Giardini Naxos, Sicily, Italy 1 week all-inclusive in 1-bedroom villa at Atahotel Naxos Beach complex. 28/6/2017 – 5/7/2017 Thomas Cook package deal £1758 for 2 people. Flight from Birmingham International to Comiso in Sicily.
Birmingham is easy to get to as direct trains from London, the north, Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth in Cardigan Bay arrive at the main train station (Birmingham International/ NEC), up escalator into the monorail for 2-minute journey to arrive at Departures. It is even better if you stay overnight at the Ibis or Novotel hotels across the road from Departures and Arrivals.
Only a short flight to Sicily, less than 3.5 hours, but this is to Comiso airport which is a 2-hour coach transfer to holiday accommodation in the north of the island, including Giardini Naxos where we stayed. Although it all went smoothly, we always find Thomas Cook airlines to have the most cramped planes with your knees tucked under your chin if you are taller than 5 feet! Unlike other airlines such as Ryanair, it is difficult to check in online beforehand, as you only have a one-day window to do this and therefore cannot do it in advance for the return journey. Not so bad as we had to check-in luggage for the hold, but generally only travelling with hand-luggage, this would make it very difficult.
As always in EU countries (we have found) you have to pay some form of eco-tax direct to the hotel on arrival, in this case 2€ each per night. But other than that, the all-inclusive package was very good and well worth taking up. Both restaurants were excellent, good selection of food and very good staff, and the two main bar areas were very comfortable – we loved the big basket chairs for an evening relaxing in the remaining warmth of the day. Although we expected it to be hot in June, this was apparently much hotter than normal (33⁰ at 9.00am) and even the staff were struggling – except for the keep fit ones who bounced about in the scorching afternoon sun.
This is a great complex for couples or families, and although it is a big site, they have little electric buggies to take you around if you need it as well as delivering and collecting your luggage for you. It is laid out so that you can get around in a wheelchair if needed and it all seems very spacious. Our 1-bedroom villa was actually at the furthest point away from everything which means a bit of a walk every day, but less noise from the bars and people passing by. It is not what you might normally call a “villa” as it is a bedroom with plenty of hanging space and a sofa, bathroom and a balcony. There is little sound-proofing between villas, so it is unlucky if you get a noisy neighbour, but this is the first time ever we have been able to have a very quiet air-conditioning system on all night.
Not generally fans of the entertainment provided, the shows we saw here were brilliant – there is a mix of staff members and professional entertainers, especially the dancers, and the comedy shows were excellent. I think it will be a while before the audience gets over the middle one of three men who helped to perform a routine on-stage, mainly because his grasp of the 3 basic moves was limited! When he should do the squiggly move he did the arms up, and the photograph shows the only moment in the performance where he was in line with the others – priceless.
The Olympic-size pool is impressive, but the main pool and children’s pools are well-maintained with plenty of sunbeds around – even better, you can have towels free and just return them to the wash-basket when you want to. It is about half-mile walk to the bus station and southern end of the port and bay at Giardini Naxos, but there is also a free shuttle bus from the complex to nearby Taormina so not a bad position at all. Only there for a week, and too hot to do much walking unless you got up at 6.00am – which clearly we didn’t – so we didn’t explore as much as we would normally. Will have to go back some time I think.