January is the busiest time of the year for travel agents as people scramble to get a winter break.

“They want the sun, they want the beach and they want to get out of the rain of Vancouver,” said Flight Centre’s Allison Wallace.

But Wallace says many travelers are no longer content with the fly-n-flop budget vacation.

“The big thing we’re noticing is people still want to go to a beach, but they’re wanting a higher end beach, they’re going further afar, to say the Cook Islands,” Wallace added.

Many people are now looking for what’s called the ‘better beach’ vacation. That means luxury accommodation and a lot of pampering.

Tour companies are stepping up to the plate and offering package deals to far flung places like Thailand’s Ko Sumui.

For $5,089 per person you can fly to Bangkok in February for 13 nights. First stopping in Bangkok for a stay at the gorgeous Siam Design Hotel – complete with roof top bar, infinity pool and fine dining. Then it’s off to a beach front villa at the exotic Intercontinental Samui Baan on Ko Sumui.

“They are paying a little bit more for a luxury accommodation and going more five-star than just the cheapest beach they can find,” Wallace said.

According to Allied Market Research, luxury travel is expected to continue to grow at a rate of 6.4 per cent per year.

But it’s not just ‘better beaches’ travelers seek.

CTV News spoke to several folks at Vancouver’s International Airport who told us that they are interested in adventure travel as well as unique cultural experiences.

“They’ve gone from being the sightseer. They’ve gone from sitting in a bus and looking at things from afar to wanting to be part of the cultural experience,” said Wallace.

Tour companies in Canada are offering that too, like G Adeventures, which has just started offering wellness tours. Or you can take in the Northern Lights of Finland Tour with Collette. It features luxury accommodation, dog sledding, reindeer, ice fishing and a whole lot more.

According to Trip Advisor skip-the-line historical experiences, food tours and cooking classes have skyrocketed with a year over year growth up to 125 per cent. The key word in travel exotic.

“ They’re not just looking for the fly n flop. They’re taking longer periods of time to go, especially at this time of year,” Wallace added.

Here are some tour ideas provided by Flight Centre:


Flights + Eight-Day Tour @ $4919 per person including tax

Dates: Jan 7 – 14


Eight-day The Northern Lights of Finland tour with Collette

Travels roundtrip Helsinki

Highlights: Savor the local cuisine in Helsinki’s restaurants, go in search of the shimmering Northern Lights, mush your way to breakfast in a Finnish sleigh.

PROMO $350 savings included – Expires Dec 31


• Come to know Finnish culture and history on a tour of Helsinki with a local expert.

• Overnight surrounded by wilderness in a glass igloo and a Finnish log cabin.

• Sip warm berry juice, a Finnish winter tradition and meet Santa Claus in his home

• Embark on a reindeer safari with a local farmer


Flights + Seven-Nights @ $1235 per person including tax

Dates: Jan 22 – 29, 2019


Roundtrip flight from Vancouver to Puerto Vallarta on Air Canada

Roundtrip airport transfers to resort

Seven-night stay @ Four-star All-Inclusive Club Crown Paradise

NOTES Resort features: an ocean front infinity pool, zip line, kids water park with pirate ship, and 9 water slides


Flights + 13-Nights @ $5089 per person including tax

Dates: Feb 8 – 23, 2019


Flights from Vancouver to Bangkok (China Eastern) / Bangkok to Ko Samui (Bangkok Airways) / Ko Samui to Vancouver (China Eastern)

Private roundtrip airport transfers to resorts (in Bangkok & Ko Samui)


Six-night stay @ Siam@Siam Design Hotel Bangkok in a Deluxe Room

Floating Market Damnoen tour


Seven-night stay @ Intercontinental Samui in a Club Beachfront Pool Villa

Local Life Street Eats Tuk Tuk tour


• Supports BB initiatives like SolarBuddy

• Intercontinental Samui BONUS early check-in, exclusive discounts on all meals at the resort restaurant & more


15-Day Cruise @ $4345 per person including tax

Dates: Feb 3 – 17, 2019


15-day cruise on Celebrity Eclipse in a deluxe veranda balcony stateroom

Sails Roundtrip Buenos Aires

VISIT Ushuaia (Argentina), Cape Horn, Antarctic Peninsula, Paradise Bay (Antarctica), Elephant Island, Port Stanley (Falkland Islands), Puerto Madryn (Argentina), & Montevideo (Uruguay)

ADD Roundtrip flights from Vancouver to Buenos Aires for an additional $1599 per person on Aeromexico


Flights + Four-Nights @ $4711 per person including tax

Dates: Jan 5 - 9


Roundtrip flight from Vancouver to Cancun on Air Transat

Private roundtrip airport transfers to resort

Four-night stay @ 5-star All-Inclusive Grand Velas All Suites & Spa

NOTES Supports BB initiatives like SolarBuddy


Flights + 8-Nights @ $4573 per person including tax

Dates: Jan 7 – Jan 15


Flight from Vancouver to Maui on Air Canada

Eight-day Alamo Jeep rental

Eight-nights stay @ 5-star Andaz Maui at Wailea in an Andaz Ocean King room

Haleakala Skyline Adventure Trip tour


• This Luxury hotel set on 15 beachfront acres

• Pet-friendly hotel (fee of $100 per stay)

• Supports BB initiatives like SolarBuddy


Receive up to $1000* in resort credits at select Barceló Resorts with WestJet Vacations -Expires December 24, 2018