Dreary old Blighty, eh?
I returned from the annual family holiday in the sun to be faced by temperatures soaring to the giddy heights of 11C, relentless, soul-sapping drizzle and a sky as grey as wet concrete.
Little wonder the annual pilgrimage to the Costas and beyond is such a major feature of life for the Scots and many other northern Europeans.
Yesterday’s return also saw me flicking through a newspaper properly for the first time in a couple of weeks: the Daily Express as favoured by ‘er indoors.
According to this page 25 lead, holidays in The Med are losing traction. It seems sun-seeking Brits are now turning instead to the Mett – Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey.
I’m not normally one to wax lyrical about my annual jaunt abroad. From Thomson the Dog on the Greek Islands to campsites in the south of France, they’re nothing out of the ordinary.
Until this year, when on the recommendation of a family friend, we booked one of those all-inclusive breaks in Turkey, which The Express suggests are fuelling the declining popularity of The Med.
So what exactly helped this hit the holiday bullseye? Fantastic food in a series of a la carte restaurants, a superb kids club, excellent rooms, acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, a private beach and a string of wonderful swimming pools and guaranteed sunbeds for everyone without the usual 7am rush to beat the Germans in laying out towels.
With more helpful and attentive staff than anywhere else I’ve ever been, the hotel and its extensive facilities were magnificent: well-appointed, scrupulously clean, smartly laid out.
Best of the lot, though – all-inclusive meant ALL-inclusive. Every drink, every meal, every ice cream, every beach towel, all the sports, games and entertainment, the internet access and the multi-channel TV. We didn’t have to break out the Turkish lira even once.
The Daily Express quoted Trevor Davis, director of retail distribution at the Co-op Travel group, who said: “The growth of all-inclusive deals, which appeal to people wanting to fix the total cost of their holiday, has helped to increase demand for these fast-growing destinations.
“At the same time increased capacity and the high cost of the euro have both contributed to a significant rise in bookings.”
Yep, it mostly comes down to money. This could have been an expensive holiday if we’d ever ventured outside the hotel and its grounds. As it was, we didn’t need to. The upshot was that it ended up costing about the same as two weeks in a French caravan site the year before.
So, a cramped box on wheels and overpriced, soggy pizza round a postage stamp pool – or the lap of luxury in an air-conditioned heaven where you are waited on hand and foot? Hmmm. Tricky one.
Thankfully though, money isn’t everything and my Turkish trip was really made special by the hundreds of people working the site from reception through the kitchen and waiting staff to the pool boys, gardeners and entertainment team.
So, for a truly memorable holiday, my thanks go to all the staff at the Barut Hotels Lara Resort, Spa & Suites.
It’s a truism that if something seems to good to be true, then it’s almost certainly false, illusory or, in the worst cases, wilfully misleading.
But in this case the promises weren’t just delivered on – they were exceeded.
I’ve written before that you can’t get better PR than that kind of customer service – and that, I suspect, is the real reason the Mett is leaving The Med in the shade.