Chase The Sun | Living North

Chase The Sun

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With the kids back at school, autumn is the perfect time to chase down some late sunshine. Check out six of the best destinations you can get to via direct flight from Newcastle International Airport

For the... sun-worshippers
Destination: Cancún, Mexico
What’s it all about? A city renowned for its beaches and night-life. The city is split into the downtown area (El Centro) and the Zona Hotelera (literally Hotel Zone) and is a real hotspot for tourists. 
Where to stay: You’ve chosen to go away later this year to attempt to avoid the kids, right? Le Blanc Spa Resort, an adults-only hotel, will keep you away from the tantrums. All you’ll find here are supremely comfortable rooms (many with gorgeous ocean views), a spa and a range of activities including tours, golf and fitness classes.
Where to eat: Lorenzillo’s is a popular live lobster house and seafood restaurant overlooking the marina and the perfect setting to take in the spectacular sunsets.
What to do: You want to relax on this holiday and Cancún has 13 miles of coast to help you do just that. Grab your shades, your sunscreen and set off for the beach. There are busy beaches, quiet beaches and beaches that are particularly popular with extreme sports enthusiasts – do your research to ensure you lay your towel on the beach that’s best for you.

For the... nature-lovers
Destination: Madeira, Portugal
What’s it all about? An autonomous region of Portugal, but actually off the coast of Morocco, Madeira is made up of four islands. The main island is a volcanic paradise with some fantastic natural landscapes to explore.
Where to stay: The Royal Savoy in Funchal – the largest city on the island – offers five-star accommodation, sea views and a variety of dining options. We particularly love the swim-up pool bar here, and the Penthouse Roof Top Suite is every bit as luxurious as it sounds. For those who prefer a little independence in their holidays, the suites at this hotel have kitchen facilities.
Where to eat: Visit Il Gallo D’Oro for dining that’s worth two Michelin stars where the six course ‘Top Experience’ menu will take you on a culinary journey involving seafood, a course ‘from the farm’ and a signature vacherin dish.
What to do: Explore the rest of the island by setting off on one of the many walking routes that twist and turn through Madeira’s unique natural landscape.

For the... history buffs
Destination: Sorrento, Italy
What’s it all about? OK, so you can’t fly to Sorrento, but you can fly to nearby Naples and be in this delightful town in no time at all. Expect cobbled streets crowded with restaurant tables, good food and a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere.
Where to stay: If you really want a treat, the Grand Hotel Royal with its own private beach could be just the luxurious location you’re looking for. Our preferred room here is the Imperial Suite with sea view. Enjoy the majestic sight of Mount Vesuvius towering over the Gulf of Naples, relax on the balcony and sip something fizzy from the mini-bar.
Where to eat: Sure, the pizza and pasta in Italy is great, but when you want something a little more refined, head to Don Alfonso 1890 in nearby Sant’Agata. Housed in a 19th century Neapoletan building – but with a wine cellar that pre-dates the Romans – this two Michelin-starred family-run restaurant serves innovative Mediterranean cuisine, made mostly with ingredients from the family farm.
What to do: Grab your camera and guide book and head out to see the sights. Hike up Mount Vesuvius to peek into its crater, then explore the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii and the town of Herculaneum – both of which were preserved by the deadly cloud of ash and pumice that erupted from the volcano in 79AD.

For the... easy-goers
Destination: Santorini, Greece
What’s it all about? With its blue skies, white-walled buildings, churches with brilliantly blue roofs and stunning vistas, Santorini has long been a haven for tourists, many of whom come to marvel at the caldera (a mostly under-water volcanic crater).
Where to stay: You want a luxury hotel – one that’s made up of nothing but suites. The Astra Suites hotel in the village of Imerovigli (famed for its sunsets) boasts spectacular views of the Aegean Sea and a number of its suites feature a private, heated pool or Jacuzzi. 
Where to eat: The simple Greek cuisine made with the freshest ingredients served at Anogi in Imerovigli will have you coming back time and again.
What to do: Stroll the villages, dine in the little local restaurants and just generally relax. Make sure you find a good spot along the coastline to watch the sun set over the Aegean Sea and, if you’re feeling adventurous, take a scuba-diving tour into the depths of the caldera.

For the... thrill-seekers
Destination: Fuerteventura, Spain
What’s it all about? The second-largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, Fuerteventura boasts beaches popular with water sports enthusiasts, cliffs, coves and cheeseries (visit one and try the renowned Majorero cheese made from the island’s native goats).
Where to stay: The H10 Ocean Dreams hotel is an adults-only affair that opened in 2016 and gives guests the chance to enjoy a saltwater pool, a health and beauty centre that includes a Jacuzzi and Turkish bath and sauna, and an extensive entertainment programme.
Where to eat: The charming Casa Santa María restaurant is definitely worth a visit. The braised kid dish is well-renowned, with good reason.
What to do: OK, so the Acua Water Park is probably aimed at families, but the kids are back at school – you can have the run of the place! Or head inland to discover centuries-old, sleepy villages that have escaped the march of mass tourism.

For the... gastronomists
Destination: Nice, France
What’s it all about? A bustling city on the French Riviera, Nice boasts fine restaurants, a picturesque harbour and counts esteemed artist Henri Matisse as a former resident.
Where to stay: The Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerrané may be a bit much to say, but the opulence on offer here is more than worth it. The Sea View Suite is designed to reflect the hotel’s Art Deco history and includes a marble bath, a balcony and a separate sitting area.
Where to eat: There are a number of Michelin-starred restaurants in and around the city, but Jan is one of our absolute favourites. Serving a seasonal tasting menu made up of modern French plates fused with South African influence, expect high-end dishes presented with real flair.
What to do: We had a really tough time deciding which one restaurant to recommend, so why not draw up a list of your top five restaurants in the area to try and check them off one-by-one until it’s time to go home and apologise to your waistline.

Published in: August 2017

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