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A bucket list to die for; a Christmas break without the enforced jollity; a 70th birthday treat on the Isle of Wight
Q: I am recently widowed, am 64 and in good health and want to go travelling. Top of my bucket list are India, Cuba, Vietnam and South America and I would like to travel in November/early December and then again in late January or February, each trip lasting 10-14 days. My budget would be about £2,000 per trip. I have no fear of travelling on my own and don’t want to travel in a group where I am the only single person. What can you suggest?
Ann Shankland, via email
A: Wild Frontiers (020 7736 3968, wildfrontierstravel.com ) has a good mix of clients of both sexes, from early thirties to late seventies, some couples and many singles — and it says it quite often takes recently bereaved people looking to make up for lost time. Its groups are small — a maximum of 12 — with a tour leader and all meals and activities are included in the price. It has tours to India, Cuba, Vietnam and South America, falling loosely into your budget and departing at the times you are looking to travel, including India: the Real Exotic Marigold Hotel Group Tour, which starts in Delhi and ends in Udaipur and costs £1,345pp, flights extra (about £550). Other companies to consider include Just You (0844 417 1812, justyou.co.uk ) and Explore (0845 291 4541, explore.co.uk ).
Q: Can you suggest any luxury hotels in the southern half of England where one might enjoy a Christmas break in traditional surroundings — log fires, a Christmas tree, traditional Christmas fare — without the enforced communal jollity of parlour games, murder mysteries and black-tie dinners?
Christine McCann, via email
A: Try the revamped Grosvenor Arms (01747 850580,thegrosvenorarms.co.uk ) in the Dorset hill town of Shaftesbury (home of Ridley Scott’s famous Hovis commercial). There are activities on offer as part of its relaxed three-night Christmas break — a drinks party on Christmas Eve, walks around the town on Christmas Day, followed by racing at Wincanton on Boxing Day — but nothing is compulsory and there’s a log burner in the bar if you just want to escape. It starts at £1,500 per room. Alternatively, the 17th century Royal Castle Hotel (01803 833033, www.royalcastlehotel.co.uk ) on the harbour in Dartmouth has a few rooms left for its three-night package which includes most meals, notably a six-course lunch on Christmas Day. There’s an easily avoided quiz — and two log fires to cosy up to. It costs £800 for a double.
Q: Next year my husband and I celebrate our 70th birthdays. We would like to take a UK holiday with the family (six adults and four young children), in a house, perhaps with an indoor pool, and would like activities to suit all ages. The Isle of Wight might be suitable as it has the attraction of a ferry journey and a railway on the island.
Stephanie Matthews, via email
A: I think the ideal spot would be the West Bay Club (01983 760355, westbayclub.co.uk ) in Yarmouth, which has an indoor pool, spa, tennis and activities for children during the school holidays. There’s also golf and great walking on the doorstep. Its biggest New England-style house sleeps nine but it would supply an extra mattress for the bunk-bed room. A four-night break over Easter would cost about £1,000, including ferry crossing. I can’t find a house on the island that sleeps 10 and has an indoor pool but you might enjoy staying in the Coach House in the grounds of the Priory Bay Hotel (01983 613146, priorybay.co.uk ) near Bembridge. This sleeps 10 and you’d have access to the hotel’s private beach and outdoor pool. The prices for next year aren’t available yet but it cost £1,550 for a week last Easter.
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