Admittedly, the idea of sun-soaked beaches, iced margaritas and warm Mediterranean waters sounds like heaven on Earth. But for those of us who can’t help but feel an excited jolt in our stomachs when we hear the sound of jingling bells, or swoon over the sight of snow, a winter getaway can serve as the perfect cap to what might have otherwise been a stressful year. While wintertime can certainly bring its drawbacks, from having to wake up on cold, dark mornings, to battling through disgruntled city dwellers for some last-minute Christmas shopping, there’s no need to become a Scrooge.
Think reindeer. Think seriously good hot chocolate. Think of snowfall as you sleep soundly in thick warm blankets. Vacationing during the most wonderful time of the year will bring with it a catalogue of fun memories for you to cherish forever. Become the Ice Queen you were born to be and discover the perfect ecotourism experience this winter… By Travel Writer Kevin Worrall
What’s a winter’s day without a bit of snow? This snowshoeing trip takes you through the Ecrins National Parks; with the assistance of highly qualified mountain guides, you’ll soon fall in love with the frozen lakes, the birch trees powdered with snow, and the rocky snow-capped mountains that dot the landscape. Climb summits, cross icy ridges, and slide and jump through snowy meadows for the ultimate winter experience. With sightings of the likes of ibex, wild boar, deer, golden eagles and even wolves, you’ll begin to wonder if you have tripped into Narnia…
Sliding down sloped hills can be exhausting, and, if you factor in the overwhelming intake of breath-taking scenery, you’d be forgiven for feeling tapped out at the end of each day! Return to your traditional farmhouse accommodation each evening for some rest and relaxation in the communal lounge area – stretch out in front of the open log-burning fire, hot chocolate in hand, and allow your troubles to melt away.
Perfect for the eco-conscious traveller, this trip provides an excellent alternative to your traditional skiing holiday. Unlike large ski resorts (which have a huge environmental impact), snowshoeing is an excellent way to explore the fragile alpine environment in a low-impact manner. There’s no mechanised infrastructure required, and this trip gives travellers the chance to explore some of the lesser-developed parts of the alps without being intrusive.
A world-class resort made up of tiny, spherical tents propped up on platforms, at Whitepod you’ll feel at one with nature while still living in the lap of luxury. With blankets of snow stretching as far as the eye can see, this trip serves as the perfect intimate ski-getaway for two. By day, you can enjoy sledding over the high-rise snow dunes or take a long hike across the Dents du Midi mountain range, taking in the awe-inspiring views along the way. By night, curl up and absorb the deafening stillness of remote landscape.
Not only does Whitepod provide the ideal romantic winter getaway, but it does so with an ecological conscience. Whitepod’s very design ensures that it blends in with the alpine environment; in the summer, the pods are blanketed in green, while in winter they turn white to merge seamlessly with the snowy landscape. The unique ‘pod’ structures can be easily dismantled at any time, meaning that any long-term environmental impact is minimised. Throughout the resort, there are lots of clever design features that help to reduce water and energy consumption, and the pods themselves require 30% less energy to heat than a normal building!
Always dreamed of visiting a fairytale frozen kingdom, or spending the night in your own ice-palace? Deep in Romania’s Făgăraș Mountains, this dream can be made a reality. At ‘The Ice Hotel’, you’ll stay in an igloo or snow-suite, and dine at an ‘Ice Restaurant’ where even the plates are made of ice!
A truly sustainable experience, the Ice Hotel provides local people with continuous employment opportunities; the hotel is constructed using ice gathered from the nearby Balea Lake, with local workers cutting ice blocks to be later hand-carved by craftsmen. The hotel is rebuilt each year, making it the perfect sustainable opportunity for local tradesmen. The construction material itself, ice, is also naturally occurring, and totally sustainable!
During your time in Romania, you’ll also visit vibrant Bucharest, explore the quaint, cobbled town of Brasov, and even stop by at the notorious Dracula’s Castle…
And now for something a little different… Although predominantly a Buddhist country, Christmas in Vietnam is still widely celebrated. Take a sweeping tour of the country’s main cities – with a wintery twist. Stroll through the Christmas markets, wrapped up in your woolly hat and scarf, and feel as though you’re moving through a festive Eastern postcard.
On the 31st of December, you can join the thousands of people on the streets to ring in the New Year. Watch a cascade of exploding fireworks, streaking like burning stars across the black sky, and grab hold of a stranger’s arm to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and spread some goodwill for the year ahead. It’ll certainly be a festive season you’ll never forget!