x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Travel Deals: Escape to the snow this winter

Christine Iyer looks at four very different winter breaks from the UAE.

A natural 'onsen', or hot spring, at the Green Leaf Niseko Village in Hokkaido, Japan. Aaron Jamieson / YTL Hotels
A natural 'onsen', or hot spring, at the Green Leaf Niseko Village in Hokkaido, Japan. Aaron Jamieson / YTL Hotels

Japan

Ski down the pristine slopes of Mount Niseko An'nupuri and stay at The Green Leaf Niseko Village in Hokkaido this winter. The recently refurbished resort has ski-in, ski-out facilities, 200 guest rooms and suites (many with views over Mount Yotei), natural onsen, or hot springs, and the Green Leaf Spa. For first-time skiers, the Niseko Village Snow School provides lessons by internationally certified instructors. Other activities include snowmobile adventure tours along forest trails, guided snowshoeing, cross-country ski courses, snow rafting and reindeer sledging.

The "winter magic discovery package" starts at 21,550 yen (Dh1,030) per person, per night, based on two sharing, for a minimum of two nights, including breakfast, a four-hour beginner's ski lesson, a Niseko Village ski lift pass, ski wear and equipment rental, Wi-Fi and taxes. International airfare not included. The package is valid from December 1 until March 31 next year. Visit www.thegreenleafhotel.com.

Finland

Explore the stark landscapes of Finnish Lapland, go on a husky sled safari with your own team of dogs and look out for the famous Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) on this eight-day trip with Activities Abroad. Visitors will be taught how to look after their team of dogs and go on daily sledding adventures through the forests, valleys and over frozen lakes and rivers around Pallas-Ounas National Park in Western Lapland, covering up to 40 kilometres each day. Accommodation is provided in rustic and cosy cabins, with most meals cooked over an open fire.

From £1,430 per person (Dh8,172) for eight days, including all accommodation, some meals, training in how to handle your husky team while on safari, airport transfers, cold-weather clothing for the duration of your stay, fully qualified wilderness guides and instructors, and taxes. The minimum age is 16. International airfare is not included. Visit www.activitiesabroad.com for more information.

Slovenia

Go snowshoeing along the scenic trails through the dramatic limestone peaks of the Julian Alps in Triglav National Park in the north-east of Slovenia. The country's highest peak, Mount Triglav (2,864m), lies in the centre of the park. Visitors will be based in the lakeside town of Bled, which provides easy access to the walking routes. The highlight of the trip is a two-day expedition to the Bogatin plateau, with a night in a traditional mountain hut. On the way there you'll pass Bohinjsko Jezero, Slovenia's largest glacier lake. Optional extras include skiing the World Cup circuit at Kranjska Gora and snowbiking. Or enjoy a snowshoeing expedition to an igloo for a fondue dinner.

The five-day trip costs from £799 (Dh4,566) per person, based on two sharing (maximum of seven persons in a group). It includes accommodation, some meals, guided snowshoeing, snowshoes and poles, and the services of a tour leader. International airfare is not included. Visit www.exodus.co.uk to book.

Bhutan

See the mountains and monasteries of Bhutan on this 16-day cultural holiday package. The trip starts in New Delhi with a flight out to Bagdogra in Bhutan, followed by a drive to Paro. The itinerary includes visits to dzongs (monasteries) and museums in Paro and Thimphu, treks along forest trails, expeditions to Wangdu and Punakha, drives through mountain passes thousands of metres above sea level, walks in the mountains and visits to ancient nunneries and hill temples, with overnight stays in select family-run guest houses. The trip's highlight is a day in Bumthang for a chance to participate in the colourful Prakar festival.

The 16-day trip costs from £3,595 (Dh20,545) per person, including all accommodation, some meals, sightseeing, park fees, the services of an experienced guide and taxes. Departure November 5. International airfare is not included. Book through www.responsibletravel.com.

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