Easter 2014: The 10 best last-minute holidays
The school holidays may be imminent, but there are still lots of deals for a last-minute trip. Laura Holt rounds up the best
Wednesday 26 March 2014
Spring is already in the air, but once the clocks go forward at the weekend, the days will become even longer and brighter, making the prospect of an Easter break in the UK more appealing.
Among the many companies with a range of late-availability rentals over the school holidays - for many between 5 April and 21 April this year - is The Little Domain (thelittledomain.com). From 5 April, it has a week's stay at the sweetly-named Buttermilk Cottage near Bude in Cornwall for £375, which sleeps four and welcomes dogs. Located on a 140-acre working farm - where children are invited to join in with the activities - it comes with a wood-burning stove and a barbecue to cover all weather eventualities.
For something more unusual, try One Off Places (oneoffplaces.co.uk). The specialist provider of quirky cabins, caravans, windmills and wagons has a range of short breaks available at the Secret Cloud House Yurts in the Peak District, where families can spend nights tucked up in Mongolian-style tents. Between 7-11 April, it costs £200 for two nights or £300 for four.
Camping is a good option if you're on a budget. If you don't mind forgoing a little luxury, it offers the chance to take in the delights of the Continent, without having to spend vast sums of money.
Venue Holidays (01233 629950; venueholidays.co.uk) has a range of options at campsites across France, Spain and Italy this Easter.
On 5 April, it has a week for a family of two adults and up to four children for £235 in a three-bedroom mobile home at Camping Les Pins Parasols at Fréjus on the Côte d'Azur - P&O ferry crossing between Dover and Calais included. You face a drive through France of about 700 miles, but the quiet, family-run resort puts you within an hour's drive of Cannes, St Tropez and Grasse - all much quieter than in the peak summer season.
Arosmari Houses in Crete CULTURE VULTURES
Italy offers an enriching mix of delicious food and captivating culture - perfect for keeping your brood happy this Easter.
Just Sicily (01202 489040; justsicily.co.uk) has one option, based at Le Residenze Archimede, just outside the historic city of Syracuse in south-eastern Sicily, where you can ramble around the Baroque towns of the Unesco-listed Val di Noto region one day, and be splashing away in the pool the next.
A week-long stay for a family of four in a self-catering apartment costs £1,749, with Ryanair flights from Stansted to Comiso on 13 April and car hire.
If you're limited on time and budget, how about a short break in the Algarve? Home to rugged scenery, windswept beaches and a benign climate, the region has long been popular with families in search of sun and adventure. On 7 April, Superbreak (0871 221 3344; superbreak.com) has four nights at the Oceano Atlantico Apartments for £762 per family of four, including Monarch flights from East Midlands. The self-catering apartments are in the Algarve's second city of Portimao, close to Praia da Rocha, one of the region's broadest beaches.
Need a holiday as much as the children? Consult Sovereign Luxury Travel (0843 770 4526; sovereign.com), which has a range of attainable five-star breaks that seek to satisfy grown-ups and children alike.
On 14 April, the company has a week's stay at Ela Quality Resort, on the southern coast of Turkey, in Belek. The hotel has a buffet-style Kids Restaurant, beach volleyball and a huge pool, plus an on-site spa and access to three golf courses in the immediate area. The all-inclusive price of £2,249 for a family of three also includes one à la carte dinner, transfers, airport lounge access and Thomas Cook flights from Manchester.
Les Pins Parasols, France ISLAND ADVENTURERS
Crete, the largest and busiest of the Greek islands, has plenty of sights and day trips to offer families, with pleasant average highs in April of around 17C.
Islands of Greece (01444 225641; islands-of-greece.co.uk) has a week's stay at the self-catering Arosmari Houses for £2,240 for a family of four, with easyJet flights from Gatwick on 8 April and car hire. Located in Vamos, midway between Rethymnon and Chania, the complex has rustic interiors decorated with local antiques and a shared pool. The company also has availability in Corfu over the Easter break.
It may be known for its bright lights and big-city bustle, but New York also serves up great family days out. Spend the morning gallivanting around Central Park, with a stop at the zoo, then pay a visit to the American Museum of Natural History and FAO Schwarz, the oldest toy store in America. Throw in the beaches of Long Island and the whole family will return home with super-sized smiles.
On 14 April, Hayes & Jarvis (01293 735302; hayesandjarvis.co.uk) has a short break with British Airways flights from Heathrow and a four-night stay at the Hilton Midtown, priced at £3,499 for a family of four. room only.
Scattered in the mid-Atlantic - with passing whales and dolphins off shore - the Azores is an ideal escape for any aspiring David Attenborough. The exotic nine-island chain offers a lush green landscape speckled with giant craters and pretty Portuguese-influenced towns.
On 12 April, Sunvil Discovery (020 8758 4722; sunvil.co.uk) has a week at the Furnas Lake Apartments for £3,132, based on a family of four sharing a two-bed chalet, on the main island of Sao Miguel, with Sata International flights from Gatwick to Ponta Delgada. The owners also run an activity company, which has canoeing, canyoning, horse-riding and whale-watching at an extra cost.
It may be big and brash, but what Dubai lacks in bashfulness, it makes up for in attractions. In addition to sandy beaches and reliable sunshine, the glittering emirate has child-friendly sites such as the Dubai Aquarium, home to 140 aquatic species, and the Wild Wadi Waterpark, with 30 heart-racing, clothes-soaking rides.
On 9 or 10 April, Flight Centre (0800 258 5773; flightcentre.co.uk) has a five-night break at the five-star Atlantis resort on the Palm development, for £1,299 per adult and £1,259 per child, with breakfast and Royal Brunei non-stop flights from Heathrow.
The Easter holidays this year also coincide with the final weeks of the European ski season. There are a handful of low-cost, stripped-down packages at present, as operators try to sell off the last of their late-season availability, but for a no-nonsense, all-inclusive option, consider Ski Solutions (020 7471 7749; skisolutions.com).
On 13 April, the company has a week at the stylish Club Med Aime in the French resort of La Plagne for £1,030pp. The price may appear high, but it actually includes Monarch flights from Gatwick to Grenoble, transfers, all meals, snacks and drinks, tuition and lift passes. Plus, it's close to the high-altitude slopes, where snow should linger longer.
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