‘Tis the sea­son to be jolly ... on an ex­otic hol­i­day for one

If you’ve made no plans for the fes­tive sea­son, it is still not too late to get away from it all on your own. By Sarah Mar­shall The count­down to I’m A Celebrity...GetMeOutof Here!is­back­onSun­day, and this year’s Ex­tra Camp pre­sen­ters can’t wait­to­get­stuckin

Belfast Telegraph - - LIFE -

Mistle­toe pinned con­spic­u­ously above door­ways, snow­capped rom coms splashed across cinema screens... when it comes to lone­lier than thou hol­i­days, Christ­mas comes a close sec­ond to Valen­tine’s Day.

If you’re sin­gle, you may want to skip the whole thing al­to­gether. So here’s the good news — there are places where fes­tiv­i­ties are largely over­looked and where sun­shine is 100% more likely than snow.

Dream­ing of a golden, fam­ily-free Christ­mas? Here’s a crop of last minute breaks...


Why? Christ­mas means very lit­tle in Thai­land, with 95% of the pop­u­la­tion iden­ti­fy­ing them­selves as Bud­dhist. In­stead of roast­ing chest­nuts by an open fire, sin­gle­tons can escape the fes­tive furore in Phuket, home to some of the world’s finest beaches, glit­ter­ing seas, wildlife sanctuaries and na­tional parks.

Aside from soak­ing up the sun on Christ­mas Day with a cock­tail in hand, solo trav­ellers can also take ad­van­tage of speed­boat trips to nearby par­adises, in­clud­ing Phi Phi Is­land and Phang Nga Bay. How: Tele­text Hol­i­days of­fers seven nights in Phuket from £1,244 per per­son, stay­ing at the four-star The Old Phuket on a B&B ba­sis. Flights from London Heathrow leav­ing on De­cem­ber 19.


Why? Goa is a trop­i­cal blend of In­dian and Por­tuguese cul­tures com­bined with sun, sea and sand.

Es­cap­ing the Christ­mas chaos in the UK, the fes­tive pe­riod in Goa is time for re­lax­ation with tai chi lessons, yoga and med­i­ta­tion ses­sions, in­ter­spersed with a bit of ‘me time’ on the beach.

Trad­ing tur­key for de­li­cious Goan cui­sine, in­clud­ing fresh seafood, Ara­bian spices and co­conut, it cer­tainly won’t feel like Christ­mas.

How: Tele­text Hol­i­days of­fers seven nights in Goa from £1,427 per per­son, stay­ing at the three­star High­land Beach Re­sort on a B&B ba­sis. Flights from London Gatwick on De­cem­ber 20.

Do­mini­can Repub­lic

Why? The Do­mini­can Repub­lic has it all: sun­shine, beaches and blue skies, with win­ter tem­per­a­tures reach­ing 29C. Dust­ing down the sum­mer wardrobe and swap­ping Santa hats for sun caps, it’s easy to for­get Christ­mas when you’re in par­adise.

Af­ter a cou­ple of hours on the beach, spend the af­ter­noon on Christ­mas Day ex­plor­ing the his­toric cap­i­tal, Santo Domingo, watch­ing the world go by in the cafe-lined Plaza de Es­pana, vis­it­ing the Al­cazar de Colon palace or tak­ing an ex­cit­ing trip to dis­cover the is­land’s wa­ter­falls. How: Tele­text Hol­i­days of­fers seven nights in Punta Cana, Do­mini­can Repub­lic, from £1,465 per per­son, stay­ing at the fives­tar Re­nais­sance Jaragua Ho­tel & Casino on a room only ba­sis. Flights from London Heathrow on De­cem­ber 24.


Why? Dubai is the ideal des­ti­na­tion to spend Christ­mas Day with a twist, com­plete with Christ­mas mar­kets in the sun­soaked Ver­sailles Gar­dens and open-air pan­tomimes.

And whilst it may not snow in the pop­u­lar emi­rate, Ski Dubai — an in­door ski re­sort — of­fers a fun al­ter­na­tive.

Solo trav­ellers can also treat them­selves to a Christ­mas present from one of the de­signer stores in Dubai’s lux­ury shop­ping malls, which are given a fes­tive makeover with Christ­mas trees and dec­o­ra­tions. How: Tele­text Hol­i­days of­fers five nights in Dubai from £870 per per­son, stay­ing at the fives­tar Mo­even­pick Ho­tel Deira on a room only ba­sis. Flights from London Heathrow on De­cem­ber 21.

All hol­i­days can be booked through Tele­text Hol­i­days (0203 001 4498; tele­tex­hol­i­days. co.uk).

There’s no ques­tion whether this year’s I’m A Celebrity ... Ex­tra Camp hosts are up to the job. Af­ter all, the new­bies — cur­rent Queen of the Jun­gle Scar­lett Mof­fatt and 2016 run­ner-up and co­me­dian Joel Dom­mett — know the process bet­ter than most. And, for the un­fa­mil­iar, the show’s vet­eran pre­sen­ter and for­mer King of the Jun­gle, Joe Swash, is only too happy to ad­vise.

“It’s go­ing to be brilliant,” quips the for­mer EastEn­ders star, (35), who has fea­tured on the ITV2 spin-off ev­ery year since win­ning I’m A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! in 2008. “I love go­ing out there with new peo­ple; you buzz off of their ex­cite­ment as well.

“I’ve seen it and know what to ex­pect but you lot don’t know what to ex­pect,” he says, ges­tur­ing at his ex­cited co-hosts. “You know Bren­dan from Coach Trip? I’m al­most like him. I walk round with an um­brella go­ing ‘Can every­one see the um­brella?” I’m like their tour guide. I love it.”

“You are the or­a­cle,” agrees Mof­fatt (27).

“It’s nice for us be­cause we have some­one who’s an inside man,” adds Dom­mett, (31). “I think if we were all new we would be a lot more scared about it, but I feel that you’re Gan­dalf of the Jun­gle.”

It’s true. In just a mat­ter of min­utes, the lively trio have solved tan­ning woes (“We’ll get spray tans. And ev­ery Fri­day we’ll ex­fo­li­ate” — Mof­fatt); to dress code (“I imag­ine I’ll start with trousers for the first three days, and then slowly cut those trousers un­til they’re shorts” — Dom­mett) and, most cru­cial of all, com­bat­ting the heat (“I got a tweet from a non-sweat armpit com­pany that are go­ing to send me loads of pads, so I don’t have to use san­i­tary tow­els” — Swash).

So with the “ba­sics” cov­ered, what else are they look­ing for­ward to?


“Hon­estly, and this sounds re­ally sad, but see­ing the show be­fore every­one else (is what I’m most ex­cited about),” says Mof­fatt, con­fid­ing that she’s “jeal­ous” of this year’s celebs.

“I re­mem­ber go­ing back and be­ing re­ally jeal­ous of all the peo­ple (in the jun­gle), be­cause they’re all ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it for the first time,” Swash con­curs. “It’s the clos­est we’ll get to go­ing back in there, do­ing this show.”

“I’m re­ally ex­cited to be there and be­ing able to eat,” cries Dom­mett.

Jun­gle girl: Georgia Tof­folo

Of work­ing along­side Ge­ordie pre­sen­ters Ant and Dec, Mof­fatt adds: “It’s like a big ex­tended TV fam­ily. It’s just lovely. It’s nice that when I do see them now, it’s for Ex­tra Camp, not for a hor­rific trial. We can just say ‘Hello’ and have a cup of tea to­gether, rather than ‘What have I got to do now?’”


As well as dis­sect­ing the daily drama, the straight-talk­ing three­some will get all the lat­est be­hind-the-scenes gos­sip, in­clud­ing the in­sid­ers’ guide to the dreaded Bush­tucker Tri­als.

Are they likely to vol­un­teer them­selves this year, how­ever?

“I’m scared of ev­ery­thing!” re­sponds Mof­fatt. “The only rea­son I did the tri­als was be­cause I didn’t want to let everybody else down. Like I can go hun­gry, I’m not both­ered, (but) to say ‘Sorry guys, I couldn’t do a five-minute chal­lenge so you’ll all have to be hun­gry’, I couldn’t deal with that.

“I wouldn’t do it for gig­gles; I don’t want to eat a deer p **** ever again. I’ve got no rea­son to. But you would,” she says, turn­ing to Swash.

“I’ve made a rod for my own back, be­cause if I don’t do them I look like I’m scared of them,” he re­acts. “I don’t like do­ing them, but I like the feel­ing af­ter do­ing them. Does that make sense? It’s a sense of achieve­ment; I’m not achiev­ing much, but to me it’s my world.”


When it comes to har­mony in camp, the hosts sit on dif­fer­ent sides of the fence.

“I like it when everybody gets on,” states Mof­fatt.

“Whereas I love an ar­gu­ment,” notes Swash. “I like both sides of it, it brings you dif­fer­ent shows. Like last year everybody got on, so emo­tion­ally we was with them. And other years you’ve got peo­ple in there that you want to stay in be­cause he’s driv­ing that per­son mad. It brings dif­fer­ent tones to the show.”

“What makes this show won­der­ful is that it’s about peo­ple com­ing to­gether,” Dom­mett adds. “It’s not about po­lar­is­ing peo­ple. Last year there was so much mad­ness in the news with Brexit and Trump, so it was so nice to watch peo­ple get­ting along.”


While the jun­gle fa­nat­ics count them­selves as friends (“’Cause it’s so in­tense, you sort of bond quicker ‘cause you’re kind of in this to­gether and you’re all feel­ing the same thing” — Swash), fam­ily vis­its aren’t off lim­its — par­tic­u­larly for Mof­fatt.

“I’ve got my mum fly­ing out, then she’s fly­ing back ‘cause she’s got tick­ets to see Steps. And then three days later she’s fly­ing back

Re­lax­ing time: a beach in the

Do­mini­can Repub­lic and (be­low) yoga on the beach in

Goa, In­dia

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.