After unsettling news of values dropping and building grinding to a halt in emerging places like Bulgaria and Dubai, you might sleep easier knowing your money is somewhere safe.
 
This would explain recent reports of British second-home buyers sticking closer to home in spots that have avoided the worst of the boom-and-bust syndrome. As well as the reassurance gained knowing you have invested in a sound market, many purchasers are choosing winter-sun destinations that can be reached in about four hours or less.
 
One of the most favoured spots is the Portugese island of Madeira with its pleasing sub-tropical climate, lush greenery and a good choice of airlines.Access is even better now since EasyJet started flying to the island last year with flights as low as around £50 one-way.
 
Paulo Freitas, branch manager for Madeira Island (00351 291 613366), part of the Fine & Country International group, says another plus is that homes are priced at a reasonable level, with a three-bed detached villa from about £265,000, going up to just over £3 million for a grander property.
 

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Madeira Island property from £265,000

‘Madeira is a place where you can combine leisure time on the beach with some time exploring in the mountains or the city, so there is a huge variety of things to do,’ he says. Mr Freitas adds that there are new golden beaches to enjoy, several new large marinas and an extended and rejuvenated airport.
 
He is selling an impressive four-bedroom villa near the capital of Funchal with staff accommodation, a pristine garden and three lockable garages, a rarity on the island. The price is £1.335 million.
 
Also on Madeira is the Palheiro Estate (00351 291 794 015, www.palheiroestate.com), owned and run by the Blandy family, with a well-regarded 18-hole golf course, five-star country house hotel, restaurant, spa, tennis and botanical gardens famous for the camellias that bloom every year.
 
Currently there are three-bedroom duplex apartments and villas ranging from £596,000 to £1.024 million for sale.
 
Roger Coombes at Cluttons Italy (00 39 075 8450100, www.cluttonsitaly.com) says the Amalfi coast offers the quintessential Italian experience for people who enjoy fantastic scenery, the jet-set nightlife and excellent seafood.
 
‘Both regular and budget airlines fly into Naples Capodichino airport and another two hours by taxi or hydrofoil takes you to Capri or the nearby towns of Amalfi, Sorrento and Positano. Mediterranean winter weather is guaranteed with lots of mild sunny days keeping the Bouganvillea in flower even in January,’ he explains.
 
Mr Coombes is marketing a splendid two-bedroom villa in the Marina Piccola area of Capri, with panoramic terraces and views of the Faraglioni rocks and the sea. The price is £2.225 million.

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Marina Piccola property for sale on Capri 

 

Cyprus is another key accessible safe winter-sun location. The private Cap St Georges club of 50 seafront four-bedroom villas from £2.67 million (through Savills International 020 7016 3740, www.savills.co.uk/abroad) will suit buyers who will appreciate the warm Mediterranean temperatures rarely dipping below 15 degrees and an average of 340 days of sunshine.
 
Akamas Bay Villas, next to the Anassa hotel where Philip Green hosted his infamous 50th birthday party, is another high-end scheme in Cyprus with 40 ultra-contemporary three and four-bedroom villas from £1.424 million to £3.53 million.
 

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 Akamas Bay, to be built on Cyprus near the Akamas National Park

 

Security and 24-hour concierge service, providing extras such as yacht chartering, wine stocking and childcare, will be available for all residents, says selling agent Mark Harvey from Knight Frank’s International Residential Development department (020 7629 8171, www.knightfrank.co.uk).