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Agent Diary: ‘We live on such a beautiful island, so let’s explore it’

My Cornwall holiday was a reminder that selling British breaks can make up for the meagre green list, says Spear Travel’s Kim Kent.

I’m not sure there is anything positive to say about the prospects for international travel at the moment, so I thought I’d share my experience of a staycation I recently went on.

We’ve been selling more and more UK breaks given the situation. It’s given us an opportunity to show our clients what is available in our green and pleasant land. It’s also been a learning curve for us, as we sometimes forget what’s on the doorstep when we’re so focused on overseas travel. There are a host of interesting and cultural tours, coach and rail holidays, cottages, lodges and hotels. We live on such a beautiful island so let’s explore it.

“We sometimes forget what’s on the doorstep when we’re so focused on overseas travel. There are a host of interesting and cultural tours, coach and rail holidays, cottages, lodges and hotels.”

Operators such as Osprey, Kirker, Great Little Breaks and Jetset have a huge amount to offer and have been among the best at adapting to the current climate by adding to their programmes.

A trip to Cornwall

I don’t usually holiday in the UK, but I booked an apartment in Mevagissey, Cornwall, with Hoseasons, thinking that if I experience it I could sell it better.

After a long drive, we arrived at these delightful apartments owned and run by Tom Dudley, an 81-year-old boatbuilder, and a fascinating character. He was proud he had made everything in the apartments – beds, wardrobes, kitchen units and coffee tables – and made us feel most welcome.

“We found boutique shops, seafood restaurants and old pubs full of friendly locals, who didn’t seem to mind the influx of visitors.”

Four units overlook the working harbour with fishermen’s cottages and colourful boats bobbing in the clear water below – a view you would never tire of. We found boutique shops, seafood restaurants and old pubs full of friendly locals, who didn’t seem to mind the influx of visitors.

We stood on the harbour wall and watched the fishermen bring their catches ashore, and even ventured out on a lovely old 1962 fishing boat that operated along the coast. We sat with blankets protecting ourselves from the wind and rain – this is England, after all!

Back on land the weather cleared so we walked the coastal path past the old fishermen’s cottages, over the cliff towards Pentewan Sands with magnificent views along the way. It was a tough and steep walk, but satisfying once completed.

Set on staycations

The next day we caught the 45-minute ferry to Fowey for £8. Fowey is a pretty place with stunning, expensive houses along the seafront. We walked along the sea wall to the beach, stopping at a Mediterranean bistro for wine and olives.

“We visited Charlestown, which has a harbour with a full-size ship with cannons and barrels – the only thing missing were the pirates. It feels like a movie set or a scene from Poldark!”

Another Cornish beauty is St Mawes, a wealthy town with pastel-coloured cottages dotted along the front. We strolled along the coast road to the castle built by Henry VIII. Only the grounds were open, but it was fascinating. From there we visited Charlestown, which has a harbour with a full-size ship with cannons and barrels – the only thing missing were the pirates. It feels like a movie set or a scene from Poldark!

It was a lovely staycation and I now feel like I can talk through UK options more confidently with clients. Until the government decides to allow us to sell overseas, I’ll be using my recently-gathered knowledge to help get a few more domestic sales.


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Top tips for UK breaks

Make sure to book in advance if your customers want to eat out. We booked restaurants in March, three months in advance, and still couldn’t get everything that we wanted. If in Cornwall, you have to treat yourselves to Rick Stein’s Bistro in Padstow. Fresh fish is plentiful in Cornwall, and not as expensive as at home. Attraction tickets must be booked in advance – especially for popular places like the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Cornwall’s main roads are easy to navigate but satnavs can take you down small, narrow roads, so I’d advise a small car. Cornwall is hilly, and particularly steep as you near the coast, so prepare your customers for that if they’re planning a self-drive.

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