For me, and I suspect many others, the countdown to the holiday starts around Boxing Day! Daydreaming about sun-kissed shores, exotic cocktails, fine dining and relaxing by the pool is what keeps me going through the dark nights and gloomy days.
Disappointingly, there have increasingly been occasions when the reality has not lived up to the dream. Being herded like cattle from airport to coach to overcrowded hotel that must surely have earned the brochure travel writer an award for creativity is not my idea of fun. There's also the not-so-small matter of a chunk of 'spending' money being handed straight over at reception to cover the cost of air conditioning, which that same brochure mentioned was in the room, but neglected to mention was NOT in the price.
Relaxing by the pool is possible, if you get up at 6am to 'bag' a sunbed, and take your iPod to muffle the sounds of screaming children. Exotic cocktails and fine dining appear not to be a concept the hotel has yet grasped and the all inclusive buffet could possibly be re-named '100 ways with veal and rice.' All this for the equivalent of a month's salary... if you're lucky!
If all this sounds familiar there is a solution. Located on Spain's South coast, Selwo Hills offers a stunningly located luxury apartment for your exclusive use. Perfect for two couples, it features two double bedrooms, en suite bathroom, fully fitted kitchen, washer and dryer, Freeview TV and fully air conditioned – what more could you want? How about a view from your balcony of the pool and the mountains beyond? You want a sea view? Just head on over to the second balcony and get just that.
When you can tear yourself away from the poolside, surrounded by beautiful gardens, you can work off some of that paella in the on-site gym, share a game of table tennis or sweat it out in the sauna.
With all this on offer you might be tempted never to leave your immediate surroundings - don't make that mistake! The apartment lies on the beautiful South coast of Spain, and is just a short drive away from Estepona, Laguna Village, the famously cosmopolitan areas of Marbella and Puerto Banus, and Gibraltar. The brand new Laguna Village offers designer shops and high class restaurants and bars. Or stroll along promenade to the wide sandy beaches of Estepona with its abundance of friendly beach bars. A visit to a street market is a must and you will find one most days in the surrounding areas, perfect for stocking up on the freshest fruits, breads and cheeses and picking up traditional, handcrafted souvenirs.
And of course the Costa del Sol is a golfer's paradise with around 45 golf courses to its name, four of them being ranked in the top ten in Europe, including the number one course, Valderrama.
Estepona has so much to offer, water sports, scuba diving and parascending for the adventurous! The stunning mountainous hinterland is a must for hikers, horse riders and cyclists. If you fancy some time in the saddle, you can take lessons or hire a horse at the Escuela de Arte Escuestre (I think that’s stables to you and me!). Alternatively, how about a lunch of freshly caught fish and seafood around the Marina, followed by a stroll around the old town?
And something you won't find in many Spanish holiday resorts is the Selwo Aventura. Literally within walking distance of the apartment, this park features the largest walk through aviary in Europe, and park trucks will take you on a journey through valleys and hillsides where you will catch sight of elephants, antelopes, bears, tigers, giraffes and rhinos, many of whom are able to roam in relative freedom. Visit the enclosures to view the beauty of the flamingos, laugh at the antics of the monkeys and give the crocodiles a suitably wide berth!
Spending your holiday at Selwo Hills means freedom to be as energetic or relaxed as you choose.
Booking your break couldn't be simpler, visit the Selwo Hills website or contact thebestof Southend's Travel Counsellor Karen Goldman via our Business Pages. Karen's extensive knowledge and expertise mean not only will she take care of the nuts and bolts of your holiday, but ensure the little finishing touches are all in place too.
Looking through the window at grey skies and rain lashing down, I'm tempted to make that phone call myself, right now!