Location: Inverness
Wanted: A couple would like a relaxing Indian Ocean holiday, perhaps in the Maldives. They like the concept of accommodation on stilts over the ocean and want to find out about activities and dining options for a holiday of about 10 days.
Budget: £5,500

Thomas Cook
13 Inglis Street,
The shop was well organised, with an eye-catching poster advertising an offer of £200 free travel money. An enthusiastic, friendly agent spoke to me immediately and showed plenty of colourful photos on the computer. We talked about resorts, restaurants and activities such as diving, snorkelling, table tennis and island-hopping. A colleague mentioned a Sandals two-for-one offer for water villas in the Caribbean rather than the Maldives, and she said she would email over details when they had them. Both quotations were 10-day holidays, staying in overwater villas, flying from Glasgow in September with Emirates to Male, via Dubai. The first was at Summer Island Maldives, North Male Atoll, for £6,029, and the second was Kuredu Island Resort, Lhaviyani Atoll, for £5,677. The quotes included transfers, all-inclusive accommodation and 20kg of luggage. They were a little over budget but I felt like a valued customer.

Tui Holiday Store
Eastgate Shopping Centre
The shop and employees looked professional and the agent was enthusiastic, helpful and chatty. She knew instantly that I meant the Maldives but also said they could offer water villas in the Philippines. Both quotes were for seven nights in September, flying from Glasgow with Emirates, staying in overwater villas. The first was at Veligandu Island Hotel and Spa for £5,390, and the second was Meeru Island Resort for £4,936. The length of the stay was under what I asked for but I would not have had a problem with making a booking here.

Alba Travel
43 Church Street
The window display was quite stylish and interesting. The agent greeted me with a smile and took copious notes about dates and my budget. She said she would have to contact suppliers to find Maldives holidays that fitted my requirements, and when I returned home, her quotations had arrived by email. The quotes were for 10-night holidays in September, flying from Glasgow. First was a water bungalow at Sun Island Resort & Spa for £5,307 and the second was a water villa room at Kuredu Island Resort & Spa for £5,439.

Winning agent

Michelle Smith, travel consultant

“The Maldives is a bit unusual for me, as we tend to sell Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. We had a picture on our wall of a Sandals over-water villa, so we considered the Caribbean, because a two-for-one sale was due.”


All three agents offered suitable quotations and service. Thomas Cook came top as the agent was the friendliest and provided the most detailed information. Tui’s quotes were for seven days rather than 10, and the Alba quotations came later via email.

Elite resorts caribbean

Top-scoring agent each month will win use of a car for 10 days.

The winning agent must be at least 25, for insurance reasons. Winners under 25 will win a week’s all-inclusive holiday at an Elite Islands Resorts property. The prize is non-transferable and the car must be driven only by the winning agent. The winner must not have any serious driving convictions. Elite Island Resorts will endeavour to supply the car to the agency but reserves the right to request the winning agent to collect and return the car from Essex or a central location.