From luxury skiing in the Alps to island adventures in Southeast Asia, the Luxury Editor’s guide to the best January destinations offers plenty of inspiration to get your year off to the best possible start.
Best for: New Year celebrations
If you believe in starting the year with a bang, we can’t think of a better way to bring in 2020 than by being part of the iconic celebrations in Sydney, the first major international city to greet the New Year. Widely regarded as the most spectacular New Year celebrations in the world, the fireworks in the city’s harbour attract an estimated global TV audience of over 1 billion, as well as over 1.5 million spectators crammed around the harbour itself. However, you can avoid the crowds by taking in the action from the luscious grounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Its exclusive Midnight at the Oasis event enables guests to enjoy a delicious three-course meal before taking their seats in the purpose-built grandstand, which provides excellent views of the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and of course the firework display itself. January is in the middle of the Australian summer, so take the opportunity to spend a day at the world-famous Bondi Beach. A surfer’s paradise, its clear waters are also perfect for those wishing to explore the coast’s vibrant marine life and coral reefs by scuba diving or snorkelling.
Best for: snow parties + foodies
Head to Quebec this January to experience one of the world’s most unique music festivals. Established in 2007, Montreal’s outdoor Igloofest quickly captured the imagination of music fans around the world, who come in their thousands every year to take it all in. Known as the world’s coldest music festival, the freezing temperatures do nothing to dampen the spirits of the crowds, who warm themselves up by dancing to some of the leading international electronic artists. With snow falling all around and a huge Ferris wheel overlooking the festival, this really is the ultimate musical Winter Wonderland. January will also see the 13th edition of the hugely successful Happening Gourmand festival, which allows foodies to savour the culinary excellence provided by Old Montreal’s most distinguished restaurants at incredible prices. Whilst in Old Montreal, shelter from the cold by paying a visit to the sensational Bota Bota Spa, located in a converted river ferry. Treat yourself to relaxing water circuits and treatments, before experiencing the finest fresh Quebecois produce at the spa’s La Traversée restaurant.
Val D’Isère, France
Best for: stylish skiing (not family orientated)
Set in the heart of the French Alps, with its luxury chalets and immense natural beauty, it would be hard to find a chicer ski resort than Val D’Isère. Together with nearby Tignes, the resort forms part of the world-famous Espace Killy ski area, named after the legendary three-time Olympic gold medallist alpine skier Jean-Claude Killy who grew up in Val D’Isère, and with over 300km of piste to its name, only your imagination can limit your adventures. Away from the slopes, Val D’Isère has established a reputation for its culinary excellence – in particular we recommend dining at the double Michelin starred L’Atelier d’Edmond in the village of Le Fornet. Set within a traditional alpine chalet, head chef Benoît Vidal prides himself on delivering the best of authentic Savoyard cuisine with a modern twist, so why not settle down in front of the fireplace and enjoy this celebrated gastronomic experience in one of France’s highest villages?
Best for: short-haul winter sun
As the cold European winter starts to set in, you may find yourself counting down the days until the sunny summer days return. But there’s no need to wait – with warm temperatures all year round, the Spanish island of Gran Canaria provides the perfect antidote to any winter blues. Just a four and a half hour flight from the UK, Gran Canaria’s extensive sandy coastline and glistening seas will allow you to recharge your batteries after the busy Christmas period. Some of the best beaches are found on the island’s southern coastline – Maspalomas in particular is renowned for its fine white sand and stunning backdrop of sandy dunes, which you can explore in style on a luxury camel tour. A water sports haven, Gran Canaria offers an impressive array of activities, ranging from snorkelling to jet skiing, making it the perfect destination for a family getaway. Popular stretches of the coast are also dotted with charming restaurants offering authentic Canarian dishes.
Best for: off the beaten-track adventure
Located in Southeast Asia, Myanmar is a real hidden gem, having only opened its doors to tourists in 2011 following the end of military rule. Upon arriving in the capital city, Yangon, the importance of Buddhism to the nation’s identity is immediately apparent – it is impossible not to notice the gleaming gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, which dominates the city’s skyline. The 2,500-year-old temple is considered the most sacred Buddhist site for the people of Myanmar and is thought to enshrine strands of the Buddha’s hair. Although its ornate decorations, which include over 4,500 diamonds, make it a sight to behold at any time, it is at its most resplendent at night and at sunrise, when its hundreds of golden plates shimmer in the morning light. A country of incredible natural beauty, Myanmar is home to the breath-taking Mergui Archipelago, a group of 800 islands surrounded by mesmerising untouched coral reefs. We recommend hiring a luxury yacht to explore the Archipelago in all its glory – expect to see an abundance of birdlife and, if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse the seafaring nomadic Nomek people, who have inhabited the islands for hundreds of years.