Take a break and enjoy a sunny holiday in Ibiza with 'new normal' trip packages

IF you’d told me in March that in July I’d be poolside in Ibiza, I’d have laughed in your face mask.

But last Saturday, TUI relaunched flights from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham to Ibiza, Lanzarote, Majorca and Tenerife.

The tour giant will fly only to quarantine-free destinations and has expanded its itinerary to include Corfu, Crete, Rhodes and Kos.

It was interesting to see package holidays working in the new normal.

You get a pre-departure health questionnaire, then mask up to go to the airport and pass through the self-service digital check-in.

On board the plane, crew are required to wear PPE, passengers must be masked and only snacks are served.

At Ibiza airport, I was faced with cameras, ensuring I wasn’t over the Covid-19 recommended temperature of 37.5C — and checking in at the newly refurbished 4H The Ibiza Twiins in Playa d’en Bossa, I was welcomed with open, socially distanced arms.

Spanish law requires everyone to wear masks at all times, apart from when eating, drinking and at the beach or poolside — because no one wants a mask tan-line. Failure to comply can see you fined 100 euros.

But I am pleased to report that the death of the all-inclusive buffet has been wildly exaggerated. While guests no longer serve themselves, the new system feels like an upgrade more than inconvenience.

I simply pointed at what I fancied through a perspex screen, and a member of staff dished up. Floor-markings help keep every-one apart.

Perfect mix

The evening entertainment was a perfect mix of new and old Ibiza, with a screen erected behind the swimming pool to show a film exploring the island’s history.

The hotel bars worked much the same as usual, but with drinks pushed through a gap in the glass, like cash in a bank. Ibiza boasts a rich history and bustling nightlife but with major clubs closed for summer, the advice from locals is that now is the best time to explore the island itself.

In the port area of Ibiza Town, you can enjoy traditional cafes and a refreshing gelato in the sun while the World Heritage Site Dalt Vila (the fortified old town) can give you your history fix. San Antonio bay is running regular boat tours around the island.

And restaurants and beach clubs, such as Ibiza Rocks Hotel and O Beach, are open — attracting celebrities and tourists again. Both regions were much quieter than normal for mid-July, but with more than 90 per cent of locals working in tourism, they were very happy to see guests return.

I also checked out the TUI Blue Aura, a family hotel located in Port des Torrent, which welcomed their first guests last week.

Just like at the Ibiza Twiins, the buffet service is up and running with the same precautions. And you have to reserve a table — for a maximum of 50 minutes for breakfast and an hour-and-a-half for dinner. Poolside, sunbeds are strictly set 1.5 metres apart and meticulously cleaned after every use.

The gym has a maximum capacity of five guests at a time and is closed every two hours for cleaning, while the water park is open to no more than 150 folk — down from the usual 205.

Kids’ clubs are open but only for ten instead of 30 children per hour session, and there is a staggered parental drop-off to reduce contact.

While the BabyClub is not open yet, staff were keen to stress that this will be reviewed next month. The evening entertainment was limited to three performers, and the kids were told to stand 1.5 metres from the stage — although try telling that to the little boys dressed in green, all fascinated by the Frankenstein on stage.

Despite all the changes, the most surprising thing about the new normal for package holidays was just how normal it felt.

As TUI aims to add nine more UK departure airports and 24 holiday destinations across Spain, Turkey and Greece by August 1 — and with its Covid care scheme offering comfort for travellers — the summer 2020 season could yet be saved.


GETTING/STAYING THERE: Seven nights’ all-inclusive at the 4H TUI Blue Aura in Port des Torrents with TUI Blue For Families is from £758pp based on two adults and two children sharing, including one free child place.

Seven nights’ B&B at the 4H Ibiza Twiins in Playa d’en Bossa with TUI Platinum is from £770pp based on two adults sharing. Half-board and all-inclusive options are available.

Prices based on Gatwick flights in August including transfers and 20kg luggage. Other UK airports and room upgrades are available. See tui.co.uk.

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