Many clients ask how we decide what destinations to feature. I believe they think we conduct extensive market research before we feature a report or country. For specialist, independent companies like Sunvil, it does not work like that.
I was at a Portuguese tourism workshop in 1990 and met Albano Cymbron, who has been, since then, our Azores agent. I liked the man, I felt he was serious and the incoming agency was a family business of which he was the head. I liked the sound of the Azores and felt it fitted the Sunvil profile, so I took my whole family out there (four children of which two were under four years old). It was love at first sight and we have featured the islands ever since. A specialist operator has to be in love with the destinations featured. We could never work with resorts like Dubai and the Egyptian Riviera because we do not care for large, mass-market hotels, especially if the properties are all-inclusive.
The nine islands of the Azores are set in the Gulf Stream, in the middle of the Atlantic. They are magical, with steaming fumaroles, dark volcanic cliffs plunging into the sea, lake filled volcanic craters, hedgerows of azaleas hydrangeas and lush, green vegetation.
The Azores are a ‘homely’ destination, not slick and professional like Madeira. It is important that you visit more than one island because they are all different and each has its own charm. The accommodation is comfortable but not luxury and is made up of small hotels and quintas. If you love walking amongst stunning nature then this is the place for you.
Starting from the 30th March there is a weekly flight from Gatwick to Ponta Delgada, on the main island of Sao Miguel, which runs till the end of October. The islands are connected by domestic flights and some, in the central region, by ferry.
June is the best time for flowers, especially the hydrangeas and April for Azaleas. The temperature never falls below 15 degrees and in July and August is around 22 degrees. But expect rain as well – that’s why the islands are always so beautiful!