The 10 most surprising destinations on offer at Quality Villas

23rd March, 2017
If you’re struggling to decide on a location for your summer holiday this year, fear not, for our Owners Team Manager Sally is here to help. Sally has worked for Quality Villas for 15 years and has a wealth of experience in the travel sector. Her favourite thing about working for Quality Villas is that the company is essentially selling happiness in the form of family holidays. She loves that she can spend her time looking at beautiful properties all over France, Italy and Morocco to determine whether they are a good addition to our selection.

We asked Sally about her ten favourite places that she has visited with Quality Villas and why to help you make that all-important decision of where to spend your holiday this year. Sally found it too difficult to pick favourites, so decided to list her ‘top 10 surprises’; places she has visited that delivered so much more than she was expecting:

1) Bay of Arcachon – I visited Pyla-sur-Mer on 1st April 2011. The temperature that day soared to 30 degrees, and I remember sitting in a restaurant on the Corniche, gazing out over an azure sea and golden sandbanks; here in the middle of the Atlantic West coast of France, the Maldives sprang to mind!
2) St Jean de Luz – having visited wonderful Biarritz with its imposing buildings and surfer culture, I’d guessed St Jean de Luz would offer more of the same.  Instead, I found a quaint town in a large sheltered bay, fringed by golden sands and traditional Basque architecture, all set against the backdrop of the Pyrenees mountains.  I’d recommend afternoon tea in the Grand Hotel, right on the beach.
3) I’ve spent many a happy trip on the Cote d’Azur and the seafront towns deliver on every promise.  But head inland, and you will be amazed to find yourself in a beautiful mountain setting (this is the Pre-Alps after all) with stunning views across to the Mediterranean.  It still takes my breath away every time I go.
4) St Tropez – why was I expecting another version of Cannes?  St Tropez is a charming fishing village at heart; it’s just that it also delivers glitz, glamour and wall-to-wall celebs in the summer! If you can take time in September, go for the Voiles de St Tropez which is a sailing spectacular; the French equivalent of Cowes Week.
5) Puglia – When I heard I was visiting the Bay of Gallipoli I was sceptical – a holiday destination?  I was led along a boardwalk through pine forest, emerging onto a white sandy beach with a huge bay of turquoise water, the fortifications of the town of Gallipoli just visible in the distance. In fact, the whole of the Salento peninsula, south of ‘Trulli land’, was a surprise. Don’t miss early evening tapas with the locals in the beautiful Baroque city of Lecce.
6) The Amalfi Coast -  I love a good Hollywood musical, so I knew what to expect from the Amalfi Coast, and it did not disappoint!  The surprise came after a 2-hour train journey south to Sapri and the Cilento Coast. This is a well-kept secret among Italian politicians and movie stars offering the same stunning scenery, but at a more sedate pace. Brave the hair-raising drive up to the Jesus statue above Maratea for a little taste of Rio!
7) Tuscany – how can one province have so many famous places to see, and each one of them so different!  Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, not to mention the countryside in between and all the little wine-producing towns too.
8) Umbria – a colleague and I arrived late one foggy evening at Castiglione del Lago on Lake Trasimeno where we had to stop overnight.  We found a last minute room in an unassuming hotel within the fortified walls.  Throwing the shutters open the next morning, I was quite stunned to see we’d got a front row view of this beautiful, tranquil lake.  This summed up Umbria for me – tranquillity.
9) Languedoc – It’s the wine!  OK, so I’d heard of Corbieres, Minervois, Fitou, but there are no less than 17 appellations between Nimes and Collioure.  That’s a lot of wine! 
10) Last but not least is Morocco – I’m sure the colours, smells and sounds take everybody by surprise on the first visit.  No amount of reading up beforehand can prepare you for the sheer exuberance of the Medinas and Souks. And the flavours – nothing beats a fresh, home-made tagine!  This is long-haul travel… without the long-haul!

If you’re planning a stay in one of our luxury villas in Morocco, France or Italy this summer, bear in mind Sally’s tips for the less obvious locations that could lead to a holiday of a lifetime! Her tips on each location will allow you to pick the spot that's right for you and your family so that you can enjoy your time away stress-free, with your priorities safely accounted for. Happy holidays!