From Boston to Verona - The best breaks to take this year

Need inspiration for your holidays in 2017? From couples to families, adventure-seekers to the latest direct routes from Cork, Ciara McDonnell has all you need to know.    

From Boston to Verona - The best breaks to take this year

From secret escapes to trips designed with thrill-seeking in mind, now is the time to siphon through the deals on offer and book your 2017 holiday.

We’ve talked to those in the know, compiled our list of holidays to (wander)lust after this year.

YOUNG FAMILY

Nobody wants to be stuck on a plane for a long-haul flight with young children, no matter what the in-flight entertainment options are. So opt for destinations closer to home.

The Balearic Islands, Portugal and France win out time and time again simply because they have all the charm and crucially — facilities — for families travelling with small children.

Majorca tops the list at Falcon and Thompson, who cite it as one of their most popular choices for families.

The Holiday Village in Cala Millor is one of their top sellers, offering six pools, football, swim and stage academies and a kids club that caters to children from 0-11.

Food-wise, they have child-friendly buffets for every meal, as well as a host of ‘a la carte’ options. If you fancy it, you can book into one of their swim-up rooms. Fly from Cork with Falcon in mid May and expect to pay around €700 per person for an all-inclusive week long stay at Holiday Village.

Albufeira is an ideal spot for families with kids. The endless beaches and ultra-relaxed restaurants offer respite from the daily grind without adding any stress whatsoever to the family unit. Sunway fly to Faro in mid-May to stay at the newly refurbished Luna Clube Oceano Apartments, which is ideally situated about 250 metres from the main beach.

The self-catering apartments have plasma televisions, a compact kitchen and are cleaned daily. The resort has a spacious pool area, kids pool, free wifi and bar and restaurant, all designed with family in mind. A week at Luna Clube Oceano in mid-May costs around €420 per person with Sunway.

If flights are beyond you and your family, then consider hopping on the ferry to Roscoff and availing of one of the many super-charged campsites nearby.

Two adults and two children travelling by car will cost around €300 return by ferry, and we suggest booking into Le Grande Metairie, a stunning campsite located just a few hours drive from Roscoff.

Ideal for young families, this resort has an on-site pet farm as well as a really family-friendly pool. The mobile homes are in a shaded wooded area, and are well laid out and comfortable.

The best bit is that as well as being extremely well maintained, the campsite edges onto a gorgeous beach, which offers fabulous relief from campsite life. A week in a Prestige chalet, which comes with two or three bedrooms, a television, dishwasher and a barbeque on its wooden terrace will cost around €500 for a week.

www.lagrandemetairie.com

ROMANCE

If love is all around for you this year, then consider capitalising it by booking into a resort that specialises in luxury, grown-up style.

The Grand Hotel Capodimonte is a well-known prestigious 4 star property set in an excellent location at the port of Marina Grande in Sorrento.

This hotel boasts five swimming pools with magnificent views overlooking the picturesque Bay of Naples. Expect old-school luxury in the manner of marble staircases and manicured gardens.

The pool is reminiscent of something out of a vintage Hollywood movie; striped parasols add extra glamour to the cinematic views.

Sunway fly here from Dublin on August 26 for a week at €1,449 per person on a half board basis.

Thompson flies from Dublin to Kos in mid-May to stay in the Sensimar Oceanis Beach & Spa Resort for a week on an all-inclusive basis (€870pp). This hotel is geared up to help you relax, reconnect, and leave your everyday routine behind.

It has been designed with peace and quiet in mind, so expect modern rooms, dinners with a view and spa treatments for two. From spa treatments designed for two, to three upmarket dining options, this is luxury, on a couple scale.

Located on a beachfront, surrounded by 60 acres of tropical gardens, this is the kind of place where you will see lots of hand-holding and kissy-faced selfies being taken, so bring your romantic ‘A’ game!

Guests have a choice of double room which comes with a garden view, or for a few extra euros you can enjoy a sea view double room for real luxury.

If privacy is your requirement for holiday bliss, then consider a stay at the Villas Del Sol Deluxe in Fuerteventura.

These stylish villas, designed in a traditional Canary-Island style, and each with their own pool, are situated behind the epic sand dunes of the Grandes Playas de Corralejo, between Corralejo and the picturesque fishing village of El Cotillo.

The villas are near the beach and restaurants, and come with all mod cons, including extra fancy bed linen. Abbey Travel fly from Dublin to Fuerteventura on June 2 to stay at the Villas Del Sol Deluxe for a week for €430 per person.

BLOW OUT

Should you find yourself in the market for a trip that is immersed in tropical luxury, then look no further.

Situated on an intimate and romantic resort on a secluded island, Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa is the ultimate luxury getaway, nestled in the Maldives.

Crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches, ripe for watching a sunset with a cocktail that comes in a coconut shell, surround this adult-only resort. Fans of diving will be spoiled for choice with the dive sites, and the resort, a PADI dive centre, offers lots of different experiences, ranging from beginners to very experienced.

If you’re looking to indulge, the spa specialises in authentic Ayurvedic treatments.

There are lots of restaurants with a range of yummy food, but to be honest, you’ll probably retreat back to your luxury villa to enjoy a nightcap from your terrace, which overlooks what seems to be infinity.

Fly with www.tropicalsky.ie from Dublin in mid May for around €2319 per person for a week.

Falcon and Thomson now fly direct to Cancun in Mexico on the state of the art Thomson Airways 787 Dreamliner from Dublin airport. The great choice of hotels available are sure to keep any traveller happy with a choice of luxurious Platinum and Sensatori collections as well as the adults only Sensimar collection.

For those seeking the ultimate 5 star experience then the Sensatori Mexico is top of the list. One of the main draws of Sensatori Resort Mexico is its setting.

The hotel is on the Riviera Maya, which means you’re only ever footsteps from white sands and warm waters. And, of course, great views span every which way.

Another highlight is the 24-hour Gourmet Inclusive dining set-up. All your food and drink is included, and the quality is taken to the next level.

Don’t miss Le Chique restaurant, which offers Heston Blumenthal-esque experimental cuisine. Other plus points include four lagoon-like swimming pools and the adults-only cocktail & shisha lounge.

Falcon on an all-inclusive basis for two weeks at €2190pp.

Sunway realise that blowout trips are not just for grown-ups. Their Thai Family Adventure departs Dublin on July 7 for 11 nights for around €6,959 for a family of two adults and two children under 12. The package will take the family to Thailand and hook them up with a Chief Experience Officer for their trip.

This person will be on hand to ensure that the whole family has a great time exploring local delights that are appropriate for kids and parents alike. Expect a guided tour of Bangkok glongs and Wat Po, Temple visits, a cooking class in Chiang Mai and lots

of time to explore the world-class beaches of Koh Chang. The trip includes high-end accommodation throughout and one night on a sleeper train – bound to be a highlight for any trainspotter in the family.

NEW DESTINATIONS

Forge new travel routes this year by switching up your usual itinerary.

From coast to coast, Canada is filled with unexpected beauty, adventures and wonders that are sure to awaken your inner explorer. American Holidays’ Essential Newfoundland package is a six-night fly/drive adventure through this rugged and beautiful landscape.

From whale watching to hiking the Skerwink Trail, to a trip to Cape Spear National Park, the most easterly point in North America, this is a true taste of the area.

Accomodation is in bed and breakfasts along your route, with recommended restaurants along the way. This package costs €1,175 per person, flying from Dublin in mid May 2017.

Trips to South America are not all about hiking up mountains, you know.

Whether you wish to discover the majesty of Patagonia, the life-force of the Amazon, the solitude of Antarctica or the fascinating nature of the Galapagos Islands, a cruise allows you to witness it all from the replete luxury of a cruise ship.

Cruise the Amazon River, taking in the spectacular sights, sounds and scents of the largest rainforest in the world; follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and sail the Galapagos Islands; or travel to the remote region of Patagonia and soak in its magnificent windswept scenery.

South America Cruises run regular trips via nuevomundo.ie throughout this incredible place, so if South America has been on your bucket list, but you can’t see yourself on a bus, speeding through mountain ranges, then consider this as an altogether more gentle option.

Cuba is perhaps the hottest destination for hipster travellers right now, and they’re not wrong. From a culture steeped in controversy, to stunning architecture, and some of the best-looking beaches on the planet, this is a place that is begging to be explored.

Get the most out of your trip by combining a few nights in historic Havana with a relaxing stay on the unspoilt beaches of Jibacoa or Varadero in one of the many all inclusive beach resorts with Tropical Sky. Spend three nights at The Sevilla in Cuba’s capital city, Havana.

Here you can admire the colonial architecture and classic 1950s American cars before heading to the unspoilt white sand beach of the all-inclusive Memories Jibacoa or for a week of relaxation. Tropical Sky flies from Dublin with Virgin Atlantic in mid May for around €1,700 per person for a 10 night trip to Cuba.

ADVENTURE

Thrill-seekers can rejoice in a plethora of amazing adventure-themed trips planned for 2017.

The Amalfi Coast is one of the most dramatic and beautiful coastlines in Europe, making it an ideal walking holiday location.

Abbey Travel’s Discover Almafi package meanders past mule tracks and old paths through hillside villages, lemon groves and beautiful deep gorges, descending from a rural base on the Agerola Plain to the towns with whitewashed buildings and fascinating churches, monasteries and cathedrals. Away from the trails there is plenty of time to enjoy the traditional Amalfi pastimes of sampling incredible food and wine, as well as a spot of sunbathing.

Of course, a walking holiday in this region would not be complete without seeing the incredible Roman remains beneath the volcanic cone of Vesuvius.

The walk ends on a high note, with one of the world’s great walks, the ‘Walk of the Gods’. This 8-day trip leaves Dublin with Abbey Travel all year round, costing around €1,100 per person from May onwards.

If you thought the West Indies were only to be enjoyed by honeymooning couples that want to loll around in the white sand, then think again. Exodus Travel’s West Indies Explored package takes in four of the Lesser Antilles Islands on this journey that explores the natural and cultural wonders of this often-overlooked region.

Your journey starts in St Lucia, which boasts the world’s only drive-in volcano.

Straight onto Dominica – the Nature Isle, which is said to be the island most untouched since it was discovered by Christopher Columbus and one of the best whale-watching spots anywhere.

Continuing to Antigua you will explore the region’s colonial history and finally have the option of going to nearby Montserrat, where, in 1995, the Soufriere Volcano covered the town of Plymouth in thick ash creating a modern-day Pompeii. This trip of a lifetime costs from €3,045 with Exodus travel, excluding flights.

For those of us looking to push our bodies to their absolute limits, www.earths-edge.com specialises in trips designed to challenge and excite.

Their Kilimanjaro Climb is one of their most intensive expeditions. This 12-day itinerary includes seven days of walking on the Machame trail, the most scenic route to the summit.

The Kilimanjaro climb incorporates seven days on the mountain, which allows for great acclimatisation and maximises chances of a successful summit attempt.

The route provides spectacular scenery and a wide variety of different landscapes. Climbers start in scrublands thick with African wildlife and then move into snow and rock as they approach the summit. The Kilimanjaro Climb departs Dublin and costs €3,599 for a 12 day trip.

SINGLE FRIENDLY

Single-friendly trips aren’t just about booking without a single supplement. Choose trips that have lots on, and give travellers the opportunity to meet people if they want, but equally go it alone on the days they fancy it.

#NRG by Falcon offers a number of affordable hotels and apartments in key party destinations aimed specifically at singles and young adults. Zakynthos remains one of the most popular destinations for young travellers. It’s perfect for singles that are heading away on a girls or lads party holiday.

Laganas has been one of Falcon’s busiest youth resorts for the last number of years and it’s easy to see why. Its gorgeous beaches and bustling nightlife make it the perfect day-to-night destination.

The restaurants all do meal deals and there are plenty of places to pick up quick and cheap food for those on a budget. From beach parties to all-night clubs, if it’s a party holiday you’re looking for, then fly from Dublin on May 23 with Falcon to Zakynthos, staying at the three-star Ionis Art Hotel.

This week-long holiday costs €469 per person, including bed and breakfast.

Fancy a total re-haul? Check out The BodyHoliday from Tropical Sky. The BodyHoliday is a rejuvenating retreat on the northern coast of St Lucia, offering a unique holiday experience unlike any other resort in the Caribbean.

The all-inclusive package includes one free spa treatment per day, as well as a huge range of activities, fine dining and fancy wines.

This is more than just a holiday with spa treatments; the hotel’s whole approach is in taking care of your health and wellbeing while you can have an amazing break.

You can look forward to true rest and relaxation as you spend your time at the award-winning Wellness Centre and the glowing white sand beach — undoubtedly one of the island’s finest. The best thing here is that the BodyHoliday is geared up for solo travellers with no single supplement when staying in a Single Garden Room — you can look forward to a private and unique holiday experience at your own pace.

Fly from Dublin with Tropical Sky for around €2,549 for a week’s trip to this super luxurious resort.

NEW DEPARTURES

Cork airport has some exciting new departures coming up in 2017. Volotea, the Spanish low cost carrier is to operate a new scheduled service to Verona in Italy, famously the home of Romeo and Juliet.

The new Cork Airport –Verona-Villafranca Airport service, which commences in June 2017, will operate weekly through the summer season until September. Wow air, the Icelandic low cost operator will be operating a new Cork–Reykjavik service next year.

WOW’s new year-round service will also bring low-cost transatlantic connections from Cork to eight key destinations across the US and Canada.

WOW air’s one-way airfares to Reykjavik will start at €59.99 each way, including taxes and charges. The airline will also provide easy and affordable access from Cork to Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal, New York City, San Francisco, Toronto and Washington DC, with fares starting as low as €149 each way.

The new service with WOW will start from May 19, 2017. The airline will operate four weekly flights on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday during the Summer 2017 season and will operate three weekly services during Winter 2017.

Swiss Air will be operating a Cork-Zurich service from the beginning of June through to the end of September and Iberia will operate a twice-weekly flight from Cork to Madrid from June 3 to September.

Finally, the US Department of Transportation has granted a licence to Norwegian Air International to operate the first direct transatlantic flights between Cork and the United States.

Norwegian plans to launch with a new Cork-Boston service and is also intending to operate a Cork-New York route subsequently.

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