Eveline Harvey

Eveline Harvey is nzherald.co.nz's travel editor.

Top international holiday ideas for 2012

Soneva Kiri by Six Senses in Thailand was named best eco resort and spa in last year's World Travel Awards. Photo / Supplied
Soneva Kiri by Six Senses in Thailand was named best eco resort and spa in last year's World Travel Awards. Photo / Supplied

Summer 2011/2012 is likely to be remembered by many New Zealanders as the season that never really kicked into gear.

Every time it seemed the warm weather had finally arrived, another front would swing in, putting paid to even the best-laid holiday plans.

Fine weather is predicted for much of the country over the next few days, but if you've already written off the season and your thoughts are turning to international holiday destinations, here are some ideas based on a selection of the winners of last year's World Travel Awards, which were announced at a gala dinner in Qatar in January.

The annual awards, which are voted on by executives working within travel and tourism and travel agents, cover a wide range of categories, with winners named in categories ranging from leading destination to leading luxury resort.

Of course, most of these are high-end options best saved for a special occasion, but if you're looking for some budget-friendly accommodation solutions, scroll to the bottom where you'll find out which chain was named the Leading Budget Hotel Brand and which country was deemed the number one place to visit.

BEST PLACES TO STAY

If it's true luxury you're after, head to one of these properties, all of which were named the best in the world in their categories.

Leading Hotel: Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Leading Luxury Hotel: The Oberoi Gurgaon, New Delhi, India.

Leading Luxury Resort: Mardan Palace, Antalya, Turkey.

Leading Luxury Island Resort: Maradiva Villas Resort and Spa, Mauritius.

CLOSER TO HOME

If you'd prefer to spend your money at the destination rather than on the journey, these two Cook Island properties were singled out for praise.

Leading Boutique Island Resort: Pacific Resort, Aitutaki, Cook Islands.

Leading Island Villas: Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa, Cook Islands.

CRUISES AND HONEYMOONS

Planning a romantic getaway with that someone special? A couple of Caribbean hot-spots made their marks in these categories.

The island of Jamaica was named both Leading Cruise Destination and Leading Honeymoon Destination, while the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa in nearby Antigua was named Leading Romantic Resort.

ISLAND LIFE

Sometimes there's nothing for it but to escape to an island for a few days of rest, relaxation... and feeling like a rock star.

Leading Island Destination: Mauritius.

Leading Private Island and Leading Green Destination: Cousine Island, Seychelles.

Leading Island Resort: Pullman Timi Ama Sardegna, Italy.

Leading Private Island Resort: Necker Island, Caribbean.

SAFARI CENTRAL

African safari destinations offer something few other places can match - namely the chance to see some of the world's most spectacular and endangered wildlife up close. These three South African properties were recognised for being outstanding in their respective categories.

Leading Luxury Lodge: Thanda Private Game Reserve, South Africa.

Leading Eco-Lodge: Dwyka Tented Lodge at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, South Africa.

Leading Safari and Game Reserve and Leading Conservation Company: Shamwari Game Reserve, South Africa.

SIGHTSEEING ON THE MOVE

Here are a couple of options for train buffs who've exhausted their options in Europe.

Leading Luxury Train: The Blue Train, South Africa.

Leading Travel Experience by Train: The Goldleaf Service on the Rocky Mountaineer, Canada.

HEALTH AND WELLBEING HOLIDAYS

If it's the full relaxation experience you're after on your break, try tuning out at one of these spa resorts.

Leading Medical/Wellness Spa: Grand Hotel Lienz, Austria.

Leading Spa Resort: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Leading Eco Resort and Spa: Soneva Kiri by Six Senses, Thailand.

ACTIVE HOLIDAYS

Prefer to spend your leisure time heading down snowy slopes at speed or getting up close and personal with sea creatures? Head to one of these resorts to get your adrenaline fill.

Leading Ski Resort: Gstaad Palace, Switzerland.

Leading Dive Resort: The Royal Savoy, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

FAMILY FUN

It's not every day the whole family can head off overseas together but these two destinations might be worth saving the pennies for.

Leading Theme Resort: Universal Orlando, Florida, USA.

Leading Family Resort: Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

ACCOMMODATION THAT WON'T BREAK THE BANK

If the other options presented here seem like pie in the sky, try booking a bed with Premier Inn, which was voted Leading Budget Hotel Brand. With properties across the United Kingdom, Ireland, India and the United Arab Emirates, you're sure to find somewhere great to stay on your next trip to the northern hemisphere.

BEST DESTINATION

Still haven't found your inspiration? Why not head to India, the country voted Leading Destination, and discover for yourself what all the fuss is about.

With its vibrant colours, great food, incredible architecture and breathtaking scenery, India's got something for just about every traveller and you'll have your pick of accommodation options, from five-star to budget backpacker-friendly.

* Click here to see the full list of World Travel Awards 2011 winners.

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