Enjoy island life in the Seychelles
The charm of this beautiful archipegalo is no secret, but did you realise it is only a four-hour flight from Dubai? There are few better places on the planet to embrace relaxation – largely thanks to the abundance of exquisite beaches, where the only sounds are the gentle slosh of azure waters as they lap the shore and the occasional thud as a coconut hits the sand. Traditionally a luxury destination, it’s no longer all high prices. A growing number of affordable B&Bs and holiday rentals are opening up the pleasures of these paradise isles to the rest of us – the charming Casa De Leela guesthouse on sleepy La Digue island, for example, offers a delightful slice of tropical bliss in a self-catering bungalow for less than Dh500 per night for two people, see www.casa-de-leela.bplaced.net/
Need to know
Many hotels offer deals. Check www.justseychelles.com for regular accommodation promotions.
Covering the cobbles in Budapest
Budapest has the kind of charm that’s best appreciated on foot as you wander down narrow cobbled side streets and stroll along tree-lined boulevards, drinking in the sights. The Hungarian city is one of Eastern Europe’s great historic capitals and there are plenty of man-made marvels to admire, from majestic churches and ornate palaces to the elegant art nouveau houses that line the streets and spill out into grand squares. Walking tours are a good way to appreciate all this, and some of the best are conducted by locals who offer an insider’s insight into the city. The team at Budapest Underguide runs a series of excursions, including an art nouveau tour that focuses on the city’s colourful architectural attractions, while the delicatessen tour explores Budapest’s famed cuisine and another route takes in some of the city’s best watering holes.
Need to know
Budapest Underguide tours range from around Dh100 to Dh500. A wide array of accommodation options are available in Budapest, from cosy B&Bs to luxurious five-star hotels.
Get back to nature in Jordan
Escaping modern life is easier said than done in today’s busy world, but as you bump further and further down the track to Feynan Ecolodge, it’s clear that this really is in the heart of nature. The rustic retreat sits on the south-western edge of the Dana Biosphere, Jordan’s largest nature reserve, and provides a perfect base for walking and biking excursions into this wild and beautiful landscape. An impressive list of awards from international travel organisations testifies to the lodge’s success in creating an idyllic rural environment where guests can immerse themselves in the splendour of their surroundings. Run entirely on solar power, Feynan Ecolodge prides itself on using less electricity per day than a two-bedroom apartment in the capital, so don’t expect too many mod cons. Instead, look for romance, adventure, relaxation and the kind of peace and quiet you normally only dream of.
Need to know
Rooms at Feynan Ecolodge start from Dh985 for two adults. Packages include activities, such as guided hikes, trips to nearby historic sites, mountain biking and stargazing.
Slip away to Salalah
It takes less than two hours to fly to Salalah in Oman but the landscape here could not be more different from the UAE. Tree-clad hills rear up over lush valleys where the rivers run through fertile plains and irrigate banana and papaya plantations. The region’s culture is as diverse as its geography and visitors can immerse themselves in a panoply of exotic experiences. A three-day trip with Orient Tours takes in the highlights, beginning with a city excursion that covers the museum, the Sultan’s Palace, the frankincense souk – the Dhofar region is famed for its frankincense trees – and the gold souk. The second day follows a frankincense trail through Eastern Dhofar, winding up through the mountains past archaeological sites, historic towns and old port cities before heading across to Western Dhofar in the afternoon to take in the area’s natural wonders.
Need to know
From Dh3,355 per person, including flights, two nights’ accommodation at the five-star Salalah Marriott Hotel, activities and transfers, www.orient-tours-uae.com.
Soak up the sights in Cyprus
It’s easy to see why Cyprus has such an enduring appeal. The Mediterranean isle has its own take on the classic sun, sea and sand combination with spellbinding scenery, exquisite cuisine and oodles of interesting cultural sites at which to while away sun-soaked days that aren’t spent on the beach. The inevitable sprawling resorts line much of the coastline so those looking to experience the real Cyprus can head inland and book in at one of the many charming B&Bs in quaint villages dotted around the countryside. Villa Menorah, in Ayia Anna, has everything that guests seeking a serene getaway in a boutique environment could wish for, with gorgeous rooms in a traditional stone building, a flower-filled garden and wonderfully welcoming hosts who serve a mean Mediterranean breakfast.
Need to know
Rooms at Villa Menorah start from Dh200 to Dh440. For bookings contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 00357 99 359 951.
Eat for free!
Families staying at any of the 16 Millennium & Copthorne hotels and resorts across the Gulf can enjoy two complimentary meals each day at their hotel’s all-day-dining restaurant. Running until September 15, this package is valid at any of the three-, four- and five-star properties in UAE, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. www.millenniumhotels.ae
The UAE, Italy and Turkey are the destinations of choice for Mena residents with big budgets. A recent YouGov report found that 14 per cent of luxury travellers from the region head to the UAE for their holidays, while 10 per cent choose Italy and 5 per cent opt for Turkey.
In the swing of it
Abu Dhabi is teeing up for a large-scale campaign to boost its share of the global golf tourism market. The UAE capital plans to target expanding golf markets across Europe, India, China and the GCC with a dedicated new golf portal accessible via visitabudhabi.ae that will offer direct access to an array of golf holiday packages in the emirate.