Jeannine Williamson finds plenty to enjoy whatever your budget
From city breaks to river cruises and year-round sunbathing on its beaches, North Africa has many types of holiday to offer – and all just a short flight away.
Prices are particularly keen, so now’s the time for clients to bag a bargain or upgrade to luxury.
While some travellers may be nervous following political unrest in the area, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has no restrictions in its travel advice for tourists heading to either Morocco or Tunisia.
Its only concerns are about certain areas outside the usual tourist trail in Egypt. Just remind clients in Cairo to exercise common sense and steer clear of political gatherings.
Following the course of the Nile is an impressive and authentic way of tracing Egypt’s history. And with personal guides looking after passengers, it’s an ideal introduction to the country for first-time visitors.
Days interspersed with sightseeing float by at a leisurely pace, and full-board meals feature typical Egyptian cuisine and are often followed by belly dancing and musical entertainment.
Save: Red Sea Holidays offers seven nights on Grand Star, which has a swimming pool, from £649 with flights from Gatwick in January and February.
Spend: Starting and ending in Luxor, a seven-night cruise from Hayes & Jarvis is priced from £839, with flights, and includes excursions to historical sites including the Valley of the Kings and Temple of Karnak.
Splurge: For those who really want to push the boat out, Classic Collection Holidays offers seven nights aboard Oberoi Zahra, from £2,996 in April, excluding flights. The luxury Nile cruiser from Oberoi Hotels and Resorts is the only boat on the Nile with a full service spa.
MARRAKECH CITY BREAK
Morocco’s ochre-coloured city has lost none of its enduring appeal to tourists since it was discovered by hippies in the 1960s.
With its landmark Koutoubia Mosque and maze of narrow streets that make up the historic medina, it’s hard to believe you’re just four hours from London.
And with recent increases in airlift, it’s now even more convenient to reach. There’s a range of high-quality accommodation from tiny riads to large resort hotels.
Save: An affordable three-night B&B break in the Sofitel Marrakech Lounge & Spa is offered by Kuoni, leading in at £399 in January with flights from Gatwick.
Spend: A new hotel on the scene is the 28-room Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa, situated in the exclusive Palmeraie area dubbed the ‘Mayfair of Marrakech’. The Ultimate Travel Company offers two nights’ B&B from £495 including a hammam and scrub spa treatment and British Airways flights.
Splurge: Following a three-year closure, the luxuriously refurbished La Mamounia is back at the top of its game and Classic Collection has seven nights’ B&B there from £2,337 with flights from Gatwick and private transfers.
COUPLES IN WINTER
A week of sunshine in the depths of a British winter is a lovely treat, but clients often don’t want to fly far – so the Red Sea is perfect.
Save: Sharm el-Sheikh, the resort that pioneered Red Sea tourism, has grown into Egypt’s largest and best-known beach holiday and diving destination. It’s a lively resort packed with restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and for customers on a budget Olympic Holidays offers seven nights’ half-board at the three-star Amar Sina Hotel from £525 in January with flights from Gatwick.
Spend: Cosmopolitan Eilat, with its attractive waterfront, is Israel’s only Red Sea resort. Attractions include Dolphin Reef, with an adult spa area and signature floating massage treatments, and the geological wonderland of Timna Park just 20 minutes away in the Negev Desert. Superstar Holidays offers seven nights’ B&B at the Isrotel Princess from £920 with flights from Heathrow.
Splurge: Egypt’s lesser-known Taba Heights (pictured below) occupies a stunning stretch of beach sheltered by mountains and uniquely positioned overlooking four countries: Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia. With a focus on luxury, facilities include a championship golf course, and Longwood Holidays offers seven nights’ half-board at the five-star Hyatt Regency from £1,345 with flights from Gatwick.
FAMILIES IN SUMMER
Beaches, sunshine and good value are the three pillars of a successful summer holiday for many families, and North Africa offers the lot just a short flight away from the UK.
Save: Dahab, meaning gold in Arabic, is a former Bedouin fishing village overlooking the Gulf of Aqaba. Quieter than other Egyptian Red Sea resorts, it has a laid-back atmosphere and is very child-friendly. Olympic Holidays has seven nights’ all-inclusive at the three-star Happy Life Hotel from £2,142 for a family of four sharing a standard room in August, with flights.
Spend: Tunisia, North Africa’s smallest nation, is big on family appeal. It provides an accessible mix of beach and culture and you don’t have to travel far to enjoy both. When it’s time to relax, the Residence Tunis is a fantastic retreat with a golf course and spa to amuse parents and the Daily Dolphin Club with indoor and outdoor activities for youngsters. Western & Oriental Travel offers seven nights’ B&B from £3,618 for a family of four in summer 2013, including flights.
Splurge: Set in a bay with year-round sunshine and a long sweep of beach, Agadir is Morocco’s top seaside resort. Youngsters love playing on the pristine wide sands and older children can take part in numerous watersports. The Royal Atlas Hotel has a good range of on-site facilities, including a children’s club and spa, and Kuoni offers seven nights’ all-inclusive in a club suite from £5,486 for two adults and two children next summer.
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