FIVE TIPS FOR FINDING A BARGAIN
1. What’s left? It helps to know what your options are, so I talked to more than a dozen operators and villa agencies about their best availability during school holidays. Thomas Cook gave me the most detailed overview – at least as far as sun and sand holidays go.
There is still lots on offer in much of Spain and the Canaries, including Menorca, Majorca and Tenerife; but Ibiza, the Costa Blanca and Fuerteventura are looking tight. But Tui says it does have packages available to Ibiza and Alicante, as well as Majorca and Lanzarote. Another good option that was highlighted by Thomas Cook was Turkey (both Dalaman and Antalya), though it does say sales are increasing.
Overall, according to Abta, bookings to Portugal have been heavy, as have those to Greece (up by a sharp 11 per cent, with Cyprus up 10 per cent). Greek specialist Sunvil says it has general high-season availability across the islands, but some types of accommodation are heavily booked – for example, apartments featuring a pool. Ionian Island Holidays says Kefalonia and Lefkada are best for late bookings. Villa specialist Simpson points to better availability in Corsica, Majorca, Turkey and Tuscany. At the top end of the market, Scott Dunn says Greece is where it has best availability, with strong bookings to Croatia. Finally, traditional destinations in Italy are looking promising. To Tuscany, for example, still has 273 villas and apartments available in the last week of August.
2. Where to book There is no magic shortcut. Your