Sun, sea, sand and service – the Indian Ocean has been renowned for many things, but rarely its low prices.
It’s always been a deluxe destination, frequented by celebs. The tabloids have carried pictures of Kylie relaxing in Mauritius, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes honeymooning in the Maldives and most recently, the Beckhams cavorting on the white sands of the Seychelles.
However, it has not proved credit crunch-proof. Most operators agree this summer has been tough, with the trend for late bookings hitting hard.
In Mauritius and the Maldives, the recession saw three- and four-star resorts holding up more successfully than the five-star deluxe properties.
Reports are conflicting when it comes to the Seychelles – some operators say it’s been very slow; others that it remains consistent with bookings at the very top end of the market.
It’s done particularly well for specialist operator Elite Vacations, whose managing director Peter Jackson says: “The private island resorts are doing well, but we’ve also seen a flurry of activity at small, good value properties.”
The upside of the slowdown has been the response from the market – there’s a range of fantastic savings across the board.
Thomson Tailormade product manager Glenn McCool says: “There have been more offers between September and April than ever before. This has resulted in lots of first time visitors to the Indian Ocean, taking advantage of lower prices and all-inclusive deals.”
Despite the flare-up of troubles in Sri Lanka, the island has remained popular with tourists, suggesting visitors were either well enough informed to realise that the fighting between government forces and the Tamil Tigers was confined to a small area in the north, or totally oblivious to the problems.
It has seen rising visitor numbers, driven by deals such as two-for-one holidays. “The value for money on the ground is unbeatable too,” says Ellis Cain Jones, general manager of Virgin Holidays worldwide division. “I was there in February and you can get a three-course dinner for £7.”
Things are looking up. Operators are breathing a sigh of relief after the slow summer, as winter bookings are steadily flowing in. “There’s been an encouraging stir of activity for next year,” says Jackson. “We’re getting bookings through for as late as November 2010.”
Take advantage of these great deals and make some late sales.
This beautiful island is renowned for wonderful hotels with attentive service. The all-inclusive market is well-developed, and is popular with couples and families alike.
> Elite Vacations offers 10 nights for the price of six and a free upgrade to half-board at the five-star One&Only Le Saint Geran on departures up to September 30, from £1,899 per person in a junior suite, saving £1,900 per couple. Includes flights, transfers and airport lounge passes.
> Cadogan Holidays offers seven nights for the price of four on October departures to the five-star Grand Mauritian. Bed and breakfast in a deluxe room including flights and transfers costs £1,606 per person, a saving of £492.
> Virgin Holidays offers six nights for the price of three at the five-star Le Telfair Golf Resort and Spa, saving £600 per person. Two adults share a standard room on a half-board basis including flights for £1,149 per person on all September departures.
> Sunset Faraway Holidays offers discounted rates at the Beau Rivage (above) with savings of up to £620 per person on a seven-night stay, which costs £1,499 half-board including flights and transfers, valid for travel in October and November on bookings before August 31.
This string of faraway stretches of sand surrounded by the Indian Ocean is famed for the one-island, one-hotel concept. It’s perfect for high-end fly-and-flop holidays, and is strong player in the honeymoon market.
> Sunset Faraway Holidays offers seven nights for the price of five at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, saving £650 per person. The stay is in a beach villa including flights and seaplane transfers for £2,450 per person for departures in September and October booked before August 15.
> Elegant Resorts offers two free kids’ places when booking two adults at the One&Only Reethi Rah. (above) It costs £6,860 for a beach villa, including flights and yacht transfers, a saving of £2,920. Valid until October 19. The offer is only valid for children up to 11 years old.
> Thomson Worldwide offers a 30% discount at the four-star-plus Komandoo for travel up to October 31. Seven nights’ bed and breakfast starts from £1,255 per person, saving £205 each. Price includes flight and transfers.
> Elite Vacations offers six nights in a junior suite at the five-star Diva resort from £1,699 per person, which includes a free place for partners, free meal upgrade to full board and reduced rate seaplane transfers – saving £2,200 per couple. Offer valid on departures in September and includes flights, transfers and airport lounge passes.
Perceived as extremely exclusive, the Seychelles possesses stunning natural beauty. There are exclusive private island resorts, but all-inclusive isn’t common and most visitors will take trips and excursions to visit sights.
> Elite Vacations offers reduced rates at the four-star Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Hotel on Mahe. Seven nights’ half-board starts from £999 per person – saving £700 per couple. Valid until September 30 including flights, transfers and airport lounge passes.
> Elegant Resorts offers seven nights for the price of six at the Maia Luxury Resort and Spa, (above) saving £705 per person. Two adults can share an ocean view villa with breakfast, flights and transfers from £4,970 per person on departures up to December 11.
This tropical island of temples, rainforests and elephants offers beautiful beach options, but also a strong touring programme. The destination offers particularly good value for money on the ground.
> Virgin Holidays offers eight nights for the price of four at the four-star Eden Resort and Spa on a bed-and-breakfast basis, saving £240 per person. The price is based on twin-share and includes scheduled flights for £729 per person on departures between September 15 and October 9.
> Premier Holidays offers a 13-night touring holiday including return flights, private guided transfers and stays in the Jetwing Beach Hotel Negombo, Hill Country Journey tour, Yala Safari tour and the Taj Exotica Bentota. Book by September 10 for travel from now until December 24.
> Kuoni offers eight nights’ bed and breakfast at the four-star Taj Exotica from £695 per person, saving £401 per person including flights, transfers and accommodation in a standard room. Quote reference CY124.
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