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Best Travel Deals

3rd September, One week package deal to Fuerteventura, only €334!

Fuerteventura, is blessed with year round sunshine, stunning beaches and a great laid back atmosphere. Enjoy a one week package deal to Fuerteventura for only €334 in September, and finish off the Summer in style!

 

It is less developed than the other Canary Islands but that is part of it’s charm. If you are a beach lover you will love Fuerteventura. You will find picture postcard white sandy beaches here – some would say as good as the Caribbean! Watching the wind surfers and kite boarders and pottering around the many surf shops you can’t help but notice that it has a sporty feel to it. For more information on Fuerteventura you can read my blog post by clicking here.

One week package deal to Fuerteventura

I found a fantastic deal departing on the 3rd of September from Dublin staying in the popular Villa Florida apartments. They have been a firm favourite with Irish holiday makers for many years. They are centrally located in the resort of Caleta de Fuste, close to plenty of bars and restaurants and only 200 meters from the sandy beach. They also receive great reviews on tripadvisor!

VIlla FLorida 2

Fly direct from Dublin on Saturday the 3rd of September and enjoy seven nights in a spacious one bedroom apartment for only €334 per person, based on two sharing. This price includes flights, accommodation, transfers and checked baggage, with NO hidden extras!

 

Click here for more details:

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by Sunway Holidays but all views, as always, are my own 🙂

 

Sarah

travel deals

 

DestinationsFeaturedLong HaulRest of the World

A Safari in Tanzania

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I’m often asked what was my favourite holiday and the answer always surprises people – a safari in Tanzania.

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I have travelled to many far flung places but there was something magical about Tanzania that makes it stand out in my mind. It was a life experience as well as a holiday. There was no wifi, no email, in fact hardly any phone coverage, I really felt like I embraced nature at its best. I think the longing to go there came from a trip to South Africa the previous year, where I went on a safari in Kruger National Park – I was hooked! I am somewhat of an animal lover anyway and safaris for me are one of life’s amazing experiences. I decided to try a real authentic safari, and we set off for Tanzania.

A safari in Tanzania by The Travel Expert

Whilst a South African safari is great, there is a difference when you step out on to the Serengeti plains or the Ngorongoro Crater. The area is so vast and the density of animals is staggering. There are no fences and the animals travel from Kenya to Tanzania and back again. In fact on any given day you really have no idea what you will see or what to expect. I flew into Nairobi and stayed two nights at the luxury Tortillis camp in Amboseli National Park. Morning coffee is delivered to your tent so you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the elephants at Mount Kilimanjaro, before setting off on a game drive. The guides are so knowledgeable, you feel very much at ease. I never felt anxious, even when a lion decided to have a nap behind our back wheel! On one of our drives we witnessed a pride of lions killing a wildebeest beside our jeep. It was both distressing and exhilarating, to watch nature at its purest, with the hyenas and vultures waiting idly by for the left overs.

A safari in Tanzania by The Travel Expert

I then moved on to the Ngorongoro crater, one of the worlds most breathtaking natural wonders. It’s hard to describe the feeling as you stand on the rim of the crater looking at the various wildlife in their natural habitat. It really is a feast for the senses. The stunning views, the animal sounds, the aromas, are almost tangible. I was once told by a friend of mine to take a ‘mental’ picture when you are somewhere special, and that I did. I think that memory will stay with me forever. I was fortunate to stay at the Ngorongoro crater lodge, a stunning 5* hotel, probably one of the best in Tanzania, if not Africa. The hefty $1000 per person per night price tag gets you a personal butler who will have a hot bath and your drink of choice ready for you after your game drives! (Easily know I went pre – recession! ) It really is a once in a lifetime experience and definitely one that should  be on everyone’s bucket list!

A safari in Tanzania by The Travel Expert

After trying a luxury tent and a luxury hotel I decided to ‘rough’ it a bit and stay in a small lodge in Tanzania’s most famous National Park, Serengeti. The vast open plains are an amazing sight, they seem endless, and were a complete contrast to Amboseli and Ngorongoro. Famed for the annual migration it actually offers so much more. It has one of the best game viewing in the world as there is so little vegetation. I have one regret – not taking the hot air balloon ride over the plains – I guess I’ll just have to go back!

A safari in Tanzania by The Travel Expert

My trip might seem like a lot of travelling but believe me, it is worth it. If you want to experience Tanzania at its best, take the time to try different parks. Prebook a private guide to drive you where possible, and take the internal flights for the longer journeys. As you drive through the countryside you will witness every day life in Tanzania. Masai will stroll past with a weeks supply of groceries balanced on their heads while kids play football in their bare feet. Don’t be put off by the internal flights, they are like buses, with dirt tracks for runways. There is no check in times, or passport control, its hassle free. And when you are exhausted after all that travelling and the adrenaline rush, what better way to end your holiday, than chilling out in the exotic island of Zanzibar!

A safari in Tanzania by The Travel Expert

It really doesn’t get much better than that! This holiday won’t be cheap, in fact it’s probably one of the most expensive trips you will take, but believe me when I tell you, it will be an experience that will have memories that will last a lifetime.

Tempted? Click here for sample prices or email sarah@thetravelexpert.ie for personal quotations.

 

Sarah

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Magical Madrid, 14th February, Flights & Hotel, 3 Nights €199!

Terrazas de la Plaza Mayor de Madrid

The Spanish capital of Madrid is often overlooked for a city break but actually it probably has more to offer than most of it’s European counterparts.

 

Take a guided tour of the Royal Palace, probably one of the largest and most beautiful palaces you are likely to see. Enjoy a coffee on the Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s main square, it is a great place to people watch and plan your day. Follow that with a night out in the city, when Madrid comes alive with gastro bars, al fresco eateries and vibrant nightlife. With over three thousand restaurants, it is not surprising that Madrid is now considered one of Europe’s top cities for gastronomy.

There is plenty in  Madrid to keep everyone happy, some may like to shop while the others take in a football match or a stadium visit. A trip to the Real Madrid’s Bernabeu would satisfy even an avid football fan. A stroll along the Gran Via, Madrid’s grandest street is a shoppers paradise, where high street and designer shops combine to tempt you with prices cheaper than at home. A new apple store opened in 2014 with a 360 degrees genius bar, where experts from ‘Apple’ give advice and solve any technical issues, its known as a ‘little apple museum’, worth a look in the area of Puerta del Sol!

Bernabeu, The Travel Expert, Sarah Slattery

So with all of this and a lot more, isn’t it time you visited the city of Madrid? I have found a great deal departing on the 14th of February. Fly with Aer Lingus and stay three nights in the popular HRC hotel for only €199. This modern hotel is situated in the heart of Madrid, close to all the main attractions and it’s excellent nightlife. The HRC also receives excellent reviews on tripadvisor as well as a certificate of excellence.  So what are you waiting for?

 

Click here for more details:

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change.

 

Sarah 

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Sharm el Sheikh, 3rd September, All Inclusive, Flights & Hotel, €499

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With year round sunshine, buzzing nightlife, ‘designer’ shopping and some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world – Sharm el Sheikh ticks all boxes.

 

Direct flights from Dublin will have you there in just over five hours, and the short airport transfer means the total journey time is the same as many of the Canary Island resorts. It is hard to beat the value to for money too, with most resorts being all inclusive, you will need very little spending money. In general the standards are very high, even some of the three star resorts receive great reviews on tripadvisor.

Most of the hotels have endless facilities to keep you entertained and with the various cosmopolitan resorts of SOHO Square, Na’ama Bay and Nabq Bay, you will be spoilt for choice if you do decide to dine out. You can choose the popular Hard Rock Cafe or wander around the cobbled streets of Old Sharm and sample some local dishes. Soak up the atmosphere and bargain in the markets or if you are feeling romantic take an excursion into the desert for a some star gazing! If you are looking for the latest designer accessory – without the expensive price tag, there is no place better. The quality is really good and you can have the latest Stella Mc Cartney bag or a Michael Kors watch for about €30! For more info on Sharm el Sheikh read my blog by clicking here.

Xperience St George Homestay

Fly from Dublin on the 3rd of September and spend seven nights at the popular  Xperience St George Homestay on an all inclusive basis for only €499 per person. This hotel receives fantastic reviews on tripadvisor and was awarded the travellers choice award for 2015. TOP TIP: When you have searched on the Falcon website and the results come back, change the sort by button to  ‘price low to high’ and you will see this offer pop up straight away.  This includes flights, transfers and 20kg checked baggage, fantastic value when you think all drinks and meals are included! So what are you waiting for?

 

Click here to book:

 

Like what you see? Click here to see all my travel deals in one place!

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

 

Destinations

Zakynthos, 23rd May, 1 week, Flights & Apartment, €389!

Zakynthos

Looking for a nice break away that wont break the bank? Zakynthos or Zante as it is commonly known, is a great choice.

I spent a week there last year and really enjoyed it. There is so much to see and do you will spoilt for choice. A visit to Navagio or shipwreck beach is a must, it is one of the most photographed beaches in the world! A boat trip to see the Loggerhead turtles is also a great day out and appeals to all ages. If you are feeling really adventurous you could take a ferry to some of the neighbouring islands, Kefalonia is one of the favourites for day trippers.

For me though, the beauty lies in just chilling out on one of  Zante’s beaches and enjoying some great Greek food in the local tavernas. There is a great laid back atmosphere on the island and although developed for tourists, it still feels authentic.  For more information on Zakynthos you can read my blog by clicking here.

Navagio beach, Zakynthos

Get organised early and avail of this early booking offer at the popular Katerina Palace aparthotel. Enjoy a one week stay for only €389 on the 23rd of May. Centrally located in the beautiful resort of Argassi, it is also close to the beach and receives great reviews on tripadvisor. The price includes flights, accommodation, transfers and checked baggage – with no hidden extras!

Click here for more details:

 

All prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to availability. Please note some links in this post are affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

Sarah

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Sir Richard Bransons Ski Lodge, Easter Weekend, All Inclusive €1900

ski lodge

Yes you did read that correctly! How would you like to spend Easter weekend in Sir Richard Branson’s Verbier Lodge?

Not only is it in Verbier one of the most prestigious ski resorts you could visit, but the chalet itself, is stunning! The Swiss resort, situated in the heart of Four Valleys is one of the largest ski resorts in Europe. It’s height provides excellent snow conditions and the ski resort stays open until the beginning of May.

All meals and drinks, even champagne are included in the price. To sweeten the deal, you have a 24 hour driver to bring you anywhere you want to go ( within reason of course!). There is also an indoor heated pool, an outdoor jacuzzi, a gym, spa, actually anything you want you are sure to find here. So if its luxury you are seek – you have found it. Read the review from Conde Nast Traveller or check out this video if you still need convincing!

Flights depart with Aer Lingus on Sunday the 5th of April to Geneva and return on Wednesday the 8th. Accommodation is based on two people sharing a double room.

 

Click here to book flights:

Click here to book the Lodge:

 

All prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to availability. To ensure you receive my weekly best travel deals please click here to sign up to my newsletter.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

Travel Tips

Top 5 reasons why you need a holiday!

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Trying to persuade yourself or the other half to book a holiday?  If you need help check out my top five reasons why you need one…

 

1. You need to destress, unwind and basically stop thinking about work for a week.

Life is so busy now that we all need time to switch off. Whether that means sitting by a pool or dancing the night away; you need to leave your worries behind you, let off some steam and have a good time on holiday.

5 reasons why you need a holiday

2. You need to spend quality time with your partner and or kids.

‘Quality’ meaning actual fun time and not sitting down in front of the tv with your phone or iPad in your hand. You need to talk to your partner or family. Holidays are the best time to talk, there are no distractions and you can plan for the future or talk about experiences you have been having (good or bad ) without the tv on, phone ringing or the office getting in the way.

Top 5 reasons why you need a holiday

3. You need something to look forward to.

Even if your holiday is months away, you will think about it so often and it may get you through difficult times by just knowing you will be lying on a beach in the near future…

Top 5 reasons why you need a holiday

4. Holidays are good for your body.

Research shows that most people exercise more on holidays than during a regular working week at home, This may just mean a swim at the pool or a stroll around the resort in the evenings but for most people this is longer than walking from the car to the office each day. Your body also needs vitamin D from the sun which, lets face it, is not in abundance in Ireland. So that occasional week in the sun (once you are careful with sunscreen!) is very good for you. You come back refreshed, in better form, ready to take on the world and of course you generally look better too. A healthy tan, a good nights sleep, fresh air, laughter and relaxation, all things that holidays give you and lets face it, we could all do with more of it!

Top 5 reasons why you need a holiday

5. Travelling broadens your mind and can also inspire you.

You may find that ideas come to you when on holiday or you may simply find you appreciate your own life more when you get back. You need to try new experiences, sample different foods, go on a jet ski or do something that you would not do back home. Remember you only have one life – live it!

Top 5 reasons why you need a holiday

 

Want to see more travel tips? Click here!

 

Sarah 

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5 Star Luxury Hotel Croatia, 1 week, 8th September, Flights, Hotel & Transfers, €787!

croatia hotel

The medieval city of Dubrovnik should be on everyone’s wish list. Although you can stay in the heart of the old town I think the best way to enjoy it, is to holiday in one of the resorts close by.

 

The city is actually quite small and can be packed with cruise ship visitors during the day. Temperatures can also be very high, depending on the time of year.  If you choose to stay outside the centre you can literally have the best of both worlds. Relax by the sea or pool during the day and hop on a water taxi in the evening when the city is less crowded.

A visit to Dubrovnik by The Travel ExpertCavtat is the jewel in the crown on of this region. Only 20 km south of Dubrovnik, Cavtat is a an upmarket resort with a delightful old village and a palm fringed promenade. It is perfect for couples and families who want pretty resort with a relaxed pace. The medieval village has a small selection of boutiques and galleries and there are plenty of excellent restaurants to satisfy even the celebrities who hang out there. To top it all off there are numerous boats which leave from the harbour all day visiting Dubrovnik and the surrounding islands. Lets face it, there is no better way to explore this stunning coastline. Read my destination posts for more information on Cavtat and Dubrovnik.

Why not treat yourself and stay at the 5 star luxury hotel Croatia for seven nights for only €846, on the 8th of September. Enter my exclusive code TRAVELEXP10 in the promo code box to save 10% off the accommodation cost, making the total €787 per person. Highly rated on tripadvisor this was a travellers choice winner in 2015 & 2016. You just have to read the reviews to see how good this hotel really is. This price includes flights with Aer Lingus, transfers and a seven night stay, with FREE breakfast and FREE wifi.

 

Click here for more details:

 

All prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to availability.

 

Sarah

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Family HolidaysTravel Tips

Top 5 travel tips when booking your family holiday.

The Travel Expert (3)

With the January sales upon us, here are my top five tips to help you book the perfect family holiday.

 

1. Be prepared!

I can’t stress this enough. Talk to a travel agent or at least do some research yourself online. If it is sunshine you are after make sure you check the weather forecast. For instance the Algarve maybe cold at Christmas time and most Greek resorts don’t actually open until May…

 

2. Check out the flight times and the length of the flight.

You might see that the flights are ‘day flights’ but this may mean a 6am departure which is actually a 4am check in, which equates to a 3am alarm call – not exactly day time! Likewise you may think that short flights are great but if travelling to Alcudia in Majorca or Lagos in the Algarve the bus transfer time is almost two hours, so the actual journey time will be the same as travelling to Lanzarote for example.

 

3. Think about what type of holiday you are looking for.

Do you want a quiet break in a nice resort or a family resort with kids clubs and entertainment? They are two very different choices! You also need to think about whether you want an all inclusive holiday where all food and drink is included or whether you like eating out in the local restaurants.

 

4. Book at the right time.

Generally speaking if you have kids in school it’s safer to book early to secure the right holiday at the best price. Larger apartments in peak season can be booked out early and if you have specific requirements like a beachfront location or creche facilities you will need to book in advance. If on the other hand you have young kids that are not in school yet, take advantage now while you can. Travel in May, June or September and you should be able to secure a great deal.

 

5. Check prices both online and with a Travel Agent.

Usually the Travel Agent will be able to offer you the holiday at the same price or even less. They may also have early booking offers or ten days for the price of seven etc. Your holiday is secure by booking with an Agent as they have to be fully licensed and bonded in order to trade. You will also have the advantage of being able to call them if you have a problem or query, either before you travel or while abroad.

 

Want to see more travel tips? Click here!

 

Sarah

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Family HolidaysTravel Tips

Top 5 reasons to book your holiday early

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With the busy booking period fast approaching for holiday bookings, here are my top five reasons to book your holiday early.

 

1. Travelling during school holidays.

If travelling during peak time, i.e when the kids are off school, the earlier you book the better. Special offers are very limited during these periods so usually the earlier you book the better value you receive.

 

2.  Have specific requirements.

Are you looking for something in particular, a 3 bedroom apartment, a good hotel on the beach or one of the top family properties with excellent kids facilities? Then remember these will get booked well in advance so make sure you do the same if you have specific requirements.

 

3. Get the best choice

Take advantage of the choices available. With most airlines on sale eleven months in advance you may find that you can get ten days for the price of seven or better flight times without paying large supplements. Many hotels offer early booking offers too with savings of between 10-20% if booking early.

 

4. Makes budgeting easier.

Use your holiday as a savings plan. When booking just pay an initial deposit and pay the balance off monthly. It will be easier to budget throughout the year and avoids one large payment eight weeks before departure.

 

5. Have something to look forward to.

It’s nice to have your holiday booked in advance and have something to look forward to. It makes it easier to plan other things and takes away the stress of worrying that you might not find a holiday at the last minute.

 

Want to see more travel tips? Click here!

 

Sarah

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DestinationsEuropeFamily HolidaysFeaturedSunseekers

Alvor in the Algarve – The Perfect Place for a Relaxing Break.

Alvor fishing village portugal

Looking for a quiet break with great restaurants and a stunning beach? Alvor in the Algarve ticks every box.

My husband and I went to Alvor in the Algarve when I was pregnant with Alex and we couldn’t have chosen a better location. We stayed in the Pestana Dom Joao villas which are right on the beach. Although the accommodation is more like large apartments than private villas, you can’t beat their beachfront location. The sand is literally at the end of the garden, a luxury that is hard to find on a typical package holiday.

alvor portugal fishing village tourist attraction

Having the garden was a massive advantage. I was able to sunbathe while Luke slept. It was also handy when I was preparing meals, Luke was able to play football outside. The Dom Joao Villas are ideal if travelling with young children who don’t need kids clubs or entertainment to amuse them,  and are just happy to be at the beach or kicking ball.

There are dramatic rock formations all along the Alvor coastline. These are not only stunning to look at, but have the added advantage of creating rock pools, a great way to pass the time with young kids too, searching for crabs, small fish or other pirates treasure!

Alvor, The Travel Expert

Alvor is a small fishing village, yet despite the influx of tourists it still retains much of its old world charm. The village has narrow cobbled streets with some fantastic restaurants, as well as some lively bars boasting inexpensive prices. Adega Alvor is a great family choice with an extensive menu to suit all tastes. The local Alvor wine is particularly good too.

There are also some stunning restaurants built into the cliffs along the beach. Canico is a particularly good choice, you can access this from the beach, or through the Prainha Village complex. Canico is more expensive than the local village restaurants and although the food does not necessarily justify higher prices, the setting certainly does. Watching the sunset over the Atantic Ocean from its dramatic clifftop setting is something I would never tire of.

 

I recommend that you hire a car if you want to see a little more of the Algarve. The coach transfer from the airport can be two hours depending on the amount of stops, but to drive it, it is just over an hour. I also recommend a trip to nearby Portimao, the Algarve’s capital, to visit the modern marina and local shops.

Zoo Marine which is close to the airport, is an excellent theme park with dolphin, seal and bird shows. It also has a man made beach with slides and a splash park.

The Algarve is a great holiday destination with a huge number of resorts to choose from, but Alvor will always have a special place in my heart. I look forward to returning soon.

Sarah

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Destinations

Orlando – Where to stay

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Before you book your accommodation you need to ask yourself, do you want a hotel or a home, and do you want to rent a car.

If you are going to spend most of your time in Walt Disney World then maybe one of their Hotels or a nice Home in Lake Buena Vista would be most suitable. If on other hand you are visiting most of the other Theme Parks then International Drive is ideal. There are plenty of great value Motels here and  there is a regular bus service (I-Ride) to all of the main attractions and shopping malls, so car hire is not required. There are plenty of  bars, restaurants and lively nightlife, so if you want to be in the hart of the action, then I-Drive is for you.

My favourite theme park is Universal Studios so given the choice I would stay at one of their hotels. They have four hotels of varying standards so they have one to suit every budget. One of the main advantages is that you are allowed to enter the park one hour before opening, fantastic for the Harry Potter Rides. The Cabana Bay Resort is their three star hotel but to be honest its more like a four star. Its 50s retro style gives you the feeling you have walked on to the set of Grease. They have a bowling alley upstairs and a real diner downstairs. In fact I’m told the reason it is not rated four star is that the diner is self service.   I thought it was a great family hotel, really spacious rooms with a kitchenette, which saves on the cost of dining out. There is a large family pool with a lazy river, slides and a jacuzzi, open till late every night, a fab way to relax after a long day at the park.

Tom ten city breaks for families

Depending on your budget, there are also three luxury hotels which, not only allow early access to the park, but where you receive a complimentary express pass ticket. Express pass tickets are fantastic, particularly in high season, the queue should be no more than 15 minutes on any ride.  Note the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is excluded from the express pass.  You  can also buy these passes at the gate but they only sell a limited number and they cost $89!

My personal favourite was the five star Portofino hotel, its such a contrast from the busy Theme Parks. Designed by Steven Spielberg, it is an exact replica of the jet set Italian Resort. Sitting at one of the lake side cafes, sipping a latte, listening to the Tenors singing, you almost forget where you are. The rooms are very spacious and beautifully furnished and the service is what you would expect of a five star hotel. It is suitable for families and couples as there are three swimming pools. You can choose from the lively family pool with slides and waterfalls, the quiet pool, or the fantastic spa. You can also avail of the free water taxi straight to Universal Studios, it’s such a nice touch.

Portofino hotel

If, however, you fancy a livelier setting then the Hard Rock Hotel is for you. However bear in mind, you can’t get away from the music, it’s everywhere, even under water in the swimming pool.  It is also a five star hotel so you can expect the same excellent service but for me it lacked the grandeur of the Portofino.  There is also another choice, Lowes Royal Pacific Resort, another themed hotel, this time like a Pacific Island. I felt it was a little dated and more like a four star but then it less expensive to stay there than the others and the cost of drinks and meals  are reasonable too. It is one of their luxury hotels and you will still receive a complimentary express pass, so this is an excellent choice if you want to keep the costs down.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

DestinationsEuropeFeaturedSunseekers

Benidorm – bold or beautiful?

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For years, I couldn’t understand the appeal. I had to know why Benidorm was the most searched destination from Ireland on Google last year.

I was aware that Benidorm had good nightlife, and of course it is renowned for its low cost of living – but don’t most Spanish resorts have this? I finally got the opportunity to visit this place that had perplexed me so much,  I was invited on a familiarisation trip and I  jumped at the chance to see what Benidorm had to offer.

After a pleasant 2hour 20 minutes flight, we arrived at the Costa Blanca.  I must admit my first impressions were not that great, high rise buildings and English bars everywhere. I found myself wondering why this place was so popular with Irish people? It wasn’t until that night when suddenly it all became apparent. Until then, the only thing I had heard about the nightlife was that it was loud and catered mostly for stag and hen parties! I have visited most Spanish resorts and have experienced nightlife on many levels, but Benidorm has so much more. There are bars, disco bars , karaoke but its the shows that differentiate it from everywhere else. People, young and old, thronged to see amazing tribute acts, Take That, Westlife, Queen, U2,  unique comedy acts, and everyone was fantastic!

benidorm sarah slattery the travel expert

We found ourselves wondering “why are some these acts not winning  X Factor”! When it comes to nightlife, Benidorm is king, there is nowhere better – it has it all.  It was like being in the West End but everyone walks around in shorts and teeshirts and all the shows are free! The cost of living has to be lower than other Spanish resorts, 6 bottles of beer for €5, or €1 for a pint – hard to beat that anywhere!

Now that I had warmed to the nightlife, I tried to feel the same way about the resort itself. I  was pleasantly surprised when visiting hotels that most rooms had sea views.  In the 1950s, the mayor of Benidorm decided he wanted hoteliers to build upwards so everyone could get a beautiful sea view.  With these high rise buildings everything is in close proximity and Benidorm can cope adequately with 500,000 tourists at any time.

Benidorm has five stunning beaches, stretching over four miles. You can choose Levante Beach which is close to the lively centre and tends to be extremely busy, or the quieter Poniente Beach which has a newly built promenade, great for an evening stroll. In between both you have the old town of Benidorm. It is packed with shops, tapas bars and oozes character. We enjoyed a fabulous lunch with sea views right in the heart of the old town, it was perfect.

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Not only did I have a new found respect for Benidorm as a destination, but I realised that it has so much more to offer than nightlife and beaches. What other resort can offer five theme parks within a ten minute taxi ride from the centre? There is Aqualandia, the largest aqua park in Spain with one of the tallest slides in the world! There is Mundomar, a park with dolphin and seal shows and of course Terra Mitica, if rollercoasters are your thing then you can’t afford to miss it! Lets not forget all of the possibilities for day trips, there is the stunning Villajoyosa with its colourful buildings and the city of Alicante which really surprised me. The castle of Santa Barbara is well worth a visit, with lifts that go all the way to the top, the views are stunning! The palm tree lined promenade stretches the length of the City. Alicante has beautiful old  buildings and an affluent marina, it stuck me that not only is it a nice day trip from Benidorm, it also is a great option for a city break.

benidorm sarah slattery the travel expert

I know finally understood the whole Benidorm phenomenon  and why seven years later, the TV series is still such a huge success. Benidorm has sun most of the year, stunning beaches, a variety of Hotels, fantastic nightlife, an old town full of character. Benidorm has something for everyone and it is a destination everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime!

Sarah

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Travel

Glamping – What’s all the fuss about?

Glamping Sarah Slattery The Travel Expert

Being a travel agent, I love nothing more than jetting off to a hot climate and a sandy beach.

Every now and then, a new trend in travel appears. Some are short-lived whereas others seem to capture the imagination of everybody and anybody who tries it.

 

What is Glamping? | Grove Lane Glamping | Exploring Killarney | Stories by the Fire

I do like small breaks away in Ireland too or ‘mini breaks’ as my kids call them. They let you have a few days away without breaking the bank and without too much effort packing and planning! We decided to try ‘glamping‘. I felt that I should at least experience what so many other families were talking about and see if it really was different to traditional camping that we did as kids.

Glamping Sarah Slattery The Travel Expert

What is Glamping?

When I started my research I noticed that the word ‘glamping’ or glamorous camping which is the literal translation can really mean anything from a fancy tent with a mattress to a log cabin in the woods with flat screen TVs.  There are also traditional style camp sites with lots of facilities for kids, boating, playgrounds, even swimming pools that are categorised as glamping sites because they have facilities that regular camp sites don’t have. My first piece of advice is to find out what exactly you want from your glamping experience. Do you want kids facilities? Or comfortable log cabins? Maybe you fancy a luxury tent in peaceful surroundings?  Do you want to cook on an open fire and feel at one with nature? All good questions! I choose the latter. To me a log cabin with a tv is not camping and I really didn’t fancy hundreds of people squashed together in one of those glamping sites with slides, zip lines and go karts.

O'Connells 17

Grove Lane Glamping

I chose Grove Lane in Killarney, a small glamping site with only five bell tents and where they limit the number of families to two, so that its never over run with kids. It’s actually quite romantic and attracts a lot of couples too. There are some friendly resident horses and cats and plenty of things to keep the kids amused. The tents come with a comfortable double bed, camp beds for the kids and a hot stove which seems to heat up instantly so you never feel the cold. They also supply lots of board games, cards and toys that we played with as kids! ! There is an individual kitchen behind each tent complete with BBQ and plenty of utensils. The toilet facilities are only 10 meters from your tent, there is plenty of hot water and showers with good pressure which was a pleasant surprise.

Glamping Sarah Slattery The Travel Expert
guide waited in the boat to bring us back.  There is also the world renowned Muckross House and gardens and Torc Waterfall, suffice to say their are numerous attractions in Killarney to keep everyone amused. And if you choose to eat out there you will be spoilt for choice with typical Irish pubs in abundance, all of which have great menus and plenty of ‘craic’. I couldn’t resist Las Ramblas though, a lovely tapas restaurant just off the Main Street. The food was excellent and very reasonably priced. The kids loved the pasta with meatballs and we chose a selection of tapas which were all delicious.

Glamping Sarah Slattery The Travel Expert

Stories by the Fire

Although I enjoyed dining out, one of the highlights of the weekend was the fire pit in the woods. We cooked delicious steak on the bbq and toasted marshmallows (also provided) over the fire pit.  I really felt I was experiencing camping and with creature comforts. Huddled around the fire, we even found ourselves doing a spot of star gazing and telling ghost stories to the kids, it’s something that you would never imagine doing on a typical summer holiday. I must point out though that although I buy into the slogan ‘there is no place like Ireland when you get the weather’, Im not so sure I would have had the same experience in the rain! I would suggest booking in the summer months where you have the best possible chance of good weather, or alternatively leave it late to book so you can gauge the weather forecast.

Glamping Sarah Slattery The Travel Expert

Linda and Mike the owners, couldn’t be more friendly, it’s a very personal experience for them and you get the feeling that they really care about your time there. They want to be sure that you really make the most of it and are always available if you have any queries.

There is no Xbox! There is no wifi! It’s board games and playing cards, its really back to nature albeit with a touch of glamour! We really felt that we were away from the hustle and bustle of every day life.  When I asked my seven year old son what he enjoyed the most from the weekend he said ‘everything’ and I couldnt sum it up any better myself, its an experience that I would recommend to all families.

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

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Family Holiday Guide to Zakynthos, Greece

Zakynthos

With beautiful scenery, amazing food and a low cost of living, it’s not surprising that Zakynthos is a firm favourite with Irish holidaymakers.

 

Until recently however, Greece was considered more suitable for couples or groups than families. I guess the perception was that the accommodation was more basic in Greece than its European counterparts and maybe lacking in some kids facilities. This may have been the case many years ago but certainly not any more…

Family Friendly Zakynthos Resort

I managed to find a great family resort on the Island of Zakynthos called the Alykanas Beach Village. It’s like a hotel but with self catering facilities so if you have small kids this is ideal for making breakfasts, baby food etc. They have endless facilities for adults and children, day and evening entertainment, a kids water park, kids clubs and  three swimming pools. There is a ‘quiet’ pool if  day time entertainment isn’t your thing and failing that, the Hotel is right on the beach.  They also offer free wifi, although if you are an avid ‘Facebooker’ beware –  it can be temperamental! 

Splash park at Alykanas beach resort, Zakynthos

 

Many family resorts in Greece are ‘All Inclusive’ , with all meals and drinks included. This works very well for many families but personally I prefer to dine out so the Alykanas Beach Village suited me perfectly. In Greece, the food is so good and so cheap, my personal favourites are their traditional dishes like stifado or saganaki and of course the typical Greek salads. The restaurants cater so well for kids too with most places having play areas or bouncing castles. My little ones had great fun choosing the restaurant each night and the restaurants with biggest play areas usually got picked! They also believe that the best spaghetti bolognese is not to be had in Italy, but in Zakynthos!


Zakynthos
But it’s not just the accommodation that made the holiday so special for me. Zakynthos has so much to see and do for all family. There are numerous options for day trips, a trip to see the famous loggerhead sea turtles is a must. These are now endangered so it is great to see them in their natural habitat. Another famous landmark is Navagio or ‘Shipwreck beach’ as its more commonly called. It is the most photographed beach in the world and is simply stunning.  It is only accessible by boat but there are organised boat trips to bring you there from all of the holiday resorts. A word of warning though, the bus trip from your Hotel is not the most comfortable! It is a long winding road and can lead to some upset tummies.  If you are travelling with kids make sure you get good seats on the lower deck of the bus ; trust me, the sound of sick kids on the upper deck was  not a pleasant way to start the trip! The pictures that you see of Navagio beach on various websites are, dare I say, a little misleading! Yes, it still is a stunning site, but the white ‘sandy’ beach that you see in the photos is actually tiny white stones and is quite hard underfoot. I would recommend that you bring surf shoes to make it easier to jump off the boat and if you want to go swimming. Also bear in mind that unless you go extremely early in the morning or late at night, there will be thousands of other people on the beach with you!


Navagio beach, Zakynthos
Although I would highly recommend taking one of the organised boat trips, if you don’t fancy doing this there are numerous other activities to satisfy you. All of the typical water sports you would expect to find at a beach resort are in Zakynthos too, from pedaloes with slides to glass bottom boat rides.  There is also a waterpark with plenty of slides and high speed tubes to keep kids entertained all day long.  And if you are still looking for more action you can visit the larger island of Kefalonia, less than an hour by boat, see the setting for Captain Corelli’s mandolin and the beautiful capital, Argostoli.

I am writing this on my return plane journey home, a leisurely 3 and a half hour flight. I can’t help asking why have I waited so long to bring my kids to Greece? It has so much to offer and still relatively unspoilt, I will definitely be returning.

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

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