May 29, 2018
NEW: Small-Ship Sailing from Andalucía to the Algarve – from £2,845 pp with Artisan Travel
Sail along Spain’s southern coast from Málaga to Portimão in Portugal’s Algarve, on the MY Harmony G, a 46-passenger mega yacht. Enjoy the chance to take part in a selection of optional excursions, look forward to the outstanding architecture of Cádiz, the landscape of Gibraltar, and wander around stunning Seville, amongst many other highlights. This nine-night trip is priced from £2,845 pp (two sharing), including transfers, two nights’ hotel B&B, seven nights’ full board cabin accommodation, equipment for snorkelling and fishing and a dedicated onboard cruise co-ordinator. International flights extra. Departs 15 June to 19 October. Call AITO member* Artisan Travel on 01670 785 085 (www.artisantravel.co.uk).
NEW: Croatian Family Adventure – from £945 per adult / £885 per child with Activities Abroad
Close to Krka National Park, a veritable playground of rivers, lakes, waterfalls and forests, Skradin is the ideal family adventure location for this action-packed activity week in Croatia. The flexible itinerary features a variety of optional activities, including cycling, hiking, white-water rafting, sea kayaking and canoeing through Zrmanja River’s steep-sided canyons. The price is from £945 per adult / £885 per child (8-12 years) and includes flights (London), transfers, seven nights’ half board accommodation and one lunch. Guided activities extra. Departs 26 July/August and 20 October. Call AITO* member Activities Abroad on 01670 789 991 (www.activitiesabroad.com).
Come full circle in Sicily – escorted Italy from £1,245 pp with Jules Verne
Explore the historic treasure house of Sicily on a seven-night circular tour of the island that encompasses Syracuse, Piazza Armerina, Monreale and Mount Etna amongst its many highlights. Staying in four-star hotels throughout, visit sites such as the ‘Valley of the Temples’ in Agrigento, the Greek temples of Selinunte and the medieval town of Cefalù, and enjoy apertivi during a private visit to Palazzo Conte Federico in Palermo. Departing 5,12,19 & 26 June, and 3 July, Treasures of Sicily costs from £1,245 pp (two sharing) including BA flights (Gatwick), transfers, seven nights’ B&B, excursions, and the services of local guides and representatives. Call Jules Verne on 020 3553 3722 (www.vjv.com).
Making family summer memories in Malawi, from £2,400 pp with TravelLocal
Families seeking more than a fly-and-flop this summer should consider Malawi. It’s warm throughout July and August, and its parks are far less crowded than other safari destinations. Immerse yourselves in green expanses of tea estates; visit a non-profit organisation committed to helping orphans and HIV/AIDS sufferers on the Zomba Plateau; seek elephants by night and by riverboat; and hang in hammocks at Lake Malawi. A nine-day Southern Malawi Circuit costs from £2,400 pp (two sharing) including B&B accommodation, some meals, transfers, excursions and the services of a local guide. International flights not included. Call TravelLocal on 0117 3257898 (www.travellocal.com).
The Green Hills of Spain & La Rhune – from £2,400 pp with Ffestiniog Travel
Spain’s northern ‘Green’ coast is the focus of this 15-day escorted tour, which also makes a short visit to south western France. As well as ample time to explore Bilbao, Santander, Gijón, Santiago di Compostela and Leon at your own pace, enjoy scenic rail journeys between San Sebastian and Bilbao, and on the metre-gauge FEVE network, and experience the ‘petit train de la Rhune’ rack railway as it makes its impressive ascent. Departing 14 June, The Green Hills of Spain and La Rhune costs from £2,400 pp (two sharing), including Eurostar/TGV, 14 nights’ B&B, Global InterRail pass, excursions and tour leader. Call AITO* member Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 512400 (www.ffestiniogtravel.com).
Bears, Wolves & rich wildlife in Spain’s wild Asturias – from £1,395 pp with Naturetrek
The little-visited western end of Spain’s Cantabrian Mountains is home to rare Brown Bears and elusive Wolves, majestic birds of prey such as Golden Eagle and Goshawk, alpine pastures brimming with bountiful flora and rural villages, where locals still lead a pastoralist life. This eight-day itinerary features daily on-foot excursions in Somiedo Natural Park in search of these varied species, taking in scenic valleys, verdant pastures and mountain vistas along the way. Departing 6 July, Wild Asturias costs from £1,395 pp (two sharing) including flights (Stansted), seven nights’ full board and the services of an expert naturalist guide. Call AITO* member Naturetrek on 01962 733051 (www.naturetrek.co.uk).
Cocktails, hampers and hiking – Seaham Hall, County Durham, from £375 pp
The North East is heavenly in summer, especially its coastal strolls and wonderfully fresh seafood. Five-star Seaham Hall overlooks the sea on a new 11-mile section of the England Coast Path and has a 44,000 sq ft award-winning spa. It’s Great Up North is a two-night special offer including signature cocktails on arrival, a hamper full of Northern summer treats, a three-course dinner, a 60-minute spa treatment, a local map featuring little-known gems, and tickets to the nearby Beamish Museum which has an exciting summer line-up. Cost is from £375 pp (two sharing a luxurious suite). Valid 1 June – 31 August, Monday – Thursday. Call Seaham Hall on 0191 516 1400 (www.seaham-hall.co.uk).
Capture Castles on Canvas – from £1,560 pp at The Watermill at Posara
Based in rural Tuscany near the walled town of Fivizzano, The Watermill at Posara hosts a range of creative courses from spring until autumn each year. Ideal for keen painters, Watercolours (23-30 June) will be led by former Enid Blyton book illustrator Andrew Geeson, who will pass on his top tips on how to paint in a loose, spontaneous style, regardless of whether the subject matter is a castle, monastery or hilltop village. The price from £1,560 pp (two sharing) includes tuition, seven nights’ full-board, transfers and an excursion. Flights (Pisa) extra. Contact The Watermill at Posara on 020 7193 6246 (www.watermill.net).
Relaxed indulgence in Pembrokeshire – from £115 pp with Pride of Britain Hotels
Set in Pembrokeshire’s rolling countryside close to golden beaches, 26-bedroom boutique bolthole Grove of Narberth has recently enjoyed a stunning makeover. Working with celebrated interior designer Martin Hulbert, the hotel’s public areas have been thoughtfully updated using Welsh textiles and local materials. There are now two restaurants: refined dining at The Fernery Restaurant with walls adorned with pressed ferns (picked by the owners) and casual dining at The Artisan Rooms (think Welsh cheeses, cured meat, local fish and cocktails). Stay overnight from £230 per room/£115 pp (two sharing) including full Welsh breakfast (valid May-Sept). Call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (www.prideofbritainhotels.com).
The beauty of Scandinavia – Lapland: Norway – Sweden – Finland – from £1,059 pp with Sunvil
Take in the dramatic landscape of northern Scandinavia on this must-do holiday. A Fly-Drive holiday through Lapland: Norway, Sweden and Finland takes you to the fjords of northern Norway, the mountains of the Abisko National Park on the Sweden/Norway border, the plains of Swedish Lapland and the fells of northern Finland. You may spot moose and reindeer on the way and, in Tromsø, you can experience the incredible Midnight Sun (between 20 May – 22 July) when the sun never sets. The cost is from £1,059 pp (two sharing) and includes flights (London), seven nights’ B&B and eight days’ car hire. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8568 4499 (www.sunvil.co.uk).
Child-friendly countryside retreat – Devon’s Bovey Castle from £350 per night (family of four)
Situated in 275 undulating acres on Dartmoor National Park, Bovey Castle offers an unrivalled range of complimentary country pursuits for little ones, from falconry displays, egg collecting and ferret meeting to croquet, crolf and tennis. Bovey Rangers activities including archery, survival skills and woodland challenge are also available (ages 7-14; £35 per session). For smaller Bovey Bears, activities include painting, biscuit decorating and mask making (ages 3-7; £15 per hour). Adults can relax in the spa, swim in the Art Deco pool or make cider and sloe gin in the Long Barn. Stay in a Junior State Room from £350 per room per night (family of four sharing; room only). Call Bovey Castle on 01647 445 007 (www.boveycastle.com).
Sea dragons and sea-themed mocktails on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast – Lyme Regis from £308 per family at the Alexandra
Search for fossils on the beach against the dramatic backdrop of the UNESCO-listed Jurassic Coast (brought to life in BBC One’s Attenborough and the Sea Dragon, where a 200-million-year-old fossil of a giant sea dragon was discovered on a nearby beach), pop into the town’s recently-reopened museum to see its mesmerising collection of local fossils and join one of its fascinating fossil walks. Stay overlooking the beach at the Alexandra where sea-themed mocktails and garden games await. Stay at the hotel from £308 per room per night (family of four sharing) including full English breakfast. Call the Alexandra on 01297 442 010 (www.hotelalexandra.co.uk).
Luxury barge cruising on the Canal du Midi – South of France from £4,145 pp with Kirker
Voyage through the Languedoc’s vineyards and villages on board Anjodi, the stylish ‘hotel barge’ featured in Rick Stein’s popular ‘French Odyssey’ TV series. Sailing on the picturesque Canal du Midi through south west France, enjoy superb sightseeing accompanied by delicious local food and wine. Then, after a six-night cruise, this sublime summer escape ends with two nights at the five-star Hotel de la Cité in medieval Carcassonne. Departing 22 July or 12 August, the price is from £4,145 pp (two sharing) including flights (London) to Montpellier, private transfers, all-inclusive cruise, excursions and two nights’ accommodation with breakfast. Call AITO* member Kirker on 020 7593 2283 (www.kirkerholidays.com).
Family island retreat on alluring Paxos – Greece from £728 pp with CV Villas
The crystal water-fringed island of Paxos is a tiny gem in the Ionian Sea, peppered with whitewashed houses, seafront tavernas and fragrant olive groves – the perfect location for a relaxing family retreat. Staying at the charming hilltop Villa Estia, savour the slow pace of life on this unspoilt idyll with long lazy lunches on the terrace, afternoon strolls around the pretty port town of Gaios, snorkelling in the quiet cove just 50 m away, and swimming in the infinity pool, taking in picturesque views of the sailboats dotting the horizon. A week’s stay in Villa Estia (sleeps eight) is from £728 pp (£5,827 total) including transfers and maid service. Flights extra. Call CV Villas on 020 7261 5400 (www.cvvillas.com).
Save over £600 pp in Zambia and Malawi – from £3,739 pp with Robin Pope Safaris
Malawi’s ultimate beach lodge Pumulani, beside Lake Malawi, celebrates its tenth birthday this summer. Marking the occasion, the ten-night Pumulani Anniversary Safari combines it with two other impeccably-run camps: one in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park; the other at brand new Kuthengo Camp in Malawi’s virtually untouched Liwonde National Park. The trip costs from £3,739 pp (two sharing) – a saving of £617 pp – including full-board accommodation, most drinks, all transfers, activities (except motorised water sports) and laundry. Flights extra. Offer valid for travel between 1 July and 31 October. Visit www.robinpopesafaris.net.
Volcanoes, beaches and diverse wildlife in Costa Rica – from £2,455 pp with Sunvil Latin America
With swathes of lush rainforest, towering volcanoes and tropical beaches, Costa Rica is a veritable paradise for families. In late July, a break in the rainy season (Ticos – the locals – call it ‘little summer’), brings sunny mornings, lower rainfall and fewer crowds. This family trip includes the lush Central Valley, Tortuguero – dotted with lagoons and beaches – and biodiverse Manuel Antonio National Park, for hiking misty peaks, taking wildlife boat tours and swimming in waterfalls. Costa Rica Family Fun costs from £2,455 pp (four sharing), including BA flights (Gatwick), transfers, ten nights’ B&B and private guided excursions as outlined. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8758 4774 (www.sunvil.co.uk).
Lake swimming, mountain walking and petanque en famille – La Plagne from £76 pp
Les Versants D’Aime Leisure Park, on the banks of the Isère River, features a tranquil lake surrounded by fragrant pine-scented forest and striking alpine peaks, and is a delightful base for a lively family break. Enjoy a wealth of activities including lake swimming, hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing and white-water rafting. Families can battle each other on the sports field at volleyball, basketball and petanque, rounding off the day with a mouthwatering barbecue, fresh alpine cheeses and Savoie wines. A week’s self-catering costs from €86 pp / £76 pp based on four sharing a studio apartment. Return flights (London-Geneva) cost from £134 pp with easyJet. Call La Plagne on 33 (0)4 79 09 79 79 (www.la-plagne.com).
Family holiday perfection in the Peloponnese – Greece from £633 pp with Sunvil
On a private seven-acre estate in the Southern Peloponnese – with views to the mountains across the bay – the nine Messinia Villas, each with large (10 m x 5 m) private pool, offer a superb family holiday base. Explore the beaches and ancient sites, spot wild tortoises, listen to birdsong, enjoy days outdoors on the large shady villa terraces overlooking the pool – with ever-changing seaview – and eat at local village tavernas (excellent home cooking from €10 pp, including wine). One week at the Messinia Villas (four sharing), including return flights (Gatwick), car hire and accommodation, costs from £633 pp. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8568 4499 (www.sunvil.co.uk).
*AITO is the Association of Independent Tour Operators: more than 120 specialist travel companies providing an unrivalled collection of holiday ideas that cover every corner of the world. Consumers booking with AITO can be assured of high-quality holidays and excellent personal service. Visit www.aito.com for further information.