The late escape

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Although most schools have barely completed their first week back after the long holidays, tour operators who have come through a tough summer are looking to secure a final boost over October half-term.

There are some great deals, with savings of up to 70 per cent for those seeking a quick and cost-effective escape to the sun during the mid-term break, which for most falls somewhere between October 20 and November 2.

“It looks as if many families stayed at home to enjoy the Olympics and delayed their summer holiday”, says Families Worldwide founder Mark Wright.

“We’ve also noticed that Egypt has really bounced back and is proving to be a popular destination once again.”

One of Families Worldwide’s most popular half-term trips is an eight-day tour of Italy from October 27, from £799 per adult and £749 per child, (flights extra) taking in Vesuvius and Pompeii and based in Sorrento with a tour leader.

Popular half-term destinations also include Majorca, Gran Canaria, Ibiza and the Costas of Spain – all promising some much-needed sunshine before the English winter sets in.

“Mainland Spain is the place to look for top value: since the Olympics, a real pent-up demand has picked up for October, but you can get three-star B&B on the Costa Brava at in late October from around £200, or four star self-catering on the Costa Dorada,” says Matt Hall at www.lowcostholidays.com.

“There’s a five star hotel B&B on the Algarve from £269, but you have to book quick!”

Offers available at www.latedeals.co.uk include seven night stays from October 26 at the Aparthotel Bonaire in Cala Bona, Majorca, from £302, and seven nights’ half-board at the Belvedere Hotel in Salou, on the Costa Dorada, for £334, with flights ex-Manchester October 26.

Plus, a seven-night all-inclusive stay at Dynastic Park Hotel in Benidorm, Costa Blanca, from October 27 costs from £513, a 25 per cent price cut, with return flights ex-Newcastle.

“A key message for all customers is that when they find something they like within their budget, they should grab it,” says Calum Macdonald at latedeals.co.uk.

Photis Lambrianides, commercial director at Olympic Holidays – market leader to Cyprus and the Greek islands – predicts that last-minute bargains could be hard to find as half term gets closer.

“Bookings from families for half term are well ahead of this point last year”, he says. “With many schools breaking up on October 26, families are trying to book a limited number of flight seats.”

Current family packages include seven nights’ self-catering at the three-star Phillippion Hotel on Kos from £1,436 for a family of four (saving £324), including flights ex-Manchester on October 27, and transfers.

At the five-star Adams Beach Hotel on Nissi Bay, Cyprus, there are five free-form pools, a lazy river and water slides, playground, kids’ club and activities.

Seven nights’ B&B from October 27 starts at £2,348 in total (saving £268), for two adults and two under-12s, with transfers and flights ex-Manchester. Flights ex-Gatwick are available at a supplement.