Tag Archives: Greece

Travelling alone but not on your own: making friends (and more) on a Club Mark Warner holiday

Club Mark Warner holiday
Mark Warner’s hotel in Latikira, Kos, Greece

Take dozens of single people, put them in a Club Mark Warner holiday beach resort for a week, add sun and alcohol, and it’s simply a matter of time before holiday romances start to flourish.

It was just a couple of days into my Mark Warner holiday on the Greek island of Kos when the first newly-formed couple could be spotted. Walking hand-in-hand towards the beach, they looked happy, self-conscious and smug all at the same time. The rest of us were very happy for them – even if we did think that the holding hands thing was a bit twee – but we didn’t think the relationship would last much beyond the baggage carousel.


For latest deals and prices click here markwarner.co.uk
or call 0844 2730 426
Check out the Club Mark Warner weeks here: Club Mark Warner


It didn’t even make it that far, as it turned out. A row one night over whether to go into town for late-night drinks meant that, what had started off so brightly had, in the way these things do, crashed and burned before the week was out. Still, no matter, there was more dancing and drinking to be done.

Club Mark Warner holiday
Lakitira is known for its good tennis facilities – but there’s sailing too

I initially discovered Club Mark Warner the previous year, when researching a book about dating. I was trying to find out where single people went on holiday to meet other people – given that no-one actually really wanted to go on an actual ‘singles holiday’ – and a friend recommended Mark Warner.

‘But that’s for families, isn’t it?’ I asked. Apparently not, or at least, not all year-round. During school holidays the majority of holidaymakers are indeed families but, for three weeks a year – the designated ‘Club Mark Warner’ weeks – the single supplement is dropped and people can come on their own or with friends, safe in the knowledge they won’t be surrounded by couples and other people’s children.


For other Mark Warner holiday reviews go to:
Skiing on a Mark Warner holiday – on your own but never alone
Mark Warner holiday Rhodes – how to go solo without being lonely
No skimping on the apres-ski  – Mark Warner skiing holiday in Tignes


The week I was there, there were just under a hundred people on the Club Mark Warner package. There were guys travelling together, girls travelling together, mothers and daughters, siblings, one large group of tennis fans from Nottingham, and for the main part, people travelling alone.

Mark Warner holiday Kos

Unlike many other holidays catering for the single – or ‘independent’ traveller, to use the accepted jargon – there was a fairly even split between the sexes and all ages too. There were women and men in their twenties all the way up to fifties and beyond – singletons, divorcees, single parents, people whose partners couldn’t take the time off work – and by the welcome cocktails on the first evening everyone was gassing away like old friends.

Over the next week we saw little or nothing of the young children we had seen – and heard – on our charter flight as families had their own pool, separate beach and often ate at different times. This was bliss, especially for the people who had grown-up children and were now on holiday without them – there is nothing more annoying than getting rid of your own children and being bothered by the yowling of someone else’s.

club mark warnerI

I soon realised that there are two types of people who go on Club Mark Warner holidays. There are those who get up early each day to play a game of tennis before breakfast, followed by a hectic day spent mountain-biking and wind-surfing. They will enjoy just the one glass of wine with dinner and be in bed by 10pm so that they can be up bright and early the next day.

And then there are those who, having spent all day between the sun-lounger and the bar, and all evening eating and drinking to holiday levels of excess, can be found skinny-dipping in the Aegean sea at four o’clock in the morning.

It was when I found myself doing a rather erratic front crawl under the moonlight sky with people I had only known for 24 hours and wondering whether I would ever be able to find my clothes again that I realised I was most definitely in the second category.

I had started off with such good intentions when I’d arrived at Lakitira hotel. The resort, just ten minutes from the airport, has two huge swimming-pools, umpteen tennis courts and an impressive water sports area on the beach, where people can go windsurfing, kayaking or learn to sail anything from lasers to catamarans.

There were free introductory sailing lessons for beginners and intermediates and coaching lessons running throughout the week, while the tennis contingent also had a variety of courses to sign up to, plus an hour of social tennis each evening.

On my first day, I swam in the deserted, infinity-style pool before breakfast, played tennis before lunch, and tucked into a healthy salad, feeling extremely smug as I imagined how fit, thin and tanned I would be by the end of the week.

mark warner singles holiday in kos
Mark Warner is a good way to meet friends too – not just potential partners

However, that was before I had taken into account the main reason that anyone comes on the Club Mark Warner weeks: to meet new people and have a riotously good time.

After a hard day’s sun-bathing there were cocktails every night for the gang in the windy and appropriately-named Breeze Bar. We’d then all walk up to dinner together, which meant I didn’t have to face the single-person’s horror of dining alone or walking into a restaurant and not having the faintest idea where to sit to meet other people travelling alone.

Claire, the rep, had issued everyone with a schedule of events from quiz nights to beach barbeques, which you could take part in as much or as little as you wished. With so many single people on holiday together, a lot of time was rather predictably spent discussing sex, relationships, dating and more sex, and various holiday romances started to blossom halfway through the week.

There were reports of a fair amount of late-night canoodling on the beach and one couple even got engaged, although to be fair, they had known each other before the start of the trip rather than getting completely carried away on the holiday romance thing.

The week was rather pleasantly like being back at Freshers’ week at university: there was a lot of drinking, silly dancing, much laughing, and of course, skinny-dipping. There were several late-night forays into the bars of nearby Kardamena, and one afternoon spent at a pool party on the beach, where we drank cocktails, danced on the bar and played games in the swimming pool.

Mid-week, to ward off cabin fever, several of us went on a day-long boat trip to the picturesque neighbouring islands of Pserimos and Kalymnos – where some headed for the sponge factory and some for the bars – and by the end of the week people who had been strangers on the plane out were feeling like lifelong friends.

In fact, in the check-out queue at the airport on the way home, the ultimate compliment was inadvertently paid by one couple who were cross at there being no seats left next to each other on the plane.

‘It’s all the fault of the single people,’ the guy complained loudly. ‘They’ve all now made friends and want to sit with each other.’

Arrive single, go home in pairs – surely the sign of a very friendly holiday.


For latest deals and prices click here markwarner.co.uk or call 0844 2730 426
Check out the Club Mark Warner weeks here: Club Mark Warner


For other Mark Warner holiday reviews go to:
Skiing on a Mark Warner holiday – on your own but never alone
Mark Warner holiday Rhodes – how to go solo without being lonely
No skimping on the apres-ski with a Mark Warner skiing holiday in Tignes


[Editor’s note: this review was originally published a few years ago but has been updated to contain the latest information]

Skyros – the Greek island holiday which could change your life

It is rare that a holiday actually changes your life, but a week on Skyros, the original ‘alternative’ holiday destination, can do just that. From changing jobs or learning new skills, to getting married, ditching bad relationships and embarking on new careers, in the 40 years since Skyros first started hosting holidays on the Greek island of the same name, thousands of people have gone there to find inspiration and to find new meaning and direction in their lives.

Skyros Holidays review
The house at Skyros overlooks the beautiful bay

If that all sounds too hippy-dippy, then don’t worry: a trip to Skyros has all the holiday essentials of great food, great beaches, lots of time for swimming, sunbathing and sleeping. But it offers something so much more than your typical package holiday. As its website says:  ‘This is an adventure that opens the heart, expands the mind, recharges the body and uplifts the spirit’.

After a week at its beautiful Atsitsa Bay location, I had to agree. I’d performed comedy on stage, slept in a bamboo hut where the breeze came through the walls, practiced yoga in the open air, shared my hopes and fears with a group of strangers, laughed till I cried on a dozen occasions, ate my body-weight in fresh Greek yoghurt, gone hiking around the island and thoroughly disconnected from my life in London.

Skyros Holidays review
Our home for the week: Skyros holidays’ beautiful site in Atsitsa Bay, right on the Aegean sea

Recalling Skyros while back in the city is to instantly be transported to lying in the shade of an olive tree to shelter from the blazing sun; drinking morning coffee while overlooking the bluest sea; the swaying of my hammock as I curl up to read a book, and the light breeze coming through the bamboo sides of my hut, perched high on the hillside. You could spend the whole week simply ‘being’ if you wanted to, and several did, enjoying the total break from the outside world – there is no internet reception aside from a fixed line in the office for emergencies, and mobile phone coverage is patchy – and my phone soon ran down and stayed down all week. Continue reading Skyros – the Greek island holiday which could change your life

Island-hopping (and relaxing) in the Aegean with SCIC Sailing

Some holidays are so jam-packed with things to do, places to visit and sights to tick off that you end up needing a holiday afterwards to recover. A island-hopping voyage around the Aegean with SCIC Sailing (it stands for Sailing Cruises in Comfort and is aptly pronounced ‘chic’) is thankfully not one of those holidays.

In fact, I think it is possibly the most relaxing holiday I’ve ever been on. It wasn’t just that with a cruise – I think I can call it that, even though our beautiful twin-mast 90ft Turkish gulet sailing ship was the polar opposite of a mega cruise ship – you can travel all around the region without fighting with hoards of tourists, but the fact that the itinerary was so leisurely that there was ample time for sleeping, reading, eating, swimming, sunbathing, relaxing and yet more sleeping and eating.

SCIC Sailing
Our home for the week – the beautiful 90ft sailing ship Naviga 1

I averaged a book a day during my week’s holiday (admittedly I’m a fast reader) and I still had loads of time to explore the islands we visited, go swimming and snorkelling, enjoy the superb meals onboard (lots of fresh seafood, lots of rosé wine), attempt to get a tan (some of the other guests were mahogany by the end), have late nights dancing on and off shore and basically return to the UK completely blissed out.

SCIC Sailing
Cruising on such a small ship meant we could moor in little harbours and coves which other boats would be unable to reach

I say itinerary, but the feature of SCIC Sailing is that there isn’t really a fixed schedule at all. The sails are practical as well as ornamental, and are raised whenever possible, so you enjoy the twin thrills of silently swooshing over the waves without the chug of the engine, but also not knowing where the winds will take you. Thankfully you can’t go wrong in this part of the world which has beautiful islands at every turn, but the joy of exploring by boat means you can access deserted beaches and moor in beautiful coves which are almost inaccessible by road, and have the whole place to yourself.

SCIC Sailing
Before visiting the main harbour at Symi, we spent the morning swimming and sunbathing on this deserted beach the other side of the island

Continue reading Island-hopping (and relaxing) in the Aegean with SCIC Sailing

Sun, sea and romance on a Club Mark Warner singles holiday in Kos

Mark Warner holiday Kos
Mark Warner’s hotel in Latikira, Kos, Greece

Take dozens of single people, put them in a beach resort for a week, add sun and alcohol, and it’s simply a matter of time before holiday romances start to flourish.

It was just a couple of days into my Mark Warner holiday on the Greek island of Kos when the first newly-formed couple could be spotted. Walking hand-in-hand towards the beach, they looked happy, self-conscious and smug all at the same time. The rest of us were very happy for them – even if we did think that the holding hands thing was a bit twee – but we didn’t think the relationship would last much beyond the baggage carousel.
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For latest deals and prices click here markwarner.co.uk or call 0844 2730 426
Check out the Club Mark Warner weeks here: Club Mark Warner
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It didn’t even make it that far, as it turned out. A row one night over whether to go into town for late-night drinks meant that, what had started off so brightly had, in the way these things do, crashed and burned before the week was out. Still, no matter, there was more dancing and drinking to be done. Continue reading Sun, sea and romance on a Club Mark Warner singles holiday in Kos