Holiday hack: how to get 18 days off this Easter

Maximize your annual leave by island-hopping in Indonesia, road-tripping through Portugal or indulging on a Caribbean cacao plantation…
If you’ve got a canny eye on the calendar, you may have spotted that Easter has the potential to taste even sweeter this year. That’s right: take nine days annual leave between 19 April and 6 May and you’ll get a stretch of 18 consecutive work-free days away – that’s a whole lot of OOO for not a lot of work, by our calculations. Cue Bounty-ad beaches, blissful Balearic isles and Bond-style lairs where you can bask in your evil-genius-like brilliance…

Ca Na Xica, Ibiza

Tune in to Ibiza’s serene side at Ca Na Xica

Why stop at one island when you can have several? From April onwards, temperatures notch up in these Mediterranean isles, yet footfall remains low – especially since the Spanish authorities banned Airbnb in an effort to curb overtourism. Choose Mallorca for cosmopolitan style and shopping, Menorca for quiet coves and beaches, and Ibiza to experience it before the clubbers arrive – glow-stick-free Ca Na Xica is our choice for countryside charm.

Naxian on the Beach, Naxos

Add Naxian on the Beach to your Greek Island plans

Ambrosial indulgence awaits in Greece’s archipelago, including Crete (for families), Mykonos (for fun-seekers) or Santorini (for couples). It’s the start of the season around Easter, so hotels are waking up from their winter slumber, yet rates and availability remain good. Our top tip? 10-suite Naxian on the Beach for its away-from-it-all bohemian feel, beachside restaurant and winsome use of wicker… But if you really want to ditch the crowds, set your sights on the Peloponnese peninsula, where the Greece of old unfurls in vineyard-laced majesty.

Verride Palacio Santa Catarina, Lisbon

Lisbon’s restored palace hotel, Verride Palacio Santa Catarina

Last year, Europe’s most-raved-about destination was Portugal – for good reason. Firstly, it’s cheap: like, a-few-euros-for-a-glass-of-wine cheap. Secondly, Lisbon is undergoing a hotel renaissance, with grand palaces being reborn and apartment-style stays opening up. Thirdly, the country’s easy road-trip territory. Start with the capital, then head to the dimpled sand dunes of Comporta or the surf hangout of Santa Cruz, before nipping across to the rural Alentejo to uncover former farms turned bucolic retreats.

Borgo Egnazia, Puglia

Follow Italy’s foodie trail to Borgo Egnazia in Puglia

Work your way around the wild-boar pappardelle of Tuscany, the spaghettiallevongole of the Amalfi Coast and the creamy orecchiette of Puglia, before collapsing into a well-earned carb coma at whitewashed, village-style stays like Borgo Egnazia. Easter wasn’t made for watching waistlines and our Italian friends agree…

Nima Local House Hotel, Mexico City

Celebrate ‘Semana Santa’ in Mexico City at Nima Local House Hotel

Mexico may be known for its exuberant Día de los Muertos, but Easter is celebrated with even more enthusiasm. From Palm Sunday (14 April) to Easter Sunday (21 April), it’s Semana Santa when pueblos across the country gather for processions. San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City have some of the best festivities – and it’s an especially good time to see the capital, as the two-week national holiday means less crowds and traffic as locals travel further afield. The hip barrio of La Roma is the place to be.

Dar Ahlam, Morocco

Sahara stay Dar Ahlam is the place to explore Morocco’s desert

You can’t beat this North African nation for sheer diversity of landscapes – from the snaking souks of Marrakech to the serrated peaks of the Atlas Mountains and the surfer-patrolled shores of Essaouira. The current focus of our fascination is the Sahara where you can base yourself at desert retreats such as Dar Ahlam, a 19th-century kasbah of rose-pink walls and courtyards, to head out on adventures into the dramatic Dades and Draa valleys.

Six Senses Uluwatu, Bali

Seek out the surf breaks of Bali at Six Senses Uluwatu

The world’s largest archipelago presents a tantalising prospect for those planning a Big Trip – with some 17,000 specks to choose from. In Bali, seek out the yogi-free Bukit peninsula, where a new Six Senses rides high on a vertiginous cliff, overlooking some of the island’s best surf breaks. After Bali, head west to Java or east to Lombok, Mojo and Sumba seeing how many beef rendangs and Bintangs you can imbibe along the way. If you make it to private-island Bawah Reserve, the menu might be a touch more spoiling.

Boucan by Hotel Chocolat, St Lucia

Sample the sweet life at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat in St Lucia

It’s almost like St Lucia’s Boucan by Hotel Chocolat was made for Easter. Located on the 250-year-old Rabot estate, the luxury retreat is owned by British chocolatiers Hotel Chocolat and stands surrounded by a working cacao plantation, which guests can tour. Once you’ve finished harvesting ripe pods to turn into bespoke bars, swing by the spa for a cacao-based massage or scrub, and slink back to the room for yet more freshly made chocolate treats. In preparation, lent made be a wise idea…

Author: Anish Soni

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