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» Holiday Reviews

Holiday Reviews

This category is where you’ll find a selection of package holiday reviews (mainly mine right now, but hopefully those of others when the site takes off a bit). I want this section to provide inspiration for places to go and see, so the reviews are reasonably detailed. You might also want to check out the holiday deals & ideas too for more, erm, ideas! Incidentally, you can leave comments on these holidays, so if you have been to one of the places reviewed, please feel free to add your thoughts…anything that will be helpful to others.

I’ve just returned from a long weekend package holiday with 3 friends, golfing in Alcaidesa, Spain. Alcaidesa is a purpose built village just 15 minutes drive from Gibraltar and about 90 minutes from Malaga on the Southern tip of Spain and boasts two excellent, but very tough, golf courses.

We flew into Gibraltar airport with Easyjet from London Gatwick on the Friday, returning Monday, and stayed at the Hotel Quercus in Alcaidesa – a small but very comfortable and friendly modern hotel. Although it’s only a €20 cab ride from Gib airport, I’d definately recommend a hire car for several reasons. Firstly, although the Quercus website says it’s only 100m from the golf course, it’s actually about 2km from the clubhouse! Secondly, there are no taxis in Alcaidesa itself and they have to be called in from La Linea (on the Gib border) or San Roque which is about 5-6km away. Also, Alcaidesa itself has very little – a pharmacy and a restaurant/bar about 100m from the hotel and that’s it, so you need a car to go anywhere else.

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Although I’m prone to a bit of gambling, I have to admit that Las Vegas was never really high up on my list of “must see” destinations, but a conference took me there for 4 days in the dark English November months and I have to admit, Vegas really surprised me. So much so that I recently took advantage of late 2012′s economic downturn and got a fantastic package holiday to Encore on the strip. This Las Vegas review however concentrates on my first holiday there.

Of course everyone likes a bit of sunshine and decent temperatures, but I didn’t really know much about the city itself apart from the fact it’s Casino City! So if I wasn’t a gambler, would I have enjoyed it? The answer is yes, but 4 days would probably have been plenty and I’d suggest for those that don’t really like their Blackjack or slot machines, it would be better visited as part of a US tour, perhaps taking in California and the Western seaboard.

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AmsterdamI’ve been to Amsterdam 4 times in the past 4 years and am starting to get a pretty good feel for the place. The first 3 times I booked one of LastMinute.com’s holiday packages and stayed in a different hotel, although one change was only because my preferred hotel was fully booked. My latest trip in 2009 saw me return to my favourite hotel, the Victoria Park Plaza but rather than book a package holiday per se, I booked flights and hotel seperately.

I’ll be honest and say that my visits weren’t strictly for holidays as they were to attend conventions, however the sort of convention I go to, you might just as well call it a holiday as it’s all laid on LOL.

I’ll come back to the hotels in a bit, but first, Amsterdam itself. I would call myself a fan, although it’s the sort of city where IMO you have to be a bit choosy about the times you go. It’s got a very relaxed atmosphere, perhaps not quite to Paris levels, but nonetheless it’s chilled and the layout of the city means it’s difficult to get lost as all roads tend to curve in an arc

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Last year, my girlfriend and I decided that we’d like to go to one of the Greek Islands for some sun – last minute package holidays are typically “us” and this was no exception. Both of us have been to the Greek Islands before…we’ve both done Rhodes and Skiathos, and she’s also been to Crete and the Greek Mainland but this time we wanted somewhere fairly quiet and relaxing, although we are restricted to going during the school holidays so naturally there’s a challenge there!

As usual, finding a good deal and suitable destination involved plenty of Interweb wandering and – one of the reasons I started up this Package Holiday site actually – inspiration for some reason always seems to be in short supply. Sure, there are some great cheap deals out there, but none of the travel booking websites seem to tell you what the place is really like.

You know the score – the deal is great but the blurb that accompanies it is all about how wonderful the place is, how amazing the hotel is blah, blah, but it doesn’t tell you that your room looks out over the waste bins, or that 25 guests went down with food poisoning in July. Or that the Island is a protected environment for Waspus Stingus Humungous. And the Greek Islands do have

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The second visit to the Maldives and we did things a little differently, veering off the package holiday route and booking flights and “hotel” seperately. We had an equally fantastic time in a slightly more “natural” habitat than you generally get with package deals on Asdu Sun Island, which is an hour speed-boat ride from MalĂ© airport.

Asdu is different to many of the other Maldives resorts a in several ways – it’s less “purpose built” and more basic/informal, plenty of trees in a more natural habitat and a smaller Island all-round – without the 5* touches, but much more of that “middle of nowhere” feeling which is, I have to say, fantastic.

You sit on the white sandy beach during the day looking out at….nothing! Not a thing in sight. Robinson Crusoe this is! You can walk right round the Island in, ooh, 10 minutes, it’s that small. It only had around 25 guest rooms, a central restaurant, and catering mainly for visitors on diving holiday packages, is quiet during the day because they all sail out to the reef to, well “dive” I guess! Not that it will ever get busy with so few rooms!

It’s a more rustic feeling, basic yet very clean rooms, but it’s also a very cheap holiday by Maldives standards. We did this

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Sometime back in the 80′s, when I was a mere youngster, before the days of this amazing Interweb thingy, I remember seeing an advert in a glossy magazine for a package holiday to an amazing looking place called the Maldives. It was what has now become the sterotypical package holiday brochure image depicting paradise – the palm tree, white beach, glistening blue lagoon and the distant outline of a small Island – and I remember thinking “one day, I’m GOING to go there!” The trouble is of course, the pics in the brochure are always touched up, taken from the “right angle” and generally the best possible advert…the real thing never lives up to the image.

Or so I thought. When I returned from my first package holiday to the Maldives in 2001 (one of Kuoni’s Far and Away holiday packages), my answer to people who asked what it was like was “it’s the only place I’ve ever been where the reality is better than the pictures!”. Which is probably why I went back again in 2006 and will be going back again as soon as I can, and probably again after that (repeat to fade). I’m not normally one to go back to the same place twice in quick succession, but the Maldives is definitely the exception

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