More Brits are warming to the merits of holidays closer to home. Katie McGonagle suggests ways to make it pay.
With the Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and a £4 million ad campaign encouraging Brits to holiday at home this year, it might seem like a tough time for travel agents.
The latest statistics show the number of tourists going abroad is continuing to fall, and anecdotal evidence suggests recession-hit holidaymakers are choosing so-called staycations over foreign trips.
But with a bit of lateral thinking, agents can turn this trend to their advantage. There are plenty of trade-friendly brands selling domestic breaks, so by suggesting alternatives within the British Isles, agents can not only make a sale but also retain clients’ loyalty when they return to booking overseas.
Here, we look at UK-based alternatives for some of the most popular holidays abroad.
SUN, SAND AND SEA
Old favourite Butlins should not be overlooked for a family break as its coastal resorts in Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness combine sandy beaches with family-friendly entertainment.
Youngsters can play in the resorts’ aqua parks, have a go on the climbing wall or High Ropes courses, try new sports such as fencing and archery, or chill out at the bowling alley and cinema.
Four nights at Butlins Skegness starts at £297 per family based on four sharing a standard self-catering apartment in July.
OR: Don’t forget the beautiful islands that offer great beaches close to home. The Channel Islands have a warm climate and an old-world charm inspired by their French neighbours. Prestige Holidays offers seven nights’ B&B at Braye Beach Hotel in Alderney from £824 per adult, £452 per child, in July or August, including transfers and return flights from Southampton.
Hoseasons has added Stonerush Lakes Lodges, five miles from Polperro in Cornwall, to its brochure this year. Two secluded lodges – one for two people and one sleeping four – have uninterrupted views over the countryside, hot tubs, verandas with barbecues, flatscreen TVs and games consoles. Clients can try scenic walks in nearby Fowey, explore quaint fishing villages dotted around the coast, or venture farther afield to the world-famous Eden Project. A peak summer holiday week for four starts at £1,295 with Hoseasons.
OR: Enjoy Ireland’s unspoilt beaches with a trip to Achill Island, off the western edge of County Mayo. Visitors can put their feet up or try hill-walking, angling and golf. Irish Ferries offers a package including accommodation with Trawmore Holiday Homes. A week’s self-catering for two adults and up to four children, including ferry crossing with a car, is £884 between July 28 and August 18, then £596 for the rest of August.
A ROMANTIC GETAWAY
What better city break than a luxury trip to London? Superbreak offers two nights at the five-star Waldorf Hilton Hotel near Covent Garden – a shopaholic’s paradise – along with tickets for a champagne flight on the London Eye from £264 per person. Boost commission by adding theatre tickets or visits to the capital’s top attractions.
OR: Get away from it all with a break to Star Castle in the Scilly Isles. This Elizabethan castle looks like a star from above and is surrounded by a moat for total seclusion. It’s on a hilltop, boasting amazing views of St Mary’s and the sea. Four nights’ half-board costs £862 per person in July/August with Prestige Holidays, including return helicopter from Penzance and transfers.
Hikers can scale the dizzying heights of Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales, and look out over the stunning landscapes of Snowdonia National Park from the summit.
Explore has a three-day trek from £325 per person in May-July and September, including two nights’ accommodation, transport and a tour leader. Adrenaline junkies can add mountain biking and sea kayaking.
OR: Hoseasons’ Go Active breaks, launched in 2010, offer adventurous activities for all ages. Great Glen Water Park in Kinlochlochy, Inverness-shire, has canoeing, archery, fencing, quad biking and clay pigeon shooting, plus nearby skiing in the right season. A week in a three-bedroom lodge costs from £259 to £719 per person based on six sharing, depending on the season. Activities are charged separately.
The four-star Thoresby Hall Hotel in Nottinghamshire has an ice cave, Turkish hammam steam room and Scandinavian sanarium, plus aromatherapy and hydrotherapy.
Warner Leisure Hotels offers two nights’ half-board from £126 per person. A package offering access to spa facilities, but not including treatments, costs £30 for two.
OR: Frimley Hall Hotel & Spa in Surrey is a charming ivy-clad manor boasting a spa, gym, pool, sauna and steam room. Pamper packages include a treatment – a neck, back or shoulder massage or a facial – plus a four-course dinner at the award-winning restaurant. A one-night stay in July costs from £149 per person with Superbreak.
FUN FOR OVER-50S
For a luxurious tour of our island heritage, suggest the 11-day Treasures of the British Isles cruise aboard Marco Polo with over-55s specialist Grand UK. The ship departs from Tilbury on July 20, stopping at Invergordon, Stornoway, Tobermory (the setting for BBC children’s programme Balamory) Dublin, the Isles of Scilly, Guernsey and Honfleur, among others. Prices start at £1,029 per person.
OR: Explore the Isle of Man with a five-day heritage railway pass. Travellers can go up the Snaefell mountain railway to visit the largest working waterwheel in the world, or see Peel Castle and the historic House of Manannan. Page & Moy has departures in May, June and September, from £499 per person including a tour leader, return travel from Liverpool and some meals.
Golfers can improve their handicap in Warwickshire’s beautiful Forest of Arden. Players can tee off at the Arden Championship Course, which has hosted the British Masters and English Open, and the Aylesford Course, which is shorter but has tricky water features that test even the best golfers. Tour operator Solos offers three nights’ half-board in a twin or double room at Marriott’s Forest of Arden hotel, including three rounds of golf, for £419 in April.
OR: Just You has taster weekends to tempt those who have never tried a singles’ holiday before. The most popular is a three-day trip to the Highcliff Marriott in Bournemouth, including excursions to beautiful Sandbanks and Poole Harbour. Departures in June, October and November are £249 per person including half-board accommodation and a tour manager.
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