Sara’s Travel Year

Travelling kicked off at the end of January a short 3-night visit to the Seaside Palm Beach in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria. The winter sun was a fabulous tonic and the hotel delightful. Located close to the edge of the dunes this gorgeous design hotel, with a distinctly retro style, offers tranquillity despite it’s close proximity to restaurants and bars. The first Design Hotel in the Canaries it has well-appointed rooms and we enjoyed a lovely view of the beach and dunes beyond from our spacious accommodation. There are several pool options including a small brine pool and the outdoor wellness area is most enjoyable, and of course this is complimented by a spa and outdoor gymnasium.  While children are very welcome here, we’d recommend this hotel to couples or friends or families with younger children. The hotel is part of the Seaside group which also includes the sumptuous Grand Hotel Residencia, also in Maspalomas. We were lucky enough to be invited for a tour and dinner during our stay and the property certainly lives up to expectations. With a traditional Spanish-Colonial style ,the hotel is a deserved member of “Luxury Hotels of the World” and certainly a destination for comfort and personal service offering an oasis of peace and relaxation. We’d recommend it  to discerning customers looking for somewhere special, perhaps even to celebrate a special occasion.

Budapest in March was the location of the annual Travel Trust Association (TTA) travel industry conference. Over 3 nights we enjoyed accommodation on both an AMAWaterways River Cruise ship and in the conference hotel, The Intercontinental Budapest, with it’s amazing views over the Danube to the Royal Palace. A full, but carefully tailored conference programme gave us the opportunity to visit some of the fabulous sites including the Gelert Spa, the Central Market and Vigado Concert Hall, where dinners were held. A highlight of the trip was a fabulous moonlit cruise past the parliament building.

In April it was off to visit a Club Med ski property in Samoens, in Le Grand Massif region of the French Alps for a few nights. The Club Med all-inclusive concept is extremely well suited to their large ski in ski out contemporary properties and everything is well thought out to help you maximise your ski adventures. A truly fabulous ski escape for all, although families and groups are particularly well catered for.

This year’s Select Escapes escorted ladies tour saw us visiting Taormina, in Sicily in May. This is a great base for a short break with plenty of opportunity to visit some ancient sites and of course the amazing Etna landscapes. We enjoyed a full day’s trip and walking tour to Etna which included a Sicilian lunch at a winery Don Saro and paddling in the icy Gorges of Alcantara. Back in Taormina you can visit the ancient Greek amphitheatre, stroll the narrow  streets, which are filled with delightful gelatariasand trattorias, or even take the cable car down to the beach and Isola Bella. Sicily (and its food) has certainly stolen our hearts and we’ll be back for more.

Late in May we continued our exploration of the Peloponesse area of mainland Greece (although technically an island due to the Corinth Canal), we once again stayed in a trusted and excellent value villa. This is such a great area with ancient sites including Olympia, stunning countryside, beaches (famous for turtle nesting) and authentic ambience. Of course if a villa holiday isn’t your thing there are some great hotels, which we’ve taken the time to visit over the last couple of years. We can recommend the Costa Navarino located close to Pilos and the Grecotel Olympia Riviera, located towards the north of the region, for family resort style holidays. There are also some excellent choices if you prefer smaller independent hotels.

Sometimes a successful holiday is worth repeating and our family summer holiday this year saw us head back to Sardinia for another Mark Warner activities holiday at the Perdepera Resort (featured in our family holiday pages on the website). This is the only one of Mark Warner resorts that shares the hotel facilities with other guests. We love to mix with other nationalities although the Mark Warner activity programme is only for its’ British clients. In terms of activities, water sports feature strongly, but tennis and cycling are also offered. Children are very well catered for from 1-17yrs with testimonies available from my son on request! Don’t expect luxurious rooms and fine dining, but do expect stunning beaches and crystal clear waters, lovely pools, an authentic feel to the resort with great food and wine, included with lunch and dinner!

Next stops are Amsterdam for the annual CLIA* River Cruise Conference in November and the French Alps to bring in the New Year with my family and 2020 travels are currently in the making!

* Cruise Lines International Association