World: The Perks of the Package Holiday; TO FIND OUT THE BEST THAT SPAIN HAS TO OFFER, CHECK OUT YOUR TRAVEL AGENT FOR ALL THE INFO, SAYS KATE RAFFERTY

Article excerpt

Byline: KATE RAFFERTY

PACKAGE holidays have been beset by a bit of snobbery in the past few years. It seems that unless youOre plotting your own trek through the Amazonian jungle, your trip is simply not worth doing.

Of course, these people donOt take holidays, they travel. More fool them.

Because with the right planning and a reputable agent, a package holiday can provide the most relaxing way to get away I and often at a great price, too.

Young families with children rarely have the chance to spend hours each night surfing the internet to search for an undiscovered gem.

They want a resort with something to offer everyone in the family, with good accommodation, lots of activities and entertainment and good weather I lots of lovely, lovely weather.

If youOre bewildered by the pile of brochures that all seem to be offering the same thing, ask for advice. It may be that one company is particularly good for families or older holiday makers. Of course, nothing beats word-of-mouth recommendation.

If youOre dealing with a travel agent, have a list of questions to ask. Make them work for their money.

Try to get a real sense of how far your hotel is from the centre of things (remember, the famous sea view can be through a pair of binoculars).

Ask for advice on whether paying for a company transfer is any cheaper than taking a taxi outside the airport building. A good travel agent should be the equivalent of flicking through a guide book.

Each branch will generally have specialists in certain areas. If youOre going to Spain, ask to deal with the branch expert on the country.

ItOs little wonder Spain is still the most popular destination for Scottish holiday makers. It ticks all the boxes that we need in a break.

It can be the first holiday we take without mum and dad I the rites-of- passage holiday with our mates. Lively night life, food that can be eaten to line a stomach for the night ahead and sun to top up the tan for that nightOs revealing outfit.

It is the perfect destination for families I not too long a flight, resorts with kidsO clubs and lots of other families to hook up with around the pool.

In retirement, itOs just as popular, with winter sun soothing aching bones. Some lucky retired people spend a good part of the harsh British winter there.

Some people have a picture of Spain as nothing but a concrete jungle, the seafront lined with greasy spoons selling full English breakfasts I and in some places thatOs true.

But Spain is a much bigger and more complex country than that.

There are stunning cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, while Palma on Majorca is a wonderful place to wander.

The Andalusian white villages are within easy reach of resorts such as Mar bell a, Malaga and Fuengirola.

There are amazing sights, including the Alhambra Palace at Grenada and Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

But itOs the natural resources that most people flock there for. On average, there are more than 300 days of sunshine a year, making it a year-round destination. …