Picture Perfect: Tips For Taking Stunning Holiday Photos

Many of us remember the days when we captured our holiday memories on film. Whether it was walking along the beach or dinner at your favourite restaurant, part of the magic was reliving those moments again after picking up the prints. Of course, there were usually a few surprises in there too, from blurred images and red eyes to a rogue finger obscuring an otherwise beautiful landscape.

Now we no longer need the skills of a professional photographer, nor top-of-the-range equipment to take high quality holiday snaps. Using the basic editing features on your smartphone and a little artistry, you can soon add the wow factor to pictures – and our handy hints will show you how.

It’s hip to be square

Sharing your holiday pictures on social media couldn’t be simpler, but we’ve probably all seen photos that don’t look quite right. This is often because the image dimensions do not work for the platform in question, so you might see a wide horizontal shot cropped into a square when posted on Instagram or as a Facebook profile picture.

When composing your shot, think about where you’re going to publish the photograph and whether anything will be lost when it is cropped. Most smartphones also have a ‘square’ mode, enabling you to create images that are perfectly-sized for social media.

You can add even more creative flair to your pictures with filters and editing features. In fact, it has never been easier to crop something from the background, adjust the exposure or make the ocean look even bluer. As well as in-built features on your phone, there are plenty more apps to download.

Panoramic views

Dazzling sunsets, impressive cliff-top views or that all-important group shot of family and friends all demand more than a straightforward snap. Instead, experiment with the panoramic, or stitch, function on your camera to create sweeping landscapes.

Foodie delights

You might not be able to take home the smell and taste of freshly-baked bread or seafood sizzling on a barbecue, but seeing a picture of it will transport you back in an instant. Taking good food shots is trickier than it looks and it is easy to inadvertently capture your keys, guidebook or empty glass in the background. Once you have positioned the dish, take the picture from above to give it a more professional quality and use the macro mode to bring out subtle textures and colours.

Reflections 

Impressionist painters like Monet often used water to create an extra dimension to the paintings and the same effect can be achieved with photos. A famous building, photographed countless times before, will look different if captured in the reflection of your sunglasses, while a mountain can seem even more majestic when seen from its reflection in the lake.

Whenever you visit somewhere new, take a moment to find those reflective surfaces – you’ll be amazed at the results.

Special delivery

These days you don’t have to spend your precious holiday time searching for postcards and stamps to send back home. Instead, opt for something more personal using an application like Touchnote. Nothing encapsulates a family holiday more than kids running round on the beach or snorkelling for the first time, and best of all you can design and send the card without leaving your sun lounger.

A note of caution . . .

While we don’t like to be spoilsports, it is important to be considerate when taking pictures abroad. Be mindful of local customs, for example it is forbidden to use a camera in many churches, and never enter a place that is out of bounds just to get a photo. If you have a penchant for holiday selfies, remember that they have been the cause of many accidents in recent years. Before you pose for a picture, make sure you are in a safe place and don’t take any risks.

Showcase your work

In the days when we developed our holiday pictures, we’d dedicate a great deal of time to framing the prints and putting them into albums. The digital age means we now rarely do this and, if we don’t use social media, they can end up languishing on a laptop or memory card.

So when you get home, spend an afternoon creating printed albums and wall prints using one of the many online applications. Remember too that there are plenty of non-digital cameras, like the Fujifilm Instax, which allow you to take retro-style souvenir prints in a few seconds.

Vote for Sun-hat at the British Travel Awards

Sun-hat Villas British Travel Awards

When the General Election ended, you may have thought you’d seen the back of campaigning for a while, however we’re going to ask you kindly to cast one more vote. That’s because Sun-hat Villas & Resorts has been shortlisted in the 2017 British Travel Awards!

You’ll find us in the Best Villa Holiday Company category and, as you’ll see, there are plenty of other big names on the list, so we’re thrilled to be included. We value the British Travel Awards as the decision on who wins rests with you, the people that love to go on holiday.

At Sun-hat, we’re a small team but we always try to go above and beyond to offer a personal and friendly service. We’re passionate about our properties, resorts and ensuring that every customer has an experience and holiday to remember for years to come.

We aren’t concerned about having a big trophy cabinet. Receiving an email, letter or phone call to tell us about your fantastic holiday is just as important to us than an industry pat on the back. However, as this is based on the real experiences of those who matter to us, this is one award that we really do care about.

So, if you like what we do, we’d be grateful if you can spare a couple of minutes to cast your vote for us here. Anyone that casts a vote in the British Travel Awards is in with a chance of winning a great prize as part of the Voter Prize Draw.

Our manifesto for your vote is as simple as this: We love what we do and, if you’ve loved going on holiday with Sun-hat Villas & Resorts, please vote for us!

48 hours in Northern Sicily: Opera, exploration and history

Duomo di Palermo

Sicily is known for its rich and vibrant historical roots and, as the largest Mediterranean Island, its diverse landscape offers up plenty of manmade and natural delights.

Throughout times gone by, all the major colonisers including the Greeks, Normans, Byzantines, Romans, Arabs and Spanish have reigned the beautiful city. Each has left its own long-lasting and prominent mark on the island’s cuisine, traditions and architecture, giving visitors a delightful experience unlike any other.

There are such a varied number of places to visit on this stunning and temperate isle, so here at Sun-hat we thought we would share with you some of its less known secreted activities; as well as some of our top tourist spots.

Our guide to some of Sicily’s must see sights and experiences, that will be sure to keep you busy for a weekend in the Mediterranean’s most charming island.

Day 1

A true Italian breakfast

Sfincione

Dive straight into the Sicilian scene by exploring one of its decadent outdoor markets. One of our favourites is right in the centre of Palermo, a city known for its lip-smackingly tasty street food… La Vucciria. Here your taste buds will be enthralled to experience trying sfincione, a tomato or cheese-topped pizza with a spongy, oily base or, arancini, the famous deep fried risotto balls.

Discover Sicily’s sculptures

Oratorio di Santa Cita

The renowned, thought to be self-taught, sculptor, Giacomo Serpotta was paid by the rich philanthropists of 18th century Palermo to create breathtaking stucco in oratories and churches around the city. Although they are one of Italy’s biggest hidden treasures, you can see these striking sculptures in relative peace across the city. Serpotta’s expert handiwork can be admired at the Oratorio del Rosario di San Domenico, Oratorio di San Lorenzo and Oratorio di Santa Cita.

An evening at the opera

Palermo Teatro Massimo

The harmonising art form that is known as opera originated from Italy during the 16 – 17th centuries; and the Teatro Massimo has proven to be an unmissable experience for many, even those who are not typically fans of the opera. As the largest opera house in Italy, it has plenty to offer, and the neoclassical exterior may be recognisable to fans of The Godfather Part III, as the steps were the location for the final scene in the film. If sitting through a full performance doesn’t sound like your thing, the opera house offers guided tours of the captivating building daily until 6pm.

Day 2

Submerge yourself in Cefalu

Cefalu Sicily

The attractive and sometimes overlooked city of Cefalu has everything – a quaint fishing port, soft sandy beaches filled with crystal clear waters, medieval roman baths and winding ancient streets that have stood the test of time throughout history.

A must see whilst you are there is the Cuticchio family puppet theatre, Opera dei Pupi. It brings to life and recreates the stories of Sicilian folklore; the Norman-Saracen battle scenes, including the three-foot-high wooden puppets in their glittering armour, are fantastic to watch.

An afternoon in the Madonie Mountains

Madonie Mountains

The Madonie Mountains, Sicily’s highest mountain range, lie just south of Cefalu. As well as being one of the area’s most stunning points of natural beauty, it is also a nature reserve, which encompasses attractive, historic hilltop towns. This region is also famous for its fare, producing exceptional cheese, meats and olives, amongst other delights.

A wonderful way to explore this vibrant setting is by quad bike. Quadexcursions.com offers a four-hour package departing from the appealing town of Castelbuono, including a tasting experience of some of the region’s authentic gastronomy.

Tantalising Trattoria

Petralia Soprana

As your holiday draws to a close, head to the picturesque ancient town of Petralia Soprana, just to the south of the Madonie Mountains.

Hidden away within the narrow, cobbled streets is Trattoria Pizzeria Da Salvatore, where you will be able to sample extra-special antipasti, made using only the finest locally sourced ingredients, all prepared skilfully by Salvatore and his daughter. Be sure to leave some room for the dessert – homemade cassata – a traditional Sicilian sponge cake.

If our tips have you daydreaming of a Sicilian adventure, then take a look at our range of villas in Northern Sicily.

48 hours in Ibiza: Love, tapas, wine and dining

There are plenty of bars, night clubs and beach parties that have cemented Ibiza as a party scene hotspot. However there is a wonderful hidden side of Ibiza that many do not know about. The island boasts some of the most spectacular views from dawn to dusk in the Balearics.

One of Ibiza’s key selling points is that everything is easily accessible, as the island covers just 221 sq. miles. Renting a car from the airport can come in handy, as it allows you to be free to discover as much or as little of the area as you wish to. Picture yourself driving down the windy roads, with the sun glistening on your skin and the summer breeze travelling through your hair. If you don’t feel like renting a car, there are some great public transport links and taxis available.

If you find yourself spending 48 hours in Ibiza, here are our top tips on what to do:

Day 1

Refuel at Passion Café

Passion Café pancakes Ibiza

© Passion Café

The lively Playa d’en Bossa strip is home to Passion Café. The restaurant promotes the motto of health and happiness and all of its breakfasts and juices are designed to make you feel good. As you’re on holiday, we suggest indulging in the pancakes, as it’s a dish that never fails to disappoint! They also have vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. The eatery has proved to be a hit with locals as there are a number of café’s to be found in and around Ibiza, so it’s likely you’ll still be able to sample something from Passion.

Yacht and People Spotting at the Marina

Santa Eulalia Marina

The Santa Eulalia Marina is famed for drawing in crowds of rich and famous and their elite super yachts. Stopping off here is a must if you want to be wowed by the impressive yachts and spend the morning topping up your tan and people watching; if you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of someone famous. Sea Amigos offers daily luxury boat hire, so you can truly experience sailing through the waters in style. The Marina is also recognised as having a fabulous selection of shops and restaurants. The choice of food is endless from the Indian, Italian, German and traditional Mediterranean restaurants.

Lovelock Bridge

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Ibiza’s very own Lovelock Bridge can be found along the Santa Eulalia River. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the riverbank and marvel at the pretty little fishing and sailing boats floating along the crystal blue water. Couples are able to take part in Spanish tradition and get a padlock and engrave their initials on it or write them in permanent marker. They can seal the deal by connecting the lock to the bridge, throwing the key into the river, and leaving it there as an eternal symbol of their long lasting relationship.

Sunset and Cocktails

Cocktail at Cafe Mambo Ibiza

© Cafe Mambo Ibiza

Placed on the famous San Antonio strip is Café Mambo. Applaud the sun as it comes down at Mambo, whilst you’re seated on the rocks with the rest of the crowd, as you sip on some cocktails listening to the music playing in the background. Prepare to be amazed by all the different hues as the sun sets for the evening and, once the sun has finally set, you’ll also be treated to watching the captivating fire dancers. You can’t beat the food in the restaurant either!

Day 2

A Beautiful Sunrise

If you find yourself being able to brave getting out of bed before 6:30am, why not take a trip to the beach to watch the sun come up. Make the most of your morning here, as Ibiza is home to some of the most spectacular views! To maximise on your time, we suggest packing a breakfast picnic, or if they’re open, popping into one of the local cafes for a bite to eat. If we’ve tempted you with a morning at the beach, then take our advice and visit Cala Llonga beach, one of the most picturesque beaches in Ibiza, and enjoy the striking views there.

Tapas and Wine

La Bodega is a hit with us when it comes to tasty tapas food! It has a relaxed outside eating area and inviting interiors. It appeals to those who like to try lots of different dishes, authentic gastronomy, locally sourced ingredients and fine wines. The chocolate bomb dessert will be sure to satisfy any chocoholic and for seafood fans the salmon toast is extremely appetising too.

Hippy Markets

Las Dalias Market

© Turisme Illes Balears

One of Ibiza’s most notorious attractions are hippy markets, which provide the perfect opportunity to do some shopping. Las Dalias is one of the most well known hippy markets, and once inside you’ll find souvenirs, handmade clothing and bohemian jewellery. While many of the markets are open throughout the day, things really come alive in the nighttime. There is a real buzz in the surroundings created by the live performances and the rare enchanting stories, which can only be discovered in the magical garden. If you’re feeling peckish there’s plenty of stalls around to try out some flavorsome street food. The markets usually close around 11:30pm.

Dinner with a view

Amante beach restaurant Ibiza

© Amante

Bring your holiday to end in the most ultimate setting, with a tranquil meal by the sea. Positioned on a cove in the heart of Ibiza’s countryside, looking over Sol Den Serra bay, Amante, delights guests with out of this world views of the island. Treat yourself to a real bona fide gourmet experience, close to the illuminated cliffs and moonlit sea.

Sun-hat Villas has properties across Ibiza including Ibiza Town, Playa d’en Bossa, Santa Eulalia, San Jose and San Rafael.

The 7 Best Family Things To Do In The Algarve

In the southern coast of Portugal, you will find the appealing and ever popular holiday destination of the Algarve. There are plenty of striking golden beaches, lovely countryside views and endless amounts of sun soaked days, that all attract holidaymakers travelling from far and wide.

Once a small former fishing village, Albufeira in the Algarve has truly transformed itself in the past three decades and has fast become a hit with families venturing abroad.

We all know that it can sometimes be hard to keep the kids entertained during a family break. With that in mind, we’ve called upon our decades of knowledge to come up with the best things to do in the Algarve, for all the family.

A Day at the Beach

Praia da Falesia Algarve

Sea, sunshine, sandcastles and scrumptious ice cream; no holiday with the kids is complete without a visit to the beach. Albufeira is home to a number of fantastic family friendly beaches including Praia da Oura beach and Praia da Falesia beach. Praia da Oura beach has beautiful golden sand, some nice little caves and rock pools to explore at low tide. This is perfect if you’ve got young children. Situated between Vilamoura and Albufeira, Praia da Falesia beach is one of the longest in Portugal, stretching over six kilometres. With its gorgeous red and orange cliffs, crystal blue water, and plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby; Praia da Falesia is a firm favourite amongst those wanting to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the usual busy crowds.

BBQ Cruise

Bengali cave Algarve

SeaBookings will transport you and your loved ones to an idyllic setting, on a private Algarvian beach, to indulge in a sublime afternoon BBQ. After lunch, there’s the chance to unwind, take a quick dip, and play some fun beach games. Along the way, you’ll be able to relax and cruise along the coast in a comfortable boat; whilst appreciating the magical rock formations and enchanting caves of Galé, Benagil and Carvoeiro. The cruise sets off from the Marina de Albufeira at 10:30am and returns around 4:45pm.

Horse Riding in the Sunshine

Albufeira Riding Centre

© Albufeira Riding Centre

If you’re looking to try out something a little different, Albufeira Riding Centre, proves to be a suitable alternative. Set in pretty rural soundings, with a charming choice of 10 horses, the centre welcomes riders of all ages and abilities. Prices start from just €20 for a 30 minute nature walk; they also run a Pony club on Saturdays from 10:00am – 3:00pm, for youngsters aged 7 – 16.

Dolphin Watching and Cave Tour

Based in the Marina de Albufeira, Dolphins Driven gives visitors a chance to get a bit closer to these beautiful and friendly aquatic mammals in their natural environment, by going dolphin watching. There is also the opportunity to discover some real hidden gems inside the caves and stop for a spot of swimming; so make sure you don’t forget to pack your swimwear, armbands and sunscreen!

Fun and Food at Festa da Praia

Praia da Oura Albufeira

One of our favourite things to do when travelling to the Algarve is to sample the delicious authentic cuisine. Located close to Praia da Oura beach, Festa de Praia offers a great all round family dining experience. The restaurant is reasonably priced and features a child friendly menu with some tasty options. As well as this, there is an inviting outdoor play area and terrace. So, you can really take the time to enjoy your meals, whilst still being able to watch over the kids as they play. We recommend trying the fish and prawn cataplana, it’s a fresh tasting seafood dish that’s bursting with flavour.

Zoomarine

Zoomarine dolphins Algarve

See some of the stunning sea creatures at Zoomarine in Guia, just a few kilometres from Albufeira. It has exciting and educational daily presentations with dolphins, seals and sea lions, tropical birds and birds of prey. The park also has a new pirate playground, a few different pools and some water rides; so make sure you give yourself plenty of time, as it’s likely you’ll have an adventure packed day.

Aqualand Algarve

Just over 20 minutes from Albufeira by car, Aqualand has some superb water rides that are suitable for children of all ages. For the little ones, there is both the children’s paradise area and rainbow park, where they can revel in playing in the shallow water and smaller slides; as well as castles, fountains and animal figures. Slightly older children and teenagers will take pleasure in floating along the fast rapids and taking part in speedy races on the sky high slides. Check the website before making a booking, as the park is open seasonally from June – September.

If you’ve been enticed by the Algarve, why not take a peek at our great range of properties available in the area, including Albufeira, Vale do LoboCarvoeiro, Quinta do Lago and Vilamoura.

48 hours in Tuscany: a romantic weekend in the Chianti region

View Olena TuscanyTuscany is known for its cultural heritage, rolling fields filled with vineyards and, of course, its delicious cuisine. Much has been written about this popular holiday destination – but at Sun-hat Villas, we pride ourselves on showcasing those hard-to-find places around this stunning part of Italy.

Not surprisingly, the Chianti region is a firm favourite among wine lovers, making it the ideal place for a romantic getaway. Even if you are only there for a weekend, you will still have time to spend an afternoon at the beach, see the sun rise in Florence and sample the local food and drink.

With so much to see and do it can be hard to know where to start, so we have compiled an itinerary featuring a few of our favourite places.

Day One

A morning in LucignanoLucignano in the Province of Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy

Close to Siena, and set amidst vineyards and olive groves, the medieval walled village of Lucignano is a hidden treasure just waiting to be uncovered. It is built around concentric circles, and the focal point is a typically-Tuscan piazza. Stop at one of the cafés and enjoy a strong espresso, before exploring the narrow streets and historic churches.

Another highlight for romantics is the Tree of Love, made from pure gold, and decorated with crystals, enamel and coral. This spectacular tree is housed at the Municipal Museum.

Escape to the beach

Parco Maremma

Leave the crowds behind and find your own spot on the beach at Parco Maremma, an area of outstanding natural beauty in southern Tuscany. For those in the know, Marina di Alberese is a popular choice and from the car park, you can take a pleasant 20-minute stroll to find a secluded stretch of sand.

A perfect evening

Tuscany

No trip to Chianti would be complete without an evening spent sampling a glass of the local tipple, but you don’t always have to stick to wine. If you like nothing more than sipping a cold beer on a hot day then be sure to call in at La Birroteca di Greve in the pretty village of Greve. Known for its friendly clientele, and retro music, this is one of the best places to discover Italy’s exciting craft beers.

Day Two

Sunrise in Florence

The dome of Florence Cathedral

Of course, a trip to this ancient city is a must – but who wants to spend the day fighting through throngs of tourists just to get a glimpse of Michelangelo’s David? Instead, start your day early so you can arrive in time to watch the sun rise. Bathed in the morning light, you will be able to enjoy the sights before tucking into a local breakfast of cappuccino and cornetto (coffee and a croissant). There are so many places to eat around Florence, but we particularly love Robiglio or Bar Galli.

A bicycle made for two

Tuscany Bicycle Hire

© TuscanyBicycle.com

The Italians are passionate about cycling, and each year Tuscany plays host to numerous cycling events including the vintage-inspired L’Eroica festival. With plenty of hills and mountains to climb, cycling here is certainly tough – but you will always be rewarded with wonderful views and ice-creams.

Rent your wheels from Tuscany Bicycle, which offers road bikes for those who like a challenge and e-bikes for anyone looking for something more sedate. The hire company will even drop your bike off at your villa and pick it up again for a small charge.

Indulge your senses

Bagni di Petriolo

After all that exertion, round off your weekend by relaxing at one of Tuscany’s hot natural springs. The warm, healing waters will be the perfect antidote to your afternoon of cycling, and best of all, some of them are free.

Just south of Siena, the springs at Bagni di Petriolo are close to the remains of a Roman bath house that dates back to 404AD. Here you will discover a series of smaller baths leading to a larger pool at the bottom, and this is a hot spot for Italians looking to unwind.

And for a truly authentic treatment, why not have a go at making your own luxurious body mask using clay collected from the riverbanks? Locals will often dry the clay, before mixing it with thermal waters and covering themselves with it. To wash it off, simply jump in one of the nearby rivers or pools – we guarantee it’ll get the blood pumping!

If you’ve been inspired by our tips, then take a look at our selection of luxury Tuscany villas.

Sun-hat Villas Tuscany

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Take a virtual tour of your home from home

Nothing beats the moment you step into your holiday villa for the first time. As you open the door, the children rush in to choose their bedrooms and dip a toe in the glistening blue pool, while you enjoy the smell of fresh linen and look for the best spot in the garden to sip a cool glass of wine in the evening.

If you are planning a villa holiday this summer, chances are you are looking for somewhere to spend quality time with loved ones. But ensuring the accommodation has everything you need for an extended stay can be a challenge, especially if you are trying to juggle lots of different demands. So, to make it a little easier, we’ve created a series of virtual tours, which give you the chance to ‘walk’ around some of our beautiful villas and find the perfect retreat.

Dollhouse view of Villa Belissima, Quinta do Lago, Algarve.

Dollhouse view of Villa Belissima, Quinta do Lago, Algarve.

Whisking you away to Portugal, our 3D walk-throughs take you around our villas in the Algarve, in popular resorts such as Vilamoura, Carvoeiro, Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo. The tours make you feel like you are really there with 360° images of each of the rooms – from sweeping staircases and spacious dining areas to the magnificent master suite. You can even view these properties in a ‘dollhouse’ style, giving you a fantastic overview of the villa in its entirety.

Villa Belissima Algarve

Villa Belissima, Quinta do Lago, Algarve

As well as fuelling your holiday daydreams (especially on gloomy days), this tool also helps you to answer practical questions like who will sleep where, and whether there is space for the kids to play as you relax. But while it might remove unexpected surprises, it certainly does not take away any of the excitement. In fact, we think you’ll be hopping on to your computer to take another look, even after you’ve booked your holiday!

Villa Prestige Algarve

The superb games room and cinema screen in Villa Prestige, Quinta do Lago, Algarve.

In the coming months, more walk-through images of the stunning gardens and pools will be added to the collection. We’re also going to be using drones to capture the outdoor areas at our properties so you can get a feel for what suits you best. Don’t forget to check out our birds-eye view of the Algarve’s Vale do Lobo resort, which was also filmed using drones.

Matterport camera Sun-hat Villas

Lucian Andries, our Holiday Care Specialist, on location with the camera equipment.

The tours, which have been produced by our resort staff and powered by Matterport, are available on our website – just look for the ‘3D Tour’ link in the search results and on the property pages. There are currently more than 20 available, including Villa Katy Quinta do LagoVilla BellevueCasa Colina do Mar Quinta do Lago and Villa Prestige Algarve.

48 hours in St Lawrence Gap, Barbados: turtles, cricket and Oistins

For those wishing to visit the Caribbean it can be tricky; all of the islands have so much to offer. Friendly locals, white sand, crystal clear blue seas, delicious cuisine, fascinating historical sights and stunning walks. So how do you know which one to choose?

We are here to shout about one of our favourite islands, Barbados.

Barbados St Lawrence Gap

Just a couple of the things we love about this island is not only the fact that it’s a great place to visit for its endless beaches and palm trees, it also has masses of beautiful flora (the aloe vera plants are ideal for that sun-burn) sunny afternoon cricket matches and beautiful colonial buildings.

Our favourite place to hang your hat in Barbados to explore (you can drive the length of Barbados in an hour and the width in 45 minutes so you are never to far away from everything you want to see) is St Lawrence Gap. It’s got some great bars and restaurants, perfect for turtle spotting and a great hangout to mix with the locals. Here are some of our tips to spend 48 hours in this gorgeous area as part of a longer trip.

Day 1

Sunrise: Breakfast at Dover Beach turtle spotting.

Turtles

Pack yourself a picnic and head to Dover Beach. Or, if you prefer, there are plenty of places where you can buy food and here are just some examples of delicious Barbados food you can try, no matter what time of day. Dover Beach is one of our favourites and there are plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas to rent for a small cost. Alternatively, just kick off your flip-flops under one of the shady palm trees and lay down your towel to catch some rays. The water is clean and warm and occasionally you’ll be treated to views of sea turtles coming up for air among the waves.

Fun in the sun: Catch a game of cricket

You can’t walk far without spotting an impromptu game of cricket. It’s a real treat if you can catch a match. Cricket is popular with people of all ages and really brings the community together and is a vital element to the island. It gives you a great excuse to sit in the sun with a cold beer or ginger beer for the kids. Check out some of the matches coming up here.

Sunset: St Lawrence Gap

St Lawrence Gap, small cove, Barbados

You are in the right place for a fun night out. Tourists and locals alike enjoy the huge offering of restaurants and bars and there is a great atmosphere, especially at weekends. The people are vibrant and the music fills the streets. There are lots of great places to dine; from small local huts with live music, to larger restaurants where you can sit and watch the world go by.

We like The Old Jamm Inn, which claims to be ‘the heartbeat of live music’ and who are we to argue? If you are looking for somewhere more chilled out and romantic, then you can’t go wrong with friendly and delicious Apsara Samudra, a restaurant overlooking the ocean that serves exquisite Thai and North Indian food (the Peshwari naan is to die for).

Day 2

Sunrise: And breathe

St Lawrence Church, St Lawrence Gap, Barbados

Yoga on the beach has become more and more popular, and the Yoga Samudra classes are a perfect way to relax, stretch and enjoy the sound of the crashing waves and the sun on your back. Yoga is always at your level so these can be as challenging as you make them, ideal for those who miss a little bit of exercise when they are on holiday but also suitable for those who just want to chill out.

If you want to do something spiritual but don’t fancy doing the downward dog, then going to the local church is a lovely experience. Everyone dresses to the nines and it’s very welcoming. The white washed and quaint St Lawrence Anglican church, constructed in 1837 is charming and a great way to immerse yourself in Bajan culture. Perched atop a small cliff at the first corner you encounter when entering the area, it’s easy to spot. You may even be asked to stand up and say hello as a very welcome newcomer.

Fun in the sun

Chamberlain Bridge, Bridgetown, Barbados

The charming building with the lime green door houses the lovely art gallery, Art For Everyone, with some excellent pieces for you to peruse. Leave here and then grab some brunch at the Happy Days Café (we love their omelettes).

Once you have satisfied your hunger, hop on a bus to Bridgetown. The buses are great fun and a real insight into Bajan life. You’ll be sitting with locals on the journey who are really friendly and will chat to you about all sorts.

This will take a mere twenty minutes and then you are in Bridgetown, the heartbeat of the island. Start with a walk from Independence Square, which has statue of Errol Barrow, the first prime minister of the independent Barbados, and then head across Chamberlain Bridge to National Heroes Square, with its statue of Nelson and coral stoned Barbados Parliament.

Alternatively, you can take a bus to Barbados’ second city Speightstown – a great one to take photos of its brightly painted clapboard houses.

Sunset: Oistins Fish Fry

Oistins Fish Fry

No trip to Barbados is complete without a trip to Oistins Fish Fry. You can rock up and pick a hut. Each and every one offers fresh catches of the day served straight from sea-to-boat-to-grill-to-plate. This is ideal for those wishing to mix with the friendly and fun locals and the food is great – if you only do one thing in Barbados this is it!

Have you been inspired? Take a look at the luxury properties we have available in St Lawrence Gap.

Sun-hat’s top five reasons to book your holiday early

There has been a long running debate on whether or not it’s better to book your holidays early or to secure last minute deals. January is a predominantly popular month for confirming summer holiday bookings and, at Sun-hat, we handle 20% of our annual bookings during this time. We explore five good reasons for you to book early and pick up a great deal.

Lower Travel Costs
Blue Sky Air Travel Flight Aircraft Aviation

Although there are many myths surrounding late deals, you can actually save money by booking your holiday earlier, sometimes as much as 25%. Holiday prices will tend to increase the later you book as demand continues to rise. The best villas are usually the first ones to get snapped up, with some savvy customers choosing to book up to 12 months in advance.

Better Availability on Flights and Accommodation

Luxury villa – Sun-hat Villas

Booking early is extremely important when it comes to flights, as you may not be able to get on your preferred flight the later you leave it. This is also the case with booking accommodation. Villas are individual, and there is only one of each kind. Once your chosen date has been booked, you may have to look for an alternative option.

More Time to Budget and Plan
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The sooner you book your holiday the more time you have to you pay it off. It also means you’ll be able to get saving for all of the spending you plan to do whilst you’re on you’re trip. As well as this, it’s a great opportunity to plan ahead and find out all of the activities you would like to do during your holiday.

Fun Holiday Countdown
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As January sets in, many of us are suffering from the back to work blues. Booking your holiday early can give you something to look forward to. In the build up to your holiday you can download a holiday countdown app to increase your excitement and anticipation. Examples we like include Ready Set Holiday! and Holiday Countdown.

New Year Goals

Apres Surf Sagres, Algarve

Most of us tend to over indulge over the festive period and end up not quite feeling our best in the first part of the year. But by booking your holiday early, it gives you the perfect amount of time to get yourself fit, healthy and all confident, ready to hit the beach.

To book early and avoid disappointment browse our luxury villas and resorts.

Book your ABTA accredited Sun-hat holiday with confidence

Sun-hat Villas ABTA L6737The Association of British Travel Agents – ABTA – launched its nationwide ‘Travel with Confidence’ campaign on Wednesday 4th January, running till the end of February. It is being launched to tackle the rising issue of online scams, fraudulent websites and non-compliant travel companies that have no financial protection in place.

ABTA revealed that a third of summer holidays are typically booked during January and February and, as travel fraud continues to increase, holidaymakers looking for a bargain are being advised not to be duped by fraudsters. The aim of the campaign is to encourage consumers to book their summer holidays with an ABTA travel company and ‘Travel with Confidence’.

ABTA Travel with confidence

The campaign will be targeted to older people and families, who are most likely to book during this period; there will also be a second campaign in the summer aimed at younger travellers.

As a fully ABTA accredited member, Sun-hat Villas and Resorts is proud to offer all of its customers financial protection on its luxury rentals.

Please see below our summary of ABTA’s advice on how to ensure you ‘Book with Confidence’ and get the best deal:

1) Book With a Provider That Offers Financial Protection
Holidaymakers should receive protection on all holidays purchased in the UK and are entitled to a refund or repatriation if their travel company goes out of business, as well as certain other legal rights if they are experiencing any other issues with their holiday. All ABTA members provide protection for their holidays.

In a recent case where a travel company went out of business, around a third of their future bookings were financially protected by ABTA, which meant they would be able to receive a full refund. This signifies the importance of booking with an ABTA approved partner, as should something go wrong, the consumer is always protected.

2) Misuse of Logos
There are some websites that will misuse the logos of organisations such as ABTA or IATA. To check if your travel provider is an ABTA member use the following link – http://abta.com/find-a-member

3) Scam Websites
A number of websites are created with the intention of carrying out online scams; this is a growing concern for ABTA and its members. Legitimate websites can be identified by a locked padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register, or the web address should begin with ‘https://’.

HTTPS Sun-hat

4) Cloned Websites
Another problem is cloned websites, where genuine websites are copied with subtle changes. For example the last part of the address may be changed from .com to .org. Fraudsters can also create a realistic-looking webpage but vary the spelling slightly from the authentic website. Always carry out a web search if you notice anything suspicious on the website.

To ‘Travel with Confidence’ with Sun-hat, find out more about our ABTA approved luxury villas and resorts.