Mystery ShopperBrief: A family want to spend a week of the Easter holidays on one of the Spanish islands but don’t know which to choose. They would like a hotel with great facilities for kids and want to fly from a local airport.

Budget: £2,500.

Verdict: The winner really considered what would best suit Mystery Shopper’s needs.

Dawson & Sanderson

5-6 Keppel StreetDawson & Sanderson, South Shields

The agent in this slightly cramped shop asked all the basic questions, but I don’t think she was interested or enthusiastic enough to dig a little deeper and find out exactly what I was looking for. She did a computer search and named a few hotels, but couldn’t give me a great deal of information on them, just reading from a brochure, which I could have done myself.

She quoted for two Fuerteventura hotels through Thomas Cook, the Elba Sara Hotel for £2,916 and the ClubHotel Riu Oliva Beach for £2,608, both of which were over budget. As there didn’t seem to be any concrete or personal basis for her recommendations I wasn’t convinced these were necessarily the best options for my family.


48 King StreetThomson, South Shields

I can’t fault the friendliness of the agent here, or the effort she put in to finding me a holiday, but she did have to ask for help from her colleagues, both about details of the resorts and about a problem she was having with her computer system.

However, she was able to recommend a resort that met many of my requirements – the Holiday Village Costa Del Sol in Benalmadena, for £1,588. However, it wasn’t on an island, and was only available on a self-catering basis, not all-inclusive. She offered insurance, gave me a brochure, a printed quote and a business card, and took my details. She was patient, but couldn’t quite meet my needs.

Thomas Cook

16 Denmark StreetThomas Cook, South Shields

The agent eventually found a holiday to fit my requirements. She initially recommended the Sunrise Tirana Aqua Park Resort, but I wanted Spain, not Egypt. Then she recommended the Green Garden Resort in Tenerife, but at £3,500 for a week it was £1,000 over budget.

I kept pushing and looking in the Airtours Wintersun brochure rather than Thomas Cook Aquamania brought success – the Aparthotel Broncemar Beach in Fuerteventura, for £2,243 all-inclusive or £1,973 half board. She mentioned insurance, parking and excursions, gave me brochures with quotes written on and her details, and took my number for a call-back. It took perseverance but this friendly agent gave excellent service in the end.

Hays Travel

163 Prince Edward RoadHays Travel, South Shields

This shop’s exterior was slightly tired-looking, but once inside I received excellent service. The friendly agent asked a wide range of questions covering destination, flights, facilities, board basis and budget, before searching available options on her computer and quickly spotting a couple she thought suitable with good family facilities.

She seemed to know Majorca well and quoted me £1,536 for the Protur Bonaire Aparthotel in Cala Bona and £1,718 for the Puerto Azul in Puerto Pollensa. These were both half-board, which she recommended for flexibility, but advised we could upgrade to all-inclusive once there if we wanted.

She offered insurance and airport parking, and gave me the relevant Thomson Family Collection brochure, printed quotes and her business card. When I said I needed to talk to my partner, she asked if she could call me at the end of the week.

Winning agent: Emily Mossa, travel consultantEmily Mossa, Mystery Shopper winning agent

“I’m in the second year of my apprenticeship with Hays. I’ve been to Majorca with the girls, so I wasn’t staying in the family-friendly places I recommended, but it helped to know the island. The hotel is TripAdvisor’s top family hotel in Europe.”

Tips: Top 5 tips for selling Spanish islands

Just a few hours away, Spain’s islands are conveniently close to home for families, and there are direct flights to the most popular options from all over the UK.

The Canaries offer year-round sun, so are well placed for half-terms and Christmas holidays as well as summer. The Balearics aren’t so scorching; great for summer, and for younger children’s sensitive skins in the shoulder seasons.

Water parks are always popular; options include Aqualand in Majorca, and Tenerife’s Aqualand Costa Adeje and Siam Park.

All-inclusive options will suit some families, others may want more flexibility and might consider self-catering. Remember to keep an eye out for free child places or early booking discounts to keep clients’ costs down.

For more on family breaks in the Spanish Islands see page 49 of Destinations and