter sun? Think again – Portugal is right on our doorstep, and with its mild year-round climate, the Alentejo makes for the perfect destination to escape the January blues. Recently restored 19th century farmstead hotel, winery and spa São Lourenço do Barrocal has plenty on offer for a weekend away, catering to wellness warriers and oenophiles alike. A host of outdoor pursuits await, made even more enjoyable without the blaring heat in summer, from exploring the 800-hectare estate on horseback and cycling through the vineyards on traditional Portuguese bicycles to sailing the nearby lake and spotting the milky way with extraordinary night-time stargazing experiences.
If you’re looking for somewhere to top up your tan, Sri Lanka is your best bet. And since it’s a long-haul flight anyway, you might as well stay as long as possible. Resplendent Ceylon, the collection of hotels by the family behind Dilmah Tea, has a fantastic selection of properties that show-off the best of what the island has to offer. Visit Tea Trails, the world’s first tea bungalow resort for history and culture (as well as a caffeine fix!), try Wild Coast Tented Lodge for a back-to-nature adventure where animals roam free, or if you just want some R&R then head to clifftop idyll Cape Weligama. Or, experience them all with transfers in between… Is it time for a sabbatical?
Ideal for escaping the endless grey of a London winter, Mashpi Lodge is perched high above the emerald green of the Ecuadorian cloud forest: the ultimate eco-chic hideaway for wildlife lovers. Guests wake up to a chorus of cicadas and chirping birds from the dense forest just beyond their floor-to-ceiling windows. The perfect place to connect with nature, at Mashpi you will spend your days hiking through the cloud forest, sipping exotic juices from local fruits, indulging in spa treatments against the backdrop of local waterfalls, and spotting the jewel-toned hummingbirds flitting through the trees.