Floral Themed Villas

To celebrate the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 we decided to dig out some of our floral inspired villas and share a bunch of our favourites with you.

 

Villa Poppy, Polis, Cyprus

Situated in a fantastic central location, just 900 yds from the beach, is Villa Poppy. Ideal for couples and small groups, this 2 bedroom villa is spacious inside and out and is the ideal place for a relaxing week or two in the sun.

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Villa Daisy, Lagos, Algarve

Part of our Very Villa Plus programme is the daintily named Villa Daisy. With 4 bedrooms, sleeping up to 9 people, you’ll have plenty of room for all the family. Enjoy your private, heated swimming pool and impressive garden space during your Villa Plus holiday in Portugal.

Daisy

Villa Lavanda, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

Just a 20-minute walk from the centre of Playa Blanca is Villa Lavanda. With 3 bedrooms, bright and airy rooms and a private, heated pool you have everything you need for your dream holiday this summer.

Lavanda

Villa Rosemary Sostis, Agios Sostis, Zante

This centrally located, 2-bedroom property is Villa Rosemary Sostis. Situated just 500 yds from the beach, the villa is also close to the waterside restaurants and mini markets. Enjoy the privacy of your villa, with heated pool, or use it as a base to explore the island. The choice is yours!

Rosemary Sostis

Villa Lotus, Porec, Croatia

Nestled in the countryside is Villa Lotus, an ideal choice for those looking for a relaxing holiday away from the hustle and bustle of a busy resort. The property had a landscaped garden, perfect for sunbathing in after a refreshing dip in the pool.

Lotus

Villa Jazminez, Marbella, Costa del Sol

This delightful 3-bedroom property is Villa Jazminez. Set amongst a mature, private garden, you’ll have a private pool, al fresco dining area and plenty of privacy.

Jazminez

Which of these villas would you pick? Let us know in the comments below

 

By Maddy Morgan

 

Overpacking For Holidays

Do you travel light or tend to over-prepare? We reveal the packing habits of UK holidaymakers, revealing the most popular items we like to cram in.

 

How do you tackle packing for holidays? Some of us will get started weeks in advance, while others will still be stuffing bits in as we walk out the door. From changeable weather forecasts to the length of our stay and the type of holiday, there’s a lot to factor in!

overpack

The majority of us do tend to overdo it, however. Here at Villa Plus, we found in a survey that more than 60% of Brits overpack for our holidays, while the rest of us prefer to travel with the bare minimum.

But what exactly are we cramming into our suitcases?

Our top overpacked items

Unsurprisingly the top thing we pile in is clothes, followed by shoes, toiletries, makeup and books. Just under 8% of holidaymakers go big with gadgets, while 6.6% admit to bringing too much food and drink from home. Handbags and hair accessories also make the list.

top-things

Of those items, we typically overpack with six unnecessary clothing items, five additional bits of food and drink and five extra makeup products. Four supplementary toiletries find their way into our bags, while three is the magic bonus number for our shoes, books and gadgets. We also admit to travelling with two handbags and two hair accessories that we don’t need.

Home comforts

Whereabouts in the world are you heading to next? Whilst trying new cuisines is a key part of many of our trips away, we still like to bring a few essentials from home.

The top items we take are Heinz tomato ketchup, vinegar and Hellmann’s mayonnaise; but we can’t miss out on our Cadbury’s chocolate and tea bags either.

Is there a gender divide?

Packing can lead to arguments, especially when it comes to who’s taking up more room in the suitcase. We found that women tend to be worse than men for overpacking, though more men will overdo it on clothing, books and gadgets.

While it’s good to be prepared for every situation, 39% of women travel with too many pairs of shoes, compared to 22% of men.

A battle of the ages

Does packing knowhow come with age? It certainly looks like it, with 75% of 18-to 24-year-olds overpacking for their holidays; the highest percentage of any age group to do so. The same group also regularly overestimate their reading speed, with 13% packing too many books.

Moving up the age range, 25-to 34-year-olds are the worst for overpacking toiletries, gadgets, handbags and food and drink items.

However, it seems the older we get the more outfit changes we like to make. Those aged between 34 and 55 consistently squeeze in surplus shoes, while 98% of the over 65s pack too many clothes.

Location, location, location  

Are you setting off on your travels from Leeds, Bristol or Edinburgh? There’s a good chance you could be overpacking – residents in these three cities cram more in than anywhere else in the UK. Those hailing from Nottingham and Sheffield aren’t far behind, with 70% and 71% respectively travelling heavy.

A city better known for its hills than its garments, Edinburgh is the worst offender for overpacking on clothing, tied with Belfast. Northern Ireland’s capital is also the worst for overdoing it on shoes, while those from Norwich are most prone to taking an extra handbag or two.

Pushing washbags and makeup bags to their very limit are Cardiff and Belfast, with Cardiff residents also fitting in unnecessary hairdryers and straighteners. Bristolians are the biggest readers, while those in Edinburgh can’t resist travelling with extra gadgets. Glaswegians are the most committed to their own tastes, with 14% overpacking food and drink items.

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Do you overpack for your holidays, or prefer to leave room for souvenirs? Whatever your style, you’re sure to have a good time.

Healthy Happy Villas

Do you let your hair down on holiday or do you prefer to pace yourself? Villa Plus looks at how wild we go when we get away from it all.

What do you look for in a holiday? Some of us are seeking sun-filled days and nights of bar hopping, while others prefer a quiet break soaking up the local culture. Perhaps you love adrenaline-fuelled activities or just enjoy exploring a new country.

Holidays give us the opportunity to relax, unwind and let our hair down for a few days. But just how much do you over-indulge and let loose while you’re away from home?

Here at Villa Plus, we wanted to find out what we’re getting up to during our trips abroad. To get the full story, 1,000 British tourists revealed their holiday habits. Here’s what they told us…

Every Penny Counts

Our survey revealed that we tend to overindulge during an all-inclusive holiday. When everything’s paid for upfront, we want to make sure we’re getting the best value for our money, with three-quarters of us eating more than we usually would on this type of getaway. This is because items aren’t paid for individually.

Overall, we found that men are most likely to go all-out at an all-inclusive resort. A whopping 80% admitted they make the most of the food and drink on offer because they’ve already paid for it. Only 71% of women are likely to do this.

Also, we found that, in general, women like to have more control over their meals while they’re away. Just 29% say they eat more than usual during a self-catering holiday – they put this down to having total control over the food they prepared, so these tourists are making the most of being able to choose exactly what they’re eating.

Those in the 25 to 34 age bracket are the biggest fans of self-catering breaks, with 31% saying they would eat more during this type of holiday. Interestingly, the 35 to 44-year-olds in the next age group up are most likely to want their money’s worth. Here, 80% admitted to overindulging on the food and drink on offer at an all-inclusive resort.

all-inclusive

 

Take Your Time

Although there are plenty of us who love to enjoy our pre-paid holiday to the max, many of us slow things down once the plane touches down. In fact, over half (58%) eat less.

When it comes to who eats more, in general, men are more likely than women to enjoy tucking into meals on holiday. There isn’t a huge difference in numbers, however, with 44% of men compared with 41% of women stating they will probably eat more.

We found that food plays less of a role in our holiday as we get older. Those in the 18 to 24 age group are most likely to gain some weight during their stay, and over half (53%) said they tend to eat more on holiday. In contrast, most over-55s (65%) are eating less when they go away.

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Holidaymakers from Leeds are most likely to need to get back into good eating habits after a trip abroad. Over half (57%) revealed they overindulge while they’re taking a few days off.

Cardiff residents weren’t far behind, with 55% eating more on holiday. Londoners came in at number three (47%).

Follow Your Gut

Over three million Brits book their holiday based on the destination’s local cuisine. We found that over one in 10 (12%) 18 to 24-year-olds follow this pattern, while Bristolians are the biggest foodie tourists in the UK, with 17% basing their chosen destination around the food on offer.

Some are choosing their holidays because food tastes better in the country from which they originate. For example, one respondent said they go to the Greek Islands because the ingredients ‘just don’t taste the same if you buy them at home.’ Similarly, another survey respondent said they’d opted to book a trip to Italy because there are food options for the whole family.

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Go for It!

While many of us are booking our breaks with food in mind, there are still plenty of us who are a little less adventurous during mealtime on holiday. In fact, almost three-quarters (70%) are sticking to what we know while we’re away.

Over a quarter (28%) are changing their eating habits, however. This can range from small things, such as having candyfloss as a treat, to larger dietary rule-breaking like tucking into pizza despite being gluten-free back home.

Some of us are doing healthier things, however. One respondent said they don’t eat salad at home. When it comes to alcohol, we’re a little less well-behaved. Some admitted to drinking three and even four-times as much as they do at home, and many said this is largely because there’s no work or other responsibilities to worry about.

Whether you’re off on an all-inclusive or you’ve opted for a self-catering stay, you’re sure to kick back and relax. But will you follow the trend by indulging in tasty treats while you’re away or will you pace yourself to avoid having to hit the gym when you get back?

New Year’s Resolutions

New Year, New You? As we look ahead to 2019 we’ve asked some of the Villa Plus team what their 2019 resolutions are.

Nick Cooper – Founder and Co-owner

Don’t put off next year what you can do this year.

Sandra – Area Manager Tenerife

Get back to the gym and get my bikini body ready for summer 2019. I also want to do a paraglide! In Tenerife they have tandem flying on a daily basis and this is on my bucket list!

Serene – Travel Team

This year I’d love to go to Puglia and I’d like to be more adventurous and try something new like rock climbing!

Alberobello Puglia Italy_87 WEBSITE

Kim – Admin Co-Coordinator Majorca

My best friend of 50 years and I always buy birthday and Christmas presents for each other. Our resolution is to STOP and use the money on a holiday together. No more perfume, fluffy jumpers or slippers this year. It’s booked – we’re going to Iceland and I cannot wait!

Keith – Senior Customer Service Executive

They say “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. Therefore I plan to travel as much as possible to as many new destinations as I can manage.

What is your resolution for 2019? Let us know in the comments below.

 

By Maddy Morgan

Hilarious Villa Plus holiday complaints and requests

We’re dedicated to making sure our customers have a fantastic time on holiday, so it’s no surprise that some unusual requests and complaints are sent our way every now and again. From inflatable animal treatment practices to shop opening times, here are some of the most comical demands and gripes we’ve received to date.

Funny holiday complaints

Real complaints from real customers.

The local people

Local people? Going about their daily lives!? How outrageous …

  • The villa was beautiful, but is situated in the middle of a normal domestic area with normal Spanish people going about their normal lives.
  • Why do the local shops close in the afternoons? We needed to buy things during siesta time, so this should not be allowed.

Univited guests

Because ducks need holidays too.

  • There were lots of ants in the garden – the ants were coming under the door, which was locked!
  • We were unhappy that we had to share the pool with a lizard.
  • Ducks were nesting on the island in the middle of the pool, and sometimes even paddled in the pool.

“A client complained about us using an inflatable Dolphin in one of our TV ads. We explained that it’s not real, but the client said we still shouldn’t be depicting the use of animals in our ads and would be reporting us to the RSPCA!” – Villa Plus Insider

Kitchen nightmares

Well, how do you peel your avocados?

  • You should provide breakfast bowls as well as soup bowls, eating breakfast out of a soup bowl is so awkward.
  • Whilst the villa was equipped to adequate standard, there were no glasses large enough to take a large can of beer.
  • The kitchen arrangement is not very useful to folk of limited stature – I am tall, so we coped.
  • We could only find placemats made from raffia.
  • There were no egg cups – we had to fashion some out of breadsticks.
  • There was no information given on how to make homemade pizza.
  • We were disappointed to find no avocado peeler in the villa.

Mind-readers apply within

Seriously, we could do with one.

  • It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy guests before we travel.
  • The games room didn’t have the games we liked in it.

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We’ll try better next time

We’re not sure how our team didn’t anticipate these problems really.

  • I took the wrong exit off the first roundabout which led me onto the motorway, from which there were no instructions on your directions to get back on track.
  • The washing machine did not clean properly with the dishwasher tablets we bought especially from England.
  • I appreciate that the villa is described on your website as ‘Car Essential’, but there really is nothing within walking distance of the villa.
  • Why can’t you change the light bulbs before they expire?

“We had a complaint from a guest in Alcudia, who insisted that they had booked a pool with “blue water”, and their pool didn’t have it.” – Villa Plus Insider

Odd holiday requests

As told exclusively by our Villa Plus Insider.


“A client once requested that we send a truck full of hot water to their villa to fill up their pool, as they wanted a heated pool. Needless to say, we had to explain that this was not possible!”


“A few years ago, a client wasn’t happy to have the villa booked without a proper brick barbecue (the villa only had a metal one). Our resort manager went to the builders’ merchants the weekend before they arrived and subsequently built them the barbecue. The same clients wanted a limo for the transfer and when they got home complained that it had cloth seats – limos always have leather seats!”

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“At Villa Camp du Bosch, the clients were staying in our Very Villa. Although we do not advertise a “heated pool” on the facilities list, they mistakenly thought that all of our pools were heated. So, they asked us to provide them with wet-suits for the pool, as in their opinion, the pool was too cold to swim in!”

Dropping the ball

The following is not a request or complaint story. It’s simply a tale too good to keep to ourselves.


“This is a decade-old story: a new rep walked into a villa to greet clients and was met by an elderly gentleman racking up his billiard balls on the billiard table. Imagine her shock and horror when she noticed two balls too many on the table … the said gentleman was stark naked!”

Taking Children Out of School for a Holiday

Term Time

Have you ever been tempted to take the kids out of school to take them on the trip of a lifetime? Perhaps work commitments get in the way, you’ve found an amazing mid-term deal on a holiday to Spain, or maybe there’s a package on a family getaway to France that you just can’t pass up.

As we start to think about where we’re off to on our travels in 2019, the debate about whether it’s ever ok to go on holiday with your children during term time is starting up again – and according to our research, it’s one that doesn’t seem to be settling any time soon.

At Villa Plus, we asked 2,000 British parents to see what the general consensus seems to be now. Here’s what everyone’s saying about running the risk of fines for a family break.

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The Big Getaway Debate

If you think it’s fine to take the kids away for a little break, you’re not alone. When it comes to taking our children out of school during term time for a holiday, almost three-quarters (70%) of the parents we asked think it’s ok to take our children out of school during term time for a family getaway.

Timing-wise, over a quarter (26%) say that a getaway of up to seven days is an acceptable length of time to keep them out of school, while a surprisingly high 14% think taking them away for seven to 14 days is ok.

Most parents who are happy to book their holidays mid-way through the school term say they do so because they don’t have a choice when they take holidays and also because it’s cheaper to book at this time. In addition, many said that travel is just as important as education and a few days doesn’t hurt.

However, those who are opposed have their reasons for holding off until the school holidays to book their break. These parents believe children have enough holidays and that too much learning is missed if they are taken out of school. According to them, the only acceptable time to keep the kids off during the school term is for medical reasons or bereavements.

Sheffield

Challenging Times

While many of us are in favour of going on holiday during term-time, with a whopping 100% of parents in Sheffield saying it’s fine, almost half (46%) would challenge a fine for doing so.

In addition, the numbers of those who would query a fine vary across the UK. In Bristol, 75% wouldn’t think to challenge a fine while over half (58%) in Cardiff and over a quarter (37%) of those in Leeds would.

Grandparents

The Grand Getaway

Interestingly, the over-65s are the most lenient age bracket who are happy to take their child out for up to 14 days (50%). Their younger counterparts aren’t so sure, however.

We found that 19% of 35 to 44-year-olds and 32% of 55 to 64-year-olds think it’s never acceptable. With these stats in mind, it looks like grandparents may have to spend some time convincing their children that they can take the grandkids away.

Only 42% of those aged over 65 would challenge a fine, though. This implies that the older generation are happy to foot the bill if it means they can get away with the children.

Would you allow your own child or children to take time off from their studies to go away with grandma or to spend some quality family time with you all? Would you challenge a fine for doing so or would you accept it as part of the risk of taking them out for a week or so?

Eat Like a Local with Seasoned Courses Cookery School

Here at Villa Plus, we love Spanish food. The various scents and tastes which are now synonymous with the country’s cuisine are renowned worldwide and draw so many holidaymakers to its beautiful coastlines year upon year. To help you learn how to Eat Like a Local in Spain, we’ve collected a series of recipes from some of the UK’s finest cookery schools. Get stuck into this one from Seasoned Courses Cookery School…

Seasoned Cookery School is located in Derbyshire, offering one day courses to help chefs brush up on their skills. Over the years, it has played host to the likes of Beca Lyne-Pirkis from the Great British Bake Off and established chefs like Tim Maddams. Drawing from the expertise of over 20 different chefs, the school makes appetizing dishes from all across the world, like this Spanish take on butter beans with piquillo peppers and garlic.

Concocted of peppers, parsley and a good helping of olive oil, this spicy vegetarian dish (depending on what stock you use) is guaranteed to leave a fire in your mouth. Not only that, it’s a great addition to any tapas party and will help you to bring the flavours of Spain back home after your holiday.

Butter beans with piquillo peppers and garlic – ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 400g tin of butter beans or Spanish judiones
200ml vegetable or chicken stock
10–12 (1 x small 200g jar) piquillo peppers, sliced roughly
4 tablespoons roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Fry off the onion until soft and golden. Add garlic and stir until it smells delicious.
  2. Add the beans, stirring in with the garlic and onions before adding the stock.
  3. If at this point the beans are still quite firm, cook for a further 15 minutes. If you are using the softer judiones then five minutes should suffice. Either way, make sure that you have enough liquid so that the beans are deliciously juicy – add a little more water if necessary.
  4. Stir in the Piquillo peppers, parsley, lemon juice, oil and seasoning whilst still warm. This dish is best served at room temperature with salads.

Look at Seasoned Cookery School’s website for other dishes or browse our properties in Spain for some more holiday inspiration.

Best Mediterranean places to visit for cycling holidays

There’s something idyllic about cycling along a clifftop track while the sea gently crashes beneath you. Apart from that and the whizz of your hubs, the world seems mysteriously quiet. It’s moments like this that make cycling holidays in the Mediterranean region so appealing.

Between Spain’s Costa del Sol and Cyprus’ eastern shores you’ll find some of the best Mediterranean places to visit for cycling holidays. Here are a few that any cyclist should tick off.

Spain – Costa del Sol

Like the name suggests, Spain’s Sun Coast largely makes for brightly-lit rides which, depending on when you visit, can get a little hot, so bring a hydration pack! One such Costa del Sol cycle starts from the small hillside town of Mijas.

Study a few maps then make for La Cala Golf Course, a popular spot for golfers that’s south of Mijas. The route entails a mixture of arid single-track and two-lane roads, suited to either hybrid bikes or cross-country models. Like all great bike rides, it’s a mixture of ups, for a challenge, and downs, which leave you with a little more time to enjoy the stunning Andalusian views. Once you get to the river near the golf course, stop for a picnic, made up from the kitchen of your self-catering holiday rental, then prepare to do it all again on your way back to Mijas.


Image by Antonio, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Spain – Costa Blanca

Many professional cycling teams use the Costa Blanca as a training hub in the winter. The smooth surfaces here appeal to road cyclists who thrive on gradual climbs, speedy descents and flat stretches.

One of the most renowned climbs in the region is known as the Coll de Rates. You can easily access it from nearby towns, like Javea and Calpe. From Coll de Rates, make your way to the village of Parcent, where the route starts off with a light incline until you reach the summit. Soak up the verdant views of the surrounding region then replenish with a refreshing drink and get ready for a leisurely cruise back down.


Image by Phillip Capper, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Greek islands – Crete

If you’re ever struggling to tackle a Greek hill, promise yourself a big platter of mezes when you finish your ride to spur you on. Other than the end-of-ride meal, however, Greek island cycling makes for unbeatable holiday memories on routes you’ll always remember, many of which are found on Crete. A lot of Cretan roads are large and quiet, too, resulting in a wholly tranquil experience when you’re speeding across the island.

While it’s perfectly easy to trundle along these roads at your own pace, a real test of endurance is to brave the near-90km journey from Chania through the inland hills to the stunning village of Kallikratis. From here you’ll be able to see much of the island’s enticing coastline. Make sure you bring a camera, then capture the moment with a panoramic shot which’ll always remind you of your Crete cycling holiday. If you don’t fancy doing it over again, though, get a holiday companion to drive over and take you back to your villa rental.


Image by Andy Montgomery, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Cyprus – Paphos

Cyprus serves cyclists a selection of island routes for many different preferences. The city of Paphos and the surrounding resorts of Coral Bay are home to road and off-road paths suited to everyone from the everyday commuter to the endurance junkie who craves another fix of kilometre-rich coastal roads.

For a real challenge, cycle into the Troodos mountain range from Paphos. The journey itself is roughly 65 kilometres and is mostly downhill, making for a highly enjoyable and breezy trip. It’s suited to both road and off-road cyclists – just make sure your trusty steed is fitted with a good set of brakes for when you need to stop!

Take the time to soak up gorgeous Cypriot views, like that of the Diarizos river, which you’ll encounter along the way. It’s the fourth largest river on the island, although every twist and turn makes for a serene spot for a sandwich and a bottle of water. Failing that, you can always dip your feet in the river to help cool off before hitting the road again!


Image by Tomasz Huczek, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Mediterranean destinations have all the right ingredients for a cycling holiday – sun, scenery and a fair whack of sandy strips where you can put your feet up after a long day of pedalling!

Thinking about bringing your beloved bicycle on your next getaway? Here’s how to go about taking it onto an aeroplane.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Good snorkelling holidays for villa-loving travellers

Holiday rentals provide the perfect basecamp for snorkelling getaways. Hiring a villa gives you the freedom to prepare your own packed lunches and dinners, and you’ll have plenty of room to store your snorkels, flippers and wetsuits.


Image by Lance, used under CC License (CC by 2.0

Good snorkelling holidays unlock a country’s most enthralling secrets. Pack your underwater camera and get ready to delve deep in some of these top destinations…

Costa del Sol, Spain

Costa del Sol is blessed with tepid waters bustling with marine life. On top of that, there’s plenty of sun-kissed beaches where you can set up camp before a few hours of snorkelling. Visit Maro beach, near the town of Nerja, and try to find its fascinating underwater cave if you’re feeling daring.

The shores surrounding Las Yucas and La Viborilla beaches, near Benalmadena, house a wide range of fish such as tuna, bonitos, and dolphinfish.

Costa Blanca, Spain

Like Costa del Sol, the Costa Blanca is a snorkelers’ paradise. Explore the region’s shorelines and you’ll quickly find that it’s simply brimming with underwater life. Granadella Cove, near Javea, has notoriously clear waters. Not only that, it’s quite sheltered so younger snorkellers can see the bay’s treasures, too.

The Algarve, Portugal

Portugal’s Algarve coast comprises playful Atlantic waters and warming sands. It’s also home to the famed Ria Formosa lagoon, one of the country’s many natural wonders. Here you’ll find one of the largest populations of seahorses in the world – wipe down your face mask and prepare to dive amongst them.

Cyprus

If you visit Cyprus during summertime, you might encounter beautiful green and loggerhead turtles on the island’s western coast. The island’s Cape Greco National Park is well worth a visit, too, complete with some of the clearest waters in the region and picturesque in every sense of the word.

Corfu, Greece

The Greek island of Corfu has plenty of spots for a good snorkelling holiday. Its pebbly beaches tend to have clearer waters, but you might want to wear a wetsuit or flippers to protect your feet from the jaggier rocks! Keep your eyes peeled for a diverse range of silverside fish, alongside flathead mullet and painted combers.

Pula, Croatia


Image by Christoph Sammer, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Croatia’s idyllic Adriatic coastlines are the envy of the world. Pula houses some of its finest and along with these renowned views, it has a number of great snorkelling spots.

Take Brijuni National Park, a short boat journey from Pula. The waters of these 14 small, protected islands are alive with flora, fauna and old Roman artefacts. In Verige Bay, on the western coast of the park, you can get a guided tour to explore submerged archaeological sites. Take full advantage and get excited for a day of underwater education.

Whether you’re travelling as a family, with friends or with your partner or spouse, a snorkelling holiday provides an unrivalled way to get to know a country’s ins and outs. Uncover exotic species of fish or simply paddle around and let the waves wash over you – underwater getaways are always ones to remember.

Have a look at some of the Villa Plus offerings in these hotspots and let your snorkelling dreams come to life.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Villas with table tennis – how to make the most of your facilities

 Few sports are as easily accessible as table tennis. You don’t need lightning-quick reflexes or the hand-eye coordination of Andy Murray to enjoy the rush of a good ping pong rally – just a little perseverance and the right facilities. Luckily, villas with table tennis tables are easy to come by. Here’s how to make the most out of them with three fun games.

Image by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

1. Round the world ping pong

If you’re holidaying in a bigger property with friends or family, then get everyone up and active with this fast-paced, inclusive variation on traditional table tennis. You’ll need one ball and a minimum of two bats, although if everyone playing is able to have one, then it’ll make the game that little bit easier.

Form a circle around the table tennis table. One player starts by hitting the ball across the table, before proceeding to move clockwise around it. The aim is to keep a rally going without making any mistakes, all the while continuing to rotate around the table in a circle.

Each participant starts with five points, and they lose points when the ball goes out of play on their turn. Players are disqualified when they lose all their points, so keep your wits about you and battle it out until you’re the last one standing!

2. Single-player ping pong

Let’s say that a fellow table tennis aficionado can’t quite tear themselves away from the poolside lounger (they’re on a relaxing villa holiday, after all), but you want to get a few rallies in before dinnertime. Not to worry, just play against yourself.

Fold one half of the table up 90 degrees so it forms a vertical wall which you can hit a ball against, then lock it in place. Don’t attempt to do this alone, though – ping pong tables are heavy, and you don’t want to risk injuring yourself.

Once everything’s in place, brush up on your topspin or nail that forehand smash once and for all. Who knows, maybe those extra few hours practice could be what it takes to make you the formidable player you’ve always dreamt of becoming.

3. Ping pong squash

Combine two much-loved racket sports and get ready to really utilise all of your reflexes. Place the table against a wall, with the net remaining at a 90-degree angle to the wall. With one other player stood by the opposite side of the net, hit the ball off the wall so that it ends up bouncing on their side. Play out the rally until one person either misses the ping pong ball or bats it out of play.

Things can really speed up when playing ping pong squash, so don’t be surprised if it takes you a few games to get the hang of it! Once you’ve cracked it, though, you’re in for endless hours of entertainment, honing coordination skills that’ll serve you well in other ball games.

Of course, you can’t go wrong with a traditional game of ping pong. Set aside a few hours with an opponent and smash, backhand and spin your way to 21 points.


Image by Porsche Brosseau, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Ready to smash and spin your way through a ping pong-filled holiday? Look at Villa Plus propertiesand find one which suits you.

By Lara Scott. A former executive at a major hotel chain, Lara Scott is a freelance travel writer and journalist. She says her previous career gives her extra insight into both sides of the tourism industry.