It may seem perverse in these times of austerity, but more people of all ages seem to be seeking a really special luxury holiday experience probably as an antidote to the recession blues. Online holiday operators suggest that searches for exotic and far flung destinations have increased and it’s not just the 25-30 year olds who fancy luxurious globetrotting it seems. Even the cruise operators which have traditionally catered for the over 50’s report their clientele are seeking something with a bit more adventure and more than a taste of luxury too.
With competition between travel agents being so intense, prices have been dropping and some specialist Internet-based outfits offering luxury holidays like http://www.tropicalsky.co.uk/ continue to drive down the cost of luxury packages. Don’t be put off by the term “package” as these more niche suppliers like Tropical Sky or Kuoni tend to construct holidays to fit individual requirements. If you want real luxury and prefer to do your own thing, avoid the big name mass market operators like Thomas Cook or Thompson. If you are unfamiliar with the destination, these specialist luxury packages usually incorporate a representative or tour guide who will genuinely “guide” you rather than herd you!
Luxury holidays from these niche companies are usually synonymous with flexibility and choice. The tour operator will construct a unique itinerary around your preferences and not try to shoehorn you into a pre-prepared basket of destinations and activities. These companies also tend to offer more variety in as yet under-exploited destinations that are well suited to this bespoke approach because often the usual tourist infrastructure simply does not exist – which is part of their appeal.
Of course, it’s possible to create you own unique individual luxury holiday experience by booking everything directly – flights, accommodation, activities. That’s certainly feasible if you are prepared to spend the time researching the options and organising what could be a complex itinerary yourself. It’s probably easier to arrange this way if you choose more “mainstream destinations”. Luxury holidays in the Caribbean for example use a combination of resorts and flights that could all be booked directly, however unless you know the area well, there’s a lot to be said for relying on the personal experience and knowledge of the operator.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of going through a tour operator though is the level of financial protection available that would not be possible if booking directly. Any decent provider should be a full member of ABTA and fully bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority’s ATOL (Air Travel Organisers Licence) scheme. All holiday operators in the UK are required by law to hold an ATOL licence which demands that they deposit a substantial financial bond with the CAA. ATOL protects you from losing money or being stranded abroad in the event of any problems with the tour provider by refunding any monies paid or arranging for people abroad to finish their holiday and fly home.