In a tailspin about booking your summer holiday? So organised you’re looking ahead to Autumn already? I’ve got you covered either way, because I’ve had a word with luxe Kent & Sussex tour operator Classic Collection about what’s still available for last minute AND what’s trending for later so I can give you the inside track.
So first up, summer. Of course organised types get itchy feet when all those holiday ads start appearing on the telly from Boxing Day and book in droves in January. If that’s you, I salute you, with a rum cocktail. If like err me, you end up juggling things around last minute then you’re in what’s called the ‘lates market’ and if you’re flexible it’s not always a bad place to be.
Colony Club St James, Barbados
The word from Classic is that the best offers are currently coming through from hotels in Barbados, Crete, the Algarve and Turkey. Turkey has been in the tourism doldrums lately but people are starting to ask for it again and if that includes you then you’ll find there are bargains to be had. Greece is meanwhile really popular this summer and deservedly so – I’m thinking dreamily back to a holiday I had on the quieter Northeast coast of Corfu a couple of years back with great food and a villa with a garden littered with windfall lemons!
Overall Classic says it has some great deals still around for summer like seven nights for the price of six, early booking offers if you can hold on a bit and complimentary upgrades from B&B to half board.
Palma’s lovely cathedral
So what of autumn when you’re perhaps looking for a coupley city break or a family jaunt in half term? Classic’s trending spots are Rome, Florence, Palma, Lisbon and Dubrovnik for short breaks, all of which mix gorgeous heritage architecture with a lovely climate and proximity to a bit of coast.
Make mine a large one
Palma de Majorca has been my go-to autumn break for years. It’s a cruise ship mecca by day but authentically Spanish by night with some top tapas bars and perhaps my fave cocktail bar in the world, Abaco, where you sip the concoction of your choice in a kind of stately home decorated with huge melting candles and Bacchanalian displays of flowers, fruit and veg like a kind of sexy harvest festival!
There are plenty of flights to Palma from Gatwick (hurrah!) and there’s even a city beach there, though it’s short on facilities but you can easily hire bikes or a car and pop just up the coast to others. For more of a lowdown on lovely Lisbon – another great choice – check out my earlier post on the Portuguese capital with tips for arty hangouts and family-friendly attractions.
I’ve Italy booked for this autumn myself and if you fancy it too then Classic is something of an Italy specialist and can cater for all your desires (well, the ones that don’t include George Clooney spoon-feeding you gelato in a hot tub). You could take a special trip on the Belmond Orient Express; a multi-centre holiday to perhaps Venice, Florence and Rome with all rail transfers included; explore the vineyards of Tuscany or relax on the Amalfi Coast or at the Italian Lakes *sigh*.
Aldrovandi Villa Borghese, Rome
Classic’s hot on the useful family stuff too like confirming interconnecting rooms at many hotels, making booster seats for private transfers and giving you the steer on which hotels are good for children’s activities and menus. Being a specialist tailor-made operator it also has a concierge style service which can help you book all-sorts of special add-ons if you’ve a honeymoon, anniversary, special birthday or just ‘damn it, I deserve it’ spot of indulgence planned. Besides Europe they cover North Africa, Bermuda (pink beaches!) and the Caribbean. Mmm don’t mind if I do.
Find Classic Collection at classic-collection.co.uk or through good travel agents. Baldwins Travel have 8 branches in Kent and East Sussex, including Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Maidstone, Cranbrook, Sevenoaks and Tenterden.