The new breed of holidays: Cruises and flights ground to a halt this year, but brave and ingenious travel firms have sprung into life
- Bloom Stays offers self-catering holidays at almost 50 properties in Kent
- Classic Battlefield Tours has trips to battlefields across the UK and Europe
- Byway arranges holidays where travel is by train, boat, bus and bike only
Some are backed by travel industry stalwarts. Others are niche enterprises created by enthusiasts.
But all are bravely defying the misery of the Covid-19 calamity to bring us fresh getaways for next year – from country cottages and historic tours to wilderness expeditions and exotic cruises. Here’s our pick…
COSY UP IN KENT
Some travel firms are bravely defying the misery of the Covid-19 calamity to bring us fresh getaways for next year – from country cottages and historic tours to wilderness expeditions and exotic cruises
Bloom Stays was launched in March. Co-owner Rowena Owen and her business partner Nicky Russon offer self-catering holidays and have assembled a portfolio of almost 50 properties to let in Kent.
Options range from a seaside studio for two to a converted oast house that can accommodate 42 guests (when allowed).
The pair have become adept at dealing with ever-changing Covid rules and all bookings are backed by the promise of a full refund if government guidance prevents travel.
TOP TRIP: Sleeping 12 and dog-friendly, five-bedroom Dormestone Farm in Charing is ideal for a multi-generation get-together. A week in June costs from £2,895 (bloomstays.com).
SAIL THE WORLD
Panache Cruises specialises in top-end ocean and river voyages. It is offering a seven-night voyage from Venice, pictured, to Croatia in August 2021 from £1,492pp
Unveiled in July by industry veteran James Cole, Panache Cruises specialises in top-end ocean and river voyages.
With 7,000 itineraries and eight ‘Cruise Connoisseurs’ to offer advice, the company is ready for when global cruising returns. ‘The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter,’ says Cole.
Operators are asking for minimal deposits, booking conditions are flexible and there are some great discounts, such as £2,700 off a 14-night luxury cruise around Japan in 2023 with Regent Seven Seas.
TOP TRIP: A seven-night round-voyage from Venice to Croatia in August 2021, sailing with Azamara Pursuit, costs from £1,492 pp excluding flights — a saving of £1,103 (panachecruises.com).
GIVE SOMETHING BACK
Charitable Travel allows you to donate 5 per cent of the cost of your holiday to a UK registered charity of your choice. If you take a four-bedroom villa in Barbados, pictured, from £1,332 pp based on six sharing, including flights, car, a £400 donation will be made to your chosen charity
Charitable Travel is a ‘travel for good’ start-up that allows you to donate 5 per cent of the cost of your holiday to a UK registered charity of your choice.
Launched in June by Melissa Tilling, who was managing director of Funway Holidays for 11 years, it sells trips worldwide, with part of the commission normally taken by a travel agent redirected to worthwhile causes.
Companies including Caribtours, Railbookers and Wendy Wu Tours are supporting this warm-hearted enterprise.
TOP TRIP: Check into a four-bedroom villa in Barbados from £1,332 pp based on six sharing, including flights, car and a £400 donation to your chosen charity (charitable.travel).
LEST WE FORGET
Classic Battlefield Tours a five-day coach tour that visits Bosworth Field, pictured, and other key battle sites, from £1,250pp
Classic Battlefield Tours was soft-launched in April by military and motoring history fan James Stewart-Smith.
‘I’m keen on the non-standard tours,’ he says, which means besides trips to well-known sites from World Wars I and II, you can visit battlefields from the English Civil War and Peninsular War in Spain.
The set-date departures offer four to eight-day coach trips, and guide-led, self-drive car tours to France.
TOP TRIP: Learn about the Wars of the Roses on a five-day coach tour that visits Bosworth Field and other key battle sites, from £1,250 pp including transport, accommodation, meals and guide (classicbattlefieldtours.com).
Wildnis is offering a four-night expedition in the Trossachs, pictured, which costs from £3,500pp including meals, drinks and activities
Wildnis specialises in high-end outdoor expeditions in the UK full of ‘bottle-testing’ thrills such as mountain climbing, pack-rafting and front-facing abseiling.
It was created by ex-Army officers and nights are spent camping out, with open-fire feasts of Michelin-grade cuisine.
‘We’d just launched when the pandemic struck,’ says go-getting co-founder Mike Geldard. Most trips are in the Scottish Highlands, with some in the Peak District and on the Norfolk coast.
TOP TRIP: Starting in Glasgow, a four-night expedition in the Trossachs costs from £3,500 pp including meals, drinks and activities (wildnis.co.uk).
Byway arranges holidays where travel is by train, boat, bus and bike. Its seven day trip exploring eastern France, including Strasbourg, costs from £594pp
Not keen on flying? Byway, which started in March, arranges holidays where travel is by train, boat, bus and bike.
It is backed by a grant from government agency Innovate UK and has ABTA membership. Founder Cat Jones believes the pandemic has ‘made people reconnect with the UK and a slower lifestyle’.
Byway takes away the hassle of arranging public transport, accommodation and luggage transfers, and offers well-researched advice on what to do and where to eat. A WhatsApp hotline also offers instant support.
Byway is already proving popular, with solo travellers heading to Cornwall, Scotland and France in 2021.
TOP TRIP: Seven days exploring eastern France costs from £594 pp including rail travel from London and time in Strasbourg, Colmar and Dijon (byway.travel).
BEST OF THE REST
- Bucket-list experiences and ‘blue zone travel’ (to places where life expectancy is highest) are at the heart of Untold Story Travel’s portfolio of upmarket journeys, which went on sale in April (untoldstorytravel.com).
- Awe365 grew out of an adventure travel blog and has been offering active holidays since May. For example, you can learn to rock climb in Spain or surf in Mexico (awe365.com).
- Launched in June, Low Season Traveller focuses on avoiding costly and congested peak periods (lowseasontraveller.com).
- Huben Travel (named after founders Hugh and Ben) arranges premium holidays for the LGBTQ+ traveller. It opened for business in July and promises trips with ‘flair and refinement’ (hubentravel.com).
- Just a few weeks old, OurStay specialises in bespoke family breaks staying in luxury UK hotels (ourstay.co.uk).
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