Places We Go
Everyone in the Chic Locations team was chosen for their knowledge and their personalities, but more than anything else, their passion- not just for travel to our chosen destinations, but also in the service we provide. As a small niche tour operator, we are proudly individual, totally flexible and have personal and team responsibilities, rather than boxed-in rigid departmental duties. This is key to our style. You will be talking to someone who is not only knowledgeable and experienced but has the authority to see how best we can assist you.
We know that no two holidays are alike, and we will discuss the best way you can use our expertise to tailor something totally personal to you. Although we don’t engage in sweeping generalisations, for your guidance we have selected our hotels into two main lifestyle categories, either Chic Boutique or Chic Family, although in many cases there will be cross over appeal.
Although a few have essentially attraction to families (The Sheraton Pine Cliffs on the Algarve, Porto Sani in Greece would be two examples), most are properties that welcome children but at the same time the parents do not have to compromise their own high expectations.
As individuals we are particularly well known in travel for our ability to identify boutique hotels, a trend that we started way before the larger operators found it lucrative and rather over-used. We are still ahead of the game in this respect, and within this brochure you will find a selection of delightful small hotels that we are introducing into the UK for the first time. A new trend we have discovered is Chic Fusion, particularly in Asia, a stunning and highly individual blending of the ultra contemporary design with more traditional Oriental imagery. Vietnam and Cambodia in particular have many superb new hotels that are leading the way, and we are sure this description will be used frequently over the next couple of years.
Properties we really like are Hide and Chic retreats, perfectly suited to romantic – and compatible – couples – or those with older more independent children.
Beyond the usual financial restrictions attached to each bookings, we have no financial responsibly to any hotel or destination. Equally, whilst not being worldwide operators, we do offer a wide range of destination choice, so we can offer alternatives if a particular area is adversely affected by weather or politics. As such we can give you totally candid advice, without pressure from a Head Office accounts team reminding us we have committed stock to shift.
There are two comments that are particularly important to us, firstly from our trade partners “Chic are really nice professional people to work with“, and from our clients “the holiday was even better than you said it would be“. That is our simple philosophy in everything we do – under promise and over deliver. A third comment that we are rather proud of is again from our hotel partners ” Your clients create the right impression “, a testament to their sense of style and appreciation of subtlety and of course service. Most of our clients acheive what they want with a smile.
Keeping it Real.
We think there is no such thing as the best hotel – just the right one ! Draw up a list of your realistic holiday priorities, ideally with your top five main requirements. A few things that might assist you :
* The romantic hide and chic retreat you chose a few years back might not be so suitable now you have a couple of children to consider.
* Boutique hotels generally score on individuality, personality, charm, with high service levels. However because of their size and style, most will not have extensive resort facilities.If you have selected a hotel with less than 40 rooms for example, it would be unrealistic to expect too much restaurant choice or entertainment . If extensive resort facilities are more important than individual attention, simply select a larger hotel. It depends on what is more important to you.
* For a hotel to have a kids club, a realist will accept you do need a number of children to make it both viable and enjoyable. As such very few genuine boutique hotels will offer kids clubs or indeed any specific facility for younger children. Boutique hotels and kids are rarely compatible partners. Some do not accept children below a certain age or will have adult only areas. Generally boutique hotels tolerate well behaved children rather than seeking to attract.
* If you have chosen to travel in a peak demand season, expect the airports, the airlines and of course the hotels to be busy . This is likely to also be an expensive time to travel, simply as demand for airline seats and hotel rooms usually exceeds supply. This might have a negative impact on the usual service levels, particularly if the entire resort decides to eat at the same time. If you can be flexible, avoid the established peak times, but if you cannot , try to be patient and philosophical. If you dislike crowds, travel at a less popular time . Most hotels offer higher satisfaction with a 85% occupancy rather than 100%.
* Equally if you dislike kids, choose an adult only hotel or try to travel outside of the peak demand periods such as Christmas and Easter, particularly half term weeks and July / August. If you have chosen a family focused hotel, and you have taken two of your own kids, it would be wise to expect 50% of the hotel at least has done the same !
* With the exception of the islands in the Maldives, at virtually all of the other featured resorts the beaches are there to be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike so are public rather than private . It should be assumed that the better beaches tend to be the most popular and can at times be crowded with day-trippers anxious to share your ” paradise ” even for a few hours.
* Many of the resorts offer accommodation with private pools . These vary in size, some are essentially dip pools whilst others are larger and might typically allow four/five strokes plus. The word private indicates the pool is for use only by accommodation residents, it does not imply privacy . If privacy is important is it essential this is mentioned to us at time of enquiry . Some villas will have surround walls which can allow privacy, usually at the expense of sea view for example , however work on the principle that if your accommodation is ground floor and allows you a good view, its quite likely others will get a good view of you ! if privacy is important, ask us to suggest villa with walled garden ( such as Kayumanis in Bali or Fusion Maia in Danang Vietnam ), wonderfully romantic, but of course keep in mind that if you cannot be seen, in turn your view out might be limited.
* If you have selected a hotel with a short transfer from the airport, say 20 minutes or under, it would be realistic to expect to see or occasionally hear some aircraft. If this is going to disturb you, simply choose a hotel further away.
* On air travel, for all of the long distance routes we offer a choice of cabin, with economy, business and first class, and on some routes enhanced economy as well. Special meal REQUESTS have to be made in advance, usually at least 5 days before travel. It would be realistic to expect a choice of either meat or fish generally, although if those in front of you all choose fish, all that might be left is meat when the trolley reaches you. Despite the airline PR, most onboard meals are adequate – nothing more, they are not flying restaurants with an extensive choice. If you child is partial to chicken nuggets for example, cook them yourself and take with you, but consume them on board, do NOT try to enter your destination with meat produce as this will probably extend your time in customs ! Note – on low cost flights snacks are extra cost and will be extremly limited in choice, we suggest you purchase something from one of the airport lounge restaurants prior to boarding.
Candid Professional advice – no PR fluff just straightforward information.
* Tripadvisor can be a good source of information, but bear in mind the comments are written by real guests, with their own highly personal likes and dislikes. As a rule of thumb , within 10 reviews you might get 7 that highly rate the resort and the other 3 are totally negative. Try to balance these, read the good and the bad, do not just dwell on the negative. Usually the more recent comments are more valid than something written a year ago. Look at the time of travel, as a valid complaint about service levels when a hotel is operating at 100% is unlikely to apply in a quieter period. As an alternative, ask us for our professional view , we travel to our destinations on a regular basis, and we are experienced enough to read between the lines of PR hype. As mentioned above, we have no financial responsiblity to any hotel or destination other than that connected with each individual booking, so our advice can be reassuringly candid !
All of the hotels selected by us are at least superior first class rising up to deluxe . Many are highly individual with unique charm. We are generally not comfortable in working with hotels of a more modest nature, as this might betray the trust clients and travel agent partners have in us.
To all long distance destinations we only use scheduled airlines, to the Mediterranean we use a combination of low cost airlines and scheduled airlines and occasionally charter airlines if no alternative exists.
Providing it is not a high peak time such as Christmas/New Year and Easter when demand should exceed supply, we are usually able to offer extra value promotions, quite frequently on a booking by booking individual basis.
If value is assessed simply on the price, then travel to the tropics in May/June and September/October is generally worth considering as these are months when both the hotel rates ( and associated offers ) and air fares are at their lowest. By contrast, and in our rather honest opinion, Christmas-New Year probably represents the worst value, in simple terms - high cost & low service – with hotels and airlines expecting to run at 100% which is rarely comfortable. Of course some clients only have a restricted holiday “window” so travelling at Christmas is the only option.
For the Mediterranean, most of the resorts are closed in the winter months and those that are open concentrate on cuisine, spa and golf rather than beach. They generally start to reopen end April/ May with a gradual introduction of facilities. As such May and June tend to be well priced months, and are well worth considering – just as long as you might be taking a chance on the weather, particularly in May, and understand not all resort facilities will be operational.