Greece’s reputation as one of the best value holiday destinations in Europe has been restored. Sarah Gordon reports
With scattered islands, sparkling waters and a couple of millennia of history, Greece has always been a popular summer holiday destination.
It was known as a relatively affordable option until a combination of the unfavourable exchange rate in 2008 and increased competition from sun spots such as Turkey and Egypt saw holidaymakers head elsewhere.
But since Greece’s economic problems set in, the country has dropped prices to attract tourists back to it shores.
Greek hoteliers say they have reduced rack rates by at least 10%, with discounts of up to 40% on some last-minute deals in a bid to boost tourism. With British visitors expected to be up this year, it seems something is paying off.
So will the deals continue and will customers get value for money in 2013?
Tour operators believe so and are offering some tempting packages.
AFFORDABLE FOR FAMILIES
Sunvil managing director Noel Josephides says next year’s brochure prices will be much the same or lower than they were in 2012.
This is due to a mix of contracting at the same or lower levels and the currency advantage of a strengthening pound.
Corfu is particularly keen to encourage a return from British tourists and 14 nights in self-catering studio accommodation in Aghios Gordis, on the west coast of Corfu, costs from £472 with Sunvil in May, including flights from Gatwick and transfers. This includes an early-season offer to be booked by February 2013.
In 2013, Mark Warner will reintroduce the Lemnos Beach Resort. The property has undergone a £2 million redevelopment and will offer tennis, mountain biking, watersports and tuition as well as kids’ clubs for children aged between three and 17 included in the price.
Seven nights’ full-board, including wine, costs from £779 per adult and £679 per child in June and includes flights from Heathrow and transfers. The price is based on a family room, interconnecting rooms or rooms next to each other.
Olympic Holidays is featuring the new modern-style, four-star Kresten Palace Hotel in Kalithea, Rhodes, next year. The hotel has a private beach and is six kilometres from Rhodes Town with a regular bus service connecting the two.
It has a host of on-site activities including mini golf, volleyball and tennis as well as the pool, restaurant and bars. Seven nights’ half-board costs from £555 in June, including return flights from Glasgow and transfers. Book by April 30 for stays between May 1 and October 31 and save up to £140 per person.
Aldemar Hotels has early booking savings of up to 30% offered through all the UK tour operators that feature its properties. The Knossos Royal Village is particularly popular with families, with great facilities for children, large family rooms and an all-inclusive option.
It is featured in Classic Collection Holidays’ Family brochure, and the operator offers seven nights’ half board in a family room from £3,539 for a family of four departing August 13, saving £280 when booked by March 31.
COUPLES SEEKING VALUE
Greek specialist Manos offers authentic holidays across the islands and many of the properties have deals such as two weeks for the price of one, or three weeks for the price of two during off-peak dates.
Seven nights’ B&B at the three-star Hotel Sirocco in Kalamaki, Zakynthos, costs from £299, departing from Manchester on May 12, and 14 nights in Corfu costs the same as seven (from £346) staying at the pretty Dionyssos Studios in Arillas, with flights from Gatwick on May 6.
Bernadette Askouni from Ionian Island Holidays says the strength of the pound against the euro means that Greece is becoming cheaper in resort as well as providing good value on package tours, making self-catering more affordable.
The operator offers seven nights at the Rouda Apartments, located in the Bay of Mikros Gialos on the island of Lefkada, from £476.
The new builds share a pool on a terrace overlooking the bay and the price includes flights, accommodation, car hire and a welcome hamper.
The volcanic island of Santorini is known for gorgeous scenery that has long attracted couples looking for romance – but it’s also been known for its high prices. Now Planet Holidays has introduced the Pantheon Villas in Imerovigli, clients can go without blowing the budget.
With a 25% early booking discount for bookings made by the end of January – on holidays throughout the season – and a six-for-the-price-of-seven deal, a week’s B&B departing May 12 costs £799, including transfers and flights from Gatwick.
Sovereign Luxury Travel is offering several incentives for 2013 including complimentary half-board, a 30% early booking discount and a complimentary room upgrade from deluxe sea-view to deluxe sea-view with pool.
It offers seven nights’ half-board at Daios Cove Luxury Resort and Villas from £799, departing on the May 1, including flights from Gatwick and private transfers – a saving of up to £1,013 per couple.
LUXURY FOR LESS
Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth stayed at the Skiathos Princess Hotel while filming Mamma Mia! The five-star hotel is set in the idyllic bay of Aghia Paraskevi and includes a spa, kids’ club, waterskiing and sailing. Guests can rent a boat to visit nearby beaches and deserted islands. Thomas Cook With Style offers seven nights’ B&B from £698, departing Manchester on May 8.
Inntravel offers restored cottages in the tiny hamlet of Maheri, on the west of Crete. As well as traditional old buildings, renovated to the highest level, customers are offered walking routes with maps and are encouraged to sample fresh fruit from the gardens. Activities nearby include cycling, horse riding, windsurfing and cookery classes in the village.
One week in a one-bedroom cottage at Cretan Traditional Houses starts from £924 per property based on two sharing and including seven days’ car hire. Flights to Chania or Heraklion are extra.
Sani Resort is a complex of four hotels (classic, boutique, family-friendly and well-being) and has several offers for 2013.
There is a ‘first child stays for free’ policy for under-12s, a Dine Around programme, which allows half-board guests to dine in most of the 16 restaurants at the resort and a 10% discount for returning customers.
ITC Classics is offering an early booking discount too, meaning a family of two adults and one child under 12 sharing their room can stay seven nights’ half-board in a double bungalow garden view room at the Sani Beach Hotel from £1,439, including BA flights from Gatwick and private transfers, if they book before February 28 for travel between April 27 and May 23, or September 24 and October 31.
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