From Italy to Cuba and back home again...
£105 -- Tuscany: Medieval Villa Stay w/Upgrade, 45% Off
Let’s face it: Villa la Grotta is not a name that resonates all that beautifully in English. All the better, then, that this Tuscany establishment is advancing a deal bold enough to banish such things to the realm of the trivial. Tuscany isn’t known for good travel deals. What it is known for is people like Tony Blair visiting, as well as, last year, David Cameron and brood and much of the rest of Volvo-driving north London. Well, here’s a deal that proves such easy assumptions wrong – while at the same time somehow exemplifying all those things we (by which I mean those of us who haven’t, ahem, been there) imagine Tuscany to be about. You get to stay, for example, in a converted medieval mansion once owned by a duke, and then there’s the complimentary chianti-tasting. Live like Tony Blair/David Cameron, in other words, for a fraction of the price. Grotta? Not a bit of it.
£999 -- Cuba: Luxury 10-Nt Havana & Beach Escape, Save £600
Whether Fidel Castro would have conceived of the existence of all-inclusive seaside resorts, let alone such suspiciously capitalist things as deals, when he launched the Cuban revolution in 1953 must be considered a moot point, but here’s a bargain that might make even an old cigar-chomping Communist smile. What’s on offer is a nice dialectical opposition between buzzy Havana – a city that epitomises that travel cliche "faded grandeur" – and some very pleasant-sounding bourgeois self-indulgence at a 5-star coastal resort. And the saving? A positively exploitative £600 – more than one-third off the original price. Viva Travelzoo deals, in other words!
£79 -- Summer Art Deco Bournemouth Stay w/Fizz
Could we be witnessing -- this very day -- the renaissance of the British seaside holiday? First, we must fess up; Travelzoo has a bit of form here. The very kinds of great deals we publish – to exotic, sunny hideaways, at impossible-to-ignore prices – must be partly responsible for the decline of the traditional homegrown coastal break. Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside – as long as it’s in Mallorca. But that sentiment no longer holds. Higher fuel (and so higher flight) prices, and the general air of economic caution in the UK, mean more people are foregoing big overseas holiday splurges in favour of rediscovering Britain. And there’s a third factor: retro appeal. Lately, the quaintly British is no longer to be shunned but celebrated for a certain ironic cool. Which brings us to the Cumberland Hotel, in Bournemouth, an elegant seaside art deco property offering B&B rooms, with a retro drink -- buck’s fizz –at a decidedly retro price.
Simon Busch is the publisher of the UK Top 20.