In Search Of.A Perfect Villa; Most Summer Holidays Are Booked This Month. but How Do You Find What You Want? Travel Mail's New Series of Special Reports Starts Today

Daily Mail (London), January 4, 2003 | Go to article overview

In Search Of.A Perfect Villa; Most Summer Holidays Are Booked This Month. but How Do You Find What You Want? Travel Mail's New Series of Special Reports Starts Today


WHEN it goes well, a villa with its own pool can make for the best of holidays, especially for a family.

You have space, you have flexibility to eat in or out, you have the luxury of that pool - and all being well, you have peace and privacy.

But there are big variations in the style and cost of such holidays, and if you get it wrong you could pay through the nose for something disappointing.

One of the cheapest places for a villa with a pool is southern France. This is not so much because the properties are cheaper, but because, if you're prepared to drive, the costs of getting there are so much lower.

Scan through the brochures and you can pick up a two-week holiday for a family of four from about pound sterling2,000 in peak season, including the ferry fare. Of course, you'll have to add the cost of petrol and motorway tolls, but since you could easily pay that for two weeks at a package holiday hotel in Spain, it can be good value for money.

Of course, most French villas and cottages are in rural areas rather than resorts. If you prefer to be within easy distance of the sea and some nightlife, Spain and Portugal are a better bet. There, you have a huge choice of purpose-built places, though you won't have nearly so much space.

The other main villa destinations - Italy and Greece - have a very broad mix of properties, and standards and prices can vary hugely, so it pays to book with a reliable agent or tour operator.

In Italy, seaside properties can be hard to find, though there are some lovely rural locations.

Tuscany and Umbria are the obvious bets. Many self-catering places in rural Italy comprise several apartments overlooking a shared pool. They are much cheaper than places with private pools, and may even be better for families, since the children are more likely to find playmates.

In Greece, for a good choice of villas try north-east Corfu, Paxos and Crete. But before you fork out for a private pool, consider a place within easy reach of the beach - that clear Aegean Sea water can be even better than a pool. …

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