Scattered among the idyllic Greek isles are a few all-night party spots that can rival anything Ibiza or Marbella has to offer. The authorities in Faliraki in Rhodes and Malia in Crete have been working hard on their resorts’ reputations after years of unsavoury headlines. Currently enjoying its heyday, though, is Laganas in Zante. It sits on the longest beach on the island and it grows lively after sunset, while avoiding too much excess, having learnt the lessons of the past.
Zoe Towers, head of product at Jet2holidays, says: “If you have customers who are looking for a lively holiday in the sunshine, Laganas in Zante is the perfect option. With a mile-long strip featuring a huge choice of bars, Laganas is also home to Pure Beach Club, a huge open-air club, which plays host to top DJs and acts from all over the world.”
“When the sun comes up and it’s time to slow things down, customers can chill out on the largest beach in Zante, or take a walk along a wooden bridge out to Cameo Island Beach Club, with resident DJs playing summer tunes as sunbathers relax.”
Book it: Jet2.com and Jet2holidays offers flights and holidays to Zante from its nine UK bases. Discounted rates are available for groups of 10 or more. Seven nights’ self-catering at Canadian Studios in Laganas starts from £279pp based on two sharing. Price includes a 22kg baggage allowance, Stansted flights departing on May 16 and transfers.
Santorini is the big tease with its cliffside villages in a prime spot for watching the sunset. But if your clients have explored the big ticket romantic isle, they may well be drawn by one its neighbours. Both Naxos and Paros are just a short ferry ride from Santorini, and boast desirable beaches, hiking trails, traditional villages and fewer crowds than their near neighbour.
Small Luxury Hotels of the World features Mr and Mrs White on Paros – a service-led boutique hotel with views to admire from every angle.
Carsten Lima, vice-president of sales, Europe, Middle East and Africa, describes the island’s appeal: “The hotel is a short stroll from the centre of Naoussa. Greek charm oozes from this village, where curved, whitewashed stone walls arch over winding, paved streets. White shutters fly open, families bustle in and out of their royal blue front doors, and the locals water hanging baskets trailing bright bougainvillea. Another favourite spot is Antiparos island, ideal for a day cruise to explore its unique natural cave and exotic unspoiled beaches.”
Olympic Holidays also recommends Paros for clients who favour quieter islands with a traditional feel. Donna Allcock, product & commercial director, Olympic Holidays, says: “Paros is a great option for travellers who are looking for authenticity and a smaller, laid-back destination that combines great beaches with traditional Greek villages, churches and tavernas.”
Even further off the beaten track, Sunvil suggests the island backwater of Kimolos, new to the operator’s programme this year.
Book it: Olympic Holidays offers seven nights’ B&B at the three-star Panorama Hotel, Paros from £715pp based on two travelling. Price includes Gatwick flights departing on June 30.
A bunch of Crete’s best luxury spa hotels are clustered around Elounda in eastern Crete, a former fishing village set around Mirabello Bay. If your clients have enjoyed relaxing in the sumptuous surrounds of Porto Elounda, with its Six Senses Spa, and trying the Turkish hammams and the two thalassotherapy pools at Blue Palace Resort & Spa, they may well be keen to know more about Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort. This modern hotel is located on the south-west coast of Kassandra, one of the three peninsulas of Halkidiki in northern Greece. Geographically Crete and Halkidiki are very different – one is an island and one is the mainland – but for spa lovers, the Miraggio presents the world’s first and largest thermae resort and boasts direct access to a rare combination of both local thermal source water and seawater.
Guests have access to “Healing Water”, a mixture of thermal and thalassotherapy that works to cure and subdue everyday ailments, including psoriasis, joint and muscular pain, arthritis, eczema and stress while increasing metabolism and circulation.
This year sees the introduction of 30 new Nordic walking (with poles) and mountain bike routes in the oxygen-rich Kassandra peninsula.Varying in degrees of difficulty, guests can enjoy anything from a leisurely stroll, following in the footsteps of Greek philosopher Aristotle, to a more strenuous hike on the gravel and sand trails.
Book it: Kuoni offers seven nights’ B&B at the Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort, Halkidiki in a Standard Garden View Room with Gatwick flights and transfers from £1,279pp, based on two sharing in June 2018. To book quote tour ref: GR0150.
Rightly so, Athens is a top draw, with its ancient landmarks, bearing witness to a powerful civilisation and empire. But for those who are looking for other historical gems, Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, is a good choice, especially in May/June and September/October, either side of the summer heatwave.
Thessaloniki has a plethora of historic sites, including the fourthcentury Arch of Galerius, the White Tower, a 34-metre high tower at the waterfront, and the ancient forum, dated to the late second century AD. The city walls, churches, monasteries and Byzantine baths are all included in a Unesco Monuments Route that unravels a fascinating story of 2,300 years of history. Planet Holidays is also helping clients discover Thessaloniki’s First World War history.
Harry Kyrillou, commercial director, says: “We now offer private guided tours to give insight into the little known ‘Salonica Front’. Thessaloniki became a transit centre for British, French, Italian and Russian troops, who attempted to aid Serbia, their battered ally in the Balkans. The military cemeteries and war memorials located in Thessaloniki and Kilkis honour more than 30,000 soldiers of the Allied Forces, who fell during this mission.”
Book it: Planet Holidays offers seven nights’ B&B accommodation at the four-star City Hotel in Thessaloniki, from £1,100pp based on two sharing. Price includes Gatwick flights, departing May 19, transfers and a one-day private guided tour to the WW1 Doiran-Kilkis Memorial with an English speaking guide.
01438 841 270
GIC The Villa Collection’s managing director, Chris Wright, recommends Corfu: “It’s worth guests thinking differently about villas: no longer does hiring a villa need to be isolating or expensive. GIC The Villa Collection has responded to demand for villas that are within walking distance of tavernas, beaches and attractions. When choosing a property, GIC encourages people to see the island differently... the north-east is beautiful, less developed and quite exclusive in comparison to the busier south.”
Book it: GIC The Villa Collection offers a seven-night stay at Barbati Beach House, 50 metres from the beach, from £678pp, based on four sharing, including Gatwick flights and car hire.