As prices in the UK and Europe surge, there’s better value further afield, argues If Only’s Gordon McCreadie

As a parent, I shared the recent outrage on discovering that a week in a UK luxury hot-tub lodge would cost more than taking my family on a five-star holiday in October.

While the rise in domestic travel has been inevitable this year, I for one would begrudge paying upwards of £3,500 for accommodation alone to spend a week braving the elements in the Great British countryside. Add the cost of petrol, meals and kids’ activities, and you’re talking upwards of £5,000 for a family week away in the UK.

For me, and many others, this is just not worth it, especially now the May 17 restart date for international travel has been confirmed.

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As If Only focuses on luxury long-haul, I have noticed a correlation between this news and a spike in families planning trips to more‑exotic destinations – and given the competitive pricing, I’m not surprised.

As we all wait with bated breath over the coming months to see which destinations are added to the all-important green list, there is a real opportunity, and obligation, among operators and agents to continue to underline the benefits of long‑haul trips for families.

There is a perception that destinations such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic are unaffordable for most families, but they’re often comparable to short-haul resorts, especially during peak seasons like the school holidays.

Given how we saw UK prices shoot through the roof while international borders were closed, prices for Europe are likely to follow suit – especially given the very limited number of destinations announced on last week’s green list – so people are going to feel inclined to look farther afield for good value.

Key inclusions

One of the best USPs for long-haul travel for families is the inclusions. When a week in the UK can cost upwards of £5,000 for a family, and European trips a similar price, it’s impressive that seven nights’ all-inclusive in Mexico, at a five-star hotel, with flights, transfers and activities, can cost less than £5,000 for a family of four.

We work closely with brands such as Dreams Resorts & Spas, and the value for families is second to none. Kids’ and teens’ club facilities are included, with everything from playgrounds, games and crafting to treasure hunts and on-site waterparks.

Similarly, many of our partners in the Indian Ocean offer complimentary experiences for children to learn about the local culture and environment, with cooking classes, nature trails and conservation classes.

In comparison, a family pass for an indoor waterpark in the UK is about £40; a forest high‑ropes trail is more than £100 for a family of four; and a one-hour archery lesson typically costs more than £30. It’s clear to me that travelling farther afield is not necessarily more expensive, particularly with the expansive all-inclusive offerings.

Long-haul advantages

There’s no denying international travel is viewed with caution by many in light of Covid-19. In many ways, however, long-haul locations are better-placed to guarantee social distancing and other precautions, with a wealth of spaced-out accommodation and private facilities.

In the Seychelles, for example, families will likely stay in their own villa, meaning no shared entrances or touchpoints with other guests. Many of these guest properties come with their own private pool and outdoor area, eliminating the need to mingle.

As a father of three, I appreciate parents planning a first family escape post-lockdown will be apprehensive, so it’s crucial we as operators are fully-equipped to help agents and their customers make the right choices.

We need to be in the know about the best properties and destinations to cater to their needs, and to get back to doing what we love again – turning their dreams of making family memories in paradise into a reality.

It’s certainly been a long time coming!

More: Government must supplement costs of traveller Covid tests

If Only to speed up agent bookings with new in-house system