Beat those ever-soaring heating bills with a long winter holiday in the sunshine, suggests Jeremy Gates.
As the big energy suppliers rack up their bills this winter, tour operators, budget airlines and cruise lines offer an alternative solution to keeping warm; namely lots of long, cheap escapes to the sunshine.
Forget the two-week summer holiday style; many breaks in winter can be for a month or more. For example, take the five-star Rotterdam, a Holland America Line cruise, leaving Athens on November 10, for a 30-day voyage to Rome. You will pay from £999, through Imagine Cruising, which is only £34 day for full-board on a magical journey via the Greek islands, Istanbul, Marmaris, Malta and Italy. The lead-in price, down by £200, even includes return flights.
Or what about six weeks in Tunisia? Thomas Cook has 42-night B&B packages at a four-star hotel in Yasmine Hammamet from January 5, from £698, with return flights ex-East Midlands. Similar breaks at a four-star hotel in Hammamet, ex-Birmingham on the same day, start at £990.
At Thomson Holidays, winter stays include 28-nights all-inclusive at the Dona Sylvia Beach resort in Goa from £1,929, ex-Manchester November 25 and 21-nights’ B&B at a four-star Thailand resort from £2,249, ex-Gatwick December.
A winter holiday market is emerging in Turkey too; Airtours, part of Thomas Cook, offers 28 nights’ all-inclusive at the four-star WOW Kremlin Palace in Lara Beach from £1,055, including return flights ex-Gatwick January 26.
On easyJet Holidays website, I found 28 nights’ half-board at the four-star Ramla Bay Resort in Malta from £719, ex-Gatwick November 17, and 28-nights’ self-catering at the three-star aparthotel in Albufeira, on the Algarve, ex-Southend from November 16 from £235.
Goa specialist Jewel in the Crown also offers five weeks at a two-star guesthouse near Calangute from December 6, starting at only £1,029, on Avro flights ex-Manchester with a 20kg baggage allowance. Ex-Gatwick prices for the same dates start at £1,099 and £915 respectively.
Platon Loizou at Jewel in the Crown says: “Demand for Goa for three or four weeks in December is strong – and you can live there comfortably for about £10 per day.”
INFORMATION: Imagine Cruising (0800 840 5809 and www.imaginecruising.co.uk); Thomson (0871 230 2555 and thomson.co.uk); Thomas Cook (0844 412 5970 and www.thomascook.com); Jewel in the Crown Holidays (01293 533338 and www.jewelholidays.com); easyjet Holidays (0843 104 1000 and www.easyJet.com/holidays).