In search of sunshine: What’s new and where to head this winter

Despite the record temperatures here on home turf, and whether or not we care to admit it, winter will soon be on its way and with it the prospect of shorter days, cooler climes and frosty forecasts. Before we pack away the summer wardrobe, BIRD has rounded up a selection of wanderlust-inducing winter sun escapes that are sure to see sunseekers through another chilly season with inspiration spanning Indonesia, Indian Ocean, Thailand, and the Caribbean.


Community and connection in Sumba with soon-to-launch Cap Karoso 

Opening in December 2022, on the captivating Sumba Island, Cap Karoso will be a 47-room and 20-villa eco-conscious haven, complete with organic farm, that is shaped by three core pillars: sustainability, culture and community. Founded by two young ethically minded French adventurers, Fabrice and Evguenia Ivara, who were mesmerised by Sumba’s magnetic allure and unique Marapu culture when they first holidayed there in 2017, Cap Karoso will offer complete immersion in Sumba’s magic and culture. You can expect eco-friendly architecture by Gary Fell’s lauded GFAB practice, calming interiors by Jakarta-based Bitte Studio, artist ateliers, creative kids programme, a beach club, chef’s table restaurant, and open-air cinema among other treats.  Available activities, such as cultural visits, mindfulness walks and adventures by land and sea are all conceived to consciously explore the island’s nature and culture, connecting with – and giving back to – the local community. 

Uncover the secrets of the Indonesian archipelago with private-charter luxury yacht, Vela 

Vela is a brand new six-cabin, private-charter luxury yacht and the latest offering from the eco-minded team behind Bali’s Nirjhara. Launched in summer 2022 and inspired by the spirit of adventure, Vela sails bespoke itineraries to some of the most remote corners of the Indonesian archipelago.  Sleeping up to 12 explorers in six impeccably stylish cabins and with a discrete 18-person crew, Vela’s nautical kingdom comprises a spacious lounge with unobstructed ocean views, a well-equipped bar and wine cellar, a serene al fresco yoga deck, and a choice of tempting indoor and outdoor dining spaces. 

Whilst every voyage is crafted to your desires, itineraries created for intrepid winter sunseekers can take in some of Indonesia’s most significant yet remarkably lesser-known cruising destinations. Here, dazzling coral reefs combine with jaw-dropping topside scenery, remote sandy islands offer seclusion and solitude, and rich history and culture will transport guests back in time to discover what was once one of the most politically important regions on the planet. 

Blend into nature at Nirjhara, Bali 

Sustainable hideaway, Nirjhara, is located in Tabanan on Bali’s southwest coast and has been artfully designed around the spectacular cascading waterfall after which it is named. Nirjhara blends seamlessly into nature offering you a secluded and environmentally conscious haven of relaxation, just a stone’s throw from the island’s volcanic sand beaches and popular towns of Canggu and Ubud.   

Exclusive villa The Residence at Nirjhara is ideally suited for special occasions, family reunions, and couples seeking an escape to the sunshine and seclusion of Bali and is a haven of privacy and refinement in the midst of a lush jungle. Spread over two levels, this spacious villa features two en-suite bedrooms with a king-size bed and a pair of king single beds, floor to ceiling windows overlooking serene rice fields, and a separate living and dining area. The dining area accommodates up to 6 guests, while an elevated terrace creates the ideal backdrop for a romantic dinner. The two sweeping bedrooms located on the lower level open onto a 14m infinity edge pool complete with sunbeds and a poolside cabana. 

In keeping with Nirjhara’s ethos, The Residence offers an array of bespoke experiences for you to immerse yourself in the local culture and natural surroundings, from scenic cycle rides through the rice paddies to full day tours to explore Bali’s lush province of Tabanan.  


 SALT of Palmar, Mauritius: taking guests to people – not just places 

With the purpose and philosophy of connecting modern explorers with meaningful travel experiences; taking you to people – not just places is at the core of progressive adults-only Mauritian hotel SALT of Palmar. Promoting learning, upskilling and sharing; this is the perfect paradise in which to be immersed into the heart of Mauritian life.  You are invited to connect directly with locals like Soobiraj, the palm heart grower whose plantation can be visited upon request, or Selva, whose pesticide-free aromatic herbs and vanilla are cultivated at his home in St. Julien a short 20-minute drive from the resort.  As one of Mauritius’ only vanilla producers, Selva provides an exclusive and immersive experience, introducing guests to his traditional methods of farming which requires untold patience and vigilance.  Everyone at SALT of Palmar receives a copy of This Is Mauritius – a guidebook created by the talented locals who know the people and places that make the island tick – and a local SIM card on arrival, encouraging you to get out and explore hidden gems whilst giving back to the island.  

Mauritius‘ most scenic spot at LUX* Le Morne 

With the colossal spectacle of Le Morne Brabant towering to one side, a sweep of beryl-blue lagoon to the other and miles of talc-soft beach spread out in front, here, on the always-warm south-west coast of sunny Mauritius, sits LUX* Le Morne. A place where couples and honeymooners may visit for the jaw-dropping romance of the scenery; families can take advantage of five swimming pools and the all-day PLAY kids’ club; serenity seekers head straight to LUX* Me spa; and thrill-seekers of all stripes are drawn to the innumerable opportunities for adventure – on land, on the water and beneath the waves, LUX* Le Morne truly offers something for all kinds of travellers. 

If you are in the know, you will head to Vik’s Mauritian kitchen hut tucked away at the end of the beach for local homemade delicacies such as freshly caught sea urchins with a generous side helping of chilli sauce. 

Castaway to the Maldives with Soneva Fushi, Soneva Jani and Soneva in Aqua 

Soneva was the first barefoot luxury resort of its kind, setting the blueprint for sustainable tourism in the Maldives with the opening of Soneva Fushi in 1995. Today, Soneva’s family of resorts include two trailblazing properties, Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani, and an ultra-luxurious yacht, Soneva in Aqua, in the Maldives alone.  Each outpost is a one-off, but all channel Soneva’s signature SLOW LIFE philosophy, you are encouraged to embrace island time with a no shoes, no news policy throughout.   

New for this winter season, sun-seeking families to Soneva Jani will have the chance to discover The Den, the kids club of dreams and an awe-inspiring playground for the imagination, launched in summer 2022 with a series of inimitable and interactive experiences to delight and entertain. This 1,500 sqm, two-story structure is a remarkable feat of engineering, taking 2 years to complete and is launching as one of the largest kids’ clubs in Asia, surpassing even sister property Soneva Fushi, whose children’s Den is the size of seven tennis courts! 


The Carribean’s best kept secret: Pine Cay, Turks & Caicos 

Situated in an 800-acre barefoot luxury private island in Turks & Caicos, just a 20-minute boat ride from the mainland is Pine Cay, an elegant 12-room hotel and small collection of private homes located on two miles of pristine white-sand beach (exclusive to hotel guests and homeowners for the utmost seclusion and tranquillity). A recent renovation saw the hotel meticulously re-design its ten existing Beachfront Rooms, add two freestanding Beachfront Suites, and a new spa & fully-equipped gym, all designed to champion Pine Cay’s original rustic charm and barefoot ethos.  

Ideal for a bucket-list celebratory escape, days at Pine Cay are spent snorkelling over the kaleidoscopic coral reef and reef balls, which double as a nursery for turtles and all manner of juvenile marine life. Dazzling diving can be arranged with a trusted local dive partner, as can kitesurfing.  Paddle boards and entirely transparent kayaks are ready and waiting to be borrowed, and the cerulean waters are ripe for fishing adventures, including deep-sea fishing and unrivalled world-class bone-fishing. Back on dry land, there’s birdwatching, biking, tennis, swimming in the freshwater pool, under-the-stars screenings at the Sand Dollar Cinema or day trips to nearby islands. 


No footprints in the sand at the ultimate barefoot retreat, Soneva Kiri, Thailand 

Tucked amongst the latticework of bamboo-fringed pathways of Koh Kood, on one of Thailand’s largest but least populated islands, sits Soneva Kiri, a village of 33 villas in the midst of the jungle. Made from natural materials, each villa blends seamlessly into the natural landscape covered by tropical rainforest and sugar-white beaches lapped by the crystal-clear waters of Soneva Kiri’s private bay.  Perfect for those looking to disconnect and decompress, Soneva Kiri is the ultimate barefoot retreat where you are encouraged to pack away your shoes before stepping onto the island. With an abundance of activities for all ages from water sports to stargazing the emphasis is placed on slow living