Romance, culture, beautiful beaches and plenty of pow-filled adventure all feature on our pick of the best luxury destinations to visit in February. Whether you’re up for the long-haul or prefer something closer to home our inspiring guide is sure to help shape your travel to do list.
Chengdu, South China
Best for: culture
Since being chosen to feature on the iconic WWF logo over 50 years ago, the giant panda has become synonymous with the animal conservation movement and there is no better place for animal lovers to learn about crucial giant panda conservation work than at the Chengdu Panda Base, located in China’s Sichuan province. Following its foundation by the Chinese government in 1987, the centre has become a global reference point for the conservation of endangered species and you can gain an in-depth understanding of the cutting-edge scientific research being carried out here by visiting the centre’s very own museum experience. The centre also doubles as one of the only places in the world where you can get up close and personal with these beautiful animals, ensuring a unique day out for all the family. In 2020, the beginning of February is the perfect time for your visit to China as you will also be able to join in the famous New Year celebrations. As host to the International Panda Lantern Festival, Chengdu is one of the most impressive places to enjoy this special time of year – showcasing stunning lantern displays and the best of traditional Sichuan music, this festival allows you to gain a truly authentic experience.
Best for: romance
From Edith Piaf’s L’Hymne à l’amour to the photographer Robert Doisneau’s ‘The Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville’, one of the most romantic images ever taken, Paris and love go hand in hand: there really is no better destination for your Valentine’s Day getaway. The French capital’s innate beauty has attracted couples for centuries, including writers Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, who joined the likes of Ernest Hemmingway and Pablo Picasso in the city during Paris’ cultural heyday. And there is so much more to Paris than just its many world-famous buildings, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc du Triomphe. From the quaint cobbled streets of Montmartre to the lush Jardin du Luxembourg, there are plenty of beautiful spots for a romantic stroll with your loved one. You can even leave a permanent tribute to your romance by attaching a padlock to the Pont des Arts and throwing away the key into the Seine below. Of course no Valentine’s Day is complete without a candlelit dinner and, with over 70 Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, you really are spoilt for choice. However, the jewel in Paris’ culinary crown is without doubt Restaurant Guy Savoy, the flagship restaurant of Gordon Ramsay’s culinary mentor, which was voted the world’s best restaurant in 2018. Be sure to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Best for: beautiful beaches and blue lagoons
With an abundance of stylish resorts and picture-postcard views, the Maldives is one of the world’s leading luxury beach destinations. Comprised of over 1,000 stunning coral islands, it is no surprise that the country boasts some of the world’s most spectacular beaches. Our personal favourites include Fulhadhoo’s beach, known for its breathtaking blue lagoons and coral reefs, which are perfect for snorkelling. One of its lagoons has even formed into a natural paddling pool, making it a perfect location for families. Dighurah’s beach is also a must-see due to its stunning palm trees and the clarity of the water – keep your eyes peeled for flying fish and dolphins emerging from the crests of waves. As an island nation it is only logical that the fishing industry is the country’s lifeblood and you can take in all the action at the vibrant Malé fish market, where hundreds of fishermen bring in the daily catch, including yellow fin tuna, barracudas and dolphin fish. This high quality fresh produce marks out Maldivian cuisine as one of the best in the Indian Ocean and there’s no better place to sample it than at the Ithaa Restaurant at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, the world’s first undersea restaurant.
Best for: half-term skiing (family orientated)
The February half-term provides the perfect opportunity to escape to the Alpine slopes and the Austrian resort of St. Anton is one of the best family destinations. Known as the ‘Cradle of Alpine Skiing’ due to its pioneering role in promoting modern skiing, the resort remains one of Austria’s most popular. With over 300km of marked ski runs, as well as an extensive off-piste area and first-class instructors, St. Anton provides a safe skiing environment for all the family to enjoy, whilst older teenagers will be kept entertained by its legendary après parties. The evening is a great time to reflect on the special memories you have made on the slopes – do so in style at the Verwallstube restaurant. Sitting at over 2,000 metres above sea level, soak in incredible views of the nearby Valluga Mountain as you tuck into head chef Bernhard Neuhold’s exquisite menu – highlights include the stuffed calamari and the much-loved Wiener schnitzel. Couples can also enjoy a romantic evening at the restaurant on Thursdays – warm up with a gondola ride on the Galzigbahn before settling down to a gourmet candlelit dinner accompanied by live piano music.
Best for: undiscovered island-hopping adventures
If someone mentions island-hopping, Greece or even the Caribbean might spring to mind. But with an archipelago of over 7,000 stunning islands and temperatures in the high twenties (°C), the Philippines is a tropical paradise waiting to be discovered this February. Despite its astonishing natural beauty, the Philippines has remained largely untouched by the often adverse effects of the tourism industry, making it one of the world’s most enticing destinations. No island-hopping tour is complete without taking in the spectacular Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a marine area located in the Coral Triangle known for its unparalleled biodiversity. With a plethora of marine life, including over 500 species of fish, as well as whales, dolphins and turtles, it is not surprising that the park has established a reputation as one of the world’s leading scuba diving sites. Just 50km northwest of Tubbataha lies the archipelagic province of Palawan, home to some of the most picturesque beaches in Southeast Asia, let alone the Philippines. Our particular favourite is Nacpan Beach in El Nido: with long stretches of white sands, turquoise waters and a verdant backdrop of palm trees, this is the perfect place to unwind with a book or a cocktail.