Brief: A couple with a small child want to go to for a week of winter sun in Cyprus in November, ideally flying from Birmingham. They would like to stay all-inclusive but near a town so they can go out, and would like a hotel with babysitting services.
Verdict: The winning agent had a great attitude and an encyclopedic product knowledge.
12 The Crown Centre, Crown Lane
I wasn’t acknowledged for about five minutes after I entered the shop when I was told that the computer system was down, and probably would be all day.
I was asked to leave my details and requirements by a rather harassed agent, who told me I would be emailed the results of what she found later that day or the next day.
I did so and left, but after four days still hadn’t received any communication from the shop. I appreciate the computer difficulties were out of the agent’s control, but I was disappointed to hear nothing over email, as I gave all the necessary details to the agent to find me a holiday.
I would not return to this agency to book my holiday.
The Co-operative Travel
68 High Street
This shop’s window looked rather cluttered with deals, but an agent greeted me immediately, asking how she could help.
With her manager’s help and advice she found two good deals, one with Thomas Cook at the Elias Beach Hotel in Limassol, for £1,654, and the other through First Choice at the Aliathon Holiday Village in Paphos for £1,384.
The latter really impressed me with new-looking accommodation and great facilities, plus the flight times were excellent. However, while the agent wasn’t unfriendly, her style felt very negative.
When I queried points, instead of saying she would find out, she just said, “I really don’t know.”
57a High Street
The agent here was welcoming, polite, friendly and patient. She asked plenty of questions and spent time looking through details of hotels to find one that offered babysitting.
She found that Sovereign properties offered babysitting but they didn’t offer all-inclusive. She gave me a printed quote for a week at the Louis Phaeton Beach Club in Paphos for £1,479 with Thomson, which seemed a high calibre hotel for the price.
She told me this was with a discount that was guaranteed only for today to incentivise me to buy. I was happy with what I was offered but would have liked more than one option.
Kinver Travel Centre
42 High Street
This wasn’t the smartest-looking of the agencies, but the agent had a very pleasant and relaxing manner and seemed happy to take as much time as necessary to find me the perfect holiday.
She had detailed knowledge of hotels and tour operators with good children’s entertainment and facilities without needing to refer to brochures, and offered me stays in Paphos at the Louis Phaeton Beach Club, the Ledra Beach Hotel and the Aliathon Holiday Village from £1,450, £1,753 and £1,390 respectively.
I was given a brochure with the hotels in and written quotes to take home. She also told me that she could arrange airport parking, insurance and excursions. She didn’t try to close the sale, seeming happy to give me the information and await my decision.
I was very impressed by the personal service here and feel a slightly smarter appearance would better convey this professionalism.
Winning agent: Kim Kettley, senior travel consultant
"I haven’t been to the Paphos area, but we get so much feedback from clients who travel there that it’s easy to get a real feel for the hotels.
I really love working for an independent agency, and between us in our shop we’ve got over 100 years’ travel experience."
- With winter temperatures between 15C and 20C, and five hours of sunshine a day, even in December, Cyprus has long been a popular winter-sun option.
- Many airlines fly year-round to Cyprus, including British Airways, Cyprus Air, Aegean and easyJet. Thomson flies to Paphos year-round, and Avro sells year-round flights with Monarch to Larnaca.
- Winter is the low season, so deals are on offer, including free child places, savings on car hire and discounts for long stays, which are particularly popular with the older market.
- The lower temperatures make the winter months a great time for active pursuits such as hiking in the mountains, or golf. The Elea Golf Club, just outside Paphos, is new this year.
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