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sand, girdled by turquoise lagoons and

crowned by forests of palms, easily delivers

the quintessential desert island fantasy. Arrive

in style by seaplane or speedboat and check

into an over-water villa: the toughest task

you'll face here will be choosing between the

sun lounger and the spa bed.

The sumptuous Hideaway Beach Resort

and Spa (hideawaybeachmaldives.com) is one

such retreat, featuring 103 suites and villas on

the beach and set over the lagoon, all with

butler service. Destinology (01204 821419;

destinology.co.uk) is o�ering ¤ve nights

half-board in a Sunset

Beach villa from £3,369

per person, based on two

sharing, including return

�ights and transfers (valid

for travel between

1 November and 18 December).

Mauritius (tourism-mauritius.mu) o�ers

similarly stellar luxury on the seashore,

especially on its prestigious east coast. But

there is much to explore outside the resorts,

thanks to both the island's volcanic origins

and its strategic importance to traders (and

pirates) over the centuries.

Hike the forest and crater lakes, marvel

at the Indian temples and French colonial

mansions. In Port Louis, don't miss the Blue

Penny Museum dedicated to the world's

¤rst stamp and the story of the dodo at the

Natural History Museum.

Beachcomber (beachcomber-hotels.com)

runs eight top resorts, including Dinarobin

Hotel Golf ª Spa, with 175 villas and suites,

in the south-west. Holidays start at £1,949

per person, based on two sharing, including

return �ights, transfers and seven nights' half

board, through Tropical Sky (01342 887333;

tropicalsky.co.uk).

With its topaz waters, sugar sands and

curious giant granite boulders strewn

around, the Seychelles (seychelles.travel)

is the de¤nition of a tropical idyll. On the

larger of the 115 islands you'll ¤nd �eeting

distractions - Mahé's tiny capital of Victoria

and Praslin's primeval rainforest Vallée de Mai

(home of the suggestively shaped Coco de

Mer coconut) - but there are many smaller

islands, some of which are havens for rare

wildlife, others castaway retreats.

Kuoni (0800 092 4444; kuoni.co.uk)

o�ers seven nights at Constance Ephélia

(constancehotels.com) on Mahé from £1,561

per person, based on two sharing, including

return �ights, transfers and half-board.

With highs up to 30°C in winter, Thailand

(tourismthailand.org) has long been on the

south-east Asia backpacker trail.

Popular Phuket, its largest island and 12 to

14 hours by plane from the UK, has a funky

vibe and some classy hotels clamouring for

space on its west coast.

Give the tourist traps a swerve and explore

the streets of Phuket's

Old Town, where you'll

¤nd artists and designers

breathing new life into the

old shophouses, and get an

eyeful of the old tin barons'

splendid Sino-Portuguese homes.

Kata Rocks Resort ª Residence (katarocks.

com) is an audacious proposition, with its

34 Sky Villas clinging to a cli� above the

Andaman Sea. The smart, minimalist spaces

have one to four bedrooms and private

swimming pools. Carrier (0161 820 4830;

carrier.co.uk) o�ers seven nights from £3,305

per person, based on two sharing, including

return �ights, transfers and BªB.

THE MALDIVES SHOULD BE ON YOUR BUCKET LIST,

WITH WINTER TEMPERATURES AROUND 30°C

Clockwise from top left: the restaurant terrace at Hideaway Beach Resort and Spa in the Maldives; a Sky Villa ocean loft at Phuket's Kata Rocks Resort Š

Residence; Dinarobin Hotel Golf Š Spa in Mauritius; discover the colourful underwater world of Mauritius

travel

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