Rain is lashing the windows, the icy wind cuts like a knife and the shortest day is upon us. It can all mean only one thing - time to book a holiday somewhere hot with a beach.
"Hot with a beach" has long been the speciality of Club Med's newly revamped resort at Phuket, Thailand. The lush, green palm-lined resort stretches for almost 1.5 kilometres along the white sandy beach of Kata Bay in the island's south-west.
The warm, crystal clear waves prove irresistible if, like me, you are a refugee from New Zealand's awful summer and rapidly closing in winter.
Later, with a light, crispy coating of sand and salt on the skin it's time to explore the rest of the vast resort.
Like all Club Meds there are activities going on somewhere in the resort all the time and you can decide for yourself how active - or not - you'd like to be.
For golf fiends there is an excellent nine-hole course and practice facilities under the guidance of the resort golf pro (there are also five world-class courses within 30-50 minutes' drive of the resort).
If golf isn't your thing, you and the kids can swing from the trapeze, play tennis or try archery.
I have a passing urge to try a spot of snorkelling or a pilates class, but opt instead to lie down in the refurbished, jewel-coloured bar with a pina colada until the feeling goes away.
The bar sits on one side of the huge main pool, the main restaurant on the other, meaning this area lined with loungers and vast day beds is the heart of the resort. You could lose days of your life here, moving at a leisurely pace between food, drinks and swims - maybe occasionally venturing further afield to the new Payot spa.
If that all seems a little too hectic, the far east end of the resort hides its newest treasure - the zen area. Here you'll find the "quiet" adults-only infinity pool, with its own bar and views over the bay. The perfect place to while away the hours with a cold drink and a good book.
Behind the pool sits Chud-da a la carte restaurant, decorated with Thai lanterns, and serving fresh, spicy Thai fusion cuisine, including possibly the world's tastiest (and spiciest) green papaya salad.
It's the perfect spot for a cosy dinner, and the perfect spot to sum up the blend of refinement and relaxation of Club Med Phuket's new facelift.
IF YOU GO
Getting there: To avoid the hassles of a domestic transfer from Bangkok, you can fly Singapore Airlines from Auckland direct to Phuket International Airport (codesharing with Silk Air out of Singapore).
Where to stay: Club Med Phuket offers a number of day-long sightseeing excursions. The resort also includes facilities and activities catering for babies through to teenagers. All food and drink is included during your stay (except some premium brands). Excursions and spa treatments are extra.
Shopping: There are a number of food and clothing shops and markets just outside the resort. And the bigger resort town of Patong, with shopping malls and bars is about a 15-minute tuk-tuk ride around the coast.
Where to eat: Foodies should make an early start one morning and head to the food market at Phuket Town, about 30 minutes from the resort. It's a bustling hub of every kind of Thai food or ingredient imaginable.
Kerri Jackson travelled as a guest of Club Med.By Kerri Jackson Email Kerri