Summer 2015 – plan ahead!

Help banish the winter blues and book up your summer holiday now. Here, Ozel Rowland brings us some of the best places to stay this summer…

Costa Adeje © Javier Lastras

Dream Hotel Gran Tacanda, Costa Adeje, Tenerife

Why not treat yourself this summer and indulge in the five-star comforts of the Dream Hotel Gran Tacanda? Located in the popular resort Costa Adeje in Tenerife, Spain this hotel boasts no less than four salt-water pools, three bars and three excellent restaurants – unsurprisingly, this hotel is a top choice for couples and families alike. There’s also a spa and gym to keep you in shape and suitably pampered, and parents looking to snatch some romantic time alone can take advantage of the free childcare and babysitting services for children over the age of three. There are also a variety of fun leisure and cultural programmes on offer for those wanting to head out for a day’s sight seeing.

Guests wanting to catch some rays outside the hotel grounds are in luck as Gran Tacanda is ideally situated right next to Playa del Duque beach. It’s also close to a range of shops and mini markets, including Fañabe and Plaza del Duque shopping centres – ideal if you fancy a spot of retail therapy.

August is the best time to visit Costa Adeje as temperatures reach an impressive 29˚C, while June and July enjoy temperatures of around 24˚C.

The hotel is offering 20% off the final price if you book your 2015 summer holiday now.

Riad le Clos des Arts, Marrakech, Morocco

Voted top three in TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards 2015 for best small hotel and best service in Marrakech, Riad le Cles des Arts takes its roots as an artistic guesthouse seriously and as a result is a firm favourite with guests for its authentic Moroccan décor and ambience. The rooms are adorned with traditional Moroccan styling – think warm terracotta tints and bright ceramic mosaic tiles. Each room comes with a lavish four-poster bed, a plush sofa and beautiful Kilim rug, too.

Temperatures in Marrakech, Morocco can hit highs of 38˚C in July, with a milder average of 29˚C during the other summer months. Handily, the hotel’s roof boasts a lovely pool, so you’ll never be too far away from a reviving, cooling dip.  The hotel also offers additional activities such as artisanal workshops and cookery classes, the latter being ideal if you want to learn how to rustle up an authentic tagine.

The hotel is located in the heart of the Medina, which is just a five-minute walk to the main square, Jemaa el Fna. Nearby are the Museum of Moroccan Arts (Dar si Siad) and the grand Bahia Palace – both are perfect for a cultural interlude into this magnificent city.

Prices vary from about £86 to £135 per night during peak season. This includes traditional Moroccan  mint tea and pastries upon arrival, along with a daily Moroccan breakfast and free Wifi.

Piazza Pretoria, Palermo © Dimitry B.

B&B Mondello Resort, Sicily, Italy

Situated in the peaceful suburbs of Palermo in Sicily, Italy this luxury B&B is the ideal choice for couples seeking refuge in a homely yet modern and stylish setting. With only five rooms, this resort offers an intimate atmosphere along with a gorgeous garden and pool area.

Weather averages in summer tend to reach 26˚C-27˚C, with August hitting around 29˚C, so why not sit back and lounge in the shade of the B&B’s Sicilian pines before taking a much-needed dip in the pool.

Hosts, Robert and Roberta, provide an attentive yet unobtrusive service with a breakfast buffet available every morning in the B&B’s spacious terrace. The rooms meanwhile boast a simple, minimalist interior and come fully equipped with all the expected amenities, while the bathrooms, complete with luxury fittings, are designed to provide a calming haven – perfect for soothing tired limbs after a day out exploring.

If you’re looking for sand and sea as well as sun, the pretty, powdery shoreline of Mondello beach is less than a mile away from the B&B. The bus station is also within walking distance, making Mondello Resort a great launching pad for exploring Palermo. There’s also a free bike service for guests wanting to get around on two wheels.

Prices are around £839 for a double room shared by two adults in August. Visit their website for full details on rates.

Aphrodite’s Rock, the legendary birthplace of Venus, or Aphrodite © Stav

Apollonia Holiday Apartments, Paphos, Cyprus

Paphos’s top-rated, family-run Apollonia apartments offer all the comforts of your own home while providing an ideal base for discovering this beautiful Cypriot city.

Paphos, Cyprus enjoys highs of 30˚C in August and thanks to its coastal location, a cooling breeze takes things down a notch come the evening.

Aside from an impressive pool and peaceful sun lounging area outside complete with a bar and an outside gym, the complex offers a number of different apartments to suit individual requirements, with studios or one and two bedroom apartments available. All are fully-equipped and decked with a simple yet comfortable interior, there’s a daily cleaning service, too.

Apollonia is located in the main tourist district of Kato Paphos, which is home to a variety of top attractions including the ancient ruins of Acropolis and Odeon. Meanwhile, the seafront, along with plenty of local shops, restaurants and bars are within walking distance from the apartments.

Receive a 22% discount if you book your summer holiday now.

Villa Maya, Cancun, Mexico

The Mexican city of Cancun is a world-renowned choice for holidaymakers, well loved for its fascinating Mayan history, large stretches of pearl-white beaches and thriving social scene.

Average summer temperatures reach 28˚C in Cancun, Mexico so you won’t be short of sunshine and opportunities to spend plenty of time outside relaxing and exploring.

When it comes to a great place to stay, Villa Maya is a top rental accommodation, serving as a ‘flexi-house’ perfect for families or group holiday bookings. Inside, you’ll find five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, dining area and an outside terrace. The villa is located in a quiet residential area, away from the main tourist zone, so expect peace and quiet. It’s also close to a good range of shops, including a Walmart, as well as buzzing local cafes and restaurants.

Transfers to and from the airport, as well a free tour by the owners, can be organised in advance. Summer prices start from £879 per week.

October half term holidays

Make the most of the half term break this month and sneak in a bit of sunshine before things really take a turn for the worse weather-wise in the UK, and we’re unceremoniously hauled into the season of woolly socks and winter coats. There’s some fantastic holiday destinations in Europe and further afield, read on for our top picks…

In the Med…

Portugal’s Algarve is still lovely and warm in late October – great for all you beach bums and golf lovers. Albufeira is the most popular destination for holidaymakers in the Algarve, and it’s not had to see why. Lagos is famous for its award winning beaches, especially Meia Praia, which stretches for 4km and is ideal for avid sunbathers and watersports lovers alike. Take your pick from some of the many stunning golf courses that line the coast – Pine Cliffs Golf Course is built in a pine forest and affords wonderful views of the Algarve’s golden beaches. Kids are catered for too, with some brilliant waterparks and zoos ensuring there’s plenty of fun for all the family. For up-to-date weather forecasts in Algarve click here.

Crete, one of Greece’s southernmost – and largest – islands, is also a safe bet at this time of year for reliably pleasant temperatures and sunshine. Explore the island’s spectacular 1,000 kilometre-long coastline dotted with exquisite coves, bays and peninsulas, many of which offer numerous sandy beaches to while away a sunny day. There’s also a myriad of pretty fishing villages such as the picturesque Paxos, ancient treasures and a variety of delicious Cretan culinary delights to enjoy. For up-to-date weather forecasts in Crete click here.

The Canary Islands are always going to get a well-deserved mention when listing top family holiday destinations that won’t break the bank and will deliver on great year-round weather, places to stay, activities and much more. With average daily temperatures sitting comfortably around the mid-20s well into late October, the popular resorts Los Cristianos, Playa de las Americas and Costa Adeje in Tenerife – with their multitude of long, sandy beaches and inviting waters – are bound to help beat the onset of the winter blues and turn back the clock, albeit temporarily, to the heady days of summer. Lanzarote, also in the Canary Islands, certainly doesn’t let the side down in the temperature and sunshine stakes, offers a unique, striking landscape, with the western side of the island typically being hotter and drier than the eastern side. October is one of the best months for big game fishing, which is a popular pastime on the island, plus make the most of the warm sea temperatures and get into the big blue; take your pick from scuba diving, snorkelling, or by simply enjoying a daily dip. Click here for an up-to-date weather forecasts in Tenerife and Lanzarote.

Majorca in Spain enjoys a Mediterranean climate all-year round and daily temperatures average around 25°C to 21°C throughout the month, with things cooling down towards the end of October. This pleasant weather allows for enjoying the island’s many beautiful walking and cycling trails – the island boasts wonderful wildlife and a dazzling variety of flora. Nature lovers should definitely not miss a visit to the S’Albufera Wetlands. The Coves de Campanet in Alcudia are another must-see – these amazing caves are famous for the fossilised remains, as well as numerous pathways, chambers and pools. For up-to-date weather forecasts in Majorca click here.

Elsewhere in Europe…

Perhaps you and your family want to squeeze in a bit of action before the season of slumping on the sofa having stuffed yourself silly kicks in? If so, why not consider a cycling holiday – popular destinations include Ghent, Belgium, the Loire Valley in France and the Catalan coast of Spain (including a few nights in Barcelona perhaps). Other enjoyable and scenic routes include east to west across the Algarve, Portugal and the lakes of Bavaria, Germany.

For a truly memorable and unique holiday experience, there’s nowhere quite like Iceland, plus it’s only a short flight away. Soak up the breath-taking scenery by exploring the island’s stunning natural parks, the South coast, Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon. You could even take in this beautiful country on horseback. Then, soothe your sore bones in Iceland’s famous geothermal pools before sampling traditional tasty fare such as “harðfiskur”, a type of dried fish. Best of all, in late October you have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights. The temperatures may not rival that of the Med but you’ll still enjoy plenty of sunshine at this time of year.

Venturing further afield…

There’s a lot to be said for sun and sand, but if you’re after fascinating history and culture too, then Morocco has both by the bucket load. With a daily temperature lingering around 21 in Marrakesh, the weather is perfect for exploring this beautiful part of the world, furthermore, you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled across the globe but in reality you can fly to Morocco in just three hours. October is a great time to go, as you’ll catch the festival Eid al-Fitr, which signals the end of Ramadan. Expect feasting, music, dancing and general merriment – and don’t forget to haggle in the magical souks and chill out in a hammam. For thrills and spills, head to Oasiria Water Park – great for the kids – and for adventure-seekers, why not incorporate a trekking trip into the Atlas Mountains for a truly special experience. Click here for up-to-date weather forecasts in Marrakesh and the Atlas Mountains.

October is an ideal month to go to Sharm el Sheikh on Egypt’s Red Sea coast, with wonderful weather minus the oppressively hot temperatures. Rain is rare and the sea is still lovely and warm, so now is a perfect time to learn to dive. If your children are aged 10 years or more, they can learn to dive and achieve a PADI qualification – surely a fantastic skill for them to capitalise on in their later years. Don’t miss Ras um Sid, a stunning beach resort with a large diving and snorkelling site brimming with colourful coral and marine life. Check travel advice for Sharm el Sheikh from the Foreign Office before booking your holiday. For up-to-date weather forecasts in Sharm el Sheikh click here.

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