Creating the perfect holiday is all about pace, finds Katie McGonagle
Slow, slow, quick-quick, slow – from tango to foxtrot, great dances are all about rhythm, and the same can be said for great holidays.
Knowing when to pick up the pace, or slow down and soak in the atmosphere, is key to a break that’s exciting and relaxing in equal measure.
The beautiful islands of Greece and Cyprus are home to a host of holiday experiences to suit any level of activity. Many even have options within the same resorts, so couples or groups with different ideas for how to spend their holiday can avoid arguments.
Here, we look at key destinations with ideas for those who like to live life in the fast lane, and those who prefer to kick back and relax.
HALKIDIKI: ALL IN ONE
Pause: This action-packed island is home to Sani Resort, the perfect mix of pause and play in one place. Want to watch the sun set from the water? Try a free cruise. Fancy a gentle stroll along forest trails? Take a free map from reception and set off. Hankering after freshly-caught fish and a glass of crisp white wine? Take your pick of bars and restaurants along the marina. That’s before guests even get to the spa or six beaches, all with a ‘babewatch’ service so parents can relax while experienced staff look after their little ones. Nightly rates start at €126 per room in Sani Beach Hotel.
Play: Sani Resort has plenty of chances to stay busy too. Pick olives, nectarines and strawberries at nearby Fokea Farm, take to the water for sailing and scuba diving, hire a mountain bike to go exploring, or try paintball – all within the price. There’s also a new football academy for kids aged five-14 taking place from May 24-September 1.For budget-conscious customers, Sunvil suggests Olympiada, where Akroyiali and Liotopi Hotels can organise free bird-watching trips, mountain biking, hiking, a visit to a nearby waterfall, and cooking sessions with the hotel chef. Prices start at £629 for seven nights’ half-board with flights from Gatwick.
020 8758 4758
CORFU: WALK THIS WAY
Pause: Relaxation doesn’t have to mean doing nothing – there are plenty of sightseeing opportunities to enjoy at your own pace, such as Attraction World’s four-hour Kalypso Experience and Corfu Town (pictured below). Glass-bottomed boat Kalypso Star departs from the Old Port for an hour-long cruise with sea lion show and views of fish, plants and other underwater life. Next comes three hours’ free time in Corfu Town to visit museums, churches and the old fortress, or simply enjoy coffee and people-watching at the beautiful French-built colonnade, the Liston. Prices start at £27 for adults and £17 per child under 11.
0871 700 8888
Play: There’s no better way to see a destination than on your own two feet – no skimming past scenery in a car or a coach. Inntravel has a self-guided walk along Corfu’s West Coast, journeying north to south through a nature reserve, past olive trees and cypress groves, and admiring unbeatable views from the top of Mount Agios Matthaios. The eight-night trip includes B&B accommodation in converted mansions, five dinners, three picnics, walking maps and airport transfers, from £778, excluding flights.
CRETE: SPA AND SPORT
Pause: Aldemar Hotels & Spa in Crete are home to a range of active and relaxing options. The five-star Royal Mare has added new 55-minute treatments to its spa menu this year, including the Odyssee anti-age therapy (€90), oriental massage using sesame and argan oil (€88), an anti-wrinkle treatment (€90), and a ‘facelift’ massage (€80).
Play: Once clients have kicked back in the spa, they can burn off pent-up energy with the Royal Mare’s world-class sports facilities. Serve up an ace with a tennis lesson on one of seven clay courts, which have hosted tournaments for up to 250 spectators. Individual lessons start at €42 for a 45-minute session. If clients prefer to hit a hole in one, try the new Aldemar Golf Academy, which offers lessons from PGA-qualified instructors and a chance to practise on the hotel’s chipping and putting green.Planet Holidays offers seven nights’ half-board in early September for £879, including flights to Kalamata, transfers, and half-board accommodation.
0871 871 2234
LARNACA: SUNNY DAYS
Pause: If your clients’ top priority is bagging the best sunlounger, the beaches of southeast Cyprus are just the ticket. Budget-friendly brand Airtours’ range of properties include the three-star Cosmelenia Apartments in Nissi Bay, with swimming pool and sun terrace or a short bus ride to Ayia Napa. As a higher end alternative, Thomas Cook’s Ultimate Style collection also features the five-star Grecian Park in Protaras, which has stunning sea views from its hillside spot overlooking Konnos Bay, best admired from the hotel’s Cliff Bar.
Play: Head around the bay to Larnaca for an activity extravaganza. Palm Beach Hotel & Bungalows is home to two floodlit tennis courts, squash court, four swimming pools, plus windsurfing, waterskiing and paragliding. Scuba diving is popular – the Zenobia wreck is off Larnaca harbour – plus there are cycling and walking trails in the area, and free guided walks around the town from Larnaka Tourism. Jet2holidays has seven-night B&B packages departing June 5 from £514, including flights from Leeds Bradford.
0800 408 5599
LIMASSOL: LET LOOSE
Pause: Spa options at Le Méridien Limassol Spa & Resort are hard to beat. With 34 treatment rooms, seven thalassotherapy pools, a hammam and two saunas, there’s no hanging around. Signature treatments include the four hands harmony massage (€215 for an hour), an underwater relaxing massage (€90 for 40 minutes), and a Journey of the Senses foil wrap (€135 for 55 minutes). Relax at its five outdoor pools, sample fine dining at eight restaurants, or enjoy live entertainment in the outdoor theatre.
Play: Spa widowers need not fear: there are activities aplenty. Tennis, basketball, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, five-a-side football and mini golf are free within the sizeable resort, plus there’s a bowling centre and private lessons at extra charge. Little ones can play too at the Penguin Club for three-to-12-year-olds, or there is a crèche for infants. Olympic Holidays offers seven nights’ B&B for £985 in September, including flights and transfers.
0844 499 4449
PAPHOS REGION: ACE ESCAPES
Pause: Few retreats could be more relaxing than a 17th-century monastery-turned-boutique hotel. Ayii Anargyri Natural Healing Resort is a 56-room adult-only property half-an-hour north of Paphos. Aside from its relaxing environs, the standout feature is its sublime spa, which has added new packages this year including a detox (€460 for treatments including sulphur jet massage and detox wrap), and a three-day healing package (€189 focusing on hands, feet, ankles and calves). Cyplon offers seven nights with flights from Manchester for £619, including private taxi transfers and a spa treatment.
Play: With Wimbledon fast approaching, it’s time to start digging out tennis whites – but why take a risk with British summer showers when Aphrodite Hills Resort runs its own Annabel Croft Tennis Academy? Choose from a five-day Grand Slam programme with four-and-a-half hours’ coaching per day (€495 per adult and €400 per child), a five-day tennis holiday with two-and-a-half hours’ daily coaching a day and a private lesson (€375 or €160), or a three-day tennis and spa package, combining coaching and a personal training session with two spa treatments and yoga (€435). Classic Collection Holidays offers seven nights’ B&B at InterContinental Aphrodite Hills Resort from £1,142 in June, with the first child under six from £349, including flights and private transfers.
0800 008 7288
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