For some, the end of the year holidays are a time for gathering family and friends next to a twinkling Christmas tree or toasty fireplace. For others, it’s a time to soak up some sunshine while recharging your batteries next to a gorgeous pool or on a pristine beach. We please the latter in this first roundup of our favorite places for the holidays as we crisscross the globe from New Zealand to Costa Rica and from Uruguay to Thailand in search of the ultimate sunny villas to ring in the season.

Quinta Quebrada – San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

If you’re looking for a sunny destination in the Americas which also exudes unique holiday spirit, consider venturing to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Nestled in the mountains in the center of the country, according to our Mexico expert Pamela H. Murdock, this charming colonial city is a magical place to spend the holidays. Pamela has holidayed at the captivating historic home Quinta Quebrada during this time of year and she shares this enchanting experience below:

“There are lights everywhere as well as nativity scenes, parades, pop-up fireworks (don’t get too close!) and the famous Las Posadas. Taking place the nine nights leading up to Christmas Eve, Las Posadas (inns or shelters), start with a procession that represents the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. People holding candles sing Christmas carols as they walk and are joined by “Mary” (usually riding a donkey) and “Joseph”. The parade meanders through streets and knocks on house doors while singing the traditional Posada Song, “Pidiendo Posada,”(Begging for Shelter). However, they’re turned away because there is “no room at the inn.” “After all, sings the household, you might be a rogue.” Finally they find an open door and everyone is given food and hot drinks while the children have at piñatas until they break and spill candy everywhere. A good time is truly had by all.

“New Year’s Eve in San Miguel takes merriment to a whole new level! Though the main celebration takes place in the Jardín, the principal plaza, the whole town becomes a fiesta. Everyone comes out for the mariachi bands, giant sparklers, food vendors, gigantes (people dressed as giant puppets) and dancing which can go on till all hours. Then at midnight a huge fireworks display lights up the sky above the Parroquia (a lovely church beside the Jardín). Throughout the evening, people also set off their own fireworks which can be a little too exciting for some with rockets whizzing everywhere. It’s an incredible sight and great fun. If you’re not up for the street scene, make a reservation well in advance at La Posadita or La Azotea or at one of the hotels with a rooftop bar/restaurant like Rosewood or El Palomar. The view of the fireworks will be wonderful. San Miguel seems to celebrate more holidays than any other in Mexico and New Year’s Eve is the ultimate.

“Since the holidays are all about family and friends, why not bring a group and rent the most famous house in town? Quinta Quebrada is a magnificent and magical 16th century casa with 11 bedrooms and a wonderful large staff. Hidden behind tall walls which enclose almost one acre of gorgeous grounds, you’ll find courtyards, follies, gardens full of climbing roses and cascading bougainvillea, multiple terraces and loggias, a pool and a hot tub. I’ve stayed there often and each time is still a treat!”

Take in this amazing experience for yourself by contacting Pamela at this link.

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Blue Oasis Villa – Bay of Islands, New Zealand

New Zealand is a fabulous destination for the Christmas holidays for travelers seeking sunshine as well as a phenomenal natural setting. You can add some beach time to this great mix by staying in the spectacular Bay of Islands at the beautiful Blue Oasis Villa by MajorDomo.

The Blue Oasis Villa is located only a two-minute walk from the village and the beach at Russell. You can enjoy breathtaking panoramic sea views from all three levels of this luxurious, elevated waterfront home.

The top floor has open plan living with a designer kitchen, including a walk-in butler’s pantry, island bench, for casual eating, and top quality appliances. The lounge opens onto an expansive decking with a dedicated BBQ area and fireplace. The middle floor has three bedrooms, all with luxury en-suite bathrooms and the views out over the Bay of Islands are as spectacular as on the top floor.

“Imagine waking up on Christmas morning to the sight of dolphins at play in the Bay below and to the serenity of the sound of the ocean that only coastal living can bring,” tempts Fiona Stevens, co-founder of MajorDomo. “Nearby Russell village has many fine restaurants to enjoy for Christmas dinner or you may wish for MajorDomo to arrange for an executive chef to prepare a gourmet delight in your own kitchen.

“Then, work off Christmas dinner by making use of the boat mooring, four kayaks and two bicycles available for guests to use. If you are spending a few weeks in the area, why not check out the Paiha Christmas Parade on December 2nd.”

The Blue Oasis Villa is still available for the holidays, but could go any minute. Grab it while you can by reaching out to MajorDomo here.

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Villa Neptuno – Punta del Este, Uruguay

Constantly on the lookout for the best luxury properties around the globe, Marina Gratsos of Carpe Diem Luxury Travel recommends spending Christmas and New Year in Punta del Este, Uruguay –  one of the poshest beaches of South America.

“This is a breathtaking, contemporary house which has been featured in Interiors Magazine,” reveals Marina. “The end of the year is absolutely the best time to be visiting.”

The chic villa is situated on Lago del Sauce, approximately 20 minutes south of Punta del Este and 10 minutes from the local airport. It’s set on 7.5 hectares of land and consists of seven en-suite guest bedrooms and two staff bedrooms with bathroom. Guests will enjoy its huge drawing room and outside spaces as well as a dining room that seats twelve and a media room. Outside there is an 18m infinity pool and beautiful landscaped gardens. A housekeeper and gardener are provided – cooks and extra maids can be arranged.

Several beaches are within five to ten kilometers. Within a short drive you can find a range of excellent seafood restaurants, a yoga studio, a golf course and a tennis club. Slightly further afield are the bright lights of Punta del Este and Jose San Ignacio. Other nearby sites include the famous Lussich Arboretum and picturesque towns of Eden, Priapolis and Piedra Colorada. Along your way, be sure to stop on the coast road North with outstanding fish markets, notes Marina.

The villa is currently still available over the holidays. Contact Marina here for more details.

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Casa El Cuyo – Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

In the Yucatan, it’s summer all year long, so sunseekers can’t go wrong by traveling to this lovely part of Mexico over the holidays. Our Yucatan experts at Catherwood Travels suggest escaping the tourists masses, which crowd some areas of the coast, by holidaying in El Cuyo, a white-sand paradise that the modern world seems to have bypassed.

“Located between the Ria Lagartos and Holbox Natural Reserves, El Cuyo is miles of virgin beaches and an up-and-coming kite-surfing destination,” details Angelica Espinosa of Catherwood. “Watch the sky turn pink as you cycle through the flocks of pink flamingoes or dive into the surrounding marshlands on horseback. Leave your mobile phone at home – without any signal, the office, and all your problems never intrude as you enjoy the superb fresh seafood.“

Catherwoods has a fabulous, meticulously restored colonial house: the Casa El Cuyo. It’s situated in the beachside town of El Cuyo, where you can immerse yourself in local customs and natural beauty. The traditional building elements are cleverly contrasted by a chic contemporary décor. The house is completely air conditioned and the common areas include living and dining room, a bar and kitchen. There is one master bedroom on the upper floor and two additional bedrooms on the ground floor, all with en-suite bathrooms. The central patio is an ideal location for breakfast, relaxing in the shade or a holiday celebration.

It’s the perfect place to recharge for the new year. Plus, it’s virtually impossible to not fall in love with the unfettered life in the land that time forgot.

Plan your perfect vacation to the Yucatan with Catherwood Travels here.

Vatuvara Private Islands – Fiji

If you’re looking to truly switch off over the holidays with an isolated beach trip, then escape to Vatuvara Private Islands, your own (or almost) tropical island in the South Pacific.

Located in Fiji’s Lau group, Vatuvara is only accessible by the resort’s private plane. Plus, the refined resort has only three villas. The beautiful, spacious one-bedroom villas highlight local craftsmanship and exceptional natural surroundings. They have all the luxurious appointment you would expect of this caliber. The private terrace with an infinity pool is the perfect place to take in the gorgeous sunsets.

Vatuvara is holding a Holiday Season Special, valid until March 31, 2017. While the offer isn’t available 24th December through 3rd January, you can enjoy this fabulous deal either before or afterwards, leaving you time to connect with family over the traditional holiday week. The special prices are as follows: Villa Delana USD$6125.00/night, Villa Vatu USD$4437.00/night and Villa Saku USD$4360.00/night (exclusive island buyout price on application).

These rates are inclusive of all Fiji Government Taxes, meet and greet at Nadi or Suva Airport, access to the island via our private aircraft, all preferred beverages and organic certified Pacific Rim cuisine, spa treatments, land and water activities including cultural experiences and day trips to Vatuvara Island.

Scoop up this great special offer by contacting Vatuvara Private Islands here.

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The Copper House – Queenstown, New Zealand

Enjoy an extravagant festive season surrounded by the lake and mountains at The Copper House. The opulent villa is part of Touch of Spice‘s exclusive Residence Collection, a carefully curated portfolio featuring some of the top luxury properties in New Zealand. It’s considered Queenstown’s architectural masterpiece and offers sweeping views of the aptly named Remarkable Mountain Range.

With six contemporary bedrooms, each with a modern en-suite, two lounges and ample indoor and outdoor space, the property is perfectly suited to large families or groups that want to enjoy quality time together over the holidays.

“One of the amazing things about summer on the South Island is the long days,” explains Jacqui Spice, founder and CEO of Touch of Spice. “At The Copper House guests can enjoy glorious sunsets over Lake Wakatipu while taking advantage of the in-built pizza oven, sipping a wine around the outdoor fire, or relaxing in the spa pool.”

The property is on the doorstep of the adventure capital of the world and a myriad of options await including first-rate hiking and mountain biking, luge tracks, and of course the heart pumping Shotover Jet and AJ Hackett Bungy Jump.

With everything from boutique wineries, championship golf, luxury retail and unique art galleries – from Fergburger to fine dining – Queenstown offers something special to suit every taste and style. The Touch of Spice concierge service can assist with anything guests may desire, be it a stocked pantry and fresh flowers upon arrival to tailored, off-the-beaten path tours.

Design a special Christmas holiday to New Zealand with the help of Touch of Spice here.

Cottar’s 1920s Camp & Bush Villa – Kenya

The end of year holidays are a wonderful time to travel to Kenya and our experts at Cottar’s 1920s Camp and Villa can create a vibrant celebration for you in Africa’s seductive atmosphere. This award-winning safari camp, situated on the border of The Maasai Mara National Reserve and just one kilometer from the Tanzania Serengeti game reserve, evokes a unique quality of romance, adventure and elegance.

In the safari business since 1919, the Cottar’s continue to enhance their commitment to providing the ultimate safari experience with their recently built Bush Villa, the only real private luxury home in the whole game reserve. It was designed by Calvin and Louise Cottar and built by hand using indigenous and eco-friendly materials. Tucked into a gorgeous, private area on the property of Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp, guests can enjoy the same standards and level of service for which the camp is known, but with perfect seclusion.

“Spending Christmas in the Kenyan wilderness is always memorable, comfortable and full of delights,” says Calvin Cottar. “Traditional details and holiday meals are carefully prepared and arranged to make your Christmas special, to highlight the uniqueness of the wild and create memories that will last a lifetime.”

It takes but a moment to slip into the unhurried lifestyle at Cottar’s, what a perfect place to enjoy the festive season with family and loved ones. Start the new year off with an amazing safari holiday with Cottar’s at this link.

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Casa Caiman – Papagayo Peninsula, Costa Rica

The end of year holidays are a fantastic time to go to Costa Rica. The dry season starts in November, so visitors to the country are virtually guaranteed dry weather, especially in the Papagayo Peninsula as our expert Jane Moore of Papagayo Luxury explains:

“The Papagayo Peninsula is in a tropical dry forest microclimate of Costa Rica,” describes Jane. “This means it is one of the driest (read rain-free and sunny) areas in Costa Rica!

Papagayo Luxury has a collection of beautiful, contemporary private villas, all with stunning views of this awe-inspiring part of Central America. For the holidays, Jane recommends the Casa Caiman. Since it’s spread over one level, it’s ideal for multi-generational families, particularly for those traveling with small children or older family members with problems with stairs.

The large shallow area in the private pool is also great for small children. Below the pool area there is a wide grassy area, the perfect place to kick around a ball or simply play in the grass. The resort is within minutes of the Prieta Beach Club and Nacascolo Beach, a long beach with flat water and a long shallow entry, so there are no sudden drop offs. The area has fabulous watersports and golf fans can enjoy teeing off at the Arnold Palmer Course at the nearby Four Seasons.

If you are looking to get away before Christmas, Papagayo Luxury is offering the 7th night free from now through December 14, 2016 (including Thanksgiving!).

Learn more about this special offer and the other exceptional villas at Papagayo Luxury at this link.

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Samujana – Koh Samui, Thailand

Throw your own perfect private Christmas and New Year’s Eve gathering at one of the exquisite private villas at Samujana, Koh Samui’s luxury boutique villa estate. This Thai paradise is the ideal winter sun destination for travelers craving an exotic, luxurious and sunny getaway.

Each uniquely designed villa offers its own private infinity pool, self-catering facilities and access to Samujana’s own private beach as well as an extensive range of amenities including private cinemas, gyms, roof terraces and Jacuzzis.

The extensive range of experiences (which can be booked via the estates villa managers concierge service) include sunset cruises in the estate’s private luxury yacht, group Thai cooking courses, Thai street food dining experience or private poolside BBQ. The possibilities for family entertainment at Samujana are truly endless, making it the ideal bolthole for those wanting to create their own private Christmas and New Year party away from the hustle and bustle of home.

Enjoy a unique Christmas holiday in Thailand at gorgeous Samujana here.

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Tres Soles Villa – Punta Mita, Mexico

If you’re planning a large family holiday, the fabulous Tres Soles Villa by In Villas Veritas is an excellent option. Location in family-friendly Punta Mita, this stylish villa has eight bedrooms, ideal for a multigenerational vacation or for two families traveling together.

In addition, the pool is beautiful and fun for kids as it winds around palm islands. There is also a gentle slope down to the beach, so no big drops, making it safer for kids. The villa is a short drive from the Punta Mita resort Residents Beach Club where guest can also meet other families and kids. Here there’s beach service, a pool, club bar, restaurant, golf and tennis. Tennis players can also swing their clubs at a private villa community a two-minute walk from the villa.

The area features fantastic nature and adventure activities including scuba, hiking, zip lining, whale watching, surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking and more. Alternatively, you can simply relax in the sun with a good book and a Margarita (and still see the whales migrating from your chaise lounge).

The villa is full staff for all services including a wonderful chef who can design the perfect holiday meal with you.

Discover more about this ideal family villa for the holidays by contacting In Villas Veritas here.

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