Take your pick of winter warmers that won’t break the bank, writes Katie McGonagle
Seven days, 70F and less than £700 per person – we’ve set out our shopping list for a winter-sun break without a sky-high price tag, just like your clients might. Let’s see what operators came up with in seven key sun spots.
Given the price of a summer family holiday to the theme parks of Orlando, it would be easy to discount Florida when considering a budget-friendly break, but the Sunshine State has more than just rollercoasters going for it.
The Gulf Coast alone is lined with resort after resort, from the family-friendly beaches of Sanibel and Siesta Key to the white sands of Clearwater and St Pete Beach – and that’s before you’ve even started on steamy Miami or the sun-kissed Keys.
Larger parties, or families trying to keep costs down, can also take advantage of Florida’s wide selection of villas and apartment-style hotels.
Book it: Jetsave offers a seven-night, room-only stay at the three-star Postcard Inn on the Beach from £599, flying from Gatwick with British Airways on January 14. The boutique property has a surfer theme with individually-styled rooms, a beachfront bar and artwork by local artists.
0844 415 9880
Sitting about 60 miles off the Moroccan coast, Fuerteventura’s winter weather has more in common with its North African neighbours than mainland Spain. Add competitive prices and plentiful accommodation to a good nine hours of sunshine a day, and it’s hard to argue with this Canary Island’s appeal.
You’re never too far from the coast here: in the north, fishing town-turned-tourist hotspot Corralejo boasts a few small beaches around its charming harbour, but head a few miles south and you’ll find soft golden sand dunes in protected Parque Natural de Corralejo.
At the other end of the island, Jandia’s 20 miles of beachfront means there’s enough space for windsurfers and watersports enthusiasts to make the most of the waves, while less active types seek a quiet spot to call their own.
Book it: Jet2holidays offers a week all-inclusive at the four-star H10 Sentido Playa Esmeralda at southern resort Costa Calma from £671 departing Manchester on December 5, including baggage and transfers.
0800 408 5587
This tiny West African country is well-known as a winter-sun destination, with plenty of plus points such as its short flight or lack of jetlag from being in the same time zone as the UK.
But guests don’t have to stray far from its sun-soaked beaches to explore other assets, whether discovering the local landscapes on a 4×4 excursion or a visit to fishing village Tanji, or spotting wildlife at the Kachikally Crocodile Pool and going birdwatching with a local guide.
For really dedicated twitchers, TV presenter Chris Packham hosts tours with specialist operator The Gambia Experience, with some availability remaining on February departures (£425 supplement for three days’ guidance).
Book it: The Gambia Experience offers seven nights’ B&B in a standard room at Bakotu Hotel in Kotu from £499, including flights from Gatwick to Banjul on December 5, transfers and taxes. The hotel is 100 metres from the beach with a swimming pool, poolside bar and grass-roofed restaurant overlooking the golf course.
0845 330 4567
Little needs to be said about Egypt – after a rocky few years, the Brits’ long-standing love affair with the Red Sea is back on track, so chances are you’ve already sent a few customers there this year. That’s because it can be tailored to suit most types of client, from novice snorkellers to expert divers, and from those who want to bump through the desert on a quad bike to quieter types who’d rather sip cocktails by a pool.
Singles specialist Solos has even devised a tennis break – a tour leader organises five days of friendly matches, competitions and prizes, with plenty of chances to enjoy the sunshine at the five-star Savoy Sharm Hotel in between (from £999 including flights and half-board accommodation for a seven-night stay).
Book it: A week all-inclusive at the five-star Grand Hotel, Sharm el-Sheikh, starts at £489 with flights from Gatwick on January 15, 20kg luggage allowance and resort transfers. The hotel features eight swimming pools, rooftop shisha bar, private beach terrace, kids’ club and three buffet and five à la carte restaurants.
0845 026 5980
There’s no way you can get to the Caribbean for less than £700, right? Wrong. While the transatlantic flights can prove a challenge on a budget, there are bargains to be had outside school holidays, and the proliferation of all-inclusive packages mean clients can control their spending in advance.
Budgets will stretch further on some islands than others, with places such as Punta Cana offering great value for money thanks to the number of hotels competing for custom.
Alternatively, go B&B and encourage clients to get out and sample some inexpensive local bites. Funway offers a week at the three-star South Beach Barbados with breakfast from £675, flying with Thomas Cook from Manchester on November 27. It’s less than 10 minutes’ drive to capital Bridgetown, so guests will have plenty of opportunities to sunbathe by day and dine Caribbean-style by night.
Book it: Thomson offers an all-inclusive seven-night stay at the four-star Grand Bahia Principe San Juan Resort in the Dominican Republic from £663 including flights from Manchester departing December 15. The hotel has four restaurants, two pools and a mile-long private beach.
0871 230 2555
It might seem like playing favourites to have another Canary Island on this list, but as some of the most easily accessible winter-sun spots from the UK, their popularity justifies a little bit of preferential treatment.
Prestige Holidays has seen such buoyant sales that it’s added five properties across the Canaries this winter: the H10 Playa Meloneras Palace and Cordial Mogan Playa in Gran Canaria; H10 Conquistador in Tenerife; and the H10 Lanzarote Princess and Rubicon Palace in Lanzarote.
The last two of these are based in Playa Blanca, a quieter resort at the southern tip of the island, far from the hubbub of Puerto del Carmen or the Costa Teguise, and sheltered from the wind by nearby mountains. Choose from the eponymous Blue Flag-winning Playa Blanca itself, the watersports of nearby Playa Dorada or the quieter Playa Flamingo, all within easy reach of the marina’s upscale restaurants and shopping centres, or leave it all behind for the secluded Papagayo beaches set in a nature reserve and a far cry from the black sand found elsewhere on the island.
Book it: Prestige Holidays offers a week at the Rubicon Palace in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote, from £668 with half-board accommodation, British Airways flights from Gatwick and transfers departing December 1-12.
Book it: There’s a chill in the air in some parts of Morocco come winter – as someone who took a city break to Marrakech without so much as a warm jacket, I can say from experience it gets nippy in the evenings – but southerly beach resort Agadir has no such issue.
With temperatures solidly in the 70s and Atlantic Ocean waves, this is an ideal spot for clients who can’t decide between lazing by the sea or jumping in and trying out some watersports.
Surf schools abound, with options for beginners as well as experienced surfers, and if that’s not enough to keep clients entertained, suggest a round of golf on one of the three nearby courses, a browse through the boutique shops in the marina, or a visit to the kasbah, which overlooks the city.
Book it: Anatolian Sky Holidays has just released its first Winter Sun brochure, featuring the all-inclusive Royal Decameron Tafoukt Beach Resort in Agadir, with a private sandy beach, daytime and evening activities, restaurant and beach grill, hookah cafe and nightclub. A week starts at £514 departing December 4, including Gatwick flights and transfers.
0844 273 3585
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