Tony Clayton-Lea compiles a list of some of the hot deals of offer in the Med, Greece,UK, Ireland, Italy or Spain for those looking for a bargain break.
Where: Wicklow, truly the garden of Ireland.
What’s On Offer: A visit to Powerscourt House and Gardens (recently voted number 3 in the Top 10 Gardens of the World by National Geographic magazine, which put the experience on a par with Versailles) is a special experience and one that you won’t forget in a hurry.
Right on Dublin’s doorstep, you have 1,000 acres of woodland, awe-inspiring mountain views and parkland grazed by herds of deer. If you’re searching for peace and quiet you’ve definitely come to the right place.
Why You Should Go: Located adjacent to Powerscourt Gardens is the luxury 5-star Powerscourt Hotel Resort, which has created Powerscourt Blooms, a summer package that includes an overnight stay for two people with breakfast, a gourmet dinner in Sika Restaurant and complimentary access to Powerscourt House and Gardens.
The Powerscourt Blooms Package starts from €153pps midweek, and from €200pps at weekends. www.powerscourthotel.com
Where: Connemara. And where exactly, I hear you ask, in Connemara? Ballynahinch Castle, Recess, that’s where.
What’s On Offer: Voted number one Castle Hotel in Ireland by the readers of Conde Nast magazines, Ballynahinch Castle is set in a private 450-acre estate (think as much woodland, rivers and walks as you can manage) with a picturesque background of the 12 Bens Mountain range.
Why You Should Go: It is, without question, an ideal base for a touring or activity break (and, heaven forbid, to just relax!).
If you should tire of what the estate has to offer – this is unlikely – then there’s always serene Roundstone village, which is mere minutes drive away, and/or the bustling town of Clifden, which is about 20 minutes away by car.
A three night stay here (includes B&B and dinner on two evenings, and all the outdoor activities you can handle) starts from €338pps. www.ballynahinch-castle.com
Where: Wexford – sunny, sunny Wexford.
What’s On Offer: How about something completely different? How about a Golf Getaway? Kelly’s Resort Hotel, Rosslare, Co Wexford, is offering a special package in May – a Golf Academy, no less, for those (from beginner to advanced) who are looking for not only solid, practical tips, but also custom-fit advice and workshops. The golf tutor is PGA professional, Johnny Young.
Why You Should Go: There are two separate packages, from May 4-31. A three-night midweek break (dinner, B&B) plus one round of golf (at either Rosslare or St. Helen’s golf clubs) starts from €407 per adult.
The second package is a five-night mid-week break (half-board) plus two rounds of golf. From €649 per adult. What’s not to like? Combine your passion for golf with a stay at one of Ireland’s most stylish – and homely – hotels. www.kellys.ie
Where: Sorrento is one of Italy’s most appealing holiday destinations. We’ll say that again: Sorrento is one of Italy’s most appealing holiday destinations. You get the picture?
What’s On Offer: Set on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Naples, the 4-star Hotel Ambasciatori is ten minutes walk from the centre of Sorrento, and so affords not only an air of tranquility but leaves you safe in the knowledge that if you want that tranquility to be interrupted then you only have a few minutes to wait.
Why You Should Go: Sorrento and its surroundings are rightly regarded as some of the most beautiful places in the world. Its elevated position provides spectacular views of hills, coastline and blue water, while the old town is the epitome of the word ‘charming’.
Positano and the Isle of Capri are very close by. From €1,349 (depending on departure dates in either May, June, or July). www.sunway.ie
Where: How about stepping it out to Venice, catching the sights there, and then sailing to some of Europe’s most idyllic destinations such as Ephesus (Turkey), Mykonos and Corfu (Greece) and Dubrovnik (Croatia)? And then returning to Venice for the flight back home?
What’s On Offer: Celebrity Cruises is offering a seven-night Greece and Turkey fly/cruise from £999 per person (based on two people sharing an interior stateroom).
The price includes flights from London Gatwick, transfers and a seven-night cruise departing/returning from Venice. Meals and entertainment onboard the Celebrity Constellation cruise ship and all relevant cruise taxes/fees are included in the price, which is based on August 9 departure date.
Why You Should Go: Never been on a cruise? If you’re aching for a holiday where you don’t really have to do anything except put one foot in front of the other, then you should seriously consider it. www.celebritycruises.co.uk
Where: And what do you mean you’ve never stayed in a cottage in Cornwall? As John McEnroe said all those years ago – you can NOT be serious?
What’s On Offer: Cornwall is one of the most beautiful parts of Britain, but it’s rarely known, let alone visited, by an Irish clientele. You can stay at hotels, of course, but generally they‘re quite expensive. Holiday cottage rental properties are a far more financially beneficial proposition, and many feature waterside views, and for those who like to bring pets on holiday with them, many more include dog-friendly facilities.
Why You Should Go: Look no further than Idleour Cottage in Whitsand Bay, which is located within a secluded and unspoilt area of South Cornwall that boasts a four-mile stretch of coastline scattered with remote coves and picturesque fishing villages. A seven-night stay here (from April 18) costs from £735. www.holidaycottages.co.uk
Where: Crete, oh, Crete – why are you so darned pretty?
What’s On Offer: Fancy a foodie extravaganza in the sun? Get yourself, then, to Plaka, Crete, and 5-star, all-suite hotel Domes of Elounda, which overlooks the islet of Spinalonga.
The property boasts a death-by-pleasure spa, a Blue Flag sandy beach, and three restaurants, including Anthos, which is overseen by Michelin-starred Chef Philippe Geneletti.
Why You Should Go: In July, the hotel will host the annual Festival de la Gastronomie, which sees three Michelin-starred chefs go fork-to-fork for one week in the Anthos kitchen, where each chef will be handed a basket of the same local produce as they compete to create singular gourmet food.
A seven-night break costs from £1,445pp; price includes free upgrade to Half-Board, one free a la carte dinner, UK airport lounge access, private resort transfers, and return flights from Manchester with Thomson Holidays. Based on departures on July 2. www.sovereign.com
Where: Hey, we’re going to Ibiza!
What’s On Offer: How does one week lounging around the pool, sporadic visits to Ibiza town for shopping/leisurely pursuits, and an all-inclusive deal suit you?
Falcon Holidays have a wide range of these types of deals, but we’re fancying their pitch for the 3-star Sirenis Cala Llonga Resort, which has received a recent makeover, and which is located on a lengthy stretch of sandy beach front with a rather beautiful backdrop of pine trees.
Why You Should Go: Sirenis Cala Llonga Resort is self-contained (the all-inclusive deal includes breakfast/lunch/dinner, snacks from 11am-9.30pm, ice-cream from 11am-10pm, and locally produced alcoholic and soft drinks from 11am-midnight) but the small marina-dominated, people-watching town of Santa Eulalia is 7kms away, and Ibiza Town 12kms away.
Who is this for? A couple that wants peace and quiet? We’ll be having some of that, thank you very much. From €776pps. www.falconholidays.ie
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