Location: Bedford

Wanted: A family of four – mum, dad and two primary school children – would like to visit Crete in the summer. They’re looking at a week in a hotel, with facilities to keep the kids happy.

They would like to know about excursions to see a bit more of the island. Ideally, they would like all-inclusive or half-board options to save having to worry too much about mealtimes. They have heard Crete is good for families but would also consider other options in Greece.

Budget: £4,000


Verdict

All the holidays offered were ideal and close to, or well under, the budget. The same hotel – Iberostar Creta Panorama and Mare – appeared in all the quotes, but with different departure airports. Eagle Executive Travel gave the best all-round service and Global Travel Experts also performed very well. Select Travel Holidays produced suitable quotes but the shopper felt they had to chase for details.


Winning agent

Sharon Goldstone, worldwide travel consultant

“Crete is very popular and easy to recommend to families – I have been to Crete a couple of times and we also get feedback about it from clients.

Jet2 is excellent and we sell lots of their holidays. I’ve been to Iberostar hotels and you can’t go wrong there for families. I’ve been a travel agent for 28 years.”


mystery-shopper-crete-SHUTTERSTOCK

Eagle Executive Travel
11 Goldington Road
87%

Impression: The shop was tidy, staff were smart. The window display outlined the types of holidays on offer.

Service: I was dealt with immediately by a helpful, polite agent who did her best to find a suitable holiday. She asked lots of open questions and was knowledgeable about hotel options in Crete.

She recommended one she had visited with young children, explaining how Crete is a beautiful island with great resorts for younger families. The agent was engaging and enthusiastic, providing quotes and brochures. This is the sort of service I would expect from a travel agent.

Quote: Both quotes were week-long all-inclusive holidays with Jet2holidays, departing from Stansted, and including transfers. The first departed in August, staying at the four-star Iberostar Creta Panorama and Mare hotel. It cost £3,620. She said this hotel was great for families with youngsters and she had been before.

It has a great star rating, met my requirements and was below budget. The second one departed in July, staying at Blue Aegean Aparthotel three-star hotel, for £2,876. The agent said it was in a family-friendly resort by the beach and had plenty for kids.

Overall: I felt the recommendations completely matched my needs and I was very satisfied with both holidays. I would have happily booked with this agent.

Global Travel Experts
9 Ram Yard
79%

Impression: The shop was clean with smart, well-groomed staff. There was nothing in the windows but the brochure rack was full and neat.

Service: I was dealt with straight away and offered a drink while talking to a friendly agent. The agent was enthusiastic and asked lots of open questions but did not tell me much about the island or resorts while I was there. They didn’t produce quotes while I was in the shop but I called the next day and quotes were emailed to me. They answered my questions on email promptly.

Quotes: Both were week-long, all-inclusive holidays with Jet2holidays, departing from Birmingham airport, including coach transfers. The first was departing in July and staying at the Kiani Beach Resort in Kalyves, in a family room with a mountain view. It would cost £3,692.

The second was departing in August to stay at Iberostar Creta Panorama and Mare in Rethymnon, in a superior bungalow with a sea view. It would cost £3,632. The quotes matched my request.

Overall: The welcome was warm and friendly and the staff were engaged with me while I was in the agency. The quotes met my requirements and they offered to search further if I wanted more options.

Select Travel Holidays
24 Mill Street
65%

Impression: The shop was very presentable, with brochures just by the door, making you want to enter. Staff were smart and brochure displays were neat and well stocked.

Service: I spoke to an agent immediately and was asked lots of open questions about requirements. The agent was enthusiastic and gave me their undivided attention – but didn’t demonstrate much knowledge about the resorts or Crete.

They said they would email quotes later that day but I didn’t receive any so I had to call the following day to chase these up. The agent didn’t seem as interested in my inquiry or offer as good a service as elsewhere.

Quotes: Both were seven-night all-inclusive breaks in August with Classic Package Holidays – flying from Gatwick with easyJet and returning with British Airways. The first was staying in a superior bungalow with a sea view at Iberostar Creta Panorama and Mare for £3,861. The second would be in a junior suite/family room at Annabelle Beach Resort, Anissaras, for £4,036.

Overall: The standard of the holidays offered was really good and most points matched my requirements and needs. But I had to chase for the quotes and there was no indication about why these properties were recommended – and I didn’t get a reply when I asked who the operator was.


Casa-de-Campo

The top-scoring agent each week bags a £25 Amazon voucher, courtesy of Casa de Campo Resorts & Villas.

As a member of Leading Hotels of the World, Casa de Campo Resort & Villas, in the Dominican Republic, is the most unique destination in the Caribbean.

This five-star luxury resort spans more than 7,000 acres, so come and discover a different level of all-inclusive:

• Unlimited horseback riding
• Clay pigeon shooting included
• 13 Har-Tru tennis courts
• Unlimited non-motorised watersports
• Six exclusive dining venues plus two gourmet food trucks
• Extensive heath and fitness club, and a spa
• Dominican Republic’s only private, white-sand beach
• Personal golf buggy to explore the extensive grounds

With all this and much more on offer, Casa de Campo Resort and Villas is the ultimate Caribbean adventure.