In our opinion, there really is no better way to fend off those inevitable January blues than to delve straight into planning your next holiday. The inaugural months of a new year provide a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of strong availability, early booking offers, free night stays and low air-fares that are only likely to disappear as the year progresses.

In this article, as told by our travel experts, we highlight our holiday hotlist for 2019. From the cities of Copenhagen and Thessaloniki to the Ionian island of Kythira; Matera, the European Capital of Culture; the rural heart of Andalucia; the Arctic paradise of Svalbard and long-haul destinations of Panama, Mexico and Ecuador there is much to discover with Sunvil this year.

Kythira, Greece

Dudley der Parthog, Director: In the 1990s we featured the Ionian island of Kythira. Last year I returned to the island for the first time since 1994 and I was reminded of its immense appeal - here is an island where age-old, Greek filoxenia (hospitality towards guests) is alive and I found it everywhere I went.

Kythira is the seventh of the Ionian islands to be featured by Sunvil and, whilst almost the same size as Kos, is remarkably undeveloped. Its varied topography hides atmospheric villages, sandy bays and enough history and interest to satisfy the most avid explorer. We have chosen to return to the resort of Kapsali and have added the seaside villages of Agia Pelagia and Avlemonas.

You could happily spend a week or two exploring Kythira. It is also possible to combine the island with a stay in Athens or as part of a fly-drive itinerary of the South Peloponnese. Our holidays here are completely tailor-made via Athens so departures are daily and you can choose the length of stay to suit.

Kythira, Greece Kythira, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Justin Blaza, Greece Specialist: It is always good to see a destination receive the recognition that it deserves and this is the case for Thessaloniki, Greece's second city.

For many years Thessaloniki has stood in the shadow of Athens but, thanks to an extensive redevelopment of its waterfront, an increase in the number of independent stores and boutique shops, and its vibrant art and food scene, this most interesting and historic city has found its own unique voice.

At Sunvil we can offer Thessaloniki as a city break, as part of a multi-centre holiday with Halkidiki or as the gateway to the many attractions of Alexander the Great's Macedonia and northern Greece. The city also has flight or ferry links to a number of islands including Santorini, Kefalonia, Lemnos, Ikaria and Samos.

Thessaloniki, Greece Thessaloniki, Greece

Matera and Florence, Italy

Rosanna Melaragni, Product Manager: Matera, the city of stones 'Sassi', has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2019. Its year-long celebration will kick off on 19 January with a musical parade featuring artists from near and far, and a host of exhibitions are planned. This is a remarkable city with unique hotels built into the pre-historic caves. It always offers a memorable stay but this year I feel that the experiences will be even greater.

The city of Florence will also be in the spotlight this year as the world celebrates the life of one of its most famous sons, Leonardo da Vinci, who died 500 years ago on 02 May.

Matera, Italy Matera, Italy

Parque Natural Los Alcornocales, Spain

Yasmin Zaidi, Spain Specialist: When you think about Andalucia you would be forgiven for thinking about Spain's southernmost region as the land of flamenco and sherry wine and of its renowned, sundrenched beaches of the Costas. There is much more to discover here. At every turn you are met with evidence of its illustrious past and the marks of those who have travelled before - the Iberians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Moors...

I love the inland districts and the natural parks of Andalucia. A personal favourite is the Parque Natural Los Alcornocales which is often overlooked by visitors and yet boasts rich archaological, historical and natural sites of interest. This is the real Spain, where you can hike and cycle amidst a lush, natural sanctuary and feast on the local gastronomic delights. As a Galician I feel very much at home here. You can even see Africa across the strait on a clear day.

Parque Natural Los Alcornocales, Spain Parque Natural Los Alcornocales, Spain

Svalbard

Michelle Vincent, Scandinavia Specialist: I had wanted to visit the high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard for many years after hearing of my colleagues experiences and enviously viewing their pictures. In October it was my turn and I was not disappointed, so-much-so I am returning with my family in the Spring.

So why should you visit? Well, where do I start? Firstly as the northernmost, year-round inhabited destination in the world it probably already holds a space on your bucketlist. Then, there is the region's unique pulse and magnetic pull; the mystical darkness and endless summer nights; the rich fauna - walrus, Arctic fox, polar bears, whales; the variety of excursions on offer and the majestic scenery. I could talk for hours about the islands. It is a destination that I will carry with me for a lifetime.

Arctic Fox, Svalbard Arctic Fox, Svalbard

Avenue of the Volcanoes, Ecuador

Lloyd Boutcher, Director: Few routes in the world could rival the spectacular drama of the 200 mile trip from Quito to Cuenca. It is here that the Andes, the world's longest mountain range, displays itself in the form of snow-capped volcanoes and lush green valleys, including Chimborazo country's highest volcano. It truly is mesmerising and the natural spectacle will take your breath away.

Many will name the Hardknott Pass in the Lake District, the Trollstigen Road in Norway, the Big Sur in California and the Great Ocean Road in Australia as the most exhilarating roads to drive. For me, the 'Avenue of the Volcanoes' would top this list.  

We have introduced a 12 night holiday of the region so you can now experience the drama, charming cities and National Parks too.  

Cotopaxi, Ecuador Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Sao Tome and Principe

Noel Josephides, Chairman: In a few weeks time I am visiting the west African islands of Sao Tome and Principe, and I am tingling with excitement. Even after 49 years in the business I have not lost the thrill and joy of travelling to a new destination, and the pure adrenalin I feel from introducing this destination to our guests. We did consider offering the islands 20 years ago but the time was not right.

The two-island nation of Sao Tome and Principe is Africa's second smallest country. It is home to pristine jungle, paradiscial beaches, cocoa and coffee plantations, turtle and whale conservation projects and a rich culture that mixes African beats and cuisine with Portuguese influences. I have been told that a trip here will 'transform me' - watch this space to find out.

Sao Tome and Principe Sao Tome and Principe
The Sunvil Family

By The Sunvil Family

10th January 2019



The Sunvil Family
The Sunvil Family
The Sunvil Family

Sunvil's holidays are designed by passionate travellers just like you. Our reservations experts and product teams, many of whom have been with us for many years, are passionate about our destinations and, through their personal, first-hand knowledge can answer any questions that you may have. They are well qualified to advise and recommend, based on your own holiday criteria. We can point you to those special, little-known places, some not found even in guidebooks.

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

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If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

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  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
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