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Can a package holiday be stylish? Our experience with Jet2 Holidays in Croatia, plus top tips for choosing a package holiday.
Last week I wrote about why we loved our package holiday with Jet2Holidays to the Hotel Jure near Sibenik Croatia. In a nutshell it came down to the ease of the whole experience plus the quality of the hotel, which together made for an extremely relaxing holiday.
As I said in that post, I wouldn’t choose a package holiday every time, but I can certainly see their appeal, so I thought I’d put together a post with my top tips for doing a package holiday in style.
Think about what style you’re looking for and choose your destination wisely
Before the trip to Croatia, when I heard the word package holiday, I thought of places like Benidorm and Palma Nova, which tend to be filled with fellow Brits eating English breakfasts. I used to go on quite a few holidays like that when I was little and I had a great time, but nowadays that’s not what I tend to look for. I prefer somewhere where I can still get a sense of local life. For this reason, when choosing our package holiday, I purposefully looked for places that weren’t purpose-built resort towns and steered clear of party destinations like Magaluf and some of the Greek Islands.
There are plenty of package holidays to different kinds of destinations, so think about the type of vibe you’re looking for and, even if the hotel looks amazing, do also consider where it’s located. For us, I thought Sibenik was a good choice because it’s a lot less popular than nearby Split, so I knew it wouldn’t be filled with hen parties and lads on tour. Our flight was filled with stag dos on their way to Split, so I was pretty pleased we were heading somewhere else on our family holiday. However, if that is your vibe then I saw stylish accommodation options in pretty much every destination I looked at. It comes down to what you’re looking for.
Read the reviews carefully
We’ve all heard those stories of holidays from hell where you show up at a hotel only to find it’s a building site. Look at the latest reviews on TripAdvisor and also check with your holiday package provider to make sure no works are being done. I also think it’s a good idea to have a look at the user photos of the hotel on Tripadvisor as these offer some balance against the polished professional images. Mention of noise is a good thing to look out for in reviews – for example, are some rooms quieter than others, or does the sound of the entertainment reach the rooms at night?
Hire a car
A package holiday normally comes with a coach transfer from the airport to the hotel. In general, unless you’re lucky and are the first drop off, this means stopping at other hotels along the way while the holiday reps chat about the destination on the journey. It can feel a bit like being herded, and for some this is a turn-off when it comes to packages. If so, a good way round this is to simply hire a car from the airport and transfer yourself to the hotel. By doing this, you also have freedom for the rest of the week and can do day trips by yourself. Hiring a car from the hotel tends to be more expensive than arranging it yourself in advance. I recommend Rentalcars.com where I found a car for our whole week in Split for just £65.
Remember to check the transfer time
On the subject of transfers, don’t forget to check how long ti takes to get from the airport to your hotel. I found some gorgeous options on the Croatian islands, but the transfer time was up to three hours, which I didn’t fancy doing with Otis.
Be aware of extra costs
Package holidays often come with amazing price tags that save you a lot of money on accommodation and flights. But do bear in mind that you’ll still have the costs of everything else outside of that. In some cases, these can be minimal, but if you’re not careful, they soon add up. I talk about food in the next point, but other extra costs include things like drinks, day trips, getting your laundry done, spa treatments, parking and hiring extras like a baby cot. Do make sure you check to see if they’re included and budget accordingly, so you don’t get any unwelcome surprises. Once, when we stayed at a resort in Mauritius, we found it was going to cost us about €5 per piece of laundry, so we quickly did it in the sink instead!
Consider the food
Food is one of the key things you need to consider when booking a package holiday. Usually you can choose from self-catering, breakfast included, half board (breakfast and dinner), full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner) or all inclusive where your drinks are included too. When choosing which to opt for, first think about what food the hotel provides and whether or not you’re going to like it. You don’t want to opt for full board and then end up paying for meals elsewhere instead. Also think about what other food options are available. For example, you might be in walking distance of a town that’s filled with restaurants, in which case you might not want to go full board because you’d prefer to eat out each day instead. Or you might be on a secluded resort where the only food for you to buy without driving somewhere is in the hotel’s restaurants. These are sometimes expensive, which means including meals in your package might be a wiser choice.
We chose half board in Croatia because we were about a 15-minutes drive from the nearest restaurants outside the hotel and we knew that the costs would quickly add up if we ate at the resort’s á la carte restaurants every night. Plus we both love a buffet, so didn’t need convincing to have one for both breakfast and dinner. Full board wasn’t an option at our hotel, so we had light lunches each day…and we might have on occasion made a sandwich from the breakfast buffet ?
All photos were taken on our holiday to Hotel Jure in the Amadria Park resort near Sibenik, Croatia.