Need inspiration for your holidays in 2018? Ciara McDonnell has the best deals for families, couples, cruise seekers, adventurers, walkers, solo travellers - and everything in between.
Planning your getaway for 2018? From sun and sea to the bright lights of big cities, we’ve found the best holidays for the coming year.
Best For Young Families
If you have children under the age of five, there are certain requirements that are non-negotiable when it comes to booking a holiday. You will need a safe resort with a limited amount of steps, a decent family pool and access to food and changing facilities at all hours of the day and night.
Club Med holidays are ideal for families who want it all, but none of the effort.
Their family resorts cater to your family’s every need, with professionally run children’s activities tailor-made for children of any age. Best of all, children under six stay free at Club Med summer resorts. This summer, Sunway flies to Club Med Kamarina in Sicily for seven nights on an all-inclusive basis. Adult prices start from €879pp and children over six from €609pp. www.sunway.ie
TUI Family Life resorts cater brilliantly to the under-fives. Their kids clubs are divided by age and they even have a Baby Club, which is a fully operating creche that’s open six days a week for sessions of up to three two-hour sessions a day. There’s an onsite Baby Lounge in all Family Life resorts, which is an air-conditioned lounge open all day to facilitate feeding and changing. TUI flies from Cork to the four-star Avendida Suites in Costa Dorada for seven nights in August from €3049 for two adults and two children (including a free child place).
Best For Pre-teen Families
With active children under 12, it’s essential to book a holiday that will have plenty to keep the younger members of the family occupied. Good watersports are essential, as is the potential of meeting other children their age.
This is a perfect age to bring the family to Orlando, and why wouldn’t it be. It’s a playground for theme-park lovers. Staying near all the water parks, theme-parks, adventure parks from Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Parks, LegoLand and Busch Gardens, this is the ultimate active holiday for preteens.
Sunway departs Dublin in May for Orlando on a room- only basis from €559pp sharing. www.sunway.ie
TUI Holiday Villages act as a playground for packs of preteens who are looking for (safe) adventure. Every one has its own Aerial Adventure assault course, rounders, football, archery and aeroball as well as a massive pool with inflatable assault courses. Their Kids’ Clubs specialise in for too-cool-for-school preteens with circus workshops, raft-building challenges, and treasure hunts, not to mention exclusive expert-led football, stage and swim academies.
TUI flies from Cork to Majorca to stay at the five-star Holiday Village Majorca in July for seven nights from €3,919 for two adults and two children (including a free child place). www.tuiholidays.ie
Best for Families With Teenagers
Lanzarote has lots to offer families of older kids. There are lots of worldclass diving schools dotted around the island, offering a range of diving courses that will keep the whole family occupied all week. There’s a great water park in Costa Teguise and the outdoor cinema in Puerto del Carmen is well worth a visit. TUI is flying to the Family Life Flamingo Beach in August from Cork for seven nights, costing from €1,186pp. www.tuiholidays.ie
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Salou in Spain is home to gorgeous sandy beaches as well as lots of lively nightlife. Crucially, it’s only 20 minutes away from Port Aventura, Europe’s biggest theme park. Sunway is
staying at the two-star Pins Platja Apartments this summer, offering seven nights self-catering from €1,399 for a family of two adults and two children. www.sunway.ie
Best For Adventurers
Shandon Travel suggests a walk along the eighth and final section of the Camino as an ideal break for adventurous souls. Starting in Sarria, the walk covers the last 100km of the Camino Francés, and will take you through the green rolling hills of Galicia until you reach the city of Santiago de Compostela.
Shandon Travel flies from Dublin on May 17, returning on May 24 from €940pp, and includes the transfer from Santiago to Sarria. www.shandontravel.ie
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G Adventures is leading an incredible trip to Costa Rica this April. In spite of its small size, Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. You’ll have the opportunity to explore its volcanoes, wildlife, rainforests and beaches. With a great balance of guided excursions and free time, the trip is 16 days long, and departs from Dublin on April 12, costing from €2,319pp. www.gadventures.com
Best For Couples
The Maldives is one of the most romantic destinations in the world, offering powdery white beaches, turquoise waters and endless azure skies. Sunway stays at the Coco Palm Dhuni Kohlu resort, where your private tropical villa opens out to the ocean, which you can see from your own private terrace.
This trip departs from Dublin on May 18 and costs from €2,013pp for seven nights. www.sunway.ie
The TUI Sensimar resorts are ideal for a couple’s getaway because their childfree policy guarantees grown-up time. Expect swim-up suites, Jacuzzi baths and sunken sunbeds on the deck. TUI departs Cork for the TUI Sensimar Riviera in Benalmedena on August 26 for seven nights on a half board basis from €949pp. www.tuiholidays.com
Best For Solo Travellers
Club Med may not seem like a place for solo travellers, but its Arc Extreme adults-only resort in France is a snow-topped playground for grown-ups.
Offering a huge range of ski-related activities and nightly entertainment, this is a super option for those who love an active holiday, but want to ensure that there will be opportunities for evening socialising, should they wish. Sunway is departing from Dublin to stay at the Club Med Arc.
Extreme for seven nights in a clubroom from €1,709pp on an all-inclusive basis
including ski/snowboard tuition and a lift pass. www.sunway.ie
Trailfinders is always a winner when it comes to booking solo adventures, and its Great Walks of New Zealand is a great example. This trip departs from Cork for 18 nights, staying in hotels ranging from three to five stars, and includes 15 meals, 11 days car hire and guided tours along some of New Zealand’s most famous walking trails. The holiday costs from €4,739pp. www.trailfinders.ie
Best For Cruise
The MSC Seaside is leading the way for a new generation of cruise ships in the Caribbean at the moment, with a full promenade of shops and restaurants, numerous pools and a plethora of on-board entertainment. Sunway has a fly-and- cruise trip taking in Miami, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands for seven nights on a full board basis from €1,890 pp, departing Dublin on February 24. www.sunway.ie
Cassidy Travel has a very exciting cruise exploring the Emirates this spring. You’ll board the MSC Splendida, visiting the historic island of Sir Bani Yas Is, Muscat, the unique mountains of Khasab in Oman, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, all from your ocean view cabin. Departing Dublin on February 28, this 7- day trip costs from €1,179pp. www.cassidytravel.ie
Best For Adventure
Get inspired by exploring Cambodia and Vietnam with Trailfinders this year.
Take a junk boat cruise in Halong Bay before checking out the temples of Angkor Wat with your own local guide. Visit the Killing Fields, and try squeezing into the Cu Chi Tunnels before taking a boat trip along the Mekong Delta. This 16- day trip takes in Hanoi, Ho Chi Min, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Bangkok and includes flights from Cork, selected meals and group tours, from €2,299 pp.
Trailfinders also has an amazing all-inclusive beach holiday in Sri Lanka, staying in a beachfront resort for seven nights. This holiday which flies from Cork and costs from €1,169pp, is a great basis from which to explore the incredible forest parks which are home to elephants and leopards and all kinds of tropical beauty. www.trailfinders.ie
Best For Ski
Direct Ski is staying at the Chalet Fleur de Neige in Les Arcs, in the French Alps this month. The newly built chalet boasts an open plan dining area and lounge. Its log-burning stove is
on the ground floor with two balconies giving stunning views across the valley towards la Plagne. Flying from Cork this January, seven nights B&B at the Chalet Fleur de Neige will cost from €509pp. www.directski.com
Crystal Ski is flying to Austria in February, staying at the Hotel Rauscher;
Paracel in Bad Hofgastein. This family-run hotel has a sauna, steam room, and infrared cabin. It has a ski bus stop right out side the door. Flying from Cork in February, seven nights half board at the Hotel Rauscher; Paracel costs from €681pp including flights. www.crystalski.ie
For City Breaks
Shandon Travel has a three-night break to Amsterdam in March. Staying at the NH Amsterdam Schilleron the edge of bustling Rembrandt Square, you’ll find extreme luxury. A former haunt of writers and artists, its Art Deco interiors have been preserved. Departing Cork on March 4, the trip costs from €613pp. www.shandontravel.ie
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Toronto makes a fabulous weekend getaway thanks to direct flights from Dublin. This city offers great shopping and incredible scenery and is only a short drive from Niagara Falls. Three night accommodation and flights cost from €699 pp with Sunway. www.sunway.ie
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