Mystery shopper: An Algarve spa break

Location:Newport, Wales
Wanted: Two friends want a short spa break in the Algarve for up to four nights in June, flying from Bristol or Cardiff.
Budget: £2,000

Thomas Cook
Commercial Street, Newport

The agent was at first busy with another customer but offered a smile as acknowledgment. When free, the agent was very engaging and happy to help. She really listened to the request and built up the best rapport of all the agents surveyed. The agent recommended an easyJet flight from Bristol to Faro, Portugal, for a stay at the Paraiso de Albufeira Aparthotel. I was quoted £974 for a three-night all‑inclusive ‘Bronze’ package for two adults from June 9. No operator’s name was mentioned. A lack of choice in spa hotels meant the hotel dictated the price rather than the other way round. The agent discussed excursions, transfers, baggage allowance and insurance.

Commercial Street, Newport

This shop had a pleasant frontage but a rather compact interior, and staff members were helpful but quite direct. I was acknowledged reasonably quickly with a smile. The agent recommended a stay at the Hilton Vilamoura in the Algarve from June 2 for three nights, flying with easyJet from Bristol. The cost was £1,413. The agent worked hardto find a property with a spa facility and ultimately the brief was met.

The Co-op Travel
Commercial Street, Newport

The agent was helpful but the service was marred by other customers interrupting my enquiry. I was quoted £1,300 for two adults for a three-night all‑inclusive stay at Dom Pedro Marina Hotel in Vilamoura in the Algarve, flying from Bristol with easyJet on June 2. I was happy with this recommendation but the experience was let down by cross-talk between other staff and interruptions from customers.



Winning agent

Natasha Hale, sales consultant

Natasha Hale is on holiday. Xanthe Tolley, store manager, said: “Natasha has only worked for us for a month after moving from another store, but I have noticed how friendly she is with customers. She always shows a lot of interest and knowledge, and goes above and beyond.”




The winner was the most engaging of all the agents. Although she did not maximise the budget, this agent provided the most enthusiastic and comprehensive service.

Elite resorts caribbean

Top-scoring agent each month will win use of a car for 10 days.

The winning agent must be at least 25, for insurance reasons. Winners under 25 will win a week’s all-inclusive holiday at an Elite Islands Resorts property. The prize is non-transferable and the car must be driven only by the winning agent. The winner must not have any serious driving convictions. Elite Island Resorts will endeavour to supply the car to the agency but reserves the right to request the winning agent to collect and return the car from Essex or a central location

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