Expert: Alistair McLean, Managing Director
Forecast: “Family time, not screen time, is sought by an increasing number of clients booking our holidays. Parents want to get to know their children again, to see bonds between siblings strengthen and to create long-lasting memories. What better way than on a holiday packed with activities designed for all the family to enjoy together? ”
Sample trip: The seven-night Plitvice Lakes – Croatia family activity holiday with Activities Abroad* (01670 789 991, www.activitiesabroad.com) costs from £1,045 per adult and £995 per child (sharing twin or triple rooms). The price includes return flights (London and regional airports), transfers, seven nights’ accommodation, half-board plus two lunches, and activities including hiking, zip-wiring, stand-up paddle boarding, cycling, canyon kayaking and a river canoe safari. July and August departures.
Expert: Mandy Stinchcombe, Commercial Director
Forecast: “Newquay is fast emerging as a foodie destination, with the likes of Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver setting up shop alongside many up-and-coming chefs. This, combined with an increasing preference for short breaks, and the ease of direct flights from Gatwick airport, London, makes Newquay the perfect place for a quick getaway.”
Sample trip: New to Aspects Holidays’ (01736 754242, aspects-holidays.co.uk) portfolio, Atlantic Vista (sleeps two) is a lavish and modern apartment with panoramic sea views. Situated a stone’s throw from Tolcarne Beach and a short stroll from Lusty Glaze Beach, Porth Beach and Newquay’s town centre, the property is ideal for active couples. A week’s stay costs from £167 pp (£334 total).
Expert: Chris McIntyre, Managing Director
Forecast: “Sub-Saharan Africa has had a tough time, particularly thanks to worries last year about Ebola, and issues in Kenya related to security. Whilst this year even the best small lodges still had quiet periods, I’m pleased to report that bookings for 2016 are very strongly up on this time last year. Kenya, in particular, had a really hard time – but the panic is over and, increasingly, travellers are viewing the country’s challenges calmly and in perspective. So Africa as a whole, and Kenya especially, is now experiencing a surge in bookings.”
Sample trip: Expert Africa’s* (020 8232 9777, www.expertafrica.com) six-day Grey Kestrel Fly-in Safari, staying at a pioneering eco-camp in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, costs from £2,184 pp (two sharing) including flights from London, transfers, full board and activities.
Expert: Maria Cook, General Manager
Forecast: “As the world gets smaller and unique travel experiences become harder to find, we are seeing a growing demand for holidays that take you ‘up close and personal’ with local people and places. Our new collection of Small and Traditional tours offers clients a greater feel for the true nature, history and culture of a chosen destination; each is accompanied by a local guide whose role as interpreter enables clients to converse naturally with the residents in whose communities they are staying.”
Sample trip: A 12-day Moldova & Eastern Romania escorted tour with Ffestiniog Travel* (01766 772 030, www.ffestiniogtravel.com) costs from £1,825 pp (two sharing) including flights (London), rail travel, transfers & excursions as per the itinerary, 11 nights’ B&B (hotels, guest houses & homestay), four lunches, six evening meals, the services of a tour leader from London/throughout the tour & a local guide.
Expert: Patrick Millar, Marketing Manager
Forecast: “Time is precious, and even more so when you are on holiday. This may be the last or only time you’ll see the Sistine Chapel, hear the chorus at La Scala or watch the Northern Lights, so it’s worth doing properly… especially if you’re celebrating a special occasion, when there really are no second chances. We’ve seen an increase in clients using our Concierge service, either to book tickets for must-see concerts or opera performances, to reserve a table at a recommended restaurant, to arrange a private guided tour with behind-the-scenes access or to try activities like cookery classes or wine tasting.”
Sample trip: A three-night trip to Prague, staying at the five-star Hotel Paris with Kirker Holidays* (020 7593 2283, www.kirkerholidays.com), costs from £669 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), B&B, private transfers, a private walking tour, Kirker Guide Notes and Kirker Concierge service.
Expert: Xavier Feuillant, Director at La Plagne’s Tourism Office
Forecast: “We anticipate further growth in enthusiasm for more fresh and interesting ways to enjoy the snow, meaning further fun for all the family, not just those who can ski well. Kids don’t want to be stuck in ski school the whole time and parents might want to take it easy one afternoon, plus grandparents like being active, but not for too long. A colourful spectrum of après-ski activities is the answer, from zip wires, fat bikes and snow shoeing, to a moonlit ski taxi ride, the bobsleigh and ice climbing.”
Sample trip: A week’s stay in La Plagne (+33 (0)4 79 09 79 79, www.la-plagne.com) costs from £682 (family of four sharing) including seven nights’ self-catering accommodation and four ski passes. Travel extra, either by train from St Pancras to Bourg St Maurice / Aime-La-Plagne, or by plane from London to Geneva / Lyon.
Expert: David Mills, Managing Director
Forecast: “We predict a rise in bookings for single-centre, long-haul wildlife trips. We’re noticing that many of our clients are seeking a more leisurely pace of holiday, with daily forays to observe wildlife from a comfortable base for the duration of a trip. Long haul bookings in particular are starting to rise, with Africa bouncing back after the recent Ebola epidemic, Latin America opening up more and more (with new and long-awaited direct flights to Peru and Costa Rica due to be launched in 2016) and Australia selling well again as the dollar weakens.”
Sample trip: Naturetrek* (01962 733051, www.naturetrek.co.uk) offers the eight-day The Gambia in Style itinerary, a varied single-centre birdwatching holiday seeking out kingfishers, bee-eaters and sunbirds amongst many other species (over 570 in total), based at the luxurious Mandina Lodge in Gambia’s Makasutu Forest, from £2,095 pp (two sharing), including full board, return flights (London) and expert guiding. Departs 1 January 2016.
Expert: Andy Fairburn, Head of Marketing
Forecast: “Far from being ‘second best’ to holidaying with family or friends, solo travel – and the choice and freedom it affords – is now a much sought-after option. Whether through choice or circumstance, or simply because your spouse doesn’t share a particular interest or holiday preference, more and more of us are setting out alone. Rather than sharing sun-lounger space with couples or kids, many of our clients tell us they appreciate the chance to stay in sociable singles-only accommodation, too, and we have added a two further ClubSolos properties (exclusive to Solos’ clients) for 2016, in Corfu and Mallorca.”
Sample trip: A seven-night stay at ClubSolos in Crete with Solos Holidays (0844 371 8860, www.solosholidays.co.uk) costs from £575 pp including flights (Gatwick), transfers, B&B in an apartment for single use, three taverna dinners, welcome drink & information meeting, and the services of an accompanying Solos Tour Leader.
Expert: Chris Wright, Managing Director
Forecast: “With continued unrest in the Middle East, countries in the Mediterranean that are perceived as safe – primarily Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and Greece – will be in high demand, with availability more limited. A strong pound will also make euro destinations favourable, with Portugal offering particularly good value for money. Scandinavian tourism will benefit, too, as the pound is also strong against the kronor. The continued low price of oil means that airlines will increase schedules, offering routes that might not have seemed financially viable in 2014/5.”
Sample trip: A seven-night self-catering holiday in the Alentejo, Portugal, with Sunvil* (020 8758 4722, www.sunvil.co.uk) costs from £499 pp (two sharing) including return flights (Gatwick) and transfers. Holidays to Corfu, Greece, cost from £555 pp on the same basis.
The Artisan Travel Company
Expert: Alistair McLean, Managing Director
Forecast: “We are seeing significant growth in summer bookings to Nordic destinations more commonly known for their winter seasons. The main draw is the magnificent Midnight Sun; endless days spent in pristine wilderness. Swedish Lapland, with mountains, fjords and lakes, provides a beautiful setting in which to be mesmerized by this exquisite spectacle.”
Sample trip: The new four-night Abisko Midnight Sun Adventure with Artisan Travel* (01670 785 085, www.artisantravel.co.uk) costs from £1,375 pp (two sharing) including return flights (Gatwick), airport transfers, accommodation, most meals, Midnight Sun hikes, photography tour, day trip to Narvik, and more. June and July departures.
The Aurora Zone
Expert: Jo Doran, General Manager
Forecast: “Seeing the Northern Lights tops the travel bucket list for many, but a high number of Aurora hunters are also looking for a twist to their trip to further enhance their personal unforgettable experience. Think taking control of your own husky-led sled, two Northern Lights destinations in one holiday, sleeping in a glass-topped teepee and learning about the science of the Aurora Borealis.”
Sample trip: The new seven-night Nellim and Muotka Great Aurora Adventure with The Aurora Zone* (01670 785 012, www.theaurorazone.com) costs from £2,020 pp (two sharing) including return flights (London and regional airports), transfers, seven nights’ accommodation (one night in the tepee), half-board and six lunches, Aurora Workshop, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, husky safari, and more. November to March departures.
Voyages Jules Verne
Expert: David Pattison, Head of Product & Marketing
Forecast: “Whilst the UK economy is far from being out-of-the-woods entirely, recent signs of financial recovery have had a noticeable ripple effect on clients’ confidence in booking longer duration holidays. During the worst of the recession, our clients were still travelling, but tending more towards lower cost, shorter haul trips, but we are now seeing a welcome return to requests for more indulgent Grand Tours of destinations as diverse as Burma, China, Costa Rica, Central America, India, Sri Lanka and Namibia.”
Sample trip: A 20-night Grand Tour of Indochina with Voyages Jules Verne (020 3553 3722, www.vjv.com) costs from £2,595 pp (two sharing) including flights (Heathrow), transfers, 18 nights’ B&B, four lunches, four dinners, excursions and the services of guides and local representatives. Two nights spent flying.
*AITO is the Association of Independent Tour Operators: more than 120 specialist travel companies providing an unrivalled collection of holiday ideas that cover every corner of the world. Consumers booking with AITO can be assured of high-quality holidays and excellent personal service. Visit www.aito.com for further information.