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Spring getaways are just the ticket

Wednesday, 5th February, 2020 4:43pm

The endless rainy grey days of February can make the summer seem like a long way off. That is why a spring getaway is often the perfect remedy for the February blues. We spoke to Midleton-based travel expert Lisa Smith O’Brien of leading independent travel specialists, Travel Counsellors, on her top 10 destinations this spring.

I love Dubai for its unique blend of jaw-dropping skyscrapers, pristine beaches, fascinating culture and rolling desert. Dubai has plenty for all ages, from luxury hotels and exquisite restaurants, to museums and 4x4 driving experiences in the dunes. A top tip is to head to Le Mer, Dubai’s beachside destination which has plenty to offer, like exceptional restaurants, boutique stores and a trampoline park for little ones.

I bet you haven’t thought of this one, but Tanzania really is a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience and the Tanzanian safari Tent With A View stands out as one of 2020’s absolute-musts. With a wide range of camps, local expert guides and bespoke accommodation ranging from boutique hotels to the Bush Rover Suite, this is all about creating memories that will last forever. The temperature in Tanzania in April is pleasant with outpours of rains every now and then, but the benefit is that you tend to avoid the busier tourism season from October to December.

Seeking white sands and turquoise seas? Jet off to Cancún or Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. I tend to recommend staying at Moon Palace Golf and Spa Resort in Cancun, a beachfront resort offering guests five-star amenities and top-notch service amongst lush tropical landscaping.

My clients just adore the wonderful Elephant Hills Camp located in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand. Visitors can experience a jungle/lake safari with overnight stays in luxury tents, as well as a night in a floating rainforest camp. With the opportunity to wash the elephants, canoe the Sok River and trek through jungles, this is bucket-list adventure.

For those with long-haul wanderlust, the USA is still number one for Irish holidaymakers. In spring, you can’t go wrong with the sunshine state. There is plenty to see and do from theme parks and national parks, to discovering the unforgettable Miami. My top tip? Take your holiday to the next level at Universal Orlando Resort, where you’ll discover three amazing theme parks, spectacular on-site hotels, and more.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than soaking up sunny afternoons in Malaga or Seville, where it is currently around 18˚C. Or if you are looking for a dip in the sea, consider heading to the Canary Islands. The crystal clear waters might still be a little chilly, but temperatures in Tenerife and Gran Canaria are still averaging 22˚C.

I’m seeing a growing appetite for cruises this spring and the upsurge is in part due to the launches of Celebrity Edge and MSC Bellissima. There are also direct sailings (in the summer) from Dublin with Celebrity Cruises. The trends are showing that clients are now choosing top-end ship experiences in off-the-grid destinations such as the Galapagos Islands and the Panama Canal.

Wrap up warm and hit the French Alps this spring. If you are a skier or snowboarder, there are plenty of resorts to explore. It is also good to know it is not just about the slopes. The region also offers other activities, such as horse-drawn sleigh rides and comfy lodges.

Iceland is a captivating blend of volcanoes, glaciers and breath-taking landscapes. Reykjavik is one of the world’s smallest capital cities, but it is a charming destination for a spring break, with plenty to occupy you. The Golden Circle is without a doubt the must-see attraction for any Icelandic itinerary. Their holy trinity comprises of Thingvellir National Park, where visitors can see the converging lines of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates; the powerful Gullfoss, Europe’s largest waterfall by volume; and the erupting hot springs at Geysir.

From the rugged peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the vibrant cities, the jaw-dropping turquoise lakes to the 46 national parks, there are so many places to explore in Canada. Vancouver is a must-visit destination and as a coastal area next to rugged landscapes and situated in a temperate rainforest, wintertime there is mild and moderate, rather than cold and unforgiving. The city is a short ride from the famous Whistler Blackcomb ski resort, and just 20-30 minutes from downtown.

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