Wish you could get away from it all for Christmas? Ciara McDonnell brings you the best deals abroad so you can plan for next year.
If Christmas has overwhelmed you already, and you’ve sworn blind that you’ll never celebrate at home again, then we have just the ticket.
Christmas can be a funny time of year to travel.
High emotions and even higher expectations can put pressure on us to over-perform, but you can make it truly a trip of a lifetime.
The key in choosing a holiday over Christmas is to realise that even though you want to escape Christmas at home, you don’t necessarily want to escape the pomp and ceremony that goes with it.
With that in mind, we’ve delved into our travel filo-faxes and looked for holidays that really do what they say on the tin.
We want resorts that pull out all the stops on Christmas day; we want celebration and sunshine and cocktails and excursions to places that we are actually interested in.
From blowout sunshine to far-flung vaycays, we have the trips that will make you reach for your wallet on St Stephens’s day and book the holiday of your dreams for Christmas 2017.
The thing about skiing at Christmas time is that somehow, when you are amongst the powdery snow and sipping a hot port from your friendly slope-side café, the festive season envelops you with a ferocity that is entirely unexpected.
Because of this, choose accommodation and a holiday that will embrace your inevitable holiday cheer, and will be resplendent with decorations and Christmas feasting around the most important days of your holiday.
For adults who are looking to avoid family-style gatherings, Crystal Ski have a holiday to Hotel Elisabeth in Kirchberg, Austria, which departs Cork around December 21 for around €1041 per person.
This super-luxe hotel boasts a proper spa, which promises Jacuzzis overlooking the Kitzbühel Alps. The sauna offers cooling footbaths, which quite frankly is just what you need after a day on the slopes.
The hotel is a five-minute walk from the ski lift, positioning it perfectly for a week of adventure, and near lots of bars and restaurants that serve gluehwein by the bucket-load and great food at a reasonable price.
Families with young children of course, deserve to ski too and there is no better family ski destination for tiny humans than Andorra.
Topflight will take you and your family to Hotel Patagonia in Arinsal from around €535 pp flying from Dublin at the end of December.
The hotel has all mod cons, roaring fireplaces and even better, a kid’s playroom.
We recommend bunking up in a quad room, which will fit two adults and two children nicely.
The ski lift is right on the hotel doorstep, meaning no awkward ice-walks with kids to the lift and all lifts accommodate six people, so the whole family can travel together.
Skiers need not worry about the children, because there is a staffed kindergarten childminders located at the bottom of the beginner’s slope, looking after children aged 1-4 but it should be noted that they do not feed the kids, so make sure to pick yours up at lunchtime!
Make yours a magical Christmas by bringing your family to the real Magical Kingdom in Orlando. Sunway fly from Cork to Orlando at the end of December, staying at the International Palms Resort for €989 per person.
The hotel is well placed right in the heart of International Drive and a short walk from the areas array of parks and attractions.
With year-round sunshine, there is a lovely pool to cool off in after a hard day’s slog at one of the many world-class theme parks residing just a hop, skip and a jump away.
Do your research and book restaurants and tickets to shows and parks in advance - Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year in the Magic Kingdom, and it books out in advance.
If an urban getaway is more your bag at Christmastime, then consider a festive visit to New York.
Budget Travel suggest travelling from Cork on December 16 and staying in the Holiday Inn in Queens, from €933 pp.
With what is now one of the city’s most desirable areas as your base, you will be able to embrace New York at Christmastime with abandon. Make sure to skate around the ice-rink at Rockerfeller centre and snowflakes at the city’s High Line Park - you won’t regret it.
If escape is on your mind, and the cacophony of children something you want to avoid this Yuletide, then embrace the latest trend for Adults Only resorts.
The Sensimar Arona Gran & Spa in Tenerife overlooks the ocean and nearby harbour from panoramic seating beside the bar area. You can walk into nearby Los Cristianos in about fifteen minutes, but to be honest, you probably won’t want to leave this place - it is fantastic.
Golfers will love that it’s 4km to the nearest course and spa-lovers will embrace the best treatments the area has to offer.
This hotel would be aimed at those over forty - younger travellers may find themselves at the younger age of the guest spectrum.
Falcon fly there from Cork at the end of December for about €1866 at half board.
Younger couples will love the year-round buzz that Gran Canaria has to offer.
Falcon depart Dublin on December 24 to the H10 Meloneras Plaza Gran Canaria for around €1529 pp on an all-inclusive basis.
This fabulous hotel is located just 150 metres away from La Meloneras beach and a short walk from boutiques, bars and restaurants. Rooms are modern and fresh and like all H10 resorts, ridiculously cool. Expect light trance music to play poolside as you sip your Gin Fizz and enjoy!
Should you be in any doubt with Irish weather, winter is in fact here.
This year, Sunway has introduced an incredible trip to Spitzbergen, the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway.
In English, this means that it is the closest to the North Pole that any of us are likely to get.
Travelling this far north has up until recently only been achievable by sea, but now more and more people can fly to this magical polar archipelago from mainland Norway, so thankfully Sunway have jumped on the bandwagon.
Packages fly from Dublin to Oslo and then up to Longyearbean where the untouched Polar wilderness is the ideal spot to watch the Northern Lights.
From champagne sled rides to snowmobile safaris, this is one of those once in a lifetime trips.
Flights depart Dublin on December 21 for 5 nights for €949 pp.
You want the sun, but you don’t want to pay a fortune. We understand, and luckily, there are lots of fantastic offers on short-hop deals. While the Canaries and Lanzarote are natural destinations for Christmas holidays, look to Portugal and Spain for destinations that still pack some heat without lightening the wallet too much.
Sunsearch have a trip to Eden resort in Albufeira departing at the end of December for around €350 pp. This village-style complex is ideal for families, with spacious accommodation, three pools and lots to keep the kids entertained.
Albufeira is brilliantly family-friendly, and boasts beaches galore.
Falcon Holidays fly from Cork to Belamadena in mid December for €395 pp to stay at Bali Hotel and Studios. Perched on a hill overlooking the ocean, this resort is split between hotel rooms and studio apartments. It has everything you would expect, with numerous pools, a year-round kids club and plenty of sunbathing space.
For those of us to whom Ireland seems somewhat provincial at Christmas-time, perhaps it’s time to look further afield. If you fancy spending the festive period in a place that quite literally goes to town on festivities, then consider Dubai.
Whether you want to spend the day skiing, snorkelling or shopping up a storm, the jewel of the UAE is the place for you.
Sunway are flying out of Dublin on December 23 for a quick Christmas break,
spending three nights in the four star Radisson Blu Downtown (€1145pp).
Let it be noted that the hotel is located at the heart of downtown Dubai, in an enviable location just around the corner from the Burj Khalifa and other nearby attractions including the Dubai Mall.
The hotel provides a free shuttle service to and from several Dubai locations including the Business Bay metro station and Jumeirah Beach Park.
If an island adventure is more up your street, then perhaps a jaunt to Thailand is on the cards. Sunway leave Dublin for Phuket on December 21, staying at the Kata Sea Breeze Hotel (€1399 pp).
Relaxation will abound in this ultra stylish homage to Thailand, which is nestled right beside one of the area’s most famous beaches. With a choice of four swimming pools, an excellent restaurant open all day and evening and several watering holes, Kata Sea Breeze is just the ticket for those of us who need to recharge after a busy year.
Be sure to book in for a massage in the onsite spa - you won’t regret it.
While travelling with children it’s essential to get the basics right - especially at this time of year. Choose resorts equipped with staff that will pay attention to the kids during your festive getaway - poolside Santa optional!
Clickandgo.com fly from Cork to Puerto Rico in the Canaries on December 21 to the ultra-fabulous Morasol Suites Aparthotel.
This trip may have quite the price tag at €1672pp, but the entire family will be seriously pampered during their stay.
With Jacuzzi, spa and super smart interiors for Mum and Dad, there is a kid’s pool and plenty to keep the littles occupied.
The resort is situated right by the marina and just a few minutes from a sandy beach, so when you want to take a swim to work off your Christmas dinner, you are a mere waddle away.
Falcon Holidays fly to Fuertaventura from Dublin on December 21, staying in the self-catering Costa Caleta resort.
This resort has all the main attractions of a great self-catering spot (gorgeous pool, great bar etc), but it has the added value of being attached to an all-inclusive hotel, should you get tired of making breakfast, or lunch or Christmas dinner. At €531 for guaranteed sun and gorgeous surroundings, you and the family would have a hard time not having a great time at this resort.
If you like the thrill of the hunt, then you’ll love the idea of waiting until the last minute to choose your Christmas getaway. The most important rule of this tactic is to do your homework.
This is not a time to accept a deal where you are not able to find out what your accommodation is going to be, for example.
No, it simply would not do to be stuck in a hellhole with no air-conditioning over Christmas.
Watch bargain trip websites like travelrepublic.ie and lastminute.com in the weeks leading up to your planned time away.
Research the resort and accommodations you would like to stay in, and as the price drops choose your moment and pounce.
At the time of writing, I have found deals to Lanzarote and hotels that I have stayed in and know to be incredible for around €450 pp sharing. While it’s not for the faint-hearted, last minute trip booking is almost always a budgetary winner.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved