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5 Top Long Haul Holiday Picks in 2018

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I have teamed up with Tropical Sky, the long haul holiday specialists, to bring you five top long haul holiday picks for 2018.

 

If you are looking to try somewhere new, and in search of adventure, then go long haul in 2018.  From South Africa to Sri Lanka, Alaska to Australia, Tropical Sky will have a holiday to suit you. I have selected five of their top long haul holiday picks for 2018, all are recommended hotels and great value. Note all of these holidays are based on seven nights but you can extend your stay or even combine them with another destination. All prices include flights, hotels and transfers so there is no need to worry about adding on extra expense!

top long haul holiday picks

Maldives – Meeru Island Resort & Spa, 1 week, Full Board, €1499!

The Maldives are the islands associated with barefoot luxury, over water bungalows and incredible diving and snorkeling. Meeru Island Resort is the only resort found on the island of Meerufenfushi. Accessible by speed boat from Male (included in the price), you will be surrounded by picture perfect beaches and stunning lagoons. You can choose to spend your days lazing on the beach, take boat trips or even go island hopping. There is a spa and fitness centre in the resort as well as regular beach volleyball, in case you find lazy beach days too relaxing! There are five restaurants to choose from including the Hot Rocks where your meal is cooked in front of you on volcanic rocks.

Tropical Sky is offering a seven night stay on a full board basis, including flights and speed boat transfers from only €1499. If you are looking for some action at the beginning or end of your trip, why not combine this with a few days in Dubai.

Click here for more details:

 

Nashville & New Orleans Tour, 6 Nights, €1279!

Looking to try something different in 2018, check out two of America’s most fascinating cities, New Orleans and Nashville. You will start your tour in Nashville and visit the famous recording studios where Elvis and many famous artists recorded. You will also have the opportunity to see a live country music gig on Broadway.  You will then fly to New Orleans and experience one of the best jazz scenes. Visit the historic streets in the French Quarter, take a boat trip along the Mississippi on a traditional paddle steamer, and enjoy some delicious creole cuisine.

top long haul holiday picks

American Sky is offering a six night tour of Nashville and New Orleans from €1399 including all flights and hotels. Book before the 31st of January and you will save €120 making this only €1279! This tour can also be combined with other American cities. Why not visit Memphis or Chicago and complete the iconic music trail?

Click here for more details

 

Dubai, 5* All Inclusive at Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate, 4 Nights, €1299!

The worlds tallest building, the world’s largest shopping mall, the world’s only seven star hotel and now the world’s largest indoor theme park! Dubai never settles for anything less than the best! However bars and restaurants in Dubai can be expensive, so this all-inclusive deal in the luxurious 5* Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate is the perfect way to enjoy this great city. Centrally located with free access to the Riva Beach Club, you can enjoy city life, with the benefits of Dubai’s beaches. There is also a rooftop lap pool if you are not a beach lover. There are nine restaurants to choose from so you don’t need to worry about dining in the same restaurant each night. Families are catered for too with a kids club and play area. If you want to get out and about, the hotel offers a free shuttle bus to the Riva Beach Club and Dubai Parks. For more info on things to do, read the top ten things to do in Dubai.

top long haul holiday picks

Tropical Sky is offering a four night all-inclusive stay at the Movenpick Ibn Battuta from only €1299 including flights and transfers. This includes a staggering €500 discount and a room upgrade if booked by the 15th of January!

Click here for more details:

 

Mexico – All Inclusive at the 5* Moon Palace Cancun, 1 week, €1629 with $750 Resort Credit per person

Dine in any of their fifteen restaurants, have cocktails in any of their twelve bars or if you fancy a nightcap on your balcony – enjoy a drink from your well-stocked minibar. All of these are included in the price of your stay! And that’s not all … for a limited time you will get $750 resort credit per person, absolutely free!

The Moon Palace has everything you need on site for an action packed holiday, with numerous sports and entertainment options to choose from. All rooms come with a private balcony and a hammock as well as a double Jacuzzi in the bathroom. Families are well catered for too with family rooms, kids clubs, a kids waterpark. If you fancy a night out, Cancun is only a half hour away and you can also explore the nearby islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujieres. The Moon Palace also happens to be sitting on a stunning white sandy beach, facing the Caribbean Sea, so it’s fair to say you might not want to leave it.

top long haul holiday picks

Tropical Sky is offering a seven night, all inclusive stay including flights and transfers from €1629 per person, which includes a €550 discount per person. For a limited time, you will also receive $1500 resort credit per room. Fancy bringing the kids? They have a ‘kids go free’ offer valid from the 22nd of June to 18th of August.

Click here for more details:

 

5* Luxury at Kata Rocks, Phuket, 1 week, B&B, €2049

Kata Rocks has been voted one of the top 25 resorts in Asia by Conde Nast and it is often classed as Phuket’s best luxury resort. Each villa has its own infinity pool with a outdoor sun deck and stunning sea views. Dining is superb with some of the best Thai food on the island as well as an excellent Mediterranean restaurant, which offers a romantic sunset dinner over looking the Andaman sea. The award winning spa offers 30 unique treatments and even children are catered for with a kids club, children’s menu and a choice of two, three and four bedroom villas. If you can manage to tear yourself away from the hotel, the town of Kata is only a short walk away, while Phuket Town or Patong beach are about 20 minutes by taxi.

top long haul holiday picks

Tropical Sky is offering 30% off room rates if booked 60 days in advance as well as children ( under 12 ) dining free when accompanied with a full paying adult. Prices for a a seven night stay on a bed & breakfast basis from €2049 including flights and transfers.

Click here for more details:

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by Tropical Sky but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Sarah

 

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Long HaulTravel

5 Ultimate Luxury Holidays With Free Upgrades And Exclusive Offers

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From Mexico to the Maldives, Barbados to Thailand, check out my top luxury holidays with free upgrades and exclusive offers.

 

I have teamed up with Tropical Sky to bring you some of the best luxury holidays for less. Want all-inclusive hotels where spa treatments, tours and golf are included? Fancy an over water bungalow in the Maldives with an upgrade to full board? Maybe a free upgrade to a jacuzzi suite in Thailand or perhaps up to 50% off in Sandals Barbados… These are just some of the amazing luxury holidays on offer with Tropical Sky.

 

Hurawalhi Island Resort – Maldives

From €2409 with seaplane transfers for seven nights.

The Maldives are probably one of the world’s most romantic destinations. Over water bungalows, pristine white sandy beaches and an underwater paradise, it is not surprising that the barefoot luxury of the Maldives is on everyone’s bucketlist. Hurawalhi Island is a picture postcard island resort that encapsulates the image of the Maldives. Complete with the world’s largest undersea restaurant and over water bungalows that lead right into the crystal clear waters of the lagoon, it is an adults-only paradise island. There are plenty of other restaurants to choose from it you want to eat above sea level, as well as an infinity pool, a luxury spa and a host of watersports. Watch the sunset from the Coco bar or the Champagne Pavillion and if you fancy a lively night, there is a choice of evening entertainment including live music and even a disco!

Tropical Sky are offering a free upgrade to full board when staying in an Ocean Villa, Ocean Sunset Villa, Ocean Pool Villa & Ocean Sunset Pool Villa, if you travel from the 1st of November to the 30th of April and book before the 31st October. Prices start at €3589 in one of only 15 luxurious ocean villas which are nestled in stilts over the water ❤️ This includes a saving of €1000 per person and includes flights, seaplane transfers and accommodation on full board basis.

Click here for more details

 

The Paradise Koh Yao – Thailand

From €1039 on a bed & breakfast basis in a jacuzzi studio for seven nights.

If you are looking for one of Thailand’s best kept secrets – you found it! Koh Yao No is located an hour by boat from bustling Phuket, yet world’s apart. This romantic hideaway is perfect for anyone looking to experience unspoilt Thailand without breaking the bank. With stunning views over Phang Nga Bay, this is where you will enjoy lazy beach days with your loved one. There is also a large infinity pool, twice daily open air yoga classes and a host of watersports available.

Tropical Sky have an exclusive offer of a free upgrade to a jacuzzi studio, yes your own private jacuzzi in your room! You will also receive 1 hour spa aromatherapy treatment for two per stay, if booked by the 31st of October. And that’s not all, if you book 60 days before arrival you can save an additional 20% discount on the hotel cost! Prices from €1039 on a bed & breakfast basis in a jacuzzi studio.

Click here for more details:

 

Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

From €879 on a half board basis for six nights

Only an hour from Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, or ‘Rak’, has white sandy beaches, desert dunes and rugged mountains. Explore the ‘Omani Fjords’ on a traditional dhow, visit a Bedouin desert camp or see ‘Rak’ by gyrocopter at the Jazirah Aviation Club. The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah was inspired by Arabian palaces and the building is an architectural masterpiece. It’s location is perfect too. Situated on it’s own private beach it also has the luxury of a dramatic mountain backdrop, an 18 hole golf course and the Arabian Gulf, all visible from the hotel. The interior also has the wow factor. The stylish décor compliments the five star service and facilities on offer. There is a wide selection of international restaurants and bars to choose from, a luxury spa, golf course and swimming pool. Check out the short video below and you will see why it is rated number 1 on tripadvisor.

Tropical Sky have an exclusive offer of a free upgrade to half board with free airport transfers if you book by the 31st of October. You can also avail of a free upgrade to a sea view junior suite with balcony, if you book by the 9th of October.  Prices from €879 for a six night stay in June.

Click here for more details:

 

UNICO – Mexico

From €2099 on a premium all-inclusive basis for seven nights.

Imagine staying in an all inclusive hotel with spa treatments and golf included, where you can take Mayan jungle tours, sailing trips or swim with dolphins, and just pay a 20% service fee. UNICO 20°87°’ differs from other luxury hotels because of their unique all-inclusive offering. With personal training sessions, spa treatments, water-sports and incredible tours included in the price, this is an all-inclusive resort like no other. All you pay is a 20% service tax – see a full list of inclusions here. UNICO 20°87° is a brand new adult-only luxury hotel, located on a stunning beach and is the best hotel in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, according to tripadvisor. It’s contemporary décor manages to incorporate traditional Mexican style with lavish furnishings. They also offer unique cultural experiences, including cookery classes and a cocktail hour in a nearby Mayan village. There are three swimming pools, a wide variety of dining options as well as a luxury spa and yoga and exercise classes on the beach. Rooms are not standard either, choose an Alcoba swim up pool room or a room with an ocean view and an outdoor spa tub. You even have your own personalised Anfitrión, or host, available 24 hours a day.

Tropical Sky have an exclusive saving of €200 per person with unlimited select spa and beauty treatments included in the all-inclusive package (20% tax paid locally). Prices from €2,099 per person for seven night stay on an all-inclusive basis.

Click here for more details:

 

Sandals Resort, Barbados

From €2379 on a premium all-inclusive basis for seven nights.

Barbados is one of my favourite Caribbean islands. It’s combination of amazing beaches, UNESCO world heritate sites and vibrant nightlife means there is something here for everyone to enjoy. It’s cosmopolitan population means you are as likely meet an Irish man behind the bar as a Bajan. In multicultural Barbados, anything goes. Read my Barbados blog for more info.

Sandals Barbados is the ultimate couples only resort. The unique all-inclusive offering includes unlimited fine dining in eleven different restaurants with your choice of premium branded drinks from seven bars. Unlike many all-inclusive resorts, Sandals also offer unlimited scuba diving and other water sports included in the price of your stay. It’s location close to the lively St Lawrence Gap gives you the option to pop into town if you fancy trying one of Barbados’ legendary street parties.

For a limited time Tropical Sky have a staggering 50% off at Sandals Barbados. Price for flights, transfers and a deluxe room on a premium all-inclusive basis is €2379 in November, €2629 in April, May or June or €2789 in July and August.

Click here for more details:

 

Why not start your luxury holidays in style, by flying business class. Go one better and enjoy a free upgrade to first class when you purchase a business class ticket with British Airways to Mexico, Canada or the USA. Travel by 31st December.

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by TropicalSky but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

 

Destinations

Top 10 Indian Ocean Holidays for 2017

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The Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Zanzibar.  Some of the world’s most stunning destinations are all so close together. Check out my top 10 Indian Ocean holidays and tick one off your bucket list!

 

Expect breath-taking beaches, underwater paradises and year round shine. All of the islands are competing for the luxury market, honeymoons and special occasion holidays. The result is deluxe hotels, supreme service and unforgettable experiences available throughout. The islands of the Indian Ocean don’t only offer sun and sand, there are also cultural experiences waiting to be discovered. And for those who want a little more adventure, why not combine with South Africa, Tanzania or Dubai. But which islands to choose and where to stay? Here are my top 10 Indian Ocean holidays…

Maldives

Maldives are the islands associated with barefoot luxury, over water bungalows and incredible diving and snorkeling. There are almost  twelve hundred islands but only 200 are inhabited and of those 200, only 105 are island resorts. Hotels in the Maldives are breaking the boundaries here with underwater restaurants, outdoor showers, and water villas with glass floors so you can see the tropical fish at any time. Some resorts offer private islands for honeymooners so you can literally have an island all to yourself.  These luxuries can come with a hefty price tag but more and more hotels are offering all-inclusive packages so once you arrive, you will need no spending money. If you are looking for some action at the beginning or end of your trip, combine this with a few days in Dubai.

Top 10 indian ocean holidays

Where to stay:

 

Best value: 4* Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon, All-Inclusive basis

Set on its own private island, accessible by speed boat, need I say more? With picture perfect beaches, a fitness centre and activities on site, everything you need is right here. As this is all-inclusive you can enjoy sundowners every evening from your own water bungalow. Prices from only €1549 for seven nights, including flights, accommodation on an all-inclusive basis and speed boat transfers.  Click here for more details:

 

Blow the budget: 5* Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, B&B basis.

Spread across two islands this is one of the world’s best luxury resorts. This is home to the famous under water restaurant, Ithaa, which features on almost every travel bucket list. There are 11 other restaurants here including celebrity chef dining and a teppanyaki restaurant served on the beach, the choice is superb. If you stay between the 20th of April and the 30th of September you receive FREE upgrade to Half Board!  All villas come with outdoor shower and some have their own private plunge pool. Prices from €2759 for seven nights, including flights, sea plane transfers and accommodation on a B&B basis.  Click here for more details:

 

Mauritius

Five star hotels on white sandy beaches with year round sunshine. Sounds perfect! However Mauritius offers so much more. Whale watching, waterfalls and water-sports, fine dining to creole cooking, Mauritius is an island of contrasts. Paradise beach resort one minute and deep in the jungle the next. Mauritius is renowned for great wildlife and sports enthusiasts will love it’s selection of golf courses. The combination of European, Asian and African influence has created a truly cosmopolitan feel and a island full of culture.

Top 10 indian ocean holidays

Where to stay:

 

Great value: 5* Maritim Resort & Spa, All Inclusive basis

Set between 60 acres of tropical gardens, on a magnificent beach, between the capital, Port Louis and the tourist centre of Grand-Baie, the location of the Maritim Resort and Spa is perfect! There is an infinity pool, plenty of on site activities and a wide selection of watersports available. As it is an all-inclusive resort, meals and drinks are included in the price, you even have your own stocked minibar included in the price. Prices from €1609 for seven nights, including flights, hotel on an all-inclusive basis and transfers. Click here for more details:

 

Blow the budget: 5* Maradiva Villas Resort & Spa, Half Board basis

Set amongst 27 acres of gardens with stunning seaviews, the Maradiva Resort and Spa is paradise personified. Villas have their own private pool and come with a butler service. The luxury spa offers a choice of treatments, a hydrotherapy pool and there is a fitness centre with yoga and aqua yoga. Watersports are plentiful as are the dining options. Prices from €2239 for seven nights including flights, transfers and villa on a half board basis. Click here for more details:

 

Seychelles

Another archipelago of 115 islands, the Seychelles is a top honeymoon destination. Unlike the Maldives, you will find jungle terrain and small cove beaches amongst picture perfect stretches of white sand. Go island hopping, try some scuba diving or witness their giant tortoises. If you fancy a change of scene, Victoria, the capital has a great choice of bars and restaurants and a bustling indoor market.

Top 10 indian ocean holidays

Where to stay:

 

Best value: 4* Avani Seychelles Barbarons Resort & Spa, B&B Basis

This quiet relaxing resort is located on a great beach on the west coast of Mahe. There is a choice of restaurants, a wide selection of watersports, a relaxing spa and fitness centre with yoga classes. Families will enjoy the on site kids club from age 4 – 12 years. Prices from €1319 for seven nights, including flights, accommodation on a B&B basis and transfers. Click here for more details: 

 

Blow the budget: 5* Banyan Tree, Seychelles B&B basis

Secluded villas with your own private pool and sun terrace, this is the perfect romantic getaway. Situated on a stunning beach with a freeform infinity pool, luxury spa and fine dining, it doesn’t get much better than this. Prices from €2569 for seven nights, for flights, villa on a B&B basis and transfers. Click here for more details:

 

Sri Lanka

Another island of contrasts, Sri Lanka’s coast is full of tropical white sandy beaches while inland there are tea plantations and rolling hills. Home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Sri Lanka’s culture and traditions are worth a trip alone. Sri Lanka is an ideal two centre holiday. Visit the world’s only elephant orphanage, the capital Colombo and the world heritage sites before relaxing in one of the five star luxury beach resorts. You can also combine Sri Lanka with the Maldives, only an hour’s flight away, its the perfect Indian Ocean combination.

Top 10 indian ocean holidays

Where to stay?

 

Best value: 4* Club Hotel Dolphin Waikkal, All-Inclusive basis

This modern resort is ideally located on the west coast, beside a sandy beach. The large swimming pool and on site activities make it a great choice for families too. Highly rated on tripadvisor and with all meals and drinks included, this hotel is hard to beat for value. Prices from €1089 for seven nights, including flights, transfers and hotel on an all-inclusive basis. Click here for more details:

 

Blow the budget: 5* Jetwing Lighthouse Galle, B&B basis

Sri Lanka’s leading spa resort and one of the small luxury hotels of the world, this is the ultimate place to stay in Sri Lanka. It is situated on a pristine white sandy beach with stunning sea views and mixes modern decor with classic styles. The service, food and facilities are first class. Prices from €1349 for seven nights including flights, hotel on a B&B basis and transfers. Click here for more details:

 

Zanzibar

One of my favourite holidays,  I combined a safari in Tanzania with a week in Zanzibar.  It’s slow paced relaxed vibe is just what I needed after an action packed safari. Complete with unspoilt white sandy beaches and warm waters, many choose to relax here and rarely leave their hotel. Those who do will find a capital, Stone Town, full of character and charm and a jungle interior waiting to be explored. The plantations are famous for spices, in fact it is often referred to as the ‘spice island’ and if you look closely you may spot the red colobus monkeys that roam freely here.

Top 10 indian ocean holidays

Where to stay?

 

Best value: 5* Dream of Zanzibar Resort, All-Inclusive basis

This luxury beach front property has five restaurants and three bars so there are plenty of places to enjoy the all-inclusive facilities. There is a watersports centre, multisports court and gym if you need to work off those extra calories! If you just want to chill out an relax there are two pools, a luxury spa and of course there’s the stunning beach. With prices from €1439 including flights, all-inclusive accommodation and transfers, for seven nights, this is exceptional value for a 5* resort. Click here for more details:

 

Blow the budget: 5* The Residence Zanzibar, Half Board Basis

This elegant hotel is located on one of the island’s best beaches. It’s modern decor mixed with traditional themes make it the idyllic choice on the island. The resort has sixty six villas, each with a private pool, stunning sea views, private gardens and a personal butler. There are thirty two hectares of gardens, pool, fitness centre, spa and a selection of watersports available. With prices from €1619 including flights, villa on a half board basis and transfers, for seven nights, this is not as expensive as you would expect for such a luxurious hotel. Click here for more details:

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by Tropical Sky but all views, as always, are my own 🙂
Sarah
In The Media

Romantic Holidays As Seen on TV3 Saturday AM – 6th February 2016

TV3 Sat AM

Love is in the air for this weeks Saturday AM travel slot. We discussed romantic holidays including Ireland’s top hotels, a weekend break in Florence and a magical trip to the Maldives.

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Ashford Castle

Not only is Ashford Castle Ireland’s best hotel but it was also voted the world’s No 1 hotel in 2015 by one of the industry’s leading luxury networks – Virtuoso. €75 million has been invested into the hotel over the past two years and there is no doubt this 13th century castle offers something unique to its guests. As you drive in under the impressive gates, through the golf course and across the moat – you will be blown away before you even set foot inside the hotel. Once inside the attention to detail is extraordinary. Complete with excellent service and the finest furnishings, when it comes to romantic hotels in Ireland, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Ashford castle discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

You can choose one of the many sporting activities including golf, falconry, horse riding, fishing or spend the afternoon relaxing at the spa – you will be spoilt for choice here. There is also an excellent choice of dining available. Choose fine dining in the famous George V Dining Room or casual dining in their Summer Bistro or Dungeon restaurant.

Ashford castle discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

As it is a leap year, Ashford are offering a “Leap of Faith’ package for ladies who would like to propose. Price of €563 per person includes a two night stay with breakfast, a five course fine dining meal, couples spa treatments and a visit to the in house cinema to see the movie Leap Year. It doesn’t end there! During the movie you can arrange for a secret proposal to happen on the big screen. This will be arranged by the staff to suit your individual taste. And of course you will be given a bottle of champagne to celebrate!

Ashford castle discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

There are also special offers available during February & March which would be ideal as Valentines day gifts. Two nights BB and one evening meal from €285 per person or two nights BB and two evening meals plus afternoon tea from €380 per person. For more details click here.

Monart

The difference between Monart and other luxury hotels is that Monart is Ireland’s only destination Spa property. It offers a unique adults-only environment and was recently awarded ‘runner up best spa retreat in the world’, by Conde Nast Traveller. It was also named as Ireland’s best destination spa for four years in a row. If you are looking for a spa break, there is no doubt – Monart is the best!

Monart Spa Resort discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

All spa products at Monart are 100% natural. They use Pevonia Botanica, the award-winning natural skincare range and Voya, 100% organic seaweed body therapies. The deluxe accommodation and excellent cuisine are also top class and as Monart is situated on 100 acres – you will feel utterly relaxed here.

Monart Spa Resort discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

Monart have limited availability for Valentine’s weekend with packages from €185 per person including breakfast, evening meal and full access to the 2000 square foot Thermal suite throughout your stay.

Monart Spa Resort discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

Alternatively they have over night stays available throughout the year from €149 per person – a perfect Valentines day gift. For more details click here.

Florence

Florence is Italy’s most romantic city and must rival Paris for being Europe’s city of love. Smaller and more compact than Paris it offers a more intimate feel. It is so easy to navigate and you should manage to see most of the highlights in a weekend break.

Florence by The Travel Expert

The Ponte Vecchio bridge is lined with jewellery shops just asking for the ring to be chosen. The city oozes style so its not surprising that Gucci and Roberto Cavalli were born here! The Uffizi Gallery houses one of the largest collections of art in the world and the Cathedral (Duomo) is one of the most impressive you are likely to see anywhere.

Duomo, Florence by The Travel Expert

If you have the time, a trip into the Tuscan countryside will only add to the romance. Choose from Siena, San Gimignano, Chianti – all a short distance from Florence. I found a great deal departing on the 7th of May for only €215 including flights and three nights hotel accommodation. The perfect gift for your loved one on Valentines day! Click here for more details.  

Maldives

The beaches are white powder, the temperatures are approximately 30 degrees all year round and each resort is on its own island. The word paradise automatically springs to mind! Not surprisingly the Maldives are one of the most romantic places to holiday.

Kandolhu Island, Maldives by The Travel Expert

There are almost 1200 islands spread out over 1000 km of which 100 are tourist islands and 200 are locally inhabited. Even the airport is on a separate island as it is literally a runway in the ocean! Renowned as an underwater paradise each island is surrounded by its own reef which is perfect for snorkeling or scuba diving. Many rooms or villas are situated over the ocean with direct access to the sea. The atmosphere is so relaxed that even in the 5* resorts, a beach dress and flip flops are the norm at night. So ladies, no need to pack ten pairs of shoes!

Kandolhu, Maldives, The ultimate honeymoon by The Travel Expert

Normally once you land you will transfer to a sea plane to bring you to the island resort. As everything needs to be imported, items can be expensive so I would recommend going all inclusive. Be careful though as some all inclusive resorts will only allow you use the buffet restaurant and you will have to pay extra to use the a la carte restaurants on the island. I can recommend Kuramathi, an excellent 4*+ resort who offer a ‘select’ all inclusive package, that includes nine a la carte restaurants. Prices from €2745 per person include flights and seven nights accommodation in a jacuzzi beach villa, with sea plane transfers and the select all inclusive dining package. For more information click here.  Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert talks about the Maldives on Saturday AM

If you want to go 5*, Kandolhu has four a la carte restaurants and even your own wine cooler stocked with 30 bottles of wine in your villa! Will you manage to get through them all though…. 

I hope I gave you some ideas of how to surprise your loved on on Valentines day or at some stage in the future. For more ideas read my blog post – the top 10 romantic destinations.

 

Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.

 

Sarah

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Top Ten Romantic Destinations

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It wasn’t easy trying to come up with a list of the top ten romantic destinations – let’s face it Italy probably has ten on it’s own! I had to narrow it down to my personal favourites so I hope you like them…

The world is full of romantic places but sometimes it’s what happens in a particular place that makes it romantic. Let’s face it The Eiffel Tower doesn’t look particularly romantic, but proposing in Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the distance, is one of the world’s most romantic places to propose. Hopefully you can take some inspiration from these romantic destinations and plan you own romantic getaway.

 

 

 

 

Paris, France

Paris one of my top ten romantic destinations by The Travel Expert

It is impossible not to fall in love with Paris. Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and sip champagne from the bar at the top. As I mentioned previously, it is one of the most romantic places to propose! If that’s not your thing, take a stroll around Montmartre and enjoy the views from the Sacré Coeur, or relax and absorb the city from a boat trip on the Seine. Finish off your day with some classic French cuisine in one of it’s many brasseries – formidable!

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Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Whitsunday Islands one of my top ten romantic destinations by The Travel Expert

My trips around Australia led me to some pretty spectacular places, but the one place that stands out in my mind is Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands. It is still probably the best beach I have ever seen, and one that I will find it hard to beat. The sand is amongst the purest in the world, it is so fine you can even use it to polish your jewellery!

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Tuscany, Italy

Florence one of my top ten romantic destinations by The Travel Expert

The Ponte Vecchio bridge n Florence is full of couples browsing it’s jewellery shops – just looking for the right one, and Florence’s Duomo is one of the most impressive I have ever seen.  The city is so easy to navigate, and even a casual stroll taking in the Italian style is enough to bring out the romance in you.

If you have time, take a trip to the Tuscan countryside and visit Siena, San Gimignano or the Chianti wine region. In fact Im struggling to decide which is more romantic, Florence or the surrounding countryside…. For more info on Tuscany, read my blog.

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Venice, Italy

Venice one of my top ten romantic destinations by The Travel Expert

A trip on a gondola and a coffee on St Mark’s Square – it has to be done right? Ignore the expense (they both cost a small fortune) – the views from both are breathtaking. The small winding streets and bridges are a pleasure to explore. Where else will you find a city of such scale and beauty built on water?

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Maldives

Maldives one of my top ten romantic destinations by The Travel Expert

White powder beaches, year round temperatures of 30 degrees, each resort is on its own island and you generally arrive at your hotel by seaplane – the Maldives is pure paradise! The laid back atmosphere means that even in deluxe hotels, the dress code is casual – so girls, no need to pack ten pairs of heels!

Read about my magical stay in the Maldives

Read: Maldives holidays – the best resorts in the Maldives

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Hawaii

Hawaii one of my top ten romantic destinations by The Travel Expert

This multicultural paradise is vastly different from the paradise islands of the Indian ocean or South Pacific. You will see college students on gap years, mingling with honeymoon couples in five star resorts. There are six main islands, each offering something different. The combination of rugged landscapes, waterfalls, volcanoes, superb beaches, and the relaxed vibe, ensures a holiday in Hawaii will leave you wanting to come back for more.

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Bora Bora

Bora Bora one of my top ten romantic destinations by The Travel Expert

I debated between Bora Bora and Tahiti – both in French Polynesia and both absolutely world class romantic destinations. No matter which island you choose, you just have to have an overwater bungalow. I think it was the Four Seasons Hotel in Bora Bora that won it over for me –just take a look!  

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Lapland

Lapland one of my top ten romantic destinations by The Travel Expert

Lapland is not all about Santa you know! If you like the snow then there is nowhere better. It really is a winter wonderland and will definitely fill you with child like wonder. From late August to late April this is the best place to watch the Northern lights. Why not stay in a glass igloo and watch the Northern lights from the comfort of your cosy bed.

Read: How to see the Northern Lights through your own glass igloo.

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Santorini, Greece

Santorini, one of the top ten romantic destinations by The Travel Expert

Santorini has to be on everyone’s bucket list. That picture postcard that you see on almost every advertisement for Greece – how could you not want to go there? Every time I see it, I picture myself sipping a cocktail in a small Greek taverna, watching one of the most amazing sunsets. One of the world’s most romantic destinations – absolutely.  Top Tip: Try to avoid peak summer months, the crowds might ruin the romance.

Read: 10 Amazing Airbnbs in Santorini, Caves, Windmills and Private Pools

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Tanzania

Despite travelling to over 50 countries in 30 years, our holiday in Tanzania is still my favourite travel experience. The deluxe tented safari camps and the most spectacular game viewing – we experienced nature at it’s very best. And then we finished off our trip of a lifetime by relaxing on the beach in Zanzibar – pure bliss! 

Read about my safari in Tanzania here

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I would love to hear your favourite romantic destinations – please comment in the box below.

 

 

 

Sarah

 

The Travel Expert

 

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Is this the ultimate honeymoon?

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Imagine the anticipation of waiting for your chauffeur driven limousine to pull up outside your home. Your journey starts here…

Arrive at the airport in style and go straight to the business class desk for a speedy check in. Enjoy a glass of bubbly in the Etihad lounge before boarding your business class flight to your ultimate paradise island. Sample drinks of your choice and some fine dining on board, before drifting off to sleep on the Etihad Airways lie flat beds.

Kandolhu, Maldives, The ultimate honeymoon by The Travel ExpertArrive thoroughly refreshed only to board a sea plane for the final hop across the Indian Ocean. After a short 25 minute flight you will arrive at the five star luxury Kandolhu Island in the Maldives. The island is 200 metres long by 150 metres wide and has only 30 villas.  It is the guardian to one of the most pristine and colourful reefs in the Maldives. The beach, one of dust like pure white sand, is exactly what comes to ones imagination when ‘paradise’ is mentioned.

You will be staying in one of only seven ocean pool villas. Facing the sunset, these villas serve only to enhance the experience at Kandolhu. Each villa is reached by its own private walkway and on entering the oversized bedroom, you’ll notice the large bed, daybed and walk-in wardrobe. The bathroom is open with a shower, bathtub and opens out onto the pool deck. Complete with sunloungers, sun umbrella and a plunge pool with panoramic views of the ocean. Suffice to say; You. Have. Arrived.

So we are familiar with the concept of ‘all inclusive’, but Kandolhu Island brings that concept to a whole new level. Here you will have the choice of dining in four a la carte restaurants. You have your own wine cooler in your room, stocked with 30 bottles of premium wine. There is an unspoken challenge to get through as many as you can, as you sit and watch the sunset beyond the horizon each evening. So is this the ultimate honeymoon destination? Well, its got to be up there with the best, and once you consider the ‘ultimate inclusions’ option, it doesn’t get much better than this!

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert offers a great deal to Dubai

After relaxing for seven nights on this wonderful island, being spoilt by the service, and slowing down the pace of life to a crawl, what next? It has to be the glitz, the glamour and all the excess on offer in Dubai. Shop till you drop in the biggest malls in the world and marvel at the view from the world’s tallest building. You can ski, surf, or safari (in the desert at least!)  – what ever you want to do, you will probably find it in Dubai. Spend five nights in a deluxe room at the stunning Atlantis Palm Hotel (airport transfers by limo of course). Enjoy breakfast and evening meal each day and if you are feeling adventurous, access to their waterpark throughout your stay. You will also have afternoon tea in the world’s only seven star hotel, the Burj al Arab. I have done this and, believe me, it’s worth it just to see the glorious excess that is seven star.

Don’t worry though if you are feeling tired after all that action in Dubai, you can chill out and relax on your return business class flight. And just to complete the ultimate honeymoon, your chauffeur will be waiting for you in Dublin airport to bring you home – and back to the reality! So forget about the chocolate fountains and the candy carts, nobody will remember them anyway.  As for the honeymoon, well, it is a trip of a lifetime….

Tempted?

See IslandEscapes.ie for more details.

 

Sarah

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Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations

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We all have different tastes and budgets, so I think it is fair to say that there are no perfect honeymoon destinations that suit everyone – well maybe Bora Bora…

Lets face it, if we had unlimited holidays and unlimited cash, we would probably all like to stay in a beach villa in the South Pacific. However, being realistic, we need to remember not everyone can take three weeks off to travel the world, and many of us have limited means. You also have to make sure to check the weather before you book, as it could be the rainy or even hurricane season in your dream honeymoon destination. Here are my top  honeymoon destinations – there should be one here to suit you.

 

 

 

1. Short on time – The Amalfi Coast

amalfi coast is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations

For those of you who only don’t have lots of annual leave available, a week in Italy is the perfect choice. Stay in a deluxe hotel in Positano or Ravello and live like a celebrity. Visit the isle of Capri, take water taxis along the coast and soak up the Italian atmosphere.  Bellisimo!

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2. Short on cash – Greece

zakynthos famous beach

I love the Greek islands and if you are getting married during the summer months, then Greece is a great choice. Swim with turtles in the turquoise waters of Zakynthos, explore the hilltop town of Lindos in Rhodes, or chill out in a five-star hotel in Crete. I stayed in a luxury hotel near Chania and loved it.

Read my review of Anemos Luxury Grand Resort.

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3. Like All Inclusive –  Cancun

top 10 honeymoon destinations

If you want a luxury hotel with all meals and drinks included, then Cancun is best for value. Cancun is perfect for anyone who wants to be pampered, without moving too far from your hotel.  Many honeymooners feel exhausted after the wedding, so all-inclusive holidays suit perfectly. You could however, mix it up a little and add in a few days in New York or Vegas on the way back….

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4. Play it safe – The Maldives

maldives is one of the top honeymoon destinations

If you want pure luxury, idyllic beaches and want to wear flip flops for the week, the Maldives is for you. It is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations, but can still be affordable. Combine with Dubai for a great combination of city and beach. 

Read: Where to stay in the Maldives – my guide to the best hotels in the Maldives

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5. Tick all boxes – Island hopping in the Caribbean

barbados is ideal for honeymoons

This is a great choice for couples who primarily want a beach holiday, but want a bit of adventure thrown in. Barbados, The Grenadines, St Lucia and the Cayman Islands, it’s hard to believe they are all so close  – yet so different. If you don’t fancy to much packing and unpacking, try a Caribbean cruise and see them all on day trips!

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6. Like adventure – South Africa

South Africa safari,the travel expert,sarah slattery,wildlife,trip of a lifetime

South Africa is one of my favourite honeymoon destinations. It is the perfect place to mix adventure with beach time. Drive the garden route, go whale watching, take in a safari, explore Cape Town and finish off your honeymoon by chilling out on a wine estate.

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7. Road trip – California

Golden Gate bridge

There is nothing like the wind in your hair as you drive the Pacific Coast highway in a convertible. Combine San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and if  you have three weeks to spare, try to take in the national parks too. Drive from LA to Scottsdale, on to Vegas before hitting Death Valley and Yosemite. From there drive to San Francisco and hit the pacific coast highway back to LA. For a two week trip, make it simple, fly to San Francisco and drive the PCH to San Diego. 

Read the best places to stop on the Pacific Coast Highway.

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8. Adrenaline Junkies – Florida

 honeymoon destinations for adventure

Surprisingly this is a really popular honeymoon choice. If you are looking for non-stop action, then Florida is hard to beat. Mix it up a little and combine with New York or Vegas, or why not add on a Caribbean cruise?

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9. A bit more exotic – Thailand

top 10 honeymoon destinations - Thailand

 

Thailand is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations. Choose to relax on one of its many beaches or choose to combine a stay in Bangkok and Thailand’s cultural centre, Chiang Mai. Opt for five-star glamping in the Elephant Hills Camp, go island hopping in the Andaman Sea, or shop till you drop in Bangkok. Who says you can’t do it all?   

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10. The world is your oyster – Australia

 

If you have plenty of time on your hands, and plenty of cash – then it has to be Australia! See the sights in Sydney, marvel at Ayers Rock and explore the world’s most impressive underwater paradise at the Great Barrier Reef. There is actually so much to see and do in Australia – way to many to mention! And if you manage to tour this massive continent and still want some more action – hop over to New Zealand…

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Sarah

 

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery
 

 

 

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