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Doc holiday.

David Wild, director of Tailor Made Travel, offers expert advice on your travel queries.

Family get together

Q: Next summer we are planning a family get-together to celebrate my husband's 50th birthday. We were thinking about renting a nice villa abroad which would sleep about 10 of us, including our grown-up children and their partners.

We have looked on the internet but we are worried about booking a privately owned property because if anything goes wrong I have heard there is no comeback. It will be the first time we have been on holiday together since our children were teenagers, so we don't want any mistakes.

Our budget is about pounds 1,800 for the week, which will be shared between the 10 of us. What do you suggest?

A: You are right that if you book a villa privately you can turn up on the doorstep and find that the place is a tip. And if you've already paid, you are unlikely to get your money back.

For peace of mind it is best to book through villa specialists who are bonded by either the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) or the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). That way, if anything goes wrong you have a comeback.

There are plenty of companies which offer good-quality villas in the Med and beyond. Try a firm called Villa Select (01789 764909/www.villaselect.com). They are fully ABTA bonded and offer some attractive properties in Portugal, Spain and Greece, some of which can sleep up to 10 people.

They've got a great place in Crete which would suit you down to the ground. Arethousa Village House is in the sleepy village of Melidoni, near Rethymnon on the west side of the island, and sleeps 10.

It is beautifully furnished and has a floodlit pool and large gardens. A week's rental should be within your budget, although you will have to pay extra for flights.

Another good bet is Meon Villas, part of the First Choice group (0870 850 8551/www. meonvillas.co.uk), which has properties in Turkey, Spain, Malta, Tuscany, Greece and Cyprus.

Los Molinos de Dios is a villa with pool in Mijas on the Costa del Sol, which sleeps up to 10 and has a large pool and games room. Again, it is in your price range.

It's also worth getting the brochure for James Villas (0870 085 0722/www.jamesvillas. co.uk). Thomas Cook and Thomson have their own dedicated villa brochures, too - see your travel agent.

* Send your travel questions to: Steve Race, Holiday World, Evening Gazette, Borough Road, Middlesbrough TS1 3AZ or email steve.race@eveninggazette.co.uk

We regret we cannot enter into individual correspondence.

* Contact Tailor Made Travel at 18-22 Port Street, Evesham, Worcestershire, WR11 1AL. Call 0845 456 8177 or click on www.tailor-made.co.uk
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Title Annotation:Travel News
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jan 7, 2006
Words:476
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