Keep active breaks short to keep clients sweet, writes Joanna Booth
Anyone with their finger on the pulse of fitness trends will know HIIT is very big this year.
HIIT does not mean being punched slowly but loudly in the face. It’s an acronym for “high-intensity interval training” – the idea being that short bursts of exercise are better than a long slow burn.
This isn’t a bad way to approach activity holidays. Clients may not want to spend their summer fortnight sweating through effort – they may wish to reserve this for sweating off their suncream on the beach.
But a long weekend full of activities to get their pulses racing is a much more tempting sell. We’ve rounded up a selection of short activity breaks to whet their appetites. Who would want to hit the gym when they could be bob-sledding, surfing or canoeing instead?
Walk this Way
Bragging rights aren’t only for clients who can sacrifice weeks at a time to trek in the Himalayas. Mount Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa and clients with a good level of fitness can reach the summit in less than a week.
Explore’s five-day Toubkal Long Weekend starts at £594, including flights, four nights in hotels, village houses and camping, most meals, transportation and the services of a tour leader, driver, cook and trek crew.
KE Adventure Travel does it in a day less – the four-day trip starts at £295 on a land-only basis, including all meals, mountain guide, trek service, two nights in hotels and lodges and one night in a mountain refuge.
If they have done Toubkal, suggest the Tatras Mountains, home to KE Adventure Travel’s new four-day Rysy Weekend trip, which ascends Poland’s highest peak. The itinerary also allows time for sightseeing in Zakopane and Krakow. Land-only prices start at £395.
For something more leisurely, recommend Explore’s new five-day Self Guided Walking in the Cinque Terre itinerary. Graded easy to moderate, clients will amble through vineyards and olive groves between the five famously picturesque fishing villages on the craggy Ligurian Riviera. Prices start at £415, including four nights’ B&B and luggage transfer. Flights are extra.
On your Bike
Cycling is having its moment in the sun, so consider selling customers a two-wheeled adventure.
For Tour de France fans, Eurocamp has added five road cycling parks to its Active portfolio, with free road cycling routes and maps available before and during trips. Parks include Les Fontaines, La Ravoire and La Ferme de la Serraz in the French Alps, Zell am See in Austria and Playa Montroig on the Costa Dorada, Spain.
For those who don’t want to cycle – or for time out of the saddle – the parks offer facilities such as water slides, tennis courts and golf. A five-night break in a two-bedroom Esprit mobile home at Les Fontaines starts at £150 on May 15, on an accommodation-only basis.
If their thighs won’t stand up to such steep gradients, suggest Inntravel’s four-night A Taste of Holland independent cycling break.
Customers can set their own pace on the flat but beautiful countryside between Edam and Amsterdam, cycling past villages, harbours and windmills as they pedal from hotel to hotel. Prices start at £615, including B&B accommodation, luggage transfers, cycle hire with accessories, cycling maps and airport transfers. Flights are extra.
Go with the Flow
There are also options for those who prefer water-based action. The Médoc peninsula, an hour north of Bordeaux, is popular with surfers, and Pierre & Vacances has opened the Residence Bleu Marine just outside the resort of Lacanau Ocean.
It offers direct beach access and there is a surf school, so beginners can learn to ride the waves. Four nights in a studio sleeping up to three starts at £89 on September 19.
Wilderness Scotland has a three-night River Spey Descent trip, offering the chance to canoe and camp in Scotland’s whisky region.
Customers should expect adventurous days with a variety of river conditions, including some challenging rapids, giving way to peaceful evenings camping in the wild with fine meals and a dram or two after dinner. Prices start at £495, including three nights’ camping, all meals, transportation from Aviemore, camping and canoeing equipment, and the services of a guide.
Thrills and Chills
Snowy activities are a whole heap of fun, especially for families, so book clients on trips to locations where drifts are guaranteed and activities are included.
Taber Holidays has added a four-night Northern Lights Lodge and Husky Safari break in Norwegian Lapland, which features a full day of dog-sledding, plus excursions to try ice-fishing and snowshoeing, and to look for the northern lights.
Staying at the cosy Northern Lights Lodge on the banks of the Alta River, prices start at £1,795, including flights from Heathrow to Alta via Oslo, transfers, accommodation, some meals and activities. Departures are on Mondays and Thursdays until March 29.
Regent Holidays’ Arctic Panorama Short Break offers similar opportunities, including a night-time husky safari and snowmobiling. The operator has recently added the Arctic Panorama Lodge, which has panoramic windows overlooking a fjord and mountains.
For added glamour, guests can book a helicopter transfer from Tromso. Three nights’ B&B starts at £685, including flights from Gatwick to Tromso, but excluding activities.
For customers who want to try something really different, look to Exodus. Also in Norway, the operator can help clients live out their Cool Runnings fantasies on the Lillehammer Bobsled Weekend.
The trip is for over-16s, but no previous experience is necessary, with qualified pilots at the Olympic Park in Hunderfossen on hand as clients hurtle down the ice facing forces of up to 5G. A three-night trip, including bed-and-breakfast accommodation, flights from London and transfers, starts at £999.
For something a little slower paced, Exodus also has the Mount Etna Snowshoeing Long Weekend. The three-night trip offers customers with a good level of fitness the chance to explore the snowy slopes of Europe’s highest active volcano. Prices start at £769, including flights, transfers, B&B accommodation, activities and equipment.
A host of activities is on offer at holiday parks in the UK, with short travel times making them ideal for a short break.
Hoseasons has Go Active short breaks available at 15 countryside lodge locations across the UK. Core activities include fencing, archery and crossbows, snorkelling and sea scooters, WaterWalkerz and Body Zorbs. Adrenaline seekers can try abseiling, mountain biking or kayaking.
There is also yoga and pilates for those who like their action a little more relaxing. Sandybrook Country Park in Derbyshire is new to the Go Active range this year, with a three-night short break for a family of four starting at £341 on May 8.
Alongside all the existing activities on offer for children at Butlins resorts – think swimming, beach sports, archery, football coaching, high-ropes and fencing – this year, they will also be able to learn to street dance.
And they will learn from the experts – from Britain’s Got Talent stars Diversity, no less. Exclusive to Butlins, Diversity Dance Academy lessons (90 minutes for £10, should be booked in advance) will run three times daily at all three resorts during selected school holiday dates.
After picking up the moves, clients can watch the pros in action at the Diversity Live Show in the evening. A three-night Diversity Dance Academy break at Butlins Skegness on February 20 starts at £240 for a family of four staying in a Silver Apartment.
Football academies are new to the activity programmes this year at all Haven parks except Reighton Sands, Riviere Sands and Lydstep Beach. Five to 16-year-olds can receive dedicated coaching, with certificates and prizes awarded.
Many other activities are on offer, from sailing to bushcraft. Those staying at Haggerston Castle can take advantage of an upgraded rope course, while at Combe Haven, the SportsDrome has been refurbished. Three or four night-breaks start at £79 for a two-bedroom Standard Caravan sleeping up to six.
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