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10 top luxury destinations

Stuck for holiday ideas? Take your pick of the 10 best places to see in the world…

1 Cape Town South Africa

Why?
It’s got miles of beaches and awesome surf. Plus, there’s only a two-hour time difference from the UK so you won’t have jet lag after the 12-hour flight.

How do I get there?
Fly with British Airways, South African Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa or KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

What’s unmissable?
Take a half-hour boat journey to Robben Island museum, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison (www.robben-island.org.za).

What else?
Let a cable car whisk you 1,000m up to the top of Table Mountain for panoramic views of Devil’s Peak and Lion’s head. Or venture out of Cape Town for whale-spotting and wine-tasting.

Where should I stay?
There’s accommodation to suit all tastes, whether you’re after a hip boutique hotel in the thick of things or a secluded mansion house in the outskirts.

Where’s good to eat?
Blues Restaurant is a must for seafood fans, and has jaw-dropping views of Camps Bay at sunset, (www.blues.co.za).

2 Marrakech Morocco

Why?
The hippy haven of the late 60s still has the power to draw the in-crowd. Medina, Marrakech’s old city, is a true sense-stirrer – noisy, colourful and deliciously dusty.

How do I get there?
Fly with British Airways, Royal Air Maroc and Air France.

What’s unmissable?
Shopping, shopping and more shopping. The many souks, or traditional markets, are famously diverse. Bag yourself a carpet, local pottery, a beautiful lantern or some Moroccan slippers – all that’s needed is some haggling skills.

What else?
Crowd into Jemaa el-Fna, the main clearing in the city. Gawp at snake-charmers, pick up a herbal cure for an ailment or even have a tooth removed!

Where should I stay?
It’s vital to have a cool, calm escape from the hustle and bustle. The city boasts at least 500 riads – grand houses with interior gardens – and many have now been transformed into chic boutique hotels.

Where’s good to eat?
In the mood for a blowout? Le Tobsil offers countless courses of succulent meats, vegetables and salads, and a dazzling setting in a riad courtyard, (22 Derb Moulay Abdellah Ben Hessaien, Bab Ksour, 00 212 44 44 4052).

3 Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Why?
It’s the fastest growing city in the world, and also the playground of the Middle East. Lose yourself in its glitzy shopping malls, catch some rays on the beaches or marvel at the incredible buildings. Some say Dubai is soulless, but you can’t help falling in love with the glamour.

How do I get there?
Fly with Emirates or British Airways.

What’s unmissable?
As a break from retail therapy, fasten your seatbelt for some ‘dune bashing’ in an organized four-wheel-drive sand safari, (www.alphatoursdubai.com).

What else?
Dubai is home to the largest indoor ski slope in the world. Environmentalists might not be happy, but there’s no denying it’s impressive – the manufactured snow is housed in a building 25 floors high, (www.skidubai.com).

Where should I stay?
Kissing the clouds at an impressive 321m in height, the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab is the world’s tallest hotel. If you’re not a guest, you can still take afternoon tea in the Skyview bar, suspended over the sea, or gawp at its underwater restaurant, (www.burj-al-arab.com).

Where’s good to eat?
Bateau Dubai, a luxury cruise liner, lays on fine food and live music, (www.bateauxdubai.com).

4 Bali, Indonesia

Why?
Terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005 dented Bali’s appeal for a while, but holidaymakers are returning. It’s a true island paradise, but its abundant Hindu temples and shrines also lend it a deeply spiritual side.

How do I get there?
Fly with Singapore Airlines or Qantas.

What’s unmissable?
Head south of Bali’s capital, Denpasar, for the best beaches. Another ten minutes from there is Sanur, where you can watch the sun rise. And don’t miss the stunning temple, just a short distance from the water’s edge.

What else?
Bali’s interior is a volcanic area lush in vegetation and dazzling floral displays. Creative types should make a trip to Ubud, packed with art galleries, craft shops and little cafes.

Where should I stay?
There’s a large concentration of five-star resorts around Denpasar. Luckily, building laws decree that buildings can’t be higher than a coconut tree, so tourism hasn’t left such a damaging mark on this beautiful island as on many others.

Where’s good to eat?
For something a little different, try one of the warungs, outdoor restaurants, found all over the island. In Jimbaran, see your white snapper, tuna, crab, lobster or prawns cooked over coconut shells in oil drums and eat it by the sea while the waves lap your feet.

5 Maldives, Indian Ocean

Why?
The Maldives consists of 26 atolls, or low coral islands. From the air they look like a string of pearls flung into the ocean. The area was hit hard by the 2004 tsunami, but has bounced back quickly. Could that have anything to do with the gleaming white beaches, turquoise lagoons and palm trees?

How do I get there?
Fly with Emirates, Sri Lankan Airlines or Qatar Airways to Male airport, then catch a seaplane to your island.

What’s unmissable?
The Maldives boasts such stunning marine life and coral reefs, scuba-diving is like swimming in a giant aquarium. Most islands have their own diving centres. But if you’re not a water baby, you can still get some of the effect – just stand ankle-high in the water and scores of tiny, colourful fish will flock to kiss your feet.

What else?
Once you land on your own Maldivian island, you probably won’t want to move. Many islands have their own luxury beach-side spas where you can be massaged to the sound of waves lapping the beach. Mostly though, it’s all about doing nothing.

Where should I stay?
Reethi Rah, with its children’s club, is perfect for families. But prizes for the best beach go to the honeymooning paradise of Soneva Fushi – where there’s a no-shoe policy – for a complete switch off.

Where’s good to eat?
Most holiday-makers come to the Maldives on an all-inclusive package, which means that you can eat (and maybe drink) as much as you like in the resorts’ restaurants. The only foods native to the Maldives are tuna and coconut, so everything else has to be imported. But expect lots of seafood.

6 Prague, Czech Republic

Why?
Picture narrow cobbled streets and gothic spires – a heady fairytale skyline – and you’ve got the bohemian city of Prague. Since the communist government was overthrown during the 1989 Velvet Revolution, the city has opened itself up to the world.

How do I get there?
Fly to Prague with British Airways, Lufthansa, Czech Airlines and Easyjet.

What’s unmissable?
Charles Bridge, which crosses the Vltava river and links the old town with Mala Strana, is a sight to behold – and probably the city’s most familiar view. It’s decorated with 30 baroque statues, and was built around 1700. During the day, street artists and stall-holders base themselves here, but at night it’s the place to go for a picture postcard view of spotlit Prague in all its glory.

What else?
For a time check with a difference, visit the Astromonical Clock in the Old Town Square. On the hour from 8am to 8pm it delivers an intricate display of gold medieval
saints and zodiac signs in statuette form.

Where should I stay?
There’s been a lot of building work since 1989, and now Prague boasts luxury 5-star hotels, country houses and castles as well as budget accommodation. Aim
to stay in the Old Town to be closest to all the attractions.

Where’s good to eat?
Prague couldn’t be called a diet haven, as pork, dumplings and sauerkraut are Czech staples. At one of Prague’s most traditional pubs, U Medvidku, order the dish with half-litres of Pilsner or flavoured vodka. The best bit? It’s popular with locals so it must be good, (Na Perstyne 7, Praha 1, www.umedvidku.cz).

7 Kangaroo Island Australia

Why?
Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island, and is known as the Galapagos of Down Under. It houses plants and animals that exist nowhere else in Australia, and more than a third of it is taken up with national park or conservation park.

How do I get there?
Fly or get the ferry from Adelaide.

What’s unmissable?
Flinders Chase National Park spans 33,000 hectares and includes two spectacular land formations, Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch. Oh, and it’s packed with kangaroos and koala bears, as well as endangered Cape Barren geese, (www.tourkangarooisland.com.au).

What else?
Discover the world of the Kangaroo Island penguin at Little Penguins.
But this isn’t a zoo – it stages night tours so you can see the birds up close and personal in their natural habitat, (www.tourkangarooisland.com.au).

Where should I stay?
There are places to stay to suit all tastes and budgets – from luxury lodges with on-call chefs to quaint seaside homes or cottages in the bush.

Where’s good to eat?
Order some fresh local seafood over dinner at Kangaroo Island Lodge, with its views over Pelican Lagoon. The lodge has been built to blend in with its environment, (www.kilodge.com.au).
8 Majorca Balearic Islands

Why?
Majorca (also known as Mallorca) may have had a chic makeover in recent years – Catherine Zeta-Jones, Claudia Schiffer and Boris Becker are all said to own homes there – but its main draw is still its dazzling sandy beaches and magnificent mountains.

How do I get there?
Fly with British Airways, Easyjet, Ryanair and Iberia.

What’s unmissable?
Take the white-knuckle drive from Port de Pollenca to Majorca’s north east tip, Cap de Formentor, for some dramatic scenery. Opened in 1929, Hotel Formentor is the island’s original deluxe hotel, and these days its beach is open to all.

What else?
History buffs will love the walled city of Alcudia, a restored Roman settlement, where you can visit the remains of Roman houses and even a tiny amphitheatre. If you’re
here on Sunday and Tuesday mornings, enjoy haggling for fresh produce and local goods at
the bustling street market.

Where should I stay?
On the north east side of the island, lies the old fishing village Port de Pollenca, full of pensions (family-owned guesthouses), villas and hotels. Evenings see people taking a stroll or ‘paseo’ up and down the tree-lined walkway on the edge of the beach. As it’s
a sheltered horseshoe-shaped bay, it’s ideal for families.

Where’s good to eat?
For something a little special try Mallorquin dishes at Refectori, the restaurant of the hotel Convent De La Missio in Palma, (www.conventdelamissio.com).

9 Cuba Caribbean

Why?
The Caribbean island of Cuba is famous for its cigars, music and the faded colonial architecture of its capital, Havana. Now’s a good time to visit before its unique character is destroyed. It’s been stuck in a time warp since Fidel Castro became Prime Minister in 1959, but will soon be changing.

How do I get there?
Captivating Cuba holidays offer some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, the enduring Salsa pulse and of course the most sought-after cigars in the world, (www.captivatingcuba.com or call 0870 887 0123).

What’s unmissable?
Without a doubt, Havana. Like stepping back in time, it’s a fine example of Spanish Colonial architecture. Explore the churches of Old Havana and marvel
at the mansions of Catedral, Vieja and Armas. You’ll hear music everywhere, too – especially the rumba.

What else?
Santiago de Cuba in Eastern Cuba is the second most important city after Havana. Don’t miss the Santa Basílica Metropolitana Iglesia Catedral, said to be the most important architectural monument of the area. It’s flanked by statues of Christopher Columbus and its interior is richly decorated.

Where should I stay?
If you’re after a relaxing beach holiday, Cuba has numerous all-inclusive resorts. But these might leave you feeling in a bit of a ‘bubble’ as you don’t get to mix with locals. Others might prefer more authentic accommodation.

Where’s good to eat?
Before 1995, all restaurants in Cuba were owned by the state. Now though, paladares have sprung up – private houses with a license to serve food. Paladares tend to be quite transient – word of mouth is always the best way to find a good one.

10 Vancouver Canada

Why?
The beautiful Pacific city of Vancouver has the best of both worlds – big city glitz and glamour teamed with outdoor thrills.
How do I get there? Fly with British Airways or Air Canada.

What’s unmissable?
In summer, Stanley Park beckons. More a forest than a park, it’s a 1,000-acre pensinsula in the harbour circled by a five-mile seawall path, a favourite for walkers, skaters and cyclists, (www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/Parks/parks/stanley).

What else?
One way to get some fantastic views, not to mention a thrilling ride, is to book a place on a seaplane. During spring and summer, you can spot killer whales around Vancouver Island, (www.vancouverislandair.com).

Where should I stay?
Vancouver’s packed with hotels. The biggest concentration is around the business district, by Canada Place or Burrard and Granville Streets.

Where’s good to eat?
Given its ocean-fronted location, seafood is always on the menu in Vancouver. Drive over the Lions Gate Bridge to The Beach House in West Vancouver for a view over Burrard Inlet and Stanley Park. Wild salmon is a speciality, (www.atthebeachhouse.com).
It’s all in the planning
We all know how tricky it can be to get the most out of your trip. So if you’re after a bespoke holiday, look no further than The Holiday Planner. It prides itself on the exceptional level of service offered to clients and can provide luxury private travel arrangements across the world, including India, Africa, the Far East, Latin America and the Middle East…Nothing is seen as too difficult and its small team of experts is well travelled and knowledgeable. For more details, call The Holiday Planner on 020 8398 6332 or visit www.theholidayplanner.co.uk

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