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Seven spots to soak up the sun

When the daily grind gets a little too much, our thoughts naturally wander to sun-kissed cities, powder-soft beaches and palm trees swaying in the breeze. From holistic retreats to culinary voyages and action-packed breaks, we’ve rounded up seven sunny spots that were made for just leaving it all behind

The spa at Mandarin Oriental, Sanya

Sanya, China

If idyllic Hainan has flown somewhat under the radar, it’s now having its moment in the sun. There’s plenty on this tropical island to seduce nature-lovers, from the waterfalls (and ziplines) of Yanoda rainforest to Haikou’s volcanic park. But you needn’t pack hiking boots to soak up the rays. Book a soul-soothing session in The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Sanya, where each treatment room has its own outdoor tub – just the thing after a Lava Sea Shell massage or an Age Repair facial.

Sailing boats on the water near Bodrum

Bodrum, Turkey

Heed the siren song of the Aegean in Bodrum, a peninsula with a storied history that’s found a new lease of life as a retreat for the yacht set. Thrills on the Turkish Riviera, naturally, are in the water. Snorkel around Gumusluk for an eerie glimpse at a submerged ancient city or tour the spellbinding coastline in a traditional gullet: a handsome three-masted vessel native to the region. For an adrenaline hit, head to Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum’s water-sports centre, which caters to aquatic whims, from scuba diving to paddle-boarding and parasailing.

Birds-eye view of the beach at Mandarin Oriental, Canouan

Canouan, St Vincent & the Grenadines

Make your grand entrance on this bijou island on Mandarin Oriental, Canouan’s resort jet, for an overview of the impressive coral reef. Settle in to a slow, lazy rhythm by the water, making the most of Godahl Beach’s pristine sands and inviting line-up of sleek loungers. Wildlife fans are in for a treat: beloved local tortoises roam the leafy grounds, and catamaran trips to the nearby Tobago Cays offer some of the best snorkelling in the region.

View of Lake Como from Mandarin Oriental

Como, Italy

One of the prettiest spots in northern Italy, Como is the ultimate in lakeside romance. Sun-kissed days here can be spent taking in the terraced gardens of genteel Villa del Balbianello; or take the quaint funicular to Brunate for crisp air and sweeping mountain views. A refreshing dip is de rigueur, whether you’re dangling your feet into the deep blue waters of the lake or occupying Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como’s already iconic floating pool.

The pool at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

You’d be hard pressed to find a better beachside spot than Jumeirah. Dubai’s laid-back, low-rise neighbourhood has kept some of the charm of its past as a traditional fishing village. Get in touch with your inner sun worshipper at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, a short drive from the bustle of Downtown Dubai. Start with a holistic exercise class on the beach, then make a beeline for Sun Vibe’s poolside cabanas, health-packed nibbles and freshly churned avocado ice cream. Children will be thrilled by nearby La Mer’s waterpark and inflatable playgrounds.

Moroccan salad dish

Marrakech, Morocco

Spirited, intoxicating Marrakech carries warmth in its soul – and it’s no wonder, when even cooler winter days are sun-blessed. Head to stylish rooftop hangouts for blissful breezes and a cooling sip of mint tea. Fash-pack favourite Soul Food, on the terrace of concept store Max & Jan, serves veg-centric food with boho flair. Bring the scents and sights of the souk home with a cookery class at Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech. Start with a forage around the hotel’s organic herb gardens, then get to grips with tagines and tabbouleh under the chef’s expert tutelage.

Footbridge and iconic trees at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Singapore

Just one degree north of the equator, small-but-mighty Singapore plays the ‘tropical escape’ card year-round. A scratch beneath the glitzy façade reveals surprising pockets of greenery. Step back in time on Pulau Ubin, a mangrove-fringed island dotted with traditional kampongs (villages), or marvel at the futuristic ‘supertrees’ towering over Gardens by the Bay. Just minutes away, Mandarin Oriental, Singapore has a palm-circled pool and elegant day-beds just made for soaking up those skyline views.

Six great travel books to inspire wanderlust

Six great travel books to inspire wanderlust

With the world a much smaller place today, we take a look at six epic travel tomes that offer the spirit of old-fashioned adventure, from Patrick Leigh Fermor’s The Traveller’s Tree to Edith Durham’s High Albania